Friday, June 11, 2004
Letters home from the troops in World War II
With so much talk of war these days, it seemed a good time to share with you a collection of letters in the archives of the Carlisle Historical Society. The letters, dated from 1942 to 1945, were written in response to packages sent by the Carlisle United Service Committee to local men and women serving in World War II. Headed by George H. Nobbs, a Spanish-American War veteran and active member of the community, the Committee provided Care packages for those on duty in the U.S. and overseas. The packages contained articles like soap, candy, and cigarettes — things soldiers were grateful to receive during the difficulties of training or in the dangers of a war zone. But it was the fact that the package had come from home that was so meaningful to these servicemen and women. The thanks they expressed was in response to the articles, but far greater was their gratitude for a little piece of Carlisle received at a base far from home. (All letters are transcribed exactly as they were written.)
They were stationed everywhere. From rural Carlisle they were sent across the country and then around the world. Letters are postmarked from bases in Laramie, Wyoming; Victoria, Kansas; Miami, Florida; San Francisco, California; Gulfport, Mississippi and many others. The soldiers had names we recognize from town affairs: Wilkins, Currier, Lapham, Malcolm, Lovering, and Ricker among them. Their ranks ranged from private to captain and they served in various branches of service in the air, on the ground, and at sea.
And their letters could indeed be censored. One, from P.F.C. Lafayette "Fay" Currier, was written on American Red Cross V-Mail and includes a place for the censor's stamp, although all the letters in the collection are intact.
Not all of the service people were men. Several Carlisle women served, including Priscilla A. Currier, Doreen I. Young, and Margaret Gauthier. Margaret, a member of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, wrote:
The letters vary from the simplest "thank you" to the work of a more creative writer, somewhere in Burma:
Or this observation from Horace N. Ricker:
Charlie Little was prophetic when he wrote in February of 1945:
And he was right, they were. Of the Carlisle residents who served in World War II, all came home but one. He was Louis A. Rivard, an orphan from Lowell who had lived with the McAllister and Kierstead families as a foster child. Rivard, a flight crew member, went down on a training flight off the East Coast. The wreckage was never recovered.
The real meaning of a gift from home was thoughtfully conveyed in these lines from Private Joseph Beaudette in December of 1943:
Or these from Frits Winblad, written in November of 1942:
© 2004 The Carlisle Mosquito