Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John and Paul Pitman Papers, 1944-1946

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, October 2011

Summary Information
Title: John and Paul Pitman papers
Creator: Pitman, Jay A. and Pitman, Blanche Morford
Inclusive dates: 1944-1946
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
The John and Paul Pitman papers consist primarily of correspondence that the brothers wrote to their parents while serving in the Philippines during World War II. They commented on their daily lives in the final months of the war.
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:

2009. M-4761.4.

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:

John and Paul Pitman Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: John Pitman Correspondence
  • Series II: Paul Pitman Correspondence
  • Series III: Pitman Family Correspondence

Each series is arranged chronologically.


Jay A. and Blanche Morford Pitman, who owned a farm in Rio, Illinois, had several children, and three of their sons served in the military during World War II: Bruce, John, and Paul. Bruce Pitman was reported missing in action after being hit by an artillery shell near Kommerscheidt, Germany, in November 1944 and was officially declared dead a few months later. After attending gunnery school at Fort Knox, Kentucky, John Pitman served in the Philippines with the 169th Infantry Regiment, 132nd Infantry Regiment, and 44th Tank Battalion. He was promoted to sergeant in January 1946. Paul Pitman served in the 129th Naval Construction Battalion in the Philippines. In the summer of 1946, he spent several months onboard the War Hawk , which carried troops and civilians from the Pacific to the United States. Paul Pitman attained the rank of yeoman, 3rd class.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The John and Paul Pitman papers consist primarily of correspondence that the brothers wrote to their parents, Jay and Blanche Pitman, while serving in the Philippines during World War II. They commented on their daily lives in the final months of the war.

John Pitman , who wrote 201 letters, began to write to his parents shortly after reporting for gunnery school at Fort Knox, Kentucky; he related his experiences in training before his transfer to California in January 1945. In March 1945, he traveled to the Philippines with the 44th Tank Battalion, Company B. He wrote about many aspects of his life in the Pacific Theater, such as watching American planes on bombing runs (May 3, 1945) and anticipating the effect that Germany's surrender would have on the Pacific war (May 8, 1945). During the Allied occupation of Japan, Pitman reported that soldiers often played baseball games and watched movies. This series also has a letter to Blanche Pitman about her son Bruce, who had been reported missing in action in Germany (November 27, 1944).

Paul Pitman , who wrote 145 letters, served in the 129th Naval Construction Battalion. He began his correspondence on March 5, 1945, while at Camp Shoemaker, California. After reaching the Philippines in April 1945, he frequently wrote to his parents about his experiences during the war's final months and during his postwar service on the troop transport ship War Hawk . He often wrote about his leisure activities and, after the war, about his increasing eagerness to return home. Paul's letter of August 15, 1945, encloses an issue of the 129th Beacon, his battalion's newsletter, about the end of the war and the sailors' expected return to the United States.

The Pitman family correspondence (27 letters) contains letters to Blanche Pitman, Jay Pitman, and Althea Pitman from friends and family members, including nephews and cousins. Some writers expressed their condolences after hearing that Bruce Pitman had been declared missing in action in 1944.

Subject Terms

    • Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952.
    • Philippines--History--Japanese occupation, 1942-1945.
    • United States. Army. Infantry, 169th.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Army. Tank Battalion, 44th.
    • United States. Navy. Seabees.
    • World War, 1939-1945--Pacific Area.
    • Pitman, John.
    • Pitman, Paul.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    John Pitman correspondence [series]
    Box   1  
    Box   2  
    Paul Pitman correspondence [series]
    Box   2  
    Box   3  
    Pitman family correspondence [series]
    Box   3