A collection of letters from a soldier serving in Europe during World War II has become a new book with particular interest to Brownwood area residents.
“I’ll Be Home for the Christmas Rush” was written, though not intentionally as a book, by Brownwood native Albert W. Hoffman, a member of the National Guard’s 36th Cavalry Division that was mobilized at Camp Bowie as World War II was erupting. The volume was edited for publication decades later by his son, David R. Hoffman, a Brownwood High School graduate who for 39 years worked as a librarian in six states.
In 1994, Hoffman retired from the State Library of Pennsylvania, where he had worked since 1975 and had served as director for the last 13 years of his career.
Hoffman will be in Brownwood to sign copies of his book Tuesday, Sept. 15. He will be at the Brownwood Genealogy Library from 3 to 5 p.m.
Hoffman described the letters as one man’s messages to his wife and children while he was in Europe during 1944 and 1945. The letters sent to him did not survive, so his letters constitute half of an ongoing conversation with his family, as he responds to news from home and comments on what he has heard from relatives and colleagues.
“He loved his wife, his family, his home,” Hoffman said of his father. “He had a sense that he would be home for the 1945 Christmas rush at the post office — always the busiest time of the year, and must have had that sense from the date of his National Guard Division’s call to active duty in 1940, as he indicated in a letter of May 9, 1945. He was right. He returned from Europe in September 1945, and was back ‘in harness’ at the post office in time for the Christmas rush.”
Wartime censorship prevented Hoffman from offering details about troop movements and strategy in the combat zone. However, he gave descriptions about the country where he was, with comparisons to home, and about the local civilians he met in England, France and Germany.
Hoffman enlisted in the Texas National Guard in 1926 and served with the 36th Division after mobilization until 1943, and again after the war in reorganization of the Texas National Guard, as a lieutenant colonel/battalion commander from 1946 until 1956, and as a colonel on Division staff from 1956 until his retirement in 1961.
“David Hoffman's collection of his father’s World War II correspondence provides a valuable and illuminating glimpse into the mindset of a U.S. Army field grade officer during that momentous conflict,” said Jospeh Balkoski, author of five World War II histories. “The letters, as well as David's meticulous footnotes, will intrigue World War II scholars and novices alike.”
Two of Balkoski’s books, “Omaha Beach” and “Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy,” pertain to the division in which Albert Hoffman served.