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Series 1, Correspondence from Robert H. Walters to his parents, 1942-09-02 - 1945-07-27

 Series — Box: WWII 90, Folder: 1-4

Scope and Contents

This series contains correspondence from Sgt. Bob Walters, USAAF to his parents and aunt during the Second World War. His first year in the service, from 1942 to 1943, he writes mostly about his training as a member of the ground crew in the Army Air Corps. As a Private, Walters worked primarily with radios and electronics for bombers, and his letters detail his experience in training school at Boca Raton, Florida, as well as his promotion to Sergeant and as a ground radio operator in Casper, Wyoming. He discusses his travels, mostly in Florida and later in Salt Lake City. In Casper, he writes about an accident involving one of the B-24 bombers, which crash-landed. He also writes about receiving letters from other people, most notably his brother Ted, his sister Bettie (also referred to as Lib), and several young woman including Barbara and Dorothy Engels. One woman he seems most attached to is Dorothy Bohn, whom he met in St. Louis.

In October 1943, Sgt. Walters was relocated to Fresno, California, although he only stayed for a few months before he was shipped in January 1944. By February, he had reached Italy. His letters are necessarily vague, although he hints at having seen certain unnamed "historic sites." In his letter dated May 16, 1944, Walters writes, "By the time you get this you will likely know there has been a big push here + our air men did their share." This is apparently a reference to Operation Diadem in combination with Operation Strangle to push the German defenses back into the Liri Valley in Italy. By late May he writes that the Army "should have Rome by the time you get this." His letter of June 5th confirms this.

A later letter from June states Bob is or at one time was stationed in the area around Naples. Mostly he writes about his trips to town to see shows or about playing in a makeshift orchestra with an Italian saxophone and clarinet someone purchased for him. One of his letters details an excursion to Pompeii and a tour of Naples.

In his letter dated February 13, 1945, he writes that he and his orchestra have been given special orders to play for three weeks in Foggia with a USO show. He also frequently makes reference to his brother Ted in the Pacific theater. In the letter dated March 14, 1945, Sgt. Walters writes about the tour of cities he has visited, naming "Foggia, San Savaro, Cerignola, Bari, & Lecce." He also writes that he "certainly felt bad about Darrel Johnson's death. He was such a swell fellow. That's 3 West Lodge boys that I knew who are gone." In his letter dated March 27, he writes about seeing at least 12 men bail out of their planes in one day and relates a specific anecdote about one whose foot got caught in his lines so that he almost fell to his death.

In his letter April 17, 1945, he writes about playing in a ceremony to honor the death of President Roosevelt. He writes, "We just played the Star Spangled Banner and one trumpet player payed taps. We couldn't play anything else as we're really a swing band." On May 9th, Sgt. Walters writes, "When the first news came of Germany's surrender, we were out on the line where the planes are. The control tower shot a few red flares and soon there were flares of all colors all over the field."

On May 16, Sgt. Walters writes that he traveled to Rome by plane and was able to visit Vatican City and to see Pope Pius XII. Sgt. Walters expected to return home by June but was rerouted to another camp until late July when he finally boarded a ship at Naples to return home.

Dates

  • 1942-09-02 - 1945-07-27

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Extent

.25 Linear Feet (3 folders)

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Contact:
Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States