Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Stone, Robert L. (1921-2009) to Jacob Stone and Beatrice Stone

Order a pdf of this item here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC09620.045.01 Author/Creator: Stone, Robert L. (1921-2009) Place Written: Childress, Texas Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 September 1943 Pagination: 2 p. : envelope ; 27.3 x 19.5 cm.

Summary of Content: Addressed to "Dad and Bee." He is looking forward to "maneuvers" tomorrow. This is where they'll live and fly in combat conditions, including wearing gas masks, as they drop gas on the men to help prepare them. They were issued "those heavy leather flying pants and jackets," which make them look like "polar explorers," as they are lined with sheepskin. More men are washing out, and he hopes he isn't one of them. He's so close to earning his wings and commission. Letter is dated as "Sunday Aft." "Letters in a Box" notes the date as September 19, 1943. Handwritten copy of GLC09620.045.02.

Background Information: Robert "Bob" Stone was a Bombardier in World War II and served in the Pacific Front. These letters, were compiled by Bob's wife, Sheila M. Stone, and Ali Adair into ...a book named Letters in a Box. This book details Bob's service to his country, and his life after the war. Bob's letters were donated to the collection by his wife, Sheila M. Stone, in 2017. It contains a variety of letters, postcards, patches, pins, photographs, and scrapbooks that relate to Bob's training and combat missions. See More

Full Transcript: [Draft Created by Crowdsourcing]
Sunday Aft.
Dear Dad & Bee -
Twas so swell to speak to you this morning that I thought I'd just scribble off a short letter.
Am ...looking forward to going on maneuvers tomorrow. They say it's a real test of whether you can fly under combat conditions. It's really rough living in pup tents way out in nowhere. We do K.R. guard duty, fill and fuse actual demolition bombs - all this besides flying bombing and navigation missions. We'll have to wear gas masks at all times because ships fly over and drop gas bombs on us just to make things a little more realistic.
Yesterday we were issued a wonderful piece of equippment [sic]. We got those heavy [strikeout] leather flying pants and jackets. They have a big sheep skin collar and are completely lined with sheep [strikeout] [inserted: skin]. They're great big heavy things but oh so warm. They're just like the outfits you see pictured in the movies of high altitude flying. We all look like Polar explorers!

[2]
As I said on the phone we lost two more boys from our flight this week. Poor kids working for 13 weeks only to go back to the G.I's as a buck private. I'm not [strikeout] [insert: trying to make] it sound tough when I say that it was nip and tuck for me the past ten days. You're never sure of your status and they give you axe for practically the smallest failing. All I can do is give my all and hope for the breaks for the next 39 days. It would really kill me to miss out on a commission and my wings after getting so close and yet so far from my goal.
No more now 'cause I've got to whip together some warm clothes and equipment before 0600 tomorrow.
Again 'twas swell to talk with you -
All love -
Bobby

[envelope]
A/C R.L. Stone
Class 43-15
Squadron 7 Flight D
Childress, Texas

Lt. Comdr. J.C. Stone
375 Park Avenue
New York City
N.Y.
See More

People: Stone, Robert L., 1921-2009
Stone, Jacob, fl. 1894-1985
Stone, Beatrice Hecht Marks, 1901-1962

Historical Era: Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945

Subjects: World War IISoldier's LetterMilitary CampMilitary ServiceAir ForceAviationMilitary EducationTexasTranscript AvailableCrowdsourced Transcript AvailableTranscript Project: Robert L. Stone's World War II letters

Sub Era: World War II

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources