The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience has partnered with the Digital Library Center to bring selections of its holdings to DigiNole. Some of the recent additions are from the Frederick C. Jackson collection. We welcome guest contributor Emily Woessner, the student who is processing the Jackson collection and completed the description for the digital items.
Frederick C. Jackson was a 21 year old infantry soldier from Connecticut when he was shipped to Anzio with the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division during World War II. I myself am 21 years old, but instead of fighting in the Battle of Anzio I am processing Jackson’s collection here at the archives of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University. After researching the battle and connecting the dots, I am reminded and beyond grateful for the service and sacrifice of these brave men.
Beginning on January 22, 1944 the Battle of Anzio would be a four month long ordeal between British and American Allies against the Germans in Italy. The main goal of this campaign was to break through the Gustav Line just south of Cassino, Italy. Another potential aim was to take Rome. The Allied campaign was led by British General Holder Alexander, American Lieutenant General Mark Clark with the help of American Major Generals John P. Lucas and Lucian Truscott.
The Battle of Anzio, unfortunately, turned into a poorly executed campaign that saw too few Allied troops assigned to such a major task. The Allies had roughly 75,000 troops compared to the German’s 100,000+. After four months of fighting, gridlock, and a command change the Allies were eventually able to capture Rome, but ultimately unable to break the Gustav Line. The Battle of Anzio saw the death of 7,000 and wounding/missing of 36,000 Allied soldiers. The Germans sustained losses of 5,000, wounding/missing of 36,000, and the capture of 4,500 soldiers. Although the campaign was widely criticized afterwards for its poor handling and communication, Churchill defended it saying it accomplished the goal of keep German troops occupied and away from Northwestern Europe where the invasion of Normandy was to take place several months later.
Frederick C. Jackson was not left unscathed by the battle, however he did survive. On March 23, 1944 he was hit by shrapnel causing damage to both of his arms and the loss of his right eye. He was subsequently evacuated and returned to the U.S.
We are fortunate enough today though that the letters between Frederick and his parents along with a few other personal belongings have found their way to our Institute. The new digital collection includes those letters as well as a diary from 1944. We are given a chance to revive this young man’s story and reflect on all he and his fellow soldiers did for this country and the world. I recommend anyone taking the time to glimpse into the past so that they may better understand and appreciate the present.
Emily is a third year international affairs major with minors in German, museum studies, and art history. Since August 2016, she has worked as an assistant archivist at the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at FSU and will continue to do so until she graduates in spring 2018. This summer she looks to expand her archiving experience as she embarks on an internship at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.