A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago. The beginning posts set the stage for 1944 and 1945 when he was in Europewith the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.

# 25- A Popular Culture Interlude

◆ 75 Years Ago
◆ July 15, 1944
#1 on the Billboard Top 100:
"I’ll Be Seeing You"- Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra

The home front in World War II was as much involved in the war as could be possible. From the World War II Museum website:
World War II touched virtually every part of American life, even things so simple as the food people ate, the films they watched, and the music they listened to. The war, especially the effort of the Allies to win it, was the subject of songs, movies, comic books, novels, artwork, comedy routines—every conceivable form of entertainment and culture. … World War II and the popular culture of that era are interconnected; the story of one cannot be fully told without the story of the other.
By this time in the war people also relied on popular culture to both inspire and help them forget, at least for a moment or two, what was going on overseas. Happy songs, songs of longing, songs of hope, songs of sadness were all part of the music scene when people went to buy records. For 1944, here were the top songs on the Billboard charts ranked by the number of weeks they were #1.

Top Songs of 1944 (by weeks at #1)
1. Swinging’ on a Star- Bing Crosby (9 weeks)
2. B├ęsame Mucho - Jimmy Dorsey (7 weeks)
3. My Heart Tells Me- Glen Gray (5 weeks)
3. I Love You- Bing Crosby (5 weeks)
3. You Always Hurt the One You Love- Mills Brothers (5 weeks)
6. Paper Doll- Mills Brothers (4 weeks)
6. I’ll Get By- Harry James (4 weeks)
6. I’ll Be Seeing You- Bing Crosby (4 weeks)
6. I’ll Walk Alone- Dinah Shore (4 weeks)
10. It’s Love, Love, Love- Guy Lombardo (2 weeks)
10. I’m Making Believe- Ink Spots/Ella Fitzgerald (2 weeks)

The Jukebox at restaurants and bars had a different set. Sometimes they were still being played a year after released. Sometimes they were songs that didn’t sell as many records, but people would drop their coin into the jukebox to hear it. Two of the biggies in 1944 bring to mind an image of people standing around a jukebox and laughing, singing, and dancing to these two.

On the Jukebox
"G. I. Jive"- Louis Jordan

"(There'll Be a) Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (When the Yanks Go Marching In)"- Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen and His Orchestra

Radio was the source of more than just music alone. It was the TV of its day. The top radio shows of 1944 show the normal mix of comedy, music, variety, plays, and even sit-com.

Bob Hope
Fibber McGee and Molly
Lux Radio Theatre
Walter Winchell
Bing Crosby
Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
Jack Benny
Abbot and Costello

Entertainment was the diversion many needed. And it was provided.

◆    75 Years Ago    
◆    July 1944
In mid-July, the Allies disembarked nearly 1,500,000 soldiers in Normandy, a total of 36 divisions, as well as 300,000 vehicles. 54,000 tons of material are landed each day on the beaches of Utah and Omaha, as well as at Arromanches, where the artificial harbor operated 24 hours a day. -Link

# 24- Meeting the Family

    •    June 26, 1944
Harold called from Wmsport. Ruth and I went to Antes Fort to get him. Carl and Mabel for supper then went to Mabel's.

    •    June 28, 1944
Went to the wedding. Carl and Mabel looked grand. Went to the Dutch Inn for lunch. It is awful hot. Carl and Mabel left for a trip. Ruth, Dora, and Buddy went out for the evening.
— Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman

Harold brings his new wife home about six weeks after they got married. It is now three weeks after D-Day and the war is moving on. Dora gets to meet the family for the first time at the wedding of Dad’s older brother, Carl. Carl and his wife Mabel have been together for a while, as indicated by Grandma’s diary. Carl is almost 43, Mabel is 42. He works for the Erie Railroad in the Hornell, NY, shops and regularly commutes by train or bus. She is a language teacher in the Lock Haven schools. Carl pops into the picture of Beula’s life, stays a moment, and then heads to Lock Haven to be with Mabel. They return, pass through, and he’s gone again. This life never changed. She kept teaching; he kept working for the railroad.

Harold and Dora attend the wedding then spend the evening out with Harold’s sister. In 1933 Ruth was the first of the siblings to be married. We hear very little in the diaries of her husband, Fred Parker. By 1944 they were living in Bethlehem, PA, working for Bethlehem Steel which had bought out the Williamsport Wire Rope Company.

It is a quick visit for Buddy and Dora. On July 1, four days after the wedding, Buddy and Dora are headed out.

It will be Buddy’s last visit home before he enters the war.

    •    July 1, 1944
Packed a lunch for Buddy and Dora. Took them to Wmsport. They left at11.15. Came home and went to bed for it was so lonesome.
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman

◆    June 26, 1944
◆    75 Years Ago
Cherbourg is liberated by American troops. In less than 90 days, Buddy’s troop ship will land in Europe at Cherbourg.

#23- Mixed Marriages

Back in post #18, I mentioned my parents mixed marriage. In the late 1960s I had a conversation with a Jewish cashier in a local music store in Bethlehem, PA. We were talking about the increase in mixed-race marriages. The cashier, probably in her early- to mid- 40s expressed a certain discomfort and disagreement with that. Being Harold and Dora’s son I mentioned to her that my parents were a mixed marriage- a Christian and a Jew. She had no comeback, but I have a hunch that she wasn’t all that pleased with it, yet it caused her to pause.

I decided to do a little digging into mixed marriages, specifically mixed-faith marriages. One paper I found from Brandeis University talked about endogamy- the custom of marrying only within the limits of a local community, clan, or tribe. While there were periods of ups and downs over the years in the United States, the rate of mixed Jewish/non-Jewish marriages was quite low. In New York City in 1910, just about the time my grandparents became citizens of the United States, the rate of Jews marrying non-Jews was only about 1.2%! A few years later in Cincinnati in 1917 it was still only 4.5%. By 1950, not much had changed. Only 4% of Jewish marriages were to non-Jews. (Compare this to a Catholic-non-Catholic rate of 27%.) By 1957 the Jewish/non-Jewish marriage rate was still at 7%.

The reasons are many for this. Religious stereotypes and anti-Semitism played a major role in keeping the groups apart. Many communities, Jewish and non-Jewish, were often more homogeneous than they have become in the years since. For Jews, the centuries-old prejudices, pogroms, and ghettos, with the Holocaust in World War II being the most recent, were a huge deterrent to inter-marriage. Adding to that was an undercurrent of fear that if the Jewish people assimilated, it was a move into oblivion. While the Holocaust, like the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th and 16th Centuries, showed only too painfully that assimilation was helpless against genocide, it felt like assimilation was also, in and of itself, dangerous.

As recently as 1970 the intermarriage rate for Jews was still only 17%; that has changed in the past 50 years. Today the Pew Research Institute estimates that overall 58% of Jewish marriages have a non-Jewish spouse. That number is impacted by the religiousness of the Jewish spouse- only 2% of Orthodox Jewish marriages are mixed marriages even though overall the times have really changed.

That 2% number also highlights for me the incredible move my parents made 75 years ago! Even today, only 2% of marriages like theirs would be mixed. The greater society may have come to accept and participate in such marriages, my mom’s community would have great difficulty with it. In 1944 it would have been scandalous! In both Brooklyn, NY, and Jersey Shore, PA.

I was clueless about it all until I went away to school and met a number of Jewish students and learned more and more about the centuries of anti-Semitism. By that time both of them had died and I had become a Christian. I had little understanding of my Jewish heritage- that would come later. But even in those early years of my own exploration, I knew that Harold and Dora were rebels. The “status quo” was something to go against. Both, as youngest children from quite close and closed communities, decided that whatever they found in each other was worth the challenge.

Seventy-five years ago the Pennsylvania family had not yet met Dora. That was soon to change as the final summer of preparation was nearing its end.

◆ June 1944
◆ 75 Years ago
13 June- Germany launches a V1 Flying Bomb attack on England, in Hitler's view a kind of revenge for the invasion. He believes in Germany's victory with this "secret weapon." The V-1 attacks will continue through June with horrifying losses.
19-20 June- The Battle of the Philippine Sea takes place. The United States Fifth Fleet wins a decisive naval battle over the Imperial Japanese Navy near the Mariana Islands.

# 22- D-Day

◆    June 6, 1944
◆    75 Years Ago Today
D-Day as Operation Overlord was executed- the largest naval invasion in history.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

― Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Normandy Invasion consisted of
    ▪    5,333 Allied ships and landing craft embarking nearly
    ▪    175,000 men. The British and Canadians put
    ▪    75,215 troops ashore, and the Americans
    ▪    57,500, for a total of
    ▪    132,715, of whom about
    ▪    3,400 were killed or missing.

Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
American personnel in Britain included
    ▪    1,931,885 land,
    ▪    659,554 air, and
    ▪    285,000 naval—a total of
    ▪    2,876,439 officers and men housed in
    ▪    1,108 bases and camps.
The waiting for history to be made was the most difficult. I spent much time in prayer. Being cooped up made it worse. Like everyone else, I was seasick and the stench of vomit permeated our craft.
— Pvt Clair Galdonik, 359th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 90th Division
According to Smithsonian.com
When Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy... most Americans slept—news of the invasion wouldn't reach the United States shores until 3:32 a.m. EST, when General Eisenhower's Order of the Day, a message recorded for the troops going into the invasion, was read over American radio stations. President Roosevelt himself wasn't briefed of the invasion's status until a mere 30 minutes before the American public found out. (-Link)
At the end of the first day, 156,000 Allied troops had come ashore at Normandy. It was the first successful opposed landing across the English Channel in eight centuries.

In Georgia, my Dad and the troops watched with interest. A successful invasion would mean they were that much closer to heading for Europe.  No one probably wanted to think about what it would mean if it weren’t successful. The Battle of Normandy lasted into mid-July.

It was successful.

About six weeks ago I was sitting outside enjoying a calm peaceful evening when I was struck by the contrast and similarities to what might have been happening 75 years ago. Since I have been absorbed by World War II for a number of years now, I realized that my writing and exploration of the war was about to get more intense.  Out of nowhere came the thought, “War is coming!” The war in 1944 was in full swing, of course. The Pacific War had begun to turn in the Allies favor and the African and Italian campaigns were quite successful. The Soviet Union had overcome the eastern front and was heading west. But the big event was yet to come. The invasion of Europe, code-named Operation Overlord, was well along in the planning stages and tension was great.

I know the outcome these seventy-five years later. But since part of my self-appointed task has been to follow my dad in the war, I also know that what I am seeing and feeling is more anticipation of what I will discover about Dad (Buddy), the world of 1944-45, and ultimately about myself. There have been a number of turning points in Buddy’s War so far from his running away from home in 1940 to activation into the 80th Armored Medical Battalion; from being part of the now famous 10th Armored Division to marrying my mother. D-Day meant the time was getting short.

"D-Day Statistics: Normandy Invasion By the Numbers" History on the Net © 2000-2019, Salem Media.

# 21 - The New Family

  •    May 10, 1944
A letter from Buddy and one from Dora and she sent me some pictures of Buddy. Wrote to Buddy and sent him a nice wedding present.
    •    May 13, 1944 [Day before Mother's Day]
Got a lovely pocketbook from Buddy and Dora.
    •    May 26, 1944
Letter from Dora w/picture of her and Buddy
— Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman
Separate letters from each of them and an obvious Mother’s Day gift from both. Over the two years he has been gone from home,Buddy appears to have been conscious of his mother and was a dutiful son with regular letters. Of course in those days it was a very common form of communication. Beula was writing letters to either Harold or Ruth at least three times per week. It cost money to make phone calls. A letter was 3 cents! (In 2019 money that is still only 43 cents! In spite of what we hear from time to time about the cost of letters, etc. They were- and remain- a very economical way to connect. ) It would appear that this has just become even more necessary than in the past. He would have been aware, I am sure, that his family is now in a state of shock over what has happened. Dora would have been just as aware from her side. Perhaps she understood the implications better than he did. Being aware of possible issues, she is no doubt trying to be a good daughter-in-law.

Beula seems to be accepting it- at least on the pages of her diary- and is  grateful. The two women will be facing some difficult separation ahead. Perhaps it was a good thing to make sure they were on good speaking terms. It is a new family for both of them.

#20- Interlude: Memorial Day

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    Memorial Day 1944

In 1944 Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 as it had been for decades. (It became a Monday holiday in 1970.) It must have been a solemn day as many had already died- and everyone knew it would only get worse. It was only 8 days before D-Day.

Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) was, and is, a time to remember those who died in war. It was begun, as we know it today, after the Civil War and slowly was accepted across both north and south. It was the day to go to the cemetery and decorate the graves of the lost soldiers. It was a day to remember.

But in the midst of World War II, it was also a very real reminder of the cost the country was in the midst of paying. There was a debt being built that might live for many more decades and may never be able to be fully repaid.

John L. Sullivan was a Navy lieutenant during World War II. For Memorial Day 1944 he wrote this essay. The New York Times printed it on May 31, 1982, with the headline: “Memorial Day 1944: Looking Beyond Victory”. As I pause in my remembering thoughts of World War II, grateful that my Dad lived through the war, the essay is a haunting reminder across these past 75 years.

It began:
Recurrent in all our tributes to those who fall in battle is a dominant resolve that their sacrifice somehow shall bear fruit. How, we do not know, except in terms of generalities, even platitudes, about a bright new world which shall rise out of the desolation of war. This is our answer, and the only answer we have, to the wanton waste of blood and treasure which is the essence of war.

He continues:
For Victory alone is inconclusive. It decides the conflict, it ends the war, but of itself it settles no problems, establishes no principles. It is purely negative, for it brings us back where we started, and it was not for this that our comrades died.

His clear-eyed awareness of what was happening around him in the Pacific that year was filled with the pain of what he himself had no doubt witnessed. He knew that war doesn’t solve anything. It only, hopefully, sets the stage for something important and better. Victory is not the purpose of all this he says. Peace it the eventual purpose. But peace is not just the end of or the absence of war. It is the action of building a different and better world in the absence of conflict.

He concludes:
We are taking the first objective of this war, which is Victory. But our sights must be lifted higher. Beyond Victory lies Peace. Will it be the kind of Peace those men had in mind? It is for us to answer that question, all of us. If we answer it well and faithfully, if our voices and ideals help to make the Peace just as our weapons help to make the Victory, then in the years to come, years untroubled by the march of armies, we shall be able to say, in truth, that we have kept faith with those who died. We can do no less, and we can do no more.(-Link)

As Lincoln had said at Gettysburg almost 80 years earlier, it is for us the living to dedicate ourselves to the cause for which they gave their last full measure. It is for the living to build the peace. The war cannot do that. World War II did not do that. But it gave a place for that to happen.

Which is why I have been writing this blog and doing this research. It is about my Dad and his journey in war, but it is also about what happened as a result of that war- and how we may be losing the peace that built a different world. We may be losing the compassion that came at the end of the war to rebuild the countries of our enemies. We may be forgetting that these soldiers on one level or another believed that they were there to build a better world. Very few of them would have put it that way, of course. But to “keep the world safe for democracy” can be such a goal.

Today is another Memorial Day today. It is now 74 years since World War II ended. It did not end war. There are many more graves of many more young men and women in all corners of the world as well as in cemeteries around the United States. Maybe we can raise our voices and live our ideals in order to “make the Peace just as our weapons help to make the Victory.” It is in these actions of ours that our debt for their sacrifice will be redeemed.

# 19- Performing a Miracle

Before we get to the next months and the 10th being sent overseas, it is good to take a quick review of the US Army before the war began and the miracle performed in a short period. To say the strength of the US military was low would be an understatement. Politics, including isolationism, had to some extent tied the hands of President Roosevelt. Many hoped that the other European nations would take care of Hitler and Mussolini without US intervention. Roosevelt and others managed to finagle different ways of building readiness for what they felt was inevitable. It may only be through the lens of history that we can see that FDR and Churchill were correct and that Hitler’s advances were certainly one of the greatest threats to world peace and democracy that had ever been seen. It was a tightrope that they walked with finesse.

Even with that, however, in the months after Pearl Harbor, the United States was in the war but without a large and broad-based military. It was only the pre-Pearl Harbor draft which gave the foundation for what would become a huge fighting force. New armies and divisions were being created as long-range plans were developed and implemented in Washington for a war across both oceans and very far from home.

The 10th Armored Division was officially activated on July 15, 1942, at Fort Benning, Georgia. My dad’s 80th Armored Medical Battalion was an organic unit the 10th Armored- where the 10th went, the 80th went. When the 10th was created the new commander, Major General Paul Newgarden held a competition to give the unit a nickname. They took the name “The Tiger Division”. For the next year, Lester Nichols, author of the 10th Armored’s history, Impact, writes that the
training was especially rugged. There was the Tiger Camp with its night problems, forced marches, endurance tests, 'dry runs' and firing problems.
10th Armored Division, December 1942-  Fort Benning, Georgia
A division is somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 soldiers. Fort Benning and the many training camps like it, became small cities providing more than just training. They also sought to provide entertainment, activities, sports, and more than enough “fun and games” to keep the troops occupied when they weren’t too tired from the training that Tiger Camp provided.

In late June 1943, the Division packed up and left Fort Benning for what has become known as the Tennessee Maneuvers. These maneuvers were at the heart and soul of turning the American Army into a world-class fighting force.
The Tennessee Maneuver Area was a training area in Middle Tennessee  selected because the terrain resembled France, Belgium and Germany. In June 1941, Major General George S. Patton conducted maneuvers with the 2nd Armored Division in the Manchester, Tennessee vicinity, where he soundly defeated the opposing forces, using large-scale armored fighting. These maneuvers led to the creation of the Tennessee Maneuver Area.

In June 1942, Governor Prentice Cooper, announced that nine counties would be used as a maneuver area by the Second Army, and was eventually expanded to twenty-one counties by the time of closure in 1944. Cumberland University, in Lebanon, Tennessee was the location of the Headquarters for the Army Ground Forces field problems, commonly known as the Tennessee Maneuvers. (Nashville was the principal trailhead.)

Between 1942 and 1944, in seven large scale training exercises, more than 850,000 soldiers were trained in the Tennessee Maneuver Area.

The 10 Armored was there with the 101st Airborne Division, the 80th Infantry Division and the 83rd Infantry Division through June, July, and August 1943. (--Link)
Between the wars, German officer Erwin Rommel, as a young military attache, had visited Nashville and Middle Tennessee to study and follow the cavalry campaigns of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest to help him develop a pattern for the use of tank units as cavalry. This is part of what led General Patton to choose the area for his training in 1941.

Over the hills and valleys of twenty-one counties “Blue” and “Red” armies engaged in weekly strategic “problems,” with troops moved in and out according to a calendar of “phases” that lasted about four weeks apiece. In the military’s scenario Nashville was Cherbourg, without the bombing.

Maneuvers paused at noon on Thursday or Friday, when a light plane would fly over the mock battle lines, sounding a siren. Then thousands of soldiers would seek recreation in Nashville and the county seat towns. Facilities were limited, despite the best efforts of the U.S.O. and the American Red Cross; movie theaters and cafes were packed; drug store soda fountains were forced to shut down twice a day for cleanup. Each army PX was strained to the limit. Churches opened their doors and set up lounges; schools opened their gyms for weekend dances. The Grand Ole Opry had never drawn such crowds than during these months when Middle Tennessee hosted the army’s preparations for the eventual invasion of Normandy in 1944. (--Link)
According to Nichols the maneuvers themselves were

the scene of combat with chiggers, choking dust, sleepless nights, sore backs and aching feet. As always, the ‘enemy’ was constantly pursued. The battle umpires, too, were on hand to declare tank, track and truck ‘knocked out’ by a hidden ‘enemy’ anti-tank crew. (Impact!)
Other personal reports from other units indicated that the maneuvers were tough and often see as the toughest thing they ever did in the Army. Bob Wells who trained with the 100th Division through Tennessee Maneuvers wrote
In Tennessee we were as ‘in the field’ as we could be. When we slept it was in our pup tents, but each week for, as I remember, six weeks, we had problems Monday through Thursday. It was cold and wet, and I for one learned a lot about keeping myself together with no roof or facilities. (--Link)
Wells then records a poem written by and for the 35th Division vets. It begins:
The Tennessee Maneuvers
The devil was given permission one day,
to select a good place for the soldiers to play.
He looked around for a month or more wanting a place that would make them sore.

And, at last was delighted a country view
where the black walnut and the hickory grew, and vowed that Tennessee could not be beat
as a place for maneuvers in rain, snow, and sleet.

He scattered the rocks so the men could not sleep
and brought weather so cold it froze the sheep.
He then sent some rain, the bed rolls to soak
and a few cards and dice, so the men could stay broke.
And the final stanza
Now we’re on the last problem we’ve all done our part,
and at the end of this week the furloughs will start.
Then the men will go home with tall tales to tell
of the things that they did through this six weeks of hell.
35th Divisionaire. March 2008 Association Newsletter
The first week of September 1943 the 10th left Tennessee and settled at its new home, Camp Gordon near Augusta, Georgia. Here they would continue to train, grow and develop into a highly effective unit for the battles that lay ahead. Tiger Camp and lots of training continued.

By mid-May 1944, 75 years ago, training and planning were coming to an end. The war was waiting, and it appears as if they were ready. The US Military was working miracles and more were to come.

#18- An Awful Shock

    •   May 4, 1944
Buddy called at 9:45 from Georgia saying he was married on Wednesday [the previous day, May 3.] Well the shock was awful
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman

It may be that the shock is simply that he married someone other than the one he had been dating for years. It may have sunk in that the “friend” grandma mentions speaking to in a phone call from Georgia 13 days earlier is now Mrs. Harold Lehman.

Here we meet Dora Moldawsky. Her parents, Sam and Anna, came to the United States from Eastern Europe, most likely the Ukraine. It was the early 1900s, probably around 1904 before the Soviet Union, but not before the pogroms. That is no doubt why they made the trip to the United States. How they entered is a piece of the myth. In those mists of childhood overhearing, I remember something about them posing as brother and sister, even though already married.  All genealogical research points to them already being married when they got here. It makes an interesting story. Legal, illegal, or semi-legal immigrants, they came through the golden door of Ellis Island in New York Harbor next to the uplifted lamp of the Statue of Liberty.

Sam and Anna had three children. Dora, the youngest, was born in 1913. I have some pictures of Sam from the 1940s- a tall, handsome man, tanned and well dressed. Anna was the typical Jewish, eastern European Bubbe, grandmother. Sometime in the late 40s or early 50s, Sam had a leg amputated. Family lore had it due to diabetes, but a cousin later discovered other possible causes.

They were observant, Orthodox Jews. They kept Kosher and Sabbath. When we visited, the strict separation of meat and milk, for example, was hard for my brother and me to understand. Mom was not observant back in the Gentile wilds of Pennsylvania, Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. When we were in Brooklyn I don’t remember any time when anyone went to services on Friday evening or Saturday morning. It is quite likely that at least the men went, but, since Sam died when I was nine or ten, it wouldn’t have been unusual for us not to even notice what was happening.

Sometime in her late 20s, Dora did her version of running away from home. In 1940 according to that year’s census records, she was still in Brooklyn, working as a bookkeeper at a wholesale dress house. In some magical and mysterious unknown way by 1943 at age 30 she ended up in Augusta, Georgia. Different versions of the story claim she was working as a secretary or did accounting or was a club singer in Augusta. Maybe all three. What is clear is that while there she met a GI from Pennsylvania who was eight years older than she was. That adds a certain amount of rebelliousness to her character. It would take a great deal of what her family would call chutzpah for her to be on her own, in 1944, and then get married to a gentile! This was as “mixed” a marriage as any other in 1944.

Sam and Anna must have loved her, though. They did not disown her. Beula’s diaries mention Harold and Dora both going to New York to visit and then, after Buddy was deployed, Dora coming to spend time with his family in Pennsylvania. Later pictures show Sam and Anna visiting in Pennsylvania with my brother and me, their two youngest grandchildren.

What we have here is a story with a glimpse into a far-different time. We have Harold Lehman, a run-away gentile from Pennsylvania standing at the Jewish USO of Camp Gordon, Georgia, marrying Dora Moldawsky, a run-away from her Brooklyn family.

People have asked me what it was like to grow up Jewish in Gentile, Bible-belt, Pennsylvania. My immediate answer often was, “I have no idea.” My brother and I grew up culturally Gentiles. I was living in the midst of my family’s home area. As I have mentioned before we were the 7th or 8th generation from my family tree in the West Branch/Pine Creek Valley. And they were all culturally, if not actively practicing Christians. Christmas was a big holiday in our family with a tree and a midnight Christmas Eve/Day party where my brother and I were awakened. We went out to open our presents, delivered by Santa Claus, with family and Dad’s workers there.

I know there was an awareness in the community that our mother was Jewish and that therefore I was, in some way or another, Jewish. Before 1964 each school day started with a reading from the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer,* and the Pledge of Allegiance. When I became aware of such things, I noted that I was always given a passage from the Old Testament. Socially, and practically, though, I was far more Gentile than Jewish. That does not mean I wasn’t aware of “Jewishness.” It was just far more prevalent and obvious to me that I was part of a Pennsylvania native family. I have no idea how others in town felt.

Seventy-five years ago today none of this was on the table, at least in any way I can see. Knowing my family, I am sure there was a great deal of uncertainty, fear, perhaps even anger, at what Buddy had just done. I would guess they had some of the same stereotypes and prejudices, especially about New York City Jews, as were common in the day. Beula never mentioned in her diary that Buddy’s wife was Jewish. I have a hunch that, like many a mixed marriage today, the tension would have been incredible. It is May 1944 and he is only a few months away from shipping out to Europe. As if that wasn’t enough stress, they would have to get used to a new and very unfamiliar family member.

*Footnote: Many years later, living in the Midwest, I learned that in a number of places in the United States this daily Bible reading and reciting the Lord's Prayer was NOT the practice. I had a roomful of church members look at me like I was crazy and dreaming when I said that we did that each morning. The reason was simple- there were Christian groups in the community that were not allowed to pray with others, Christians or not.

#17- A Hint of Something To Come

    •    April 21, 1944
At 6.45 in the evening Buddy called from Augusta and his friend was there and I talked to her.
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman
This is the first mention in the diaries of Buddy’s friend. Did Beula know that she was more than just a “friend” and was she using the euphemism to ignore the implications? Dad was 38 years old, never married. His brother Carl, 42, the eldest, was to be married by the end of June to his very long-time girlfriend.  His sister Ruth, 40, the middle child, had been married about 10 years. Dad had a history of a long time girlfriend that I have mentioned in other posts, whose tires he reportedly slashed when angry.

For all practical purposes Buddy was a small-town boy He spent most of his life in his hometown along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and the nearby Pine Creek in North Central Pennsylvania.

The West Branch rambles through the Allegheny Plateau, before heading east at Lock Haven. Forty or so miles later it breaks south at Muncy leaving the valley. It will join the North Branch a few miles further and form the main river to the Chesapeake Bay. The east flowing section is in a wide, fertile valley, the transition between the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Province (- Link) to the south and the Allegheny Plateau (- Link) to the north. For those 40 miles Bald Eagle Mountain (- Link) bounds the river and the valley. Powerful, tall and green, the mountain is the edge of the world from either direction.

Then there is Pine Creek (- Link). Don’t let its name fool you. One historian commented that it deserves the name river rather than creek. It can be a powerhouse of liquid- or a rock strewn stream. It runs eighty miles from its start beyond Ansonia. It flows through the Allegheny Plateau heading south having carved what is known as The Gorge or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It flows into the Susquehanna a few miles from my hometown, near the site where an ancient Elm stood for centuries until felled by Dutch Elm disease. Under that elm, the Tiadaghton Elm, on July 4, 1776, a group of illegal settlers known as the Fair Play Men signed a declaration of independence from England as the same thing was happening in Philadelphia. (- Link)

Pine Creek is the Tiadaghton- its native name. We were always told it was the largest creek in the world; the major tributary of the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Pine Creek is the wild place, the wilderness on which one’s life foundation can be built, a wilderness at the bottom of a majestic pine bounded gorge. Get your feet wet in Pine Creek, the saying went, and you will always return.

Both Dad’s parents grew up in the same area on neighboring homesteads. The town, and the whole valley from Williamsport to Lock Haven as well as up Pine Creek was filled with all kinds of distant- and not too distant relatives. Everyone knew everyone.  Nevertheless, as I said in post #2, I have little concrete information about his childhood and young adult years.

As a small-town boy, he did become familiar with the city when he went to pharmacy school in Philadelphia. But his feet had been in Pine Creek. After his graduation in 1928 he returned home to the West Branch Valley and lived with his parents in the house where he had spent much of his youth, worked at a local pharmacy that he and his father eventually purchased.

I am sure that it would not have been too much to assume that Dad was going to marry someone local.

All of this was now several years past when Beula got to talk to Buddy’s “friend” 75 years ago. When and how he met this friend is lost in family history. From information in Beula’s diary it appears that Dad was renting from a family in Augusta, about 9 miles from Camp Gordon and probably working in a hospital at least part time. Sixteen years later the family would stop in Augusta on a return trip from Florida and visit with a family who we were told was where Mom was living at the time. I can only guess that it may have been the same place. Who knows? Sometimes facts are not possible to discover.

What Beula and Bill or any of his siblings knew is pure, uneducated conjecture. Now, 75 years later we know where it was about to go.


◆ April 1944
◆ 75 Years Ago
    ◦    Adolf Eichmann and the Nazis offered the Hungarian rescue worker Joel Brand the "Blood for Goods" deal, proposing that one million Jews be allowed to leave Hungary for any Allied-occupied country except Palestine, in exchange for goods obtained outside of Hungary. The deal would never be made because the Allies believed it to be a trick and the British press slammed it as blackmail,
    ◦    A two-day meeting between Hitler and Benito Mussolini was held near Salzburg, and
    ◦    "It's Love-Love-Love" by Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra topped the Billboard singles charts.

#16- Medical Training

◆ April 1944
◆ 75 Years Ago
Less than two months before the planned Allied invasion of France, American and British warplanes soften German defenses on the Normandy coast. (WW II timeline)
    Things will soon get far more hectic, surprising, and involved for my dad and his family. At this point 75 years ago it was all still in limbo. Through mid-April the only mention of Buddy this month in my grandmother’s diary was that she either received a letter from him or sent him one or a “box,” most likely of food. During this break in the action I have been researching the how and what of training for medics. I have found a number of helpful manuals and reports on the Internet. One is The Instructors’ Guide for Medical Department Mobilization, September 1942 and the other is part of the series on World War II history, this volume from 1974 on the Army Medical Department Medical Training in World War II. They give a clear picture of what the US Army Medical Department faced in the early years and how they developed the world class medical units that were indispensable. First, some background from the pre-war years as reported in the history.

    Training facilities of the U.S. Army Medical Department in 1939 reflected adaptation to peacetime medical requirements. From a World War I peak of over 340,000, the Medical Department’s strength had been reduced to a little over 11,500 officers and enlisted men by June 1939. … The five Medical Department field units that existed were either understrength or skeleton organizations; trained enlisted cadre could not have been provided in case of mobilization.
    Had the Medical Department been confronted with mobilization in the summer of 1939, the problems of creating a functioning organization capable of providing both routine health care and field medical support might have proved insurmountable. [Emphasis added.] The 2-year period that intervened provided an opportunity to adjust the program for the crisis that lay ahead. (Medical Training)

    Training that already existed was expanded slightly starting in 1939 after the start of the war in Europe when Germany’s invaded Poland. A report about the later development of replacement training centers on the website of the WW II US Medical Research Center clearly states the purpose:

The ultimate purpose of all Military Training is the assurance of Victory in war! An Army must be trained to do its job in the most effective manner if it is to reach victory with the least possible losses to the country. … Attached medical personnel and Medical Department units must be prepared to support the offensive spirit and actions of the Armed Forces. … Units must be trained to function effectively in any type of military operation. The well-trained medical unit will increase the offensive spirit by assuring combat personnel of adequate medical service at all times.

Medical personnel were therefore trained to be aggressive, resolute, and thoroughly capable…While the basis of initial training was the individual, the ultimate requirement was teamwork, from the smallest unit to the largest. (— Link)
    In order for that to happen, there was a basic program for medical personnel training. It appears that after the draft was begun in late 1940, the training looked something like this:
[E]nlisted men were to receive 13 weeks of basic training. [It] was divided into two phases: The first, a period of basic military training; and the second, a period of basic technical and tactical training. After 2 weeks of basic military training at the beginning of the cycle, the trainee was expected to be able to display and care for his uniform and equipment, to understand military courtesy, and to have acquired a fundamental knowledge of such basic military subjects as individual defense and march discipline.

The third to 13th weeks of the program were devoted to basic technical and tactical training. Training in basic military subjects continued, but after the second week of the cycle, the program stressed basic technical subjects that would prepare men either for specific duties or for further training at a medical unit or installation. During this period, men were also trained to march and execute tactical movements, to establish and operate battalion or regimental dispensaries, and to maneuver with the combat arms in the field….

Individuals qualified to be trained as technicians were selected at the end of the fourth, eighth, and 12th week of the cycle and sent to Medical Department special service schools or to enlisted technician schools for 8 to 12 weeks of technical training. (Quora)
    From other sources I have found that the Army earmarked medic candidates from the very first day they joined the Army. Sounds simple enough, but the truth of the matter is that in that time referred to as the period  of “Limited National Emergency”
Although there was extensive study and planning for the expansion of the Army Medical Department [during that period], little was actually done. …  The Army Medical Department was also handicapped by lack of funds to construct troop housing and classrooms at the training centers and to expand facilities at the technical and advanced technical training schools. The shortage of instructors at the training centers and technical schools was a chronic problem. Training equipment had to be improvised or simulated. Irregular arrivals and unscheduled transfers of trainees resulted in vast fluctuations in enrollments. (— Link)
    Looking at the 1942 Instructors’ Guide gives a decent outline of what the training was supposed to look like.

1) Basic Training- weeks one and two
The preliminary training of the individual enlisted man will be stressed. At the end of this period he should be able to wear properly, display, and care for his uniform and equipment; understand and correctly practice indoor and outdoor military courtesy; and have an applicatory knowledge of the essentials of all basic subjects prescribed in this program.
2) Technical Training- weeks 3-10
Emphasis is placed upon fundamental technical subjects which will fit him for actual practice or further training in a medical unit or installation. In addition to the technical subjects, specialist training, tactical and logistical training is begun. Fundamental technical subjects were covered such as establishment and operation of stations, collection and treatment of casualties in the field, the operation of regimental and battalion dispensaries; and the preparation for participation with the associated arms in field exercises and under combat conditions. 

3) Tactical Training- weeks 11-13
This period should be devoted largely to field and applicatory exercises. At the end of this period personnel intended for tactical medical units should be able to march and execute tactical movements with facility, establish and operate stations, collect and treat casualties in the field during day or night, operate battalion or regimental aid stations, and participate with the associated arms both in field exercises and under combat conditions.

4) Specialist Training- weeks 14-26
For a surgical technician this would include everything from nutrition and hygiene to ward management and air raid procedures. (Instructors' Manual)
    It appears that in the last quarter of 1941 the basic training portion was shortened to 11 weeks. But by then my dad would have already completed both basic and specialist training as outlined in the Manual.

    My Dad was part of the initial mobilization in the two years of 1939-1941. As I talked about in an earlier post, he registered for the draft as required on the first day in October 1940. His enlistment date was January 13, 1941. I assume that because of his own civilian training as a pharmacist he went though both basic training and medical orientation as listed above. The one thing that supports that assumption is a picture I have of medics from the hospital at Camp Blanding, Florida in late August 1941, over seven months into his year.

Buddy in upper right corner (cropped)

As I have said elsewhere, I have no diary from my grandmother to confirm any information. So far I have hit dead ends on following him in that first period of service. If, as I assume, he was trained in his eventual specialty- surgical technician- this all would have taken him until mid-July 1941. Did he stay for further training or to develop skills? Camp Blanding is not listed as a medical training facility in anything I have found. Was he sent home early since the space was needed for increased training when the draft was extended in 1941?

    All I know for sure are the dates above, the picture from Camp Blanding, and that by January 1942 (perhaps earlier) he was home and remained at home until activated in August ’42 into the 80th Armored Medical Battalion. Now, in April 1944, he was a medic with the 10 Armored Division’s medical battalion, no doubt “enjoying” these last months before going overseas. D-Day was less than six weeks away and then everything would change.

#15- January - March 1944: The Greater War

While my dad, with the 10th Armored Division and 80th Medical Battalion continued training, there was a great deal of activity elsewhere. In the first 3 months of 1944, 75 years ago, some actions in the greater war:

January 1944
◦ 16: General Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in London, returning from a week of rest and planning in Washington, D. C., and assumed command of the European Theater by General Orders No. 4. His new title was Commanding General, U.S. Forces, European Theater of Operations.

◦ 20: The Royal Air Force drops 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin,
     and   The U.S. Army 36th Infantry Division, in Italy, attempts to cross the Gari River but suffers heavy losses.

◦ 22: Allies begin Operation Shingle, the landing at Anzio, Italy, commanded by American Major General John P. Lucas. The Allies hope to break the stalemate in south Italy, but they are unable to break out of the beachhead and the line holds until late May. The minesweeper USS Portent commanded by Lt. H.C. Plummer, hit a mine and sank southeast of Anzio, Italy.

◦ 27: The Siege of Leningrad ended after 872 days, as Soviet forces finally forced the Germans to withdraw. Some 2 million died, mostly of starvation and disease.

February 1944
◦ 1: U.S. Marines mop up on Roi and Namur in the northern part of the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands.

◦ 2: The Narva front near the east border of Estonia is formed between the Soviet and German forces.

◦ 3: American planes bomb Eniwetok in the Marshalls, later to be a major B-29 base.

◦ 4: Kwajalein, the world's largest atoll and a major Japanese naval base, is secured.

◦ 5: The American Navy bombards the Kuril Islands, northernmost in the Japanese homelands.

◦ 8: The plan for the invasion of France, Operation Overlord, is confirmed.

◦ 17: American Marines land on Eniwetok.

◦ 18: The light cruiser HMS Penelope is torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Anzio with a loss of 415 crew,
    and    American naval air raid takes place on the Truk islands, a major Japanese naval base, but they will be one of the bypassed fortresses of the Japanese outer defense ring.

◦ 19: Leipzig, Germany is bombed for two straight nights. This marks the beginning of a "Big Week" bombing campaign against German industrial cities by Allied bombers.

◦ 26: The "Big Week" bombing campaign comes to a successful conclusion; the American P-51 Mustang fighter with its long range proves invaluable in protecting American bombers over Germany.

March 1944
◦ 3: German forces around Anzio, having failed to drive the Allies from the beachhead, go over to a defensive posture.

◦ 6: The Allies receive intelligence that the Japanese may be about to attack Western Australia, causing them to greatly bolster defenses there. When no attack comes, forces return to their regular stations on the 20th.

◦ 16: United States XI Corps arrives in Pacific Theater.

◦ 17: Heavy bombing of Vienna, Austria.
March 20, 1944
◆ 75 Years Ago Today
The Royal Air Force drops 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
The U.S. Army 36th Infantry Division, in Italy, attempts to cross the Gari River but suffers heavy losses.
◦ 24: Heavy bombings of German cities at various strategic locations last for 24 hours.
-- Wikipedia