Editor’s note: This letter was written by longtime Greenville resident and World War II veteran William Caldwell. Caldwell served in the U.S. Navy as a signalman and was involved in the D-Day invasion at Utah Beach. Now, nearly 98 years old, he has submitted this letter in memory of a friend and fellow classmate at Celeste High School, Artythe Davis, with whom he had shared a correspondence while serving overseas.
To the Editor:
Because I am 97 and live alone, it gives me comfort to send you this letter.
Herald-Banner, you’ve printed so much about D-Day and me, it makes me want to write some more about D-Day, but in a different way.
I’ll call this...’The Class of ‘44’
In 1942, I was promoted (to high school). In two more years, I would have graduated, but I didn’t. Uncle Sam gave me a job.
He sent me to Africa to work for a short while. While there, I wrote a letter to one of the smartest girls in my class. I asked her to write and send me a photo of her.
Then, Uncle Sam sent me to Sicily. We got our work done pretty fast there, although it was hard. At Palermo, Sicily, I had my girlfriend’s picture enlarged and tinted. I placed it where my co-workers could see it. Most of them were much older and had girlfriends or wives. I think one of them was nearly 30. I was 18. It was now 1943.
Then, Uncle Sam sent us to work at Salerno and Anzio, Italy. Audie (Murphy) was also working there, but for a different company. Around January of 1944, Uncle Sam sent us to England to work.
In May, I was studying for “final exams” (preparing for the D-Day invasion). I was thinking about my classmates back home. They would graduate in Celeste, Texas, with memories in blue and white, but I could graduate with honors in France on June 6, 1944 (D-Day).
This girlfriend was just a friend, but she helped me get through it all without a scratch. Thank you, Artythe Davis, valedictorian of 1944.
In 2016, after my Emma Louise (his wife) died, I gave Artythe’s baby sister, Nelda, that picture, as a World War II souvenir.
Since then, though, Nelda, Artythe’s baby sister, has also died, and I’m wondering if I can get that picture back.
Who has it?