Greetings fellow historians!

As a young boy my heroes were from books. Fighting men like Captain Horatio Hornblower and Francis Marion “the Swamp Fox” fired my imagination. More than anything I wanted to be like them, strong, brave, and heroic. One day, while rummaging around my father’s closet I came upon a large box. Arranged within the box were 5 or 6 dusty, dirty cigar boxes. Inside the boxes were hundreds of old letters. They were numbered, in sequence and in the original envelopes. I opened the first letter and started to read. From that day on, my hero became not Horatio Hornblower or Francis Marion, but Pfc. William Wellington Taylor, Jr., my father. The letters were his letters home from World War II.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. — Greg Taylor

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18 responses to “Greetings fellow historians!

  1. Greg, I’ve just finished reading your father’s letters and wanted to thank you for making them available, together with his equally engaging cartoons. No wonder he’s your hero! I’m a historian at Rutgers researching a book on the experiences of American service personnel who served with the armies of occupation after World War II. I’d be delighted to hear from anyone else who may have letters or diaries relating to the postwar occupations that they’d be willing to share. (My email address is scarruth@rutgers.edu)
    Many thanks, Susan Carruthers

  2. Susan- Thank you for your kind words. I am so grateful to be able to share these great letters (and sketches) with the world via cyberspace. I look forward to the publication of your book. The Occupation is a part of the World War II story that is often overlooked and it deserves more historical examination and revelation, in my opinion. Interestingly, I remember that my father developed an affinity for many of the ordinary Germans he encountered during the Occupation. He even dated several young German ladies during that time.

    Regards,
    Greg Taylor

  3. Dear Mr. Taylor,

    I am the district archivist of the district of Göppingen (Germany), where your father did his service when WWII ended. His letters are very interesting for us, showing our region through the eyes of an intelligent and reflecting young American. I translated some of his letters into German and will publish it in a book about the ending of WWII in our district. We would be happy to get a picture of your father. Our contact is: kulturamt@landkreis-goeppingen.de

    Kind regards,

    Dr. Stefan Lang

  4. Dear Dr. Lang,

    Thank you for your interest in my father’s letters. I think it is great that you have translated some of the letters into German for presentation in your forthcoming book. As I said in a previous post, Bill had a fondness for many of the Germans he met during the Occupation and I am sure that he would approve of your project.

    Regarding a picture, I have only two photos of him taken during the War- one during basic training and one taken in Paris in the fall of 1944 during a brief leave from combat. All other photos I have of him are post war. I will contact you directly on your email address for more information. I will gladly supply you with any photo that is appropriate to your needs.

    Regards,
    Greg Taylor

  5. Greg,

    Please send me an email. I am working on a history of the 1st Battalion, 399th Infantry Regiment (in which your father served).

    Sincerely yours,
    Tom Harper Kelly
    Progeny of Thomas B. Harper III, HQ Co., 1st Battalion, 399th Infantry

  6. Greg,
    If ever you’re in Neosho, Missouri, or want to plan a weekend trip here, let me know. I can take you around what is left of the old World War II Camp Crowder site, where your dad was for a time. It has changed dramatically since he was there. Not much left but woods and thickets. My email address is cato.uticensis46@gmail.com. I would be happy to provide my phone number. Great site, by the way.

    • Dear Charlie,
      Please feel free to to use Bill’s letters. I have created this website to honor his service and make this information available to anyone who wants to learn more about this history.
      Regards,
      Greg

  7. Hi Greg,

    I am in the final stages of writing a book about the history of Camp Abbot. I was wondering if I could get permission to use some of the quotes from the letters in the book? There are some wonderful quotes in his many letters home.

    All the best,

    Tor

  8. Dear Tor,

    Thank you for your interest in my website. I have no objection to your use of my father’s letters as long as you cite the source. My purpose in sharing these wonderful letters is to celebrate my father’s service to our country during WWII. I wish you luck in your endeavor and just ask that you notify me in writing prior to any publication so I can review the context in which the letters are presented.

    Regards,
    Greg

    • Hi Greg,

      Thank you for offering up the information contained in your father’s letter for inclusion in the book about Camp Abbot. I decided not to use any direct quotes. However, the letters gave me invaluable source of information during the research phase.

      Please let me know where I can send a copy of the book as a thanks for opening up your personal archives to the general public.

      All the best,

      Tor

      • Hi Tor,
        I look forward to reading your history of Camp Abbott. My home address is: 7018 Ranchito Ave.
        Van Nuys, CA. 91405

        Regards,
        Greg Taylor

  9. Mr. Taylor,

    I am the archivist of Harvard-Westlake School which is the successor school to the Harvard School for Boys, the school your father went to and your grandfather taught at.

    I came across your blog and realized that your father was not only a student of our school but that his 1943 Salutatory speech was recently used by our headmaster for his opening of the school year speech a few years back.

    As the historian of the school I am always looking for interesting stories and histories about the school and its alums. I’d love to contact you about learning more about your father and grandfather.

    If you are interested and are in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles, I would also like to extend an invitation to you to visit the archives and the campus of the school.

    Please feel free to contact me at eyin@hw.com

    Regards,

    Eric

  10. Dear Eric,
    Thank you for your interest in my father William Wellington Taylor and Grandfather William Wellington Taylor Sr. Yes, I would be happy to share some of the memorabilia I have that relates to Harvard Military School

  11. Greg, thanks for making this wonderful resource available to historians!

    I am based at the University of Cambridge and working on a book about GIs and European women. I came across your comment about Stuttgart here: http://ww2f.com/threads/the-rape-of-stuttgart.30327/

    I think I may have some answers for you if you’re still interested! (I realise it’s been quite some time since you made the original post). If you’d like to chat please do send me an email – rgl34@cam.ac.uk

    Best

    Ruth Lawlor

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