Lot 552

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A group of over 140 letters from Sergeant Frederick E. Davis, 15th Engineer Battalion, #32186392 and later Staff Sergeant of the 75th Bomber Squadron I, spanning the entire war from 1941-1945, with a significant number in V-Mail microfilm format mail, most written to his mother Anna Davis in Palmyra, New Jersey. The 15th Engineer Combat Battalion was activated at Fort Bragg in Aug. 1940, and first saw action in North Africa in 1943, fighting with the 9th Infantry Division during the Algerian-French Morocco and Tunisian Campaigns. It then participated in the invasion of Sicily, hitting the beach at Palermo in August 1943. Davis transferred to the 75th Bomber Squadron I in 1944, where he participated in attacks on the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, and as part of MacArthur's New Guinea campaign. The bulk of the letters are written in 1943-1944, and Davis stays in almost constant touch with his family, sometimes writing three to four times a week. The first letter of this archive is dated Dec. 4, 1941, and is written to ‘Private Joe Davis', his brother stationed at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, sending family news. The letters then pick up again in February 1942, with Davis letting his mother know he arrived at Fort Bragg. He wrote 13 more letters that year, all with personal comments. In February 1943, then-private Davis states that ‘…the American troops are doing swell over here now and perhaps by the time this letter arrives the whole thing will be over in Africa…'. On May 26, he takes over for his sergeant major who went on furlough, and Davis is subsequently promoted from Private to Sergeant. On Oct. 8, 1942, the usually-chipper Davis writes: ‘…This is what makes it so hard, we don't know from one day to the next what is going to happen and it has all of us a little disgusted. If we were sure of moving with a certain time…it would help a lot…'. Shortly thereafter, Davis' dream of ‘the whole thing in Africa being over' is shattered, and he is transferred to that continent. Writing from ‘Somewhere in Africa' on Dec. 27, 1942, he confirms: ‘…We landed on Christmas eve…it is the most interesting place...'. He thereafter he notes: ‘…I have reason to believe that we will not be here much longer…'. The letters continue throughout the year with personal content and assuring his mother that he is receiving letters, packages, sending her money, and generally is ‘swell'. In 1943, Davis writes more than 60 letters: on Mar. 1, he notes that his battalion has now moved to an unnamed but ‘very important place' and, two weeks later: ‘…Things sure have changed in Africa and now all of us boys are having what you would call a good time. I have been down to the beach twice now and the water sure is swell. The people are slowly coming back to their homes and in about six weeks things should be back to normal in this war torn country'. In August, 1943, Davis is moved to Sicily and, on Aug. 8, confesses: ‘…I don't like the country at all…'. Aug. 31, Davis transfers to the 796th squadron and ‘…I accepted the job as a flight commander and I did so well on that job, after three days I was appointed to Squadron Commander…I have charge of close to 900 men, my job is to see that every man knows and executes all commands, as they are given, and when we go out to drill field I am in charge of squadron A…I like it very much…it is pretty hard to keep 900 men on the ball…I am the only sqd. commander who only has one stripe...'. On Sept. 7, he writes in more detail: ‘…Once the battle was over the ‘rains came' and boy did our stuff get wet…Now the dust has settled and we have this beach to ourselves…We may have it tough during the battle but once it is over and the Germans are run out of it things get pretty nice for us…[Sept. 10] One minute the British are having a little trouble in Italy and then the first thing you know the Italians give up. The Russians are going to town, things are going along perfect over here and our boys in the Pacific are keeping up a swell score…'. Davis was then stationed in England from Dec. 31, 1943 to April 1944, and his letters from there reveal very little about what was going on. In May, Davis is moved to the Pacific with the 790th Bomb Squadron, where he takes some time to get used to ‘this tough and rugged life in the tropics', revealing little. Over the summer, he continues to write: June 28: ‘…We have just about completed the first job that the big boys had in store for us and now we are waiting for the next job. We have a lot of reporters within the division…They say that the Germans have a super army but the prisoners…look like a gang of rift raft [sic] and the scum of the earth. They have a gang of young kids around 14 & 15…and don't know what life is all about. Gosh when we look at these kids we realize just what a wonderful country America is and what wonderful opportunities it holds for all. While we were in England we sort of forgot what was was like…but now we are back in it once more…'. [June 29]…Mother we have been in combat twice and everything came out alright…[July 6]…Just like those boys [in Europe] looked forward to their invasion, so shall we look for the same thing in a different part of the world. We have had some rough stuff but I guess that we have plenty of hot stuff ahead…It is only natural that we have lost a lot of men and will probably lose many more…[July 13]…We are knocking the hell out of those ‘now what would you call them' Japs seems such a pleasant name for such uncivilized savages…we are getting revenge…I would love to be able to tell you about the 1st island I was on, the things I saw and took part in my first few days in combat would make your hair turn green…'. Less than two weeks later Davis' mother receives a T.L.S. from the War Department, Washington, Aug. 9, 1944, informing her that her other son Joseph has been wounded. In part: ‘…Joseph A. Davis was seriously wounded in action on 25 July 1944…I can assure that our hospitalized soldiers serving overseas are receiving the very best medical care…'. Fred Davis makes no mention of his brother's injury, and continues to write pleasant letters for the duration of the year, when they come to an abrupt stop on Dec. 5, totaling over 70 for the year 1944. WITH: four original photographs of Davis and several letters from other correspondents. Overall very good condition.

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November 29, 2023 10:00 AM EST
Elkton, MD, US

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