Louis P. Dolbeare ’36

Dolbeare '36

Louis P. Dolbeare '36

(1916–    )
Office of War Information, Code Clerk

Impact of World War II Upon a Civilian

My 1942 response to classification as 4-F (poor eyes) in the draft was to migrate to Washington, D.C., to peddle my slimmest of résumés to government war agencies. I was accepted by the Office of War Information (translation: the U.S. propaganda agency).

Volunteering for OWI overseas service, I became a code clerk and was taught to use a ciphering machine and how to placate its peculiarities (careful maintenance).

With visions of overseas service in some foreign battle zone overheating my anticipations, I was assigned to London. My innate optimism was not smothered by two years in war-torn Britain, experiencing manned bombing, V-1s and V-2s before the end of war. I returned to New York in 1945 aboard the troopship RMS Queen Mary.

That is a précis. Save by tenuous implication, I have not responded to the question of how WWII had an impact on me. My frivolity will show, with all its saving graces, when I soberly state that my individual war was a rich experience.

I lived with the brave and dogged Brits, aping their resolution. I made friendships and, a lasting grace—the Germans never having succeeded in shutting down London—The Theatre. That is what sustained my wartime spirits and has been the strongest of lifetime markers.

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