Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
World War II letters, 1943.
Collection Overview


World War II letters, 1943
Jack Varner World War II letters, 1943


Varner, Jack, 1914-1996?, creator


115 holograph letters by Varner to Nell Wheat, the woman who became his fiancee during the time of this correspondence. Most letters were sent to her home in Roanoke, Virginia, but some were addressed in care of her brother, Forest Wheat, in Norfolk, Virginia. Letters from February 12th, 1943 through March 7th, 1943, were sent from Fort Ord, California; letters from March 10th, 1943 through August 13th, 1943 were sent from Camp Cooke, California, with the exception of two mailed from Pismo Beach, California while Varner was on a short leave. A few letters have military insignia letterheads. There are four newspaper clippings and two photographs.
The letters in the collection were written almost daily as Jack Varner courted Nell Wheat. During this period in his military career he was serving as a baker in Company A, 99th Quartermaster Battalion, United States Army while the Battalion awaited overseas duty. He talks of his work as a baker and of extensive training exercises to prepare for the coming assignment. Homesickness perhaps led to negative feelings about being stationed in California; he often complained about dust and the cold coastal winds and described Camp Cooke: "Seems like we are on the edge of nowhere. The coyotes habitate the field to the west of us. Such howling as they do at night. ... This place is as deserted as an island in the middle of the Pacific." But the primary focus of the letters is the evolving relationship between Jack and Nell. He talks about his interests that he hopes she will share ("soft" music, photography, fishing, exploring the natural world), sends her endearments in Spanish, and reassures her always about her importance in his life: "I am on guard duty tonight. While I walk you'll be with me."


1943 (issued)


Varner, Jack -- 1914-1996? -- Correspondence
Soldiers -- California -- Correspondence
World War, 1939-1945 -- California
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American
Fort Ord (Calif.) -- History
Camp Cooke (Calif.) -- History


Jack Varner was born July 18th, 1914 and attended Jefferson High School in Roanoke, Virginia. Prior to his military service, he was employed as a stenographer at the Jewell Tea Company. After he entered the Army, Varner was initially stationed at Fort Lee, Florida. In 1943 his unit was transferred to Fort Ord, Calif. and remained on the West Coast at Fort Ord and Camp Cooke until shipped to somewhere in the Pacific Theater in August. During this period Varner courted Nell Wheat, who then worked at the Roanoke Book and Stationery Company, via his letters; they became engaged during Varner's leave in May of 1943. Unverified research suggests that Varner returned to Roanoke after the war and died there on December 21st, 1996.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
Jack Varner World War II letters, 1943.



Physical Description:

1 box (ca. 123 items) : ill., port.







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.