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Charles Burleigh Papers

Identifier: MS 00224

  • Staff Only

Content Description

Twenty-six letters written by four U. S. servicemen during World War II, plus fifty-two photographs and four artifacts.

Charles Burleigh’s letters are short and chatty. He wrote about his work in general, with frequent references to being tired, but he never mentioned the B-17s or their missions. He commented on living conditions, the dearth of comforts, camels, Arabs, and the relatively better situation in Italy. He wrote about activities during breaks, including day trips into Tunis and sightseeing in Italy. He spent three weeks in a hospital with yellow jaundice. He was engaged to be married when he returned to the U. S., which, as of his last letter in December 1944, he expected to be in February 1945. In response to letters and photos he received from Betty Jean, Burleigh sometimes mentioned her interests in horses, flying, and boys. A torn fragment of an unfinished letter was in the envelope with Charles Burleigh’s letter postmarked 1941 November 14; it possibly was the start of a reply from Betty Jean.

Three letters in this collection were written by three other servicemen. Two brothers, L. E. “Lew” Loyd and Cpl. Jimmy W. Loyd, wrote to their parents in Springfield, Massachusetts. Lew Loyd wrote from the USS Arkansas (1943 May 8); his letter is in the form of a poem about the restraints imposed by wartime censorship. Jimmy Loyd was a petroleum distribution officer based in South Asia (789th Engineer Petroleum Distribution Company); he wrote (1944 September 4) about managing a warehouse and his pending divorce. Pete Podner[?] served on the USS Ricketts, a convoy escort vessel; in his letter to Betty Jean Burleigh (1945 February 28), he mentioned having visited her in Massachusetts just before Christmas.


  • 1939-1945


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Twenty-three of the letters (1939-1944) were written by Charles A. Burleigh to his schoolgirl cousin Betty Jean Burleigh, who was living with her family in Hampden, Massachusetts. Burleigh’s first letter (1939) was from college in Durham, New Hampshire; three (1941) were from Oklahoma and Colorado during his training to be an aircraft armaments officer in the Army Air Forces; and the remainder (1943-1944) were from air bases in North Africa and Italy. Burleigh was commissioned as a First Lieutenant and assigned to the 353rd Bombardment Squadron of the 301st Bombardment Group. He was promoted to Captain in 1943. The 353rd was a B-17 Flying Fortress squadron. Burleigh was a ground-based officer who serviced the bombs, guns, and other armaments that the bombers carried.


0.25 Linear Feet

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gary Barranger, class of ’73 Law ’76.
Guide to the Charles Burleigh Papers
Del Moore, SCRC Volunteer
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository