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seeking some basic info re: Torch

Discussion in 'North Africa: Western Desert Campaigns 1940 to Ope' started by Nick.V, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Nick.V

    Nick.V New Member

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    [SIZE=medium]Greetings, all[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]I'm new here, so I don't know forum etiquette. I posted these questions on the introductory thread, but haven't got answers yet, and I thought there might be more traffic here. So I hope it's alright for me to post them in more than one place at a time.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]I’m working on a novel that spans several generations, one of which is immediately following the WWII. The father of main character in that section was killed in the war, early on after the US entered the war. None of the action takes place in the war, there’s just some conversation about it, so I don’t need a lot of detail. Assuming he enlisted in the Army (not Navy), immediately after Pearl Harbor, it seems like the earliest action he would have been likely to have died in would have been November 8, 1942, in North Africa. Does this make sense?[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=medium]Assuming it does, I have a few (I hope very simple) questions. I need to know: [/SIZE]
    1. [SIZE=medium]How long would it take after someone was killed in action before the family would be notified? (Assuming the CO knew right away) [/SIZE]
    2. [SIZE=medium]Would that notification have come as a telegram, as portrayed in some movies, or a letter? Or was there a personal visit? [/SIZE]
    3. [SIZE=medium]Is there anywhere online I could view a few facsimiles of such messages? (I found one on Google images, but it might be good to look at a few more)[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]Thanks![/SIZE]
     
  2. jimmytwohand

    jimmytwohand New Member

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    Managed to find 5 examples for you to have a look at:

    http://speakitsname.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/telegram1.jpg?w=468&h=341
    http://tarawa1943.com/images/Telegram-KIA.jpg
    http://thebenninobrothers.weebly.com/notifying-families.html another two here.
    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/hgjohns.htm

    I believe that telegram was the standard method of notification. Letters confirming the telegram and giving further details and dealing with arrangements for burial etc would follow. I don't think personal visits were standard but i have read accounts of the local WUnion operator organising for the telegrams to be delivered with the local doctor or friends to help ease the shock. Cant remember any sources for that off the top of my head though.

    If you go to the internet archive: https://archive.org/ and do a search for : creator:"United States. Adjutant-General's Office" you may be able to dig out a protocol manual.
     
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  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Nick, I know that I said elsewhere that I could not answer your question, but...

    In the book, The Bedford Boys, the author spends a great deal of time with the actions of the telegraph operator in the days following the landings at Normandy.

    Bedford is a small town in Virginia that was home to A Co./116th Infantry Regiment/29th Infantry Division, a National Guard outfit that was inducted into Federal service and assaulted Dog Green sector of Omaha Beach at Normandy in June 1944. The company still had a large contingent of Bedford citizens in it by 1944 and it was virtually wiped out in the first 5 minutes of the landings. The National D-Day Memorial is at Bedord, VA, to honor the sacrifice the families of that town made.

    Back to the book. The telegraph operator received a large number of casualty telegrams on one day and it was her job to see that they were delivered, She ended up enlisting the help several descreet townspeople to deliver the messages, as she could not get them all done by herself. I will look at the book and see what day this was that she received them, but I think it was in late June or July, following the deaths on June 6th.

    Bear in mind, this was in 1944 and the war had been going for 2 1/2 years. With the large number of deaths in the intervening years, procedures could have change from what was done in 1942.
     
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  4. jimmytwohand

    jimmytwohand New Member

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    Re: Bedford

    http://speakitsname.com/2009/12/05/delivering-bad-newswestern-union-in-the-mid-20th-century-us/
     
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  5. Nick.V

    Nick.V New Member

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    So it appears both from what you say about the Bedford Boys, and the information in the telegrams, that although the time was understandably variable, 3 to 4 weeks was a fairly common time lapse.

    Once again, I thank both of you very much. This is very helpful. I'm pretty sure that at this point, between this information and Mr. Howe's book on the Northwest Africa campaign that you linked me to, I have everything I will need.

    Once again, I am very grateful. I will be in touch again, if this project goes anywhere.

    Have a great holiday!
     
  6. Nick.V

    Nick.V New Member

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    !!!!!???? I tried to "like" jimmytwohand's response above, and got an error message saying I had "reached my quote of votes for the day" Sorry...
     
  7. jimmytwohand

    jimmytwohand New Member

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    Don't sweat it Nick. I enjoyed poking around for answers to your questions. They give a solemn reminder of the human aspect of the conflict which can often get pushed to the side in the grand sweeping narratives of such a grand struggle.

    I seem to remember the first of Rick Atkinson's trilogy is very good for the American side of the N.African campaign and might give you a more human angle than the green book account. It should be pretty cheap in paperback, I got one for less than a quid.

    It's worth checking back in case any of the more knowledgeable members have spotted any errors or have anything to add. I am firmly amateur. :) Also as that info about Bedford is unattributed you might want to see if slipdigit can confirm from source. I thought i had a copy of the "Bedford Boys" but for the life of me i cant find it....
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Well, there ya go!

    Yes, Atkinson's An Army At Dawn would make a good read to get background information on the US Army in North Africa in 1942. It has good detail and is easily obtainable.
     
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  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Nick, also note this passage:

    Soldiers were able to use V-mail, which was postage-free one-page letters they could send from anywhere in the world-where ever they happen to be, whether a foxhole or a ship at sea.. The man wrote his letter and turned it in to be censored. It was then micro-filmed and the microfilm was sent back to the States where the image of the letter was transferred back to a piece of paper and sent to the addressee.
     
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  10. jimmytwohand

    jimmytwohand New Member

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    Fascinating little nugget! Id always envisioned huge piles of mail being freighted about the place. Really interesting that they had a techie solution. It must have saved a lot of tonnage.
     
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    You may find these to be marginally interesting. Unfortunately, even when I cut the articles from the magazines they are too big to upload so the URLs are the direct links to the issues. These, are, by the way, official USN publications.

    First is the August 1944 issue of the the Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, the article of interest starts on page 10.

    http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/archcover.asp?issue=194408#.Uqp44yeDlqU

    Next is the July 1945 issue of All Hands Magazine (new title for the above publication), article starts on page 24.

    http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/archcover.asp?issue=194507#.Uqp5cCeDlqU

    Rich
     
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  12. jimmytwohand

    jimmytwohand New Member

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    Nice! Slow to load like you say, but definitely worth it.
     
  13. Nick.V

    Nick.V New Member

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    Thank you Rich. I have downloaded and look forward to looking through them
     

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