A California couple found the diary of a Wisconsin World War II veteran in California while cleaning the house of the woman’s recently deceased mother.
Officials at the veteran’s hometown of Racine are having a hard time tracking down the man’s family so they can return the diary.
Evelyn Dar was cleaning out the San Jose, California home of her mother, who had recently passed away when she found the diary of Cpl. Ralph C. Duncan in a sealed box, the Journal Times of Racine reports.
In an effort to identify who the World War II diary belonged to Dar and her husband read portions of it and since Duncan listed his hometown as Racine, Wisconsin, they took to the internet to search.
But that turned up nothing, so they asked the Racine City Council for help.
Alderman Eddie Diehl was the person who the Bars got in touch with at the City Council, but he too turned up nothing when he searched and requested that the diary be sent over to Wisconsin.
The document contains about 100 pages of thoughts written in neat cursive. Duncan tells of unending bombings, boredom, and homesickness.
Duncan writes of soldiers going fishing with grenades and talks about lost planes and lives taken. He also sketched drawings of his barracks and base camps.
There are some black and white photos attached: one of his mother shoveling snow, another of his sweetheart Rose, and a third of his German shepherd dog named Prince.
On June 14, 1943, he wrote of infantry troops in New Guinea making their way into Japanese held territory.
“But it’s costing an enormous loss of lives and casualties. Kinda hellish spot to be in.”
It is not clear how the World War II diary ended up in the home of Dar’s mother. Her parents are originally from the Philippines and worked for many years at the Clark Air Base there, but it’s not certain if they knew Duncan.
Duncan’s mother sent him the diary on September 9, 1942 for his 23rd birthday while in Australia, though his first entry is about his enlistment in the US Army in 1941, seven months prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, which put the US in the conflict.
He writes of the event and tells of how he felt “surprised and shocked” and how he “hardly knew if he was coming or going.”
The diary is a mix of anecdotes and more personal thoughts, like how hard it was to spend Christmas at war and without letters from home.
“I’d rather take a bullet to the body somewhere and being sent home than much more of this slow madness. Nothing to do but sit and think of home and what you’d give to be there.”
The search continues for the family of Cpl. Ralph C. Duncan’s who are owed the return of his personal World War II diary.
[Image via US Army Center of Military History]