World War II Soldier Diary
The diary of a young man from the Midwest who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1945 documents his enlistment and early days in the U.S. military during the waning days of World War II. The unidentified young man is attending school in Illinois as noted in the early entries when he receives a draft notice. He mentions Shelbyville, Effingham, and Sullivan as well as traveling through Fort Sheridan before arriving at a base in Georgia for his training. He mentions attending a lecture about sex before being drafted and there is later mention of watching a film about sex hygiene early in their military training. The man wrote entries from January 1-March 25, May 16-June 6, and three final entries in August 1945. The final August entry indicates his unit is being sent to Oregon. The back of the diary includes addresses for two friends George [?] of Terra Haute, Indiana and Lawrence Bly, Jr. of Shelbyville, Illinois.
A partial transcription provided by the seller:
"January 1st, Packed furniture, cleaned up and tore down miscellaneous objects. Moving trunk. Arrived 10:30. I helped move until about two. The trunks left and then the folks left. Seemed as if mother wanted to take everything in the car. Kissed folks goodbye. Betty, Phiddy and I cleaned up the home. Ate dinner at Young's. Then I talked to Miss Young for about two hours and dried her dishes. Went up town and Dean A. came by. Went to show. Laura, fair. Slept at Dean A."
"January 7th, Awoke, cleaned up. Went to church at Baptist with Charles and Vic. Sermon, Tragedy of Prayer. He sure wonders around. He was positively vulgar in spots. He told embarrassing story about prayer. Ate two plates for dinner. Cost 70 cents. Went to Aex (sex?) Provinces and talked all afternoon. Is sex really dominating most people's lives. I don't think so. I think there's something greater in life than that. Charles went to show and when he came back he was so unpleasant that I left. Vic and I went walking. I showed him all our South _____. There were people skating on the pond. We warmed ourselves at their fire. Charles was home when we arrived. He seemed so crossed. I am resolved never to talk about anyone to anybody."
"January 9th, I went over to the Training School at 1 o'clock with George. I heard my voice on the reflectophone. A machine which you talk into and then it plays your voice back to you. It records anything during a minute. George turned it on when we first went to school. I didn't know it was on and it was sure funny to hear myself asking what to do. My voice is still far from mature. Although it has a clear quality. I wrote Phiddy and William letters. Saw the school play at night."
"January 10th, At chapel today a nephew of Mark Twain's spoke to us. He told us many stories about Mark. After Twain went to Europe and returned he was asked to give a lecture. He was very reluctant to do so but finally consented. The night of the speech they had to back him up and push him onto the stage. He falteringly and very nervously, in fact he looked like he'd faint. He began speaking very low. Caesar dead, Napoleon dead, Washington's dead and I'm far from well myself."
"January 16th, Today I go on my trip. Exciting. I look forward to it. Received a card telling me to call at draft board. Skipped English, knew my geography. Altar asked me if I was going to the Army. He said Mona Anderson said I was. Dinner they all asked me about my physical and I haven't even been up yet. I plan to hitchhike to Shelbyville and so on time then till two. I'll leave in a minute. Wish me good luck." (There is actually another full separate page of writing that continues on with this entry)
"February 26th, Drove to Shelbyville. It rained, sleeted and snowed. We arrived alright. Dad stopped in Stewardson and cashed a check. I went to the youth center and told everyone I passed for Navy. We had a potluck at the church. I said goodbye to everyone. I went to youth center in the evening and messed around. Then to ____and the folks came over about 11:15. We started for the courthouse about 11:45."
"February 27th, I am leader again. We called roll and I was asked to step forward. Everyone was kissing and crying at the train. We just barely got on before the train left. No sleep. A heck of a ride. Bly Penn and some other guys were shooting crapes in the restroom. Went through a lot of ____and I asked for the army so they put me in the army because of my eyes. I felt like kicking something. I filed cards in an office and then they shipped us to Fort Sheridan."
"March 1st & 2nd, we took shots and insurance out today. I took 10,000 insurance and 18.75 in war bonds. We were then interviewed by trained interviewers and then he took me and I took a typing test. I didn't do so well. Then we took shots. The right one about killed us right after then the left one killed us later on. We were then through and we went to dinner. In the afternoon we saw a movie on sex hygiene and something else then we moved out. I went to Barracks 224…..Didn't do anything today but mess around. The guy on my right runs a tavern. Bly is on my right. They smoke here all the time and it gets in my eyes. My eyes are killing me. I need glasses. We make our beds morning and night and fold our blankets as told. Up at 5:30. Wash up, clean barracks. The filthiest talk goes on here all the time. I am resolved to try to exercise my mind for something better." (He boards the train on March 6th and they arrive in Louisville Kentucky on the 7th)
"March 8th & 9th, We passed through Tennessee today and woke up in Gordon in Georgia. The camp is 15 miles from Augusta and near South Carolina. The hall Is near. We have a fine sergeant named Aguda. He is very nice. Our Corporal is Corporal Adams. I went to the arena and saw five boxing matches with Cushman and a D____ boy. They were good matches…...We got up at 6 and it wasn't yet light. Ate breakfast and then saw movies and did a little washing. We had our names put on our helmets. Our First Sargent's name is Rice. He's a good guy too. Lt. Cowley's our platoon leader. He's nice too. We got off early today about 4:30. I went to the PX at night. Wrote a letter home."
"March 14th, Today we went through real gas fumes without gas masks. Phosgene really got in my lungs and I finally had to move it smelled like dry hay in a stuffy barn. We threw hand grenades today too. After supper we were issued M-1 rifles or gorillas. We had to take them apart and clean and put them back together. I finished about 11. The food has been good but scanty. I am starving. Goodnight." (His entries stop on March 25th and then start up again on May 16th and with a very sad entry no less)
"May 16th, Today there was an accident on the range. The high explosive ranges in fact. I'm not sure just what happened but the young Jewish Lt. was fooling around with nitro stand and a group of boys were watching him. Graham (?), the Lieutenant lost his arm and suffered cuts around the face and chest. Two Corporals who were assisting him were instantly killed. Eighteen trainees were injured some seriously. This stuff never makes the papers. You should have seen the dispensary all covered with blood."
"May 28th, Up at 5:15. Had rifle squad in an approach march. First comes the point then advance party, support, reserve, main body. Same in the rear. A fairly large turtle walked through class. The boys put a lighted cigarette on its head. Talk about jumping, that turtle jumped 3 ft. and snapped and then started walking faster than I ever saw a turtle walk before. We had a night attack at 8:00. You never carry ammo on nite attacks. No coffee. Bed 12:30."
"May 29th, Keith tried to make us fall out early at 5:30. Only five of us fell out. The boys didn't like it because I fell out. I told them that I'd fall out if I wanted to. I'd thought it right to fall out so I fell. They thought it right to stay in bed. Keith said he turns us in AWOL but he never. We had a night patrol and what a mess it turned out! Oh! That Calcagno, I could kill him. In bed about 1:00."
Then this set of entries stop on June 6th and then three more entries in August.
"August 5th, Biddle and I were going to church but they tell us orders same in last night and we are shipping out. Some of the boys couldn't believe it. Don't know where we're going but seems to think another camp in Texas. Had to turn in blankest and all web equipment. Last night we filled balloons with air and put them in bed. You should have heard the yells when they bursted."
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0.05 Cubic Feet (1 folder) : Diaries
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Purchased from ebay seller diaries and April 2017.
- Soldiers -- United States -- 20th century Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- World War, 1939-1945 Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- diaries Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- World War II Soldier Diary
- Amy Schindler; Angela Kroeger
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