I, William R. Talbot being of sound mind and body, wish to confess to the murder of Charles W. Sidman. I killed him by pushing him over the side of the U.S.S. L.S.T. 1103 at Ting Han China. I am sorry maw and am taking my own life in penance. May God forgive me.
William R. Talbot
Foremost, I must admit I did not find this letter in my collection. I have often told friends that I wish I could find something truly salacious, and thankfully this one finally came my way via an internet friend (thank you, Kelly). I am a part of several online groups in which members post images of found art or forgotten things discovered in walls/attics/barns, etc. A fellow member, Kelly, had a friend who found this letter in the back of a filing cabinet in the Seattle area a few years ago. Sadly, it seems it was packed away and lost again, but luckily Kelly had the wherewithal to save a copy digitally, which is how it made its way to me. She also reported the letter to a Naval department in Washington, D.C., though they told her she would never hear any follow up information as it would be considered classified.
According to navsource.org, ” Following World War II USS LST-1103 was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East for the following periods:
25 October to 10 December 1945
1 to 11 January 1946
22 January to 9 March 1946.”
Around 1941, United States Naval ships were sent to China with several missions in mind: to spy on the Japanese, to collect weather data for the United States fleet, and to aid China in the prevention of a Japanese occupation. Though no date is written on the letter, it is entirely possible that William R. Talbot and Charles W. Sidman were sailors who died by murder and suicide during one of the aforementioned dates, though I can find no information on them specifically.
This letter unfortunately leaves us with more questions than answers. Why would Talbot push Sidman overboard? Did either of them have children, and perhaps grandchildren who could be alive today? Did Talbot’s mother ever receive his apology to her? Was Sidman’s body ever located?
Though we may never know answers to these questions, I will always believe it is vitally important to preserve what we do know. This letter was a defining moment in the intertwined lives of two men that we have the privilege of reading today.