Monday, January 01, 2007

Lives in Letters: Postcard from a War Bride

Here's a bit of home-front war correspondence.

Belmar Fishing Club
Belmar, NJ
July 22, 1943
Addressed to
Mr. and Mrs. Harold F-
Nutley, New Jersey

Belmar, N.J. July 22nd
Hi Folks! Eric is at
Monmouth for
OCS and we have a
cottage here thru
Aug. Eric looks
grand and the
course is now
four months. Eliz
shore is wonderful –
only wish Eric
were here all the
time. My folks are
here for a while.
Love, Dot

OCS stands for Officer Candidates School. I can find both Army and Marines references that link to Belmar, New Jersey and OCS, but Monmouth was definitely the Army Signal Corps. The OCS for the Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth graduated over 21,000 candidates between 1941 and 1946 (thank you wikipedia). Here are a few details from one document describing the Army Signal Corps School:
Class 1 reported for the three-month training course on 3 July [1941]. Their curriculum included physical training, dismounted drill, military law, sanitation and first aid, military courtesy and customs, interior guard duty, defense against chemical attack, pistol marksmanship, supply, administration, mess management, map reading, signal communications, motor transportation, inspections, and training methods.

By 1943 the size of the OCS had significantly increased and the interval between classes had been cut to just two weeks. Courses in electricity and mathematics, as well as field exercises, had been added to the curriculum. The field exercises, simulating signal company support to an infantry division, afforded training in message center and messenger procedure, wire construction, and radio and wire

Dot mentions that the course Eric is taking is now 4 months. Reading further in the same document about Monmouth, I found that in 1943 a month was added to the course "to include an 18-day field exercise at Camp Misery, a sub-post of Fort Dix." Camp Misery. I doubt that was ironic.

Dot says Eric looks "grand." Does she mean in his uniform?

Not too bad a deal for Dot to spend a couple of months at the Jersey shore while her husband was in OCS. At least, she didn't seem to think so.

I think this letter was to her in-laws, Eric's parents. That seems to fit the tone and content.

Another find along my searches... read this short document about the Army Signal Corps OCS Association to learn just how easy it is to lose large chunks of history.

And another (also courtesy wikipedia) ... Julius Rosenberg (spouse to Ethel) was at Signal Corps Labs in Monmouth from 1940 to 1945. According to this citation, it was there he was first found out as a traitor.

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