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Collection Number: 04635

Collection Title: Robert E. Daniels Papers, 1941-1945

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 180 items)
Abstract Letters from Robert E. Daniels, an Indiana native and surgeon with the 8th Medical Battalion, U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, to his wife Marie G. Daniels and young daughter Lorabel. Letters in 1941 are from Robert, then a student officer at Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pa., from which he complained of the compressed nature of his studies. By September, Robert had been transferred to Fort Jackson, S.C., from which he wrote about camp life. By July 1944, Robert, promoted to lieutenant colonel, was writing letters from "Somewhere in France" containing a fair amount of description of camp life, bombing and strafing, his interest in the French language and food, and the plunder he was collecting and sending home. By January 1945, he wrote from "Somewhere in Germany," chiefly about camp life, but, occasionally about his activities in the field and in camp hospitals. By May, the war in Europe had ended, and Robert was able to tell Marie about his movements since his arrival in Europe. Also in May, he described a brief leave he took to visit Paris. Letters from Europe end in June; by July, Robert was home on leave. In August, he was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., from which he complained of feeling like he was preparing for another war. In the last letter, dated 6 September, Robert speculated on when he would be released from service. There are also a few routine letters from friends and relatives.
Creator Daniels, Robert E., 1904-
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Robert E. Daniels papers #4635, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum of Valley Stream, N.Y., in November 1992 (Acc. 92169).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Letters of Robert E. Daniels, an Indiana native and surgeon with the 8th Medical Battalion of the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II, to his wife, Marie G. Daniels and young daughter Lorabel. Most letters describe Robert's activities and discuss family news.

Letters in 1941 are from Robert, then a student officer at Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pa., to Marie and Lorabel, who apparently were staying with relatives in Indiana. Letters describe Robert's course of studies, which he complained were a five-month course crowded into one month. By September, Robert had been transferred to Fort Jackson, S.C., from which he wrote about camp life. In October, he was promoted to captain.

Letters show that, by June 1942, Robert had been placed in charge of the 8th Medical Battalion and promoted to major. Marie and Lorabel had moved to Columbia, S.C., while Robert was involved in practice maneuvers in Tennessee. There are no letters for 1943.

By 1944, Robert had been promoted to lieutenant colonel. In May, he shipped out for Northern Ireland, which he describes in scant detail, probably due to Army censorship and to the fact that he spent little time there. By July 1944, his letters originate from "Somewhere in France." Letters from France contain a fair amount of description, always with an eye to the power of the censor.

Robert was impressed with the French; in a letter dated 10 August, he told Marie that "they are centuries ahead of us in the art of living." In other letters, he described camp life, bombing and strafing, his interest in the French language and food, and the plunder he was collecting and sending home. He also took care to affirm repeatedly his loyalty to Marie in the face of the temptations placed before him. In a rare philosophical moment, Robert wrote, on 6 August 1944: "War won't change me, Baby. I look at it and calculate. To an M.O. [medical officer] it means torn tissues, blood vessels, broken bone, etc. All of which we must fix. The process of easing pain is the same here or elsewhere--it is just more wholesale. I believe war generally softens men. Makes them less hard. Certainly more understanding of fellow man. It makes them acutely aware of the mortality of flesh. About the immortality of the soul I can't say--definitely they do not snub the idea. My views on the idea are unchanged and probably will remain so. Preachers and rituals mean little. These matters are settled in other ways. Manifested in manners. Now how did I get on this subject, I wonder."

Meanwhile, Marie and Lorabel, who had relocated to Murfreesboro, Tenn., in early 1944, moved again, this time to Asheville, N.C. Robert mentioned the benefits of living in Asheville in a few letters written around August and September, but it is unclear why Marie chose that town or what she thought of it.

In late 1944, Robert wrote from "Somewhere in Luxembourg," where he continued to study French and collect German memorabilia. In January 1945, he wrote from "Somewhere in Germany," chiefly about camp life, the snacks he received from home, and his interest in the activities of family members and friends. There are a few letters in which he described his own activities in the field and in camp hospitals. Some of these descriptions are a bit grisly.

In February 1945, Robert told Marie of a brief leave in England he had taken. By May, the war in Europe had ended, and Robert was able to tell Marie exactly where he was and where he had been. A letter dated 28 May summarizes his movements since his arrival in Germany, ending with his current location at Schwerin, a resort town east of Hamburg. Also in May, he described a leave he took in Paris.

Letters from Europe end in June; by July, Robert was home on leave. In August, he was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., from which he complained of feeling like he was preparing for another war. In the last letter, dated 6 September, Robert speculated on when he would be released from service.

Also included are a few letters from other soldiers to Robert and, in mid-1945, from relatives and friends to Robert and Marie.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, with assistance from Matt Powell, March 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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