Reply by V…- MAIL – Letters from Clifton Graham 1945 WW 2

Clifton Graham was the son of my Grandfather Mershell Graham’s “play” brother, that is they were not blood relatives but considered each other brothers because they were both Grahams from Montgomery, AL. I don’t have much information about him and was unable to find much online. He was born May 28, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama.  By 1920 he and his family were in Detroit, Michigan. Below is a photograph of John Clifton (always called Clifton) and his brother Lewis with my Aunt Mary V. and my Uncle Mershell Graham, as children. They were all living in Detroit and I would guess it was taken on Memorial Day or the 4th of July at Belle Isle, a park in the middle of the Detroit River. My mother was probably a baby at the time and too young to be in the photograph.  Read more here V…-mail.

Clifton, Mary V, Lewis, Mershell Graham. Abt 1923
Clifton, Mary V, Lewis, Mershell Graham. About 1923.  Click to enlarge.

The two letters below were written to my Grandparents in March and July of 1945 by John Clifton Graham from Europe during WW 2.

Click to enlarge.

March 29, 1945

Dear Folks,

Time permits me to drop you a line or two and let you know that I am well, even though I am somewhat in the inner confines of Germany, a country that has been completely pulverized and at present being subjected to the terror of our Air Forces.

There is much to tell but due to censorship, I am restricted to a great extent, which you no doubt know. The weather the past few days has been grand and spring is in evidence at ever turn in this war torn country.  We are getting a rest for the time being but it is like the lull before a storm, thus by the time this letter reaches you much will have passed under the bridge.

I received a long letter from M.V. last week and will answer today, while time still permits.  I must close now so as to time my correspondence due over a period of 2 weeks, My regards to Grandma Turner, Alice, Aunt Daisy,

Love Cliff Jr.

What was happening in March 1945

March 29: The Red Army enters Austria. Other Allies take Frankfurt; the Germans are in a general retreat all over the centre of the country.
March 30: Red Army forces capture Danzig.
March 31: General Eisenhower broadcasts a demand for the Germans to surrender.

Click to enlarge.

June 25 1945

Dear Folks,

Received your letter of June 9th and appreciated the fact that you dropped me a line or two. I heard from M.V. yesterday and she is quite well, likewise my pin up gal Diane.

I have passed the convalescent stage and fit as fiddle once more. I have been transferred out of my present ward and now await transportation to a replacement depot, up somewhere near Paris from there, I shall be assigned to either my original unit or another unit altogehter.

I hope that I can come home from here but at present the outlook isn’t too optimistic but I shall keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.  Give my regards to Grandma Turner, Daisy and Alice and all my love to both of you. Write again soon. 

Your nephew Cliff Jr.

June 5, 1945 – Allies divide up Germany and Berlin and take over the government.
June 26, 1945 – United Nations Charter is signed in San Francisco.July 1, 1945 – American, British, and French troops move into Berlin.
July 16, 1945 – First U.S. atomic bomb test; Potsdam Conference begins.
July 26, 1945 – Atlee succeeds Churchill as British Prime Minister.

Cliff did survive the war and return to make a life for himself in Detroit.  I’m trying to find more specific information but so far I have only found several church booklets from Plymouth United Church of Christ in the 1960s that show he was very active in the church. There are even a few group photographs.  Unfortunately they aren’t labeled so I don’t know which is him.  Found a photograph of him in 1973 with my grandfather, Mershell Graham. Taken just a few months before my grandfather died.

"Clifton and Daddy at Cliff's house - Summer 1973. My last good picture of Daddy" written by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage.
“Clifton and Daddy at Cliff’s house – Summer 1973. My last good picture of Daddy” written by my mother, Doris Graham Cleage.

34 thoughts on “Reply by V…- MAIL – Letters from Clifton Graham 1945 WW 2

  1. I remember calling “Western Union” to see if they had a catalogue of messages from the Wars? answer NO! I wanted to find even just that. That’s all my Parents would get from news from there family. Never did find any in their things. I so wished they had saved them. Mom even threw out her letters or “misplaced” them from Daddy in the war. I’ll have to ask others. These were so important to me back then when I first started Genealogy. I hope I find some. These were Great!

    1. I had these in a box with a bunch of other stuff from my grandmother and one day I was looking through it and wondered what these little letters were. I blew them up with the scanner and was surprised to read these messages from the war. That’s really too bad your Mom threw out the letters. Some people save everything and some don’t.

  2. How wonderful that you have these letters. These are incredible as they are give a personal view of what is happening. I think it’s great that your family kept these. The rest of you details were spot on. I always enjoy your writing because everything comes to life. I can imagine how his grandparents felt waiting for the letters to arrive. This was a great personal viewpoint on that time during our country’s history. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I wonder what was lost during all the moves! Never satisfied, I guess. I do appreciate all the things that were saved though, really I do.

  3. WOW! There’s nothing like history being supported by personal narratives! Had Clifton been injured in combat? Did he make it home safe & sound?

    1. He did make it home safely. My mother and my aunt who could have told me everything about him are no longer with us. He’s strangely elusive on Ancestry. It sounds like he was injured in combat. I’ll keep looking for more info and post when I find.

  4. Letter writing is becoming a lost art! Whenever I find a “penned” note or card or letter in my Mom’s memories its like striking gold! We have to encourage the current generation to store their emails, tweets and images (those that can be viewed LOL). The “Cloud” will give way to some other advancement; keeping up is the challenge.

  5. You’re right Kristen; its something much more intimate. Passing the value of the “pen” will probably be a lot more difficult than to work with our generation of virtual inhabitants 🙂 much to my dismay. Few schools still teach penmanship. Now we must become preservationists <3

  6. Aren’t those nice to have letters from family that served in the war back then, I have some that my father and my uncle wrote to my grandmother ( their mother) I could read these all day, these are great documents and thank you so much for sharing them with us. I’m glad that Clifton made it home safely. Nice post, such interesting reading.

  7. Great stuff Kris! You are opening more and more and getting more and more puzzle pieces! Deep Bow! 🙂

  8. Enjoy your postings so much! Years ago before I used the Internet I did family history research. You inspire me to go back to it. Did it take you a long time to become so blog savvy ?

    1. I’ve been blogging almost 4 years. It is very easy to set up a blog and start right in. I recommend it highly. You might want to start with Everything is right there. And there is a help section or google if you run into a problem. Let me know when you set up your blog and start posting your research!

  9. Well, that was a blast from the past.
    Fortunate that you have these.
    The children’s pic is too cute for words.
    Glad to hear he got to [finally] come home and have a life,
    hopefully not too broken by the war.

    1. I think he did ok. I never heard otherwise. Tried to find my Aunts letters keeping me updated but no luck so far. I know either he or his brother never married but I don’t remember which.

  10. That was a delightful air-letter and quite formal in its language. When he says “await transportation” I wonder if that was his normal speech or if he is using “army talk”. He sounds like a nice person and has a friendly face in his photo.

    1. Maybe he was using formal letter writing talk. Reading old letters I realized that people seem to write more formally than they talk.

  11. I find this post heart rending! And your notations of what was happening in the war make it so real!

  12. What powerful correspondence, of such a time of terror! They may not have been at liberty to explain it all, first hand, but one can surely imagine!

  13. I was struck by the beautiful smiles of the children in that first photo, although Mershell looks a little shy. Putting those letters in the context of events at the time makes them more meaningful.

  14. I would echo Little Nell’s comment – giving the information of current events for the time of the letters makes them so much more meaningful. Well done!

    1. I always want to know what was going on in the bigger picture. Makes some of my posts take a lot longer while I get side tracked down news events of the day.

  15. “Kin” doesn’t necessarily have to mean biologically related – at least not in the extended sense. How wonderful Clifton was made to feel so attached to the family all those years.

  16. Another wonderful post.

    I love the posed smile on those children in the first photo.

    We are very fortunate in Australia that our War records are fantastic!

  17. Wow! For some weird reason I can’t see the first two photos in your post which is a bit sad but at least I got to read about VMail. I had never heard of VMail and didn’t really register until you mentioned something about little letters. I went to your link and found out that they were all microfilmed. Well, I know all about microfilm. But it was funny last week when I was showing someone microfilm for the first time in the library and they hadn’t heard of it before or knew about it. So thank you for sharing. I learn something from every Sepia Saturday post.

    1. I wonder why you couldn’t see the first two pictures. Sorry about that! I remember doing a lot of newspaper and city directory research in Indianapolis, IN on microfilm. Ah, the good old days 🙂

  18. I love that photo. He was so cute! You’re fortunate that your uncle made it back home safely. Sounds like he was injured. My uncle, a B-17 engineer in the AAF, was shot down in France in June 1943. He was captured and sent to Stalag 17B until he and the rest of the POWs were liberated in 1945. They brought him home and were preparing to send him back into the war to fight in the Pacific, but the war ended just before he was sent back. Thank goodness! I’m not at all sure he would have made it back a second time!

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