Irvin Schwartz grew up on the outskirts of the Schuylkill County community of Pine Grove in the 1930s and 1940s. A budding and skilled writer, Schwartz graduated from Pine Grove High School in the spring of 1942. He found work at a local factory but his love was writing the high school sports column for the area’s newspaper, the West Schuylkill Press and Pine Grove Herald. 

His stint with the local newspaper was short-lived. In the spring of 1943, Schwartz was called up for service in the US Army. As the Second World War raged, many residents of Pine Grove volunteered or were drafted in the American armed forces. Irvin Schwartz joined many of his friends in the service.

Irvin Schwartz Military
Private Irvin Schwartz in 1943

When Schwartz left Pine Grove in May 1943, he began a remarkable correspondence with the editors of his hometown newspaper documenting his service in the US Army. These detailed letters, 50 in total, documented Schwartz’s service with the Army’s famed 1st Division. They reveal Schwartz as an excellent writer with the ability to capture the essence of the American experience in the European Theater of the Second World War.

Private Writing Letter 1944 (1)
A US Army soldier writing a letter in Normandy in 1944. (National Archives)

Wynning History is endeavoring to share these letters and contextualize Schwartz’s experience during the conflict. We hope you’ll find these letters as fascinating as we do. And if you have any information about Schwartz or other Coal Region soldiers in World War II, please share them with us – contact Wynning History anytime at wynninghistory@gmail.com.


Prologue – Irvin Schwartz’s Farewell Column for the West Schuylkill Press-Herald, May 7, 1943

Letter 1 – On the train to Camp Shelby, Mississippi in May 1943

Letter 2 – From the training camps of Mississippi in the summer of 1943

Letter 3 – On the train to Fort Meade, Maryland in October 1943

Letter 4 – Letters from War – At a “Northern Camp” in November 1943

Letter 5 – From Somewhere in England, November 1943

Letter 6 – Preparations for a war-time Christmas in England, November 1943

Letter 7 – Feeling homesick around the holidays in England, December 1943

Letter 8 – A powerfully written letter on Christmas Day, 1943

Letter 9 – Irvin Schwartz welcomed New Year 1944 with the hope that it meant Allied victory

Letter 10 – A high school sports pundit from a US Army base in England, January 1944

Letter 11 – A report about British newspapers in February 1944

The West Schuylkill Press-Herald reports on Schwartz’s 1944 visit to war-time London – March 1944

Letter 12 – A description of the English countryside, 1944

Letter 13 – A powerful Memorial Day letter on the eve of D-Day, 1944

Letter 14 – The first letter from the battlefields of Normandy, June 1944

Letter 15 – Reflections on D-Day and the fighting in Normandy, June 1944

Letter 16 – Receiving letters and picking up war souvenirs in France, July 1944

Letter 17 – Scenes at a joyous party in liberated Normandy, August 1944

Letter 18 – Witnessing a massive bombing raid and fighting near Saint-Lô, 1944

Letter 18a – A letter to the Schwartz family at home in Schuylkill County, August 1944

Letter 19 – Dining with a French family before returning to the front lines, September 1944

Letter 20 – Checking in with the staff of the Press-Herald from Belgium, September 1944

Letter 21 – The first letter from inside Hitler’s crumbling “Third Reich,” October 1944

Letter 22 – Holiday greetings from the front lines in Nazi Germany, November 1944

Letter 23 – “Our Battle for Aachen,” 1944

Battlefield promotion and war souvenirs, December 1944

Letter 24 – A delayed letter describing the German “Siegfried Line” and celebrating Ernie Pyle, 1944

Letter 25 – A meeting of Schuylkill County natives on the front lines in Europe, December 1944

Letter 26 – No peace for the holidays as the Battle of the Bulge raged, December 1944-January 1945

MORE COMING SOON – Stay tuned by subscribing to Wynning History below


Featured Image: Members of the 26th Infantry Regiment’s anti-tank company in service during World War II and Irvin Schwartz in his military uniform.

Like what you see here? Follow Wynning History on Facebook!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.