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Fun Finds at Today's Archives

Our work area while perusing the regimental history of Bill's unit, the 16th Infantry. 
Volunteers at Archives II set aside specific boxes through which Lauren could look for clues as to Bill's life in the Army. Certainly this saved a lot of time, not just the time it takes to find what boxes to look in, but time for the boxes to come back down.

And that saved time allowed us to focus on some fascinating gems in the boxes. Here are a few very interesting items we discovered.

General Eisenhower with Field Marshall John Gort (governor of Malta) and Air Marshal Arthur Tedder on Malta.

So, that's what Ike called his plane.

A map used by U.S. troops in Bill's regiment for their D-Day preparations. 
Lauren's favorite artifact was a captured German map with American typing and writing. It outlined the German mortar positions and strong points overlooking Omaha Beach. I wish I had gotten the camera around in time.

In a regimental history of Bill's unit we came across evidence that both Eisenhower and Montgomery visited the division. It's a shame we couldn't find a picture of either event. Given enough time, I'm sure we could have done so.

We spent the morning looking at photographic records, the afternoon with text records. I really could have spent all morning poring through the photographs. After a while, I started learning the system by which they were organized. Most that we saw were taken by personnel in the Signal Corps, and it would seem as if one particular photographer stayed with the 3rd Battalion of Bill's regiment on June 6. Unfortunately, we never spotted Bill in any of the photos we saw. That's okay. I would've been at ease just looking through one photo after another of G.I.'s, young men who looked like normal fellas but part of something extraordinary.

The research experience as a little grueling. Grueling. Strange word to use when one is doing this in air conditioning and is given meal money. Still, though, it requires focus for a sustained stretch of time. The archives have very rigid rules about how one handles the documents: one person with one document from one folder from one box at a time. If one sends for a box and gets the wrong one, one might be waiting a while until staff can fix it (not our case today: two staff members were ridiculously quick getting back with some erroneous boxes). One can't eat or drink while working with the documents. One must go through security procedures that are very, very rigid. It's certainly not a relaxing atmosphere.

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