"Private John Rex Kay letters home, 1943-1945; the conclusion of World War II in Europe," collected and transcribed by Mary Fort Hamill and Nancy Fort Dahl
A one-volume compilation of thirty-six transcribed World War II letters, including thirty-one letters of U.S. Army Private John Rex Kay, a native of St. John (Stafford County), Kansas, written to his wife and parents, 1940-1945. Private Kay's letters describe his pre-combat military training in radio communications and his 1945 tour of duty in France and Germany, including his company's treatment by French and German civilians; the wound which earned him the Purple Heart; his company's liberation of concentration camp prisoners at Dachau, Germany; and his assignment to General George S. Patton's Third Army.
- Kay, John Rex, 1913- (Person)
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Biography of John Rex Kay
John Rex Kay was born April 4, 1913 at St. John (Stafford County), Kansas to John B. and Lelia Dell Webber DeSelms Kay. He married Juliette Martin on December 28, 1938 at Newton, Kansas, with whom he had two sons. Kay was inducted into the U.S. Army at the rank of Private on November 19, 1943 at Newton (Harvey County), Kansas and entered active service December 10, 1943. His basic training was at Camp Callan, California in radio communications, after which he was stationed in Texas at Camp Hulen and Camp Maxie, and then at Fort Meade, Maryland. For eight months of 1945, he served with the 157th Infantry in France and Germany. In the early spring of 1945, Kay received a combat wound for which he received the Purple Heart in May 1945. In late April, he participated in the liberation of concentration camp prisoners at Dachau, Germany, and afterward served with General George S. Patton's Third Army. Kay was discharged from service on November 4, 1945, and reunited with his wife and sons in Newton, Kansas.
1 folder (30 page ringbound volume) ; 28 cm
Scope and Contents
This compilation of World War II letters written by John Rex Kay and his wife Juliette contains thirty-one letters written from Kay to his wife and parents. A one-page index to the typed letters is included. Of Kay's letters, eighteen are from Army camps where he was stationed in the U.S. (1943 to 1944), twelve are from France and Germany (February to July 1945), and a final letter is from Newton, Kansas (December 1945) following his discharge from service.
Kay's letters during active duty in World War II include an April 7, 1945 letter in which he refers to the wound ("nicked on the arm") which earned him the Purple Heart, and a letter of May 20, reporting his receipt and forwarding of the award. Two of his letters in early May 1945 vividly describe the horrors of the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany which he helped liberate in the last days of April. He writes on June 25, 1945 of his assignment to General George S. Patton's Third Army.
Included in the transcriptions are five letters written from Kay's wife Juliette to her parents-in-law. The volume also contains a reproduced color portrait of Kay in Army uniform, a group photograph of the Kay family on Mother's Day 1940, a copy of Kay's Army discharge, and photocopied portions of several of Kay's transcribed letters.
RH MS P692
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Nancy Ann Dahl, 1994
- Guide to John Rex Kay letters
- "Private John Rex Kay letters home, 1943-1945; the conclusion of World War II in Europe," collected and transcribed by Mary Fort Hamill and Nancy Fort Dahl
- Finding aid prepared by mh, 2006; Finding aid encoded by mh, 2006
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- Preferred citation
"Private John Rex Kay letters home, 1943-1945; the conclusion of World War II in Europe," Kansas Collection, RH MS P692, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries