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Series 4, Mr. Merrill L. and Mrs. Gladys C. Bolner correspondence


Scope and Contents

This series contains approximately 308 correspondence written by Merrill L., Gladys C., and Merval L. Bolner to "the Bolner Boys": Merrill H. Bolner, Thomas E. Bolner, and Donald E. Bolner during the Second World War. Although the Bolner brothers are consistently addressed in letters, most of these correspondence were sent directly to Sgt. Merrill H. Bolner.

May 13, 1943 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Merrill H. "June" Bolner, USAAC and advised that he "do whatever is the best to insure [sic] your being able to come home to us after the war." He further stated "to hell with the stripes and bars. I want you and Tom when this dam [sic] [war] is over and you dont [sic] want to make a career of military as your future."

July 26, 1943 - Gladys C. Bolner sent four drawings made by Merval L. Bolner:

  • Drawing #1 - depicts a man walking with an inscription under his feet reading "Strong."
  • Drawing #2 - features a tank firing its guns with an inscription that reads "What a tank can do."
  • Drawing #3 - depicts a battle-ship firing its canons with an inscription that reads "What a boat can do."
  • Drawing #4 - features a flying fortress bomber surrounded by flak with an inscription that reads "What one airplane can do."

November 23, 1943 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner in response to a question about their opinions regarding Gen. Patton. Mr. Bolner shared that "its [sic] too bad the old S.B. is so high up that it would be hard for one of the men to give him what they did some of the lower officers in World War I." He also shared that he wished he could join the military to accompany his youngest son, Donald E. Bolner.

January 4, 1944 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner to inform him that they received the letters he saved over his time in the military. Mr. Bolner expressed surprise that his son had saved so many of his letters and offered to organize them for him.

May 21, 1944 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner and speculated about his whereabout. He guessed he was in New Guinea, while a family friend suggested Sgt. Bolner was somewhere in China.

Gladys C. Bolner also wrote to Sgt. Bolner and assured him that he should request whatever supplies he needed and expressed great confidence in his military training. She closed by saying that "I sure hope Don [Donald E. Bolner] isn't ready for combat by the middle of July."

November 24, 1944 - Merrill L. Bolner updated his youngest son, Maj. Donald E. Bolner about his older brother Thomas E. Bolner. Mr. Bolner also shared that "it's pretty hard to write and say very much when we don't get mail, but don't you think anything about it for we know that you and June [SGT. Bolner] boy will write when you can."

December 3, 1944 - Merrill L. Bolner updated Sgt. Bolner that his brother Thomas E. Bolner had been assigned to the US Army Military Police.

Correspondence written throughout December 1944 show persistent signs of water damage but are still legible. Damage may have been inflicted while SGT. Bolner was serving at the Battle of the Bulge [Ardennes Offensive].

January 6, 1945 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner to state that he had mis-dated letters from January 1 - 5, 1945 as December 1 - 5, 1945.

May 1, 1945 - Merril L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner to reflect on the deaths of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler. He stated of that "we lost the one man, responsible for the defeat of fascism and fascism lost the man that gave it birth. We hear tonite [sic] that Hitler died (somehow) in Berlin [Germany]."

July 12, 1944 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner and wondered why he signed his latest telegram "Bart Bolner".

Correspondence written after July 13, 1945 are predominantly typed.

September 4, 1945 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to Sgt. Bolner and shared an account by a man named Jim, a friend of MAJ. Bolner who expressed remorse about the way he killed a German soldier using a "phosphorous grenade" because Jim knew it "made the Nazi suffer terribly." According to Mr. Bolner, he was confident of this because "they had a Lt. [Lieutenant] . . . get hit with one of them and that it burned him to a crisp." Mr. Bolner further relayed Jim's regret of not collecting his friend's personal belongings after being killed in action to send back home to his friend's family.

October 20, 1945 - Merrill L. Bolner informed Sgt. Bolner that he had received the propaganda leaflets he sent and looked forward to receiving a rifle and mortar as well. Mr. Bolner also mentioned that SGT. Bolner planned to bring home a "samurai sword" and that SGT. Bolner's albums of Second World War materials numbered at least three in total.

November 7, 1945 - Merrill L. Bolner wrote to the Bolner brothers and updated each on their activities. He stated:

As for June: well I expect he is on his way home and his [sic] not writing is excusable. I'm thinking Tom is being moved or has moved . . . . As for Don, . . . . [he] is too damn mad to write, on account of some bastard holding five points from him.

The last letter in series was written by Merrill L. Bolner on November 30, 1945 and was addressed to SGT. Bolner.

This series also contains:

  • 2 - identical documents entitled "Marking of Equipment", one is inscribed "Bolner" and the second "Gass."
  • 1 - USA military insignia patch attached to the "Bolner" inscribed "Marking of Equipment" document.
  • 40 - newspaper clippings. Majority of these materials were inscribed with publication date and publication name. They include the Indianapolis Times, the Chicago Sun, and the Muncie Star.


  • 1942 May 24 - 1982 March 26
  • Majority of material found within 1942 May 24 - 1945 November 30

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Merrill LeRoy Bolner (1904 - 1993) was born in Millgrove, Indiana to Samuel H. Bolner, and Marietta C. Bolner. He married Gladys C. Howard and together raised Merrill H., Thomas E., Donald E, and Merval L. Bolner.

Gladys Catharine bolner née Howard (1905 - 1989) was born in Alexandria, Indiana to Ernest Atwood Howard, and Bertha L. Howard. She married Merrill L. Bolner and together raised Merrill H. Bolner, Thomas E. Bolner, Donald E. Bolner, and Merval L. Bolner. Mrs. Bolner worked at Hartford Novelty Co. in Hartford City, Indiana and was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Muncie and the Get Together Club in Hartford City, Indiana.

Merval Louise Sills née Bolner (1934 - ) was born in Hartford City, Indiana to Merrill L. Bolner and Gladys C. Bolner. Her older siblings include: Merrill H., Thomas E., and Donald E. Bolner. She married Sherman N. Sills and together raised Eric Sills, Lorri Sills, and Nancy Sills.


1.5 Linear Feet (9 folders)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States