Divided back, unused postcard. Circa 1914 – 1919. Publisher unknown. Easter series number 36, design 103.
“A Happy Easter – Here’s a wish from a friend
And a greeting true
Just a remembrance, – from me to –
There are layers to everything, the history of an object, for instance – who made it and how it ended up in where it did, and we’ve remarked on this thought in prior posts, but this card has a special poignancy. And it’s a strange feeling to hold a postcard in your hands that was sent over a century ago and know the fate of the little boy it had been given to. And if our perception of time is normally felt as linear, this is one of those instances that stands out as something different, as if you could walk into the next room and meet the Felix family over Easter dinner. For it was a gut-wrenching discovery to find that Irving Arthur Felix was one of the men serving on USS Houston (CA-30) the heavy cruiser that went down during the Battle of Sunda Strait, off the northern coast of Java during WWII, along with her ally, Australian light cruiser, HMAS Perth (D-29).This after a valiant and greatly outnumbered Allied fight against the Imperial Japanese Navy forces in the vicinity. The numbers vary slightly in different accounts, but of Houston’s crew of 1,068, the survivors numbered 368, surviving only to be taken prisoner and interred in various POW camps. Seventy-nine of the prisoners died, of which Irving Felix was one. According to articles in Iowa newspapers, his family (wife, parents and brother and sister) found out around March 1942 that he was reported missing in action, and learned of his death sometime before July 15th ’43. He died April 26, 1943 at age 29 and was buried in Batavia, (now Jakarta) Java with full military honors. His grave site was later moved (or added, not sure if the original still exists) to Riverside Cemetery, Charles City, Iowa.
Addressed to: “Mr. Irving Felix, Floyd Iowa.”
The sender wrote: “Dear Irving: – Here is a card for you even if you can not read it. Inez you can read it. how is that song he sings with the rooster on his arm. Aunt Tena[?]”
1920 census info….
Irving Felix was found on the 1920 Federal Census for Rudd Township, Floyd County, Iowa, age 6, and we’re not sure at what age he learned to read, but Inez is his older sister who, like their aunt had suggested, could have read the card to him. From the 1920: Parents Clarence A. Felix (age 33) and Ida Felix (age 36) and children Inez (age 11) Ivan (age 8) and Irving (age 6). All are born on Iowa, and both the parents are of German heritage. Clarence’s occupation is farmer.
To the boy who sang a song about a rooster, and to paraphrase the verse on this card, “Here’s a wish from friends true, and a heartfelt thank you, from us to you.” (In remembrance of all lives lost during wartime and a prayer for peace and unity of all on our planet.)
Sources: USS Houston (CA-30). n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Houston_(CA-30) (accessed April 12, 2020).
HMAS Perth (D-49) n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Perth_(D29) (accessed April 14, 2020).
Battle of Sunda Strait. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sunda_Strait. (accessed April 12, 2020).
Year: 1920; Census Place: Rudd, Floyd, Iowa; Roll: T625_490; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 120. (Ancestry.com).
“St. Ansgar Man Is Missing After Java Sea Battle With Asiatic Fleet; Irving Felix of Rudd, Also Reported Lost.” The Courier (Waterloo, Iowa). March 17, 1942. Tuesday, p. 7. (Newspapers.com).
“Sailor Dies in Japanese Camp.” Globe-Gazette (Mason City, Iowa). July 15, 1943. Thursday, p. 6. (Newspapers.com).