The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Henry Walker McIver

"August 31, 1943: We were huddled in the darkness of the smelly hold and we could hear all the noises of combat… anti-aircraft firing, the crescendo of planes crossing over our ship, the shudder of bombs going off nearby. It hit me suddenly: this is real." (Memoir, page 1)

   Henry Walker McIver
Collection image
Detail from a drawing of Henry McIver in camp [Letter to Mother 6/4/1944]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 1st Armored Signal Battalion; 6828th Signal Service Detachment; 5th Army Group; 6th Army Group
Service Location: Algeria; Italy; France
Rank: Corporal
View Full Description

Henry Walker McIver enlisted in the Signal Corps in 1942, while he was in art school, and was promised that with some pre-induction training, he could secure a spot in Officer Candidate School. Instead, he found himself assigned to cryptographic repair, working with a SIGABA encoding device. In the letters that he sent to his family from Algeria, Italy, and France, he described his living conditions, his interactions with the local populations and French colonial troops, and the scenery of each place--and he began each letter with a detailed pen-and-ink sketch to accompany his narration.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (123 min.)
»A Very Narrow View of World War II
 Personal Correspondence
»View List (14 items)
More like this
»Art of War
»Line by Line: Transcribed Correspondence Collections
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Function and setup of the SIGABA machine; working in a 10 man team; intense security. (04:18) Response of Italian civilians to American troops and also to the French colonial troops. (02:16) Writing letters at night; creating illustrations for them. (00:52)
 Personal Correspondence (14 items)
Letter to Folks [December 15, 1943] Letter to Folks [January 20, 1944] Letter to Folks [January 24, 1944]
Letter to Folks [March 10, 1944] Letter to Folks [June 4, 1944] Letter to Folks [June 26, 1944]
Letter to Folks [July 6, 1944] Letter to Folks [July 10, 1944] Letter to Folks [July 16, 1944]
Letter to Folks [July 22, 1944] Letter to Folks [August 3, 1944] Letter to Folks [September 25, 1944]
Letter to Folks [February 12, 1945] Letter to Folks [March 8, 1945] 

Home » Henry Walker McIver
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us