Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WWII European Theater Army Records, 1941-1946

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at Fold3. Please address all inquiries to In viewing the collection, Ol' Myrt here found interesting anecdotal reports about air transport evacuation of Allied prisoners of war, inserted after the announcement.

14 March 2012
War is waged primarily in battle, yet made possible by operations beyond the battlefield as revealed in the WWII European Theater Army Records, a collection of administrative documents compiled by the U.S. Army's Historical Division, 1941 through 1946. These records, originally marked secret and confidential, are now available on Fold3.
Created within the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II, these documents are revealing, and often include personal accounts, as in this report of evacuating Allied prisoners of war. Names of soldiers and support personnel are on many of the records, but nowhere more prolific than in the phone books for U.S. Forces in Paris. A 1945 directory admonishes users to, "Never mention secret or confidential matters over the telephone," then lists the names, ranks, addresses, and phone numbers of Paris-based personnel. 
 Troop provisions were recorded by the Army Exchange Service and include photos of the Coke Shack, beer bars and PX merchandise inside Nissen huts, which are the original British versions of what Americans know as the Quonset hut. To assure prosperity and health of personnel, savings plans were encouraged among the troops, and a quartermaster list index gives us an idea of what items were ordered for the men and women.
The minutes of a 1943 Conference Report account for the new "10 in 1" rations, cemetery beautification, and that General Littlejohn wears "red flannels" to keep warm and conserve heat. Chronologies, often in grid format, were important in keeping everyone informed of what was happening on all fronts, as in this brief account of the 1945 Allied bombing of Dresden.
Censorship files keep tabs on morale, including reports of physical ailments and combat fatigue. There are more pleasant excerpts from the mail of soldiers on R&R, explaining that "fat men are getting fat again and the thin men are doing the same," as well as an account of how the French Riviera was reserved for enlisted men only.
Explore the ETO Records to discover more about U.S. operations in World War II and how the Army effectively maintained soldiers' welfare and waged war behind the battle lines.
From DearMYRTLE: The stories related in this record group pull at the heart strings.  Per Captain James Steward, 24 a pilot from Cambridge, Ohio "They pointed out target after target we had hit and congratulated us on our accuracy, but they refused our cigarettes, fearing we didn't have enough for ourselves."
IMAGE: Details of air transport evacuation of 30,000 Allied prisoners of war. *
*IMAGE SOURCE: U.S. Army, U.S. Forces, European Theater, Historical Division: Records, 1941-1946 . National Archives Records Administration. Record Group 498, File 261 page 407. Viewed 3/14/2012 at "These records cover operations of the European Theater during World War II, as collected, maintained, and organized by the Army's historical division staff."

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