Calvert C. McCabe, Jr. WWII Letters, 1942-1945, MS. 2844

Calvert C. McCabe, Jr. WWII Letters, 1942-1945
Maryland Historical Society

(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Calvert C. McCabe, Jr. WWII Letters, 1942-1945
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105
[email protected]

Descriptive Summary

Calvert C. McCabe, Jr., WWII Letters

(MS. 2844)

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Biographical Sketch

Calvert C. McCabe, Jr., born in 1913, was a Baltimore area native and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Johns Hopkins University. His pre-military service years were spent as an executive with the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company. Entering the service as a Second Lieutenant in 1942, McCabe spent months in the United States undertaking specialized training. Departing for England in 1943, McCabe eventually saw service on the European continent and, by 1945, had risen to the rank of Major. He served with the 9th Tactical Air Command, Army Air Force. (See the attached for a full chronology of McCabe's military service.)


Scope and Content Note

The Calvert C. McCabe WWII letters consist of approximately five hundred letters and V-Mail items written by McCabe and addressed mostly to his widowed mother, Mrs. C.C. McCabe. The correspondence, from June 1942 through October 1945, spans McCabe's entire military career.

The letters provide an overview, almost diary-like description, of the life of a non-combatant officer serving in the European Theatre. Comments in certain letters suggest McCabe contemplated writing a compilation of his experiences after the war (see letter of 6/2/45.)

The letters discuss mostly the non-military aspects of this administrative officer's life: commentary, social and recreational activities, daily life concerns, descriptions of living quarters, surrounding countryside, weather, etc. Comments regarding food, the mail service, and requests for items appear very frequently. McCabe actively collected antiques while in England and Scotland. He was interested also in architecture and fashion (in Paris, he visited the Patou designer house). The acquisition of war souvenirs, while upon the continent, later become his main collecting focus.

Topics discussed include McCabe's attitudes toward women (12/20/43 and 6/8/45), African-Americans (11/28/43), U.S. men not serving with the military (10/26/44), married versus single U.S. soldiers (1/10/45), the German people (4/23-25, 1945), the French people (8/28/45), and American civilians

(4/11, 6/2, 8/24/45). Some remarks concern Baltimore society and its activities. Letters recording McCabe's reaction to V-E Day, the dropping of atomic bombs, and V-J Day provide additional insight.

Comments upon notable individuals and celebrities appear throughout the letters. Persons mentioned include golfer Bobby Jones (many references), FDR's son Elliot Roosevelt (4/11/44), Admiral Richard Byrd (11/18/44), Mickey Rooney (4/23 and 4/24/45), and Bob Hope (8/26/45). Reactions to FDR's death (4/13/45) and Churchill's election defeat (8/31/45) are noted also.

McCabe describes displaced people, victims of the Nazis, and the chaos of post-war Europe. The plight of displaced persons was noted in letters from 4/5, 6/5 and 6/17/45. Concentration camp descriptions (they appear not to have been witnessed personally by McCabe) can be found in letters from 4/19 and 4/20/45. Testimony of tortures inflicted at Buchenwald, as described by a former inmate of this camp, appear in a 4/23/45 letter. Former German soldiers (prisoners of war?) though still in uniform, replete with field gear, labor in the French city of Laon (8/28/45) months after the cessation of conflict. Reflections on an impoverished, aristocratic Russian lady appeared in a note from 4/11/45.

The letters also provide descriptions of wartime European cities and include the following: Normandy (8/6 and 8/12/44), Paris (9/3/44, 3/18, 9/1 and 9/2/45), Cannes (3/4/45), Rheims (8/24/45), Laon (8/28/45), Marsielles (10/2/45), Aix-en-Provence (10/8/45), Brussels (9/20/44), various German cities/areas (3/30, 5/1, 6/24 and 8/16/45),. McCabe also described London, England and certain cities in Scotland.

The McCabe letters cover also the months in Europe after V-E Day and V-J Day. From mid-August to October 11, 1945, McCabe endured an almost continual string of postponements before returning to the United States.


Container List

Box 1

18 June - 20 November, 1942





24 February - 31 December, 1943





1 January - 31 May, 1944





1 June - 30 September, 1944





3 October, 1944 - 30 January, 1945





1 February - 11 October, 1945