Herbert Brigdon Syrett papers, 1942-1947 (majority within 1943-1945)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Syrett, Bertha Stuetzer
- This collection contains letters that Lieutenant Herbert Brigdon Syrett wrote to his mother while serving with the United States Army during World War II, as well as a scrapbook about Syrett's military experiences. Syrett, a member of the 102nd Medical Battalion, described his training in the United States and Hawaii and his experiences in the Pacific Theater.
- 2 linear feet
- Duane Norman Diedrich Collection
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Clements Staff, June 2004, and Meg Hixon, September 2012
- Scope and Content:
This collection contains around 580 letters that Lieutenant Herbert Brigdon Syrett ("Brig") wrote to his mother while serving with the United States Army during World War II, as well as a scrapbook (around 60 pages) about his military experiences.
The Correspondence series contains Syrett's letters to his mother from January 6, 1943-December 11, 1945; and 13 letters from Syrett to Howard and Miriam Cusack, January 10, 1944-August 23, 1945. He first described daily life and training exercises at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas. In April 1943, he was transferred to Camp Barkeley, Texas, where he participated in an officers' training program and recorded details about his daily schedule and courses. By August 1943, he had graduated and had joined the 102nd Medical Battalion for training at Camp Grant, Illinois, filling his correspondence with descriptions of the scenery and his travels. In December 1943, Syrett reported his safe arrival in Hawaii and his unit's preparations for campaigns in the jungles of the Pacific Theater. While in Hawaii, Syrett became a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club on Waikiki Beach, and he also wrote about his training, military life, officer duties, and leave periods in Honolulu.
After May 1944, Syrett wrote from Saipan, where he participated in active combat during the Allied invasion. He recounted some of his experiences during the battle, such as living in a foxhole and witnessing bombing raids. After the battle, he commented on native life, the impact of the fighting, and insects. Syrett also reported his increasing religious faith and mentioned his religious activities, particularly after his first experiences in active combat. On December 3, 1944, he wrote about non-United States citizens who had joined the country's military forces. In April 1945, Syrett was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, and he compared the United States Army and United States Navy during his voyage. Throughout the summer of 1945, he anticipated the end of the war and wrote about the power of the atomic bomb, while expressing his hope that the war would end soon. After the Japanese surrender, he served in Okinawa, Muramatsu, and Niigata, Japan, which he described. An avid souvenir hunter, Syrett discussed his acquisitions throughout his military service. He also responded to news from home, provided information about other servicemen with whom he corresponded, and discussed the military's encouragement of V-mail services. An undated photograph of an unidentified soldier is housed at the end of the series.
Syrett occasionally enclosed items such as dried flowers, magazine articles, and newspaper clippings in his letters. In his correspondence with the Cusacks, Syrett occasionally sent snapshot photographs of himself, fellow soldiers, destroyed buildings, and scenery (November 24, 1944, 3 photos; January 25, 1945, 6 photos; March 1, 1945, 7 photos). He often wrote on stationery depicting the logos of the United States Army, United States Navy, Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Camp Barkeley, and Camp Grant, as well as stationery with scenes from Camp Barkeley and Hawaii. In 1945, Syrett sometimes composed letters on paper he took from Japanese soldiers. Some letters are V-mail letters, including pre-printed Easter and Mother's Day greetings.
The Scrapbook (around 60 pages) is comprised primarily of newspaper clippings and ephemera from Syrett's World War II service. The items are arranged roughly chronologically. He also collected newsletters, programs, and tickets during his time in the United States, as well as currency during his time abroad. Official documents such as Syrett's draft cards, military orders, and vaccine records are also present. Newspaper clippings relate to the 27th Army Division, jungle training exercises in Hawaii, the Battle of Saipan, the Battle of Okinawa, and the Pacific Theater. Christmas cards are also pasted into the volume.
- Biographical / Historical:
Herbert Brigdon Syrett was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 28, 1911, the son of Herbert Syrett and Bertha Stuetzer. A graduate of New York University, he worked as an insurance agent in Montvale, New Jersey, where he lived with his widowed mother. On December 3, 1942, Syrett joined the United States Army. He trained at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, from December 1943-April 1943, and attended Officer Candidate School at Camp Barkeley, Texas, from April 1943-August 1943. Syrett served at Camp Grant, Illinois, from August 1943-December 1943, when he was transferred to Hawaii for jungle training with the 102nd Medical Battalion of the United States Army's 27th Division. He served in Saipan; Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu); Okinawa Island, Japan; and several Japanese cities from May 1944-December 1945. He became a member of the 1st Cavalry Division in December 1945, and returned to the United States shortly thereafter. After the war, he worked for Lederle Labs in Pearl River, New York. Herbert B. Syrett died on January 14, 2002.
- Acquisition Information:
- Donated, 2003 and 2014. M-4335.4, M-5026 .
- Processing information:
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I: Correspondence
- Series II: Scrapbook
The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Saipan, Battle of, Northern Mariana Islands, 1944.
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan--Okinawa Island.
World War, 1939-1945--Hawaii.
World War, 1939-1945--Pacific Area.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Orders (military records)
United States. Army. Cavalry Division, 1st.
United States. Army. Division, 27th.
United States. Army. Medical Battalion, 102nd.
United States. Army--Military life.
United States. Army. Officer Candidate School.
United States. Navy--Military life.
Syrett, Herbert Brigdon, 1911-2002.
Camp Barkeley (Tex.)
Camp Grant (Ill.)
Camp Joseph T. Robinson (Ark.)
Espíritu Santo Island (Vanuatu)
Hawaii--Description and travel.
Japan--Description and travel.
Japan--History--Allied occupation, 1945-1952.
Okinawa Island (Japan)--Description and travel.
Saipan--Description and travel.
United States--Description and travel.
Camp Barkeley (Tex.)
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright status is unknown
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Herbert Brigdon Syrett Papers, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan