Raphael McDermott Correspondence, 1942-1945
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Brief Description:

Raphael McDermott's collection of correspondence spans just over three years, beginning soon after Raphael's induction into the Army in September of 1942, and ending when he arrived back in the United States in October of 1945. The majority of the correspondence consists of letters and v-mails Raphael had sent to his parents and sister Marie. There are also some letters from his girlfriend, Mabel Brown, to Raphael's family. Raphael included these with some of his correspondence home when she was living in Texas, close to the base at which Raphael was stationed. In addition, there are a few letters from two other correspondents, "Edna" and "Freeman" that seem to have been placed in the same envelopes as Raphael's letters home, However, it is unclear how these letters got there. It is important to note that in the letters written by Mabel, Edna and Freeman, Raphael is referred to by his nickname, Pat.

Raphael's letters provide a detailed and sometimes disturbing account of the reality of war.

In addition to his many narratives and statements about his experience in Europe, Raphael also writes a great deal about life back on the farm. He furnishes information about the day to day activities of a Southern Illinois farming family, as well as insight into their values and ideas. The correspondence that comprises the Raphael McDermott collection provides glimpses not only of activity in the European theatre of war and at home, but also of the attitudes and beliefs of those involved in and affected by the Second World War.

Held at:
Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
605 Agriculture Dr.
MC 6632
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-2516
Fax: 618-453-3451
Email: speccoll [at] lib.siu.edu
Record Series Number: 1/6/MSS 204
Created by: McDermott, Raphael, (1913-1988.)
Volume: 9.0 Boxes
Acquired: 07/11/2001.
Biographical Note for McDermott, Raphael, (1913-1988.) :

Raphael McDermott was born on January 15, 1913, and grew up on a farm located where the town of Shawneetown, Illinois now stands. After the great floods of 1937, Raphael’s family sold the farm to provide a location for a new Shawneetown, and the town was moved away from the banks of the Ohio river where it originally sat. At this point Raphael, now 25, his older sister Marie, and his mother and father, relocated to Gallatin county farm land directly west of Ridgeway and just east of the Saline county line. He lived here and worked the land along side his family up until his induction into the Army on September 12, 1942.

After training in Texas, Raphael was assigned to the 745th Tank Battalion, and served as a truck driver in an armored infantry unit. His service overseas spanned over 25 months, from August, 1943 to October, 1945. During that time, Raphael was stationed in England (August 1943 - June 1944), France (June 1944 - September 1944 and September 1945 - October 1945), Belguim (September 1944 and December 1944 - February 1945), Germany (October 1944 - December 1944; February 1945 - April 1945; and June 1945 - September 1945), and Czechoslovakia (April 1945 - June 1945). After the war in Europe ended, Raphael guarded a P.O.W. camp, served as part of the army of occupation and awaited his return to the United States.

Raphael returned to his family farm near Ridgeway, and his high school sweetheart, Mabel Brown, following his discharge from the army in October of 1945. Besides his tour of duty in the Army, Raphael never had a job outside of farming. He continued to live and work on the family farm for the remainder of his life. Although he and Mabel never married, never lived together and never had any children, they remained in romantic partnership until Raphael's death on August, 22, 1988.

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.
Subject Index
Ardennes, Battle of the, 1944-1945.
McDermott, Raphael, 1913-1988.
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945 - Social aspects - United States
Genres/Forms of Material
Brown, Mabel - Correspondence
McDermott, Raphael, 1913-1988. - Correspondence
Soldiers - Illinois - Correspondence
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.
Acquisition Notes: Purchased
PreferredCitation: Raphael McDermott Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.