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J Wilbur Cornwell Second World War correspondence, photographs, documents, and uniform

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2019-093-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains correspondence from, photographs of, documents regarding, and one uniform belonging to T/Sgt. J Wilbur Cornwell, USA during the Second World War. Included are approximately twenty letters and V-Mail, several service documents including separation papers, several photographs in uniform both home and overseas, and one green dress uniform. The uniform includes trousers with belt, jacket with pins and four ribbons, two garrison caps, and a small box with pins, ribbons, and a medal.


  • 1941 October - 1945 September

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

Technical Sergeant J Wilbur Cornwell, United States Army (11/14/1916 - 1/13/2007) was born in Brockman, California to Orpha A. and Harry Phillif Cornwell. It is unclear why he was born in California as his parents were from Iowa and South Dakota, respectively, and they resided in Iowa. J Wilbur grew up in Ankeny, Iowa and eventually had several siblings: Ruth H, Donald A., and Olive. He worked as a light truck driver for Russell Jenkins Hauling when he was drafted on March 17, 1941 at Fort Des Moines. He reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma soon after and served with Battery B, 14th Field Artillery Observation Battalion.

In January 1942, his girlfriend Orma Eliza Atherton (b. 10/10/1921), who worked as a doctor's assistant, traveled to join him and they married in Lawton, OK on January 8, 1942. By this time, he had already been reassigned to Camp Roberts in Paso Robles, California and they left immediately after the wedding. Cornwell was granted permission to drive his car and he reported first to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Orma went along and lived in a converted garage in Arcadia before the move to Paso Robles, where they purchased a small house trailer. He again gained permission to drive her, the car and trailer to his future postings, including Olympia, Washington where their son was born, and Bend, Oregon. He was not, however, allowed to live off-base with his wife and child.

On March 9, 1944 Cornwell left for the Pacific Theater with 2nd Sound Ranging Platoon, Battery A, 289th Observation Battalion. Orma and their son returned to Iowa as he served overseas in New Guinea and later the Philippines until the end of the war. He returned on October 9, 1945 and was discharged on October 17 at Fort Logan, Colorado.

J Wilbur Cornwell passed away in 2007 in Ankeny and is interred at Greenwood Friends Cemetery.


4 Linear Feet (6 folders, 1 uniform, 1 specimen box container)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence, photographs, documents, and one uniform belonging to T/Sgt. J Wilbur Cornwell, USA during the Second World War.


This collection is arranged by material type and chronology:

  • Series 1, Correspondence
  • Series 2, Photographs
  • Series 3, Military Documents
  • Series 4, Uniform and medals
  • Series 5, Ephemera and ration books

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the family of J Wilbur Cornwell, Sr., donated by Deborah Tillinghast.


There is no period after "J" in Cornwell's name. His name, properly written, is J Wilbur Cornwell, Sr.

Finding Aid for the J Wilbur Cornwell Second World War correspondence, photographs, documents, and uniform
Andrew Harman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States