Military Postcards, North America

Th’ Sarg Gave Me th’ Works [1942 – Sebring, FL]

Sebring, FL 1942 WW2 Comic Postcard lg

A drill sergeant picking apart a recruit seems to be a common vignette on military-themed comic postcards of this period. Though, I have to imagine that while the postcards are vivid, they would have been out-shown by the colorful language of the real drill sergeants of past and present. Breaking down the individual and building him back up as part of a team has long constituted the basis for basic American military training.

On this card, we meet Joe, a Private who uses this postcard image to relate his experience to a young lady in Pennsylvania. He is stationed at Hendricks Field in Sebring, Florida, a large air base where bomber crews were trained for service on B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators.

Sebring, FL 1942 WW2 Comic Postcard message lg

Pvt Joseph R. Mackey

452 Sch Sqd Sp

Hendricks Field Sebring, Fla.

Hello Jean. This may give you some idea what I have to go through as I’m the guy that is that way sometimes. How is school going & when will it be out? Here would be a good place for you to play in the sand. Joe.

To: Miss Jean Snyder | Loysburg Penna.

Postmark: Sebring, Florida – April 25, 1942

Published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc.


Hendricks Army Airfield in Sebring, FL

The Origin of Hendricks Field by Hayden Williams, a narrative recounting the establishment of Hendricks Field.

Hendricks_Army_Airfield_-_1942_Yearbook_-_Cover

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendricks_Army_Airfield

Camp Claiborne Louisiana World War II
Military Postcards, North America, Postcards

Earliest Days of the 101st Airborne [1943 – Camp Claiborne, LA & Nashville, TN]

Vintage Linen Postcard, World War II - Camp Claiborne, Louisiana

Unpacking this postcard has been a fascinating journey including a long-forgotten Army Camp in Central Louisiana and the famed 101st Airborne Division. The image depicted, its caption, the writing style of the sender, his assigned unit, the location of the postmark, and content of the message all have much to offer.

Let’s start with the arrival depicted here. The linen postcard image is a color-enhanced photograph of new soldiers arriving by rail car and transferring to trucks at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. The installation was primarily used for basic training and artillery practice. Camp Claiborne was also notable for the Claiborne-Polk Military Railway, a rail line spanning 50 miles including 25 bridges which connected the camp to what’s now Fort Polk, Louisiana. The railway was used to simulate rail repairs and test methods for derailing trains. Though Camp Claiborne was returned to civilian use right after the war, it had birthed one of the most decorated units of World War II – the 101st Airborne Division, which was activated there in August of 1942.

Our sender, Sgt Arthur L. Ward, was assigned to the 801st Ordnance Company. The military post office, APO 472, listed with his unit on this card indicates he was attached to the 101st Airborne Division. The division moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and then conducted a readiness exercise in the Tennessee Maneuver Area during 1943 (ScreamingEagle.org). Tennessee was selected to host such Maneuvers because of its topographical similarity to the European Theater and explains the Nashville, Tennessee postmark stamped in June of 1943. Middle Tennessee hosted hundreds of thousands of troops preparing for the invasion of Normandy and beyond.

In his message, Sgt. Ward mentions visiting Springfield, a town north of Nashville, TN. His capitalization and punctuation are rather unconventional, yet endearing and admirably consistent.

Nashville, TN 1943 Postcard message lg

Dear Va

[Wont] have time for a letter. Rec. your letter. Was real glad to hear from you this Father Day. I hope[?] you ate supper at home. I didn’t hear from mam all last week and the kid are doing fine. I went over to Springfield, but didn’t have time to do anything. It’s dark, so I will stop. With good nite.*

Brother Arthur

*This transcription has been corrected for capitalization and punctuation to improve legibility.

To: Mrs. Ralph Scott | Morrisville, NC

From: Sgt Arthur L. Ward – 801 Ord CO APO 472 – Nashville, TN

Postmark: June 21, 1943 – W. Nashville, Tenn.

Published by Red River News Co., Alexandria, LA.


Camp Claiborne, Louisiana

This reel from 1941 shows soldiers on their rail journey to Camp Claiborne.

The above 6 and half minute archival clip describes the highly technical and under-sung competencies of the rail technicians of the Army Transportation Corps.

More about Camp Claiborne: CampClaiborne.org

Additional Resources:

Lineage of the 801st Ordinance Company – 101st Airborne Division

https://www.alexandria-louisiana.com/camp-claiborne-louisiana.htm

https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/second-army-tennessee-maneuvers/

Postcard from Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky 1940s
Military Postcards, North America, Postcards

Lucky Strike and Major’s Pay [1942 – Camp Breckenridge, Ky]

Camp Breckinridge, KY 1942 WW2 Comic Postcard lg

I never cease to be amazed by the veritable explosion of construction projects and mass movement of personnel that characterized 1942 and 1943 across the United States. The creation of Camp Breckinridge in Morganfield, Kentucky near the Illinois state line provides a textbook example of this furious pace of military activity in many rural corners of the country. A testament to the swift construction of Camp Breckinridge, the buildings here were built in such haste that they were not properly insulated, a fact not lost on our sender who keenly felt the cold in December of 1942.

In this card, we meet Pvt. Louis Featherston who hails from Durham, North Carolina. His note recounts get-to-know-you conversations like so many of us have had when we’ve moved away and our hometown falls outside the list of top 25 most populous cities in the country. They go like this:

A: “So, where are you from?”

B: “Somewhere, USA”

A: Looks puzzled.

B: “… yeah, it’s near Important University, and the home of Large Corporation.”

A:  Nods with recognition. “Oh, yeah.”

This is exactly what happened to Louis. He rang some bells for his hometown of Durham, NC by mentioning Lucky Strike Cigarettes and Duke University. Ironically, he sent this card to a friend at The American Tobacco Company in Durham, maker the Lucky Strike cigarettes which had sparked recognition of his hometown. When he wasn’t studying or freezing his ass off, I do wonder how much money Louis may have won over a hand of cards from that Major in the cartoon image.

Finally, I am happy to report Camp Breckinridge’s heritage survives as an event venue and museum. Read more about it below.

Postcard from Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky 1940s

Hello Eugene, I hope you haven’t been Drafted by the time you get this card cause I’m so far away that the people here never heard of Durham. You have to mention Lucky Strike Cig & Duke U., then it all comes back to them. Wish you’d write & let me know how you all are getting along & all about the Y.B.M.C,– Leon Harris & Vostal[?] Taylor & a lot of boys you know are here. Have been so busy studying etc. that I haven’t had much chance to write. It is cold as HELL! here & snow is on the ground. See you later, Louis

To: Mr. Eugene Andrews | The American Tobacco Co. | Durham, North Carolina

From: Pvt. A. J. Featherston | Hq Co. 1st Bn. 391 Inf. – 98th Division

Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky

Postmark: Camp Breckinridge, KY – December 6, 1942


Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky

Camp_Breckinridge_Non-Commissioned_Officers'_Club

The James D. Veatch Breckinridge Museum & Arts Center preserves Camp Breckinridge’s remaining structures and the history of its impact on the region. Their website does not seem to do justice to the jewel of a structure that remains from the military post, the former NCO / Officer’s Club. It lives on as an event venue and features beautiful pastoral murals painted by a talented German POW while imprisoned here during World War II. The amateur video below gives you a taste of this installation’s glorious past and present.

Find some photos on Google Maps Listing for the Camp Breckinridge Center

Military Postcards, North America, Other Locations, Postcards

When you come to Bermuda [1941 – Bermuda]

St George's, Bermuda APO 802 - 1941 Postcard lg

When it comes to spending your time in the Service on a remote island during World War II, I would wager that most folks first think of the Pacific Theater. However, the American military boasted a robust presence in the Atlantic as well, including places like Bermuda and the Azores. Based on his handwriting, it appears this sender served as his own censor before sending this postcard to Delaware in mid-1941. The Lend-Lease policy would have been the dominant policy at the time, prior to the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ subsequent official entry into World War II in December of 1941.

American military presence in Bermuda was established as a naval operation in 1918 during The Great War, World War I. Being part of the British Commonwealth, Bermuda hosted American installations in conjunction with British military bases during World War II as well, and an entirely new American naval base was built in 1941.  The island’s remote location in the Atlantic, more than 600 miles of the East coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, lent itself to use as a stopping point for land-based (as apposed to Naval) aircraft, and Kindley Field was operated by the U.S. Army Air Corps in Bermuda for that purpose from 1943 to 1948. As the flight range of aircraft increased in subsequent years, the need for the stopover point diminished, and what was then known as Kindley Air Force Base closed in 1970. Use of Bermuda by the U.S. Navy continued until much more recently, but Naval Air Station Bermuda (NAS Bermuda) also closed in 1995. (Source: Wikipedia)

St George's, Bermuda APO 802 - 1941 Postcard Message lg

A nice place for you to stay when you come to Bermuda.

Lt. L. M. Dobson

Postmark: American Base Forces A. P. O. 802 – August 14, 1941 (Bermuda)

To: Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hudson, Georgetown, DE

 


U.S. Military in Bermuda

Footage of aircraft and watercraft filmed in Bermuda in 1941.

The aerial photo below shows Bermuda in 1970, at the time Kindley AFB was closed.

NAS_Bermuda_NAN10-70
Kindley AFB as U.S. Naval Air Station Bermuda, 1970 (Wikipedia)

Resources:

Photos of the USO in Bermuda in 1941 – Here Are 7 USO Photos You’ve Never Seen Before

Medical, United States

Had My Operation [1942 – Excelsior Springs, MO]

Excelsior Springs, Mo 1942- Medical Postcard lg

Though occasionally vacation postcards can be entertaining, they often contain the most ironically mundane commentary regarding the weather or scheduling. I find the most interesting postcards are the ones that involve births, deaths, marriages, relocations, war, homecomings, graduations, illness, and even lost pets. Those are the ones where I find the most interesting tidbits of individual humanity and anthropology on a larger scale.

An article published in 2005 by the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes “Not only can the illustrations on postcards reveal a considerable amount of information about hospitals in the early twentieth century, but the messages, addresses, postmarks, and stamps can also offer a glimpse of the lives of ordinary citizens and their perceptions of the health care system.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1175805/)

Here we read about one such hospital experience. The sender expresses relief in having made it through surgery, and makes note of the diversity of her fellow patients inside McCleary Hospital near Kansas City, Missouri. I think most people have mixed feelings about hospitals — perhaps, not thrilled about yourself or a family member falling ill, but grateful to have a hospital where you can seek care. I’m glad that Mrs. Goetsch seems to have had a mostly positive hospital stay.

Excelsior Springs, Mo 1942- Medical Postcard message lg

Dear Mable,

Here is the place I am and I guess the place to get well. Had my operation and am over the worst I hope so. Sure meet people from all over the country, young and old, fat and small. Hope from now I will feel better.

Mrs. Goetsch

Postmark: Excelsior Springs, Missouri – May 18, 1942

To: Mrs. Mable Kueck – Janesville, Wisconsin

 


Kansas City Patient 1948
Patient receiving care in Kansas City, Missouri in 1948. Flickr, The Commons

 

McCleary Thornton Minor Hospital

McCleary Clinic and Hospital remains in existence as McCleary – Thornton – Minor Hospital in Excelsior Springs.

History of McCleary Clinic and Hospital

 

Commentary

Honoring Memorial Day

A Coast Guardsman stands in silent reverence beside the resting place of a comrade., 1944

“Silhouetted in the golden glory of a Pacific sunrise, crosses mark the graves of American boys who gave their lives to win a small atoll on the road to the Philippines. A Coast Guardsman stands in silent reverence beside the resting place of a comrade., 1944”

Honoring the Fallen Ft Bragg 2012

“Army Reserve soldiers render final honors at a Fallen Warrior ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C. Jan. 10, 2012. The command’s soldiers and civilian employees honored seven Army Reserve soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Memorial Day is the Past and the Future

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price and the families who lost love ones. I hope that you will spend a moment to reflect upon your own mortality and the blessings for which so many men and women have sacrificed.

(Photo & Description Credits: National Archives, U.S. Army Public Affairs)

 

Military Postcards, North America

Bathing Beauty [1943 – Fort Myers, FL]

Fort Myers, FL 1943 postcard image V.Andrews lg

Based on how it’s referenced in this note, I can only imagine how the stationary Virginia used in her previous correspondence to Bernice must have looked. Apparently duty in Fort Myers, Florida is not all sun-bathing and nights on the town. Working Kitchen Patrol all night, which is what I can only assume the sender means by K.P., does not sound like a pleasant way to pass the time. It seems Bernice survived the nighttime duty though. I hope he did get a glimpse of a bathing beauty before leaving the Sunshine State.

The place of origin for this card, expansive Buckingham Army Airfield located near Fort Myers, Florida was in operation from 1942-1945. Known for its “Flexible Gunnery School,” the installation provided a variety of new technologies for training aerial gunners including sophisticated gunnery ranges, dummy target aircraft, dummy ammunition, and high-altitude training. If you want to learn more about all of the fascinating military training methods that were pioneered at this airfield, I highly recommend the Wikipedia page. (Source: Buckingham Army Airfield Wikipedia)

For better or worse, little remains of the hundreds of buildings and runways that constituted Buckingham Army Airfield. It was closed immediately after the war, was purchased by a land developer, and became a residential area.

Two of the 8 runways survive as a private airfield called Buckingham Field.

Fort Myers, FL 1943 postcard message V.Andrews lg

Hi There Va.,

Here I am again and a very sleepy chap at that. I just got up after working K.P.  all night so you can guess how I feel.

That was some stationary you wrote on the other time. Where in the world does a person think up things like that. It’s straight stuff though. Here is the picture of the bathing beauty but she surely must be in some other part of Fla. I haven’t seen her yet.

Be good.

Bernice

Postmark: Fort Myers, Florida – August 7, 1943

To: Virginia Andrews | 410 Elizabeth Street | Durham, NC

From: Pvt. B. A. Smith, 712th F. G. H. S.

B. A. A. F. Fort Myers, Fla.

 

Buckingham Army Airfield, Fort Myers, Florida

 

“Photo of the motor pool showing E5 turret training trucks with mounted aircraft turrets used for training.” (Wikipedia)

“A formation of four AT-6 aircraft wing their way along the Caloosahatchee River above east Fort Myers to the Buckingham Flexible Gunnery School’s range over the Gulf of Mexico (ca 1945). The plane on the right carries the tow target. The gunners shoot from the rear seat of the planes.” (Wikipedia)

 

Buckingham Army Airfield – 1944

Buckingham Army Airfield - Florida - 1944.png
Source: Wikipedia

Buckingham Airfield – 2006

Buckingham Field - Florida.jpg
Source: Wikipedia

Military Postcards, North America

Leonard’s: More Merchandise for Less Money [1944 – Fort Worth, TX]

Fort Worth, TX jan1944 image lg

Apparently Leonard’s department store was quite a place to see in its heyday. This store, located in Fort Worth, Texas, was a modern marvel before its time, even including at some point an indoor monorail. I found out about Leonard’s by way of Pvt. Luis France who sent this from Texas to a friend in Durham, North Carolina.

Leonard’s is now home to a museum about its spectacular history.

Fort Worth, TX jan1944 image message

Hello Ruby,

I am on my way back to camp from furlough. I am sorry I didn’t go through N.C. I wished I had gone by that way. Was fine being home again. I had a swell time.

Will write later.

Love Luis

Postmark: Fort Worth, Texas – Jan 28, 1944

To: Miss Ruby Lou Atkinson | 515 Chapel Hill St. | Durham, N.C.

From: Pvt. Luis France 38439718

205th Ord. MMCo. Ft Dix, N.J.

 

Military Postcards, North America, Postcards

Pain in my Canteen [1943 – Camp Stewart, Georgia]

1943 Postcard Image - Camp Stewart Georgia lg

Correspondence between a Private First Class (PFC) and a Private (PVT), this comic postcard from the 1940’s was sent not once, but twice! And, there are 2 postmarks and 4 separate locations involved:

It would be interesting to know whether or not Harry did end up in a desert theater, once he was deployed overseas.

1943 Postcard Message - Camp Stewart Georgia lg

Dear Homer,

How did it feel to get back to army life after your furlough. I expect it was lot of fun. I am learning to be a soldier now and maybe I’ll make a good one sometime. It is hot down here and so I ought to be able to stand desert service after this training is over.

Answer soon. Harry

Sent to: Pfc. Homer E. Baugh
1590th 318 [?] S. G.
Barksdale Field, Louisiana

Sent by: Pvt Harry Hawkins
Battery B 195 A. A. A. A. W. Bn.
Camp Stewart, Georgia

Postmark: Camp Stewart, Georgia – June 28, 1943

2nd Postmark on the front: Harding Field, Baton Rouge, Louisiana – July 5, 1943

Europe, Military Postcards, Postcards

Now quartered [1945 – A.P.O. Germany]

WWII Postcard Austria 1945 image lg

George found himself in a quaint alpine village in the late summer of 1945. The picturesque village of Reit im Winkl is a small German town near the Austrian border with a strong tradition of tourism. No rank or unit is given on this card, but the postcard was stamped at APO 527.

WWII Postcard Austria 1945 message lg

August 17

We are now quartered in this little Alpine village. We are really miles from no where. They say the snow here is terrific gets to 8′ deep in the village. Don’t you think the Alps look beautiful?

George

Postmark: U.S. Army Postal Service A.P.0 572 – 25 Aug 1945

To: Miss Olga Schleichen | 450 N. Pine St. | Indianapolis, Indiana

Image description: Reit im Winkl mit Keisergebirge 2344m


Reit im Winkl

An alpine community in the Southeast corner of modern Germany, to this day, the town has no rail connection (source), but remains a popular destination for winter and summer outdoor sports.

Reit im Winkl Tourist Information

Wikipedia