05 August 2018

The Abrupt End of World War II

My grandfather, Joel Dirlam, during World War II

The 73rd anniversary of the armistice of August 14, 1945 that effectively ended the war with Japan, and, therefore, World War II, is rapidly approaching.  This has motivated me to give further thought to my own family connections with World War II.

Joel Dirlam, one of my grandfathers, served in World War II (my other grandfather had earlier contracted tuberculosis and the loss of part of one of his lungs precluded him from serving) as did Joel’s first cousin once removed, John Baxter Black II.  You can read about the vast amount of information I gleaned from my grandfather’s discharge papers in an earlier blog post here and I’ve written numerous times about our cousin John Black’s influence on my interest in family history.  This is more information about John, who kept a journal (against all orders!) during his time serving in the War.  Although I have not yet reviewed John’s journal, he cites them in his self-published family history.
The Bombe Codebreaker
Machine - citation below

John’s goddaughter, Diana, recorded a video interview with John about his time in the war, just a few weeks before he died in 2015.  Diana’s parents met in England where her father-to-be was serving in the American Army as John’s Commanding Officer.  Diana’s English mother was working at Bletchley Park on Turing’s famous Bombe code breaker machine at the time they met. When they decided to marry, John made all the arrangements for the service, reception and the transport of bridesmaids to and from the ceremony. When Diana was born, her parents named John as her godfather. Recently, Diana asked me for my input on the reading of some of John’s remembrances in the context of a preamble to her video interview.  This prompted me to research what, exactly, John had committed to paper about his wartime experiences.