Title:World War II letters, 1942-1945
Norval M. Emmons World War II letters, 1942-1945
Creator/Contributor:Emmons, Norval M., 1917-1992, creator
This collection includes 173 holograph letters and one photograph sent primarily to Emmon's mother, Mina F. Emmons, in Oakland,
California, with a few letters to his sister, Eleanor Carpenter, also in Oakland. Letters from 1942, beginning February 23rd,
and early in 1943 were written during training in the United States; letters from later in 1943, 1944, 1945 were sent from
England, ending on August 1st, 1945. Some letters on stationery with insignia; some sent as V-Mail. Letters from England censored
View letter on insignia letterhead:
View v-mail letter:
After initial processing and assignment to the Army Air Corps, Emmons was sent to Sheppard Field, Texas, where he underwent
testing and began training as a mechanic to service B17s. The letters that Mac Emmons sends home document both his military
career and family life at home. Thus, he intersperses reports of his training with comments on his Mother's job hunt, his
sister's new baby, inquiries about a former girlfriend, etc. Themes that run throughout the correspondence concern the disposition
of his car, attempts to have a camera sent to him, and, always, financial matters. He talks of taking tests and leaves in
town and activities on base, including his poker playing: "Ive been making much more at cards than the army pays - sometimes
I loose, sometimes win, but always average out ahead."
On April 22nd 1942 he offers this summary of military life in a letter to his sister: "Are you still having alerts and blackouts
and such? Things like that, and even the war, seems so much more remote here than they did at home. We seldom talk or hear
more than casually of how the war is going - it seems more like a foreign spat than like something we are in. What I'm trying
to say is that our work and training is so different from that of an infantry man, and is so completely non combatant that
it is hard to realise that we are actually an essential part of a fighting machine."
Of most interest are the letters sent from England during 1943-1945. Wartime censorship limits what he can say about his activities:
"Of course I can't tell you anything about our opperations, but the losses in bombers you read of in the paper aren't as bad
as they may sound. Loosing a plane does not always mean loosing a crew - the parachute is a wonderful invention!" But he gives
some insight into wartime conditions when he replies to his mother in October of 1943: "Your talk of Delores' 'home grown'
eggs sounds wonderful. Since leaving the U.S.A., I've had one hardboiled egg and three glasses of milk - all purchased on
the 'Black market'. Our own supplies are powderd - remember the powderd eggs I brought home once? The ones here taist like
those smelled. And milk also is powderd, not cowed."
During the next two years, Emmons often prognosticates as when he comments in May of 1944 "The duration looks like a long,
long time right now. Shall we say 1947? I've quit thinking of the war as a temporary item. Its here to say awhile." He misjudges
the import of the first German missiles, stating: "I suppose your papers have been full of reports on the Germans 'pilotless
rockett planes". I wouldn't worry too much about them. Unless vast improvements are made, they will never have any real offensive
or defensive value." Yet he reports in his next letter: "Rcd. a letter from my girl in London. She's just been bombed out
by the pilotless flying bombs. Sounds pretty rough right now."
One of his final letters concerns V-E Day: "I was working on a plane and someone across the field shot off a flare - that's
very common - done every day, but for some reason I had a hunch that this was it and started yelling like mad. Grab'd my own
flare pistol and started firing & soon the whole field was at it. The place looked like July 4." By Aug. 18, Emmons is on
his way home and writes to "Dearest Most Beloved Mother": "For the present consideration, I sent today a package containing
the most unromantic of all items - my dirty laundry -- I haven't had a chance to do it in the past month - and you are receiving
by parcel post a one month supply. Also inclosed is a German helmet & cartrige case - (My only souvineers) - intended as a
present to Charles [his nephew] - I don't want any memories of this war."
Box 2263: 1942. -- Box 2264: 1943-1945.
Subject:n-us--- -- n-us-ca -- e-uk-en
Emmons, Norval M -- 1917-1992 -- Correspondence
Airmen -- California -- Correspondence
World War, 1939-1945 -- England -- Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American
United States. -- Army Air Forces -- Biography
Norval McLean Emmons was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 31, 1917. His parents, Norval Owen Emmons and Mina F. McLean, shared
a mid-West background; Norval was born in Kansas and Mina in Missouri. The younger Norval was called "Mac" during his youth
to distinquish him from his father. The family relocated to Oakland, California, and there Mac completed his education. He
was employed at the Zinn Co. as a chemist until February 1942 when he was drafted into military service. After assignment
to the Army Air Corps, he served as a mechanic on B-17 and B-24 bombers in the 94th Bomb Group, 331st Squadron. During 1942
and 1943 he received training at Sheppard Field in Texas, Camp Consair in California, the Army Air Base in Utah, Biggs Field
in Texas, and the Army Air Base in Colorado. During 1943, 1944 and 1945 he served in the European Theatre based in England.
Upon discharge in 1945, he planned to take advantage of the G.I. loan to start a small business. Norval Emmons died on Aug.
27, 1992 in Oakland, California.
View a photograph of "Mac" taken in 1942 at Sheppard Field in Texas: http://bancroft.library.ca.gov/diglib/image.cfm?id=318&start=1#318
Norval M. Emmons World War II letters, 1942-1945.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
174 items : port
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.