Thursday, May 7, 2020

V-E Day for Farkas Family Members in the Service

My 1C1R Robert Farkas in the 303d Medical
Battn of 78th Infantry Division, U.S. Army

The June, 1945 meeting of my Farkas Family Tree was a joyous one, taking place just weeks after Victory in Europe Day on May 8.

This tree group had been formed in 1933 to maintain the close relationships among children and grandchildren of my immigrant ancestors, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) and Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938).

The "tree" met ten times a year, bringing together dozens of family members from around the New York City area.

During World War II, the highlight of every monthly meeting was when the group listened to the reading of letters written home by Farkas relatives serving in the military. Emotions ran high as the family hoped for the safe return home of all service members.

My aunt, Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz,
served as a WAC in WWII
When the Farkas Family Tree met in June of 1945, it was an especially happy occasion because of the Allied victory and pride in the role of family members who did their part. The minutes singled out the accomplishments of two family members in the service.

I'm highlighting in yellow the quoted excerpts from the minutes of June, 1945 to distinguish them from my explanations.

Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz - Bronze Star Medalist

"Dorothy, now in Belgium, seems to have had quite a riotous time on V-E Day." - This sentence refers to my Auntie, Sgt. Dorothy Schwartz (1919-2001), who was a WAC serving in Europe. She was in an important administrative support role for the 9th Air Force, and by the time of V-E Day, had been moved from France to Belgium as battles were fought and won. Alas, I don't have Dorothy's letter describing her "riotous time" but I am so glad to know that she celebrated.

"Dorothy was awarded the Bronze Star Medal." - In fact, my aunt's citation read: For "meritorious service in direct support of operations against the enemy." During 17 months of bombardment leading up to V-E Day, she took shorthand listening in as commanders discussed when and where to bomb the enemy. Her key role was to quickly and accurately transcribe the bombing orders so they could be distributed to flight commanders right away. She was always cognizant that lives were on the line, and she took her responsibilities very seriously, according to her letters home.

Technician 4th Class Robert Farkas - Three Battle Stars 

"Regional censorship being lifted in the ETO [European Theater of Operations], Bob wrote what he could about where he is and it wasn't much even though a 3d party was not reading the letters." - Robert "Bob" Farkas (1924-2014) had enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18 and was part of the medical corps. After training, he was sent to England, France, Belgium, and Germany to provide care for wounded service members.

"Bob has three battle stars." - He served in B Company, 303d medical battalion of the 78th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, and I believe I spotted him in this photo of the 303d. He's smiling in the next-to-back row, 6th from the right. Bob was one of the most prolific of the letter-writers, sending home frequent descriptions of what he was doing and seeing during training and all over Europe. He wrote that he learned more from the aftermath of the first combat experience in Europe than he did from all of his previous training.

Let me salute all the servicepeople who participated in the Allied war effort leading up to V-E Day.

This is my post for week 19 of Amy Johnson Crow's #52Ancestors genealogy prompts - service.

1 comment:

  1. First-hand stories must still make your family feel almost like they were there.