William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Robert N. Harrington Letters, 1942-1946
Duane Norman Diedrich CollectionFinding aid created by
Meg Hixon, July 2012
Robert N. Harrington letters
Bliss, George R. and Bliss, Ella
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 material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
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.
Robert N. Harrington Letters, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Robert N. Harrington attended the University of Washington in 1942, where he studied chemistry and participated in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps program. He joined the United States Marine Corps before May 1943, and trained at Camp Waldron in Farragut, Idaho, and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Around November 1944, he was deployed overseas as a pharmacist's mate, and he participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima, where he was wounded. He was then stationed in Hawaii, where he worked for a dental lab. Ella and George R. Bliss, Harrington's aunt and uncle, lived in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and had two children: Sheldon and Jessie.
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.
- Camp Lejeune (N.C.)
- Chicago (Ill.)--Description and travel.
- Farragut (Idaho)
- Iwo Jima, Battle of, Japan, 1945.
- New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel.
- United States. Marine Corps--Military life.
- University of Washington.
- World War, 1939-1945--Hawaii.
- World War, 1939-1945--Medical care.
- World War, 1939-1945--Pacific Area.
- Flag raising and lowering.
- Soldiers--Caricatures and cartoons.
- Harrington, Robert N.
- Pyle, Ernie, 1900-1945.
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Letters (correspondence)
- Photographic postcards.