Churchill J. Brazelton:
An Inventory of His Correspondence at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Churchill J. "Chuck" Brazelton was born in 1920 and had just graduated from Princeton when he was drafted into the army in 1943. The son of well-connected parents Thomas Berry and Pauline Battle Brazelton of Waco, Texas, Brazelton was able to secure a spot in Officer Candidate School. Following basic training and censorship school, he landed a series of fortunate assignments in Northern Ireland, London, and Paris during the final months of World War II. The young Lt. Brazelton found himself "living a king's life at the government's expense, and getting paid for it!"
In Paris he charmed his way into the elite social circles of the Parisian aristocracy. For four months--which he called "the finest of my life"--he was a regular guest at their clubs, châteaus, and cocktail parties.
At the start of 1945, Brazelton was promoted to First Lieutenant and moved to the First Army Headquarters in Belgium. There he worked as a press liaison and censor, and spent most of his days with the civilian press corps, including correspondents from the major U.S. networks and wire services. In February the press corps moved into Germany following the advance of Allied forces toward Berlin. Brazelton's press camp formed the nucleus of Task Force Berlin, an assembly of some 200 correspondents from Europe and America that participated in the Allies' triumphal entry into Soviet-controlled Berlin in July 1945.
The press liaison job ended in August, and Brazelton returned to Paris where he worked for the army's Visitor Bureau, entertaining generals, congressmen, and other VIPs. He remained in Paris until the spring of 1946, when he returned to the United States and was discharged from the army.
Brazelton died in 1980.
The Churchill J. Brazelton Correspondence contains more than 200 letters, postcards, Christmas cards, and V-mails written by Brazelton to his mother while serving in the army during World War II. The correspondence is arranged in a single chronological series which spans 1942-1946.
A few letters were written or received by other family members or acquaintances; because these relate closely to the main correspondence from Brazelton to his mother, they have been filed chronologically with the rest. In addition to his mother, Brazelton addressed letters in the collection to Mrs. W. E. Darden (a neighbor in Waco), his brother T. Berry Brazelton (who later became a nationally prominent pediatrician), Mrs. Blanton (owner of a flower shop in Waco), his sister Mrs. Rosalis Van der Stucken, and his Aunt Sing. The collection also includes letters written to his mother by Nora Hall and Agnes Johnston (friends of Brazelton's in Northern Ireland), Charlie Red (an uncle?), and his brother Berry.
Most of Brazelton's correspondence sticks to a routine set of topics: his material conditions and comforts; purchases of decorative objects, art, furniture, clothing, and perfume and the problems of shipping them to the U.S.; requests for clothing, food, and other amenities; and his leisure-time activities, travels, and social events. Less frequent, though perhaps of more interest, are Brazelton's observations on the hardships of war.
Topics of particular interest that are well represented by the collection include the art, antiques, and luxury-item market in Europe during the war; the social life of the French aristocracy, especially regarding dining, entertaining, and fashion; and economic and social conditions in Germany and France in the months following the war. Pertaining to this last topic are a number of interesting descriptions of German POWs, ordinary citizens, and concentration camp survivors. The collection also includes accounts of Brazelton's visits to the Buchenwald concentration camp and to the ruined Reich Chancellery building and Hitler's bunker, and a description of the elaborate banquet given by Soviet Marshal I. S. Konev in honor of U.S. General Omar Bradley and his staff.
Open for research.
Justin Glasson, 2002; Richard Workman, 2003
Churchill J. Brazelton's Correspondence--Folder List