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Cornwell, J Wilbur (Second World War correspondence, photographs, documents, and uniform)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical / Historical
  • General
  • Preferred Citation
  • Content Description
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Contributing Institution: Center for American War Letters Archives
    Title: J Wilbur Cornwell Second World War correspondence, photographs, documents, and uniform
    source: Tillinghast, Deborah J.
    Creator: Cornwell, J Wilbur, Technical Sergeant, 1916-2007
    Identifier/Call Number: 2019.093.w.r
    Physical Description: 4 Linear Feet (6 folders, 1 uniform, 1 specimen box container)
    Date (inclusive): 1941 October - 1945 September
    Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, photographs, documents, and one uniform belonging to T/Sgt. J Wilbur Cornwell, USA during the Second World War.
    Language of Material: English .
    Container: WWII 65
    Container: 8-11
    Container: 1-4
    Container: Specimen box 2
    Container: 5
    Container: WWII Uniforms 1
    Container: Oversize 3
    Container: 5

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of the family of J Wilbur Cornwell, Sr., donated by Deborah Tillinghast.


    This collection is arranged by material type and chronology:
    • Series 1, Correspondence
    • Series 2, Photographs
    • Series 3, Military Documents
    • Series 4, Uniform and medals
    • Series 5, Ephemera and ration books

    Biographical / Historical

    Technical Sergeant J Wilbur Cornwell, United States Army (11/14/1916 - 1/13/2007) was born in Brockman, California to Orpha A. and Harry Phillif Cornwell. It is unclear why he was born in California as his parents were from Iowa and South Dakota, respectively, and they resided in Iowa. J Wilbur grew up in Ankeny, Iowa and eventually had several siblings: Ruth H, Donald A., and Olive. He worked as a light truck driver for Russell Jenkins Hauling when he was drafted on March 17, 1941 at Fort Des Moines. He reported to Fort Sill, Oklahoma soon after and served with Battery B, 14th Field Artillery Observation Battalion.
    In January 1942, his girlfriend Orma Eliza Atherton (b. 10/10/1921), who worked as a doctor's assistant, traveled to join him and they married in Lawton, OK on January 8, 1942. By this time, he had already been reassigned to Camp Roberts in Paso Robles, California and they left immediately after the wedding. Cornwell was granted permission to drive his car and he reported first to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Orma went along and lived in a converted garage in Arcadia before the move to Paso Robles, where they purchased a small house trailer. He again gained permission to drive her, the car and trailer to his future postings, including Olympia, Washington where their son was born, and Bend, Oregon. He was not, however, allowed to live off-base with his wife and child.
    On March 9, 1944 Cornwell left for the Pacific Theater with 2nd Sound Ranging Platoon, Battery A, 289th Observation Battalion. Orma and their son returned to Iowa as he served overseas in New Guinea and later the Philippines until the end of the war. He returned on October 9, 1945 and was discharged on October 17 at Fort Logan, Colorado.
    J Wilbur Cornwell passed away in 2007 in Ankeny and is interred at Greenwood Friends Cemetery.


    There is no period after "J" in Cornwell's name. His name, properly written, is J Wilbur Cornwell, Sr.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item title / description; Box "n" / Folder "n"], J Wilbur Cornwell Second World War correspondence, photographs, documents, and uniform (2019.093.w.r), Center for American War Letters Archives, Chapman University, CA.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Content Description

    This collection contains correspondence from, photographs of, documents regarding, and one uniform belonging to T/Sgt. J Wilbur Cornwell, USA during the Second World War. Included are approximately twenty letters and V-Mail, several service documents including separation papers, several photographs in uniform both home and overseas, and one green dress uniform. The uniform includes trousers with belt, jacket with pins and four ribbons, two garrison caps, and a small box with pins, ribbons, and a medal.

    Conditions Governing Use

    There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    World War (1939-1945)
    World War (1939-1945) -- Pacific Area
    United States -- Army -- Pacific Theater of Operations
    World War (1939-1945) -- Philippines.
    United States. -- Army.
    United States. -- Army. -- Field Artillery
    World War (1939-1945) -- Photography
    Correspondence -- World War, 1939-1945
    Tillinghast, Deborah J.