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Joe Donovan Second World War correspondence

 Collection — Box: WWII 18, Folder: 5
Identifier: 2017-325-w-rd

Content Description

This collection is available online in Chapman University's Digital Commons:

This collection contains a letter from Joe Donovan to Ruth E. Murphy during the Second World War. Donovan and Murphy were friends and lived near Boston, MA. Murphy was the mother of the donor, Phyllis Parker, and the letter came into her possession when Murphy passed away. In the letter, Donovan references the sinking of the “Medford” which may be the fishing trawler that was cut in two by the USAT Thomas H. Barry off the coast of New Bedford Massachusetts on October 21, 1945 which resulted in one death, six missing, and ten rescued. Donovan hopes that his friend Herb was not on the vessel. Donovan also references the burning of the Cocoanut Grove, which was a popular nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts that burned down on November 28, 1942, resulting in the deaths of 492 people. He said reading the story about the Medford gave him the same “funny feeling” as when he heard of the Cocoanut grove fire. He also laments about missing home by saying, “In a few days I’ll be overseas two years and it feels like two hundred years.” He also talks about girls, saying, “It has been funny how the Filipino gals misunderstand me when I suggest that we take a stroll in the fields in search of a ‘finer grass.’ Any student of botany should know that grass is at its best when the moon is at its highest. But the gals don’t seem to care much about botany over here.” Donovan makes reference to Filipinos and Manila so it seems that he was stationed in the Philippines near Manila but this is an assumption. Donovan discusses downtown Manila remarking, “About a month ago I was down town taking in the sights and boy there were some pretty tough sights. Sailors cleaning up the streets with their nice white uniforms, WACS big enough to unload ships and break up this bottle neck that is supposed to be holding everything up, Filipinos trying to pick pocket G.I’s pockets and many people going many places all in a hurry.” He also talks about how his friend Walter Hart fell into a “caribou hole and came out looking like a Negro.” The caribou that Donovan seems to be referring to is the Carabou, a species of water buffalo native to the Philippines.


  • 1945 November 26

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions. For further copyright information, please contact the archivist.


0.08 Linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains one letter from Joe Donovan to Ruth E. Murphy during the Second World War.


This collection is arranged by material type, author, and date.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Phyllis Parker

Legal Status

Chapman does not hold the IP rights to this collection.
Finding Aid for the Joe Donovan Second World War correspondence
Wynter Salazar
March 28, 2018
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States