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.

#30- Embarkation

    •    75 Years Ago
•    10th Armored Division/80th Armored Medical Battalion leaves New York- twice

    ✓    11 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Departed at 2120 from Camp Shanks, N.Y., for NYPE…via rail and ferry. Embarked 2320 to USAT Edmond B. Alexander for Overseas destination and permanent change of station. (MR).

USS America (ID-3006) was a troop transport for the United States Navy during World War I. She was launched in 1905 as SS Amerika by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the Hamburg America Line of Germany. As a passenger liner, she sailed primarily between Hamburg and New York. … In April 1931, America ended her service for the United States Lines and was laid up for almost nine years.

In October 1940, America was reactivated for the U.S. Army… renamed USAT Edmund B. Alexander. … and was refitted for use as a troopship for World War II duty. At the end of the war, Edmund B. Alexander was converted to carry military dependents, remaining in that service until 1949. She was placed in reserve until sold for scrapping … to the Bethlehem Steel Company of Baltimore, on 16 January 1957 and was broken up a short time later. (Wikipedia)

    ✓    12 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Sailed on USAT Edmond B. Alexander at 0300. Ran aground while leaving harbor. Debarked at 1330 via harbor boat for transfer to USAT Brazil. (MR)

It was high tide, Nichols reported in Impact!, with heavy fog as they “slipped from the pier” and ended up stranded on a sand bar 200 yards from land

    ✓    13 September 1944
    ✓    Company C Morning Report

Sailed on USAT Brazil at 1730 for PCS [permanent change of station] and overseas duty. (MR)
SS Brazil was a US turbo-electric ocean liner. She was completed in 1928 as SS Virginia
Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's 56th St Shipyard in Brooklyn, New York undertook Virginia's refit in 1938, then renamed Brazil.

From 1942 to 1946 she was operated by the War Shipping Administration as a troopship. In October 1944 she arrived in Boston carrying US Army personnel and prisoners of war from Europe. [This was most likely the return trip that had taken Buddy and the 80th Medical Battalion to France.]

She was laid up in 1958 and scrapped in 1964. (Wikipedia)

#29- The End of Peace

• August 31, 1944
Card saying Buddy was leaving. It is terrible
• September 1, 1944
Letter from Buddy and Dora. I am just sick
— Diary Entries, Beula Keller Lehman
I sit and stare at these entries and the ones to follow from late summer 1944. Over these past years of researching World War II and my Dad’s involvement, I have had some of the emotions that may have been a part of those days for my family members then. Having none of the letters they sent, and never having talked to any of them about it, all I can do is guess what it might have been like. The 75 years that have passed give the remembrances a glow that I am sure didn’t have at the time. Most images of World War II are either in black and white or that sepia tint of old pictures. Everything is frozen in time; each event is a unique moment in time. But they were connected- one flowed into the next. I have been discovering that for myself as I have gotten closer to today when peace, in whatever way Army training can be peace, was about to come to an end for the 10th Armored Division and their families at home.

• September 7, 1944
Canned pears. Sent some to Buddy. (Added later)- but he did not get them.
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
We also live in a world that is so incredibly hyper-connected that it seems like ancient history to think about families who didn’t know what was happening to their loved ones. The Vietnam War was the first TV war. Even though it was delayed by a day or so, we could watch Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley bringing us the latest from halfway around the world. When the Iraq War started we all sat around the TV and watched the bombing of Baghdad live. Beula couldn’t do anything like that. So she just went on with her life. It was all she knew. Canning pears- and sending them to Buddy; putting money in an envelope for him to spend. Just normal and everyday behavior. Life was already disrupted. There are comments about getting ration cards or about gas rationing. Everything was uncertain and unknown. The best way to cope was to keep the feelings and fears as far below the surface as possible. To do that was to keep normal routines.

For Dora, only married four months, she celebrated her 31st birthday on September 10 as her new husband was boarding a troop carrier.

• September 8, 1944
Wrote to Buddy and sent him some money
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman
I have been surprised over these months and years of working on this story. It began as a way of honoring my Dad’s service and making some distant connection with a man I hardly knew. I discovered that many of the family stories and myths were true. At the same time, the diary entries hide as much as they reveal. I have been a pacifist for the past 50 years. I have wrestled with my interest in the war and how it was fought. I found myself intrigued as I dug into the stories. The events that were about to happen at this time 75 years ago changed my dad, I am sure. They changed who we were as a nation, first for the better, and then…?

In recent months I have also been challenged to figure out what these all mean for me. It is one thing to simply recreate a world that ceased to exist when the war ended. It is another entirely to discover what the personal impact of all this might have been - or has been - on me. How did this world-shattering war impact who and what I have become? I do not want to take anything away from the story I am attempting to recreate. It stands on its own. It is the story of Beula and her son, of my dad and my mom. It would be less than 20 years after these events that all those connections would be gone for me. All that would be left would be pictures and some words in diaries.

• September 12, 1944
Letter from Buddy and Dora. I think Buddy has left NY
— Diary Entry, Beula Keller Lehman

#28- Arrival at Camp Shanks

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    1 September 1944
Arrived Camp Shanks, NY, 1430 via rail from Camp Gordon, GA for permanent change… Distance traveled 384 miles. Discipline excellent. (MR)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Through the next year there will be many references and quotes from the daily Morning Report of Company C, 80th Armored Medical Battalion, Buddy’s unit. The screenshot here is from two days ahead in October. The top locates the company and then lists any changes in personnel followed occasionally by a record of some events. The bottom section is an accounting of numbers of personnel in each of the categories, officers first, then enlisted men. Different units had slightly different styles of morning report forms, though they were all for the same general purpose.

Jennifer Holik at the WWII Research & Writing Center has a couple of good articles explaining both their use in the military during World War II and their value for researchers.
Company Morning Reports
A Morning Report was created each day outlining events of the prior day for the events of a Company. …Morning
Reports listed many details about the company which include:
    ◆    The location of the company for the date of the report.
    ◆    Strength of the unit in numbers of men
    ◆    Details of those entering and leaving the company
    ◆    Names of those declared AWOL, Missing In Action, Killed In Action, or wounded.
    ◆    The reports also provided information on the day’s events. Some clerks reported weather conditions, in addition to the usual information on where the unit was fighting, and other enemy encounters.

The companies were required to report numbers of men at each meal, which provided information to the Army, who then was able to provide food and appropriate supplies for the soldiers. These numbers also alerted headquarters when the ranks were depleted and replacements were needed. (-Link)

I have been able to obtain the Morning Reports for Co. C for the entire time in Europe beginning with today, 1 September 1944. They have given me invaluable information on where my Dad’s company was every day and, when appropriate, a record of events. Whenever I use one of the reports I will note it with (MR).

#27- Almost Ready

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    6 June - 21 August 1944
D-Day to D-Day+76: Allies moving south and east across France after D-Day.
The Normandy landings were the first successful opposed landings across the English Channel in over eight centuries. They were costly in terms of men, but the defeat inflicted on the Germans was one of the largest of the war. Strategically, the campaign led to the loss of the German position in most of France and the secure establishment of a new major front. In larger context the Normandy landings helped the Soviets on the Eastern Front, who were facing the bulk of the German forces and, to a certain extent, contributed to the shortening of the conflict there. (-Link)

It was not a smooth and easy invasion. In fact, through the month of June and most of July, the Allies made very little progress. They needed a breakthrough- a breakout from the Normandy peninsula and get moving across France. It came from July 25-31 in Operation Cobra.

Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army (Lieutenant General Omar Bradley) seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II. The intention was to… break through the German defenses that were penning in his troops… (-Link)

As seems to be the story of the invasion and much of what would happen over the next months, the operation was delayed at first- by the weather. When it did begin on 25 July, it proved as decisive as Bradley and the Allies hoped. Within the next few days, the Allied forces managed what has since been referred to as their “breakout. “

The immediate aftermath was the ability to expand the forces and put further plans into action.
At noon on 1 August, the U.S. Third Army was activated under the command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton. Lieutenant General Courtney Hodges assumed command of the First Army and Bradley was promoted to the overall command of both armies, named the U.S. 12th Army Group. Patton wrote a poem containing the words, 
So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.
Let's take a chance now that we have the ball.
Let's forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces.
Let's shoot the works and win! Yes, win it all! (-Link)

The U.S. advance following Cobra was extraordinarily rapid. Patton and the Third Army were hell-bent for leather rush across France as can be seen below. This is an animated series of maps showing

An incredible series of maps from June 6 - August 21, 1944. About 10 weeks into the invasion. It is interesting to note that the Allies were relatively slow until the very beginning of August, then they seem to explode across France. Click on map if it is not moving. (-Link)

Animated maps, 6 June to 21 August
Three days after the final series of maps above, the "Battle of Paris" ended with Allied troops liberating the French capital.

The 10th Armored Division, one of the key elements of Patton’s plan for the Third Army, was now at Camp Shanks, NY, waiting to board a ship. Within three weeks they will be heading east among the first divisions to travel directly from the United States to the mainland of Europe.

#26- Movement Begins

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    July 31, 1944

The 10th Armored Division left Camp Gordon for Camp Shanks, NY, point of embarkation
With six-weeks left until embarkation, the 10th Armored Division, along with Buddy’s 80th Armored Medical Battalion, left Georgia. The training was done; Tiger Camp was closed; they were ready to become active participants.

Orangeburg, NY, 19 miles north of New York City, was home to Camp Shanks, known as "Last Stop USA," the largest World War II Army embarkation camp. 1.3 million US service personnel en route to Europe were processed at a sprawling camp that covered most of the town. On the western shore of the future site of the Tappan Zee Bridge. (— Link)

Memorial at the site of Camp Shanks
The area was served by two railroad lines; it also had quick access to piers on the Hudson River which could handle large military ships, so troops could get in from bases across the country and then back out to New York — and on to Africa and Europe.

As only the Army can, 17,000 workers were mobilized to transform Orangetown’s farms into a city of nearly 50,000; the base included Quonset hut barracks, headquarters buildings, stores, chapels, a theater, a laundry, a bakery, and a hospital. “In three months, they built more than 2,500 buildings,” says Donnellan. “You can’t put a deck on your house in three months now.”

Named after the general who commanded New Jersey’s Camp Merritt during World War I, Camp Shanks opened in January 1943. Here soldiers would be “staged” — inspected for proper equipment and supplies and made ready for deployment. “After being trained all over the country, they came here to make sure their rifles worked, that they had the proper boots, then they got their orders and were put into units,” Donnellan says. There were seven staging areas, including one for the Women’s Army Corps — and one for African Americans. The military was still segregated, Donnellan says, and blacks were at times treated worse than prisoners of war, who also were housed at the camp. “The WAC area was near the POWs, but the blacks were kept all the way across the camp,” he says. (— Link)
Shanks was part of the New  York Port of Embarkation (NYPOE).

The NYPOE was the largest of eight Port of Embarkation commands, the second largest being the San Francisco Port of Embarkation and the second largest on the East Coast being Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation. By the end of the war 3,172,778 passengers, counting 475 embarked at the Philadelphia cargo port, and 37,799,955 measurement tons of cargo had passed through the New York port itself with 5,893,199 tons of cargo having passed through its cargo sub-port at Philadelphia—about 44% of all troops and 34% of all cargo passing through army ports of embarkation. (-- Link)

How does one prepare for going overseas to war? Or more to the point, in the midst of what may be an unprecedented expansion of overseas troops, how does the Army prepare so many people in such a short time? In 1943 as the Army was putting the finishing touches on its post-Pearl Harbor buildup, the Medical Field Services school in Carlisle, PA, published a thirty-page pamphlet for officers on what to do before leaving for war. Most of it was what you would expect with the possibility that the reader wouldn’t make it home.

The introduction began:
Personal affairs of your family become personal problems only when they remain unsettled. Over here, you have the time and facilities; over there, you may not.
The Table of Contents
    I.    Wills
    II.    Powers of Attorney
    III.    Survivorship Bank Accounts
    IV.    Class E Allotments
    V.    National Service Life Insurance
    VI.    Certification of Officers
    VII.    Designation of a Beneficiary
    VIII.    Clothing & Equipment for Overseas Duty
    IX.    Pensions
    X.    Checklist for Personal Identification

It told you what the Army would provide (gas mask, tent, tent pole, canteen, etc.) and what you would need to provide (belt, shirt, soap, socks, towels, etc). And then gave a postscript of the things they might wish they had when they got overseas.
The pamphlet concluded with a one-page summary and well-wishes.

    ◆    75 Years Ago
    ◆    August 4, 1944


Military ID issued to Harold K. Lehman


A Pause to Remember

    ◆    75 years ago this week
    ◆    July 23-25, 1944

Soviet troops liberated the first of the concentration camps- Majdanek in Poland.
In Guns at Last Light, the third book of his amazing trilogy on World War II, Rick Atkinson says that at this point, the war came to have a "vivid moral structure." As the Allies were moving toward Paris, the Soviet troops in Poland had arrived at the Majdanek camp. A New York Times reporter said, "I have just seen the most terrible place on the face of the earth." (Atkinson, p. 183ff)

He had no idea that he had only seen the tiniest glimpse into a horror that we still have difficulty putting into perspective. The full horror that would be unveiled in the winter and spring of 1945 still stuns and paralyzes the imagination.

# 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.

Radio
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.