The 43rd Infantry Division, with elements from four New England states, was inducted into Federal service on February 24, 1941, for one year of active duty. Europe was an Axis fortress, with only England and Russia free of German Nazi domination. The Germans would attack Russia in June and America would not enter the war until Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
During early March, the men and trucks and howitzers of the 152nd Field Artillery Regiment left towns all over Maine for Camp Blanding, Florida. The regiment would not return home until victory 4.5 years later. Capt. Wilber Bradt, my father, a 41-year old chemistry professor was on the staff of the regiment and thus helped organize the departures. He, with the regimental commander and others of the staff, would finally leave for Florida on March 15, 1941. Old movie footage shows the regiment’s departure from snowy Bangor, Maine, and their early days at Camp Blanding, Florida. (My dad appears briefly on the train platform in the background facing the camera at time 3:48 of the nine-minute clip.) In the photo above, taken just as they were departing Bangor, he is the officer on the left end.
By March 15, my mother, my sister and I had left Bangor, Maine, and were settled into an apartment on West 73rd Street in New York City. Thus, just 75 years ago, began the sagas of our World War II experiences, that of Wilber with the army in the Pacific Theater and that of my mother, Norma, in New York City.
My trilogy, Wilber’s War: An American Family’s Journey through World War II, tells the whole story. It has been reduced in price from $125 to $79 and readers of this blog can get it for 25% less than that ($59.25 plus shipping). Use discount code BLOGWW at www.wilberswar.com. It’s a most touching story of jungle combat, intense love, and human frailty. Please consider buying it and telling your friends about it.