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. Continue reading “Earliest Days of the 101st Airborne [1943 – Camp Claiborne, LA & Nashville, TN]”→
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.
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.
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.
Postmark: Fort Myers, Florida – August 7, 1943
To: Virginia Andrews | 410 Elizabeth Street | Durham, NC
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.
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.
Postmark: Fort Worth, Texas – Jan 28, 1944
To: Miss Ruby Lou Atkinson | 515 Chapel Hill St. | Durham, N.C.
Anne makes Morehead City on the North Carolina coast sound like a little slice of heaven.
Hey let me know your Ga. address.
We are at last where the breezes blow! Came Fri. & only wish we could spend the summer. Thanks for the cute birthday card & telegram. Tommy loves the water and I love all these willing nurses. Am pretty sure of a nice room for you. Write & good luck in Ga. Love from all,
Miss Annemarie Dunzelmann
Madison St. Clarksville, Tenn.
Billy’s sarcasm towards Annemarie is what makes 1930s postcard charming, and I think I’m going to bring that phraseology back as an alternative to “great” time. I bet it really was nice in the Blue Ridge Mountains just South of Asheville, NC in July.
In my eyes, the main quality of a great postcard is leaving the reader wanting to know more! This one certainly poses so many more questions than it answers. I want to know what’s happening off stage!
Haven’t got enough to say to write a letter– hence the card. I’m visiting Chick now and having a big time. Guess I’ll go back to S.C. and cruise around before I come home. In the meantime try to bear up under the strain of my absence.