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.

Buddy's War: Interlude

Over the past few months I have posted the first of the series following my dad in World War II. The next two years will be the remembrances of the 75th Anniversary of the big actions and winning of that war in 1944 and 1945. My dad was a medic in the 80th Armored Medical Battalion, an organic part of the famed 10th Armored Division. My goal up to this point was to catch up to the calendar dates to match the 75-year anniversary. I have given some background and some of the family history.

These will continue as I move forward. I also  hope to fill in some of the gaps in the earlier story. Since I have been following some of the entries in my  grandmother's diary, that left one whole year out, 1941- there was no diary. I am hopeful at finding some more information about his training and plans that year before Pearl Harbor. If nothing else I am digging into the training and activities. the Army was involved in.

I will also try to fill in some of the earlier information on the formation and training of the 10th Armored Division. It was officially activated in July of 1942 and my dad arrived with them in August. They had two full years of training until the fall of 1944 when they left for Europe. I will be filling in some of the background and activities during those two years as we move into the early part of this new year.

My main goal, though is to go through these next 22 months of World War II with my dad and his band of brothers.

As has been the case before, here is what was happening 75 years ago this week in 1944 in World War II:
  • January 4: The United States launches operations behind Axis lines, delivering weapons and supplies to anti-Nazi partisans in France, Italy, and the Low Countries.
  • January 7: In preparation for the invasion of France, Allied planes drop airborne operatives into the occupied country to help train their partisans in guerrilla tactics to support regular troops.
  • January 9: Winston Churchill meets with Free French leader Charles de Gaulle to discuss the role the Free French will play in the Allied invasion of France.

#13- New Year's Eve 1943

◆ December 31, 1943
◆ New Year’s Eve
◆ 75 Years Ago Today…
Hitler delivered a New Year's message to the German people admitting… that 1944 "will make heavy demands on all Germans. This vast war will approach a crisis this year. We have every confidence that we will survive." British Deputy Prime Minister Clement Attlee broadcast a New Year's Eve message of his own to the people of the United Kingdom. Attlee declared that the "hour of reckoning has come" for the Nazis but urged the British people not to be complacent, stating: "We do know that in 1944 the war will blaze up into greater intensity than ever before, and that we must be prepared to face heavier casualties.
I hope next year will bring peace for everybody. Hope we all stay well.
— Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman

#12- Christmas 1943

◆ December 18, 1943
◆ Seventy-five years ago this week
Heinrich Himmler ordered new rules for arrest and deportation of Jews in Germany, revoking most previous exemptions for Jews who had married Gentiles. Most Jewish spouses were ordered deported to the nominally Jewish city of Theresienstadt in January, rather than immediately to concentration camps.
On the homefront, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported ongoing war news from both Europe and the Pacific and updated a railroad “strike” possibility from the non-operating union, including word that the government was considering taking over the railroads. Behind the headlines it was a Christmas season.

Beula sent Buddy a box on the 20th and did some sewing on the 21st.

They trimmed the Christmas tree on the 22nd and did some baking and cleaning on the 23rd.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Ruth and Fred and Carl and Mabel came around. She reported it was “awful cold.”

Letters came and went from Buddy still in Georgia.

A war-time Christmas.

#11- In the Greater War

In dealing with my father’s story of involvement in World War II, I don’t want to overlook the fact that during this time there was a lot of war happening. In 1943 the Eastern Front collapsed on the Germans, fighting was fierce in the Pacific, and Italy and Africa were centers of heavy warfare. The Germans continued their “Final Solution” when they were able. While many of the troops destined for Europe in 1944 were still in training, the war was as active as it had been. Here are some of the notable events of 1943: (Link)

◆ January 14, 1943
The Casablanca Conference between the U.S. and Britain begins. Roosevelt and Churchill agree that Germany must surrender unconditionally, and plan the Allied invasion of Sicily.

◆ January 31, 1943
Over 90,000 German troops at Stalingrad surrender to the Soviets. It is a significant turning point in the war against Germany.

◆ February 8, 1943
U.S. troops complete the capture of Guadalcanal from the Japanese .

◆ April 19, 1943
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising begins after German troops attempt to deport the ghetto's last surviving Jews. About 750 Jews fought back the Germans for almost a month.

◆ May 11, 1943
The Trident Conference between the U.S. and Britain begins. Roosevelt and Churchill decide to delay the Allied invasion of France and in its place plan the Allied invasion of Italy. In Alaska, U.S. troops land on Attu in the Aleutian islands to retake it from the Japanese .

◆ May 12, 1943
Axis forces in North Africa surrender.

◆ May 16, 1943
German troops crush the last resistance of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and kill thousands of Jews. The rest are sent to the Treblinka concentration camp to die.

◆ July 10, 1943
Over 160,000 Allied troops land in Sicily, beginning Operation Husky.

◆ July 25, 1943
Benito Mussolini's fascist government is overthrown in Italy. The new Italian government begins peace talks.

◆ August 15, 1943
U.S. troops retake Kiska island in the Aleutians.

◆ August 17, 1943
Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, is successfully concluded when American troops take Messina.

◆ September 3, 1943
British troops land on mainland Italy, beginning the Allied campaign in Italy. American troops land six days later. The new Italian government formally surrenders.

◆ September 10, 1943
German troops occupy Rome. Mussolini soon declares himself the head of a new fascist Italian government in German-occupied northern Italy.

◆ October 13, 1943
Italy declares war on Germany.

◆ November 20, 1943
U.S. Army troops land on Makin island in the Gilberts. The next day, U.S. Marines land on Tarawa. Within four days, both islands were secured, but at the cost of thousands of casualties.

◆ November 8, 1943
The Teheran Conference between the U.S., Britain, and the USSR begins. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin meet together for the first time.

◆ December 1, 1943
The Teheran Conference between the U.S., Britain, and the USSR is successfully concluded. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin agree that the Western Allies would invade France in June 1944 and that when it began the USSR would launch a new offensive from the east.
◆ December 5, 1943
◆ Seventy-five years ago today.
The Allies began Operation Crossbow in an all-out effort to stop Germany's V-1 rocket program. The first launch sites targeted were near Ligescourt, France, where U.S. Army Air Force B-26 bombers made an unsuccessful attempt to put a dent in the program. (Link)
◆ December 24, 1943
Dwight Eisenhower is named supreme commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces.


#10- Building an Army

◆ November 28, 1943
◆ Seventy-five years ago today:
The Tehran Conference was held. President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill met with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in Iran to discuss war strategy.

In the early 1940s the United States faced a seemingly daunting task. Build a world-class military from next to nothing. Beginning with the first “peace time draft” at the end of 1940 and then expanding almost exponentially after Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US Armed Forces underwent a transformation perhaps unprecedented in history. From top to bottom the military needed to become an unbeatable force. The reason was simple and now, almost 80 years later, almost overlooked. By Pearl Harbor, the United States was all that stood between world peace and the demolition of everything Western Civilization stood for! One of those who answered the call in 1941 was a surgeon names Brendan Phibbs. Over 45 years later he wrote a memoir of the time, The Other Side of Time: A Combat Surgeon in World War II. I came across it in my research this past summer and was blown away by its power. It was another piece of information about what my Dad was facing. In the early chapters of the book he reflects on the world at the beginning of World War II.
It’s hard today to remember the glow that bathed our armed forces as the country hitched up its weapons for the Second World War. It was a springtime, a virginal encounter when a generation distracted and sometimes desperate could turn happy and relieved to the ancient simple virtues…. Because sometime during the twenties and thirties the United States Army had disappeared. While the rest of the world rumbled and flamed through a tortured decade, [Old pictures of the US Army] certainly didn’t seem any match for the well-drilled hordes that thumped and banged their way across the newsreel screens, flaunting the terrors of Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan…. Out of the radiant past came the army we have forgotten.
Help was needed. The pictures from Europe and the Pacific were horrendous. How could the United States compete with that kind of military power that was at once brutal, overwhelming, and in control of a great deal of the world?
Maybe we should never use total black or clear white to symbolize the capering of the human animal, but in 1942 we … knew we were marching out against the closest approximation of total darkness the planet had ever known.

We were a reenactment of American history, from Louisburg to Chateau-Thierry, a levee en masse around a skeleton of barely competent professional soldiers, when somehow, always, the carpenters and salesmen and tavern keepers and foundry workers got themselves sorted into ranks, most of them to become adequate and some of them to become heroes…. It was going to be our army, we were prepared to love it, and I suppose we would have felt even more strongly if we had known what we really were: the last American crusade, an army marching out with the cheers and blessings of a whole people, to save our country and the world from black, unrelieved villainy.

We were marching out to become the last people’s army in the history of the United States of America.
— Brendan Phibbs, The Other Side of Time: A Combat Surgeon in World War II. 1987.

As we move into 2019 (and 1944) I will expand on some of the ways the United States accomplished this miraculous task. To the point of this series I also did some digging into the needs for medical personnel as well as training the medics in combat. On Quora I found some of the history of the process:
The Army, on the other hand, primarily managed their combat medic training pipeline by earmarking medic candidates from the very first day they joined the Army. Medics went through a combined basic training, infantry class, and medics school, taught continuously for the student. Prior to the war, Army Medic training (combined with basic training) was 13 weeks. In the 4th quarter of 1941, the Army truncated the school to 11 weeks. Since 1942 saw the enlistment of millions & millions of men, Army Basic/Medic school was cut to just eight weeks for ten months. November and December 1942 saw the program extended back to 11 weeks; May to August 1943 increased the class to 12 weeks. From August 1943 to war's end, combined basic training/medic school stabilized at 17 weeks. Whatever curriculum was cut short, was picked-up by field training detachments after the apprentice medic arrived at his first duty station. (-Link)
From a U.S. Army history of the growth of the medical corps in World War II came this information:
Despite the country’s desire to avoid involvement in another European war, the US Army had been gradually expanding in the years before Pearl Harbor, from 191,450 troops when Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939 to about 1.5 million when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. The National Guard had been mobilized in 1940, the same year Congress approved a peacetime draft. Guard units faced several obstacles, however. Industry was not producing enough military equipment, and troops had to train with limited quantities of outdated items. Medical training itself was a bottleneck; for instance, not enough brick-and-mortar hospitals existed to provide full training for all newly enlisted men, and courses had to be shortened to ensure at least some hands-on training for all enlistees. (-Link)
In short, there was a lot going on in those years- and by the end of 1943 U.S. Military personnel were fighting and dying in many areas.

They had only just begun.

#9- Thanksgiving 1943

◆   November 25, 1943
◆   Thanksgiving Day
◆   75 Years Ago Today…
My dad had been home for around 10 days on furlough. It was time to head back to Georgia and Camp Gordon. Grandma’s diary simply records that she got up at 8:00 (early for her), got dinner, and then “took Buddy to the station at 2-.”

By 6:00 both Carl and Ruth were also gone.
Such was Thanksgiving 1943.

Meanwhile in Georgia:
The troops that were not on furlough over Thanksgiving had their own feasts. Since they had formed in 1942, the 10th Armored Division, the Tiger Division, had produced a newspaper:

From Vol II, No. 11 on Dad’s birthday, they had the following information about the upcoming Thanksgiving:

"Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, traditionally a holiday that ranks as a day for good eating, good fellowship and general celebration. The Tiger Division should have a typical Thanksgiving holiday. Turkey dinner in the mess halls. Two Tiger grid teams will clash on the post gridiron in what promises to be a fast-moving, hard-fought contest.
Sometime during the day every Tier might well stop for a few minutes to consider why he, personally, should feel thankful on Thanksgiving Day 1943. Here are a few reasons we can think of: We are part of the greatest Army in the world, preparing to fight for the greatest country in the world; our forces on the fighting fronts are everywhere surging ahead; on the home front, production is ever on the increase and there is no longer any doubt that we shall have the planes, ships, and tanks necessary to destroy the enemy;… there is plenty to be grateful about… So lets consider ourselves very lucky, and enjoy the day— and then, the next day, go on about the business of winning the war so we can return home and have our old-fashioned Thanksgivings."

#8- Birthday 1943

    ◆    November 19, 1943
    ◆    75 Years Ago Today...
It was my Dad's 38th birthday. He had arrived home in Jersey Shore on the 16th on a 15-day furlough. My grandmother doesn't note anything special about the day. She had been ready to send a package to him in Camp Gordon near Augusta, Georgia, where the 10th Armored Division and the 80th Medical Battalion were in training for entering the war in 1944.

#7- A Year of Coming and Going

  • January 1, 1943
Well, we start a new year and I hope we all have good luck and good health. Father and I are all alone and it is a dark and dreary day.
— Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman

As the new year begins Beula and Bill are home alone. Buddy has been in Georgia at Fort Benning since August. There, the newly formed and activated 10th Armored Division and its many battalions and companies are beginning the arduous task of building a world-class army after years of minimal development. I am going to post more about that task in some future posts. At this point I will focus more on this last full year of “peace” for the home front in Jersey Shore, PA. Over this and the next few posts, by the way, I am going to catch the dates of posts and the story up to the calendar. While there will be side stories, background, and updates, by next week we will be in the 75th Anniversary mode of these events that shattered an old world and defined the new one for three-quarters of a century.

For many, and Buddy was no exception, 1943 was a year of coming and going. In general life was still moving in a relatively normal fashion back home. Beula would regularly note in her diary about Carl or Ruth and their travels in and out of town. She continued her visits to the “club”, which is never named, the weather, her trips to the store, or just visiting with friends. She noted one day that she had to go to the “schoolhouse” to get her ration book and in another that her brother Henry brought a can of lard. There were the three to four times each week when letters were written, sent, or received.

In January, she noted on the 14th that it was “10 weeks ago today since father broke his arm” in the accident at work and, on the same day a letter from Harold that he might be home soon. He had been away since August 6. Two weeks later he called from Atlanta that he was traveling and her response was, “Gee, I am nervous." Perhaps there were still memories and concerns from the months prior to his being called back up when one thing after another kept happening. It would not be a surprise if she was wondering what this visit would bring. Had he changed? Would he go back to his reckless ways?”

He was delayed in Washington but made it home on January 30. In his two weeks at home there is little mention of him except for one entry halfway through when he went “out and did not come home.” He returned to Georgia the middle of February and called about six weeks later. “Gee, I was glad to hear from him and to hear everything was O.K.”

A second furlough happened in May. Dad arrived home on May 18 for a ten-day stay. Again, in the middle of the leave, one incident- “Harold went away. I don't know where he went. Gee it is lonesome.” On May 27 he left to return to Georgia. “I did not go to the station with him.Gee I miss him.” Then a few days later, she "wrote to Buddy. It is awful lonesome.”

On his return to Georgia the 10th Armored and his 80th Medical Battalion packed up and went to maneuvers in Tennessee. From June 21 to September 3, just shy of three months, they participated in a major training event. It was still a year away from their overseas deployment but it was a significant training which I have found mentioned in other sources from other Divisions. This was part of the intense development of a world-class military that would be heading overseas into war. I will talk more about this growth and development in a later post.

During the maneuvers there were still the letters. Mail was able to find them, as was promised in the newspaper, The Tiger's Tale, that the 10th Armored produced in Georgia. Beula, conscious of dates, noted in her diary on August 6 that is was “one year since Buddy left.” Then with maneuvers over the 10th moved to a new home near Augusta, Georgia, at Camp Gordon, where they would be for the next year. With the move complete Dad had another two-week leave in September and then again in November when he was home for fifteen days.

With that year we catch up to the calendar. He arrived home on November 16, 1943 for that 4th leave  of the year, seventy-five years ago this week.

Through all of this I continue to wonder what was going on in both their lives. Beula was, at this point, an obviously lonesome person. What the causes were, was it medically related, was it her age and medical history catching up to her, was it the tension Harold had brought into her life? We will never know. In any case, from this point on, in a clear and obvious change of language, Harold becomes, more often than not, “Buddy.” It was a more endearing, even intimate reference.

Buddy was Beula’s baby, her youngest child.
He is getting ready for war.

#6- Turning Points

• January 1, 1942
Well, this is new year’s and it is a stormy day. It snowed and then it rained. Harold did not come home for lunch, so it has been a long day. Harold did not come home all night and I am just sick he is starting the new year in a bad way.
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman
At one point in my planning for this series I thought about calling it “Buddy’s Wars”, “wars” being plural. I have a hunch that there was far more going on behind the scenes of my dad’s life than any of us will ever know. In earlier posts I have given some of the clues, slight though they be. They include his “running away from home” at age 35; his seeming intent on joining the Army and lying about his age so it would happen; the family memory of something to do with a German flag; the unusual mentions of the person I knew to be a one-time girlfriend. Sure I may be reading into all this from my own background in mental health and psychology, but the signs are there.

Dad, of course, wouldn’t have been the first to join the Army as a way of either escape or growing up. But he wasn’t a kid. He was an adult with a profession and a business. We will never know what it was that finally broke in 1940 when he lied about his age and registered for the draft. I kept the word war in the title as singular since it is all parts of his greater war. World War II may have finally given him something that he had been looking for.

I hope so, though he never talked about it with me.

As I said in the previous post, my dad was drafted and reported for duty in January of 1941. Where he went other than Camp Blanding in August. He was obviously then sent on some type of extended leave and by January 1942 was back home in northern Pennsylvania. As grandma’s diary entry says above, it was not a comfortable time for him. “I am sick he is starting the new year in a bad way” would indicate that Beula was worried, again, about her youngest child. It didn’t end with that. Over the next three months there were a number of posts about Harold, more than in any previous diary.

1-Feb - Harold did not come home
2-Feb - Harold did not come home last night nor for lunch today
3-Feb - Harold did not come home last night. Today at 1.15.
22-Mar - Harold did not get up. He did not get come home until 6.30 this morning. And I am just sick.
23- 27 Mar - [He came home late 6 more days in a row.]
Another memory surfaces; another of the myths of my father. At one point I was told that he got angry with his girlfriend and slashed her tires. In mid-January Beula had noted that dad was together with that girlfriend. That was the first such entry where they were together. Then this shows up in the diary a month after those six nights.
13-Apr - Harold did not come home until 2.30 and he did not come home for lunch. So I am not doing a darn thing. He was out last night cutting tires.
It was said so matter-of-factly, but with more than a little anger. “I am fed up,” Beula seems to be saying. “I am done trying to get anywhere with this son of mine.” I wonder how she knew what he was up to? I know that the girlfriend’s mother, as well as the girlfriend herself were friends of hers. It wouldn’t be unheard of in a small community like Jersey Shore for half the town to know by nightfall the next day. Twenty-some years later it would be just as difficult for either my brother or myself to get away with anything without being found out.

Then there was one more entry about this…
• 14-April - Harold did not come home last night. Came in at 1 went to bed. He is working tonite. But gee I am sick. I don't see how I can stand it any longer
….and then silence about any problems. Things began to look up. No problems are mentioned after that. In the few times he is mentioned, dad shows up as doing things around the house, being home, being a dutiful son. I will continue to do digging into newspapers of the time to see if there was anything ever reported on this, but I doubt it. Something, however, made him change. I doubt it was the anger or fears of his mother. Perhaps it was a run-in with the police about it. Perhaps it was his own fear of what he had done.

Then it was time to go.

On July 15, 1942 the 10th Armored Division was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ten days later Harold got the notice that he was to return to service twelve days later. The progress of my dad back to the Army and into World War II shows up ever so clearly in Beula’s diary beginning just eight months after Pearl Harbor.
• 6-Aug - Took Harold to the station. Left for New Cumberland. Gee I do miss him.
• 14-Aug - Harold called at 7 saying he was leaving New Cumberland tomorrow.
• 15-Aug - Harold called from Washington- he is leaving for Georgia. 28 of them going.
• 20-Aug - Got a letter from Harold. He is at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
• 29-Aug - Gee but I am lonesome. I miss Buddy.

• 1-Sep - O gee I am so homesick. Wish I could talk to Buddy.
This is the first time she consistently refers to Harold as “Buddy.” It was an almost unused nickname up to this point. Here and there she referred to him that way, but most of the time it is by name. She mentions him as Buddy only two more times in September and then as Harold for the rest of the year. He will become Buddy almost entirely from then on. Through the end of the year, and the war itself, there will be many references to letters, cards, and boxes going back and forth. I wish I had even a few of those letters. But they are long gone until postcards at the end of the war.

Buddy’s war has taken on a new direction. He is in Georgia with the 10th Armored Division as part of its organic medical battalion, the 80th. For the next thirty-seven months World War II will transform him into the man I knew. His parents, Beula and Bill, and his siblings Carl and Ruth will be at home.

In November grandpa fell off a box car onto a flat car at work and hurt his wrist. (He is 66-years old.) A couple weeks later she writes:
• November 26, 1942 (Thanksgiving Day)
It is a lovely day and we are alone. But we are thankful we are well. Having a roast chicken.
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman
She then writes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that even with both Carl and Ruth around, she misses Harold. It won’t be the last time.
• December 24, 1942
Looking for Harold.
• December 25, 1942
Looked for Harold. I am disappointed.
- Diary entries, Beula Keller Lehman

#5: A Missing Year

Draft Registration Card
• Living in Bethesda, Montgomery Co., Maryland
• Working for People’s Drugs in Washington, DC
• William listed as next of kin
• Age 33
• Birthdate listed as 11/19/1906
• Signed H K Lehman
• Oct 16, 1940
• Light complexion, Blue eyes, brown hair,
• 5’6” 165 pounds
I have no diary for 1941. I have looked through boxes and asked my brother to do the same. It is not to be found. But I am not totally lost. First, available online above is the information from his draft card. As Beula reported on October 17 last year, my dad did register on the first day of registration for the first ever peacetime draft in US history. It is where I got any information I have had about where he was living since Beula never mentioned it. He did “run away” to Maryland and was living in the DC suburb of Bethesda while working at a pharmacy in the city. Looking at Google Maps, it appears to be about nine miles to the store, which was about a mile from the White House.

Two things stand out about the draft registration card. One was the signature. He often used his initials instead of a name. To many he was later known as “H K” and his store was either referred to as Lehman’s Pharmacy or H K Lehman Pharmacy. For me that was a moment of familiarity and, well, comfort. This is my dad.

More interesting is the age/birth date. One of the old story lines in movies and TV is about the young man who lies about his age to join the army. It usually meant they said they were older than they were. There was even an episode of M*A*S*H with Ron Howard playing the soldier who was actually younger than he said. But my dad, I guess in line with the Lehman idea of being different, lied in the other direction. As it would indicate on his military ID card a few years later, he is listed as a year younger than he really was. As of his registration date he was only 5 weeks shy of his 35th birthday, not his 34th. The upper limit for registration at that point was age 35.

I guess he wanted to make sure he got registered. The first enlistees were inducted the day before his actual 35th birthday. Since it was by lottery, it looks like he may not have been called right away.

Additional Enlistment Information 
• Enlistment Date: 13 Jan 1941
• Enlistment State: Maryland
• Enlistment City: Baltimore
• Grade: Private
• Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for assignment to another corps area
• Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
• Source: Civil Life
• Education: 3 years of college
• Civil Occupation: Pharmacists
• Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Did he actually enlist or was he drafted? The enlistment information above would imply it was not voluntary, referring to the component as “selectees”. But I have not yet been able to explore that. Nor have I yet been able to explore what “enlistment for assignment to another corps area” means. I have not yet been able to explore where he went next or what training he would undergo. With no diary I also have no collateral information from my grandmother. All I have is a picture dated August from Camp Blanding, FL.

Camp Blanding itself has an interesting history. It was established in northeastern Florida as a small National Guard camp. It’s history adds that it
is an example of an aptly timed, albeit humble commencement, for a soon valuable commodity. This young post's uses during [World War II] include service as a training site for a multitude of units, a basic training complex for the Infantry, and a Prisoner of War Camp. The contributions of Camp Blanding, Florida, under-publicized as they may be, were significant to the war effort.

The construction of the new facility… began in the latter half of 1939 following the conversion of Camp Clifford R. Foster in Jacksonville, formerly Camp Joseph E Johnson, from a National Guard Post into the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Soon thereafter, a handful of Jacksonville residents united to form and Air Base Committee.

This fund raising body drew the responsibility for securing $400,000 to help finance construction of a replacement facility in the city's vicinity. It is unlikely that they realized in just a few short years this site would be the largest Infantry Replacement Training Center in the U.S. Army.

The original dimensions of the post were 28,200 acres, however, this bloomed into a sprawling site in excess of 170,000 acres following the federalization of the post in 1940. Thus, the once tiny station suddenly became the second largest training site in the nation in terms of physical size.

[T]he War Department initiated a rapid construction wave in 1941, resulting in the establishment of 10,000 new buildings. Still, the ballooning population of the Post far out paced the process of construction, and by 1942, there were some 60,000 troops quartered at the site. In conjunction with this development, construction estimates soared from the Guard Post, to $27.5 million for this federalized facility.

A shortage of quality labor to aid the process of construction presented a problem to contractors charged with this task. In response, one such company initiated a plan placing novice builders next to more experienced workers, thus allowing the former to learn from the latter. After the company organized this system, a standard mess hall could be cut to size in the lumber yard in 10 minutes, and erected in the field in 25 minutes.

In a short time, Camp Blanding included 125 miles of paved roads, in excess of one million square yards of motor parking areas, eighty one miles of water lines, twenty six and a half miles of railroad, and over two hundred fifty miles of electrical wiring. More important, the reservation boasted a highly advanced artillery range, and top notch rifle, anti-aircraft, mortar and grenade ranges. (Link to Camp Blanding history)

None of this indicates anything about my dad’s training since all I have at this point connecting him to the Post is the picture of a group of medics in August. But what the story of Camp Blanding illustrates is the amazing beginnings of a build up of the American military as had never before been seen. I will talk more about this at a later time, especially in relation to the medical services. Of main historical interest to me is the planning and foresight of President Franklin Roosevelt. From all I have read he knew that the day would come when the United States entered the European war. He did a great deal to make sure that when the day came the US would not be caught completely unprepared.

The nation may have been unprepared, but FDR was not when, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the US base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. America was now in World War II.

Where was Buddy? I have no idea for sure. I will keep digging. But when the calendar turns to 1942 I do know he was home, most likely waiting to be activated when the other “corps area” was ready.

At the end of 1941 the 10th Armored Division and the 80th Armored Medical Battalion did not yet exist. But now, it was only a matter of time. None of us would ever be the same again.

#4: A Family in Turmoil

June 27, 1940
Harold did not come home last night…. left after dinner [tonight] and did not come home for supper. Gee, I am almost crazy.

July 13, 1940
Harold was mad and did not eat any supper and left. Said he was never coming home.
- Diary entries, Beula Keller Lehman

With these two diary entries, Beula opens the curtain ever so slightly on what may have been a family secret. As Europe was being enveloped in a second “Great War” my father was about to add turmoil far more personal and painful to his family. In reality, I have no idea whether he was adding turmoil or just continuing it. For some reason, perhaps simply intuition, overheard but forgotten stories, or my reflection on the older Harold Lehman I knew as a child, I get the feeling that what was about to happen in mid-1940 was not anything particularly new. I do not have any of my grandmother’s diaries prior to 1940 so I cannot dig for clues. In the ones I do have she almost never gives hints of what was going on beneath the surface of her life.

I can deduce several things.
* She is often lonely, deeply lonely. Many times she speaks of missing her daughter, Ruth. She talks about being home alone when my grandfather was off working on the railroad, or perhaps also helping run the pharmacy he co-owned with my Dad. There is throughout an almost overwhelming sadness and loneliness.
 * She is not in good health. She often says she is tired, not feeling well, suffering from a headache.
* She did have a number of friends who were regular visitors and with whom she periodically did things.
* She often mentions a person that I was told about in later years as my Dad’s girlfriend at the time. She is never called that, but she is in and out of the stories of the year, including when Beula goes into the hospital. I did not find any entry that puts her with my Dad. But from what I understood, everyone expected them to get married someday.
As mid-year approaches, things begin to fall apart. Ruth and Carl are never seen as a source of worry. It is her youngest child, Harold, who is. In mid-1940 he is 34 years old. He will be 35 by Thanksgiving. He is an apparently successful pharmacist, owning his own drug store. There was some type of legal issue I found in an old newspaper that had something to do with my grandfather selling some medication to someone when my dad, the pharmacist, was not there. It did not appear as anything major and the law had changed by the time it was settled.

He is almost never mentioned in the diary entries until that one on June 27. There is no indication of any issue that might be involved. Three weeks later, by July 13, it is has gone beyond resolution. A simple matter-of-fact statement of dad’s anger, leaving, and promise never to come home.

I can see him doing that. Anger, a short-fused temper, was one of his personality traits. Others have told me the same thing about him. Basically, in so many words, don’t get Harold mad. Who got him angry? Who else was at dinner on July 13? We are never told. For several days she mentions that she hasn’t heard from him. Four days after he left she comments that she “heard that Harold was in New York.” Then nothing.

On September 7 she writes that it is eight weeks since he left. She calls him “Buddy” in that entry, the first and only time she uses that nickname in 1940. On the 8th he sends for his clothes. She never mentions where he is. Only putting later things together do I know that he was somewhere in Maryland, most likely around Bethesda and Montgomery County.

Throughout this whole period of time, Beula has been getting sicker and spent many a day in bed. She finally has blood tests done around September 8. The doctor calls and says she has to go into the hospital, which she does on September 14. She will remain there over one month, not getting out if bed for almost four weeks. Three days after admission, the handwriting in the diary changes to what to me is instantly recognizable as her daughter’s. The same day it is noted that they sent a telegram to Harold who arrives the next day. He remains home for ten days during which time he is at the hospital part of every day, as were Ruth and my grandfather.

Whatever was wrong it appears to have been serious. They hired private duty nurses for part of the time to be with her twenty-four hours a day. Lots of people visited. The presumed girlfriend was one of the most regular. She came on her own and with others, but I didn’t see any time when she came with Harold. A week after dad leaves the handwriting returns to Beula’s and three days later she sits up out of bed for the first time. She goes home on October 15. From this period on there are regular letters to and from Harold. As usual there are very few personal comments that give a hint to what was going on.

One, however, is the start of what will be the most significant change in his life.
October, 17, 1940
Letter from Harold. He registered. I think he feels better now.
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman
This is one day after the first peacetime draft registration began in the United States.
The 1940 law instituted conscription in peacetime, requiring the registration of all men between 21 and 35, with selection for one year's service by a national lottery. President Roosevelt's signing of the Selective Training and Service Act on September 16, 1940, began the first peacetime draft in the United States. … This act came when other preparations, such as increased training and equipment production, had not yet been approved…. The act set a cap of 900,000 men to be in training at any given time, and limited military service to 12 months unless Congress deemed it necessary to extend such service in the interest of national defense…The draft began in October 1940, with the first men entering military service on November 18. (Wikipedia)
I have no idea what Beula meant when she said that she thought he felt better after registering. Any reflecting on it would be completely out of nothingness. The only way I ever heard this described was that Harold “ran away from home” when he was 35, was working in Maryland, and was drafted. Had he remained at home, the owner of an essential business, he would probably never have been drafted. Somehow I get the idea from Beula that in some way or another dad wanted to go. He had no choice but to register, obviously. But there is at least the hint that there was more going on.

Whatever the full story, in October of 1940 the world turmoil and the Lehman family chaos was merging, as it would for many families in the United States. The world as it has been known is about to end. While Pearl Harbor is still a year away, the changes. What Herman Wouk would call the Winds of War were being stirred. No part of the world would be spared.

A month later on November 19 Beula writes that it is the first time Harold is not at home for his birthday in 12 years. (Last time was when he was in college.) She concludes, “It makes me homesick.”

It was a tough year for Beula. My grandfather spent some days in the hospital after a work accident. He is now 64 years old. Beula at 65 had spent a month in the hospital in obviously critical condition. Her son, at 34, had run away to join the Army. There wasn’t much left to say.
December 31, 1940
Well the old year will soon be gone. Hope next year will be better. I had three awful things happen this year.
- Diary entry, Beula Keller Lehman