World War II Collections at the SWC!

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Last week we shared images from the papers of Pete Williams, an Army private who served as General Douglas MacArthur’s chauffeur throughout World War II’s Pacific campaign. But the Southwest Collection houses many other collections related to World War II. The image above, for example, comes from the papers of Joe D. Unfred. Unfred served as a Captain in the U.S. Army’s Third Armored Division during World War II. The Division was the first to breach the Siegfried Line, the first to cross the German border, and to capture the first German town. The collection consists primarily of photographs and scrapbooks documenting the day-to-day life of his service in Europe. The images above come from his time in France in 1944.

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Fred Eurie Young’s papers date from 1917 to 1965 and document his time as a serviceman during World Wars I and II. Born in 1891, Captain Young went on to serve as the chief attorney for the Veterans Administration in Lubbock, Texas after the war (from 1946 to 1961). Much of his papers consists of correspondence, both personal and administrative, during both wars. This document, for example, is the notice that he received when he was called up from the Army Reserves in 1942.

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Unique among all of our war-related collections is the Texas National Guard Records, 1900-1964. This image comes from a ledger documenting National Guardsmen’s requests in 1901. Although this item dates from prior to WW2, the bulk of the records consist of general files, the medical records and notes of one Dr. G. Schilling, and records and notes pertaining to the 36th Division and the 36th Division Association during that conflict. A variety of related correspondence, financial records, and other items are present, including an amazing six-volume stereographic photo library on World War II.

As always, our Reference Department would be happy to arrange access to these collections as well as our many other materials, whether they pertain to World War II or any of our other diverse collecting areas.

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The One-of-a-Kind Photograph

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There are times in an archive when a truly special item shows up. The photo above is precisely that. In late 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled to Japan after that nation’s surrender to Allied forces, which brought an end to World War II in the Pacific. This photograph was taken moments after his arrival when, having just disembarked from the C-47 that flew him there, he clasped hands with General Douglas MacArthur.

But what makes this photo so special? Note the several photographers in the background lowering their cameras. Their assignment was to take the official, press-released shots of this greeting. This photograph, however, was taken from the opposite side where, presumably, no other cameramen were standing. The man who took this picture, PFC Paul S. “Pete” Williams, was the driver that would later chauffeur MacArthur throughout the Pacific. You won’t find this photograph in the Library of Congress or the Eisenhower Presidential Library. It was the sole property of Private Williams, taken from the unique angle of a foot soldier witnessing history. Now it resides at the Southwest Collection among many of Private Williams’ other World War II photographs.

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Pete Williams toured Japan extensively as part of MacArthur’s entourage. When the General visited the ruins of Hiroshima, Pete was there. This photograph is one among many that he took while surveying the atomic destruction from MacArthur’s vantage point.

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Not all of Williams’ photos documented military matters and mass destruction. In fact, fully half of his snapshots were of his and his comrades’ antics, as well as daily life in Japan such as this image of smiling fishermen proudly displaying the best of that day’s catch.

The Paul S. “Pete” Williams Papers, 1945 are available for interested researchers to view, as are the papers of his brother, Elijah Williams. Our Reference Department is always happy to arrange access to the collection, as well as many of our other materials.