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World War II letters, 1942-1945.
MANUSCRIPT 2265-2267
Collection Overview


World War II letters, 1942-1945
Robert L. Kinney World War II letters, 1942-1945


Kinney, Robert L., 1912-, creator


Wilson, Robert A.


Stiern, Robert L.


Chavez, Alfredo.


This collection includes 207 letters (mostly holograph; some typed) and 12 photographs sent to Kinney's parents, Clinton P. and Maud Kinney of Stockton, California. Letters from 1942, beginning May 21st, were written during training in the United States; letters from January 31st, 1943 through May 8th, 1944 were sent from North Africa; letters from June 10th 1944 through November 5th 1945 were sent from Italy. Ephemera collected in Oran, Tunis, Rome, Naples and Capri includes Morrocan, Algerian and Italian currency (coins and paper); military script from both the North African and Italian campaigns; Post Exchange, EM Club and R & R chits; a Christmas dinner menu and an entertainment program; metal tax seals from liquor bottles; a guide to the catacombs; and a religious card depicting Pope Pius XII. View Christmas card:
Also in the collection are two small sets of related correspondence. A group of four letters were sent by Kinney's cousin, Robert A. Wilson to Mr. and Mrs. Kinney during 1944 while he, too, was in training in the Army Air Force. A final set of four letters was sent to various members of the Stiern family in Bakersfield, California -- three are from Robert L. Stiern and one from Alfredo Chavez. The letter from Chavez describes his experiences in Paris during 1944 and includes ten photographs of the city.
Throughout this correspondence Kinney writes letters that are full of the daily detail of Army life. His training in the U.S. takes him to Texas where he is assigned to learn the skills of an aircraft mechanic: "Me, a bookkeeper for the past ten years, and now recommended for a mechanic. No more white collars for little Robert. I don't know whether I like it or not!" After 4 months of initial training, Kinney is sent to Santa Monica for specialized instruction at the Burbank Lockheed plant. He is billeted in a hotel: "I drew the sixth floor which is a very large ballroom in which dances were held and the decorations at the present time consist of the whole room being lined with immitation cocoanut trees with paper machee monkeys making raids on the cocoanuts. It adds quite a lot of atmosphere to the place. Furniture consists of about two hundred double decked cots and thats all! The whole thing is like a mystic maze."
A month later he is in another hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. (the Claridge) and about to be shipped overseas and on Jan 31st, 1943 he writes his first letter from North Africa where he is stationed near Oran. For the next few months he is on temporary assignments and it is not until May that he begins to feel that he is contributing to the war effort. "You of course know by now that the war in North Africa has ended but there are still lots of preparations to be made for the future and I am at long last being allowed to become a part of them instead of just hanging around awaiting something happening."
For the most part letters written at this time focus on such ordinary concerns as food, mail from home (including the Stockton Record which he subscribes to), social events such as movies and activities provided by the Red Cross as well as the daily chores of army life. "We are able to get some 100 octane gas occasionaly & when we do we all wash about everything we have in it. One very good feature of it is that it dries very readily & leaves no odor, while the 80 octane gas seems to smell forever. The 100 octane is the most beautiful green color I ever saw & some of it in a shiny new can is really a sight to see." Kinney also mentions sightseeing trips to local towns and even swimming in the Mediterranean: "I did finally go for my first swim since coming into the army & christened my swimming trunks in the waters of the blue Mediterranean & boy was it salty."
In the fall of 1943 Kinney was assigned to a clerical job and became an "Orderly Room John"; he continues in this type of assignment after being transferred to Italy in 1944 and throughout the rest of his war service. On June 8, 1944, he writes: "My work here is very interesting and the schooling I have had plus the six month's mechanics work really helps me when it come to ordering parts, etc. I am just now finding out what they mean by lines of supply as I never knew it took so many things to run an army and 'Keep Em Flying". He continues his sightseeing but is not always appreciative: "Under new censorship regulations we are now remitted to say the names of places we have visited and just for the record I can say I have visited Pompeii and of course saw Mt. Vesuvius -- that's about all I can say however except that it would have been all right with me if they had never discovered the ruins and as far as mountains go -- give me the Sierra Nevadas!" During this time he was collecting memorabilia to be put in a scrapbook documenting his wartime career; some of which is included in this collection.


1942 (issued)


Box 2265: 1942. -- Box 2266: 1943-1944. -- Box 2267: 1945, Wilson letters, Stiern, Chavez letters.


n-us--- -- n-us-ca -- ff----- -- e-it---
Kinney, Robert L -- 1912- -- Correspondence
Airmen -- California -- Correspondence
World War, 1939-1945 -- Africa, North -- Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945 -- Italy -- Personal narratives
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American
United States. -- Army Air Forces -- Biography


Robert L. Kinney was born on March 21, 1912. In 1942, he was residing at his family home in Stockton, California, where he worked as a bookkeeper for Arthur Samuels, a retailer of tobacco and cigars. Drafted into the service, he trained as a mechanic on fighter aircraft and B-17 bombers in Texas and California. Overseas he was assigned to the 39th Repair Squadron in North Africa and the 302nd Depot Repair Squadron, 90th A.D. Group in Italy where he became Tech Supply clerk. After discharge in 1945, Kinney returned to Stockton and became a manager at the Sharp Army Depot there. View photo of Robert Kinney: http://bancroft.library.ca.gov/diglib/image.cfm?id=356&start=1#356
Robert L. Kinney World War II letters, 1942-1945.
Finding aid available and a calendar accompanies each folder.



Physical Description:

ca. 219 items : ill., map, ports., photographs




MANUSCRIPT 2265-2267