The WWII Diaries of Bill Ives
My father, Wilbur H. "Bill" Ives, born 1924, went off to World War II at the age of 19, on Monday, March 1, 1943. His girlfriend, Shirley Jean Ryker (aka "Duffer") (who would become his fiancee in January of 1944 and mother to two sons in 1950 and 1953), gave him two volumes of blank diaries made specifically for soldiers going off to train for and fight in WWII. The following are samples of his entries. (There are many pages given over to his commenting it was a dull day, they drilled, nothing happened, they're waiting to be transferred to the next camp, etc.. For the sake of brevity, I have left these out. None of the letters from Jean to Bill were ever found.) Following the diaries are further scans from their shared scrapbook. Because lives are interwoven, you will also find information on other family members.
My Dad was an average man who did his best - he sometimes failed and sometimes succeeded. I did not appreciate soon enough what he and so many others of his generation did for me - for US - before us. He went into the Army a boy. These diaries cover the time he was in training. He was naive, lonely, and, going by the sounds of it, not especially focused on the task he would face, like most young men. Once in action, he saw what he saw (which he would not discuss), he survived, and returned home a man. As a boy, he had dreams of being a sports pro or an artist. As a man, he simply wanted to get back to the U.S. in one piece, and start a home and family with his gal. He was a "blue collar" worker his entire life, never had it easy, but seldom complained. He provided for his family, helped get his kids into college (one finished - the first to graduate from either side of the family), and lived to see his sons find their own paths. He seldom expressed himself about anything of substance... though we know everyone leads a complex internal life. Bill Ives died young at age 61. He and "his Jeannie" divorced after 28 years of marriage. He lived alone for the last 11 years of his life, never got over the divorce, and never truly moved forward. His sons stayed in touch, and it was us - his sons Ronn and Bruce - who buried him in Fort Logan Military Cemetery, in Denver, Colorado, in 1985. I miss him MORE as time passes, not less. This gallery is intended to honor him and millions of others who gave so much to a very necessary war. Anything WE now have is because of these people.
For extensive photos of Bill, Jean, and many other family relations, see the Family Gallery.
(Click on any thumbnail photo to enlarge it and receive additional information.)