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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Flanagan Genealogy - To Send A Letter - Part 2

Richard J. Flanagan and Dorothy Borchers married in November of 1940.  This was well before Richard signed up for the U.S. Army.  By the time he volunteered for WWII, he and Dorothy had a son who was born at the end of 1941 but passed away in February 1943, during the war.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Richard J. Flanagan enlisted in the army on 15 Sep 1942.  He was 31 years old at the time.

The following are quick summaries of the 4 letters and 1 other postcard that Richard sent to his friends and former employer during WWII.

10-26-1942 - U.S. Army, Camp Perry, Ohio
----He talks about the harsh climate and was missing the California weather.  Ducks and geese are around everywhere but there was no time to hunt.

11-21-1942 - Camp Chaffee, Arkansas
----The weather is a topic and is indicated as being much better in Arkansas than Ohio.  He thanked his friends for sending cigarettes.  Near the end of the letter, he states that the Army forgot to pay him that month.  He's having to pinch pennies.

12-20-1942 - The Armed Forces, Camp Chaffee, Arkansas
-----He said that he was supposed to be home for Christmas but that changed.....Now set to be home in January.  He misses Napa.  There's not much to do in AR.

3-29-1943 - Camp Chaffee, AR
-----He talks about being on the firing range.  They go out for 2 to 3 days with tents in the fields.  Airplanes bombed them with bags of flour.  He was promoted to T-3 - same as staff sergeant.  A great quote from Richard, "It's a dairy life except you have tanks instead of cows."  This is in reference to the long work hours.

1-27-1945 - A.P.O Address
The final letter dated January 27, 1945, is from an APO military address indicating that the soldier is overseas.  The letter initially states that it is cold and there is snow but they are inside buildings.  The roofs of the buildings keep the snow out but when it rains they appear to leak.  The roof is missing in some places from bombings and artillery.  He does reference the shaking from the artillery.

Richard further indicates that he's seen a lot of France and some of Germany.  In this letter, he indicates that they are in Alsace near the border of Germany as part of the 7th Army.


We are so fortunate to have been given these letters.  I don't remember really having seen my grandfather's handwriting much.  By the time he was elderly, he did not write much.  He did not have much of a grip left and the pads of his fingers were smooth.

Also, I must include here that my grandfather did not speak of the war much.  He would indicate that he was stationed in Nice, France for a time.  He also indicated that he attended mass at a church in the military where they said the Mass in several languages for all of the soldiers to understand.

Someday, I will go through all of my grandfather's things that my mother has held onto.  For now, the most recent findings in these letters from WWII are my latest "discovery".

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