An estimated 460 American women died as a result of their service in World War II. In 1943, U.S. Army nurse Vera Lee came close to being one of them. Lee was with the 95th Evacuation Hospital in the Gulf of Salerno, aboard the hospital ship for the Eighth Army, the HMHS Newfoundland, which was attempting to deliver nurses to the Salerno beaches. The Luftwaffe repeatedly bombed it, killing six nurses and all medical officers aboard.
Patton was relegated to an essentially minor role during the historic Normandy landings. Crushed that he was missing “the opening kick off,” a restless Patton whittled away the hours writing in his diary and sending off letters, including the following to his son, a cadet at West Point.
Soon after American soldiers liberated the Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 4, 1945, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower inspected the camp himself. “The things I saw beggar description,” he cabled to...
On May 3, 1943, a high school student named William Fee rushed to the local selective service office to register for the draft. Throughout William’s childhood, his father, Dwight, who had fought in the devastating Meuse-Argonne offensive in World War I, strove to instill in his son the values he held dear: duty, honor, and integrity. After a year of training, Fee was shipped overseas with the 11th Armored Division. Dwight—a newspaperman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—wrote to his son.
Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Alvin A. Andrews died in 1961 at the age of 42, his life cut short by hardships he suffered while being held by the Japanese as a POW for three years during World War II. Andrews spoke little to his family about his wartime experiences, but his daughter Denise, who was five years old when he died, remembers his refusing to allow rice in the house. After his death, his family discovered a trunk containing memorabilia from his days in the Pacific. Among the items was a long letter by a fellow sailor named Arthur D. Emard, who apparently had been captured along with Andrews in Corregidor. Soon after the war, Emard wrote in vivid detail about what he and his fellow prisoners endured. Much remains unknown about the letter, including how Andrews came to have a copy of it and the identity of the “Skipper” to whom it is addressed. Presumably he is John Morrell, captain of the USS Quail (the minesweeper both Andrews and Emard served aboard), who escaped with some of the crew to Australia after the ship was scuttled.
Crafting the perfect love letter can be difficult under any circumstance, but for normally stoic GIs, the muse could be especially uncooperative. Newly married William Waldeck, a machinist’s mate who served on the USS Baldwin, found this to be the case when he struggled to write an affectionate missive to his wife Mary after leaving for naval training in the spring of 1943.