Transcribed Letter from Dr. William B. Chamberlin ’29 to Mr. Mac
October 31, 1945

Dear Mr. Mac,

I’m not in the habit of saving letters but was batting around through a few choice ones. I had somehow preserved (or managed not to lose) and ran across the last one you wrote me while I was in California. With the many letters you write you’ve probably forgotten that. But one line rather struck my fancy, and that was a reference to the summer that Germany might surrender (this was January 1944), and you didn’t sound too optimistic for that year. Well I guess nearly everyone who had itchy britches about that time, and things had certainly proved your estimate correct. Anyway, it’s a damn good feeling to know that at last the war with both Germany and Japan is over, even though there seems to be years of confusion in store for us.

Well, that is just one sample of the water that has gone under the dam since I last communicated with you. I have felt a miniscule part of this whole tremendous process, as no doubt others do, but thought I might give you a brief idea of what has happened from my angle since then. I left California in April ’44 with the thirty fourth Tactical Hospital. We fiddled around Atlantic City for several weeks and finally pulled out of New York on June 16 ’44, just after the news of D Day, and on our way over got the first flashes of the V-1 bombs. Actually life was pretty quiet for once in a military way, as we took over a hospital near Winchester, England, where I remained as Chief of Staff until I was transferred July 6, 1945. While in England I did run into old Hawken boys, among them Joe Nutt with whom I had a few pleasant spins in London. Also had a chance to get up to Scotland to see Graham Webster’s family. I did chance upon Bill Calfee around April of this year and he was sporting lieutenant colonel leaves in the Air Force. Well, as I mentioned, we didn’t see much of the war except for some V bombs in London and Southampton. But we saw the results of it. From July 17, 1944, when we began operations, until the end of February ’45, some 54000 patients went through our portals. Naturally not all of those were fatal casualties, but a lot of that number was accounted for as the result of our hospital being the first on the receiving end of the air evacuation from November on. As a result of that air evac, we had some patients in our hospital within 12 hours of the time they had been wounded on the German front. At least that is some compensation for the mess that war is.

July 6 ’45 I was transferred to a medical lab, and we were to go directly to the Pacific to help polish off that situation. Well, we got as far as Marseille and the Japanese surrender came. Almost got home instead then, but they finally broke the unit up and landed as chief of lab in the hospital. So after three months of pounding my feet and that and wearing my shoes out in the staging (Camps Brooklyn and Ialas), I’m finally back to work again. Don’t know what the Army has in store for me from here on, but it looks like occupation for a while. When I do get back, though, I’m sure going to hot foot it out to see you all, that is if I get back before the June commencement. In the meantime, best of luck and drop me a line or two if you get the chance. ‘

As ever,
Bill Chamberlin


Jock was not one to regale an audience with his WWII experiences. Gradually, over some six decades we heard wonderful stories, always interesting and different. He never dramatized, but told it like it was: four long years as a GI to finish off the Nazis.

It was only shortly before Jock’s death that he spoke of his time on the island of Corsica, awaiting a short sea voyage to Italy and on through Europe. It was a difficult time for the restless soldiers. On discovering enormous piles of hand grenades everywhere it wasn’t long before they began to pick them up, pull the cords, and let them fly. We could hold a grenade the longest before the throw became highly competitive until the Commanding Officer ordered an end to their fun.

Within days, a much better activity found the guys fishing in the ocean: pull the cord on the grenade and toss it into the water. Voila! The fish all came to the surface, were scooped up by the handful, and a fish dinner was soon in the hands of hungry men.

The highlight for our Lieutenant occurred when a huge bomb crater appeared on the horizon with an iron-wheeled tractor standing idle on the rim. The GIs all stood looking at this amazing scene when one man questioned if the tractor was functional. Even more important, could it be driven down into the crater and back out on the other side? Silence prevailed at the suggestion until JLC offered to give it a try; Jock climbed up on the monster, which miraculously started, put it in gear and gradually inched his way to the bottom of the crater and began slowly up the other side at a precipitous angle. The men all shook their heads and applauded! When Jock told me this story, I asked him about the possibility of the tractor rolling over backwards on the climb out. In typical fashion he made it clear that before he took the challenge, he had his plan already worked out for dismounting the monster if needed. Yes, nothing surprising about that from the man who knew no danger!

Judy Collens, April 2020

Richard W. Day
Headmaster, 1956-1964

A story from 1961:
Richard Day called the entire 7th grade class to the Chapel sometime in the first week of school. He related a story about a small handful of soldiers in WWII who, for the sake of their own comfort, decided to put one of their own who had contracted dysentery outside their shelter in the middle of winter.

The cast out soldier died, and his fellow soldiers were court-martialed.
When he had finished with his story, Dr. Day looked us straight in the eye, and, in his imitable stentorian voice said:

“And so I charge you gentlemen, whenever you come across a situation in your life that you know to be wrong, it is your duty and obligation to stand up and say, ‘this is wrong,’ no matter what the consequences may be to you personally.”

This admonition was instantly seared into my conscience forever.
Peter Hurd ‘67


Excerpt from A Memoir of Michael Theodore Silver by His Parents
Sixty-fifth Fighter Squadron
Fifty-seventh Fighter Group, A.A.F.
A.P.O. 525

Dear Mr. Silver:

              By the time you receive this the War Department will have notified you that Ted is missing in action on November 6, 1943. I have delayed writing you this letter for I was hoping that I could give you something definite rather than to just tell you what happened and have to let you draw your own conclusions.

              The squadron was sent to Yugoslavia to try to stop an invasion of an island off the coast. We found the entire invading force in one town and when the smoke and dust cleared from the town such damage had been wrought that the invasion never came off and the mission was acclaimed by our Air Force as the most devastating raid of the entire Italian campaign.

              This was wonderful news, for after all, results are what we are fighting for, but as far as Fighting Cocks are concerned, we wish we could have stayed at home, for we lost three of our best, Ted being one of them. One force-landed, and we could identify him by the number on his ship, but of the other two, Ted being one, we know only this; on strafing right down the main street of the town, one ship was seen to go into a high speed stall, snap roll and crash in flames into a four story apartment building. No one could identify the plane. The third missing plan we know nothing of. Which was which we cannot say. This is the reason I was so long in writing.

              Ted was one of the best liked members of the Squadron. He entered into everything with such willingness and eagerness that it was a joy to give him assignments. He was a fine pilot and leader; his loss to the Squadron is great indeed.

              May it console you to know that in your hours of bereavement the members of the Fighting Cocks are sharing the grief that we know is in your heart.

              May God know best.
                                                          Gilbert O. Wymond, Jr.
                                                          Major, Air Corps,
January 17, 1944
(Received: January 28, 1944)
              After Ted’s death we were informed by the War Department that the First Lieutenant Michael T. Silver had been awarded The Air Medal and Four Oak-Leaf Clusters in recognition of meritorious achievement while participating in the twenty-six sorties against the enemy in the Middle East Theatre. He also received the Distinguished Unit Badge of the Sixty-Fifth Fighter Squadron, which was cited in the name of the President for action in Northern Africa and Sicily; and he was awarded the Purple Heart, posthumously.

William L. Calfee ’32-II
This is a brief story about William Calfee ’32-II that he often told years after the end of WWII:

 My father was stationed in London during the latter years of the war in Europe, and his job was with the U.S. Army Intelligence branch. He had learned that his good friend Pete Hoyt had been shot down over France when Pete was returning home from a bombing mission flying his B-17. There had been no word on whether Pete had survived his ordeal or whether he had been captured somewhere within German occupied France. Several months passed and there was still no word on Pete’s status. During this period my father experienced one near miss himself when he returned home from work early one morning to find his London apartment building in rubble and burning embers after being hit directly by one of the German V-1 buzz bombs earlier in the night

 A little more time passed and one night my father found himself on a mission to deliver some important papers to other military officials at one of the airports just outside of London. My father was walking through the airport with his briefcase cuffed to his wrist and about to meet his contact when he looked ahead and saw a rather gaunt but familiar figure approaching him. The figure was none other than his good friend from Cleveland, Pete Hoyt, who was being escorted by two other military men who were taking Pete to be debriefed on his escape from France with the help of the French Resistance fighters.
So here were two very close friends, one who had been nearly given up as being lost in combat, who happened to meet in the middle of the night in a London military airport where both were on a classified mission and forbidden to stop and warmly greet each other. All my father and Pete could do was acknowledge each other broad smiles and rejoice over their both being alive and well! This is a story that both war veterans shared for many years after they returned home to settle in Cleveland after those tough war years.
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