Hal Clement, noted author of "hard" sci-fi

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L-12586
L-12586, HRPE, Army Signal Corps Collection

Here we have a typical photo from the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation collection, it depicts a group of soldiers debarking. Specifically this is a group of Army Air Corps bomber pilots arriving on the transport ship “General John R. Brooke,” its February 1945 and they are coming home on rotation. From the photo print’s caption we know that one of these men is Lt. Harry C. Stubbs.

In completing authority work on Lt. Stubbs, the Library of Congress tells me that this is the birth name of an author better known by the nom de plume, Hal Clement. But which one is our guy?

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Life on a Liberty

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6409Berths
HRPE L-6409

The vast bulk of the ships we encounter in the course of cataloging the HRPE photographs are Liberty ships. Not entirely surprising, really, as there were 2,710 completed between 1941 and 1945, making them a large portion of the Army and Merchant Marine fleets. Some of the Liberties were converted to transport ships, and the reception was not entirely favorable. While the holds of a Liberty were just fine for crates of supplies or racks of bombs, fitting them up with bunks resulted in conditions like this:

The inscription on the back says these photos were taken to show the “crowded conditions”. For officers, conditions were slightly better, with bunks only three men high, and actual mattresses on springs.

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Entertainment for the troops Pt. 2

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Group portrait
Those pictured above include: Sam Hearn, actress Virginia Bruce, actress Betty Furness, Lt. Richard Barthlemess, Lt. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Jack Benny, Col. Medorem Crawford, Don Wilson, and Dennis Day.

The Jack Benny Program was a widely-known and well respected comedy series that ran for more than three decades. It ran as a radio show from 1932-1955 and as a TV show from 1950-1964. In 1943, Jack brought the show to Camp Patrick Henry to entertain the troops. Many members of the cast were involved including Eddie Anderson as Rochester, Sam Hearn as Schlepperman, Dennis Day, and Don Wilson. Other well-known performers were also in attendance.

Benny was also an accomplished violin player (his program character was known for playing violin poorly). He started playing when he was only six years old.

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A war story not for the faint hearted

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Pfc. Dorris Malear
U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation collection, E-12688

Pfc. Dorris Malear tells a story that suggests he may have been a survivor of the so-called Malmedy Massacre, one operation related to the famous Battle of the Bulge, in which the German 1st S.S. Panzer Division sought to instill fear in their enemies by taking no prisoners and killing all civilians in their path. While the details of Malear’s narrative differ somewhat from the historically accepted account of the Malmedy Massacre, he is certainly in the right place at about the right time.

Mr. Malear passed away in 2013, you can read his obituary here.

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Sports Legends at HRPE

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E-12339

On February 12, 1945, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation paid host to several noted professional and collegiate coaches and athletes. These men traveled to various Army staging grounds delivering athletic programs to men as they prepared to journey overseas.

Back row:

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