December 1945

A single entry from John B. Campbell's WWII career summary spans October 1945 through January 1946 and includes the month of interest for this story:  December 1945.  APO is Army Post Office. Becky (Henry Beckenbach) is the nickname for a high school friend from Youngstown, Ohio. 

This story is set in December 1945 and includes JBC's one-week pass to Switzerland, a single 1945 Christmas photo (in Bamberg, Germany), and two burnt Christmas cards!

Switzerland Leave Center in Mulhouse, France

Mulhouse, France, is located near the French borders with Germany and Switzerland. Dad evidently passed through here on his way from Bamberg, Germany, to Switzerland, as there are references to the French having authority to check passes. 

The top of this two-page document from Headquarters - Switzerland Leave Center Oise Intermediate Section indicates Dad was eligible for 6 beer, 3 Coca Cola, 1 ice cream, 1 shoe shine, and 1 haircut.

The list of nine necessary items for travel to Switzerland includes raincoat (mentioned multiple times), class "A" uniform, and cigarettes and tobacco! No blankets are needed (interestingly, this is mentioned repeatedly).

Enlisted men would have to pay extra for baths and showers in Swiss hotels. No firearms were permitted in Switzerland.

This Notice at the very end of page 2 is interesting:  

The PW's of this Center are here to serve you, no "THANKS" will be given for their services!

They WILL NOT be given CIGARETTES, TOBACCO, CANDY, CHEWING GUM, "TIPS" ETC. under any conditions!


So, prisoners of war must have worked at the Switzerland Leave Center and/or Mulhouse.

This edition of the Swiss Yodeler (a publication of the Switzerland Leave Center) is dated December 6, 1945 (the day before Dad's week in Switzerland).  Among its features:

- a wedding, a blossoming love story, and an engagement

- Red Cross facelift, including a dance floor and a PA system

- Christmas tree placement

- Jewish services

- updates on U.S. football, celebrities, cinema

- news from Washington, Detroit, New York, and London

Switzerland: December 7 - 14

I don't know in what order various Swiss cities and towns were visited. Perhaps they followed the order Dad listed in his career summary:  Basel, Lucerne, Locarno, Zurich, Rheinfelden. I am sure Basel was the first stop, given its proximity to Mulhouse. The locations visited are in bold italics, underlined.

I do remember Dad telling a story about a train passing through a mountain tunnel, perhaps on this trip.  He was fascinated with the change in weather:  when they entered the tunnel, it was snowy and cold; when they exited the tunnel, it was sunny and mild.

It appears that Basel (Basle) was rainy, Lucerne (Luzern) snowy, and Locarno sunny.

The 8-page brochure was published by the Territorial Service of the Swiss Army. The brochure was apparently prepared by a Swiss citizen who had visited the U.S. It mentions that women in Switzerland "do not vote."  It seems "cannot" vote would have been more accurate, as Swiss women were not able to vote until October 1971!

Basel: rainy

The US-Tours postcard actually appears to be a ticket; on the back, there is a message from The Manager, Tramways of Basle (or Basel).

The photo street scene is simply noted as being in Basle. Perhaps they arrived at the Basel railway station from Mulhouse. Might they have changed trains here?

Lucerne: snowy

The Lucerne (Luzern) train station has been modernized; only the archway portion of the facade has been preserved.

Locarno: sunny

A mountainside in Locarno, the Locarno train station, and the Hotel Esplanade.  Dad knew some of the folks in the train station photo, one of whom is Trevathan (referenced in the excerpt from Dad's career summary, above). Dad (and others) stayed at the Esplanade Hotel in Locarno; the hotel is still operating.  

December 11, 1945

Dad's career summary notes that he was in Italy on December 11. The photo of Dad and a "buddy" is at the Swiss-Italian border. Dad documented that he is standing in Italy. I noticed that the certificate for the Czech pistol is also dated December 11. I'm not sure if this means that Dad acquired it on this trip. I don't recall any references to a pistol growing up, so I expect he had disposed of it many years prior.

1945 Christmas in Bamberg, Germany

Dad is present in this Christmas photo in Bamberg, Germany. There is a man standing and looking at the camera (right side of the photo). Dad is seated, to that man's right. Dad's left hand is up near his chin. This was Dad's only Christmas overseas.  He spent Christmas 1944 at Fort McClellan, AL, where he was completing basic training and awaiting his overseas assignment.

Burnt Christmas cards

This envelope (postmarked January 8, 1946) included two Christmas cards, both with singed edges. Note that the stamps on the back of each card envelope state, "DAMAGED IN PLANE CRASH."  It appears Dad received these cards late, probably weeks after the Christmas holiday. I am not familiar with the individuals who sent the Christmas cards, but I am sure Dad appreciated their thoughtfulness.

from Aunt Mary and Uncle Rye

from Delilah Myers

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In