The letters of William E. Lovell home from Europe during WWII recount his 15 months as an Army infantry private on the front lines. As a 30-year old lawyer from NJ with a child and a "critical" legal job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he didn't have to go. But he forged his papers of release from the Navy Yard and enlisted in the Army in October 1944. (He told us he had arranged to be drafted, but his army records say he enlisted.)
From the beginning he thought he'd be a legal clerk, or a clerk-typist, and he was sent to a camp (Camp Croft) in North Carolina with that assignment (MOS in Army parlance) . Before he knew it, however, he was on the front line as an infantry private moving with the 42nd Rainbow Division through France and Germany, and finally into Austria. He spent about a month and a half on the front line, participated in the battle for Wurzburg, and was the 7th man over a bridge into that city.
With a scholar's physical conditioning, and not even finishing basic training before he was shipped out in early January 1945, he broke down eventually and, after spending a few weeks at a recovery hospital in St. Johann Austria, was moved back to his regiment in a rear-echelon position as a transition to return to his unit. First, he was made a guard at the 42nd regimental command headquarters; soon, though, he was brought inside to serve as a clerk in the regiment's headquarters company.
Capt Star West. Jones was the commander of Headquarters Company. Captain Jones appears to have played a pivotal role in rescuing Private Lovell from returning to his front line unit. As Bill Lovell recounted years later, Capt. Jones heard that our dad could speak a little German and could read maps. So, he made Private Lovell a regimental cartographer. That allowed our father to remain with the regimental headquarters company instead of returning to the front line as a rifleman.
Here are two letters home from my father, separated by 7 months, that describe Captain Jones. I believe that more was written about him ... there is one brief mention in a letter (not included here) of riding in the back seat of a jeep with the"incomparable Captain Jones," but my sense from the two published here is that my father owed the Captain for rescuing him from the front line.
Letter 1- May 1945; Letter 2-January 1946. Enjoy.