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Robert Ernest Willman World War II letters

Call Number: RH MS 946


In this collection are more than five hundred World War II letters written from U.S. Army Private Robert Ernest Willman to his parents, Fred and Georgia Willman of Lawrence, Kansas. The collection also contains a scrapbook of letters received by the Willmans from other Lawrence, Kansas residents who served in World War II, including more than sixty letters from Georgia Willman's brother, U.S. Army Corporal William C. Bryant.


  • Creation: 1941 - 1950


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Robert Ernest Willman

Robert Ernest Willman was born November 2, 1923 at Lawrence, Kansas to Fred G. and Georgia A. (Bryant) Willman. He was inducted into the Army on March 22, 1943 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas at the rank of Private. Willman entered basic training at Camp Haan, California, where he also received desert training at Camp Irwin. He was transferred in May 1944 to Camp McCain, Mississippi, and in August 1944 to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

Later in August 1944, Willman was sent overseas, where he served in France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Germany with Company C of the First Division's First Battalion, 26th Infantry. On November 22, 1944, Willman was wounded in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest near Aachen, German, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. He was hospitalized in England and returned to active duty in May 1945. From August 1945 to February 1946, he was posted with America's occupation forces at Fürth, Germany, where he guarded prisoners of war who had served in Hitler's SS troops. In early February, Willman suffered injuries in a jeep accident and was hospitalized at Nürnberg, Germany. He was returned to the U.S. in May 1946 for hospitalization and recuperation. Willman died on October 29, 1978 at Lawrence, Kansas.


1.75 Linear Feet (4 boxes + 1 folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection contains more than five hundred letters, as well as telegrams and postcards, written from U.S. Army Private Robert Ernest Willman, who was assigned to World War II combat duty in Company C of the U.S. Army's First Division, 26th Infantry, First Battalion. Willman writes to his parents, Fred and Georgia Willman of Lawrence, Kansas, describing his training while in the States, his activities while overseas, and his periods of recuperation while hospitalized. Letter arrangement is chronological, with most letters accompanied by postmarked envelopes. Envelopes containing Willman's letters are sequentially numbered and annotated by Georgia Willman. Included is the program of funeral services for Willman, held November 1, 1978. A photograph of Willman is at RH MS-P 946.

At RH MS 946 Box 4 is a scrapbook of 127 postcards and letters (the latter in postmarked envelopes) received by Fred and Georgia Willman from additional World War II service men and women. Contents of the scrapbook date from 1941 to 1950. Included are more than sixty letters from Georgia Willman's brother William C. [Clark] Bryant (U.S. Army). The scrapbook's letters from Lawrence, Kansas residents who were serving in World War II include the letters of Robert Vance Eberwein (U.S. Navy), Agnes T. Laptad (Women's Army Corps), Gerald L. Lindenberger (U.S. Army), Norman Eberhart (U.S. Navy), and James R. Selig (U.S. Army).

Physical Location

RH MS 946

Physical Location

RH MS-P 946

Processing Information

Previously shelved at: RH MS 288

Guide to the Robert Ernest Willman World War II Letters
Robert Ernest Willman World War II letters
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2007; revised by, cl 2010; Finding aid encoded by mh, 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Willman, Robert Ernest, 1923-1978, World War II letters, Kansas Collection, RH MS 946, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States