Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Robert Lackhove Papers, 1915-1946

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2012

Summary Information
Title: Robert Lackhove papers
Creator: Lackhove, Myrle Hoffman, 1911-2003
Inclusive dates: 1915-1946
Bulk dates: 1942-1945
Extent: 2.25 linear feet
This collection primarily consists of around 500 letters that Lieutenant Robert N. Lackhove of Altoona, Pennsylvania, wrote to his girlfriend and future wife, Myrle Hoffman of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, between 1942 and 1945. Lackhove, a bombardier with the United States Army Air Forces, described his training in Texas, his experiences while stationed in Lavenham, England, and his participation in combat missions.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by D. N. Diedrich, 2008. M-4668.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Robert Lackhove Papers, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Poetry
  • Series III: Ephemera

The series are arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


Lieutenant Robert Norris Lackhove was born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, on March 7, 1917, the son of Louis B. Lackhove and Mary E. Lane. He had one sister, Wilda, and lived in Altoona, Pennsylvania. In the early 1940s, he worked for a factory in York, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces as a cadet on December 25, 1942, and from December 1942 to March 1944, he trained at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, Texas; Bruce Field, Texas; San Angelo, Texas; and Laredo, Texas. He was stationed briefly in Georgia before his deployment overseas in July 1944. Lackhove served as a bombardier with the 837th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, 487th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, and participated in around 35 combat missions in continental Europe while based at Lavenham, England. He returned to the United States around early 1945, and served in Midland and Childress, Texas, before his discharge on October 3, 1945.

Throughout the war, Lackhove corresponded with his girlfriend, Myrle Elizabeth Hoffman of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of John H. Hoffman and Catherine Rudloff, and worked for the Pennsylvania Mutual Inspection Bureau during the war. She married Robert Lackhove in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, on May 25, 1945, during one of Lackhove's leaves, and they lived in Camp Hill after the war. Robert N. Lackhove died on April 10, 1985, and Myrle Hoffman Lackhove died in November 2003.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection primarily consists of around 500 letters that Lieutenant Robert N. Lackhove of Altoona, Pennsylvania, wrote to his girlfriend and future wife, Myrle Hoffman of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, between 1942 and 1945. Lackhove, a bombardier with the United States Army Air Forces, described his training at camps throughout Texas and his experiences while stationed in Lavenham, England, where he flew combat missions.

The Correspondence series comprises the bulk of the collection. Three letters pre-date the war, including one letter from 1915 and two letters that Lackhove wrote to Myrle Hoffman in 1938. The bulk of his correspondence with Hoffman began in January 1942. He occasionally wrote about his work in York, Pennsylvania, until December 1942, when he joined the United States Army Air Forces. Lackhove corresponded regularly with Hoffman throughout his military service, and often wrote once every two or three days. He provided his initial impressions of military life and described his daily routine at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center in San Antonio, Texas, which included frequent interactions with upperclassmen, drills, and classroom work. He continued to write after his transfer to Bruce Field in Ballinger, Texas, and during bombardier training in San Angelo, Texas. He participated in practice bombing runs and often mentioned his flying time and other activities. Some of Lackhove's letters from this period include drawings of his uniform, bombing targets, and additional subjects. Lackhove was promoted to second lieutenant in January 1944, and attended a training course in Laredo, Texas, until around March, when he was assigned to Tampa, Florida; Avon Park, Florida; and Georgia, where he awaited overseas deployment.

In July 1944, Lackhove reported his arrival in England, where he was based throughout his time overseas. Though censorship prevented him from sharing many details, he mentioned his participation in bombing runs and recalled hearing German radio propaganda aimed at English speakers. He also provided detailed descriptions of people and occasionally mentioned trips to London. On August 6, 1944, he enclosed Icelandic currency in his letter to Myrle. After flying his required number of missions, he returned to the United States in early 1945.

Lackhove was briefly stationed in Miami Beach before being transferred to Midland, Texas, where he remained until June 1945, when he moved to Childress, Texas. He continued to attend navigation classes and to comment on daily camp life. His leisure time became more frequent, and he attended movies and played golf with his friends. Lackhove increasingly mentioned his feelings for Myrle, and urged her to make preparations for a wedding; the couple wed during one of his leaves in May 1945. After V-E Day, he began to anticipate his return to Pennsylvania, and after V-J Day he looked forward to a discharge. His final military letter is dated September 11, 1945, and he wrote one additional personal letter to Myrle in July 1946.

Though the vast majority of the correspondence consists of Lackhove's letters to Myrle, occasional letters from other family members and friends are interspersed throughout the series. Lackhove's parents, Louis and Mary, occasionally wrote letters to Myrle, and she also received letters from other acquaintances. Lackhove also enclosed letters from his parents and, on at least one occasion, a friend, in some of his letters to Myrle. A small number of letters that she wrote to Lackhove are also included, particularly after his return to the United States in 1945. She discussed her feelings about their upcoming wedding and her life in Camp Hill.

The Poetry series contains three typed poems relating to love and separation.

The Ephemera series contains 21 greeting cards that Robert Lackhove sent to Myrle Hoffmand and to his parents, celebrating birthdays and other holidays. The series also has an invitation, an announcement, and a thank-you card. Additional items include a photograph of a small girl named Vickie holding a telephone, a document regarding Robert Lackhove's military salary, and stamps.

Subject Terms

    • Altoona (Pa.)
    • Avon Park Air Force Range (U.S.)
    • Bombardiers.
    • Bruce Field (Tex.)
    • Camp Hill (Pa.)
    • Childress (Tex.)
    • England--Description and travel.
    • Laredo (Tex.)
    • Lavenham (England)
    • Love--Poetry.
    • Midland (Tex.)
    • Military spouses--United States.
    • San Angelo (Tex.)
    • San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center (Tex.)
    • Tampa (Fla.)
    • United States. Air Force. Air Force, 8th.
    • United States. Air Force. Bombardment Squadron, 837th.
    • United States. Air Force. Bomb Group, 487th.
    • United States. Army Air Forces--Military life.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, American.
    • World War, 1939-1945--England.
    • York (Pa.)
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Targets (Shooting)
    • Lackhove, Robert Norris, 1917-1985.
    Genre Terms:
    • Greeting cards.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Notes.
    • Paper money.
    • Photographs.
    • Poems.
    • Postage stamps.
    • Receipts (financial records)
    • Snapshots.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1 Folders   1-25
     June 2, 1915-October 3, 1943
    Box   2 Folders   1-24
     October 6, 1943-July 10, 1944
    Box   3 Folders   1-24
     July 11, 1944-April 21, 1945
    Box   4 Folders   1-23
     April 22, 1945-July 11, 1946
    Box   5 Folder   1
    Poetry [series]
    Box   5 Folder   2
    Ephemera [series]
    Box   5 Folders   3-7
     February 5, 1943-May 27, 1946, and  undated