Elizabeth Bonney van den Bosch collection  1943-2002 (bulk 1943-1951)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 14 letters that Pharmacist's Mate Robert N. Harrington wrote to his aunt and uncle, Ella and George R. Bliss of Greenfield, Massachusetts, while serving in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He commented on life at Camp Waldron, Idaho, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; provided a detailed account of his experiences during the Battle of Iwo Jima; and described his service in Hawaii near the end of the war. The collection also holds a letter Harrington wrote while in college, a letter that the Bliss family received from a serviceman named "Bill," and an undated real photo postcard.

Harrington first wrote his aunt and uncle from Seattle, Washington, on September 28, 1942, about a recent trip to Chicago with his grandmother and about expectations for the coming school year. He sent 13 letters while serving in the United States Marine Corps between May 1943 and December 1945, and 1 on June 22, 1946, after his discharge. He wrote about military life at Camp Waldron in Farragut, Idaho, in 1943, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until October 1944. Among other topics, Harrington discussed his desire to enter combat and his romantic life. In one letter, he scolded his aunt for her failure to treat her diabetes properly. Two of his letters contain enclosures: newspaper clippings of a humorous military cartoon and quips (October 23, 1944), and a newspaper clipping of a column by Ernie Pyle (October 29, 1944).

Harrington arrived in the "Central Pacific" by December 1944, and he participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima in early 1945. On April 8, 1945, he wrote a 5-page letter to his relatives detailing his experiences in the battle. He commented on the size of the forces, on his pleasure at seeing the Japanese positions being bombed by navy ships and by airplanes, and on his distaste for the Japanese. He also described his experiences losing friends and treating wounded soldiers, provided details on the kinds of wounds others received, and discussed the positive effects that blood transfusions had on patients. Harrington, who had been wounded, continued to serve in Hawaii and in the Pacific until at least December 1945. He frequently described his leisure activities, and in June 1946, he shared the details of a recent trip to New York City with a friend.

The remaining 2 items are a letter that "Bill" wrote to George and Ella Bliss while serving at the New Orleans Army Air Base in December 1943, and an undated real photo postcard to Walter D. Vaughan of Clarendon, Vermont, which depicts a flag-raising ceremony.

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