In Honor of Veterans’ Day: The Military Career of William D. Workman Jr.

William D. Workman, Jr. wearing a World War II-era U.S. Army uniform.

William D. Workman, Jr.

Although we are grateful for our veterans every day of the year, Veterans’ Day provides an excellent opportunity to give special recognition to all who have served in the United States Armed Forces.

In celebration of Veterans’ Day, I’d like to draw attention to the unique contributions that William D. Workman’s collection offers to the canon of military history from his thirty years of military service, first as an intelligence officer during World War II, then as a Reservist.

Called to active duty by the U.S. Army in 1940, Workman’s wartime service as an intelligence officer included tours in the United States, England, North Africa and the Pacific. This chapter of Workman’s life is visually documented by hundreds of prints, slides, and negatives from places such as Hawaii, Aircraft Recognition School in the United Kingdom, Camp Davis Army Air Field in North Carolina, Fort Barrancas in Florida, and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

About 36 people, mostly men, in four rows. People pictured are wearing a variety of different military uniforms.

“37th Class—Aircraft Recognition School, 10th Light AA Training Reg’t; RA. North Barracks; Deepcut, Hampshire. Aug. 26—Sept. 8, 1942.” [Workman is fourth from the right on first row]

Three men in World War II-era military uniforms, standing in front of a wall, underneath a sign identifying their location as Atar, Mauritania.

William D. Workman, Jr. and two fellow soldiers stationed in North Africa during World War II.

Photograph of a World War II-era German military airplane in flight.

World War II aircraft recognition card from London’s Valentine & Sons’ “Proficiency Test” Series (front)

In addition to photographs, Workman preserved pamphlets from his time abroad, a series of sixty-three World War II aircraft recognition cards from London’s Valentine & Sons, and a 1942 bound volume of America’s Alertmen, a weekly newspaper for the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Command, Eastern Theater of Operations. Workman’s collection also contains bound publications from both the 71st Coast Anti-Aircraft Artillery of Fort Story, Virginia and the 76th Coast Anti-Aircraft Artillery of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

 

Three men in World War I-era U.S. military uniforms pose on a motorcycle in front of a row of military tents.

Sam Willis, Frank Cureton, and William D. Workman. Members of The Butler Guard from Greenville, SC in the Spring of 1917 at Camp Styx—Columbia, South Carolina.

While the existing finding aid highlights some of these materials, one of the hidden gems uncovered in our reprocessing project is a collection of twenty-two World War I photographs of The Butler Guard from Greenville, South Carolina. According to an article published in the Greenville News on November 27, 1917, Workman’s father, William D. Workman, Sr. (1889-1957), served as captain of this company. The Greenville News also adds that the Butler Guard was mobilized in April of 1917 and “helped break the ‘impregnable’ Hindenburg Line” as Company A of the 118th Infantry Regiment.”

The Butler Guard from Greenville, SC, c. 1917

Although we are not digitizing manuscripts for this particular project, it is worth noting that Workman’s collection also contains an extensive series of wartime letters from his father-in-law, Heber Thomas (1889-1959), to Thomas’ fiancée and later wife, Ruth (Dorrill) Thomas. For more information on this selection, please see the finding aid. If you’d like to view these materials, please review the Researcher Information available on SCPC’s website and contact us to schedule a visit.

A young white man in a World War I-era U.S. military uniform stands with one foot slightly forward.

Portrait of Heber E. Thomas in France during World War I, c. 1918-1919

 

By Mae Howe

Reprocessing and digitization of the William D. Workman, Jr. Papers photographs has been made possible by a grant from the National Historic Publications & Records Commission.

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