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Spencer W. Walker Second World War correspondence and photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2017-159-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains correspondence from 1stLt. Spencer W. Walker, USAAC to his family and friends during the Second World War. Most of the correspondence is contained within two scrapbooks, with the envelopes glued to the pages. Also included is one memoir, with transcriptions of the collected letters and 190 photographs, as well as 39 black and white photographs with photocopies.

Authors of the letters include Lt. Walker, Eugene Edelman, Captain Ferris Wall, USAAF (Walker's pilot), Joe Motarrese (a friend from the Air Force), Beverly [last name unknown] (a woman Walker dated while stationed in California).

Photographs include 39 pictures of Walker's time in service, with other soldiers both in America and India, as well as 190 in the memoir, compiled by Lt. Walker circa 2000,Navigator, copyright 2016. Also included are pages with photocopies of each photograph in the collection (multiple photos per page).

From the donor:

Spencer's letters are just as interesting for what he did not write about as for what he did.

He describes his missions as "...going on a trip..." and provides little detail, no doubt because of military security. He uses the word "war" only six times out of some 38,000 words he wrote home:February 14, 1944, December 13, 1944, January 11, 1945, March 22, 1945, May 16, 1945, May 23, 1945.

On February 14, 1945 he writes, "Yes, the Japs do shoot back," one of only four times he refers to the Japanese. The others were the letters of December 7 and 29, 1944 and March 11, 1945.

He makes 31 references to the movies he saw. He was quite taken by "Going My Way," starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald, which he writes about in his letters of August 16, 1944 while stationed at March Field in California, and December 23, 1944 from India.

The letters are interesting for the postage applied to the envelopes and the variety of letterheads Spencer used.

Letters of interest:
  • September 17, 1944 he writes of meeting Spencer Tracy and Abbott and Costello in California
  • October 13, 1944 his first letter from India
  • November 24, 1944 he writes about Thanksgiving dinner in India
  • December 7, 1944 he writes about the third anniversary of the war and his first combat mission
  • January 1, 1945 he writes about a quiet New Year's Eve celebration in India
  • January 15, 1945 he writes about spending his 20th birthday in India
  • April 6, 1945 he writes home about his promotion from 2nd lieutenant to 1st lieutenant
  • May 16, 1945, in his longest letter, 11 pages, Spencer describes his visit to the Savoy Hotel in Mussoorie, a town on the edge of the Himalayas; the train trip from Calcutta took 40hours
  • May 30, 1945 he writes about being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for serving as lead navigator for a mission of 17 hours, 30 minutes, the longest mission ever flown by heavy bombers
  • July 22, 1945, in his final letter, Spencer tells of dining at Firpo's in Calcutta, a restaurant described as the finest between Cairo and Shanghai; he notes that the temperature hangs between 120 and 130 degrees

Dates

  • 1943 November 5 - 1946 January 29

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

First Lieutenant Spencer William Walker, United States Army Air Force (1/13/1925 - 8/31/2013) was born in New Berlin, Pennsylvania and graduated from Lewisburg High School in 1942. He served as a navigator with the 492nd Bomb Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, 10th Air Force beginning June 26, 1943. He deployed overseas on September 23, 1944 and returned September 1, 1945 until he was discharged on December 20 in Greensboro, North Carolina. During his service he was a navigator for a B-24 Liberator at a base near Calcutta, India during twenty five missions in the China-Burman-India Theater. For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

After the war Walker attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA and moved from Mifflinburg to Levittown in 1958 and had two children, Thomas R. and Nancy. He passed away in 2013 in Newtown, PA and was interred in New Berlin.

Extent

2 Linear feet (2 scrapbooks, 2 folders)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

This collection contains correspondence and photographs from 1stLt. Spencer W. Walker, USAAC to his family and friends during the Second World War. Most of the correspondence is contained within two scrapbooks. Also included is one memoir, with transcriptions of the collected letters and 190 photographs, compiled by Lt. Walker circa 2000, as well as several black and white photographs with photocopies.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in original order, with correspondence in scrapbooks in chronological order. Photographs are separated, as well as three post-war correspondence.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Walker Family, on behalf of 1st Lieutenant Spencer W. Walker (1925-2013), New Berlin, PA, Navigator, 492nd Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, 10th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, donated by Thomas R. Walker.

Condition Description

This collection contains materials glued inside of scrapbooks, and the scrapbook paper is brittle and falling apart.
Title
Finding Aid for the Spencer W. Walker Second World War correspondence and photographs
Status
In Progress
Author
Andrew Harman
Date
10/16/2019
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