Today marks the 70th anniversary of the the D-Day invasion. Like so many around the world, Virginians felt the effect of this momentous day, and records in the collections of our Virginia Heritage partner repositories bear witness to the contributions of the Commonwealth’s own. We want to point you to three blog posts that give an idea of the types of records held in our institutions, and encourage you to explore the very personal remnants of an event with global impact.
The Virginia Tech Special Collections blog marked this special anniversary with the moving story of James (“Jimmie”) W. Monteith Jr., a former VT student whose heroic actions and ultimate sacrifice are made more poignant by his letters home just prior to the event. Also included are pictures from a VT publication of other grads and students, with news of their deaths on and not long after D-Day.
The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia, because that small town famously suffered a higher proportion of men lost at D-Day than any other American community. Today, the Library of Virginia’s Out of the Box has a story about how official state records give fascinating details on 15 of the 19 “Bedford Boys.” The article links to the actual war service records of these men, compiled after their deaths by the Virginia World War History II Commission.
Another story focuses on Douglas J. Raymond, who was not yet a Virginian, or even an American when he participated in the events of 6 June 1944. He became both by the time he passed away on the 50th D-Day anniversary, 6 June 1994. Serving in the Royal Canadian Navy, he and his comrades helped protect the landing troops with anti-submarine action. Two years ago, Out of the Box featured Raymond’s dramatic story after his widow, Mary, donated the small but powerful diary he kept for approximately two weeks before, during, and after the invasion.
The Virginia Heritage database contains, among others, finding aids for the Jimmie W. Monteith Jr. Collection (Virginia Tech Special Collections Number MS90-062), the Virginia World War II History Commission’s Personal War Service Record of Virginia’s War Dead (Library of Virginia Accession Number 24805), and the Douglas J. Raymond Diary (Library of Virginia Accession Number 50043). We are proud to be able to say that records in the collections of our Virginia Heritage partners put names, faces, and heartfelt words to this pivotal moment in history.