Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The eldest Chaplin boys during army induction and training


Charlie, Jr. at his army induction, 1943, (left) and during training at Camp Haan, CA, 1944
Sydney at his induction (left) and at the Ordnance Training Center in Flora, MS, 1944

View the enlistment records for Charlie, Jr. & Sydney here & here.

Both boys served in General Patton’s Third Army during WWII. Charlie, Jr. received two battle stars for his service.

He later remembered that his father was proud that he was in uniform.
He always lectured me about taking my duties seriously. I never left for camp that he didn’t put his arm around me and give me a pep talk.
"Charlie," he would say, "I want you to be a good soldier. If you don’t do anything else be a good soldier." 
And once he even received a rare, personal letter from him.
He must have just seen a newsreel of soldiers working their way through mined houses, because the letter was full of warnings about booby traps. He was genuinely worried. 
"Be careful where you walk, son," he wrote. "You might step on a mine and blow off your foot. It's not good to go through life maimed. Don't pick up strange objects, you might get a hand blown off."
He seemed especially concerned about pianos and singled them out for attention, warning me not to play on a strange one or to lift it or move it for fear the whole thing would blow up in my face. I suppose pianos troubled him so much because ever since I had shown an interest in music he had associated me with them. I had to laugh. Pianos were the least of my concern while bullets were flying overhead and shells were lobbing over and an occasional German plane was strafing us. (My Father, Charlie Chaplin, 1960)

2 comments:

  1. They are both so handsome, but Sydney definitely got more height than Charlie Jr. did! I remember reading in Charlie Jr.'s book that his brother had to shoot someone point blank in battle and they way he wrote about it was very moving...something like "and that was how my carefree, fun loving brother was introduced to war."

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  2. 'I had to laugh. Pianos were the least of my concern while bullets were flying overhead and shells were lobbing over and an occasional German plane was strafing us.' Couldn't help but giggle at this, how cute.

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