WORLD WAR II DIARY AND PERSONAL SCRAPBOOK KEPT BY SERGEANT RAYMOND JOHNSON, A MEMBER OF THE 116 GENERAL HOSPITAL IN ENGLAND.
The scrapbook is almost a work of art. Johnson saved just about everything he either was sent from home or the military or was given or obtained visiting British theatres, other forms of entertainment, or restaurants. Black and white photographs of soldiers in his unit and lots of colorful World War II-period postcards of British and French scenes and historical landmarks are included throughout the book. A number of included documents relate directly to the 116th United States General Hospital, where Sgt. Johnson served his military duty. The artistic nature of the book is evident from the way the soldier, who no doubt was well educated and cultured, affixed the paper artifacts in the book with great care in various angles, then left his story, written with an ink pen, around the objects.
From a newspaper clipping affixed to one page of the book, it indicates Johnson was from Red Bank, New Jersey. The undated but no doubt after the war in Europe ended clipping is headlined “Sgt. Johnson On Hospital Newspaper” and reads “The Register (Red Bank Register, New Jersey newspaper) has received a copy of the Short Pointer a semi-monthly newspaper published by the U.S. 116th general hospital in Nurnberg, Germany. On the staff as an associated editor is Sgt. Raymond Johnson of 122 Hudson Avenue Red Bank. An article on the first page of the Short Pointer lists T-5 Henry G. Garruto, Broad street, Red Bank, as being among those leaving for the States.”
Johnson’s departure from the United States is fully-documented on the first page of commentary where he documents leaving Camp Ellis in Illinois by train on 5 July 1944 and traveling to Camp Miles Standish in Massachusetts, where he spent his birthday. On July 18, “after more shots, pep talks, etc., debarked for Boston Harbor on the 18th. The following day we silently sailed at 8:30AM leaving the last glimpse of native soil for God knew how long—a strange feeling of excitement and emptiness—a feeling indescribable. Our crossing took a week—a very pleasant ‘cruise’ instead of the ordeal I had anticipated. Got our first glimpse of the majesty of the ‘Old World’ that is England when our ship, the ‘SS West Point,’ snuggled into Liverpool dock. The gulls gave us a friendly welcome indeed—veritable thousands all chattering at once, grateful for a piece of cookie or orange peel that was dropped for them.” Included on this page with written commentary surrounding it is a small paper notice providing the ship’s regulations, which states in part, “Carry Life Jackets at all times at sea” and “No smoking in berthing spaces.” Opposite the page is the original July 23, 1944 USS West Point “DIVINE SERVICE” program saved by Sgt. Johnson.
The defeat of Germany was recorded in the scrapbook by Johnson writing, “May 7 I will always remember—the radio announced that V-E Day was at hand. Bob and I met Squatt (?) in town—and then Don and Margaret—Queen’s Hotel—their apartment for a real do.” He then details continued movement of his unit.
After much commentary and memorabilia about England, Johnson goes with his unit to France and then on June 5, 1945, is transferred to Germany. Much detail about being transported is provided by the soldier who also marks the move with a Nazi swastika drawn in red with a large “GERMAN” through it. Three Nazi postage stamps are also affixed to the page.
This most unusual and historic record of one man’s military service with the United States Army medical service in World War II, with about 100 pages, each filled with commentary or paper ephemera on both sides, is in good condition and measures 7-1/2” wide by 9-3/4” high. $950