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Bernard Francis Roberts Second World War correspondence

 Collection — Box: WWII 81, Folder: 9-12, Folder: 1-4
Identifier: 2017-241-w-r

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the correspondence of SGT Bernard F. Roberts, USA written to his wife, Cecile. Most of the letters are personal rather than descriptive, but several of them, particularly shortly after VE day, do describe his experiences in occupied Germany. A few foreshadow anticipated difficulties in returning to civilian life.

There are a total of 101 letters, one telegram, eight photographs, three military documents, and one Belgian marriage certificate.

Dates

  • 1944 December - 1947 November 12

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.

Biographical / Historical

Sergeant Bernard Francis Roberts, United States Army (1/15/1912 - 1/19/1992) was born Bernard F. Romanowicz in Chelsea, MA. He lived in Everett, MA until his early 20s. He attended MIT for one year. He enlisted on October 13, 1942, and was discharged on December 8, 1945. He served as a radio repairman in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, and Central Europe. He met his wife, Cecile Cruke, during his service in Brussels, Belgium in October 1944. They were married in the village of Munte, Belgium on April 21, 1945. Bernard Roberts returned to the United States in December of 1945 and Cecile, while six months pregnant, followed shortly behind arriving around January 1946.

From the donor, their daughter Denise, regarding life after the war:

"It is my distinct impression that my mother fell in love with America and with Americans. After moving here (I believe it was in December 1945--I was born in April 1946), my mother and father lived at my grandmother's house in Everett Massachusetts for about a year until my father was able to buy a house in Saugus, MA. My father's very large family, which included 7 sisters, were always very kind to my mother. I think they may have liked her better than they liked their brother! We lived on a farm in northeast Massachusetts during most of my childhood, and virtually every weekend we had company--that is, my aunts, uncles and cousins--because they lived in poor inner-city neighborhoods and they romanticized farm life. I never heard a cross word between my mother and these relatives.

My mother spoke English very well by the time I was old enough to be aware of it. I've always regretted that she didn't speak French to me--although her native language was Flemish, not French. She and my father spoke German to each other when they wanted to say things they didn't want me to hear. She had a very charming accent in English that she wanted to shed. When people asked her where she was from, she usually said "Boston."

If she was homesick for Belgium, I was not aware of it. I think she missed her family (or, more specifically, her father and sister), but she never seemed to yearn to move back. I heard her say, several times, that she preferred life in America. She only returned to Belgium twice to visit her family--in 1956 and 1959. This was largely an economic issue, though, as we were what would now be called "working poor."

My mother and father eventually divorced when I was in my 20s (circa 1969), but they both continued to live mostly in Massachusetts. I moved to Saratoga Springs, NY in 1987, right around the time my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. She came to live with us, until her death in 1992. Interestingly, my father became ill in about 1989, and I moved him into our house as well. Thank goodness it was a large house! At first, they had a grand time reminiscing about old times, but it didn't last long, so he moved back to Massachusetts to live with another couple. He died in January, 1992, and was buried in Everett. My mother died later the same year, and she is buried by his side. My aunts were always very happy that they were reunited."

Extent

.33 Linear Feet (4 folders)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

This collection contains the correspondence of SGT Bernard F. Roberts, USA written to his wife, Cecile. The collection includes photos and military documents.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in chronoligcal order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Denise F. Polit, daughter of SGT Bernard F. Roberts, USA.
Title
Finding Aid for Bernard F. Roberts Second World War correspondence
Status
Completed
Author
Benjamin Stevens
Date
6/21/2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Contact:
Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States