World War II Soldiers' Collection - Chester County History Center

WORLD WAR II SOLDIERS' COLLECTION

Collection Title: World War II Soldiers’ Collection

Collection Number: 214

Dates of Collection: 1940-2000

Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society

Language: English, French, German, Italian

Project Archivist: Jasmine Smith, Seth Wheeler, Shane Smith

Information For Researchers:

  • Access:
    This collection is open to researchers. Restrictions will be noted at the series level.
  • Preffered Citation:
    Manuscript Collection 214: World War II Soldiers’ Collections. Series number. Series title. Folder number. Item title. Chester County Historical Society Library, West Chester, Pennsylvania.
  • Processing History:
    Additional series anticipated.

Biography:

The WWII Soldiers’ Collections pulls together numerous small collections capturing WWII soldiers’ experiences in the field. Contents of collections will vary, but may include letters, military records, and post-war records, such as interviews or memoirs. Please review each series for specific information on individual record groups.

Related Material:

Ms. Coll. 204 – WWII Scrapbook, Berwyn Post

Ms. Coll. 205 – West Chester Methodist Church War Scrapbooks, WWII and Korean War

Ms. Coll 234 – WWII Homefront Collections

Collections Contents:

Series 1: George B. Reahm Collection

Dates: 1944 – 2000
Record Number: 2016.60
Extent: 1 box
Restrictions: None
Language: English, German, French

Biographical Note:

George Reahm fought in the European theater during WWII with the 36th Infantry Division. He was captured and taken to Stalag VII, the POW camp attached to Dachau concentration camp, outside of Munich, Germany. Reahm wrote a short autobiographical account of his experiences, included in this collection.

The donor of this collection shared that the creation of the Brandywine Chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners of War organization was motivated by denial of claims made to the VA (U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs) by local WWII soldiers. Dave Taylor and Dave Lewis created the Brandywine Ex-POWs. Members hoped that they would find strength in numbers and gain access to VA medical services. George Reahm, though not an originator of the group, was one of these men whose claims were denied. The group was ultimately unsuccessful in securing VA benefits for members, as evidenced by Reahm’s 1995 benefits rejection letter.

Scope and Content: This collection includes letters, service records, ephemera and publications for the Brandywine Chapter of the American Ex-POW organization and national organization, and interviews.

Arrangement: Items are arranged by topic.

Related Materials: The CCHS Museum houses Reahm’s medals and tags. The museum also holds the lighter requested in his 1944 letter home. Photographs of his medals, himself, and the Ex-POW chapter are included in the photo archives.

Series Contents:

Box 1

Folder 1: War correspondence between Reahm and family in Phoenixville, G.I card, “The Story of the 36th Infantry Division” – pamphlet.

Folder 2: George Reahm award notifications (military Photostats).

Folder 3: George Reahm autobiographical account of service and POW experience, accompanying packet of Reahm’s supporting documents.

Folder 4: Materials from local veteran recognition projects.

Folder 5: American Ex-POW organization documents (Brandywine Chapter and national), includes VA Benefits document.

Folder 6: George Reahm interview and memorial article (Upper Uwchlan Township Times), autobiography copy two.

Folder 7: Roughan, John J. Jr. “A War Remembered: Phoenixville Native George Reahm Recalls the Harrowing Experience of WWII.” The Weekend Phoenix, 113:264, August 5/6, 2000. 

Edwards, John S. (Ed.). American Ex-Prisoners of War: Volume IV. Paducah: Turner Publishing Company, 2000.

Series 2: Cesare DiMarzio Collection

Dates: January 1943 to July 1945
Received: August 15, 2001
Extent: 1 box
Restrictions: None
Language: English, Italian

Biographical Note: Cesare DiMarzio was a resident of West Chester that maintained many correspondences with soldiers from the field in all branches of the military, many of whom were his friends and neighbors. Most of the letters detail the experiences of the service members and their thoughts about their station, along with keeping updates with Cesare DiMarzio.

Scope and Content: This collection mostly contains personal letters, postcards, a small number of ephemera items.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged by folder with the name of the writer and correspondence dates.

Series Contents:

Box 1

Folder 1: Sgt. Ray Cimini correspondence to Cesare DiMarzio from February 1943 to January 1944.

Folder 2: Cpl. Paul Bruno correspondence to Cesare J. DiMarzio from January 1943 to November 1944.

Folder 3: Lt. L. L. Spaziani correspondence to Cesare J. DiMarzio from March 1943 to January 1944. Pvt. Robert C. Spaziani correspondence to Casare J. DiMarzio from March 28, 1944.

Folder 4: Albert D’Annunzio correspondence to Cesare J. DiMarzio from May 1943 to December 1943. Victor L. D’Annunzio correspondence to Cesare DiMarzio from February 1943 to June 1944.

Folder 5: Dorino Izzi correspondence to Cesare J. DiMarzio from April 1944, includes Training booklet at U.S. Naval Training Station, Bainbridge, Maryland. Pvt. Joe Izzi correspondence to Cesare DiMarzio from March 1943 to April 1943.

Folder 6: Cpl. A. Ottaviano (“Tony”) correspondence to Cesare J. DiMarzio from April 1944 to July 1945.

Folder 7: G.J. DiPasquale (“Kite”) correspondence to Cesare J. DiMarzio from October 1943 to December 1943.

Folder 8: Multiple correspondences to Cesare J. DiMarzio and Gloria DiMarzio from March 1943 to January 1945. Letter from John J. Doyle, n.d. (1944?) Letter from Jerry McCowan, December 1943. Letter from Sgt. John J. Ricci, March 1943. Letter from Gusto, January 1945. Letter from Mary Trimboli (Buffalo, NY), April 1943. Two postcards from Dorothy L. Kolb, March-April 1943. Letter from AFC Dorothy L. Kolb, May 23, 1943. Letter from Connie DeMarco, July 1943. Letter from the Hammond Map Store to Cesare J. DiMarzio NY, NY, January 1944.

Two postcards from Vincent DeMarco to Gloria DiMarzio June-July 1943.

Postcard from Pvt. Davis Berards to Cesare J. DiMarzio from November 1943. Postcard from Ottaviano, no date. Postcard from Cairyo Robinson in Italian, December 1943.

Folder 9: Blank Alien Registration Card and a Morris Code newsletter from November 1944.

Series 3: Charles Fisher WWII letters

Dates: December 1942 to November 1945
Extent: 1 box
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: Private Charles Fisher enlisted with his friend Jimmie Norton in 1942 and served in the Army during World War II. Fisher wrote frequently to his sister about his experience in the military. The correspondence starts in December 1942 and ends in November 1945.

Scope and Content: The collection primarily consists of correspondence from Private Charles Fisher to his sister Grace Harvey and his mother. These correspondences included personal letters, postcards, a small number of official documents and ephemera.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged by month and year of correspondence. The last box is miscellaneous.

Series Contents:

Box 1

Folder 1: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in December 1942.

Folder 2: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in January 1943.

Folder 3: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in February 1943.

Folder 4: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in March 1943.

Box 2

Folder 5: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in April 1943.

Folder 6: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in May 1943.

Folder 7: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in June-August 1943.

Folder 8: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in February-July 1944.

Folder 9: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in August-September 1944.

Folder 10: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in October 1944.

Folder 11: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in November-December 1944.

Box 3

Folder 12: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in January 1945.

Folder 13: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in February 1945.

Folder 14: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in March-April 1945.

Folder 15: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey correspondence in May-November 1945.

Folder 16: Charles Fisher to Grace Harvey undated letters.

Box 4-Miscellaneous

Folder 17: General Material Culture.

Folder 18: Official Military documents.

Folder 19: True Miscellaneous.

Folder 20: Pictures (uncatalogued).

Series 4: W.E. Biddison Letters

Dates: July 1944 to December 1945
Extent: 1 box
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: W.E. Biddison was stationed with the 7th Fleet Navy for Logistics in the late stages of World War II in the Pacific Theater. He wrote to his mother, Mrs. Edna M. Stauffer of Malvern, PA, from July 1944 to December 1945.

Scope and Content: The series consists mostly of letters from W.E. Biddison to his mother, Edna M. Stauffer. It also includes a news article from the Philadelphia Record mapping and detailing the U.S. island hopping strategy used against the Japanese in the Pacific until October 22, 1944. Lastly, it contains personal notes, messages, telegrams, and a small amount of miscellaneous documents.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged by month and year of correspondence.

Series Contents:

Box 1:

Folder 1: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, July 1944.

Folder 2: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, August 1944.

Folder 3: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, September 1944.

Folder 4: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffe, October 1944.

Folder 5: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, November-December 1944.

Folder 6: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, in January-February 1945.

Folder 7: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, March 1945.

Folder 8: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, April-May 1945.

Folder 9: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, June 1945.

Folder 10: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, July-August 1945.

Folder 11: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, September-October 1945.

Folder 12: W.E. Biddison to Edna M. Stauffer, November-December 1945

Folder 13: Philadelphia Record news article with a map.

Folder 14: Personal notes, telegrams, and miscellaneous documents

Series 5: George H. Christy, Jr. WWII Materials

Dates: 1942 to 1995
Extent: 1 box
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: George H. Christy was a resident of West Grove who enlisted in the Army in October 1942. He served primarily in the Pacific during World War II in Operations. George Christy collected many different items in the service, such as newspapers and magazines about the European and Pacific Theaters, along with finance publications. He also wrote to his friends who fought in the Pacific Theater. He was awarded with a Bronze Star Medal and a Good Conduct Medal in 1944. George Christy was honorably discharged in December 1945.

Scope and Content: The series consists many different items that included personal letters to his friends, V-mail, and letters from Headquarters. Additionally, the series contained newspapers and magazines that he collected while in the Army, along with scrapbooks that provided details about the places he had stayed at during World War II, such as Sydney, Australia and Manila, The Philippines.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged by month and year.

Related Materials: There are photographs in the Photo Archives of George H. Christy’s service in the Army, specifically photofiles from 1945 and a photograph scrapbook of Christy and his friends in the service.

Series Contents:

Box 1:

Folder 1: “F.R.T.C. Ledger”. Publication of Finance Replacement Center, Fort Harrison, Indiana. 2 Issues, March 26 1943 and April 9, 1943.

Folder 2: V-Mail, June 3, 1943 to December 5, 1943.

Folder 3: V-Mail, December 6, 1943 to 1944.

Folder 4: Letters from Christy’s friends in the service from August 1943 to December 1945.

Folder 5: “Yank Down Under”. Magazine published for military personnel. 3 issues, August 6, 1943, May 12, 1944, and September 21, 1945.

Folder 6: Letters from Headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware and Fort Lee, Virginia from January to October 1951.

Folder 7: Miscellaneous Newspapers and Publications related to Army Service from August 1943 to May 1945. Newspaper Article about the Enola Gay from August 1991. Miscellaneous items arrived together in Goldey College Folder.

Scrapbook relating to George H. Christy and his Army service from his induction into the Army in October 1942, his service in the Pacific, and his discharge on December 27, 1945.

Series 6: The Straub Family Collection

Dates: 1942 to 1970
Extent: 2 folders and scrapbook
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: Francis P. Straub was a staff sergeant in World War II who served in the European theater of the war. Entering service in April 1943, he received training at Camp Polk and later Camp Cooke before being sent off to England to participate in the Liberation of France. He was wounded in action in France on October 8th, 1944; for this, he received a Purple Heart and was sent home. During his service, he would regularly communicate via letter with his sister Geraldine and her husband Charles Pogacar. With his wife Kathleen, Frank had four children: Mary Kathleen, Roseanne, Frank Jr. and John. The latter two would go on to serve in the military themselves, with Frank Jr. stationed in Korea and John fighting in Vietnam.

Scope and Content: The collection consists of two folders and a scrapbook preserved by Frank’s sister Geraldine. While the collection is mostly letters, there are a number of pictures and war ephemera as well.

Arrangement: The folders are arranged roughly by topic while the scrapbook is arranged in chronological order.

Series Contents:

Folder 1: V-Mail letters, Mr. and Mrs. Pogacars’ war ration books nos. 3 and 4, letter from Franklin D. Roosevelt to expeditionary force soldiers, “The Fortunes of War,” Signature April 1974; Chatham Village News vol. XII no. 1, May 18th, 1943

Folder 2: Letter from Frank Straub to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pogacar, February 8th, 1944 and March 28th, 1969; letters from John Straub to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pogacar, June 4th, 1969 – July 21st, 1970; holiday greeting cards; letters from Frank Straub Jr. to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pogacar, May 26th, 1969 – October 8th, 1970

Scrapbook containing letters from Frank Straub to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pogacar, pictures of Frank, blood donor certificates, stamps, war ration books, and other war memorabilia

Series 7: John O. Burkey Collection

Dates: September 1917 to September 1996, bulk 1942 to 1945
Received: September 20th, 1996
Extent: 1 scrapbook
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: John O. Burkey, born on July 2nd, 1897 in Pittsburgh, PA, served in the United States Army in both World Wars. While he only received limited combat training in the first, in the second, he served as a commissioned officer at Stewart Airfield near West Point, NY. Over the course of the next three years, Burkey was assigned a number of roles, including Squadron Adjutant, Squadron Commander of the 2nd Echelon Squadron, and Commander of the Headquarters Squadron. He was honorably discharged in August 1945 and would remain in contact with his military peers and subordinates for years after. He died on August 24th, 1969 in Malvern, PA.

Scope and Content: The collection consists of a single scrapbook preserved by Burkey himself. Contained within are photographs, physical exam records, assignment letters, military correspondences, manuals, patches, and pins.

Arrangement: The collection is roughly chronological.

Related Materials: See the CCHS Newspaper Clippings Collection name files for additional articles on Burkey, including his obituary

Series Contents:

1 scrapbook – John O. Burkey’s scrapbook

Series 8: Technical Manuals Collection

Dates: 1939 to 1945
Received: October 3rd, 1996
Extent: 1 folder
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: The materials from this collection come from John Peters, an American soldier who served in the Air Force during World War II. He received these manuals at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan towards the end of the war.
Scope and Content: The materials in this collection include schematics, technical manuals, and letters from the government and military regarding the war’s end.

Arrangement: The contents are kept in their original order.

Related Materials: World War II Japanese rifle (1996.35)

Series Contents:

Folder containing carburetor schematics, Aircraft Instruments Technical Manual, 1940; Airplane Inspection Guide Technical Manual, 1941; Civil Air Regulations Part 24 – Mechanic Certificates, 1943; correspondence from Brigadier General Richard C. Sanders; memo from President Harry Truman; and Handbook of Service and Overhaul Instructions with Parts Catalog for Controllable Propeller (Two Position and Constant Speed) Manufactured by Hamilton Standard Propeller Co., 1939.

Series 9: The Terrill Family Collection

Dates: 1943 to 1948
Received: November 27th, 1995
Extent: 1 folder
Restrictions: None
Language: English

Biographical Note: The Terrill family lived in Oil City, PA. During World War II and after, two of their sons, Orlo “Bucky” Terrill and Bill Terrill, served in the military. Bill Terrill in particular fought in the North African Campaign of WWII and was a participant in Operation Torch. This collection was compiled by J. Thomas Fisher, nephew of Orlo Terrill and a former colonel in the United States Marine Corps.

Scope and Content: This collection contains a letter from Bill Terrill to his mother, along with assorted war and Homefront materials like a ration book and sergeant’s club card.

Arrangement: The collection is kept in original order.

Series Contents:

Folder containing a letter to Ruth Terrill from Bill Terrill dated February 12th, 1943; sergeant’s club card, ration book, War Department Certificate of Proficiency, and a political cartoon

Series 10: The William S. Hill Collection

Dates: 1941 to 1945, 1997
Received: WWII Census Project File
Extent: 4 folders
Restrictions: None
Language: English, German

Biographical Note: William Strickland “Bunker” Hill was a resident of West Chester who served in World War II before returning to West Chester to live out the remainder of his life. During the War, he achieved the rank of second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers.

Scope and Content: The collection consists of World War II memorabilia created and/or collected by William Strickland “Bunker” Hill, in addition to his obituary. There are letters, maps, photographs, zines, and a Wehrpass.

Arrangement: The collection has been separated into groups of similar materials for purposes of preservation, but otherwise kept in original order.

Series Contents:

Folder 1: Obituary, letters to parents (except V-Mail, see Folder 2), maps of Europe.

Folder 2: V-Mail letters, photographs.

Folder 3: “Jungle Cat” 11th Engineers battalion/regiment (variously referred to as each) zine. The zines contain commendations, notable promotions, sporting events, cartoons, jokes, and miscellaneous company news. The note on Vol. VII, March 1943, No. 8 notes that these zines were given to William by B. J. Sledge at a reunion.

Folder 4: One German Wehrpass (mid-war style) formerly belonging to one Robert Hennig, with a note on the back explaining that it was taken from a prisoner. Contains a Nazi eagle patch and several loose documents. The Wehrpass is a military passport for German soldiers given at draft registration, turned in at the beginning of service, and returned at the end of service (or to next of kin on death). This folder also contains a note of various military memorabilia spanning both World Wars, included in this folder because it mentions the Wehrpass (as “German ID Wallet”).