French Morocco 1953

 

Family treasures come to us in all different ways. In this instance, we had been hoping to find a picture of Ray Gibbons from his military years for at least the past 10 years. Recently when going through photographs left to us by my mother-in-law, I found an old photo album, the kind with the fragile black pages. She never mentioned it or pointed out the album in any way. Within were keepsakes of a long gone era.

In 1952, at the age of 20, Ray Gibbons joined the Air Force. He was away from his beloved Marie, and they exchanged photographs and letters. Marie confided to me once that many of the letters Ray wrote her are gone. They were too personal to share and so she destroyed them. I selfishly wanted to have a lens into their early life together, as an historian, but I also understand as a woman with children and family, that some feelings are better savored privately. Of the few letters remaining, they are sentimental and show the deep love they shared.

These are just a small selection of photographs from this old album that Ray kept while in the Air Force. He was in various locations around America and also deployed to French Morocco in Africa in 1953. Based on his photographs, he was curious, observant, and often smiling. Most of the people in his photographs are Air Force buddies, all young, all finding their way I assume. Very few are identified, regrettably. Some photographs will have to undergo restoration due to damage from the old paper. I’m hopeful that one of them may be a photo of Ray and his father Henry, as I have no other photos of Henry and we know very little about him. I presume that other branches of the family have photos of him, but time and distance has estranged the family members and photo sharing.

I hope you find these photographs interesting. I did a little research about French Morocco, which you can find at the end of this post.

Moroccan girl, 1953

Church, French Morocco, 1953

Building on base, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Unidentified Moroccan men, 1953

Although Morocco has an ancient history of independent rule, Morocco existed as a French protectorate from 1912 to 1955, when it reestablished itself as an independent country. It was originally a sultanate that was desired by various European governments due to its valuable Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. After turmoil in the sultanate at the turn of the century and a threat by Germany, the French protectorate was established with the support of Britain and Spain, both countries with financial and other interests in Africa. Other countries were not necessarily pleased with the French influence, and there were also several rebellions against French rule over the ensuing 40 years.

Morocco is considered to be an exotic location due to its geographical location as well as historical influences of Mediterranean culture. The well known cities of Marakesh, Tangier, and Casablanca are all Moroccan cities with long histories and their own cachet. Marakesh has been mentioned numerous times in relation to the Indiana Jones movies, and of course Casablanca was the location of the classic namesake 1942 film. More recently, scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in Morocco. The cuisine is considered to be among the most varied due to the availability of spices, meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and the flavorful combinations that have come about due to the many international communities within the country. Varying populations have created an exciting local culture that combines West African, Berber, Arab and European traditions. Traditional clothing may be ornately embroidered and colorful, conjuring images of Bedouin tribes and Arabian nights. It is currently an Islamic nation with the attendant rules of Islamic law, which I won’t cover here.

Further Reading About Morocco

French Protectorate via University of Central Arkansas

French Colony to Sovereign State via Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Morocco via Encyclopedia Britannica

Advertisements

Special Military Training?

Enjoy today two photos that show us that sometimes military training and camp isn’t all marching and push ups. I don’t know who the subjects are, but they were in the same pile as these pictures of Earl “E. B.” Scott and his buddy. Location and date are unknown but I’m guessing in the 1940s to 50s.

Merry Christmas Happy New Year

xmas-cards-for-2016-15-2

Military dad

A simple, deckled edge card with a small square photo of a family. The father is in his military uniform but I can’t tell what branch he is in. Two boys are in between Dad and Mom. The printed text reads Merry Christmas / Happy New Year and looks like a letter in a mailbox. The card is signed “with much love, Antoinette & Allen & the boys.”

Veterans

tn-vintage-pix-19

Four Great War soldiers

Today is Veterans Day, November 11. You may have heard that Veterans Day originated with the Great War, the war to end all wars, World War I. Originally called Armistice Day, it was a moment of silence observed at 11:00 a.m. on November 11th, because that was the time designated in the Armistice Agreement for an end to hostilities on the Western Front. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918. In the days before internet communications, explicit and defined times and dates were important so that everyone got the message loud and clear. The armistice was a success and World War I came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, and ultimately the fall of Berlin.

The Great War sadly was not the war to end all wars.

One hopes that these four soldiers returned home from battle, healthy and able to pick up their lives, but we can never know. The photo carries no identification on the reverse. World War I also gave rise to the term “shell shock” which today we would call post traumatic stress disorder. 100 years ago, there was no treatment for this syndrome. Men were expected to deal with it and get on with their lives. I can only imagine how terrible it must have been.

Thank your local veteran today, for their sacrifices and service to your country. It is not an easy job to perform, and in America, can be woefully under paid, under supported and unsung. While we find it easy to wear yellow ribbons, the colors of our flag, or put up signs saying “we support our troops,” our Veterans Administration is underfunded and our Veterans hospitals are understaffed. Not only do our active duty military suffer daily, but their families make deep sacrifices – deployments separating parents, family deployments to foreign countries and frequent moves, children changing schools annually – and sometimes, they make the greatest sacrifice of all in the death of their military family member. Veterans are frequently affected with long term consequences of their deployment and the action they have seen, both physically through illness/injury, but mentally through PTSD and the deep scars left by the missions they conducted. It cannot be an easy life to live, and we must appreciate every man and woman who choose to live it.

Read more about Veterans Day and the history of this holiday

History of Veterans Day – via Office of Public Affairs, US Dept of Veterans Affairs

Why do we wear a poppy? – via The Telegraph UK

In Flanders Fields – poem written about WWI

The Remembrance Poppy – via Wikipedia

Sailors

tn-vintage-pix-25

Item #1 – E. B. Scott

tn-vintage-pix-22

Item #2 – A sailor from Tennessee

tn-vintage-pix-21

Item #3 – E. B. Scott & another sailor

tn-vintage-pix-24

Item #4 – a deck shot

I found these photos in what I call “the great Tennessee vacation photo haul.” A couple months back I teased you about these, a large collection of photos I gathered at “the world’s longest yard sale” in Tennessee. I have a massive collection of photos and holiday cards to share with you, and these four seemed like a good place to start!

The photos have inscriptions, as follows:

Item #1 – Front labeled E. B. Scott

Item #2 – no inscription

Item #3 – The background is the Bay. The guy with me is Earl Scott from Johnson City, Tenn.

Item #4 – This was taken on the Starboard side of the Quarter Deck looking aft

Anyone who knows vintage military uniforms is welcome to comment on what you think may be the era of these photos/uniforms. As it is, I can’t really make a guess because the photos themselves follow a style that was popular for 20+ years.

Verdun 1944

Momentous events in history are the topic of the week, and Sepia Saturday gives us the prompt of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, just a few moments before his assassination, which started World War I. One of the major battlefields during World War I was outside the city of Verdun, about 200 miles (250 km) from Paris. The town is ancient, having been an occupied fortress before the Romans came rolling through, and takes its name from the Latin Verodunum, meaning strong fort. The town is surrounded by several forts which were targets for German forces in an effort to break France, and therefore break Britain.

Carroll at Verdun, France / Paris 200 miles west

Carroll at Verdun, France / Paris 200 miles west

While part of the town fell to German forces, not all of it did, and eventually Allied forces attacked the German flank at the Somme, bringing a conclusion to most of the fighting at Verdun. Over eleven months, hundreds of thousands of men died on the verdant land in and round the town. Verdun hosts several monuments and cemeteries consecrating the numerous remains. French General Philippe Pétain helped to keep open the Bar-le-Duc road – the only road available to bring in supplies to the beleaguered town. It became known as The Sacred Way.

Carroll, taken at Verdun, France 1944

Carroll, taken at Verdun, France 1944

During World War II, France fell to the Germans thanks in part to the actions of the very same General Pétain, and Verdun and all of northwestern France became occupied by German troops. After the Normandy Beach landings by Allied forces in 1944, the Germans were pushed out of the region. By September of that year, Verdun was liberated, but then heavily bombed by the retreating German army. This interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald describes troop movements as of September 2, 1944. The Allied troops moved north toward Belgium and Luxembourg virtually unopposed.

Carroll at Verdun, 1944

Carroll at Verdun, 1944

These photographs found in the local antique stall are badly scratched from time and mishandling, but show a soldier – Carroll – while he was in Verdun in 1944. We can see the snow in some of these, and so we know they must have been after the September offensive by the Allied forces that freed Verdun from German occupation. The first photograph might have been taken in the autumn of that year, and shows the signpost for both Paris and Bar-le-Duc.

Carroll & Munan at Verdun, France 1944

Carroll & Munar at Verdun, France 1944

Carroll is the fellow on the left in this picture. I’m guessing at the spelling of Munar. The handwriting is small and cramped. Maybe it is Monroe. Although they were certainly in the area in connection to the Allied victory over Germany and subsequent stabilization efforts, that is all we know. The photos became lost somehow, separated from their subjects and forever a curiosity for us to muse upon.

For other major events and significant moments in history, great and small, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Moments frozen in time

Army R.O.T.C.

Delaware ROTC

Delaware ROTC Headquarters

I have neglected you all, dear photo loving friends, and for that I apologize. I just didn’t seem to have enough time to do anything the past couple weeks and I didn’t realize that so much time had passed!

Hopefully you are a forgiving lot, heh. For this week’s Sepia Saturday we have a prompt showing a doorway. The doorway on this photo of the Delaware Army R.O.T.C. leads to a Headquarters building flanked with wooden barracks un an unpaved/ungroomed plot of land. The young men pictured supposedly include my grandfather Horace A. Nunn, but I can’t discern his face among them. My mother or sister might have better luck.

Horace was born in 1902. If he was in college during his stint in the R.O.T.C. we can guess he was about 18 years of age, and so this photo is from approximately 1920-1921. Any military historians who can better date this, please comment! I am only guessing he was college aged because that is my experience – R.O.T.C. was open to college boys. But, military uniforms are often a good way to date photos, and I know nothing about them.

UPDATE: A site visitor schooled me that R.O.T.C. may not be understood outside of the USA, my apologies! R.O.T.C. stands for Reserve Officers Training Corps, and was designed to train future military leaders. Established in 1862, it was a requirement for men attending a land-grant college to participate in R.O.T.C. A land-grant college is a federally funded college or university, and to retain federal funding the college must offer agriculture, science, military science and engineering. Up until 1862 apparently, most colleges offered a liberal-arts curriculum. While a man who joins the military after college can become an office without R.O.T.C. it is preferred that he have completed the training during school. The practice of compulsory R.O.T.C. spread to many private universities, until the 1960s, and now it is voluntary for men to join. Many of my male friends in college were in R.O.T.C. We called their weekends away “doing the green thing.” 

Hopefully I won’t neglect you again, thank you for sticking with me! For more photos of doorways from around the world, please click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Come on in!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: