Monday, September 12, 2016

How a World War Changed an Alabama Family, Part 31

by Glenn N. Holliman

The War Continues to Disrupt the Lives of an Alabama Family....

In the summer of 1943, the Holliman family of Irondale, Alabama became fully engaged in World War II as three sons and a son-in-law were in military service.  Ralph, b 1924, left his young new wife, Motie, and did his basic training in Miami, Florida.  In mid-summer he was transferred by troop train to Camp Buckley, Colorado.  There he learned to be an Air Corp clerk, later to serve in France.

Right, decades later Ralph, Motie Chism Holliman (1925-2003) and Virginia Holliman Cornelius (1922-2011). Virginia's husband, Walter, went to the Army that spring of 1943 also.

Ralph's despondent mother, Pearl Caine Holliman (1888-1955) wrote her sailor son, Bishop Holliman, b 1919 - "They moved him (Ralph) to Denver. He came through Irondale and his train stayed in our town for over two hours and we did not know it. He could not call; I could hardly stand it."

From his new posting in the West, Ralph wrote July 2, 1943 to his brother-in-law Robert W. Daly, Sr. (1901-1959): "You meet any kind of person here, and I would not take anything for the friends I have made in the Army.  Most of the fellows are in the same boat. They all left their homes (believing) that something was to be done and the sooner that was over, the sooner we would get back to our homes. I think I was lucky to get into the Air Force and into clerical school.  The school is seven weeks."

Ralph had received a  letter from his brother, Euhal Holliman (1912-1989) in Gadsden, Alabama.  "It was signed from the five of us.  He said he had been working hard. I hope he doesn't have to go."  

Left, Euhal in 1982 fishing 
in Alaska.  He and wife, Edna Westbrook Holliman, had six children of whom, Terry and Jerry, the twins, would make their homes in Alaska.

In the summer of 1943, Euhal was 31 years old and supporting three children - Terry, Jerry and Anne Holliman Phillips. A fourth child, Jean, was born in 1944. Fortunately for his family's sake, Euhal, who perhaps had a physical injury, was never called.

Below, the summer of 1943, front row left to right - Charles H. Ferrell, Patti Holliman Hairston and John Ferrell.  Back row left to right - Carolyn Ferrell Tatum, Mary Daly Herrin and unknown.

Loudelle Holliman Ferrell (1914-1998), sister to her siblings and the wife of Dr. Charles Ferrell, Methodist minister in Jacksonville, Alabama, wrote to announce her Victory Garden already had produced beans and beets.  She also reported the apprehension by the police of an Army deserter, missing for four months, who had taken shelter under their church.  

My grandmother, Pearl, wrote of her great distress when her oldest son Melton, (1908-1958), age 35, was drafted into the Army.  He was ordered to report to Ft. McClellan,
Alabama for his physical in July 1943.  He passed the examination and at age 35, he prepared to leave his lucrative career as a pharmaceutical salesman, his young child and wife and do his duty.

 Right, Melton and Ida Hughes Holliman, 1942, when visiting Melton's brother, Bishop, who was stationed in New Orleans for training.

While his brothers were training for war, Bishop Holliman, a radio specialist in U-boat tracking, was about to engage in the first hostilities a member of the family would experience - the July 1943 Allied Invasion of Sicily, the first attack on Hitler's Europe.

That is the subject of our next posting. 

Have questions about Holliman family history? You are invited to join the Hollyman Email List at and the Hollyman Family Facebook Page located on Facebook at "Hollyman Family". Post your questions and perhaps one of the dozens Holyman cousins on the list will have an answer. For more information contact Tina Peddie at, the list and Facebook manager for Hollyman (and all our various spellings!).

There is also a massive Holyman and Associated Families Tree available for review.  For an invitation to this collection of over 30,000 individuals, please write  

Blog sites are available not only at but also at  For archival materials and manuscripts of Holliman and associated families, visit  If you would like to 
save your family materials and photographs at this site, please contact 

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