One hundred ten broadsides from the MDAH collection were recently scanned and linked to the online catalog. Broadsides are typically large sheets of paper printed on one side, and these selections cover topics from Mississippi politics to World War II to the Civil Rights Era and more. To explore the broadsides, visit the online catalog, select the “Advanced Search” tab, then limit the search by checking the “Broadsides” box. Click “Link to electronic resource” to view images of digitized broadsides.
Jim Pitts, state government records archivist (and retired U.S. Army officer), brings us this post on a little-known aspect of William D. McCain, the second director of MDAH.
The movie Monuments Men opens today. Interestingly, Mississippi had its own monuments man, Captain William D. McCain, who was the director of the Department of Archives and History before and after World War II. The exploits of the Allied officers and soldiers assigned to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Commissions in the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operations have been largely unknown outside of the history, arts, archives, and library communities. With the release of this movie, based on Robert Edsel’s books Rescuing DaVinci, Monuments Men, and Saving Italy, their role in preserving Western heritage from the devastation of World War II and massive looting by Nazi leaders can come to full light.
McCain was called to active duty in March 1943 as first lieutenant and served in an antiaircraft artillery unit. In December 1943, he deployed overseas to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations where he was assigned as a historian with Headquarters, Fifth (U.S.) Army. He remained in that assignment until September 1944. He helped write the history of the Fifth Army during its operations in North Africa, Sicily, and southern Italy. McCain was the author of From the Volturno to the Winter Line (6 October to 15 November 1943), one of a series of fourteen studies of World War II military operations. In February 1944, he was promoted to captain.
In September 1944, McCain was reassigned to the Fifteenth Army Group’s Allied Commission, which oversaw all civil military operations in the Italian peninsula. He joined the Subcommission for Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) as the regional records officer and archivist of the Lombardia area (northern Italy). McCain’s tasks were “ … to plan to take care of the archival deposits in northern Italy, to plan for the restoration of archival service in northern Italy, and to plan for the protection and return to Rome of the records of the ministries which had been removed northward as the Allied armies advanced … .” During the winter of 1944–1945, McCain worked with Italian state archivists to collect information on the archival depositories in northern Italy and make plans for their recovery, protection, and return.
During the spring and summer of 1945, as Allied armies surged north up the Italian peninsula, McCain worked to locate and inspect archival depositories and restore archival services in northern Italy. He also took it upon himself to supervise the restoration of various libraries in his area of operations. His work culminated in late August 1945, with a “great meeting in Milano” that settled all remaining matters of restoration and return of the archives. From September through November, the Italian state archives were transferred back to Rome in eleven thirty-five-truck convoys.
McCain departed Italy for the United States in September 1945. After completing his reports and performing other administrative duties, he was discharged from active service in December 1945 and returned to Jackson to resume his duties as state archivist. McCain continued his military service after World War II as an officer with the Mississippi National Guard in antiaircraft artillery units, including a twenty-month mobilization during the Korean War.
McCain was an assistant archivist at the nascent United States National Archives before becoming director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. His contacts with archivists at the national level, including Solon J. Buck, Archivist of the United States, resulted in his assignment as the archivist for the Mediterranean Theater of Operations Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Commission.
William D. McCain, “Some Reminiscences of the United States Archivist in Italy, 1944–1945,” Journal of Mississippi History, vol. 34, no. 1 (1972), pages 1–28. The two quotations are taken from pages 6–7 and 26.
William D. McCain papers, Z/0065.000 and Z/0065.001, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
McCain (William D.) Photograph Collection, PI/ED/M33.8/folder 44, MDAH.
For additional information on the Monuments Men:
The Monuments Men web site: http://www.monumentsmen.com/
The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art: http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/
December 7 marks the seventy-second anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. MDAH historian Mike Allard compiled this list of Mississippians lost that day using official Navy casualty lists, the American Battle Monuments Commission database, and local newspapers.
Bond, Burnis L.—Wiggins, Stone Co.
Carter, Paxton T.—Hattiesburg, Forrest Co.
Chadwick, Charles B.—Rena Lara, Coahoma Co.
Dial, John B.—Hattiesburg, Forrest Co.
Fortenberry, Alvie C.—Magnolia, Pike Co.
Green, Glen H.—Paulding, Jasper Co.
Menefee, James A.—Jackson, Hinds Co.
Molpus, Richard P.—Meridian, Lauderdale Co.
Moody, Robert E.—Utica, Hinds Co.
Murphy, Jessie H.—Picayune, Hancock Co.
Oglesby, Lonnie H.—Jackson, Hinds Co.
Ruddock, Cecil R.—Pass Christian, Harrison Co.
Smith, Walter T.—Gunnison, Bolivar Co.
Thornton, George H.—Blue Springs, Union Co.
White, Volmer D.—Kokomo, Marion Co.
Clark, Cullen B.—Laurel, Jones Co.
Curtis, Herbert S. Jr.—Kilmichael, Montgomery Co.
Davenport, James W. Jr.—Hattiesburg, Forrest Co.
Ferguson, Charlton H.—Kosciusko, Attala Co.
Johnston, Jim H.—Wesson, Copiah Co.
Jones, Jerry—Stonewall, Clarke Co.
Thornton, Cecil H.–Mississippi
Wade, Durrell—Calhoun City, Calhoun Co.
U.S.S. West Virginia
Melton, John R.—Liberty, Amite Co.
Mister, Joe E.—Grenada, Grenada Co.
Denson, Eugene B.—Canton, Madison Co.
Gossard, James E. Jr.—Electric Mills, Kemper Co.
Joyner, Theodore K. Jr.—Canton, Madison Co.
Everett, James—Canton, Madison Co.
Price, John A.—McComb, Pike Co.
We will be exploring Mississippi’s rich aviation history in this series. From early flight photographs to the moon landing and beyond, MDAH collections document this exciting part of our past.
The story of the Flying Dutchmen has become a kind of legend in Jackson. It doesn’t show up in most history books, but if you ask any of our older residents, chances are they’ll tell you stories about them flying under power lines and the like. But what really happened in 1942? Who were the “Flying Dutchmen” of Jackson? Much of this information can be found in the MDAH collection! Here’s the story:
Near the beginning of World War II, Hitler’s Germany overran the Netherlands, and later its colony, the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) was conquered by the Japanese as they attacked southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the Indonesian archipelago. The Dutch were without a home, and more importantly for the war effort, without training bases for their armed forces. This is where Jackson, Mississippi, comes into the story. The Dutch needed a base for a flying school, and General Henry Arnold (head of the U.S. Army Air Force) obliged, choosing Jackson as the new home of the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School.
The city was already home to the Jackson Army Air Base at Hawkins Field when the Dutchmen arrived in May 1942, many with their wives and children in tow. Jackson became an international city literally overnight, as the foreign-speaking Dutch and native Indonesians wandered the streets and explored their new home. They delighted in shopping and eating in restaurants, pleasures that were hard to come by in war-ravaged Europe and the Pacific.
The Dutch fliers trained here for nearly two years, and during that time formed warm attachments with the locals, who reciprocated in kind. Some of the Dutchmen married Jackson girls and settled down in Mississippi after the war. Over thirty Dutchmen who were killed in training accidents are buried at Cedarlawn Cemetery in Jackson. Several of airmen and one widow have been buried there in more recent years.
The monument at the Dutch plot reads: Voor Hen Die Vielen (For Those Who Fell) and lists the fliers killed in training accidents.
Their story has been somewhat forgotten in the annals of Mississippi history, but it is one of Jackson’s hidden treasures, documented here at the archives.
Barber (Bette E.) Photograph Collection. MDAH call number Z/0839.001/S.
The Clarion Ledger, 1942-44. On file at MDAH.
“Dutch in Jackson,” subject file, MDAH.
Jackson Army Air Base News, 1942-1944. On file at MDAH.
Lutgert, W.H., and R. de Winter. Voor Hen die Vielen. The Hague, Holland: Historical Section of the Netherlands Air Staff, 1992. MDAH call number 949.2/L973v/1992.
“Netherlands Flying School,” subject file, MDAH.
Remous: Organ of the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School. March-December 1943. MDAH call number OS/949.2/R81r/D.
Stubbs, Ben. The Dutch Fliers. Interview with Fred Streuding on January 17, 2000. MDAH call number 949.2/S932d/2000.
Van der Laan, 1st Lt. R., ed. Royal Netherlands Military Flying School in United States of
America. New York: E.W. Smith and Company, 1943. MDAH call number 949.2/R81.
In honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, we will be highlighting collections related to the military history of Mississippi and veterans who served the state beginning with the territorial militia in 1797 through World War II (the most recent engagement for which we have collections). Special thanks to Jim Pitts, of the MDAH Government Records section, for compiling the military records and their descriptions and to Nan Prince, Museum Division, for compiling the artifacts.
This World War II uniform coat, known as an Eisenhower jacket, belonged to George C. Sargent of Bentonia, Mississippi. Sargent served in the U.S. Army from 1944-1946. He was a member of Company D in the 3rd Armored Division and in the 67th Armored Regiment of the 2nd Armored Division. He was involved in battles at Ardennes, Rhineland, and in Central Europe.
Artifacts in the collection of the Museum of Mississippi History are available for viewing by appointment only. Please contact Cindy Gardner, Director of Collections or Nan Prince, Asst. Director of Collections by email to schedule an appointment.
The image above shows two pages from the World War II diary of William H. Turcotte, an officer in the 322nd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force. Turcotte was shot down in October 1943 and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III, a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland. His diary is an excellent historical source. These images show the diary cover and a page illustrating the various devices constructed from metal cans as part of a contest in the camp.