Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
This postcard flagged my interest when I pulled it from a box for a number of reasons – the sender and receiver are on the other side of the world, the content speaks volume without saying anything, and it’s hard to say what happened to the person who wrote the postcard – a young United States Army soldier about to leave to fight overseas in World War II.
The postcard is of Camp Blanding in Florida, which was leased to the United States Army in 1940 to train soldiers for active duty. In the five years following more than 800,000 soldiers were trained there. It grew to have the population of the fourth largest city in Florida, and one of the largest training bases in the country. It’s still an active base and is now the training base for Florida National Guard, both the Florida Army National Guard
The postcard shows a painting a group of servicemen outside their temporary barracks – there’s another pair behind them strangely holding a ladder up in the air – and it is one of a number of postcards sold at the base depicting scenes of military life. Not exactly a ‘wish you were here’ type of postcard exactly…
The postcard was sent from Camp Blanding on June 13th, 1941 and was heading to the hands of Percy Brown in Miami, Florida. It says:
Dear Percy! I’m finally a soldier. At least I’m supposed to be one. It looks as tho I’m going to be shipped points West about tomorrow. Where to, no one knows. You’ll have to watch the list for me till I come home and slow Greg down a little! Best of luck, Jim Pollard
It’s hard to know a lot about Jim and what happened to him after he wrote the postcard – it’s pretty clear that he had no idea where he was heading himself when he was shipped out the next day. It’s hard to tell if he’s hopeful, excited, or scared – probably a mix of all of these. Did Percy Brown ever hear from him again?
There was only one soldier who enlisted at Camp Blanding around this time and fits the name: Private James J Pollard, resident of Florida, born in Pennsylvania in 1918, serial number 34053572. If that pings some search engine interest, please post a comment and get in touch. It would be great to know if Jim made it through the war.