Lavern Smith Collection

TITLE: Lavern Smith Collection.

DATE RANGE: 1937 - 1948


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: 1 box (.5 linear feet)



RESTRICTIONS: This collection is unrestricted.   

CREDIT LINE: Lavern Smith Collection, Y-MS 8, Yuma County Library District

PROCESSED BY: Benjamin Findley, July 2013


Lavern Smith was an enlisted member of the United States Army during World War II. He was born in Oklahoma on March 22nd 1923. His parents moved to Yuma, Arizona six months after he was born. He lived in Yuma until he enlisted in the Army on February 6, 1940. In the army he spent two years training at camps in Washington and California. Sometime in 1942 he was deployed to the European theatre. Records indicate that he served in General Patton’s Third Army and participated in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Normandy. Smith was tried for desertion in December of 1942 while his Division was in French Morocco, Africa, and was demoted from the rank of private first class to private. However he continued on in the Army and achieved the rank of staff sergeant. He died on June 15, 1944 in Normandy. He was buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Francisco, California.


The center of this collection is a series of letters sent by Lavern Smith to his parents. All of Lavern’s letters date from before his deployment into combat, and discuss daily activities and concerns at the various camps where he was stationed. In addition to Lavern’s letters, there are letters sent to the Smiths by their nephews Albert Ferguson who served in the army in Belgium and France, and Alva Haigood who also served in Belgium. The collection also contains several letters from Lavern’s girlfriend, Peggy (last name unknown), to his family. Aside from the correspondence there is a reproduction of a book entitled “Combat History of the 79th Inf. Div.” This edition of the book was apparently printed in the war zone with captured German printers due to high demand and limited resources.


Box Folder Title Dates
1 1 Biographical: Lavern Smith 1944
  2 Correspondence: Albert Ferguson 1940 – 1944
  3 Correspondence: Alva Haigood 1944 – N.D.
  4 Correspondence: General 1940 – N.D.
  5 Correspondence: Lavern Smith (1 of 2)

January –

November, 1940

  6 Correspondence: Lavern Smith (2 of 2) November, 1940 – N.D.
  7 Correspondence: Peggy 1944 – 1945
  8 Documents: Combat History of the 79th Inf. Div. (Reproduction) 1945
  9 Documents: School awards, Application for family allowances, Parental records 1937 – N.D.
  10 News Clippings:  Miscellaneous WWII newspaper  clippings 1940’s 
  11 Postcard: R. M. S. Aquitania N.D.
  12 Scrapbook: World War II N.D.
  13 Transcripts: Assorted correspondence (includes transcripts of a trial, incomplete) 1940 – N.D.
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