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MS – 089: Yarnell Collection

(3 boxes, .81 cubic feet)

Inclusive Dates: 1943-1945

Processed by Christopher Culig, 2007

June 2007

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF


Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum Rare Manuscripts & Archives, 2000 


Clyde and Glenn Yarnell were two brothers from Western Pennsylvania who each served in the Pacific theater of World War II.  Clyde, the elder brother, enlisted on November 28, 1942.  He was trained at Camp Harahan in New Orleans and was transferred to Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California before going over seas with the 493rd Quartermaster Depot.  He spent most, if not all, of his time overseas on New Caledonia, an island in the Southwest Pacific.  Glenn Yarnell, the younger brother, was a private in Company B, 186th Engineer Combat Battalion.  He went through basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.  He then went to Camp Forrest in Tennessee for mine training.  After mine training, he returned to Fort Jackson before being shipped out to the Pacific on the SS Sea Scamp.  His battalion arrived at New Guinea on December 15, 1944.

Scope and Content

The Yarnell Collection consists of correspondence received by Orpha Yarnell during World War II.  The bulk of the collection is correspondence written by her son Clyde Yarnell during his service with the 493rd Quartermaster Depot.  Most of the letters were written from overseas, although there are letters from his training at Camp Harahan and his stay in Camp Stoneman.  Most of the remaining letters are written by Glenn Yarnell to his mother, Orpha.  These letters, written during his service with the 186th Engineer Combat Battalion, originated from Fort Jackson, Camp Forrest, and New Guinea.  The remaining letters are from Orpha’s nephew, Clarence Ritenour, and Orpha’s “sweetheart” Paul E. Gettemy.  Also included in the collection are photographs, two postcards from Clyde to his mother giving his APO address, a card accompanying flowers sent by Clyde to his mother for Mother’s Day, and a list of benefits should a soldier go overseas.

Series Description

The collection is three boxes divided into four series.

Series I: Letters Home From Clyde Yarnell to his Mother Orpha Yarnell: March 29, 1943 – January 11, 1945 (119 letters, 2 V-mail)

Clyde’s letters home are all mostly about family issues: inquiring about how people are doing at home and his mother’s job.  He talks very little about his experiences in the Army.  This could be at least partly because since he was over-seas, all of his mail passed through a censor.  Some of his mail home was censored although usually just a word or line.  He does briefly talk about a visit by Eleanor Roosevelt and Bob Hope, who the troops enjoyed more than the First Lady.  He also requests for his mom to send him various things such as moccasins, a watch, and the local newspaper.

Series II: Letters home from Glenn Yarnell to his Mother Orpha Yarnell: March 12, 1944 – December 29, 1944 (49 Letters, 1 V-mail)

Glenn’s letters home are much more revelatory about his experiences in Army.  He talks about his acquisitions of girlfriends at his numerous posts and an attempt to have a “beer party.”  Another part of his letters is a description of how he was marked as A.W.O.L and demoted from Private First Class to Private for being off-base without a pass.

Series III: Miscellaneous Letters to Orpha Yarnell: November 5, 1943 – August 10, 1944 (5 Letters)

The two letters about Clarence G. Ritenour talk about his service on New Caledonia and his thoughts on Glenn’s troubles.  The three letters from Orpha’s “sweetheart” Paul Gettemy are mainly about personal issues and have very little to do with the war.

Series IV: Miscellaneous

The photographs included in the collection are of Clyde from his service.  They were mailed to his mother for her to develop.  Also included are 2 postcards from Clyde to inform his mother of his APO address, a flower card from Mother’s Day, a listing of his benefits, and a picture of a native woman.

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF