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World War II letters, 1943-1945.
Collection Overview


World War II letters, 1943-1945
James B. Hassett World War II letters, 1943-1945


Hassett, James B., 1917-1992, creator


The collection comprises 69 holograph letters and two photographs sent to Hassett's mother, Adele M., and to his father, James B., Sr., in San Francisco. Letters from 1943, beginning Feb. 21st, were written during training in the United States; letters from 1944 and 1945 were sent from the Pacific Theatre ending on August 1st, 1945. Some letters on stationery with insignia; letters from the Pacific censored and scissored. View letter:
The letters of James B. Hassett document the career of an Army Air Corps mechanic and turret gunner technician beginning February 21, 1943, nineteen months after he entered the service. He wrote separately to his parents as they were seldom on speaking terms - "So you don't think one war at a time is bad enough without fighting at home - how about it?" -- and his style of delivery varies for each correspondent. An amateur photographer, he evidently sent photographs home regularly but only two accompanied the letters in this collection. View photographs of James Hassett (left) and friends:
During 1943 while in training, Hassett was transferred frequently to bases in Louisiana, Arkansas, Utah and Colorado. En route to Denver he describes Camp Hale, located in the Rockies: "The train passes above the camp so we really got a good view of it. Just long rows of cream colored barracks with green roofs, it's really a sight. They have about 200 German War Prisoners from the Luftwaf (hope I spelled it right) all very young boys. Just to show you how propaganda works they believed that New York and Frisco were actually bombed, the jerks". His letters during this period tell not only of Army life on base but of weekend passes and encounters with the local community: "Christmas Eve I spent in town and then I went to Midnight Mass. The people here are swell. They would stop us on the streets and invite us out to dinner or what have you. Also, there were hundreds of invitations at the Servicemen's Club".
Hassett shipped to the South Pacific 1944 and moved from island to island as the war progressed. Arriving at the Admiralty Islands, he described local conditions: "This island is under the command of the Australians so we do a lot of things their way - such as driving on the left-hand side of the road and I understand we get paid in Australian money. That should be interesting. There are a lot a Aussies here and they're all great guys". In addition to his usual duties, he stands guard duty at night: "We just ride up and down the strip in a jeep driving in and out of the bunkers looking to see that the planes are O.K. It's fun in a way but time sure drags by slow. ... Things sort of come to life about 4 in the morning when the crews come down and start their daily pre-flight. All those engines turning over at once sure cause one hell of a racket".
In addition to "plenty of work and dehydrated eggs", Hassett enjoyed swimming in the warm ocean waters as well as everyday amusements such as playing pinocle and attending U.S.O. shows and movies - most letters offer his comments on the latest film. In the spring of 1945, he is discussing the events occurring in Europe and the states with his father, including legislation to establish the G.I. bill and the meeting of "Winnie, Joe and Frank" in San Francisco to establish the United Nations. Soon talk of the point system for rotation home from the front dominates his letters as he awaits his turn. In the last letter, dated Aug. 1st, he is still waiting: "It's still raining to-day and no signs of letting up. Nothing new here - just the same old routine. Will write again soon bye now".


1943 (issued)


Hassett, James B -- 1917-1992 -- Correspondence
Soldiers -- California -- Correspondence
World War, 1939-1945 -- Pacific Area -- Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American
United States. -- Army Air Forces. -- Biography


James B. Hassett Jr., from San Francisco, served as a turret gunner technician in the Army Air Force 307th Bomb Group, 424th Bomb Squad. During 1943 he received training at Napier Field in Alabama, A. A. F. Advanced Flying School in Arkansas, and Buckley Field in Colorado. During 1944 and 1945 he served in the Pacific Theatre, stationed primarily at the Admiralty Islands and the Netherlands East Indies. Hassett intended to pursue a career as an industrial electrician after the war. He died in San Francisco in 1992.
James B. Hassett World War II letters, 1943-1945
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.

Physical Description:

73 items : ports.







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.