Bombing Mission over Wiener Neustadt, Austria

I’m soon releasing my book, The Tiger’s Widow. In that story you will meet 2nd Lt. Fred A. Davis. He is Ginny’s brother in-law who sadly did not return from war.

In Book 3 of the Stories of the Lost series, I am writing a story about Fred. He will also feature prominently in the World War II records books I’m releasing in 2015. You may be surprised at just how a couple of records can open a whole new research world!

In my research this morning, I ran across this website on the Nov 2 1943 Mission to Wiener Neustadt, Austria. If you know anyone on the list on the website, the researcher and I would appreciate hearing from you. My focus is more on Fred’s crew and plane 42-72891.

Please leave comments or email me if you have any information. I appreciate any assistance in this story.

© 2014, Jennifer Holik, Woodridge, IL


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Military Monday – Excerpt from The Tiger’s Widow July 7, 2014

The following is an excerpt from my soon to be released book about Virginia Brouk, a member of the World War II Women’s Army Corps. The Tiger’s Widow is book 2 in the Stories of the Lost series and continues the story of Flying Tiger Robert Brouk’s life through the life of his widow. This is one of the letters she sent home. Please visit my website for details on ordering this new book starting July 22.

“Somewhere in Italy”

June 1944

After a most pleasant trip, we have arrived somewhere in Italy. The voyage across was really wonderful. At times one could not realize a war was on, for one had male companionship and entertainment galore; such as dances, movies and romance.

Oh no, I never got seasick. In fact, I never felt better in my life. I can’t kick about the food as yet. Of course, milk is a drink of the past. Therefore, I have to try to settle for wine. The water is so heavily chlorinated that it doesn’t make drinking a pleasure.

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis

Yes, I am able to tell you, that it’s perfectly beautiful here. That’s about all. The views around here even surpass the beauty of Utah; and I thought that was impossible. I am speaking of course about the terrain. This place has been heavily bombed and there are signs of war everywhere. Beautiful homes, cathedrals, etc. are in a mass of destruction. The people are clothed very poorly, and I am certain they haven’t seen a shower for ages. One can see young boys and girls, as well as adults, stand around and beg for food and cigarettes. In fact you can almost buy anything you want with a package of cigarettes.

Their language is positively a nightmare to me. My Swiss isn’t getting me anywhere. You know, how capable I am of handling American money, so you can readily imagine what a mess I can get into here. I try to use the good old sign language but at times I only get a blank stare in return.

We girls have a lovely place to stay at now. We sleep on cots and roll ourselves in blankets. What are those things called sheets? By the way, I must tell you, we have servants to scrub our floors, shoes, latrines, and clean up. Not bad, eh? We don’t have any hot water, but are very thankful to have it cold. Days have elapsed when we have not seen a drop, and anything is welcome now.

We discovered a new easy method in which to iron shirts and skirts without our iron or electricity. Just wash clothes and then press them dry with the palms of the hand in the sun. It only takes hours, but then one looks quite stunning.

Quaint people, quaint customs, destruction and suffering sum up my experiences and eye-witness scenes thus far. Truly a novel in itself already.

Since we haven’t any electricity, we live like little chicks. “early to bed, early to rise.”

P.S. I saw the Rock of Gibraltar, but by jinks, there was no Prudential Life Insurance sign on it. “Ain’t that something!”[i]

In the mountains outside of Naples. Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis.

In the mountains outside of Naples. Photo courtesy Virginia S. Davis.

“To get away from the war torn areas after work, we usually got a group together, hopped on a military truck and went up the mountainside to a lovely retreat. There we relaxed, had some drinks and danced. My escort in Italy was a Lieutenant. I met him on the boat. In the states, non-coms [non-commissioned personnel] could not date officers, but overseas there were no rules. Bob and I were in Naples. When I went to Cairo, he went to France and I never heard from him again. He was a paratrooper.[ii]

While in Naples we drove to Pompeii and saw Mt. Vesuvius which had erupted just a few months before, and was still emitting smoke and tossing large clumps of lava in every direction. What a breathtaking sight. Lethal yes, but beautiful.[iii]

By now Rome was completely taken over by the Americans. Thus began the second invasion. We WACs were sent to Taranto via Salerno. We arrived in Taranto and Boarded the Polish ship, Batory which was manned by the British. The ship also carried Indian troops heading back to India. We left port and traveled to Alexandria, Egypt.”[iv]


[i] Virginia S. Davis (Scharer), “War scrapbook letter collection.”

[ii] Virginia S. Davis (Scharer), “Memoir 1918 – 2010,” 193.

[iii] Virginia S. Davis (Scharer), “Memoir 1918 – 2010,” 194.

[iv] Virginia S. Davis (Scharer), “Memoir 1918 – 2010,” 195.

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Follow Friday – The In-Depth Genealogist


Ancestors in a Nation Divided book release announced by The In-Depth Genealogist

June 29, 2014; Utica, OH:  

IDG-AncestorsinaNationDivided-coverWhy Research Your Civil War ancestor?

You may have a story or two handed down through your family about your Civil War ancestor. So what other info do you need?

Was he a northerner called to service by the president? So with honor and the instilled need to preserve the Union he enlisted? Or was he a Confederate soldier fighting for his new country and its rights and freedom? Was he an African American, freedman or slave, fighting for the system with little acknowledgement?

Why research? Because your Civil War ancestor’s story is a part of our country’s history. Yet more than that it’s a part of your story. To know your Civil War ancestor, his life and military service, is to know a part of you.

Ancestors In A Nation Divided will guide you through the steps of researching your Civil War ancestor. From the beginning if you only have a name – to an in-depth search of his military and post-war life this book will guide you through the process.

Packed with the resources you need to research you’ll be able to:

° Begin even if you don’t know where to start

° Understand Compiled Military Service Records and Pension Files

° Find your Civil War ancestor in little known and under-used censuses

° Take a look at Provost Marshall Records

° Learn about Confederate Military History and the Official Records

° Take a look at long forgotten resources like the Old Soldiers Home, GAR and UVC membership

° And so much more!

Whether your ancestor fought for the Union or the Confederacy, Ancestors In A Nation Divided will help you open the doors to his military service. You’ll learn about the battles he fought, camp life, injuries he may have sustained and more. Your research will put you alongside your ancestor in his Civil War journey. You’ll learn about his experiences and in knowing what he lived through you’ll be able to appreciate his service all the more. The Civil War changed this country’s path, it shaped our nation into what we know today and your ancestor had a hand in that. Ancestors In A Nation Divided will help you start learning about your Civil War ancestor today.

Ancestors in a Nation Divided is currently offered as a PDF for just $9.99.  Within the next few weeks additional formats will be available including Kindle and Nook. Best of all, we’ll also have a paperback version that will be 8.5” x 11” in black and white for $19.99.  Simply go to to get your copy!

For more information, please contact Terri O’Connell.

The In-Depth Genealogist

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