Tag Archives: World War II

Books for Troops: C.B.I. Pointie Talkie

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The C.B.I. Pointie Talkie Number 4 is a fascinating phrase book issued by the US Army Air Force for airmen in the China Burma India Theater in World War II. Containing sections in Chinese, Burmese, French, Annamese, Thai (Siamese), Shan, Lolo, and Lao, the book offers phrases for airmen to point at when trying to communicate with locals. The phrases range from basics like “Where is the latrine?” to pointed questions that reveal the fears and suspicions American soldiers were likely to have in a war zone, such as “Are there any spies around here?” The Pointie Talkie has recently been added to our rare book collections alongside a 1944 Japanese Phrase Book issued by the War Department.

Remembering the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

“…I could hardly believe Japan had actually attacked us first in such a remote place, yet the whole country has been first stunned then calmly resolved that now we are going to accept the challenge and get it over. They bombed barracks killing 350 soldiers [the total casualties were 2,403 killed & 1,178 wounded] and some ships apparently from an airplane carrier…The President and cabinet met at 8:00PM. Congressional leaders in later. All but Senator Nye of isolationists’ crowd have come around now. I gave out statement, not a question of who has been right but of unity henceforth. Joint session at 12:30PM tomorrow. Well here it is – war – war – God strengthen us all.”

–Excerpt from the diary of Senator Claude Pepper, December 7, 1941

When bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in the early morning of December 7, 1941, the picture of America, as has often happened, was changed. Having only begun to shake off the burden that was the Great Depression, the country was largely isolationist and determined to right its own ship, letting the world without handle its second great conflagration within twenty years. As was reflected in the above excerpt from Senator Pepper’s diary however, the country as a whole came to a realization very quickly: the war is upon us and we must fight. The outpouring of support and the subsequent rush to military recruitment offices by millions of Americans was unprecedented, with the nation rapidly mobilizing to prepare for the next 4 years of global conflict. Not every action taken in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor was warranted however, as Japanese American citizens of the United States, were taken from their homes and interned in camps throughout the American Midwest and Arkansas.

As we remember the 75th anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, let us reflect on the lives lost that day and in the years that would follow, let us contemplate the day’s significance in the history of not only our country, but the world, and finally let us remind ourselves of ways in which we can honor the sacrifices of those who came before.

Claude Pepper and the Lend Lease Act of 1941

Committee to Defend America event flyer. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 204D.
Committee to Defend America event flyer. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 204D Box 4 Folder 17.

This year marks the 74th anniversary of the passing of the Lend Lease Bill, which allowed the sale of arms and material to the Allied Nations during the Second World War, aiding the fight against the Axis Nations until American involvement in the war helped to turn the tide fully. The President as well as like-minded Senators such as Pepper and others, knew that American involvement in the war was inevitable and that American Neutrality would last for only so long. It was to this end that President Roosevelt created the Lend Lease Act to “Further promote the defense of the United States” and it was vigorously promoted by Senator Pepper during 1940 and 1941 leading up to the act’s passage into law on March 111941 with aid lasting until September of 1945. In a press release put out on the third anniversary of the passing of Lend Lease on March 111944, Senator Pepper reflected on the benefits of its passage, which provided some $50 billion dollars in aid to Free France, Great Britain, China and the USSR:

“Secretary of War [Henry L.] Stimson has defined Lend Lease as the “program designed to hasten the day of victory by permitting us to put the weapons of victory into the hands of our allies with a flexibility based on strategic considerations.” All over the globe lend lease material and skills supplied by the United States are slowly but surely bringing the enemy to his knees preparatory to the final blow which will forever free the world from the crushing force of aggression. Everywhere that the Nazis and the Japanese are being defeated in battle, lend lease is playing a vital role.” (Claude Pepper Papers, Series 204D Box 4 Folder 17)

Telegram from Pepper to the US Senate urging aid to the Allies. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 431A.
Telegram from Pepper to the US Senate urging aid to the Allies. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 431A Box 14 Folder 18.

Up to this point, 21,000 aircraft had been furnished to the Allies along with 4,700 tanks and tank destroyers, 100,000 sub machine guns and over one million tons of steel and other metals.  Throughout the year of campaigning for the act, the young senator from Florida worked tirelessly for its eventual passage and routinely spoke at events put on by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. During one such speech given on June 28, 1941, just a few months after the act passed, Pepper called attention to the dire need to continue American support for its allies abroad:

“They [isolationists] are those who said there would be no war in Europe, if Roosevelt did not cause it. They are those who denounced Roosevelt when he said, at Chicago, that the aggressors must be quarantined. They are those who refused to repeal the Arms Embargo and incited Hitler to unloose the dragons of war. They are those who opposed the Selective Service Act; those who fought against the Lend Lease Bill; who have thrown every possible obstacle in the path of the President, the Congress, and the people who have thus far made some contribution to the cause of stopping Hitler.” (Claude Pepper Papers, Series 203 Box 8 Folder 4)

Pepper hung in effigy, August 22, 1940. Image courtesy of the Washington Post.
Pepper hung in effigy, August 22, 1940. Image courtesy of the Washington Post. Claude Pepper Papers, Series 205 Box 1 Folder 15.

This vocal support of Lend Lease as well as the Selective Service Act earned Pepper the dislike of groups such as the Congress of American Mothers, who, fearing that their sons would be called off to fight, gathered in front of the halls of Congress and hung the Senator in effigy. The passing of the Lend Lease Bill is widely regarded as an important piece of legislation with regard to helping shorten the Second World War, which exacted a terrible cost on the world from 1939 to 1945. To learn more about Claude Pepper’s involvement during the War Years and beyond, please visit the Claude Pepper Library online, at our Facebook page or in person from 9 AM-5 PM Monday through Friday.

With All My Love: The Frances Isaac Letters, 1944-1947

This post was originally published February 13, 2015.

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Frances Isaac writing a letter to her fiance Herbert Dotter, ca. 1945.

Much has been written about letters sent during World War II – movies and books chronicle the stories of undelivered correspondence found decades later, letters between young lovers parted by an ocean, advice from mothers and fathers to their sons. Last fall, Heritage Protocol and University Archives were excited to acquire a collection of letters and photographs sent by FSCW student Frances Isaac to her deployed fiance, Herbert Dotter. From 1944 through ’47, Frances “Frannie” Isaac sent hundreds of letters to her fiance who was stationed in Liberia during WWII.

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Notes written on the back of a photograph, ca. 1945.

Frances started school at FSCW in 1943, and worked as an attache for the press in the Florida Legislator. She was an introvert, and often expressed in her letters that she preferred the solitude of studying in the library to gossiping with her classmates. In a letter from 1944, Frances wrote that she felt “pretty disgusted with the girls,” describing how her peers would gather at the gates of campus to talk to young military personnel. Many of the letters document the mundane, recounting what she ate for dinner that night, the new dresses she’d bought, difficult homework assignments. In some letters, she would talk about the multiple health ailments she faced, like a pulled tooth she had in 1946.

The binding theme throughout all of the letters, however, was the future of their relationship. In earlier letters, Frances would gush with love for Herbert, soliloquies filled with plans for their marriage and how she felt when she thought about him. But by 1947, her letters had become increasingly antagonistic until she eventually called things off. In a letter from March 1947, Frances compared their relationship to that with her father, explaining that the unconditional love Herbert showed her reminded her of the way her father treated her: “I can’t marry you – it would be like marrying my own father.” A few letters later, with a returned engagement ring, Frances tells Herbert about how she met someone new: “we’re like two lost souls adrift in an ocean who understand the fears hopes, frustration and desires of the other.”

Inside of Valentine's Day Card, 1947
Inside of Valentine’s Day Card, 1947

Unfortunately, we only have half of the narrative from this epic love story. Not much is known about Frances Isaac after she graduated from FSCW. Herbert Dotter eventually married someone else, and passed away at the age of 92 in 2009.

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

Claude Pepper in Nuremberg

The Florida State University Digital Library currently contains over 7,500 photographs from Claude Pepper’s life and career in public service. At the Claude Pepper Library we are regularly making more images available and each new batch provides a glimpse into history through Pepper’s eyes.

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Claude Pepper attending a press conference before the trial (November 13, 1945)

Claude Pepper witnessed the build-up to, and aftermath of, World War II while travelling through Europe in 1938 and 1945. The stark differences he encountered are demonstrated in the photographs from his parallel visits to Nuremberg, Germany. In 1938, Pepper made a short detour in his trip to see the 10th Party Congress of the Nazis, the last of what is now called the Nuremberg Rallies. He returned to Nuremberg in the fall of 1945 to watch the preparations for international tribunal, meet with the American and British prosecutors, and attend the opening days of the trial.

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The parade grounds at the 1938 Nuremberg Rally

Claude Pepper, along with his wife Mildred, took a long trip through Europe during August and September of 1938. They were not merely tourists, but met with political leaders and participated in Inter-parliamentary Union events while touring England, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. The Peppers paid close attention to the military buildup and preparations for war they saw as they traveled through each nation. Simultaneously, the Senator watched with optimism as the major powers attempted to negotiate for peace and placed his hope in the most recent agreement between England and Germany.

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Crowd saluting Nazi officials at the 1938 Nuremberg Rally

Once in Germany, Pepper determined to attend the Party Congress in Nuremberg on September 7 and 8. He watched the precision marching of troops as well as thousands of “labor boys and girls” in front of the podium where Hitler and Deputy Chancellor Hess gave their speeches. From his place in the stands, facing the crowd, Pepper was able to feel the effect of this “display of mass movement and mass emotion”. (Claude Pepper Diary, 09-07-1938) Pepper would encounter these party leaders again in Nuremberg seven years later when he attended their trials on war crimes charges.

Within months of the end of World War II, Claude Pepper planned a wide-ranging tour of Europe and the Middle East. He arrived in England in August 1945 and traveled through nations including Germany, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Italy, Austria, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia before returning home in mid-December. Pepper dedicated two weeks, from November 9 to 23, to his stay in Nuremberg.

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Justice Robert H. Jackson giving his opening address (November 20, 1945)

As a senator, he was given access to observe final arrangements for the trial, hear the prosecution’s evidence, and record of his impressions of the accused. He attended an interrogation of former Deputy Hess, now “thin and…peculiar”, whom he had last heard speak in 1938. (Claude Pepper Diary, 11-15-1945) Pepper spent considerable time with the chief prosecutor for the United States, Justice Robert H. Jackson, and was in the court room for his powerful speech on the second day of the trial. These events allowed Pepper to reflect on his memories of Germany in 1938. After viewing evidence from concentration camps and footage of the Nuremberg Rallies, he asked in his diary “Why couldn’t we all see it?” (Claude Pepper Diary, 11-13-1945)

More images of Nuremberg and other destinations from Claude Pepper’s trips through Europe are available at the Florida State University Digital Library. Documents from these tours as well as diary transcripts can be found at the Claude Pepper Library.

The Spessard Holland Photograph Collection Illustrates Three Decades of Florida Political History

Newly appointed Senator Spessard Holland working at his desk in Florida
Newly-appointed Senator Spessard Holland working at his desk in Florida (1946)

The Claude Pepper Library is home to a collection of over 2,000 photographs from Spessard Holland’s long career representing Florida in the United States Senate and as its 28th governor. These images provide a glimpse into his work on behalf of the state of Florida and with many of the preeminent political figures of the 20th century.

Spessard Holland, far left, with the 24th Aero Squadron in France during World War I
Spessard Holland, far left, with the 24th Aero Squadron in France during World War I

Holland was a lifelong resident of Bartow, Florida. He was born in the central Florida town to Benjamin F. and Virginia Holland in 1892. Despite leaving several times – to Atlanta to earn a bachelor’s degree at Emory University, then to Gainesville to study Law at the University of Florida, and to France during his service in the Army Air Corps during World War I – he always returned to his hometown. He was interred in Bartow in 1971 upon his death. The earliest photographs in the series include portraits of Holland as a child and with his fellow service men while stationed in Paris. However the majority of the images, taken during his thirty years in office, are devoted to Holland’s political work.

Governor Spessard Holland visiting a base in Florida during the second World War
Governor Spessard Holland visiting a military base in Florida during World War II

During the United States involvement in World War II, Holland served as the 28th Governor of Florida. He oversaw Florida’s participation in the wartime defense effort and the development of infrastructure to support this growth. The series of photographs illustrates Holland’s term in office from Election Day in 1940 through his departure in 1945. These images document Florida’s vital work during World War II at military bases, air fields, and shipyards; as well as Holland’s work on issues of tax reform and sponsoring Florida agriculture, which would remain central policy positions throughout his career. The collection also contains several family photos taken during Holland’s term as governor. These depict Mary Groover Holland in her duties as first lady as well as informal photos of family life in the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and throughout Florida.

President Truman arriving in Florida for the dedication of Hendricks Field being greeted by Senator Spessard Holland, Senator Claude Pepper, and Governor Millard Caldwell
President Truman greeted on arrival in Florida by Senators Spessard Holland and Claude Pepper
President Lyndon Johnson at the 1964 certification of the 24th Amendment, which had been sponsored by Spessard Holland
Sponsor Spessard Holland with President Johnson at the 1964 certification of the 24th Amendment

Governor Millard Caldwell appointed Spessard Holland to the United States Senate on September 25, 1946 following the death of Charles O. Andrews. Holland was formally elected to the seat in November of that year and served four consecutive terms until his retirement in 1971. The political changes that occurred over this quarter century can be witnessed in the collection. Holland’s relationship with the each Presidential administration, working most closely with fellow Democrats Truman and Johnson, is tacit in the images. Frequent travel, a significant part of the Senator’s life, is documented in this collection. Holland would attend events throughout Florida before returning to his senatorial office in Washington D.C., as well as congressional trips to Central America and up to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Spessard Holland meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins
Spessard Holland meeting with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins

Holland was committed to the success of the Florida space program. The collection contains images from his frequent trips to the Florida Space Coast taken during his ten years of service on the National Aeronautical and Space Committee. These show visits to launch and training sites as well as the crowds watching the subsequent lift-off. Holland met with the crew of Apollo 11 and the Mercury 7 astronauts, receiving inscribed photographs from Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and Alan Shepard.

Senator Spessard Holland meeting with Senator Claude Pepper and Florida Democratic Representatives to discuss VA Hospitals (1949)
Senator Spessard Holland meeting with fellow Florida Democratic Congressmen to discuss VA Hospitals (1949)

Over three decades, the photographs document Spessard Holland’s close relationships with many prominent political figures in Florida, Washington, D.C., and Latin American. Perhaps the most visible of his colleagues were his corresponding Florida Senator Claude Pepper and later George Smathers. The public life of a United States congressman – attending committee meetings, visiting with constituents, luncheons with interest group, and campaign banquets – were often done in conjunction with these men and his fellow Florida representatives.

The images are only part of the Spessard Holland collection. The photographs are held at the Claude Pepper Library along with biographies on Holland’s life, personal correspondence, campaign files, Floridiana, and memorabilia. More images of Spessard Holland during his terms of office can be seen in the Claude Pepper Digital Photograph Collection.

Spessard Holland and Allen Morris looking at a photograph from Holland’s governorship from the collection given to Strozier Library in 1971
Spessard Holland and Allen Morris looking at a photograph from Holland’s governorship, part of the collection given to Strozier Library in 1971