This collection documents life during the Second World War for Lieutenant Oliver Jordan Wolfe (1919-2002) while serving in the Pacific Theatre, and for his young bride, Mrs. Marie Virginia Ulmer Wolfe (1921-2010), residing in Columbia, S.C. Topics discussed include life in the U.S. Army during World War II and civilian work and leisure on the home front in South Carolina.
Following training in Texas, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina, Oliver Wolfe earned a position at the Army Air Force Statistical School. Upon completion of training at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Wolfe shipped out with the 25th Statistical Control Unit, which was attached to the Thirteenth Army Air Force. This unit earned the nickname "the Jungle Air Force" for its frequent relocations among rugged islands and primitive conditions as the U.S. Forces advanced towards Japan across the Pacific. Places described include Guadalcanal, New Hebrides (Jan. 1944), Admiralty Islands (3 May 1944), New Guinea (19 Sept 1944); Dutch East Indies (late 1944); Sydney and elsewhere in Australia; Leyte, Manila, and elsewhere in the Philippines; and the Molucca Islands (mid-1945).
At home in South Carolina, his wife Marie Wolfe returned to live in the home of her parents. Despite the rationing and shortages common to civilian life of the time, she enjoyed travels of her own. Summer visits to a beach house on the S.C. coast required an early bedtime due to blackout restrictions (3 July 1943). When her sister, Judy, graduated from a college near New York City, Mrs. Wolfe and her family enjoyed the night life of Manhattan, including attendance at a radio broadcast hosted by a young Frank Sinatra. Later that evening in a nightclub, the family encountered the famed crooner once more when seated at a table adjacent to Sinatra at the Riobamba Room (20 June 1943).
In addition to correspondence and photographs, the collection includes: original art work (25 Jan. 1942), hand-painted greeting cards (1 Apr. 1945), the regimental Christmas card pictured above, featuring the logo of the 44th Bomber Group, known as the "Flying Eight Balls"; artifacts such as two metal "sales tax" tokens (31 May 1942), or a stack of early IBM computer punch cards coded with names and addresses of various family members (30 Sept. 1942); or both art and artifacts, such as the envelope illustrated with a full color scene of an island girl in grass skirt chasing a soldier; Oliver wrote the enclosed letter on a large sheet of captured Japanese stationery, printed with several Kanji characters (12 Oct. 1944, envelope pictured above).
Topics discussed range from the serious, such as Lieut. Wolfe's description of waking to an early-morning Japanese bombing raid, and finding himself unable to reach the safety of a foxhole before the bomb exploded (9 Oct. 1944); to the hopeful, as in the couple's descriptions of learning of the "D-Day" landings at Normandy on 6 June 1944; as well as the more light-hearted observations that hint at the popular culture of the day, as in this exchange between two women: "Have you heard any 'knitting for Britain' jokes?... 'I went out riding in a car. I will admit I went too far. Now what I did, I ain't admitting – but what I'm knitting ain't for Britain!' " (14 Mar. 1942).