First Class of WAVES, Norman, Oklahoma 1943
Military Postcards, North America, Postcards

Making WAVES in the Sooner State [1944 – Oklahoma] US Navy

Norman Oklahoma 1944, USNavy postcard image lg.png

A Naval base in the middle of Oklahoma? It may be hard to believe, but thousands of male and female Navy personnel spent time training in the wide open spaces of the Sooner State during World War II.

This post card was sent by a Navy service member stationed in Norman, Oklahoma, and depicts the hydroelectric Quanah Parker Dam to the West in what is now Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Perhaps the sender, Russell, found time for a weekend trip to this scenic part of the state during a reprieve from his hospital duties in 1944.

Just south of Oklahoma City, the U.S. Navy established a Naval Air Station, Naval Air Technical Training Center, and Gunnery School in the town of Norman. Construction on Navy facilities began in 1942, and the Navy developed a close relationship with nearby Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma University. The airfield, newly built by the university, was leased to the Navy for the duration of the war and was used to train Naval pilots (source). Machinists and aircraft maintenance technicians were also trained at the installation.  WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and SPARS (US Coast Guard Women’s Reservists) were trained on Oklahoma A&M’s campus, and the college boasted the largest enrollment of WAVES in the country, at over 10 thousand during the war (source).

You can see an image of the dedication of the the Navy Hospital on the website of the Norman Museum. Another exterior photo, as well as one of an actress visiting a patient, allows us to peek into the world in which this postcard was written.  The museum also features an impressive number of fascinating historic photos of aviation and ground operations that took place during the war: https://www.normanmuseum.org/wwii-navy-bases.html. I recommend you take a peek.

Norman Oklahoma 1944, USNavy postcard message.jpg

Dear Betty,

Received your card sure was glad to hear from you. I may be home soon. How are things at the shop. Gee I sure miss you. Please write when you can.

Love Russell

From: R SAYSF USN Hospital, Norman Oklahoma

To: Miss Betty Pavler | Ecorse, Michigan

Postmark: U.S. Navy Aug 16 1944

 


Navy Operations in Norman, Oklahoma during World War II

NH 86160 Norman Oklahoma Naval Training School
“WAVES at the Naval Training School, Norman, Oklahoma, lower an airplane engine onto a block, July 1943.” Source: US Navy, Naval History and Heritage Command.

NH 95359 First Class of WAVES Norman, OklahomaThe featured photo of this post shows “Members of the first class of WAVES to graduate from the Aviation Metalsmith School, at the Naval Air Technical Training Center, Norman, Oklahoma, 30 July 1943.” Source: Naval History and Heritage Command.

 

 

Quanah Dam 4-1-17
Quanah Parker Dam today, by Larry Smith via Flickr

 

 

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

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

Military Postcards, North America, Postcards

Uncle Sam’s Scrubs [1952 – San Diego, CA]

1952 Comic Postcard Image - San Diego, California lg

This postcard was sent during the Korean War by what I assume was a junior enlisted sailor. He gives us no details about his assignment other than what we can see from the  the San Diego, CA postmark. Carl writes such an endearing note home to his parents in Tennessee. The handwritten names on the cartoon are my favorite part.

1952 Comic Postcard Message - San Diego, California lg

Dear Mother and Daddy

How are all of all there fine I hop. I went to church today. It not much to do here today so I thought I would write you a line. I will send you a picture this next weekend. by for now

Carl {?}

To: Mr. Mrs. J. T. Knight
308 Madison St. N
Nashville 8, Tenn

Postmark: San Diego, California – April 7, 1952

Save

North America, Origin, Postcards

Mailed on Halloween [Indiana, circa 1910]

Antique Postcard

Man, it would be cool to have the photograph of the sender which had just been taken.

I hope you have a very happy and safe Halloween!

Indianapolis 1910s back

Dear Friends,

Hoping to hear from you soon. Haven’t heard from you for a week or so, so answer.

J.B.

We had some pictures taken together Saturday. You know who [?] that friend of mine.

To: Miss Agnes Shrack

Mooresville, Ind.

Postmark: Indiannapolis, Indiana – October 31, 191_?_

 

Europe, Postcards

On a Budget [1990 – Stockholm, Sweden]

Stockholm Postcard 1990 image lg

World traveling on a budget isn’t easy, but this family seems to have enjoyed their visit.

This is how we all shared our adventures with friends and family before Facebook and Instagram changed everything, for better or worse.

Stockholm Postcard 1990 message lg

Dear Sue & Gene,

Thanks for your letter. You’re right Stockholm & Sweden are beautiful. The train ride here was very scenic. Lots of lakes & forests. Dad says it reminds him of his uncle’s properties in Canada.

Most of the affordable hotels were full, now we are staying in a private apartment. It has a beautiful view of the City Hall.

Hope spring finds you both well & happy. I know you’ll be busy. “Hello to Jen & Helen”

Love, Dad, Linda, Sean & Patrick

Postmark: Stockholm, Sweden – April 23, 1990

Postcards, United States

Cannot walk home [1910 – Bensenville/Chicago, Illinois]

1910 Postcard Bensenville, IL & Art Inst of Chicago

Postcards like this one always prompt me to reflect on how places change over decades. The building pictured is the Art Institute of Chicago, constructed in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exhibition. The card was postmarked Bensenville, Illinois, which is located near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

This antique photograph postcard reflects an earlier era before the divided back postcard format. The message had to be squeezed on the front and the reverse reserved for the address only.

The place and time where Marie wrote and sent this card seems as distant from our present as our nearest celestial neighbors are from Earth itself. The Chicago of today would be unrecognizable to a 1910 resident, save for monumental landmarks such as this one.

1910 Postcard reverse Bensenville, IL & Art Inst of Chicago

“Come for me to night as I cannot walk home very well. Even if it is late. I must sew late any way. Marie”

To: Miss Eleanor Ehlers, Bensenville, Illinois

Postmark: Bensonville, Illinois – July 1, 1910

Image: Real photograph “Art Institute of Chicago”

Continue reading “Cannot walk home [1910 – Bensenville/Chicago, Illinois]”