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BRYANT UNIVERSITY

“A wonderful, beautifully presented tribute to a great college and its contribution to victory in World War II” - ALEX KERSHAW, author of the widely-acclaimed World War II best sellers including The Few, The Bedford Boys, and Escape from the Deep.

J

“Judy Barrett Litoff brings alive the rhythms of a world turned upside down with poignant descriptions from service personnel in far udy

Barrett

Litoff, Professor

of

History

at

Bryant University, Smithfield RI, is the author of fourteen books, including two pioneering works on the history of American midwifery,

off lands and college students facing an uncertain future. From encounters with snakes in Panama to wistful longing to be back at college, her crisp text wonderfully supports well-chosen original documents and photographs in this very readable tribute to a little known aspect of World War II. At last we also see a tribute to Bryant alumnus Andrew Mamedoff and his fellow volunteers in the Royal Air Force, one of the first “American Eagles” in European skies. Fascinating.” - BRAD KING, Executive Director, Battleship Cove and former Imperial War Museum historian.

and has written more than one hundred articles, book chapters, and reviews in American women’s history. Over the last two decades, Barrett Litoff has

focused her research and writing on American women and the Second World War. Her research has included a

nationwide

search

for

women’s

correspondence

that has resulted in the assembling of an archive of 30,000 wartime letters written by American women. Barrett Litoff s innovative research on American women and World War II has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and she frequently appears on television and radio. She has lectured widely in the United States, as well as in England, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and China. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Humanities. Jacket design by Toine Philibert. Jacket photograph is from the 1942 Bryant College yearbook, The Ledger, page 97, and depicts the founding members of the Bryant College Service Club on the steps of South Hall, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence, RI.

Bryant University

Douglas and Judith Krupp Library Smithfield, R

“Judy Barrett Litoff has brought alive a remarkable story of school spirit, dedication, and service by the students, faculty, and alumni of Bryant during World War II. This work will interest not only those in the Bryant community, but anyone who wants a better understanding of the “good war” and how it touched the lives of countless Americans. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to have their faith renewed in the young people of America and the contributions colleges made in the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.” - G. KURT PIEHLER, Director, Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, Florida State University. “World War II was a people’s war, and the men and women who served in the military depended upon contact with the home front to maintain their morale and sense of duty. The Bryant Service Club sent cigarettes, candy, cookies, hand-knitted sweaters, and most important, letters to 500 alumni overseas. These letters told in great detail what was going on at home. The servicemen and servicewomen responded with gratitude, giving their own “boots-on-the-ground” perspective on the war. They told of the hardships and their own self-discoveries of young people in a strange and violent world. The original letters have been rediscovered and edited in an attractive format. They tell Americans two generations later what military service really meant when tours of duty were not for 12 months, but “for the duration.” Prize-winning author, Judy Barrett Litoff has provided us with an excellent analysis of this World War II home front history and of the roles of colleges and universities during wartime.” - D’ANN CAMPBELL, Professor of History, Culver Stockton College, and author of Women at War With America and more than three dozen articles on American women’s roles in World War II.

Judy Barrett Litoff B YANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

Praise for Bryant College Goes to War

Judy Barrett Litoff

Judy Barrett Litoff

Bryant College Goes to War

T

his

fascinating,

extensively-illustrated

book tells the remarkable story of the leadership

role

assumed

by

Bryant

students during World War II as they

ingeniously embraced many of the salient issues facing colleges and universities across the nation. On March 27, 1942, the Bryant Service Club was

founded as “an organization of Bryant men and women for Bryant men and women in the service.” Its purpose was to send morale-boosting “packages of cigarettes, candy, cookies, letters, [and] knitted articles” to Bryant alumni in the military. Drawing upon excellent organizational and business skills as well as ingenuity and enterprise, the Club united the student body as never before. By the end of the war more than 500 Bryant women and men in uniform had received letters and packages from the Club. In response, about 450 of these alumni, along with their families, wrote more than 1300 letters of thanks to the Club. These letters, many of which are reproduced in this book, tell the captivating story of Bryant women and men in the service. We learn of the new opportunities and challenges experienced by Bryant alumni who were stationed stateside as well as those who served at “farflung fronts” in every major theater of the war. The letters

BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

carefully detail combat and noncombat experiences, casualties and the atrocities of war, planning for the postwar world, and the record number of veterans who enrolled at Bryant at the conclusion of hostilities.


Judy Barrett Litoff

Bryant College Goes to War This fascinating, extensively-illustrated book tells the remarkable story of the leadership role assumed by Bryant students during World War II as they ingeniously embraced many of the salient issues facing colleges and universities across the nation. On March 27, 1942, the Bryant Service Club was founded as “an organization of Bryant men and women for Bryant men and women in the service.” Its purpose was to send morale-boosting “packages of cigarettes, candy, cookies, letters, [and] knitted articles” to Bryant alumni in the military. Drawing upon excellent organizational and business skills as well as ingenuity and enterprise, the Club united the student body as never before. By the end of the war more than 500 Bryant women and men in uniform had received letters and packages from the Club. In response, about 450 of these alumni, along with their families, wrote more than 1300 letters of thanks to the Club. These letters, many of which are reproduced in this book, tell the captivating story of Bryant women and men in the service. We learn of the new opportunities and challenges experienced by Bryant alumni who were stationed stateside as well as those who served at “farflung fronts” in every major theater of the war. The letters carefully detail combat and noncombat experiences, casualties and the atrocities of war, planning for the postwar world, and the record number of veterans who enrolled at Bryant at the conclusion of hostilities.


Bryant College Goes to War


Also by Judy Barrett Litoff 1978 American Midwives: 1860 to the Present 1986 The American Midwife Debate: A Sourcebook on Its Modern Origins 1990 Miss You: The World War II Letters of Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor 1991 Dear Boys: World War II Letters from a Woman Back Home 1991 Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front 1994 European Immigrant Women in the United States: A Biographical Dictionary 1994 We’re in This War, Too: World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform 1997 American Women in a World at War: Contemporary Accounts From World War II 1997 Dear Poppa: The World War II Berman Family Letters 2000 What Kind of World Do We Want?: American Women Plan for Peace 2003 Fighting Fascism in Europe: The World War II Letters of an American Veteran of the Spanish Civil War 2006 An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d’Albert-Lake 2011 Dancing with Colonels: A Young Woman in Wartime Turkey 2013 Miss You: The World War II Letters of Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor (published in honor of the 75th anniversary of the University of Georgia Press)


Bryant College Goes to War Revised Edition

Judy Barrett Litoff

Bryant University Smithfield, RI


Bryant University Douglas and Judith Krupp Library Published in the United States of America by Bryant University on the occasion of Bryant University’s 150th Anniversary 1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfield, RI 0291 http://www.bryant.edu Copyright © 2013, 2018 by Bryant University and Judy Barrett Litoff All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-692-08887-6


Contents

Acknowledgements

vii

1. Prelude: Andrew Mamedoff, Bryant Class Of 193

3

2. The Impact of World War II on Bryant College

7

3. The Bryant College Service Club The Founding of the Bryant Service Club Bryant Women in the Military Mail as the Number One Morale Builder during World War II Wartime America: A Nation on the Move and in Great Turmoil The “Zone of the Interior”: Stateside Letters Written by Bryant Alumni “Far-Flung Fronts”: Letters Written by Bryant Alumni Stationed Around the World Noncombatant Assignments Combat Assignments Bryant Casualties and the Atrocities of War Planning for the Postwar World  Record Number of Wartime Veterans Enroll at Bryant The Bryant Service Club Is Discontinued 

29 29 39 45 57 61 67 95 104 124 136 142 150

A Closer Look

153

Notes

155

Index of Names Included in Bryant College Goes to War

165


Acknowledgements

The making of Bryant College Goes to War truly has been a collaborative effort. Without the encouragement and expertise of Mary Moroney, the Director of Library Services at Bryant University’s Douglas and Judith Krupp Library, and library staff members, Toine Philibert, Patricia Schultz, and Wendy Smith-Stenhouse, this book would not have happened. It was an honor and pleasure to work with these individuals as they carefully transcribed the 1,300 letters that were written to the Bryant Service Club between 1942 and 1945 for the Bryant College Goes to War website (http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bryant_goes_to_war/ ), painstakingly checked and re-checked my narrative and footnotes, and enthusiastically supported the project. I could not have asked for a more professional team of experts. Thanks also to Bryant students Michele Lemmo, class of 2010, and Joan Graham, class of 2013, and volunteer Priscilla Welsh for their help in transcribing and digitizing these letters. When I first began my project on U.S. Women and Letter Writing During World War II in the late 1980s, I learned of the Bryant Service Club when perusing copies of The Ledger, the Bryant yearbook. But no one knew the whereabouts of the letters that were written by Bryant alums to the Service Club. Imagine my delight when Mary Moroney and student assistant, Jillian Emma, class of 2009, literally stumbled across the four large green scrapbooks containing the letters in September 2008 as they were rummaging around in an underground library storage area. It is nothing less than a miracle that this treasure trove of wartime letters survived the intervening sixty years—especially given the fact that Bryant made a massive move in 1971 from its East Side campus in Providence to its current location in Smithfield, Rhode Island some twelve miles away. Once again, Bryant University has been enormously supportive of my work through the awarding of summer research stipends, course reductions, and, most recently, a sabbatical that allowed me to complete the project. I would like to offer a special thanks to José-Marie Griffiths,Vice President for Academic Affairs, and University Professor, V. K. Unni, former Vice President for Academic Affiairs, David Lux, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Gregg Carter, Chair of the History/Social Sciences Department, for their long-standing encouragement and support. Linda Asselin, my faculty suite coordinator, was always there when I needed her. Without her help, this book would have been much longer in the making. My daughters, Nadja Barrett Pisula-Litoff and Alyssa Barrett Gordon, and my sons-in-law, Jim and Joshua, continue to support my work with love, companionship, encouragement, and scholarly advice. They bring great joy and fulfillment to my life. This book is dedicated with love and affection to my grandchildren, Dorothy Barbara Pisula-Litoff, Pearce Louisa Pisula-Litoff, Arthur Miles Pisula-Litoff, Lillian Barrett Gordon, and Barrett Elizabeth Gordon.

Page vii


Bryant College Goes to War


Prelude: Andrew Mamedoff, Bryant Class Of 1932

A

ndrew Mamedoff, Bryant College class of 1932, was one of the first eight American pilots who defied U.S. neutrality laws and risked losing his citizenship to fight the Nazis and fly for what he considered to be the “best flying club in the world: Britain’s Royal Air Force”

(RAF) during the Battle of Britain in the late summer and fall of 1940.1 The first American to enlist in the RAF was twenty-nine-year-old Billy Fiske, who, in 1928 at the age of sixteen, became “the youngest-ever winner of a Winter Olympics gold medal for the bobsled.”2 In September 1939 Fiske formally joined the RAF. The following June, three other Americans, Andrew Mamedoff, Vernon C. “Shorty” Keough, and Eugene Q. Tobin, joined Fiske. “Andy” Mamedoff, of White Russian Orthodox background hailed from Thompson, Connecticut, and was described by the July 1941 Bryant College Alumni Bulletin as “a colorful character even in his student days . . . , a likeable fellow, called on the carpet now and then for some prank, but withal a general favorite.” He was a member of Tau Epsilon, and many of that fraternity’s parties were held at The Russian Bear, in Thompson, of which his mother was manager.”3 Defying U.S. Neutrality Laws, Mamedoff, Keough, and Tobin, all of whom were daredevil flyers, made their way to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early summer of 1940 where an agent provided them with cards that described their nationality as “indeterminate” and also gave them a modest amount of spending money. They were told that they were to sail for France to join the French Armée de l’Air. But by the time the three reached France, the Battle of France had been lost. In late June 1940, they then made a narrow escape via a ship overloaded with war refugees headed for Plymouth, England. From Plymouth, they made their way to London where the trio convinced the RAF that they wanted to fly for England,

Mamedoff is standing at the far left, fourth row in this 1930 Tau Epsilon photograph. Opposite page: Andrew Mamedoff next to his damaged Spitfire, August 13, 1940. Notice that the hole in the damaged wing is large enough for Mamedoff to put his leg through. Photo courtesy of Brian Adams via Dorset Airfield

WORLD WAR II TIMELINE September 1, 1939 Germany invades Poland.

September 3, 1939 Britain and France declare war on Germany.

December 18, 1939 The first Canadian troops arrive in Britain.

July 1940 The Battle of Britain begins.

Page 3

August 20, 1940 Winston Churchill delivers speech to British House of Commons: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”

October 8, 1941 Andrew Mamedoff is killed.


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

pledged their allegiance to King George VI, were fitted with dark blue uniforms, and assigned to the RAF’s 609 Squadron. The success of the RAF against the German Luftwaffe during the late summer and early fall of 1940 represented the first major defeat of the Nazis and ended the threat of a proposed German invasion of England. In response to the courageous and daring exploits of the RAF pilots, Prime Minister Winston Churchill uttered his famous words on August 20, 1940: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Beginning in mid September, 1940, as more and more American pilots volunteered for the RAF, the British decided to incorporate three squadrons of American pilots, to be known as the Eagle Squadrons, into the Royal Air Force. In order to avoid violating American neutrality laws, pilots were now required to

A World War II poster recognizing Britain’s Royal Air Force pilots. These pilots became to be known as “The Few.”

Announcement of Mamedoff s death in the October 1941 issue of the Bryant College Alumni Bulletin.

This July 1941 article in the Bryant College Alumni Bulletin highlights Mamedoff s adventures with the RAF.

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PRELUDE: ANDREW MAMEDOFF, BRYANT CLASS OF 1932

obey their RAF commanders rather than pledge allegiance to the King.4 Squadron 71, the first Eagle Squadron, was established in mid-September, 1940 and counted among its members Mamedoff, Keogh, and Tobin—all veterans of Squadron 609. A second Eagle Squadron, number 121, was formed in mid-May 1941 and a third Eagle Squadron, number 133, was activated the following August. In total, 243 Americans fought for these three Eagle Squadrons—almost one-third of whom were killed.5 Following Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, the Eagle Squadrons were absorbed by the U.S. Army Air Forces in September 1942.6 Sadly, Mamedoff, Keogh, and Tobin had all been killed in the line of duty prior to Pearl Harbor. Keogh was killed in February, 1941; Tobin died the following September; and Mamedoff, who had recently married Penny Craven, a member of the hugely wealthy Craven cigarette family, was killed on October 8, 1941 when he crash landed in bad weather on his way to Northern Ireland.7 In fact, only one of the original eight American pilots to fly for the RAF survived the war. Andrew Mamedoff is buried at Brookwood Cemetery in London. The Battle of Britain Historical Society has recognized Mamedoff for helping “to prevent the spread of Fascism throughout the World” and presented a plaque in Mamedoff's honor to Bryant University in October 2013.

The Battle of Britain Historical Society presented the above plaque to Bryant University, in honor of Andrew Mamedoff

Page 5

The grave stone of Andrew Mamedoff, located at Brookwood Cemetery, London, England.


The Impact of World War II on Bryant College

F

ollowing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, American colleges and universities quickly responded to the challenges posed by the entry of the United States into World War II. The 1942 Ledger, the Bryant College yearbook, reported that “a dark cloud” had

settled over the campus and the students were “fighting mad and more than ready to help Uncle Sam.”1 Across the nation, colleges and universities initiated accelerated degree programs, developed special military training programs, and enthusiastically supported the war effort with war bond drives, salvaging campaigns, war stamp and bond sales, and a host of other patriotic activities. In addition, they grappled with declining enrollments as male students rushed off to war and female students entered the wartime work force. Bryant College was no exception. Founded in 1863 as a proprietary business college to train returning Civil War veterans in business skills, Bryant was located in downtown Providence for its first seventy-two years of existence. In the fall of 1935, having outgrown its downtown facilities, Bryant moved to more spacious quarters on the East Side of Providence at Hope and Benevolent Streets and Young Orchard Avenue, not far from Brown University.2 In commenting on this move, Sgt. Rudy A. Bigda, who graduated from the downtown campus in 1935, remarked in a July 27, 1942 letter to the newly-established Bryant College Service Club, “I surely hope that they [the students] all fully appreciate the excellent facilities and opportunities afforded them at the new Bryant, which I was privileged to visit, as much as we of ’35 appreciated the old Bryant.”3 Judging from

the hard work performed by the students on the new campus, they did, indeed, take advantage of their new educational opportunities. Throughout the mid-1930s and 1940s, conscientious and dedicated Bryant students enrolled in either the two-year program of study in business administration or in secretarial studies. In addition, a small four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Education was introduced in 1937 with the first class of fourteen graduating in 1941.

The Gardner Building, located at the corner of Union and Fountain, in downtown Providence, RI, was home to Bryant from 1925–1935.

Opposite page: Artistic rendition of Bryant’s East Side Campus in Providence. Bryant was located here from 1935–1971.

WORLD WAR II TIMELINE December 7, 1941 Japan launches attack on Pearl Harbor.

March 27, 1942 The Bryant College Service Club is formed.

March 28, 1942 Free mailing privileges are extended to U.S. forces.

1942–1943 Bryant begins publishing brochures and pamphlets geared towards the war effort.

Page 7

1943–1945 With male students off to war, women far outnumber men on the Bryant Campus.

August 10, 1945 Bryant College’s 82nd Commencement.


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

A letter from Rudolph A. "Rudy" Bigda, a magna cum laude graduate from the class of 1935.

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

Traditional four-year institutions of higher learning could utilize their summers to accelerate wartime degree programs from four to three years. Bryant, by contrast, found it difficult to accelerate its two-year program of study which consisted of forty-eight weeks of nearly year-round study, with classes beginning in early September and ending in early August of the following year. Unlike four-year colleges, Bryant’s graduation occurred not in June, but during the first week of August. Indeed, Bryant prided itself in offering what were “practically four-year courses in two years.” As a result, it was difficult

for Bryant to accelerate its

program of study because it “was already accelerated.”4 Nonetheless, Bryant managed to reduce its two-year degree program in Accountancy and Finance to one and one-half years. Bryant also quickly introduced “Special War Emergency Programs” into its curriculum and made a special effort to reach out to much-needed wartime office workers. This 1943 brochure highlighted the Accelerated Wartime Accountancy and Finance Program as well as the Army-Navy Office Training Program.

Published in 1942, this pamphlet declared, “In this year of our national emergency, education for Business is of even greater importance than ever.”

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BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

In recognition of the fact that “women as well as men [are] needed for the war effort,” special wartime cer-tificate programs in office and accounting skills were de-veloped at Bryant.5 For example, the College developed a twenty-four week Army-Navy Office Training Course that provided a “comprehensive knowledge of Army and Navy administration and clerical procedures” which prepared students for service in one of the newly-created women’s branches of the military.6 A one-year accountancy pro-gram was designed

especially

for

young

women

seeking

accounting positions in government and war industries.7 As a 1943 Bryant wartime brochure emphasized, “‘Thou-sands of stenographers are needed by the Government.’. . . In war industries, executives need trained assistants to help them speed the office work required in the production of planes, tanks, ships, shells, and the thousands of other vitally needed war materials.” As a result of this shortage of office assistants, Bryant also developed intensive war-time business courses that were offered during the sum-mer session and in the evening school.8 A 1944 Bryant pamphlet further emphasized that “accountancy [and] secretarial practice [were] essential tools of a war-time economy; [and] keys to vocational success in a recon-structed and happier post-war era.”9

This 1943 Bryant publication, Wanted: War-Office Workers, in-formed students of opportunities in the U.S. War Department.

These two 1942 pamphlets described special courses of study that would assist the war effort.

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

This 1943 Bryant publication emphasized, “The winning of the war is the most important job which confronts our country. There is need for the services of every graduate - women as well as men.”

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BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

From the above 1943 pamphlet, “It is patriotic to attend summer school. Our gallant soldiers and sailors cannot take a vacation this summer. . . . Your time this summer can be of great value to your country.�

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

As more and more young men volunteered for military service or were drafted, college enrollments dramatically declined. The original Selective Service Act, enacted in September 1940, applied to young men between the ages of 21 and 35. This first peacetime draft law in American history did not have a major impact on colleges and universities, however, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the lowering of the draft age to 18 in November 1942, the exodus of young men from college campuses significantly increased. During the early years of the war, uncertainties abounded on college campuses as students faced the dilemma of whether they should enlist voluntarily or wait until they were drafted. As early as August 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged young people to remain in college because “we must have welleducated and intelligent citizens who have sound judgment in dealing with the difficult problems of today.” He assured students that “they will be promptly notified if they are needed for another patriotic service.” A year later, in July 1941, Roosevelt reiterated this position: “America will always need men and women with college training. . . . We must, therefore, redouble our efforts during these critical times to make our schools and colleges render ever more efficient service in support of our cherished democratic institutions.”10 The President’s viewpoint was shared by most university administrators who, like Roosevelt, urged young people to continue their academic work and not interrupt it with military training unless it became absolutely necessary. Despite these exhortations to remain in school, the enrollment of civilian men and women in American colleges and universities between 1939 and 1944 declined by 45.8 percent. The average enrollment at Bryant prior to the war was 11

approximately 600 students. By 1944 and 1945, enrollment at Bryant averaged around 300, a decrease of 50 percent.12 Even more striking was the decline in the number of civilian men enrolled in institutions of higher education. At the national level, the enrollment of civilian men declined by 68.7 percent during the war years.13 The statistics for Bryant were even more startling. There were only nine men out of a graduating class of 153 in 1944; fifteen men, out of a graduating class of 138 in 1945.14 The news of the rapidly declining male population reached Bryant men in the service, and they sometimes commented on this new situation. Seaman Alfred H. Murphy, stationed on the USS Dorothea L. Dix, wrote on May 17, 1944, “Is it really true that there are more co-eds at Bryant these days? Well, now that is really a nice meaty bit of news—something to ponder over. Guess the fellows will really have to go some, to overcome the ‘edge’ the women-folk have over them in the shape of more ‘book-larnin’ while the boys are out increasing their physiques. But then, the gals always have a soft spot in their hearts for uniforms (I hope.).”

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This 1944 pamphlet emphasized “Accountancy and Secretarial Practice—Essential in War-time Attractive in Peace-time.”


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

A typical page from the 1944 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger. There were only nine men out of a graduating class of 153 in 1944.

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

A typical page from the 1945 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger. There were only fifteen men out of a graduating class of 138 in 1945.

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BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

V-Mail from Alfred Murphy, class of 1932, in which he comments on how “co-eds” outnumbered male students during the war years.

At Bryant, as well as at other universities across the nation, young men who left for military service in their last semester before graduating were often awarded degrees in absentia. In 1943, for example, out of a graduating class of 210, seventeen degrees were awarded in absentia to Bryant graduates serving in the military.15 President Henry L. Jacobs, in his August 4, 1944 Commencement Address, “Your Service to Mankind,” took the opportunity to call attention to the many Bryant students and alumni who were serving in the military when he stated: “Two classes of graduates meet in memory today—you are here in person to receive your degrees and diplomas, and those of our young men who are facing the fury of war. Over four hundred of our present student body and hundreds of our alumni have answered their Country’s Call. We give pause to reach out to them in thought with a prayer on our

Page 16


THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

lips and in our hearts for their protection, hoping that most of them will be spared and permitted to return to finish where they left off, and to enjoy the normal pursuits of life .”16 What made the declining student population at Bryant even more difficult than that of traditional four-year institutions was that Bryant, as a two-year institution, did not qualify for the special Army, Navy, and Army Air Forces training programs that were established on campuses across the nation. For example, the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP), created in December 1942, reached its peak in the fall of 1943 with an enrollment of nearly 145,000 men at 227 different institutions of higher education.17 On many college campuses, uniformed Army men in the ASTP outnumbered civilian students. The Navy College Training Program, commonly known as the V-12 program, was much smaller than its Army counterpart. Still, some 21,000 men enrolled in V-12 programs at 131 institutions of higher learning.18 The Army Air Forces Training Program enrolled 66,322 trainees at its peak in May 1943 at 153 colleges and universities.19 The impact of uniformed men and women on campuses was truly astounding. On many campuses, men and women in uniform outnumbered civilian students, with campuses feeling more like military camps than institutions of higher education.20 College presidents and administrators welcomed the presence of

Bryant President Henry L. Jacobs delivers his Commencement address, “Your Service to Mankind” to the 1944 graduating class.

military training programs on their campuses because they provided much needed income to institutions feeling the financial pinch caused by declining civilian student enrollments. Bryant, by contrast, relied on its women students to keep the college going. As Dorothy Hines O’Connell, a 1941 graduate of Bryant’s four year Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Education program and an instructor in shorthand and typing at Bryant from 1941 until her retirement in 1983, stated, “Well, if it weren’t for the girls, Bryant probably would not have survived because when Pearl Harbor came, the school had so few boys that you could count them on one hand . . . But I credit the girls with keeping the college going at that time!”21 With the student population of many campuses being overwhelmingly female, leadership positions, such as class officers and yearbook editors, which normally went to men, were now held by women. At Bryant, women served as co-editors of The Ledger, in 1943, 1944, and 1945.

Page 17

Dorothy Hines delivered the student address at Bryant’s 1941 Commencement exercises. Her speech was titled, “Liberty—What it Means to Us.”


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

Following the departure of many male orchestra students for the military, a Women’s Glee Club was established in 1943. In 1944, in an effort to keep “Bryant basketball -conscious” while the men were away at war, a women’s basketball team was formed. By 1945, Bryant also sported a women’s bowling team and swim team.22 In order to accommodate the growing number of female students at Bryant, Scott House, described in the March 1946 Bryant College Alumni Bulletin as the “scene of many a gay pre-war day (and night) [gathering] when it was the home of

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

Women served as coeditors of the Bryant yearbook, The Ledger, in 1943, 1944, and 1945.

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BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

The Bryant College Glee Club. Photo from the 1944 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger.

A girls’ basketball team kept Bryant basketball-conscious and revived a sport which nearly bid Bryant good-bye when most of the young men left for military service. Photo from the 1944, Bryant yearbook, The Ledger.

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

The Bryant College Bowling League. Photo from the 1945 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger.

The Bryant College Girls’ Swimming Club Photo from the 1945 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger.

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BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

Bryant men,” was converted to a female dormitory and renamed Harriet Hall. By the end of the war, the College had acquired six additional dormitories for women.23 The impact of World War II on life at Bryant was omnipresent. In addition to the more than 500 former students who served in the military, four popular faculty members took a temporary leave of absence to join the armed forces.24 F. Douglas Hammond, Professor of Education, served as a Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces (AFF) where he taught mathematics to pilots in training at Spence Field in Moultrie, Georgia. Returning to Bryant after the war, he taught at the school for thirty-eight years. William A. Lambert, Instructor of Accounting and Law, achieved the rank of Sergeant where he served with the Army’s Audit Branch in England and France in 1944 and 1945. He returned to his teaching duties at Bryant in 1946. Henry J. Lee, Professor of Accounting, achieved the rank of Colonel in the Army and served with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in London. He returned to his teaching duties at Bryant in 1947. William F. Shors, Professor of Accounting Bryant’s 1944 yearbook, The Ledger, showed four faculty members on leave due to military service.

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

Madame Chiang Kai-shek received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters of Humanities, in abstentia, at Bryant’s 1942 Commencement.

and Taxes, served as a Lieutenant in the Navy where he oversaw the purchasing of supplies at Navy bases in Virginia and Michigan. However, after the war he did not resume his teaching duties at Bryant.25 Each of Bryant’s wartime Commencements included speeches by President Jacobs and honorary degree recipients that focused on war-related themes. At the August 3, 1942 Commencement, an Honorary Degree was awarded to Madame Chiang Kai-shek for her “increasing effort to bringing aid, comfort and inspiration to men, women and children” in the face of Japanese aggression against China. Although Madame Chiang accepted the degree, she was not able to attend the Commencement ceremonies. Dr. Tswen-ling Tsui, First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, accepted the degree on behalf of Madame Chiang.26 Later that year, in November 1942, Madame Chiang embarked on an eight-month long spectacular tour of the United States to raise awareness of the plight of the Chinese people in their war against Japanese aggression, a war that had been raging in China since 1931. On February 18, 1943, she became the first private citizen and only the second woman to speak before the U.S. Congress. After hearing her speak, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers from Massachusetts exclaimed: “It thrilled the hearts of all of us to glimpse the very soul of China.”27

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BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

An excerpt from Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s honorary degree citation from Bryant: “We respect the brilliant intellect, the graphic writings, the poignant speech of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, but we hold in the highest esteem her noble womanliness and wifely devotion - her utter honesty of thought and action her clear vision of true democracy and liberation of all peoples - and her courage and readiness to endure hardships, to face danger, to share the life of her fellow country men and women, and to die, if need be, in their defense.”

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

Carl R. Woodward, President of Rhode Island State College, chose the topic, “Business Citizenship in the Post-War World” for his 1943 Commencement Address. He emphasized that in order to meet the challenges of the current global conflict as well as the postwar world, “business citizenship” must be “built upon the firm foundation of honesty and integrity of character.”28 At the 1944 Commencement Luncheon, Honorary Degree recipient Ruth Leach, the first woman Vice-President of International Business Machines (IBM), reminded her audience that in contrast to the pre-war period, “women are [now] at home in industry and the subject of women and industry is one of the leading topics of discussion wherever we go.” She con-gratulated women for their important contributions to the “front lines of production” and emphasized that the experiences of American women at war “will enable them to lend a more effective voice in social, economic, and political assistance, thereby becoming far better citizens than they ever would have been before.”29

Ruth Leach, Vice President, IBM, and recipient of the Honorary Degree of Master of Science in Business Administration, speaks about opportunities for women in business at Bryant’s 1944 Commencement luncheon.

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The August 10, 1945 Commencement Address, delivered by Thomas J. Watson, President of International Business Machines, occurred on the day after the United States dropped its second atomic bomb on Japan. From 1914 until his death in 1956, Watson oversaw IBM’s growth into a formidable international force. For his Commencement Address, Watson chose the topic, “Education and World Peace.” He noted that the newly-created United Nations organization had vowed to “promote international cultural and educational cooperation.” He continued: “We can keep every generation educated to the necessity of peace as against the horrors of war with its toll of human lives and loss of material resources and its devastating effect on the Thomas J. Watson, President of IBM, delivers Bryant’s 1945 Commencement Address, “Education and World Peace.”

morale and morals of the people . . . Education is the basis of international understanding. It helps us to understand other people just as we hope they will learn to understand us.” Watson made a special appeal to the graduates to use the skills they had acquired at Bryant to work for the “promotion of national and international, cultural and educational cooperation.”30

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THE IMPACT OF WORLD WAR II ON BRYANT COLLEGE

Because victory now seemed imminent, Watson insisted on taking an early train back to New York City where he hoped to celebrate Victory Day in Times Square later that evening.31 However, it would be four more agonizing days before Japan announced its initial surrender and the celebrations could begin.

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The Bryant College Service Club

W

ithout question, the leaders of Bryant College, under the direction of President Henry L. Jacobs, clearly understood the enormous impact of World War II on Bryant and the wider world. But what is, perhaps, even more remarkable about Bryant is the leader-

ship role assumed by the students as they ingeniously embraced many of the salient issues facing colleges and universities across the nation. Throughout the war years, university alumni offices sought to remain in touch with former students serving in the military. But at Bryant it was the students, not the alumni office, who took the lead in reaching out to former students in the service of their country.

The Founding of the Bryant Service Club Most significantly, at a special student assembly called on March 27, 1942, the Bryant Service Club (BSC) was founded as “an organization of Bryant men and women for Bryant men and women in the service.” Its purpose was to send morale-boosting “packages of cigarettes, candy, cookies, letters, [and] knitted articles” to Bryant alumni in the military. By all accounts support for the Club was universal and it “unified Bryant students as no other organization ha[d] ever done.” Every student was considered a member of the Bryant Service Club with proceeds from social events regularly donated to the Club. Students enthusiastically volunteered for the Cigarette Committee, the Candy and Cookie Com-mittee, the Letter-Writing Committee, and the War Stamp Committee.1 Dances were also sponsored to raise money for the Club. With the declining male enrollment at the College, servicemen stationed at nearby military training camps in Rhode Island and Massachusetts were invited to these dances. As the Bryant College Alumni Bulletin reported in March 1946, “A Man in Uncle Sam’s uniform was always sure of a welcome at any Bryant activity.”2 The work of the Bryant Service Club included seeking addresses, writing hundreds of letters by hand, mimeographing, addressing, and stamping thousands

Miss Clara Blaney, Bryant’s Publicity and Placement Director. Opposite page: Founding members of the Bryant Service Club (BSC), from Bryant’s 1942 yearbook, The Ledger.

WORLD WAR II TIMELINE March 27, 1942 The Bryant College Service Club is formed.

August 7, 1942 The U.S. invades Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

November 28, 1943 Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill meet at Tehran, Iran.

June 6, 1944 British and U.S. troops successfully land on the beaches of Normandy.

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May 1945 Germany surrenders to the Western Allies and Soviet Union.

August 6 & 9, 1945 The U.S. drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushering in the end of World War II.


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of others. It also included cooking, buying, wrapping, and weighing hundreds of pounds of candy; selling thousands of war stamps and war bonds; and knitting an untold number of sweaters, socks, and scarves. An especially daunting challenge was keeping up with the constantly changing addresses of men and women in the service. While the Bryant Service Club was a student-run and student-led organization, it received strong support from the administration, faculty, and even alumni. The College paid for all postage on packages and letters; it also contributed yarn for items to be knitted by club members. Faculty promoted the efforts of the Club by imposing fines on students who were late for class or talked out of turn. One faculty member even imposed a fine on himself for being late for class one day.3 Alumni and parents also occasionally included small sums of money in their letters of thank you to the Club. No one was a more enthusiastic supporter of the Bryant Service Club than the beloved Miss Clara Blaney, Bryant’s Publicity and Placement Director, advisor to The Ledger, and friend and confidant of almost every Bryant student. On more than one occasion, grateful alumni wrote directly to Miss Blaney to thank her for all that she did for Bryant. For example, in his May 14, 1944 letter, written from “Somewhere in Europe,” Sgt. Winston A. Harris with the 664 Bomber Squadron of the AAF (Army Air Forces) wrote, “As I start this little note I want to tell you that this is a personal letter to you. Please don’t post it! I know who is really the backbone of the Service Club, and I want the thanks to go directly to that person, you Miss Blaney.”4 Blaney’s unfailing commitment to

Bryant’s 1945 yearbook was dedicated to Miss Clara Blaney, an enthusiastic supporter of the BSC.

the College was publicly acknowledged in 1945 when The Ledger was dedicated to her for “her splendid work as Director of Placement, director of the Bryant Service Club, and advisor to the Ledger Staff.” In August 1949, following twelve years of dedication to the College, Blaney resigned to travel and write, something she had not had time to do while at Bryant. In recalling her dozen years at Bryant, Blaney emphasized that her work with the Bryant Service Club was what she was “most proud of having had a part in.”5

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The Bryant Service Club was especially cognizant of the importance of keeping its address list current, and, accordingly, it enclosed a postcard with each package, requesting acknowledgement of receipt of the package. If the Club did not hear back from the recipient in due course, a letter would be sent to the parents asking if their son or daughter had received the gift. Occasionally, parents responded by writing thank you notes for their children. Or, parents might chastise their children for failure to respond to the good deeds of the Bryant Service Club. For example, on January 26, 1943, Warrant Office Milton J. Lapin, writing from Camp Wheeler, Georgia, remarked, “My mother has now reprimanded me for not thanking you for the candy you sent some time ago. . . . My only excuse is unrelentless imposition of duties upon me by my superior officer. Something like some of the profs used to be at Bryant. The more work you did and the more effort you made to learn, the more work they would give you.� 6

Using the postcard provided by the BSC, Wally Brahmer, class of 1935, acknowledges the receipt of his package.

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Mrs. Hall lets the BSC know that her son received their package and provides the club with an up-to-date address.

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Louise Penney, class of 1932, donates one dollar to the BSC and offers her knitting skills to the cause.

In most instances, however, grateful Bryant alumni wrote gracious thank you notes and letters in which they extended warm greetings to President Jacobs and Dean Nelson J. Gulski, and often inquired about favorite faculty, staff, and administrators. Occasionally, friends of the BSC such as Louise Penney, class of 1932, included small sums of money to support the work of the Club. Likewise, Mrs. Bertram F. Bullock, Sr. thanked the BSC for its “kindness” to her son and enclosed “a little donation for the very excellent service you are rendering the boys.” More typical, however, was the thank you letter written on March 22, 1943 by Howard Peach, class of 1942, and founding member of the Bryant Service Club. Writing from his training station at the Signal Corps training program in Boston, Peach remarked, “About a week ago, I was very pleasantly surprised to find in my mail, a gift from the Bryant Service Club. Words cannot adequately express the feelings of gratitude, not only for the swell gift, but also for the thought that the girls and fellows at Bryant are thinking of us. You see, fellows, that it is somewhat of a shock to leave a swell school like Bryant on one day and the next day (seems like) report for induction in the best army in the world. Then, and only then, do you really appreciate letters and other

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The mother of Bertram Bullock, class of 1935, encloses five dollars and provides the BSC with her son’s address.


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Howard Peach, class of 1942, in his letter dated March 22, 1943, remarks that it “must be kinda lonesome with Profs’ Shors, Lee and Hammond gone” and signs his letter, “Yours for victory.”

thoughtful remembrances.” Peach concluded this letter with the following words, “. . . it must be kinda lonesome around there with Profs’ Shors, Lee, and Hammond gone; but I’m sure a swell instructor by the name of Nelson Gulski (J.) can handle things until Johnny comes marching home again . . .”

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By the end of the war, the number of Bryant men and women in the military receiving letters and packages from the Bryant Service Club had grown to an estimated 515.7 In response, about 450 Bryant alumni serving in the military, along with their families, wrote 1300 letters of thanks to the Bryant Service Club. Undoubtedly, hundreds of other letters were written but have since been lost. In an age before computers, email, instant messaging, and Facebook—when typewriters were still manual—Bryant students and alumni, through ingenuity and enterprise, managed to stay in touch. Initially, the letters addressed to the Bryant Service Club were posted on a bulletin board at the foot of the stairs in South Hall alongside the corridor where an Honor Roll of all known Bryant students and alumni serving in the military was featured.8 The letters were eventually transferred to four large green scrapbooks for safe-keeping. So safe, in fact, that no one at Bryant knew of their existence until

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South Hall, the centerpiece of Bryant’s East Side campus, 1 Orchard Avenue, Providence, RI, where letters to the BSC were initially posted on a large bulletin board.


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more than sixty years later when, on September 19, 2008, Mary Moroney, Director of Library Services, and a student assistant, Jillian Emma, class of 2009, stumbled Letters to the BSC were eventually arranged in four large green scrapbooks.

upon the scrapbooks containing the letters while rummaging around in an underground library storage area. It is nothing less than a miracle that this treasure trove of wartime letters survived the intervening sixty years—especially given the fact that Bryant made a massive move in 1971 from its East Side campus in Providence to its current location in Smithfield, Rhode Island some 12 miles away.

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Most of the letters addressed to the BSC were written by former students who had graduated or attended Bryant during the 1930s and 1940s. However, letters were also received from alumni dating back as far as the mid-1920s. The oldest alumnus to receive gifts from the Club was Sgt. Cornelius E. Corrigan, class of 1926. In June 1943, while undergoing advanced training at the Army Finance School in Wake Forest, North Carolina, he received a surprise pack of Camel cigarettes from the BSC. Corrigan responded, “Such things coming after having been away from the College for so many years makes one desire to return for a renewal of friendships with the College.� A letter from Sgt. Cornelius E. Corrigan, class of 1926, thanks the BSC for the Camel cigarettes he received.

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The vast majority of the letters received by the Bryant Service Club were written by enlisted men or junior grade officers In fact, of the more than 500 Bryant alumni who received gifts from the BSC, only twenty achieved the rank of Captain or higher and more than half of those individuals were members of the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps Air Forces. Harold E. Adams, class of 1927, achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel where he served with Army Service Forces in Montpelier, Vermont throughout much of the war. In a December 10, 1943 letter he remarked, “You will never know how much it means to be remembered back home. Your gift is the dessert; your letters the appetizers, but your heart-warming efforts to acquire funds and distribute A letter from Harold E. Adams, class of 1927, states, “You will never know how much it means to be remembered back home.”

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gifts and letters is the meat course, the ‘pièce de résistance’.” The following year he was placed on inactive reserves in the Army. The highest ranking office to receive letters and gifts from the Bryant Service Club was not a student, but beloved Bryant faculty member Colonel Henry J. Lee.

Bryant Women in the Military A scattering of packages and letters were sent to at least eighteen pioneering Bryant women who joined one of the four newly-created women’s branches of the military. When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the opportunities for women to serve in the military were limited to registered nurses who qualified for membership in the Army or Navy Nurse Corps. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the Army Nurse Corps numbered 5,433 members, while 823 women were members of the Navy Nurse Corps. By the end of World War II, with the help of American Red Cross recruitment campaigns, the number of military nurses had increased ten-fold. All told, 76,000 women, representing nearly one-third (31.1 percent) of all active professional nurses, served in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps during World War II.9 Among the many new opportunities extended to women during World War II, probably none presented a greater challenge to conventional notions of “womanhood” than that of service in the military. In the months prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, as the nation stepped up its preparedness efforts, a campaign to establish official women’s branches in the various military services was initiated. Representatives Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts and Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, as well as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, were strong proponents of women in the military. The first women’s military branch to be established, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), was created by an act of Congress on May 15, 1942. But this organization gave women only partial military status. On July 1, 1943, following considerable debate, Congress abolished the WAAC and created in its stead the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). This new organization provided women the same rank, title, and pay as their male counterparts. In total, 150,000 women served in the WAAC/WAC during the war years.10 Two Bryant graduates, Josephine R. Gifford and Phyllis Mayo Long, volunteered for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. After the WAAC was abolished, both Gifford and Long chose to remain in the Women’s Army Corps where Gifford performed stenographic work for the War Department in Washington, DC and Long studied cryptography at Camp Crowder, Missouri. Other Bryant graduates who served in the WAC included Virginia Besaw, Melina A. Giroux, and Helen I. Mathewson. All Bryant women who served in the WAC were enlisted women and all were assigned to stateside postings. Perhaps WAC Josephine R. Gifford best summed

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Josephine R. Gifford, class of 1942, and member of the BSC, joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps after graduation.


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In her two-page letter dated December 13, 1943 Josephine R. Gifford talks about her life as a WAC.

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THE BRYANT COLLEGE SERVICE CLUB

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up what life in the Army was all about when she wrote on December 13, 1943, “The life of a WAC is exciting, but not so glamorous as many think. We are on the go all the time, but must remember that we cannot have our hair on our collar, to salute all officers to act like a lady at all times, and many other things. Life in the barracks is grand, and you meet all types, kinds and ages of people. We are now entitled to all the benefits that men receive, free mail, insurance.� The Bryant Service Club identified eleven Bryant alumnae who

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enlisted in the women’s branch of the Navy, the WAVES (the acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Created on July 30, 1942, approximately 100,000 women served in the WAVES by the end of the war.11 Bryant WAVES prided themselves in their war work. Ruth M. Kessell, class of 1944, and Seaman Second Class stationed at Oklahoma A & M College in Stillwater, Oklahoma exclaimed, “Join the WAVES gals, and find out for yourselves how much just a note or package can mean to you when you’re away from home.” Ruth M. Kessell, class of 1944, enlisted in the WAVES shortly after graduation. In this twopage letter, she expresses her appreciation for the work of the BSC. Kessell writes, “It isn’t so much the gift--as the thought behind it--and I’m proud to say that I graduated from Bryant.”

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Another Bryant WAVE, Ivez E. Rievman, class of 1943, writing from her duty station in Washington, DC, exclaimed, “The Navy life is wonderful. I like it better every day. I would certainly advise any girl to join. For the first time since the war started I feel as though I’m useful.” However, in the same letter, she noted, “I’m working for the Navy Relief Society. It’s very interesting, but rather depressing. I’ve always known that this war is bringing tragedy to many people, but I never before realized how much tragedy there is.”12 Despite the best efforts of the Bryant Service Club, not every Bryant alumnus in the military was contacted. One notable Bryant WAVE not identified by the Bryant Service Club was Andree Wetzler, class of 1942. Wetzler enlisted in the WAVES in March 1943 and served with the Offic of Naval Intelligence in Washington, DC. Her story, with photos, is located at the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. At the end of the war in 1945, she married Bryant classmate Donald Fifield, class of 1942, who also served in the Navy, and, unlike his wife, did write at least one letter to the Bryant Service Club.13 The third of the women’s branches to be established was the Coast Guard’s SPARS (from the Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus, “Always Ready”). Established on November 23, 1942, some 13,000 women eventually joined the Coast Guard. Anne E. Blaszkow, a 1936 graduate of Bryant, was a proud Yeoman First Class serving with the Coast Guard in Washington, DC where she performed administrative and clerical work. Yeoman Marshall M. Fowler, serving with the Coast Guard in Nantucket, sounded like a Coast Guard recruiter when, in a December 8, 1943 letter, he encouraged Bryant Anne E. Blaszkow, class of 1936, joined the Coast Guard and was stationed in Washington, DC.

alumnae to consider joining the SPARS: “When some of you are looking around & thinking of what you want to do upon graduation why don’t you investigate the Spars. I’m here on Nantucket because I’m needed, but see no reason why a girl couldn’t do the work & let me on a ship or some foreign station.”14 The Marines were the last of the service branches to admit women. Indeed, Marine antipathy toward women in the military was strong, and according to the

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standard work on the history of the Marines, “there was considerable unhappiness about making the Corps anything but a club for white men.”15 Yet following the admittance of women into the Marines early in 1943, Commandant of the Marines General Thomas Holcomb remarked, “There’s hardly any work at our Marine stations that women can’t do as well as men. They do some work far better than men. . . . What is more, they’re real Marines. They don’t have a nickname, and they don’t need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.”16 While WACs, WAVES, and SPARS trained at specially created military camps or on women’s college campuses, Women Marines, such as Bryant’s own Marjorie L. Endler, class of 1941, were proud that they trained at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the major Marine training camp during World War II. Although there is no record of any Bryant women in the military serving overseas, uniformed women were regularly assigned to postings that brought them up to or near the front lines of battle. Sixty Army nurses dressed in battle fatigues waded ashore in North Africa on November 8, 1942, the day of the North African invasion. Six weeks later, on December 22, 1942, five WAAC officers arrived in North Africa, followed by the arrival of enlisted personnel a month later. Four days after the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion of France, Army nurses and Red Cross women hospital workers arrived in France to set up field and evacuation hospitals. The first WACs made their way to the European continent on July 14. At the end of the war, 8,316 WACs were stationed in Europe, the largest number in any overseas theater. Of course, WACs and Army and Navy Nurses were also assigned to dangerous postings in the Pacific. 17 Originally, WAVES, SPARS, and Women Marines were not permitted to serve outside the continental United States. In 1944 a law was passed, at the urging of Representative Margaret Chase Smith, to allow Navy women to serve in Alaska, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. Early in 1945, a few WAVES, SPARS, and Women Marines were assigned to duty in Hawaii and Alaska.18

Mail as the Number One Morale Builder during World War II The mail and the significance of its rapid and regular delivery was never more poignantly clear than during World War II. As one combat Marine remarked, mail was truly “the best reward that can be given to a fighting man . . . manna from heaven.” Ernie Pyle, whose wartime dispatches probably most accurately captured what life was like for the “ordinary” frontline soldier, placed “good mail service” at the head of his list of soldiers’ needs.19

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This U.S. government poster encouraged women to join one of the armed services.


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Herbert Bonn, class of 1938, begins his December 1943 letter with “Mail Call in the Army is the most exciting and important event in the life of a soldier miles away from his home and those he holds dear to him.”

Bryant alumni regularly emphasized that mail was the number one morale builder in a service person’s life and that receiving mail and packages from the Bryant Service Club was a tremendous boost to their morale. Private Herbert A. Bonn, who worked as a statistician with the Army Air Forces in Coral Gables, Florida, began his December 16, 1943 letter, “Mail Call in the Army is the most exciting and important event in the life of a soldier miles away from his home and those he holds dear

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Raymond Fogarty, class of 1936, writes that the BSC is doing a “grand job.”

to him. There is nothing for sale that will ever match in true value a note or letter from one of those he has left behind. In a very personal way, it lets him know what little he is doing is not in vain nor is it forgotten. . . . Occasionally, a welcome letter appears from someone the soldier thought had forgotten him. . . . Such was the letter from THE BRYANT SERVICE CLUB giving the latest news of Bryant and announcing that a gift of candy was on its way. Boy, was I glad to get that letter!” Writing

from

“somewhere

in

Australia” on January 5, 1943, Technician Fifth Grade Raymond Fogarty, class of 1936, expressed similar sentiments when he wrote, “If the morale of every member of the Bryant alumni in the armed forces receives the same boost as does mine on the receipt of these

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In this “Quickie Note” below, Lawrence Palana, class of 1934, writes. “You know, the longer I’m in the Service, the more thankful I become that I attended Bryant. You haven’t let us down yet when it comes to kind thoughts and remembrances, and honest gang, that’s what spells Morale.”


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remembrances, and I’m sure that they do, then you’re all doing a grand job.” Sgt. Lawrence J. Palana agreed, writing on March 19, 1943, “Received your letter yesterday and your swell gift package arrived today in good form. Thanks a million —You know, the longer I’m in the Service the more thankful I become that I attended Bryant. You haven’t let us down yet when it comes to kind thoughts and remembrances, and honest gang, that’s what spells Morale.” Letter writers often emphasized how graduates of other colleges were envious of the good work of the Bryant Service Club. For example, writing from Camp Wheeler, Georgia on July 21, 1942, Warrant Office Robert J. Donaldson, Jr., noted that “Several of my buddies have told me they realize now that they attended the wrong schools. . . . They have never heard of such a spirit in the various institutions they attended.” In one of his numerous letters to the BSC, Warrant Officer Robert J. Donaldson Jr., proudly proclaims, “Several of my buddies have told me they realize now that they attended the wrong schools. . . . They have never heard of such a spirit in the various institutions they attended.”

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Sgt. Marvin E. Banks agreed, noting in a March 27, 1943 letter written from Avon Park, Florida, that “I have not heard of another college keeping in contact with its service men so faithfully. You should be commended for this excellent undertaking.” On January 18, 1943, after thanking the BSC for the cigarettes he received, Private Oliver C. Edwards, Jr., serving in the photographic mapping division with the AAF at Colorado Springs, Colorado felt “compelled to mention . . . that Bryant

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Sgt. Marvin E. Banks, class of 1931, commends the BSC for their fine work in this March 27, 1943 note.


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Students are so far ahead of other college ‘student bodies’ in the country in thinking of the Men in the Service.”20 Sgt. Richard E. Fogwell, stationed at the Army Air Base in Columbia, South Carolina, made a similar observation in an August 24, 1942 letter: “Do you know that as far as I have been able to determine, Bryant is the only college that is doing anything in a material sort of way for its alumni. None of the other college men in Sgt. Richard E. Fogwell writes, “Do you know that as far as I have been able to determine, Bryant is the only college that is doing anything in a material sort of way for its alumni. None of the other college men in my outfit have heard of such an organization in their respective colleges.”

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my outfit have heard of such an organization in their respective colleges.” Writing on February 1, 1943, Yeoman William P. Grace, who would later take part in the invasion of southern France, wrote, “I don’t think another College in the country is doing the job that the Bryant Service Club is doing as far as sending gifts and keeping the boys informed about the activities at home so again, I commend my Alma Mater on the wonderful job.”21

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Private Irving Knight spoke for many Bryant alumni when he wrote on June 18, 1943, “All the fellows here wish the college that they went to had a wonderful Service Club like ‘Bryant College’s.’ Most of them are from Carnegie Tech., N.Y.U., or Northwestern. So you can see you are way ahead of the other colleges in the splenIn this two-page letter dated June 18, 1943, Private Irving Knight exclaims, “All the fellows here wish the college that they went to had a wonderful Service Club like ‘Bryant College’s.’”

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did work you’re doing.” John Hull, who served with the AAF and was later killed in the line of duty, expressed similar sentiments when he reported, “I have yet to meet fellows from other colleges who are treated with the same consideration that you treat your men in the service.” Writing from the AAF Technical School at Chanute

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This note from John K. Hull, class of 1941, was the only letter received from Hull who was later killed in the line of duty.

Field, Illinois, Private Leonard Levin noted in an April 22, 1944 letter, “When my buddies asked me who I got the nice package from, I explained all about the Service Club and all that you’re doing to make us feel closer to home. They were amazed to hear about the fine things that you are accomplishing for Bryant alumni in the Service. Many of my Army friends are college and university graduates, but none have a group back at their alma mater that’s doing anything like the wonderful thing that you’re doing for us Bryant graduates.”22 In much the same spirit, Ensign Donald J. Mullen, writing from New Guinea on June 23, 1945 remarked, “It is difficul to express the satisfaction that one feels upon receiving a gift from the B. S. C. but I assure you that it is a real pleasure to know that we have not been forgotten by our Alma Mater. Two of the officer aboard are from Yale and Harvard, respectfully [respectively], and they agree that the work you are doing is remarkable and it puts the larger Colleges to shame.”23 Aviation cadet William E. Simms made a related observation in an August 5, 1942 letter when he remarked, “It is great to know that Bryant is pulling for the boys in the service. It is even a greater kick to be able to tell everyone

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who sent them. I have not run across any other soldiers who are receiving this service from their schools & the Bryant Service Club deserves the highest of praises.”24 One final example is the December 30, 1942 letter of Sgt. Angelo M. Cerce, class of 1940, who wrote, “Received your swell Christmas package and it was very thoughtful of the club. This is the first college that I know of that has such a swell organization. Say hello to the faculty for me and thanks again for your swell gift.”25 Referring to the BSC, Angelo Cerce, class of 1940, writes, “This is the first college that I know of that has such a swell organization.”

Because of the wartime paper shortage, the letters received by the Bryant Service Club were written on sundry types of paper including Red Cross, USO, and military stationery as well as lined note pads and scraps of paper. Calling attention to this fact, Seaman Edward J. Healey urged the Club to “please excuse the notebook paper but there is no writing paper for sale on the base.”26 In addition, in order to save paper, letter writers sometimes wrote on the back of the gift messages they received from the Club. As the war expanded, the volume of mail rose enormously. Following British precedent, the American government began to experiment in 1942 with reducing mail to microfilm size for shipping and then enlarging the photographs for distribution to the addressees. Victory Mail, or V-Mail as the procedure was more commonly called, saved much-needed space in scarce wartime transport. Letters with a bulk weight of 2,575 pounds could be reduced to a mere 45 pounds when processed in this manner.27 After microfilming and shipment, the letter was delivered to the recipient in the form of a 4 by 5 ½ inch photograph. The original letters were kept on file so that they could be re-photographed in case the film was lost or damaged in transport.

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V-Mail letters were written on specially designed 8.5 x 11 inch stationery available at all post offices The letter shown here was not microfilmed

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At first, the public was reluctant to use V-Mail. Some thought it slower and more cumbersome. Others complained that letters were too short and left the reader feeling incomplete, “like a postcard would.” Despite these drawbacks, the Postmaster General estimated that more than one billion V-Mail letters were dispatched during the war years.28 The total volume of mail, both V-Mail and regular mail, sent overseas rose from 571 million pieces in 1943 to 3.5 billion pieces in 1945. During the entire period of American involvement in World War II, the number of pieces of mail handled by the Post Office increased from approximately 28 billion in 1940 to almost 38 billion in 1945.29

In this example of microfilmed V-Mail, the original being a 4 x 5.5 inch photograph, George Lipschitz, class of 1938, writes, “While in Africa, I met Nat Guy ’39 [1940] and Bill Whalley ’38. Both boys are doing fine and we did have a grand time talking about our days at Bryant. Yes, it is a grand old school.”

Wartime America: A Nation on the Move and in Great Turmoil Throughout the World War II era, America was a nation on the move and in great turmoil. More than 15 million civilians moved at least once as they left their hometowns in search of better paying jobs in war industries and war wives crisscrossed the nation to follow their husbands to their distant postings. In addition, the 16 mil-lion persons who were either drafted or volunteered for the military moved multiple times. Out of a total population of approximately 139,000,000 in 1945, more than 20 percent of the population was on the move.30

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Without fail, the letters written to the Bryant Service Club marveled at the ability of the Army and Navy postal systems to deliver letters and packages that traveled thousands of miles to multiple locations before eventually reaching their destinations. Lt. Rudy Bigda, while on maneuvers in Louisiana in June 1943, wrote, “I . . . have traveled quite extensively in the past two months with different organizations. In fact, I have been in about 18 states and at least 12 or 15 different posts. It surprises One of four letters from Lt. Walter V. Crawley, class of 1938.

me to think of the long way your gift had to come—but nevertheless it finally reached me - even out in the world on maneuvers—which makes the thoughtfulness on your part doubly surprising.”31 Writing from Mitchel Field, New York on August 28, 1942, Cpl. William C. Lentz reported that “since last June I have changed stations exactly six times, so I would like to take the liberty of suggesting if there are any future surprises that they be sent to my home address at 20 Milton Avenue, Edgewood, R.I., and my wife will forward them to me wherever I am. She is about the only one who can keep up with my moving.”32 Lt. Walter V. Crawley, one of three Crawley brothers who graduated from Bryant and served in the armed forces, wrote from Iceland on February 13, 1944 that his address had “changed so many times in the past six months that I often have to stop and think what the correct one might be.” Nonetheless, his BSC Christmas wishes were most welcomed—even though they arrived three months late. Perhaps Cpl. Edward Pagliarini, writing from Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence, Indiana on April 15, 1944, said it best when he emphasized that “no matter where and how many times you move in the Army, your mail will finally catch up to you.”

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Edward Pagliarini writes that “The BRYANT SERVICE CLUB is really doing a tremendous job . . .�

One of the most exceptional Bryant graduates to comment on receiving mail from the BSC under difficult circumstances was Raymond L. Gaillaguet. Born on September 1, 1920 in Paris, France, Gaillaguet came to America as a young man. After graduating from Bryant in 1941, he joined the Army and eventually became a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the newlyestablished intelligence service created during World War II and precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. Fluent in French, he easily blended into countries such as France, Germany, and Algeria and was dropped into German-occupied

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France on at least three occasions. In a July 5, 1944 V-Mail to the BSC, Cpl. Gaillaguet noted, “Just received your Easter package a little late maybe but nonetheless the most welcome. For a soldier overseas all remembrances from ‘home’ are always gratefully received since it shows that our friends ‘back in the States’ are still thinking of us.”33

Raymond Gaillaguet, class of 1941, was a member of the OSS. In this July 1944 V-Mail to the BSC, Gaillaguet states that he has “Just received your Easter package.”

Writing from “Somewhere in Iran,” Sgt. Raymond Gillard, made a similar point when, in a May 21, 1943 letter, he said, “The Christmas remembrance of cigarettes finally caught up with me just a couple of weeks ago and believe me they sure had to do some tall traveling to do it. Even in the United States they picked up numerous postmarks. They did arrive in good condition however.” Writing from Italy on October 20, 1943, T/Sgt. Richard E. Fogwell reinforced this point when he wrote, “Your Memorial Day letter finally caught up with me over here in ‘sunny Italy.”34

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“Zone of the Interior”: Stateside Letters Written by Bryant Alumni In their letters to the Bryant Service Club, stateside military alumni, especially those stationed at southern military bases, often commented on their new surroundings. Having grown up in cold and snowy New England, the contrast with the hot and humid weather of the south was a frequent topic of conversation. For example, Lt. John M. Bannan, stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana, remarked in a July 2, 1943 letter, “I am now on maneuvers in Louisiana. Not a very pleasant place to spend a summer. The weather is very warm and the bugs terrific. If possible, I would even trade places with you now at exam time.”

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Based in Iran, Sgt. Raymond Gillard, class of 1937, writes, “I have met another Bryant graduate from Providence here and we have talked often of days at school, although we were of different classes. Due to censorship rules I will have to exclude his name.”


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Writing from Randolph Field, the “West Point of the Air” near San Antonio, Texas, flight instructor Lt. Kirke B. Everson, Jr. shared similar sentiments about the weather in the south, noting in a July 25, 1942 letter, “Texas isn’t a very good place to spend the summer and work here is very monotonous. I would like to be back in New England where the temperature isn’t 100–110° almost every day.”35 Office candidate Paul Filipowich, Jr., in training at Camp Barkeley, Texas, just outside of Abilene, agreed with Everson: “Here at Barkeley it is quite a change in scenery from that of our eastern seaboard. We are situated on a wide, level plain without a tree in sight for miles around, and for once I realize that a tree is mighty handy to have around, for it certainly could protect one from the sun’s rays. I have only been here three days, and my face is as red as a beet. Besides there is a bit of a breeze blowing which is carrying quite a bit of dust, and every time one goes outside he gets his eyes full of gravel.”36 Other

Bryant

alumni

spoke

more

favorably of the southern climate. T/Sgt. Bertram F. Bullock, Jr., who spent much of the war stationed at Miami Beach, Florida, had very positive comments to say about his assignment in the south. In a January 28, 1944 letter to the BSC, Bullock reported, “I’ve been stationed down here in Miami Beach ever since I came into the service in June 1940, and realize how fortunate I’ve been. I never dreamed that I’d be staying in Florida in the best hotels for such a long time and Stationed stateside in Louisiana, John Bannan, class of 1940, remarks in a July 1943 postcard, that “The weather is very warm and the bugs terrific. If possible, I would even trade places with you now at exam time.”

at no expense to myself. It is really like a paid vacation. However, I know that there are lots of boys and girls who are not as fortunate and I’m hoping that I’ll be over there with them soon. But to tell the truth I’d like to wait until spring. . . . I was up in Rhode Island in November and nearly froze . . . guess I’m a sissy and can’t take it anymore.” Navy Seaman Arnold W. Pearson also expressed his appreciation for the warm Florida climate, noting in a January 15, 1945 letter, “I’m spending these winter months in the Sunshine City—St. Petersburg, Florida, and after thirteen months with a patrol squadron operating out of Newfoundland and Greenland I assure you I can easily enjoy this warm weather.”

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Bertram Bullock, class of 1935, was stationed stateside throughout the war.

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Bryant alumni stationed far

from

contrasted

home life

regularly

outside

New

England with their hometown experiences. Writing from the AAF base at Eagle Pass, Texas, located

on

the

Rio

Grande

River, Cpl. C. Leonard Crawley remarked on December 26, 1942, “I have just spent the queerest Christmas. I went to town last night in shirt-sleeves. Never did that in New England this time of year. Was talking to a girl last night who has only seen snow which really covered the ground once in 24 years.”37 Taking advantage of nearby Mexico, the following September 3, he wrote, “I stay down here on the friendly Mexican border and make forays across the Rio Grande now and then for a decent meal. They grow beef over there . . . They have a public butchering which they call a bull fight. I swear that I had a T-Bone from one of those tough babies.” Private Eugene K. Schmidt, stationed at Camp Haan, California, about thirty miles south of Los Angeles, wrote, in an August 2, 1943 letter, about the special challenges he encountered when training men from rural Virginia: “We are training a new Arnold Pearson, class of 1938, writes that he is enjoying the weather in Florida after being stationed in Newfoundland and Greenland.

group of men here, they have been here nearly a month now, and are learning fast. They come from Virginia, and believe me, you have never seen a group with so many guitar players. I am trying hard to write in the language I was taught, so if I slip up, please blame the music.”38

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C. Leonard Crawley, class of 1936, stationed near the Mexican border in Texas, writes that he crosses “the Rio Grande now and then for a decent meal.”

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Leger Morrison, assistant editor of the 1942 Ledger, who after the war became a highly-respected professor of typing, stenography, and educational psychology at Bryant for more than thirty years, was briefly stationed with the Army Air Forces in Miami Beach during the spring of 1943. In a May 30, 1943 letter, Morrison provided a vivid description of his fifty-four-hour train ride through eleven states down the Atlantic seaboard from Ft. Devens, Massachusetts to Miami Beach. As the train convoy approached the southern states, Morrison reported that “we were very warm, because we had our Olive Drab uniforms on and our fatigues on top of our ODs. That night we went to bed, sitting, looking at the tobacco fields, and when we awoke the following day, we gazed upon the dismal swamplands of Georgia. In Savannah we noticed the signs on the waiting rooms, ‘White,’ ‘Colored.’ In a large section of swampland was a log with seven turtles perfectly aligned, my first glimpse of army life (a squad column). A soldier asked a Southerner who was passing by the train in Jacksonville, Florida, if he would sell him a cigarette. The Southerner took out an unbroken pack and said, ‘Here friend,’ and refused to accept any money—that was Southern Hospitality sooner than expected and the boys said that they thought they would like the South.”39 Nicholas Coracci (left) and Leger Morrison (right) in front of South Hall on Bryant’s former campus in Providence, RI.

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“Far-Flung Fronts”: Letters Written by Bryant Alumni Stationed Around the World Not surprisingly, the observations of Thomas J. Dunn, stationed with the AAF at Ladd Field near Fairbanks, Alaska, then a territory of the U.S., contrasted sharply with Morrison’s views of life in Miami Beach. In early January 1944, he wrote, “I have been stationed . . . in Alaska some two months & probably will be here for the duration. The country life is really ‘ruff’, although we do have some of the From Fairbanks, Alaska, Thomas J. Dunn, class of 1943 and former BSC member, writes in this threepage letter, “I would really like to hear from some of the students, so as I can know what’s going on there & still feel that I am part of the college.”

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This drawing depicting a smiling soldier receiving a letter and package from the BSC, is from the 1944 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger.

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Pages two and three of letter from Thomas J. Dunn, written in early 1944.

conveniences of the camps back in the states. Since I’ve been in the service I have seen some really beautiful scenery, but nothing can compare with this! However it does get quite cold here, stays between 25°–50° below zero most of the time! We are well dressed for this kind of climate & so we don’t mind it too much! . . . We do have women here though, but not my kind! Mostly natives—(Indians & Eskimos).” Although no Bryant alumni are known to have been stationed in the territory of Hawaii at the time of Pearl Harbor, several former students were

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subsequently stationed there. As might be expected, they looked favorably on their assignments in Hawaii, often remarking, as did Eugene Caldwell, a Personnel Clerk in the Army, that “I . . . like the life here in the Islands as well as can be expected. Swimming facilities for me are fine. Other recreations are bowling, softball, baseball, volleyball and dancing. My work is in the Supply Room. I use a typewriter quite a lot.” Not so fortunate was James J. LaRussa, Seaman Y1/c with the Navy Seabees. LaRussa

briefly

stopped

at the Hawaiian Islands in the summer of 1944 on his way to the Mariana Islands, about In 1942, Eugene Caldwell, class of 1937, was stationed “somewhere in the Territory of Hawaii.”

1500

miles

from

Japan, where Japanese bombers attempted to disrupt Allied B-29 Superfortres

s

heavy bombing of the Japanese mainland. However, LaRussa, like most men in the military, downplayed the seriousness of his situation commenting that, “Outside of bombings there isn’t much more to report in the line of excitement.”40 For Bryant alumni stationed outside the “zone of the interior,” the new customs, foods, religions, and languages they encountered contrasted even more sharply than those experienced by their counterparts stationed in the United States. Life seemed especially exotic for Bryant alumni stationed in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of War—which, for Americans, was the most mysterious and least known of the principal battle areas of World War II. When the war began for the United States in December 1941, a major conflict had been underway in East Asia since 1931 when Japanese troops invaded Manchuria and created the puppet state of Manchukuo. However, not until July 1937, with the powerful Japanese assault on the eastern third of China, resulting in the capture of Peking, Shanghai, and China’s capital, Nanking, did full-scale war between the two countries begin.41 Theodore White, the Time magazine correspondent for China during the war years, described the CBI

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command as “the stuff of legends,” requiring “a crystal ball and a copy of Alice in Wonderland to understand it.”42 Of the 16 million servicemen and women to serve in World War II, fewer than 250,000 were assigned to the CBI.43 Beset by problems of vast distances, poor communication, and treacherous transportation routes, the CBI was and remains the “forgotten” theater of war for many Americans. Writing from India on April 12, 1944, where he was assigned to the Finance Department with the AAF, Cpl. Robert Bernstein wrote, “Before I go further, I may as well tell you that I am somewhere in that strange land—India. Here everything seems to be the reverse of everything in the States—no rationing, plenty of everything, low prices (if you argue long enough!) AND the woman does all the work while the husband watches!!”44 In a subsequent letter, written on September 13, 1944, he noted, “When you sent that muffler I was still en route so the address was still the same as back in the States where I could have used it to good advantage. You will undoubtedly agree with me as to the humor of receiving a heavy wool muffler here in the blazing heat in India.”45 Arthur F. Bowler, Jr., serving with the AAF Weather Squadron in India, also emphasized the comfortable, bordering on lavish, living conditions in India. In a February 2, 1945 letter to the Bryant Service Club, he marveled at the “beautiful office for our work and fine living quarters. Ah! Just wait till I tell you of our mess hall. The chief thing is the quality of both the work the cooks do with the food they have to serve and the K.P. service. . . . As labor is plentiful here in India, Uncle Sam is having much of the unskilled labor done by the ‘wogs.’46 Some of them can understand quite a bit of simple English. They get the better jobs like serving coffee to our tables. On Sundays our tables (seating six each) are covered with clean table linen. . . . Our recreation facilities are marvelous. An outdoor stage & movie screen. Then there’s the Red Cross canteen and recreation hall. Even have plenty of books to read for a while. Have record player and radio, ping-pong tables.”47 Private Eugene D. Bromberg concurred, describing India as a “land of enchantment and untold mysteries, with its mystic beauties, sets a throb in any traveler’s heart. All of the boys over

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Private Eugene Bromberg, class of 1944, sends holiday greetings from the ChinaBurma-India (CBI) Theater of War.


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

here have found India an unforeseen paradise. India at dawn, India at dusk never loses its magnificence as the sun slowly rises or sets in the sky over this picturesque land.” In his following letter, written on February 10, 1944, he reported that he had been transferred to Assam, in northeastern India, the railhead for the Ledo Road, to be constructed as the replacement for the Burma Road which had been cut off by the Japanese in the spring of 1942. Begun in late 1942 and completed in early 1945, the Ledo Road served as the primary overland supply route between India and China during the last months of the war. The road was built by 15,000 American In a two-page letter from somewhere in India, Private Eugene D. Bromberg, class of 1944, describes India as “The land of enchantment and untold mysteries.”

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soldiers, approximately sixty percent of whom were African American, along with 35,000 locals. This ambitious and dangerous project resulted in over 1,100 deaths of Americans and locals. Bromberg, from the relative safety of his Finance Office in Assam, where he was responsible for payroll, was shielded from most of the dangers associated with the construction of the Ledo Road. Still, he understood the importance of making payroll in a timely manner when he stated, “us Finance men live by the slogan, ‘Get ‘Em Paid’ first, and that’s what we’re doing. Pay day really means a lot to the fellows out here, although there isn’t any place to spend it and

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nothing to spend it on. I guess it helps build up the morale of the fellows knowing that they can get paid regularly no matter where they happen to be stationed.”48 Yet not every Bryant alumnus sang the praises of India. Sgt. Carl W. Lindquist quipped in an April 8, 1944 letter, “That 10 to 1 ration of girls [at Bryant] sure sounds interesting as women here are only found in magazines.”49 In an April 28, 1944 letter, he explained that “mail here is as precious as gold as we are in the jungle and are near no town so we work seven days a week here and it sure does get tiresome. I did not receive your package as yet but then I am receiving Xmas packages so I guess it will get here eventually.” Lindquist’s December 24, 1944 letter underscored the difference between Christmas in India and the United States when In his April 28, 1944 letter from India, Carl Lindquist, class of 1941, writes, “Mail here is as precious as gold as we are in the jungle and are near no town so we work seven days a week here and it sure does get tiresome.”

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he wrote, “Well it is Xmas Eve here and it is a lot different than the one we would have at home. Over here the people are of a different religion than we are and do not celebrate Xmas. We have tried to make it look like Xmas here but with the hot weather and being away from home we just cannot get into the mood. I guess we will have to save it up until we get home.”50 Bryant alumni stationed in the strategically located country of Iran were also mystified by their surroundings. Although officially neutral throughout the war, Iran came under the control of the Allies following the British and Soviet invasion in August 1941. The Allies, hoping to maintain control of Iranian oil fields as well as to secure a passage way for American lend-lease supplies to flow to the Soviet Union via the Persian Corridor, had a strong military presence in Iran throughout the war. With its spies, agents, and double agents, as well as desperate Jewish and Polish refugees seeking security in more friendly territory, Iran was often described as the “Casablanca of the East.”51 By the summer of 1942, the first American logistic and combat engineer units began arriving in Iran to work with Soviet construction battalions in the building of a network of roads capable of travel by large trucks carrying lend-lease supplies to Russia. Writing from Iran on June 4, 1943, S/Sergeant John W. Gorman observed, “Naturally, you people will be very much surprised to learn that I am located in the far away country of Iran—a country that to us in school was known as Persia. . . . As for this country of Iran, well I must say it is rather peculiar in comparison to what we Americans are used to back in the states. Some of the cities and towns resemble cities and towns back home, but most of the resemblance is on the surface. Although there are many semi-modern buildings and streets, the contrast between modern and medieval is sometimes very striking. You all have seen, I am certain, those long caravans of camels in moving pictures or in books that definitely are associated with the Middle East. Well it is not an uncommon sight to see just such a train wandering down one of the main streets hereabouts. And more often we soldiers get a glimpse of two or three small burros plodding along with a load of sticks, or whatever else could be loaded on a burro’s back, all the while dodging in and out of the varied traffic whizzing by. Street cars, subways, and the like are unheard of hereabouts, but there are plenty of automobiles—in fact you would be surprised at the number over here.” In a subsequent letter, written on March 1, 1945, Gorman reported that his primary job had been “to get those vital supplies through to Uncle Joe [Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin]—and, if you have been following the progress of our Russian Allies, you will be better able to appreciate the fine job that has been done. True, we have not been fighting in the front lines, nevertheless we have had our difficulties and hardships over here in Persia. The heat in the summertime is really terrific

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S/Sergeant John W. Gorman writes from Iran on June 4, 1943, “Can you imagine me being so far away from all my loved ones and friends at home? However, you may be interested to know that things aren’t too bad . . . .”

Persia, you know, is considered as one of the hottest spots on the globe—and, too, we have had to contend with malaria, typhus, dysentery and fly fever, and other tropical diseases . . . and these have caused numerous casualties. However, we have gotten the supplies through—the records speak for themselves.” In the same letter, S/Sgt. Gorman somewhat apologetically reported that he had had the opportunity to enjoy a “grand [four-week] furlough in Palestine and the Holy Land.” However, he was quick to emphasize that “You know, of course, that

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there is a war going on—and the job at hand, by necessity, had to receive number one priority.” He continued, “I am situated almost half way around the world—in a land that should be quite familiar to you as a result of what you have learned in Ancient History classes. However, don’t get the idea that there is anything glamorous about this part of the world—true, it is considered by many as the cradle of civilization. Well, if that is so, I am sorry to say that civilization must have died in the cradle because conditions and customs of the people have progressed very slowly during

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In this March 1, 1945 letter, S/Sergeant John W. Gorman writes about his furlough in Palestine and the Holy Land.


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

In 1943, S/Sgt. Robert Clark, class of 1940, was stationed in Teheran, Iran during the Teheran Conference where he served as a member of President Roosevelt’s honor guard.

the past few centuries.” Perhaps the most significant letter written from Iran was that of S/Sgt. Robert T. Clark, who on January 4, 1944, described his role as a member of President Franklin T. Roosevelt’s honor guard during the Teheran Conference of November 28–December 1, 1943. The Teheran Conference marked the first time that the “Big Three” Allied leaders, President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill,

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and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, met. The main outcome of this conference was the decision to launch a second front, Operation Overlord, later known as D-Day, against Nazi Germany in the spring of 1944. Clark reported, “As you know, we were really in the news when they had the conference here. I was fortunate enough to be a member of the President’s honor guard, so I got a chance to get a good look at him, and a bunch of other big shots. When the President landed here I couldn’t have been

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more than ten feet away when they took him off the plane. I never saw so many big shots in my life. I also got a chance to see Churchill and Stalin, although not from such a close-up position. All in all it was quite a thrill getting a chance to see so many of them. I only hope that their being here will shorten the war and get us all home a bit sooner.� This February 7, 1943, four-page letter was written by Sgt. Louis M. Schablein, Jr., from a French possession in the southwest Pacific

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Life in the islands of the Southwest Pacific was equally unfamiliar to Bryant alumni. Writing from a small French island on February 7, 1943, Sgt. Louis M. Schablein, Jr. remarked, “At the present time I am located on an island in the Southwest Pacific. This island is very mountainous and French is the language that is spoken. The Franc is the basis of the monetary system and the climate is definitely

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on the hot side. We have two kinds of seasons here one is the rainy season and the other is the season when it doesn’t rain quite so much. There are two things that we can always depend on and that is that it will be hot and that there will always be a liberal supply of mosquitoes and other insects. The mosquitoes seem to take particular delight in biting my tender flesh and I’m sure that the other members of Pages three and four of February 7, 1943 letter from Sgt. Louis M. Schablein.

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this command are subject to the same nuisance. There is no entertainment except that which we provide ourselves. However, there is one exception and that is the movies. The pictures are generally old and I have seen most of them on previous occasions but I see them again as it helps pass the time.� Leonard E. Sweeney, stationed with the Army in Panama during much of

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1942, witnessed even more unusual cultural practices. In a November 10, 1942 letter, he wrote that “one of the interesting things about here is that quite a few of the boys have pets, pets you wouldn’t find around Providence. Some of my friends have monkeys and parrots for pets, one or two have ‘cats’ as they call them. They are very wild, and are very capable of killing a man, since they are kept in a cage most of the time. One of the most interesting pets here, I think, is a baby boa constrictor, about Leonard Sweeney, class of 1941, writes, “I sincerely believe that it [the BSC] is one of the most loyal organizations that I know of. In my travels, I have yet to hear of another college, and its students doing what [the] club has done. I have received letters from former classmates of mine at Bryant, and they feel as I do, that there is a sense of loyalty that can’t be matched, in our Alma Mater.”

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three and one-half feet long. My friend who has him lets him crawl all over him, and never has very much trouble with him. But the snake snaps or strikes at other people. It has very small fangs, and doesn’t hurt too much when he hits you, but I wouldn’t want to be around him when he gets to be any larger.” Sweeney concluded, “I am very contented here, and have a very nice position, although everything isn’t like home, we do make the best of it, and have a pretty good time.”

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Bryant alumni stationed in North Africa also frequently commented on their new surroundings. Beginning around 1940 “North Africa had taken on increased significance in the conflict between the Axis and Allied powers. The Allies viewed Africa’s strategic value as presenting an opening back into Europe, while the Axis saw it as an opportunity to access the Suez Canal and to choke off the British from their Middle Eastern oil reserves.”52 On February 3, 1943, less than three weeks after the British-American invasion of North Africa started on November 2, 1942, Cpl. Gardiner W. Congdon wrote his first letter to the Bryant Service Club from “Somewhere in North Africa.”53 Later that year, on November 25, 1943, he reported, “I have been overseas a year now and have seen some very interesting sights here. The cold weather and rainy season is just about to begin and if anyone had ever told me before I came over here that it got cold in Africa, I would have said ‘you’re crazy.’ But believe it, it does get cold here.”54 Writing from “Africa” on August 14, 1943, Sgt. Samuel B. Tabor, assigned to the 38th Evacuation Hospital, provided a detailed account of his living conditions, commenting that “we have always lived and operated the hospital entirely in tents. The enlisted men have lived in their small pup tents. The boys have made many variations of homes by combining more tents and by building them up higher by use of sides of boards, tin or anything available. On the whole the boys have them fixed up quite cozy. Of course we have the old fashioned open type of plumbing, with a few modern variations. We wash up and shave in our helmets and even wash out a few clothes in them in a pinch, but most of Victory sign sketch from the 1945 Bryant yearbook, The Ledger.

the time for laundry purposes we can either get a pail or empty five gallon cans that previously had dehydrated potatoes in it. We have had showers varying from a steel drum up on a bank with a pipe and improvised shower head on it to the present outfit we have which is a GI portable shower unit which pumps the water from a tank into an overhead arrangement of four shower heads. In cool weather which is very rare now they can also heat the water with this outfit. Although it is very hot now with the temperature running up to 125 in some instances, last winter and spring ice on a helmet of water was a common sight.” He also reported that since being in Africa he had “visited such large cities as Oran, Constantine, and Tunis and several smaller towns and points of interest too numerous to mention.” He further noted that he had “had the opportunity to visit the ruins of Carthage a short time ago.” With an implicit reference to the war that was raging, he added, “Of course, there are a lot more recent ruins now.” Cpl. Robert G. Harris also wrote a long descriptive letter about life in North Africa. His June 5, 1943 letter included the following observations: “I am situated in North Africa, the exact spot can’t be mentioned because of the censor. This is a land of sun, sand and palm trees but mostly sun and sand. It is indeed a very educational part of the world, but as for myself they can give it back to the Arabs. Speaking of

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Writing from “Africa” on August 14, 1943, Sgt. Samuel B. Tabor, class of 1934, assigned to the 38th Evacuation Hospital, provides a detailed account of his living conditions.

Arabs, there is a subject that I could write a book about but I’m afraid it would not be published. I can say though that the movies build you up for a big let-down, when it shows you some scenes of the country. There is one thing that interests me about these natives, and that is the work that they turn out by hand. They are still using methods that have been in practice for generation after generation, but the results obtained are wonderful. The difficulty is that a person needs a fortune to buy any

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Cpl. Robert G. Harris, class of 1939, writes a descriptive letter about life in North Africa, “This is a land of sun, sand and palm trees but mostly sun and sand.”

of the things that they make. The chief mode of transportation is the burro and the less fortunate walk. It strikes me funny to see them walking down the street with their shoes in their hands. Personally I don’t get the point. Have you any ideas?” Following the success of the North African campaign in May 1943, the stage was set for the Allied invasion of Sicily in early July. Writing from “Somewhere in Sicily” on August 2, 1943, Cpl. Courtland R. Burnham, Jr. provided no hint that a

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six-week campaign (July 9–August 17, 1943) for the control of the island by the Allies was underway. Instead, he emphasized how much better he liked Sicily than his previous assignment, North Africa, when he stated, “Just when I was about fed up with Africa I was sent here to Sicily which I like a lot better. The cities are more modern and there is more to see and do. . . . There are a few automobiles but mostly carriages and 2 wheeled carts, and then there is always the head to carry bundles upon. The wine is real good—I know! Reminded me of the old Scott House days. Am having quite a little trouble learning to speak Italian. So far I have added an e or o to the French words & got along. The young girls, Signorinas, are very pretty, mostly being dark eyed & haired & not unlike Lana Turner. Most of them understand a little English which all helps to promote friendship. I have run across quite a few Sicilians who have been to America at some time or another & most all of them think Brooklyn is the U.S. One fellow even asked me how the Dodgers were coming along.”

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Cpl. Courtland R. Burnham, Jr., class of 1941, writes in this fourpage letter, “Just when I was about fed up with Africa I was sent here to Sicily which I like a lot better.”


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Pages three and four of Cpl. Courtland R. Burnham, Jr.’s letter, dated August 2, 1943.

In anticipation of the cross-channel attack from England into Nazi-occupied France, an even larger build-up of Allied troops and supplies in the United Kingdom was underway. By the time of the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy, more than 1.5 million American troops were in England. Oblivious to what would soon be in store for many Americans who would be part of the invasion forces, Sgt. Samuel Kaplan wrote on May 5, 1944, “I’m now in England where life is rather gay and every day brings forth new adventures.”55 Sgt. Nicholas C. Coracci, assigned to the Third U.S. Army Headquarters and founding member of the Bryant Service Club, was equally enthusiastic about life in England. In a long typed letter, dated April 22, 1944, he wrote, “Your letters are as welcome as the sun over here in England. Old Sol does not get out very often in the land of John Bull. O, he does stick his head out in front of the fog every once in awhile, but he is disinclined, I think, to cope with the inclemency of the weather over here. However, in spite of the atmospheric conditions existing in the UK, the country is a very beautiful one—everything which

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Shelley, Byron, Shakespeare, and all the other great English authors have written about it is true. It is quite relaxing to stroll over the terrain and past old churches and graveyards—you just know what Thomas Gray was trying to put across about the latter.” Sgt. Louis C. Martelle concurred, remarking in a February 29, 1944 letter, “Well, the English countryside is very beautiful, the people are as hospitable as their very severe war time rationing will permit. Just about everything is rationed—even

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This April 22, 1944 two-page letter from Sgt. Nicholas Coracci, class of 1942, founding member of the BSC, describes life in wartime England.


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Page two of April 22, 1944 letter written by Sgt. Nicholas Coracci.

handkerchiefs, and YES CANDY! America will look doubly good to me.”56 In a similar fashion, Private Meyer Ostrovsky observed, “Out here pleasure cars are out, young and old drive bicycles. Everything is rationed, yet these people after such a long time of war are smiling.”57 Sgt. Cornelius E. Corrigan was equally intrigued with life in England as well as in France following the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944. Writing to

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the Bryant Service Club on January 18, 1945, he reported, “Since leaving the United States, I was stationed in England for a period of about five months and saw a great deal of the English countryside. We were stationed in a place called Woolacombe, which was in a great many respects a replica of Narragansett Pier. The weather there, even in the summertime was quite cold and on days when we thought it was cold, the folks living there were in bathing, so it seems they are more hardened to cold weather than we are back home. I have been in France for the last four months and have seen a great many parts of this country. It is very interesting to see the sights and customs of the folks over here and I hope that when I get back home to have a little opportunity to drop over to see the members of the Bryant Club and tell them some of the things which I am sure will be of interest to them.�

Writing from France, Cornelius Corrigan, class of 1926, comments on the the chilly summer weather in Woolacombe, England, and the sights and customs of France.

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Cpl. John Renza, a 1943 graduate of Bryant’s four-year Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Education, wrote equally glowing accounts of life in France. In a November 30, 1944 Christmas card written from “Somewhere in Belgium,” he exclaimed, “Of all the countries, my travels were most extensive in France. I landed in Normandy in June and from there I proceeded to Montebourg, Ste Marie Eglise, Valognes, St. Lo, etc. Yes, I was fortunate enough to take in Paris, too. Paris, the most beautiful place I have ever seen with its numerous historical sites, the Arc of Triumph, Trocadero, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, Napoleon’s Tomb, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—why, I could go on forever naming these places!”

Front of Christmas card from John Renza dated November 30, 1944.

A November 30, 1944 Christmas greeting from John Renza, class of 1943, describes his experiences in England, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Two weeks later, Renza would be thrust into the Battle of the Bulge.

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Noncombatant Assignments Not every serviceman stationed in England made his way to the European continent. Writing from England on February 22, 1945, Sgt. William D. McCaughey, Jr. acknowledged the importance of noncombatant supporting roles of soldiers such as himself when he remarked, “It seems that my job hasn’t been one in which there has been a great deal of glamour attached but it has been interesting. Our office has clothed, fed, and furnished . . . rations to all the troops in the ETO [European Theater of Operations] prior to D-day. Now it is our duty to do the same for the troops that are still here in the UK. Over a period of two years we have seen this

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V-Mail from William D. McCaughey, class of 1940, written February 22, 1945 from England.


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whole operation grow into a very complex structure with numerous obstacles that had to be and were overcome. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing my part and then I realize that someone has to make sure that the men up front are taken care of at all times.”

Sgt. Charles J. Memmott, Jr., who spent the entire war at the Army Air

Forces Convalescent Hospital in Pawling, New York, made a similar point when he wrote on December 24, 1943 that “even though I have not ‘gone over’ I will now be able to do something for those boys who have. At this hospital we are going to try to get those back on their feet before they return to civilian life.”58 Pvt. Joseph T. Rapa, stationed aboard a Navy Hospital ship somewhere in the Atlantic, emphasized that “we are awfully busy—we work night and day—our wounded come to our hospital A January 1945 V-Mail from Pvt. Joseph T. Rapa describes conditions on a Navy Hospital ship stationed in the Atlantic.

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in shreds, the fruits of bloody war bring them to us, and when they leave they are well and happy and healthy men. Our part in this war may seem but a small one but we are trying to the best of our ability—we have been given a job and we are over here doing it. Here you see medical advancement and actual miracles before your very eyes, men with but a faint glow of life, and by being nursed and properly taken care of—are almost reborn. Surgery is making silent history here, no news of our work in the papers, yet we are trying—we are doing a job. Good health to you always, god bless you and let’s hope you will be at Bryant & welcome all her boys back when this mess is over.” Charles Wielgus, class of 1947, writes, “Since leaving Bryant and entering the Air Corp Finance Unit, I have taken courses at Wake Forest College, Duke University and Baylor University. I can truthfully say that life at Bryant topped them all.”

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In fact, only a minority of the sixteen million men who served in the armed forces during the war years saw sustained combat. For example, when the number of troops in Europe peaked at three million, only 750,000 were engaged in actual fighting. Of particular significance is the fact that more than one-fourth of all military personnel remained stateside.59 Whether stationed stateside or overseas, the vast majority of Bryant men and women in the military were assigned to positions that drew upon the skills they had learned while at Bryant. Hence, a large proportion of Bryant alumni served in noncombatant supporting roles for the fighting forces as typists, payroll clerks, finance and administrative officers supply In his June 1943 two-page letter, Private George A. “Albert” Barsalou, class of 1944, reports that "thanks to the typing course I took at Bryant, I am now working at our Battalion Headquarters in the capacity of company clerk.”

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clerks, and statisticians. In addition, many Bryant alumni had the opportunity to have their business skills honed at schools such as the prestigious Army Finance School at Wake Forest College in North Carolina. Still, Charles A. Wielgus, serving with the AAF Finance Unit at Waco Army Flying Field in Texas, could “truthfully say that life at Bryant topped” all of the courses that he had taken at Wake Forest, Duke, and Baylor. Bryant alumni regularly remarked that the skills they had acquired at Bryant directly applied to their military positions. Writing from the Mississippi Ordnance Plant in Jackson, Mississippi, Private George A. “Albert” Barsalou reported on June

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25, 1943 that “thanks to the typing course I took at Bryant, I am now working at our Battalion Headquarters in the capacity of company clerk. The work is very interesting and it keeps me fairly busy.” Similarly, Cpl. Louis Bastone writing from Tampa, Florida on August 2, 1942, reported, “At the present time, I am really enjoying the service. I am a clerk in the Aviation Ordnance Department. I find the military system of office work very interesting. Thanks to Bryant College in preparing me for this type of work Cpl. Louis Bastone, class of 1939, writes, “I find the military system of offic work very interesting. Thanks to Bryant College in preparing me for this type of work and in doing this I am serving my country to the best that I am suited for.”

and in doing this I am serving my country to the best that I am suited for.” As the Company Clerk for the 772nd Quartermaster Company at Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma, Cpl. Gardiner W. Congdon likewise acknowledged in a June 29, 1942 letter that “it should be to your advantage to know that my Bryant Training is coming in handy in Uncle Sam’s Army. I have been in the service but a few short months and Bryant Training has helped me to get some promotions.” In a January 23, 1944 letter, Storekeeper Alfred H. Murphy, assigned to sea duty aboard the USS

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Cpl. Gardiner W. Congdon, class of 1936, acknowledges that his “Bryant Training is coming in handy in Uncle Sam’s Army.”

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Sgt. Henry W. Stadnicki, class of 1940, writes, “my Bryant education gave me my proper foundation for my work in the Army, which happens to be in the Finance Department.”

Dorothea L. Dix, also emphasized how his Bryant training had helped prepare him for his position in the Navy where his work in the Pay Office of the ship had given him “much opportunity to use my Bryant training. (Figuring pay, ‘selling’ insurance, registering allotments, and other office

work.)”60 Sgt. Henry W.

Stadnicki came to a similar conclusion, writing in a May 14, 1942 letter that “I have found that my Bryant education gave me my proper foundation for my work in the Army, which happens to be in the Finance Department. At the present time I’m a Staff Sergeant and am about to be put in charge of a separate finance detachment.” Storekeeper Charles E. Tumidajski, assigned to the Disbursing Offic aboard the USS Colorado concurred. In a July 20, 1942 letter, he acknowledged that “I can readily say that the advancements which I have enjoyed can be

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attributed primarily to my training at Bryant.”61 Tumidajski’s advancements continued and, within a two-year period, he had achieved the rank of Warrant Officer.62 One final example comes from Sgt. Albert F. Wiesner, Jr., assigned to the Station Hospital at Patterson Field in Fairfield, Ohio. In a February 21, 1943 letter, he emphasized that “my training at Bryant College is proving its worth during these trying times. At present I am Pay Roll Clerk besides taking care of War Bonds, Insurance and Allotments. My Tax knowledge has come in handy more than once during the past month. . . . I have been helping both Enlisted Men and Officers with their Income Tax returns and have earned quite a nice reputation. The teaching staff at Bryant College had a lot to do with this as it gave me the necessary background to go out into the world and cope with its many problems.” He reiterated this position in a June 21, 1943 letter, noting that “Everything is running smoothly here at Patterson Field, Ohio. My payroll work is always interesting as new situations arise every day. There is never a dull moment!! I can really say that my education at Bryant has stood me in good stead.”63 Two years later, after being transferred to Robins Field, Georgia, he once again paid tribute to his Bryant education, remarking in a February 18, 1945 letter that “as usual we are very busy

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Sgt. Albert F. Wiesner, Jr., class of 1940, writes that his Bryant training is “proving its worth during these trying times.”


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here. I am working in the Personnel office and my splendid training at Bryant is still helping me out. I will never forget the fun I had while I was there in 1938– 40.”64

Combat Assignments By contrast, sustained combat was experienced by only a minority of Bryant alumni. Even that minority of alums who were engaged in combat tended to minimize the seriousness of their circumstances. Referring to the invasion of Italy on September Writing from “The Field, Italy” in November 1943, Sgt. Thomas Ellis, class of 1940, reports that he has had some “harrowing experiences.”

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3, 1943, Sgt. Thomas Ellis writing from “The Field, Italy” on November 27, 1943 informed the BSC that “since you have last heard from me I’ve done quite some traveling and have had some harrowing experiences as I landed on this land that very first day of the invasion. To all those studying shorthand tell them they should try it imagining planes overhead, bombs bursting and big guns booming ~ really some problem at such a time. I hear now and then from some of the fellows and they all seem to be doing fine.” In a February 4, 1944 letter, Storekeeper Aaron A. French, Jr. optimistically reported that “we were in the recent invasion at Anzio north of our lines Aaron A. French, Jr., class of 1928, participated in the invasion of Italy at Anzio during the winter of 1944.

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and 30 miles south of Rome. It was a complete military success and will probably be the climax in Italy.” In actuality, the Anzio campaign was a four-month long ordeal, lasting from January 22 until May 24, 1944, with heavy combat casualties. Writing from Belgium on November 21, 1944, just three weeks before the Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944–January 25, 1945), the last major German offensive against the Allies, Private John L. Gudavich wrote, “I am at present deep in Belgium, and have gone a great distance since the day we hit the beach. The weather here is very bad with continuous rain and snow to hamper everything. We are all hoping for good weather, but from now on all the cold winter will be hitting us with everything.” In fact, the winter of 1944–1945 would be one of the coldest on record. The defeat of German forces in late January 1945, despite heavy loss of life, assured an Allied victory in Europe. Writing from Belgium in November 1944, Private John L. Gudavich, class of 1939, thanks the BSC for his Christmas package and writes, “It is things like that, that make things a little pleasanter under circumstances that aren’t too pleasant.”

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Cpl. John Renza became caught up in the Battle of the Bulge, even though as the company stenographer for the 158th Combat Engineers Battalion, he was usually stationed in the protected area of Battalion Headquarters some distance from the actual fighting. The 158th arrived in France several days after D-Day and quickly made its way through France and Belgium. In mid-December 1944, the 158th became caught up in the Ardennes Offensive, better known as the Battle of the Bulge. In the rush of battle, John was forced to abandon all his personal belongings, except for one notable item—a Christmas present from the Bryant Service Club. In a January 9, 1945 letter written from “Belgium,” Renza explained, “I want to acknowledge receipt of your Christmas package containing the sweater. The sweater is really coming in handy; it is so full of warmth and comfort, and I just could not have asked for a better fit. May I thank you very much for your thoughtfulness in sending me

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Writing from Belgium in January 1945, John Renza, who was caught up in the Battle of the Bulge, thanks the BSC for a package he received which included a much-needed sweater.


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such an excellent gift. The package was received on 18 December—quite some time ago, but this has been the first time I’ve had to myself to take care of some personal correspondence. The reason is that a couple days after, we were forced to face the enemy; and since then, we were on the go right along. Rather a nice way to have spent the holidays, isn’t it? As a result of all the commotion, I lost all of my personal belongings plus my Christmas packages which I had received a few days before. The only gift which was saved was your sweater, and only because I was wearing it. I’m so glad now that I had it on my person, otherwise I would have lost it too.” Lt. Wesley Crawley, Bryant class of 1936, was another alumnus who found himself engaged in battle. As a platoon leader of the 733rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion in North Africa in early 1943, the primary responsibility of his battalion included setting up a radar unit and tracking planes. Following the defeat of the Axis in North Africa in May 1943, Wesley and a few companions decided to explore the waters off Cape Bon, Tunisia where they were stationed. In an August 13, 1943 letter, Wesley recounted how his group encountered a group of Germans in hiding which resulted in his being “held prisoner on an island by 7 Germans for 3 weeks.” He acknowledged that “they treated me very good and shared their meager food supply with me. They left me on the island when they left and I was picked up later by a Brit-ish motor launch. During my captivity I got a very badly infected right foot which kept me in the hospital for 2½ weeks.”65 Following his recuperation from his injury, Wesley rejoined his unit, which slowly made its way to Naples. In August 1944, he boarded a landing ship tank that was sent to Southern France to continue the fight against the Nazis. When the European War ended in early May 1945, Wesley was in Germany at Schwabisch Hall near Stuttgart.66 In a December 7, 1944 letter, in which he discussed his part in the invasion of Southern France earlier that year, Yeoman William P. Grace remarked, “I can truthfully say that I have enjoyed myself since coming over here and participating in the Invasion of Southern France. After this comes to an end and I get back I will be able to tell quite a story. The people over here treat us very well and it is quite an education to see all these historical places. It is something that I won’t forget for some time to come.” He continued, “Everything is going fine aboard ship and we are fortunate in having movies every night. . . . The weather is just like August back on the Bryant Campus. I just can’t imagine that it is December and possibly there has been snow back in `Little Rhody.’ I can readily see why people during peacetime pay quite a bit of money to spend the winter over here. Imagine a sight such as a pretty girl pedaling down the street on her bicycle in December with a playsuit on. That is just a common sight over here but if I saw that back in Providence I would think I was going out of my mind. Ha! Ha!”

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In this December 1944 letter, written from Southern France, Bill Grace, class of 1940, writes, “I only wish I could be in Berlin or Tokyo this December 7th but maybe next December 7th this will be all over and all of us will be back home celebrating ‘Victory for U.S.’”

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Stationed “Somewhere in New Guinea”, Ray Fogarty, class of 1936, ends his note by saying, “Always glad to hear the news from Bryant.” In an April 17, 1943 letter, T/Sgt. Raymond Fogarty, stationed “Somewhere in New Guinea,” also chose to downplay the fighting between the Allied and Japanese forces. He preferred to focus “on the ant and other insect life here and the Lord only knows that here there exists each and every variety known to mankind.” He emphasized how “the natives . . . seem to have some sort of mania toward the cultivating of a real heavy long bushy head of hair as anything that is bright or shiny sooner or later finds a home there, the heads of the females seem to be clean shaven and they also seem to be the beasts of burden.”

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From “Somewhere in New Guinea,” Leo Harrington, class of 1937, states in this January 1944 letter, “You’d almost swear from what I’ve written that I didn’t really love this place, well you’re not wrong there.”

Pvt. Leo S. Harrington also had little to say about the fighting in New Guinea, focusing instead on its geography and the natives. Writing in a January 16, 1944 letter, he stated, “Don’t think you’d particularly care for this piece of geography . . . can’t understand why the Japs ever wanted this place, but then, every man to his own taste. It’s hotter than ____, and there are a million and one different types of insects. . . . As for the local belles, well just give me Dorothy Lamour, she at least wears a sarong and leaves a little to the imagination. As for the men they wear a combination of doily and tablecloth, and they lead the parade, both fashion and

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otherwise. You’d almost swear from what I’ve written that I didn’t really love this place, well you’re not wrong there.” From the South Pacific, M/Sgt. John F. Fay and T/Sgt. Arthur J. Menard, Jr. also made light of their military situation, remarking in an April 22, 1943 letter that “things are bearing up for us and the only thing that upsets our routine is a casual visit to our little island by [Prime Minister] Tojo’s little winged angels, who descend on us now and then with tokens of their esteem. Our greatest loss from this source is the loss of a few hours shut-eye.”67 Also from the South Pacific, T/Sgt. Louis M. Schablein wrote on May 11, 1943, “As for my present location there is not much I can tell you except that I am on a palm studded island in the South Pacific . . . We have exciting times here once in a while. The most exciting of all is when Charlie (our name for Jap fliers) pays us a visit. We all scurry for our fox holes and pray that he will not drop any of his eggs on us. We have seen several good dog fights between the Japs and our men and I can tell you that our boys are definitely superior.”68 Navy Yeoman James J. LaRussa also downplayed the seriousness of his situation. Arriving in the Mariana Islands in September 1944, after the brunt of the fighting with the Japanese had ended, he first encountered “a mass of rubbles. . . . Jap planes & equipment were scattered all over. Twisted steel, melted glass, craters and burned (Jap) equipment plus many other results of a barrage were a common theme.” Upon reaching the camp site, he discovered that it “was in terrible shape but it wasn’t long before tents went up.” As LaRussa noted, “It is surprising to observe the progress we have made since setting foot upon our site. K. & C. rations have been our food since arriving. I hope that soon we shall eat a hot meal—on tables. Trying to ward off flies, mosquitoes, ants, bugs, lizards, worms & many others, and attempting to eat at the same time is quite a job. Milk & eggs, I mean the real stuff & not powdered, is something I haven’t had since leaving Hawaii & I sure miss it.” LaRussa also reported that “some of the Japs are in the hills a short way from us, which necessitates carrying a rifle with you. For a while they were sniping from the hills but it has quieted down somewhat. Frequently they are caught stealing into camp in search of food.”69 In LaRusssa’s following letter, written on January 15, 1945, he explained that “we no longer have trouble with the Japs who tried to snipe at the camp—that is a relief. Instead we are visited (faithfully) by the Rising Sun bombers. . . . Outside of bombings there isn’t much more to report in the line of excitement.”

Opposite Page: Navy Yeoman James J. LaRussa, class of 1947, stationed in the Mariana Islands in January 1945 writes, “Outside of bombings there isn’t much more to report in the line of excitement.”

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Not all alumni underestimated the seriousness of the military circumstances they faced. This was especially true of alumni affiliated with the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Air Forces. For example, Harry A. Melkonian, an AAF navigator on one of the B-29s headquartered on the Mariana Islands, provided an honest assessment of his situation when he wrote on April 14, 1945, “We have burned and blasted Osaka, Nagoya, Omura and other targets. On my last mission we blasted a chemical factory located about 100 miles north of Tokyo.

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I had the satisfaction to see our bombs land squarely on our aiming point.” He continued, “Gosh, this Pacific Ocean is really an immense affair. You really do get tired of looking at all this blue water on these 15–17 hr. missions. I think I can be justified in saying that this is a navigator’s show. . . . Oh yes—I must mention the Jap situation here. They are still cleaning the Japs out of the jungle. In fact I hear there is still quite a bunch roaming around. You can bet I don’t go wandering around this jungle.” Army Air Forces navigator, Harry A. Melkonian, class of 1940, recounts his bombing missions from the Marianas to Japan in this April 1945 letter.

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In a March 27, 1944 letter, AAF Lt. John C. Sullivan matter-of-factly reported that he was now in the Pacific and since joining “the squadron I’ve been on forty bombing missions. Some were dull and some had a little life & kick to them.”

In a three-page March 1944 letter, AAF Lt. John C. “Sully” Sullivan, class of 1941, reported matterof-factly that he was now in the Pacific and since joining “the squadron I’ve been on forty bombing missions.”

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From what he described as a “pin head, somewhere in the Pacific,” Captain Robert Marshall, Jr., a pilot with the Marine Corps, emphasized in an April 16, 1943 letter that “we have a long working day & are on call twenty-four hours a day.

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Page three of March 1944 letter from AAF Lt. John C. “Sully” Sullivan.

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When we do have a few hours to ourselves we can play tennis, basketball, handball, swim, fish, sail in the lagoon or go shell hunting. Believe it or not shell hunting is the most popular and I guess you might say the most dangerous, for coral is the worst thing I ever ran up against for cutting a person. Shells known as ‘Cat Eyes’ are obtained be-yond the reef which surrounds the island & it is necessary to swim under the breakers through the coral to reach comparatively calm water beyond where the water will be anywhere from ten to fifty feet & deeper. The shells are found clinging to coral shelves in this water and with the aid of underwater glasses you look out at fish of all colors & shapes including sharks which don’t exactly make one feel too much at home. It is something you read & dream about but very seldom think you will try. Sharks come within easy reach at times & they are not to be trusted so we usually make a cautious exit from their vicinity.” In a December 16, 1943 letter, Marshall emphasized, “Out here it’s business as usual with strikes every day, to date I’ve been on nine strikes or raids as some people call them & several flights aiding ground troops. Don’t forget for a minute that these ground troops are really going through hell up against Japs who are experts in really digging in & making themselves invis-ible. As far as dive bombing goes it’s still as much fun & exciting as it ever was only now we have a new added attraction & that’s the stuff thrown up to greet us AA [anti-aircraft] & there is plenty of it. You go into your dive with your two trusties blazing away right into your target all the way from fifteen to twenty thousand feet & straight down then drop your bombs & get out [fast] & I do mean fast unless you want a tail full of arrows & they can really burn. All this sounds wonderful nothing to it but don’t forget you’ve got a target to hit that is about twenty to forty feet across such as a gun position. Sometimes you’re on your target & sometimes you’re not but you do your damndest for it’s either you or him. . . . No you don’t feel too good at times in fact you’re scared stiff but it all happens so fast you don’t have time to sit around & worry about it.” Marshall, who participated in fifty aerial missions in the Pacific during World War II was probably the highest decorated Bryant alum, receiving two Distinguished Flying Crosses and eight air medals.70 Writing from “Somewhere in North Africa,” on January 29, 1944, Air Transport Command pilot James F. McCabe also recognized the importance of his job of “flying vital war materials and passengers for the Air Transport Command to the Near East as well as through Africa.” He continued, “I am now pilot of a C-47, a twin engine cargo plane made by Douglas Aircraft. With luck I expect to get an assignment on the new C-54 which is a four engine cargo plane which grosses around 60,000 lbs.”71

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This two-page letter on “hula girl” stationery was written by Marine Corps Captain Robert W. Marshall, Jr., probably Bryant’s most decorated alumnus. As a Marine Corps pilot, Captain Marshall received two Distinguished Flying Crosses and eight air medals.

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In a February 16, 1943 letter, Yeoman S. Benjamin Spinella, stationed on the USS Weehawken, one of the Navy’s largest minelayers, also emphasized the difficulty of his situation when he reported that “duty aboard this type of ship is very dangerous, especially when one considers the fact that we carry tons of TNT. One hit by an enemy ship on almost any part of our ship will blow us to bits.” He continued, “I was in Africa, at Casablanca, where I saw service and action. We mined the coast of certain places, places which I cannot mention. Also was in the Mediterranean, Gibraltar and other places. Casablanca, I would say, is a fair city. It has some beautiful buildings and parks. The fig, orange, and tangerine trees add This two-page letter, dated February 16, 1943, was written by Yeoman S. Benjamin Spinella, class of 1936. Spinella was stationed on the U.S.S. Weehawken, one of the Navy’s largest minelayers.

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greatly to the beauty of this place. Besides the French; Italians and Spanish live here. There are many tribes of Arabs and Moslems here. They just loiter on the streets in groups selling their wares. They are very dangerous at times and have to be dealt with. We had air-raids here, one of which occurred on or about Christmas Eve. This one lasted about five hours. The flashes of the guns and the wakes of the tracers in the sky lit up the night like a Christmas tree.” In his next letter, written on November 6, 1943, Spinella reported that “we were on our way to Salerno for the invasion of Italy, when we heard, by radio, of the Italian capitulation [on September 8, 1943]. It was a grand sight to see the Italian Fleet surrender to the Allies.”72

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Bryant Casualties and the Atrocities of War By 1944, as U.S. casualties mounted, letter writers acknowledged that while they continued to appreciate hearing from the Bryant Service Club, they were also saddened to learn of classmates who had been killed or were missing in action, taken as prisoner of war, or wounded. In a December 26, 1944 letter, Pvt. Paul R. Cone, stationed with the Army in Tacoma, Washington, wrote, “It was good to hear from you and to learn some of the news even though it was saddening to learn of the death of Capt. Donald Walker. . . . I knew him well and surely was sorry to learn of his death. War is truly, HELL, not so much to those of us who have been fortunate enough to remain in this country and have our wives with us, but certainly for those who were forced to spend Christmas in the front lines. Thank you for remembering us fellows who are trying to serve our country in this hour of need and pray that this war will soon end so that not only can we come back but that also more of us may come back.” Gerard L. Duhamel, a cadet in the V-12 Navy College Training Program at Dartmouth College, expressed similar sentiments in an April 9, 1944 letter when he wrote, “Glad to get some news about former classmates even though it may not be good news.”73 In March and October 1946, The Bryant College Alumni Bulletin reported that eleven Bryant alumni were killed during World War II.74 Subsequently, in April 1962, the Bryant College Alumni Bulletin reported the death of Lt. Donald S. Schofield, who completed six courses at Bryant in 1938 and graduated as a flight office in the AAF in 1942. He served in North Africa and was credited with 20 combat missions before his death in 1944. Posthumously, he was awarded the Purple Heart and four Air Medal clusters. On May 29, 1962, Rhode Island Governor John Notte, Jr. named the newly completed National Guard Armory in Cranston after Lt. Schofield.75 Undoubtedly, other Bryant alumni were killed in action who have not been identified. During the closing months of the war, Bryant alumni occasionally commented on the horrors and atrocities of the war. In an April 1, 1945 letter, Navy Lt. Harry I. Golub, stationed aboard the USS Sakatonchee, related a story, based on the Palawan Massacre when nearly 150 American POWs, held on Palawan Island in the Philippines, were slaughtered. When an American convoy was spotted on December 14, 1944, the Japanese assumed the Americans intended to invade the island. On December 15, the Palawan guards began screaming that enemy planes were coming. The 150 American POWs were then ordered to crawl into covered trenches where they were set afire by the Japanese and killed. Only eleven men escaped the slaughter. However, the anticipated American invasion of Palawan did not take place until February 28, 1945. The Sakatonchee, a gasoline tanker, assigned the dangerous task of transporting gasoline to the fleet and to remote Navy stations, participated in the

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In a letter dated December 26, 1944, Paul Cone, class of 1936 valedictorian, was saddened to hear about the war death of his classmate, Captain Donald Walker, also from the class of 1936.

February 28 Palawan invasion. In the following account, Lt. Golub related the story of the Palawan Massacre. He wrote, “A story that will make your blood boil. I hope it does, for maybe then some more of you will realize what type of an enemy we are fighting out here in the Southwest Pacific. (If it’s a girl that’s reading this, maybe you better put this letter down now). On this invasion we were on—the Japs were taken completely by surprise and had to move out in a hurry. The hills they had to hide in were no place to take the 250 American prisoners that were being held here. I believe some of those Americans were survivors of Bataan. The Japs did the natural thing—considering their cracked minds—and forced all the prisoners into a foxhole (only large enough for 10 men ordinarily), filled the place with gasoline, and set it afire. No. That is not propaganda, for I saw the charred remains myself the day after

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Harry Golub, class of 1940, recounts the horrors of war in this April 1945 letter.

it happened, and it was [not] child’s play to see what had happened.” On the other side of the world, Sgt. Nicholas C. Coracci, assigned to the Headquarters of the Third U.S. Army, wrote on December 9, 1944, the eve of the Battle of the Bulge, that he hoped the war would soon be over: “We all trust that

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Hitler’s paranoia will result in his downfall. It cannot take place any too soon for most of us. I make occasional trips to the front and have observed our artillery and air force at work. The bombardment of shells and aerial bombs is terrific and I do not understand how Jerry and his pals withstand it. This fracas cannot last much longer. I wish I had the time to relate some of my experiences, but unfortunately (perhaps fortunately for you) I do not.”76 A few weeks later, in a long letter written on January 2, 1945, Coracci recounted a trip to the war-devastated village of Metz in northeast France. He reported, “Metz is nearly as desolate as many of the villages through which we have passed. It had a large German population and I suspect most of them were evacuated. There are a few people left; in fact, quite a few in some portions of the city. On the whole, though, the city is desolate—almost foreboding. We drive down the main streets only. Many of the side streets are strewn with broken glass and fallen masonry. Here again, we find hardly a house missed by the effects of small arm fire.” He continued, “There is a dead Heinie [derogatory term for German soldier] over there, but we do not get too close to him as he may be booby trapped. Jerry has a way of doing things like that. Looks as though the rats had been chewing on his leg. Guess he has been there a day or two. After you have seen some of the cruel things they have done, you do not mind seeing them dead. In fact, you rather enjoy it. They are much better off and so is everyone else. He would have killed one of our boys if they had not gotten him first."77 Cpl. Coracci’s last letter to the Bryant Service Club was a long mimeographed missive written on May 9, 1945, the day after V-E Day, which detailed a journey across defeated Germany that ended at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, one of the oldest and largest of German concentration camps, located in east-central Germany about five miles northwest of Weimar.78 More than 250,000 inmates were incarcerated at Buchenwald and at least 56,000 were murdered before it was liberated

Nicholas Coracci, class of 1942.

by the U.S. Army in early April. Cpl. Coracci wrote, “Yes, our journey’s end brought us to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. We over here had read and heard tales of the events which took place at such a camp, but in order to have an unrestricted conception of the atrocities which took place you really must visit one of these ‘centers’ in order to possess the full realization of how these people thought and worked. They are beasts and nothing more.” He continued, “The stench was terrific. I cannot ever remember seeing such a filthy place. The prisoners were walking about— that is, those who were strong enough to walk. . . . skeletons, with flesh tightly pulled over their bones. They were horrible sights, but through no fault of their own. Most of them were simple-minded individuals now—their mouths open wide and their eyes fixed in a stare. . . . Human feces was all over the place—in their beds (shelves), on the floor, and in the area outside the building. These poor people were not to blame;

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A detailed letter from Nicholas Coracci, describing his journey through war-torn Germany in May 1945, is reproduced on the next eight pages.


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there were no facilities available. How any human being could survive in such a filthy environment is difficult to understand. Some of these men will live because of the care given them by our medics; not because of the treatment they received in the hands of the Germans. Others are too far gone and will pass on to their Maker. I finally got outside into the fresh air if you can call it that with this nauseating stench permeating it. I was not sick, but I shall never be able to explain why I was not.”

Planning for the Postwar World Even in the face of unimaginable wartime tragedies, at least some Bryant alumni saw the coming of better days. For example, Sgt. Russell W. Brown, writing from “Somewhere in Germany” on April 8, 1945, expressed the hopes of many when he Coast Guardsman Curtis Dickenman, class of 1941, writes of his recent engagement to a girl with the surname “Bryant.”

stated, “Spring is here and we are enjoying some good sunny weather which makes all the difference in the world to a Fighter Group. We do love good clear, sunny days, then ‘ol Adolph really knows we’re around. The war news sounds swell doesn’t it? The way the boys are pushing into Germany, anything can happen now. All we can do is keep on plugging and count off each day as one day nearer VE day.”79 Other Bryant letter writers had the courage to write of falling in love, getting married, and having children. Despite an almost continuous discussion in the popular and scholarly press about the pros and cons of wartime marriages, Bryant alumni did not shy away from love and marriage.80 For example, Coast Guardsman Curtis Dickenman, serving along the eastern seaboard of the United States, wrote on July 2, 1943 that “I know you are interested in news from Alumni, so I would like to inform you . . . that I have been engaged to Miss Alice J. Bryant, of 76 Depot Street, East Wareham Massachusetts. (Bryant again—I guess I can’t get away from that name.)” On October 14, 1944, S/Sgt. Paul B. Plumb happily reported from Camp Gordon, Georgia that “not long ago, September 23d to be exact, I lost my bachelor standing and became married to Shirley Brown of Worcester and Middleboro, Mass. The knot was tied in Worcester. She’s Pembroke, BA ’40 and Boston University, MA ’42. In spite of housing problems, rationing, and what-have-you,

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we’re maintaining a very happy little love-nest ‘way down here in Augusta, Ga.”81 S/Sgt. Louis Martelle, stationed at Grenier Field, in Manchester, New Hampshire, made a similar announcement on June 12, 1943: “Maybe you folks know, maybe not, but “old sarge” got himself married on the first of May. Yes, a Bryant girl —Mary B. Ronne, of Pawtucket, R.I. It was one of those fussy weddings that you read about, and swear that you never will get yourself mixed up in. However, it was a load of fun when it was all over with, and will bring very pleasant memories of my squadron, and their thoughtfulness in later years.” In his next letter, written on S/Sgt. Louis Martelle, class of 1939, lets the BSC know that he has married a “Bryant girl.”

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February 29, 1944 from England, Martelle included the surprise announcement that “the last time I wrote you, from N.H., I was very snug in `off the post’ quarters, living with my ever loving wife. But this time I feel that I am at least much closer to the war, if not actually in it. By the time you receive this letter, I shall be a proud In this December 1944 letter, Charles A. Munroe, class of 1938, writes about the birth of his son and asks the BSC to share this news with his classmates.

poppa, for our first is due the 12th of March."

82

On December 5, 1944, Storekeeper Charles A. Munroe, stationed at Fort Lafayette, New York, announced “that I am the proud father of a 7 lb. 41/2 oz. boy, born at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Brooklyn, New York, 19 November 1944. Mother and Son, who will be named Charles Almy Munroe II, are doing fine and will return

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to Providence, R.I., soon.� Indeed, the letters written to the Bryant Service Club are replete with examples of joyous war marriages and babies. Unfortunately, though, not all wartime marriages ended happily. For example, Private Clinton A. Place, Bryant class of 1943, was killed during action on the Anzio front in the late spring of 1944 and never lived to see his daughter, Marilyn, who was born while he was overseas.83 Interspersed throughout the many letters that Bryant alumni sent to the BSC were a variety of holiday greeting cards and messages from around the world.

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Holiday greetings and thanks from Bryant alumni stationed around the world.


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Some examples of the numerous holiday greetings and messages received by the Bryant Service Club.

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Record Number of Wartime Veterans Enroll at Bryant Bryant alumni also enthusiastically wrote of looking forward to returning to Bryant to complete their educations when hostilities finally ended. S/Sgt John L. Champlin, stationed in New Orleans, wrote on December 30, 1942 that “I am seriously considering Bryant College as the school in which I will resume my studies.”84 Pvt. Anthony Merolo, writing from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, remarked on June 21, 1943, “I am in the Armored Force, and I like it very much, but I miss Bryant College even more. I someday hope to return to Bryant and complete my education.”85 Also writing from Ft. Knox, Pvt. Raymond E. Piette noted in a July 15, 1943: “I’m very happy here in the Armored Force but naturally I myself as every other fellow misses civilian life and as for myself, Bryant College. I only hope to return someday and complete my education, but until then we have a war to win. As everyone knows I Pvt. Raymond E. Piette, originally a member of the class of 1943, had to put his education on hold during the war and did not receive his degree until 1947. In this June 15, 1942 letter he writes, “I only hope to return someday and complete my education, but until then we have a war to win.”

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also miss a certain girl very much but she will also have to wait until this is all over.” On July 4, 1943, Herman A. Kohlman, Jr., a pre-aviation cadet at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri, echoed these sentiments when he wrote, “I certainly miss Bryant and I am definitely planning to return when the war is over and finish the course.”86 One last example comes from Pvt. Ronnie Wilbur, stationed at Camp Stewart, Georgia, who on April 17, 1944 expressed the sentiments of many former Bryant students when he wrote, “I am looking forward to the day when I shall return to Bryant as a student, for we all realize what an education means in times such as these and those to come.” In this April 17, 1944 letter, Pvt. Ronnie Wilbur writes, “I am looking forward to the day when I shall return to Bryant as a student, for we all realize what an education means in times such as these and those to come.”

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Bryant graduates were equally enthusiastic about returning to visit their alma mater once the war had been won. Writing on May 23, 1943, Private Alfred W. Cole, in training at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky, expressed the hope that “when this war is won maybe the class of ’41 can have a reunion to make up for all we’ve missed.”87 Likewise, Lt. Theron S. “Ted” Johnson, writing from Fort Rodman, Massachusetts on April 22, 1944, remarked: “I was very sorry to hear about the boys who have been killed, or are prisoners of war, but very glad to learn of the boys who have done their bit and have returned to this country once again. Your letters always In an April 22, 1944 letter, Lt. Theron S. Johnson, class of 1940, writes, “It sure will be a wonderful day when all this is over and we can all meet again at a Bryant reunion.”

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bring back memories of my college days, and contain information about my friends. It sure will be a wonderful day when all this is over and we can all meet again at a Bryant reunion.” Anthony Lancellotti, class of 1941, stationed with the AAF in Kearns, Utah, echoed these same feelings when he wrote on December 22, 1942, “I’m sure it goes without saying that your organization has brought to all us fellows in the Service many happy and everlasting memories of Bryant. I recollect the great days I spent at Bryant and the wonderful friendships that were established, which I long to renew.”88 Perhaps S/Sgt. Louis Bastone, writing from Tampa, Florida on July 13, 1943, said it best when he remarked: “Everything is well with me as could be expected and I sincerely know that history will be made when we will all be back for that grand reunion.” In a July 13, 1943 letter, S/ Sgt. Louis Bastone, class of 1939, writes, “I sincerely know that history will be made when we will all be back for that grand reunion.”

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As predicted, following the end of hostilities, returning World War II veterans flocked to Bryant and to other college campuses to begin or resume their educations. In anticipation of the needs of millions of returning veterans, Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the G.I. Bill, in June 1944. This law provided a wide range of benefits to returning veterans, including low-cost mortgage loans, low-interest loans to start businesses and farms, and financial support for vocational and higher education. An estimated 2,232,000 veterans attended college as a result of the G.I. Bill.89 This 1945 Bryant pamphlet, “Calling all GI’s,” informed veterans of “the value of college training for business leadership.”

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At Bryant, out of a 1947 graduating class of 277, there were 109 World War II veterans, including thirteen women. In other words, veterans made up 39.3 percent of the class of 1947.90 With the continued influx of World War II veterans, the enrollment at Bryant skyrocketed, reaching a peak of 3,000 students in 1949 in facilities that normally served about 1,000 students. In an effort to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of students, the college developed what Dean Nelson J. Gulski described as a “warm seat system” in which “we’d bring one group in at half past seven in the morning and run them four classes in a row, send them to lunch and bring in another class for one period, send them to lunch, bring the first group back for an hour and then send them home and bring the second group back in again— we’d end up about four o’clock.”91 To ensure that the special needs of returning veterans were addressed, Bryant established a new position of Dean of Veterans in 1946. The first person to hold this position was Elmer C. Wilbur, a 1917 graduate of Bryant and 1940 graduate of Boston University. He served as the Dean of Secretarial Training at Bryant from 1920–1926 and, from 1936–1946, he was head of the commercial department at Providence’s Central High School. The January 1947 Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, described Wilbur as the “ideal choice for his new post. . . . He has a genial personality, a sympathetic understanding of young men and women, and has been active in many wartime activities, all of which make him particularly well adapted for his new work of counseling and guiding the thousands of ex-service men and women who come to Bryant.”92 In addition, Bryant developed a “refresher program” to provide “an intensive review of Arithmetic, English, and Bookkeeping” for returning veterans who were unprepared for collegiate-level classes. For example, Mary Walsh, a 1944 graduate of Bryant’s Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Mary Frances Walsh, class of 1944 and former member of the BSC, was hired by Bryant to teach remedial English to returning veterans.

Education, was hired to teach remedial English to returning Bryant veterans. Walsh recalled that it “was especially challenging” to teach the veterans as they represented “varying ages, educational levels, and wartime experiences.” But, Walsh also noted that “these differences allowed the veterans to add a new dimension of maturity and practical experience to the classroom and the campus community.”93 Other Bryant instructors agreed, remarking that they “enjoyed teaching the veterans and felt the older students brought business experience and maturity to the classroom.” In addition, “they were eager to do well in college, and they were serious students.”94

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As for “the grand reunion,” that so many Bryant veterans had contemplated, it would be more than two years after World War II ended in August 1945 before the long-anticipated reunion finally occurred on November 1, 1947. The January Bryant’s first reunion after the war was held on the top floor of the Sheraton Biltmore Hotel, Providence, RI on November 1, 1947.

1948 Bryant College Alumni Bulletin reported: “From all corners of the country on November 1, came Bryant graduates to live again their old college days, to meet old classmates and teachers, hear what everybody has been doing since graduation, and see what has been going on at their College. It was the first Reunion since before the war, and everybody who could possibly make it was there.”95

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Highlights of the reunion included renewing friendships, visiting classrooms and dormitories, the official dedication of the newly constructed Memorial Hall, located on Charles Field Street, that had been built in honor of Bryant men and women who served in World War I and World War II, and the eloquent banquet and dance held on the top floor of the Sheraton Biltmore in downtown Providence, that did not break up until after midnight.

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The Bryant Service Club Is Discontinued At the end of the Second World War, the Bryant Service Club, “after four years of splendid achievement,” was discontinued. Drawing upon excellent organizational and business skills as well as ingenuity and enterprise, the BSC had united the student body as never before by sending thousands of morale-boosting letters and packages to more than 500 alumni stationed around the world. As the March 1946 issue of the Bryant College Alumni Bulletin aptly put it: “If the Club brought a few moments of Memorial Hall was constructed in 1946 to honor Bryant students and alumni who lost their lives in World War I and World War II.

pleasure to any Bryant alumnus or alumna in camp or on the battlefront, it served its purpose, and those students who worked and gave that the Club might serve may always have the feeling of pride in a job well done.” Judging from the effusive praise contained in the 1300 letters of gratitude received by the Bryant Service Club, its accomplishments far exceeded its expectations.

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From the March 1946 Bryant College Alumni Bulletin.

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A CLOSER LOOK

A Closer Look Following the discovery of the 1300 letters that Bryant alumni wrote to the Bryant Service Club during World War II, eight students under the direction of Professor Judy Barrett Litoff, produced six scholarly papers that provided indepth examinations of the wartime experiences of seven Bryant alumni who were active participants in the Bryant Service Club. Five of the papers were presented at the 2009 National Technology and Social Science Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 5–7, 2009 and subsequently published in the 2009 National Social Science Proceedings. What follows are the six papers produced by these students: “I Credit the Girls with Keeping the College Going!”: Bryant Women in World War II. By Kelly Donahue, ’09 http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/walshm_war/1/ “Johnny Came to College to get an Education: He Found Romance Anyway”: The Unconventional Wartime Story of John and Marie Teigue Renza By Julien Dumont, `12, and Katie Gorham, ’10 http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/renza_war/11/ “Setting the World on Fire”: The World War II Story of Rudolph A. Bigda By Kurt Spear, ’10 http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/sr_2010/3/ The Best He Could, As Fast as He Could: The World War II Experiences of Wesley Crawley By Willard Stanley, ’09 http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/sr_2009/3/ Yours for Victory: The Wartime Story of Howard Peach By Jillian Emma, ’09 and Kurt Spear, ’10 http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/peach_war/5/ Bryant Connections: Thomas Duxbury and George Sutcliff By Meghan Barry, ’09 and Katelyn Morse, ’09 http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/sutcliffe_war/1/

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NOTES

Notes Chapter 1 - Prelude: Andrew Mamedoff, Bryant Class of 1932 1

Alex Kershaw, “The Few Among the Few,” World War II

(November/December 2010), 1. 2

Ibid.

3

Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 2 (July 1941), 4.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/5/ Both the July 1941 and October 1941 Bryant College Alumni Bulletin incorrectly state that Mamedoff was from Putnam, Connecticut. For detailed information on Andrew Mamedoff, see Alex Kershaw, The Few: The American “Knights of Air” Who Risked Everything to Save Britain in the Summer of 1940 (Philadelphia: Da Capo Press, 2006). See also the five-part feature, Pilot Officer Gene Tobin, Eagle Squadron, R.A.F., as told to Robert Low, “Yankee Eagle Over London,” Liberty Magazine, Parts 1–5, (March 29, April 5, April 12, April 19, April 26, 1941). 4

Kenneth C. Kan, First in the Air: The Eagle Squadrons of World

War II (Washington, DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2007), 4–5. 5

Roger Launius, “Remembering the Eagle Squadrons,” 3.

http://launiusr.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/remembering-the-eagle-squadrons/ (accessed March 17, 2012). 6

Kan, First in the Air, 6, 25.

7

Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 1 (October 1941), 3.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/4/

Chapter 2 - The Impact of World War II on Bryant College 1

The Ledger, 1942, Bryant College, 21.

2

Valerie Quinney, Bryant College: The First 125 Years

(Smithfield, Rhode Island: Bryant College, 1988), 9–14, 38–39. http://library. bryant.edu/TheFirst125YearsOnline 3

Rudolph “Rudy” A. Bigda, “Future Alumni,” July 27, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bigda_war/2/ 4

“Since Our Last Issue,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4,

No. 1 (March 1946): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/1 5

Women as Well as Men are Needed for the Effort (Bryant

College, [1943]). 6

The Accelerated Wartime Accountancy and Finance Program

and The Army-Navy Officer Training Course (Bryant College, [1943]).

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NOTES

7

The Army-Navy Office Training Course,” 1943; “The One-

Year Accountancy Program: A Wartime Program Planned Especially for Women,” 1942.

8

“Wartime Business Courses in Summer School for College Men

and Women,” Bryant College brochure, 1943. 9

Choosing an Occupation: Wartime 1944, Bryant College.

10

Quoted in I. L. Kandel, The Impact of War Upon American

Education (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948), 124. 11

V. R. Cardozier, Colleges and Universities in World War II

(Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993), 116. 12

These statistics were determined by analyzing the total number

of graduating seniors published in the Commencement Programs during the years 1939–1945. 13

Cardozier, Colleges and Universities in World War II, 116.

14

These statistics were determined by analyzing the total number

of graduating seniors published in the Commencement Programs for 1944 and 1945. 15

“Commencement Exercises Program, August 6, 1943” (1943).

Bryant University Commencements, Paper 27. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/ library_commencements/27 16

Commencement Address Delivered by Bryant President Henry

L. Jacobs: “Your Service to Mankind” (1944). Bryant University Commencements, Paper 65. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/library_commencements/65 17

Cardozier, Colleges and Universities in World War II, 25.

18

Cardozier, Colleges and Universities in World War II, 54.

19

Cardozier, Colleges and Universities in World War II, 83.

20

Cardozier, Colleges and Universities in World War II, 99, 135.

21

Quoted in Kelly Donahue, “‘I Credit the Girls with Keeping the

College Going’: Bryant Women in World War II,” Paper for HIS 490, Spring 2009, 3. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/hines_war/ 22

This information was garnered from The Ledger, 1943, 1944,

1945, Bryant College. 23

“Since Our Last Issue,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4,

No. 1 (March 1946): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/1 24

The exact number of Bryant students and alumni who served in

the military during World War II is unknown. However, based on President’s Jacobs remarks at the 1944 Commencement when he stated that “over four hundred of our present student body and hundreds of our alumni have answered their Country’s Call,” it is reasonable to assume that over 500 Bryant students and alumni served in the military. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/audio/1

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NOTES

25

“On Leave of Absence,” The Ledger, 1944, Bryant College.

26

“Madame Chiang Kai-shek Honorary Degree Citation” (1942).

Bryant University Commencements, Paper 86. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/ library_commencements/86 27

Quoted in Laura Tyson Li, Madame Chiang Kai-shek: China’s

Eternal First Lady (New York: Grove Press, 2006), 204. 28

Commencement 1943 Address Delivered by Carl R.

Woodward: “Business Citizenship in the Post-War World” (1943). Bryant University Commencements, Paper 70. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/library_ commencements/70 29

Commencement Luncheon 1944 Speech Delivered by Ruth

Leach [audio] (1944). Bryant University Audio & Video Collection, Paper 17. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/audio/17 30

Commencement 1945 Address Delivered by Thomas J. Watson:

“Education and World Peace” (1945). Bryant University Commencements, Paper 60. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/library_commencements/60 31

This information was included in “Honorary Degree

Recipients Commencement Luncheon - Transcription” (1945). Bryant University Commencements, Paper 61. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/library_ commencements/61/

Chapter 3 - The Bryant College Service Club 1

The Ledger, 1942, Bryant College, 97–99; “The Bryant Service

Club,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 1 (March 1946): 3. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/1/ 2

“Since Our Last Issue,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4,

No. 1 (March 1946): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/1 3

The Ledger, 1942, Bryant College, 97.

4

Winston A. Harris, “Dear Miss Blaney,” May 14, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/harrisw_war/1/ 5

“Leaving Bryant,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 4

(July 1949): 2. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/22/ 6

Milton J. Lapin, “My dear Miss Blaney,” January 26, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/lapin_war/3/ 7

The Ledger, 1945, Bryant College, 57.

8

“Since Our Last Issue,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4,

No. 1 (March 1946): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/1/ 9

Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith, We’re In This War

Too: World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform (New York: Oxford

Page 157


NOTES

University Press), 12. 10

Litoff and Smith, We’re In This War, Too, 29.

11

Litoff and Smith, We’re In This War, Too, 29.

12

Ivez E. Rievman, Dear Miss Blaney,” January 5, 1945.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/rievman_war/1/ 13

Donald Fifield, “Gentlemen,” January 6, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/fifield_w /1/ 14

Marshall M. Fowler, “Dear Fellow Alumnae,” December 8,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/fowlerm_war/3/ 15

Allen R. Millett, Semper Fidelis: The History of the United

States Marine Corps (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1980), 374. 16

Pat Meid, Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in World War II

(Washington, DC: Historical Branch, U.S. Marine Corps, 1968), 64. 17

Robert V. Piemonte and Cindy Gurney, eds., Highlights in the

History of the Army Nurse Corps (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1987), 14–18. Mattie E. Treadwell, United States Army in World War II, Special Studies, The Women’s Army Corps (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1954). 360–61, 380, 387–89. Litoff and Smith, We’re In This War, Too, 177– 78. 18

Frank Graham, Jr., Margaret Chase Smith: Woman of Courage

(New York: The John Day Company, 1964), 41. 19

John Monks, Jr., A Ribbon and a Star: The Third Marines at

Bougainville (Washington, DC: Zenger Publishing Company, 1945, reprint 1979), 129. Ernie Pyle, Here Is Your War (New York: Penguin Books, 1945), 142. 20

Oliver C. Edwards, Jr., [Dear Bryant Service Club], January 18,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/edwards_war/1/ 21

William P. Grace, “Gentlemen,” February 1, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/grace_war/1/ 22

Leonard M. Levin, “Dear Members of the Bryant Service Club,”

April 22, 1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/levin_war/6/ 23

Donald J. Mullen, “Dear Members,” June 23, 1945.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/mullen_d_war/1/ 24

William E. Simms, Dear Sir,” August 5, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/simms_war/1/ 25

Angelo M. Cerce, “Dear Members,” December 30, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/cerce_war/1/ Sadly, Angelo M. Cerce died on February 7, 2012 at the age of 91. Angelo’s son, Jerry Cerce, graduated from Bryant in 1969. Jerry Cerce served on the Bryant Board of Trustees from 1991–2001 and again from 2008 to the present. He and his wife, Linda, provided the funding to

Page 158


NOTES

Bryant University for the Bello Center Grand Hall Media Wall in 2002. 26

Edward J. Healey to “Dear Miss Blaney,” August 3, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/healey_war/2/ 27

The standard source on V-Mail is George Rayner Thompson,

Dixie R. Harris, Pauline M. Oakes, and Dulany Terrett, The Signal Corps: The Test (Washington, DC: Department of Army, 1957), 407–408. See also Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith, “` Will He Get My Letter?’: Popular Portrayals of Mail and Morale during World War II,” Journal of Popular Culture, 23 (Spring 1990): 21–43 28

Annual Report of the Postmaster General for Fiscal Year Ended

June 30, 1944 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1945), 29

The Annual Reports of the Postmaster General, 1940–1946

provide detailed statistical information on the enormous increase in the volume of mail during World War II. 30

NPG Facts & Figures, Historical U.S. Population Growth by

Year, 1900–1998. See http://www.npg.org/facts/us_historical_pops.htm 31

Rudolph “Rudy” A. Bigda, “Bryant Service Club,” June 23,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bigda_war/5/ 32

William C. Lentz, “Gentlemen,” August 28, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/lentz_war/2/ 33

The papers of Raymond L. Gaillaguet are part of the Bryant

College Goes to War Archive. Gaillaguet lived in Rumford, Rhode Island for most of his adult life and died on June 22, 2011. He was the husband of Denise Saillat Gaillaguet and the owner of “Emile’s of Paris,” a hair salon in Wayland Square, Providence, Rhode Island. The Gaillaguets had no children. 34

Richard E. Fogwell, “Dear Friends,” October 20, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/fogwell_war/5/ 35

Kirke B. Everson, Jr., “Dear Bryant Co-Ed,” July 25, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/everson_war/1/ 36

Paul Filipowich, Jr., “Dear Members of B.S.C.,” April 4, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/filipowich_wa /3/ 37

C. Leonard Crawley, “Gentlemen,” December 26, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/crawley_l_war/2/ 38

Eugene K. Schmidt, “Dear B.S.C.,” August 2, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/schmidt_war/5/ 39

Leger R. Morrison, “Dear Miss Blaney,” May 30, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/morrison_war/2/ 40

James J. LaRussa, “Dear Bryant Service Club,” June 2, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/larussa_war/5/ James J. LaRussa,

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NOTES

“Dear Bryant Service Club Members,” January 15, 1945. http://digitalcommons. bryant.edu/larussa_war/6/ 41

Because this is a work of history, I have chosen to retain the

historical Romanization of Chinese names and places. In addition, I have chosen to use World War II terminology when referring to place names such as Burma, Bombay, and Calcutta. 42

Theodore H. White & Annalee Jacoby, Thunder Out of China

(New York: W. Sloane Associates, 1946), 145. 43

Wesley M. Bagby, The Eagle-Dragon Alliance: America’s

Relations with China in World War II (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1992), 49. 44

Robert Bernstein, “Dear Bryant,” April 12, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bernstein_war/4/ 45

Robert Bernstein, “Dear Bryant,” September 13, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bernstein_war/5/ 46

“Wog” was used as a disparaging term for a person of color in

northern Africa or western or southern Asia. 47

Arthur F. Bowler, Jr., “Dear Friends at Bryant,” February 2,

1945. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bowler_war/5/ 48

Eugene D. Bromberg, “Hello Bryant Service Club,” February 10,

1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bromberg_war/1/ 49

Carl W. Lindquist, “Hello Folks,” April 8, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/lindquist_war/6/ 50

Carl W. Lindquist, “Dear Bryant Service Club,” December 24,

1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/lindquist_war/9/ 51

On this topic, see Robert D. Burgener, “Tales of the Persian

Corridor: A Documentary Video” (Rockville, Maryland: International Connections, Inc., 1997). 52

Willard Stanley, “The Best He Could, as Fast as He Could:

The World War II Experiences of Wesley Crawley, Bryant College, ’36.” For the complete version of this paper, see http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/ crawley_w_c_ war/6/ 53

Gardiner W. Congdon, “Gentlemen,” February 3, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/congdon_war/4/ 54

Gardiner W. Congdon, “Dear Friends,” November 25, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/congdon_war/6/ 55

Samuel Kaplan, “Hello Everybody,” May 5, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/kaplan_war/7/ 56

Louis C. Martelle, “Hello there Bryant Service Club,” February

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NOTES

29, 1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/martelle_war/5/ 57

Meyer Ostrovsky, “Dear Folks,” July 31, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/ostrovsky_war/2/ 58

Charles J. Memmott, Jr., “Dear Friends,” December 24, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/memmott_war/7/ 59

Samuel A. Stouffe , et al., The American Soldier, vol. 1,

Adjustment During Army Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949), 165 and vol. 2, Combat and Its Aftermath, 61–62. 60

Alfred H. Murphy, “Dear Alma Mater,” January 23, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/murphy_war/2/ 61

Charles E. Tumidajski, “Dear Chairman,” July 20, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/tumidajski_war/1/ 62.

Charles E. Tumidajski, “Dear Members of the Bryant Service

Club.” June 22, 1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/tumidajski_war/6/ 63

Albert F. Wiesner, Jr., “Dear Chairman,” June 21, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/wiesner_war/7/ 64

Albert F. Wiesner, Jr., “Bryant Service Club,” February 18, 1945.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/wiesner_war/6/ 65

Wesley C. Crawley, “Greetings from Sunny Sicily,” August 13,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/crawley_w_c_war/2/ 66

The complete story of Wesley C. Crawley is discussed in

Willard Stanley, “The Best He Could, as Fast as He Could: The World War II Experiences of Wesley Crawley, Bryant College, ’36. Research paper prepared for Professor Judy Barrett Litoff, May 2009. See http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/ crawley_w_c_war/6/ 67

John F. Fay and Arthur J. Menard, Jr., “Hello Gang,” April 22,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/fay_war/1/ 68

Louis M. Schablein, Jr., “Dear Members Bryant Service Club,”

May 11, 1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/schablein_war/4/ 69

James J. LaRussa, “Dear Miss Blaney & the Bryant Service

Club,” September 14, 1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/larussa_war/7/ 70

Robert W. Marshall, Jr., “To the Members of the Club,” April 16,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/marshall_war/4/ Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 4: 2. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/22/ 71

James F. McCabe, “Dear Friends,” January 29, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/mccabe_war/1/ 72

S. Benjamin Spinella, “Gentlemen,” November 6, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/spinella_war/2/ 73

Gerard L. Duhamel, “Dear Friends,” April 9, 1944.

Page 161


NOTES

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/duhamel_war/5/ 74

“In Memoriam,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4, No.

1 (March 1946): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/1/ “Bryant College in 1946,” Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 2 (October 1946): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/3/ 75

“National Guard Armory Named for Donald S. Schofield, ’38,”

Bryant College Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 62, No. 4 (April 1962): [5]. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_bulletin/60/ 76

Nicholas C. Coracci, “Dear Members,” December 9, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/coracci_war/3/ 77

Nicholas C. Coracci, “Dear Miss Blaney,” January 2, 1945.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/coracci_war/1/ 78

Coracci apologized for resorting to a “mimeographed letter” but

stated that he owed “so many people letters I could never catch up if I did not resort to this.” 79

Russell W. Brown, “Dear Friends,” April 8, 1945.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/brown_war/5/ 80

Judy Barrett Litoff, et al., Miss You: The World War II Letters of

Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990), 11–12. 81

Paul B. Plumb, “Dear Friends,” October 14, 1944.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/plumb_war/4/ 82

Louis C. Martelle, “Hello there Bryant Service Club,” February

29, 1944. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/martelle_war/5/ 83

Bryant College Goes to War, “Place, Clinton A.”

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/place_war/ 84

John L. Champlin, “Dear Sirs,” December 30, 1942.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/champlin_war/1/ 85

Anthony A. Merolo, “Dear Service Club Members,” June 21,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/merola_war/1/ 86

Herman A. Kohlman, Jr., “To Whom it may concern,” July 4,

1943. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/kohlman_war/1/ 87

Alfred W. Cole, “Hello Bryant,” May 23, 1943.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/cole_war/2/ 88

Anthony Lancellotti, “Dear Bryant Service Club,” December 22,

1942. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/lancellotti_war/1/ 89

Keith Olson, The G.I. Bill, The Veterans, and The Colleges

(Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1974), 6. 90

These statistics were garnered from the August 8, 1947

Page 162


NOTES

Commencement Exercises Program. “Commencement Exercises Program, August 8, 1947” (1947). Bryant University Commencements, Paper 37.

http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/library_commencements/37/ 91

Quinney, Bryant College: The First 125 Years, 43–44.

http://library.bryant.edu/TheFirst125YearsOnline 92

“New Dean of Ex-Service Men and Women,” Bryant College

Alumni Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 3 (January 1947): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/ alumni_bulletin/10/ 93

Quoted in Donahue, “I Credit the Girls with Keeping the College

Going,” 9. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/walshm_war/1/ 94

Quinney, Bryant College: The First 125 Years, 44. http://library.

bryant.edu/TheFirst125YearsOnline 95

“The Bryant Alumni Reunion of 1947,” Bryant College Alumni

Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 2 (January 1948): 1. http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/alumni_ bulletin/13/

Page 163


BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

Page 164


INDEX OF NAMES

Index of Names Included in Bryant Goes to War* A

Page numbers in bold indicate illustrations.

Aaron, S.E. “Eddie”, 56 Adams, Harold E., 38-39, 38

B Banks, Marvin E., 49, 49 Bannan, John M., 61, 62, 141 Barsalou, George A. "Albert", 98-99, 99-100 Bastone, Louis, 100, 100, 145, 145 Bernstein, Robert, 71 Besaw, Virginia, 39 Bigda, Rudolph A. "Rudy", 7, 8, 58, 153 Blaney, Clara “Miss”, 29-30, 29-30 Blaszkow, Anne, 44, 44 Bonn, Herbert Allen, 46-47, 46 Bowler, Jr., Arthur F., 71 Brahmer, Wallace E. "Wally", 31 Bromberg, Eugene D., 71-74, 71, 72-73 Brown, Russell W., 136 Bullock, Jr., Bertram F., 33, 33, 62, 63 Burnham, Jr., Courtland R., 88-89, 89-90

C Caldwell, Eugene, 70, 70 Cerce, Angelo M., 55, 55 Champlin, John L., 142 Clark, Robert T., 78-80, 78-79 Cole, Alfred W., 144 Coleman, William S., 139 Cone, Paul R., 124, 125 Congdon, Gardiner W., 86, 100, 101 Coracci, Nicholas C., 66, 90-91, 91-92, 126-136, 127, 128-135 Corrigan, Cornelius E., 37, 37, 92-93, 93, 139 Crawley, C. Leonard, 64, 65 Crawley, Walter V., 58, 58 *For a complete list of letter writers and their letters go to: http://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/bryant_goes_to_war/

Page 165


INDEX OF NAMES

Page numbers in bold indicate illustrations.

Crawley, Wesley C., 108, 153

D Dickenman, Curtis, 136, 136 Donaldson, Jr., Robert J., 48, 48 Duhamel, Gerard L., 124 Dunn, Thomas J., 67-69, 67-69 Duxbury, Thomas, 153

E Edwards, Jr., Oliver C., 49-50 Ellis, Thomas, 104-105, 104 Endler, Majorie L., 45 Esten, George W., 140 Everson, Jr., Kirke B., 62

F Fay, John F., 112 Fifield, Donald I., 4 Filipowich, Jr. , Paul, 62 Fogarty, Raymond, 47-48, 47, 110, 110 Fogwell, Richard E., 50-51, 50-51, 60 Fowler, Marshall M., 44 French, Jr., Aaron A., 105-106, 105

G Gaillaguet, Raymond L., 59-60, 60 Gifford, Josephine R., 39-42, 39, 40-41 Gillard, Raymond L., 60, 61 Giroux, Melina A., 39 Golub, Harry I., 124-126, 126 Gorman, Jr., John W., 75-78, 76, 77 Grace, William P., 51, 108, 109 Gudavich, John L., 106, 106 Guy, Nathaniel, 57, 57

H Hall, Everett M., 32 Hammond, F. Douglas, 22, 22, 34, 34 Harrington, Leo S., 111-112, 111 Harris, Robert G., 86-88, 88 Harris, Winston A., 30 Healey, Edward J., 55

Page 166


INDEX OF NAMES

Hines, Dorothy F. (O’Connell), 17, 17

Page numbers in bold indicate illustrations.

Hull, John K., 53, 54

J Johnson, Theron S. "Ted", 144-145, 144 K Kaplan, Samuel, 90 Kessell, Ruth M., 42-43, 43 Knight, Irving W., 52-53, 52-53 Kohlman, Jr., Herman A., 143

L Lambert, William A., 22, 22 Lapin, Milton J., 31 LaRussa, James J., 70, 112, 113 Lee, Henry J., 22, 22, 34, 34, 39 Lentz, William C., 58 Levin, Leonard M., 53-54 Lindquist, Carl W., 74-75, 74 Lipschitz, George, 57

M Mamedoff, Andrew "Andy", 2-5, 3-5 Marshall, Jr., Robert W., 117, 119, 120-121 Martelle, Louis C., 91, 137-138, 137 Mathewson, Helen I., 39 Mayo, Phyllis E. (Long), 39 McCabe, James F., 119 McCaughey, Jr., William D., 95-96, 95 Melkonian, Harry A., 114-115, 114-115 Memmott, Jr., Charles J., 96 Menard, Jr., Arthur J., 112 Merolo, Anthony A., 142 Morrison, Leger R., 66-67, 66 Mullen, Donald J., 54 Munroe, Charles A., 138-139, 138 Murphy, Alfred H., 13, 16, 100, 102

O Ostrovsky, Meyer, 91

P Pagliarini, Edward W., 58, 59

Page 167


INDEX OF NAMES

Page numbers in bold indicate illustrations.

Palana, Lawrence J., 47, 48 Peach, Howard I., 33-34, 34, 153 Pearson, Arnold W., 62, 64 Penney, Louise, 33, 33 Piette, Raymond E., 142-143, 142 Place, Clinton A., 139 Plumb, Paul B., 136-137

R Rapa, Joseph T., 96-97, 96 Renza, John S., 94, 94, 107-108, 107, 153 Rievman, Ivez E., 44 Rosen, Herman R., 140

S Schablein, Jr., Louis M., 80-83, 80-83, 112 Schmidt, Eugene K., 64 Schofield, Donald S., 12 Sedgwick, Victor P., 141 Shors, William F., 22-23, 22, 34, 34 Simms, William E., 54-55 Spinella, S. Benjamin, 122-123, 122-123 Stadnicki, Henry W., 102, 102 Strobel, Kenneth M., 141 Sullivan, John C., 116, 116-118 Sutcliffe, Geo ge L., 153 Sweeney, Leonard E., 83-85, 84-85

T Tabor, Samuel B., 86, 87 Tumidajski, Charles E., 102-103

W Walker, Donald E., 124, 125 Walsh, Mary F. (Fournier), 147, 147,153 Wetzler, Andree (Fifield), 4 Whalley, William, 57, 57 White, Edmund A., 139 Wielgus, Charles A., 97, 99 Wiesner, Jr., Albert F., 103-104, 103 Wilbur, Ronnie, 143, 143

Page 168


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

About the Author Judy Barrett Litoff, Professor of History at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, is the author of fourteen books and more than one hundred articles, book chapters, and reviews in American women’s history.

She is the author of two pioneering books on the history of American

midwifery, American Midwives, 1860 to the Present (1978, 1985) and The American Midwife Debate: A Sourcebook on its Modern Origins (1986).

Over the last two decades, Barrett Litoff has focused her research and

writing on American women and the Second World War. Her research has included a nationwide search for women’s correspondence that has resulted in the assembling of an archive of 30,000 wartime letters written by American women called the U.S. Women and World War II Letter Writing Project. These 30,000 letters provide clear and unequivocal evidence of the many important ways that women actively participated in the war effort, and they vividly illustrate women’s growing sense of self and their place in the world. In short, they offer perceptive insights into heretofore unexplored, but fundamental, aspects of the war.

Litoff’s books on World War II include Miss You: The World War II Letters

of Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor (1990, 2013), Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front (1991,1995), Dear Boys: World War II Letters From A Woman Back Home (1991), We’re In This War Too: World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform (1994), Dear Poppa: The World War II Berman Family Letters (1997), American Women in a World at War: Contemporary Accounts From World War II (1997), What Kind of World Do We Want?: American Women Planning for Peace (2000), Fighting Fascism in Europe: The World War II Letters of an American Veteran of the Spanish Civil War (2003), An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d’Albert-Lake (2006, 2008), and Dancing with Colonels: A Young Woman in World War II Turkey (2011).

Barrett Litoff’s innovative research on American women and World War II

has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and she frequently appears on television and radio. She has lectured widely in the United States, as well as in England, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and China. Most recently, she served as an historical consultant for the highly-acclaimed and Emmy nominated PBS documentary, “The Perilous Fight: America’s World War II in Color.” She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award in the

Page 169


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Humanities. Litoff was also the Project Director of a three-year U.S. Department of State grant between Bryant University and the European Humanities University in Minsk, Belarus.

She has served on the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Boards

of Overseers of the Moses Brown School and the Lincoln School, and the Board of Trustees of the Rhode Island Historical Society. She also served as the Chair of the Goff Institute for Ingenuity and Enterprise Studies. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and Festival Ballet Providence.

Barrett Litoff lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and has two daughters and

five grandchildren. She is an avid downhill skier and yoga enthusiast.

Page 170


ABOUT BRYANT UNIVERSITY

About Bryant University Bryant College was founded in 1863 and was originally located in downtown Providence, RI. In 1935, Bryant moved to the East Side of Providence at the corner of Hope Street and Young Orchard Avenue and remained there until 1971. After Earl S. Tupper, inventor of Tupperware, generously donated his 220-acre Smithfield, RI estate to the College in 1967, a new campus was constructed and Bryant relocated to this site in the fall of 1971. In August 2004, Bryant College became Bryant University. This book was orinally published on the occasion of Bryant’s sesquicentennial.

Page 171


Judy Barrett Litoff, Professor of History at Bryant University, Smithfield, RI, is the author of fourteen books, including two pioneering works on the history of American midwifery, and has written more than one hundred articles, book chapters, and reviews in American women’s history. Over the last two decades, Barrett Litoff has focused her research and writing on American women and the Second World War. Her research has included a nationwide search for women’s correspondence that has resulted in the assembling of an archive of 30,000 wartime letters written by American women. Barrett Litoff’s innovative research on American women and World War II has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and she frequently appears on television and radio. She has lectured widely in the United States, as well as in England, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and China. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Humanities. Jacket design by Toine Philibert. Jacket photograph is from the 1942 Bryant College yearbook, The Ledger, page 97, and depicts the founding members of the Bryant College Service Club on the steps of South Hall, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence, RI.

Bryant University Douglas and Judith Krupp Library Smithfield, RI


BRYANT UNIVERSITY

“A wonderful, beautifully presented tribute to a great college and its contribution to victory in World War II” - ALEX KERSHAW, author of the widely-acclaimed World War II best sellers including The Few, The Bedford Boys, and Escape from the Deep.

J

“Judy Barrett Litoff brings alive the rhythms of a world turned upside down with poignant descriptions from service personnel in far udy

Barrett

Litoff, Professor

of

History

at

Bryant University, Smithfield RI, is the author of fourteen books, including two pioneering works on the history of American midwifery,

off lands and college students facing an uncertain future. From encounters with snakes in Panama to wistful longing to be back at college, her crisp text wonderfully supports well-chosen original documents and photographs in this very readable tribute to a little known aspect of World War II. At last we also see a tribute to Bryant alumnus Andrew Mamedoff and his fellow volunteers in the Royal Air Force, one of the first “American Eagles” in European skies. Fascinating.” - BRAD KING, Executive Director, Battleship Cove and former Imperial War Museum historian.

and has written more than one hundred articles, book chapters, and reviews in American women’s history. Over the last two decades, Barrett Litoff has

focused her research and writing on American women and the Second World War. Her research has included a

nationwide

search

for

women’s

correspondence

that has resulted in the assembling of an archive of 30,000 wartime letters written by American women. Barrett Litoff s innovative research on American women and World War II has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and she frequently appears on television and radio. She has lectured widely in the United States, as well as in England, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and China. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Humanities. Jacket design by Toine Philibert. Jacket photograph is from the 1942 Bryant College yearbook, The Ledger, page 97, and depicts the founding members of the Bryant College Service Club on the steps of South Hall, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence, RI.

Bryant University

Douglas and Judith Krupp Library Smithfield, R

“Judy Barrett Litoff has brought alive a remarkable story of school spirit, dedication, and service by the students, faculty, and alumni of Bryant during World War II. This work will interest not only those in the Bryant community, but anyone who wants a better understanding of the “good war” and how it touched the lives of countless Americans. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to have their faith renewed in the young people of America and the contributions colleges made in the struggle against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.” - G. KURT PIEHLER, Director, Institute on World War II and the Human Experience, Florida State University. “World War II was a people’s war, and the men and women who served in the military depended upon contact with the home front to maintain their morale and sense of duty. The Bryant Service Club sent cigarettes, candy, cookies, hand-knitted sweaters, and most important, letters to 500 alumni overseas. These letters told in great detail what was going on at home. The servicemen and servicewomen responded with gratitude, giving their own “boots-on-the-ground” perspective on the war. They told of the hardships and their own self-discoveries of young people in a strange and violent world. The original letters have been rediscovered and edited in an attractive format. They tell Americans two generations later what military service really meant when tours of duty were not for 12 months, but “for the duration.” Prize-winning author, Judy Barrett Litoff has provided us with an excellent analysis of this World War II home front history and of the roles of colleges and universities during wartime.” - D’ANN CAMPBELL, Professor of History, Culver Stockton College, and author of Women at War With America and more than three dozen articles on American women’s roles in World War II.

Judy Barrett Litoff B YANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

Praise for Bryant College Goes to War

Judy Barrett Litoff

Judy Barrett Litoff

Bryant College Goes to War

T

his

fascinating,

extensively-illustrated

book tells the remarkable story of the leadership

role

assumed

by

Bryant

students during World War II as they

ingeniously embraced many of the salient issues facing colleges and universities across the nation. On March 27, 1942, the Bryant Service Club was

founded as “an organization of Bryant men and women for Bryant men and women in the service.” Its purpose was to send morale-boosting “packages of cigarettes, candy, cookies, letters, [and] knitted articles” to Bryant alumni in the military. Drawing upon excellent organizational and business skills as well as ingenuity and enterprise, the Club united the student body as never before. By the end of the war more than 500 Bryant women and men in uniform had received letters and packages from the Club. In response, about 450 of these alumni, along with their families, wrote more than 1300 letters of thanks to the Club. These letters, many of which are reproduced in this book, tell the captivating story of Bryant women and men in the service. We learn of the new opportunities and challenges experienced by Bryant alumni who were stationed stateside as well as those who served at “farflung fronts” in every major theater of the war. The letters

BRYANT COLLEGE GOES TO WAR

carefully detail combat and noncombat experiences, casualties and the atrocities of war, planning for the postwar world, and the record number of veterans who enrolled at Bryant at the conclusion of hostilities.

Bryant College Goes to War  

This fascinating, extensively-illustrated book tells the remarkable story of the leadership role assumed by Bryant students during World War...

Bryant College Goes to War  

This fascinating, extensively-illustrated book tells the remarkable story of the leadership role assumed by Bryant students during World War...