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Container of 1940s Letters on eBay

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No jeeps here, but lots of interesting history.

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“Interesting Lot of WWII era LETTERS –

some might be considered somewhat rare and/or unusual.

Lot of WWII letters that had belonged to my father-in-law, who served in the Army Air Force from 1943-1946.
He was trained as a photographer, trained at several bases and also stationed at the Stars and Stripes office in Erlangen, Germany.

I believe I counted over 240 letters in this lot.
There could be more than one letter in one envelope I noticed…
The bulk of the letters are from my father-in-law to his girlfriend, who later became his wife. Some are from her to him, a few are to and from their parents, one or two from her siblings to Ed when he was stationed away.

Some of these letters read like a soap opera – I gather my mother-in-law had a SGT for a boyfriend stationed overseas… her parents didn’t like it when she broke up with him, met Ed (not sure the order that all happened) Ed and Hazel met Aug 3, 1945. I’m including a handwritten pages of her diary from that date until Nov 27 1945. I liked the letters where he gave her advice on how to handle her parents, who weren’t thrilled about them getting together.

I wonder if I should put a warning on this lot of letters… like: For Mature Readers only!

Keep in mind, these were a young couple who just met, fell madly in Love with each other, married about 3 months later and the letters reflect that, immensely. They were real sweet to each other in these letters – real lovey-dovey. I will say some of these letters can be very graphic, steamy, a little too much info – whew, you name it, parts made me blush and I just stopped reading them. Their favorite hotel room number was 341. And some of the letters have that written on the front of the envelope. I think she wrote notes on the fronts of her favorite letters, and kept them together so she could read them over and over. I know he was real upset about how many of the men had to be treated for VD when he was overseas, esp the married men. It’s neat when he writes about the different aircraft and the camera work he’s done… About Sunday morning guys having to pick up their mess (beer bottles) He tells how hot it was when he was stationed in Texas “The guys who chew tobacco spit brown steam”

Some of the letters are quite interesting when he talks about the different training he took at different bases and of course when he was stationed in Germany. He tells about different trips he took, too. One was to Paris, Bavaria, I know he went to Switzerland, too.

Lots of the letters have neat letterheads – especially the ones when he worked for The Stars and Stripes – Southern Germany Edition – Altdorf, Germany. He started out doing photography duties – then ended up working in an office as an auditor. He said it was more pay. In one letter dated 12 May, 1946 he tells how their fiscal office is shorthanded because two of the boys from that office were murdered in Nurnberg last Fiday night. We now have pistols so it won’t likely happen again.

Also including letters written to my mother-in-law from her brother, who was in the Army. The letters are dated June 1944-1945. One is a V-Mail letter post marked March 26, 1945. He tells about his boat ride to France – the beautiful farm district they’re in – the men dress alike there with black tams on their heads, dark clothing, high necked sweaters and the largest shoes you have ever seen! He mention it’s hard to imagine just how much damage has been done there, that he’ll tell her about it some day…

His first letters are postmarked Fort Sill OK then Fort Smith ARK. Later her brother was stationed in France and Germany. Told about their battalion living in a German School Building, how an elderly couple who still live in a couple of rooms there – how the man had been a big-wig at the school, the lady cleans the halls ect… He mentions “When the Army moves in it just takes over!”

He tells how he wishes censorship regulations would allow him to tell exactly what they were doing. He said it was May Day and how people there were sure doing their share of celebrating. Tells their food has been much better than in the States – all their rations are given to them free, their cigarettes, candy, toilet articles ect…

He also mentions in another letter the censorship is relaxed enough he can tell her he’s in Baumholder, Germany – and how things in the E.T.O. are in quite an uproar – everyone talking about points and whether they have enough to get out of the service – whether they’ll go the the South Pacific or if they’ll become unservicable occupational troops.

My mother-in-law also received 5 letters from her cousin in the Navy. They started in April of 1945. He teases her and calls her Hay Seed and tells her what he does. “Not a heck of a lot of news, Lot’s of war and Jap’s. We haul soldiers and marines and their equipment – anything from jeeps and big tanks… Gets a little exciting once in a while especially during airstrikes. I know that’s a slimidea but hope you get the drift of things” Another letter tells they got to go ashore and have some beer and go to a canteen – Saw his first white woman in about 10 months, how a USO show came through. Letters have censor stamps on the front and one letter has a section cut out below the date – probably told the location. In his last envelope is a Christmas card, I have it pictured above with the other photos of the lot of letters.

There are a couple of letters from my mother-laws prayer partner (missionary) in Kenya – British East Africa. They are quite interesting and they’re postmarked 1937 & 1941.


6 Comments on “Container of 1940s Letters on eBay

  1. Dave Antram

    Yes, how sad that someone could just “cash in” on something that was so personal and meant so much. A shame as even if he, or his wife, isn’t “interested” in saving them, maybe their kids, grandkids or others would appreciate them as a family keepsake….
    I know that some letters we have in our family attic, from when my mom and dad were apart, won’t go far away. (Although, my dad would likely say, if some fool were willing to pay some ridiculous price for them then sell them! lol Of course, if that were the case, I might have to consider, but I’d sure make a whole lot of photo copies FIRST!).

  2. Mark S.

    I agree with the comments, once there gone , there gone. Seller could maybe loan them to a museum or university. It’s always amazing how little some people value family history. I know Pawn Stars is staged but the personal family stuff that guys sell for $100 is unbelievable.

  3. mmdeilers Post author

    Obviously I’m pretty passionate about family history (well history in general), so I’d never sell letters like these. My preferred choice would be that the letters be donated to a museum, local historical society or a similar institution. However, what if they couldn’t find a place that would accept them? And, even if accepted by a museum, would the facility have the means and money to properly translate the documents? Or would they languish due to scarce resources?

    Alternatively, think of all the jeeps that have been saved through the work of private collectors. Many of the these jeeps, had they been donated to museums or remained in families, would sure have continued to languish (not a great analogy, but still worth remembering).

    As I thought about it I wondered if this isn’t one good way to make sure these letters land in the hands of someone who really wants them, insuring they are cared for some future purpose. After all, the more money paid for these, the more likely they will be properly saved (in theory of course).

    Is this the ideal situation? No. But, I know of a distant family member who tossed a box of my family documents they didn’t want due to a spouse who had no interest in them . . . grrrr. I wished they’d put them on eBay so at least someone would have saved them.

  4. Bob

    I imagine there are different reasons why some one would part with these. I never would, but that’s just me. It always makes me wonder when I look through a box of old photos at flea markets and sales.

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