The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
Historical Manuscripts Home
Alphabetical List of All Collections | Collections Listed By Subject


Collection Title: McNutt (Opie Lee) World War II Collection

Collection Number: M401

Dates:November 1943-1949

Volume: ca. .35 cu. ft.

Provenance: Materials in this collection were donated by Mr. Shane Jones, January 21, 1999.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Opie Lee McNutt was born in Nauvoo, Alabama on July 18, 1925 to Eugene M. McNutt and Julia Wakefield McNutt. By his late teens he lived with his parents and five siblings in Crawford, Mississippi. His four sisters were Virginia McNutt (later Virginia Taylor), Vaudean McNutt (later Vaudean Lindley), Lawley McNutt (later Lawley Kimball), and Ora McNutt (later Ora Lewis). He also had one brother, Jimmy Dee McNutt. McNutt entered the U.S. Army on November 16, 1943 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Following initial processing, he was assigned to Co. (Company) C, 13th Infantry Training Battalion, Camp Wheeler, Georgia, for basic training. He completed his basic training around April 1944 and was moved to Fort George Meade, Maryland, Co. D, 12th Battalion, 3rd Replacement Regiment, Army Ground Forces, Replacement Depot #1 in preparation for overseas service. McNutt was sent to Italy, and assigned to Co. K, 349th Infantry Regiment. (He later served in Co. M of the 349th).

McNutt’s regiment was part of the 88th Infantry Division, which had the distinction of being the first division composed fully of draftees to see overseas service. At that time, the 88th Infantry Division had been in Italy since February 1944 and had performed well. McNutt probably arrived in Italy around June 1944, shortly after the liberation of Rome, and as his regiment and division, along with the rest of Fifth Army, was retraining and preparing for a new offensive to the Arno River. In July the 349th, along with the rest of 88th Division, saw fighting around Volterra, Italy supporting the IV Corps’ drive on Legnano and to the Arno. Later that month, from 20-25 July, McNutt’s unit saw further heavy fighting clearing the region below the Arno. The division along with all of II Corps (to which it was now assigned) fought in the drive on Imola. McNutt’s regiment fought around Castel Del Rio in late September and early October.
Opie Lee McNutt was killed in action on Oct. 10, 1944, as his regiment and division fought in the third phase of II Corps’ attack on the Livergnano escarpment toward Monghidoro in the drive on Bologna.

Sources:

Aegis Consulting Group for the 88th Infantry Division Association. “88th Infantry Division Association.” http://www.88infdiv.org (accessed October 13, 2004)

Fisher, Ernest F., Jr. Cassino to the Alps. United States Army in World War II. The Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1977), 351-74.

Sloan, John Brown. Draftee Division: the 88th Infantry Division in World War II. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1986.

Stanton, Shelby. Order of Battle, U.S. Army, World War II. Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1984.

Waters, C. W. History of the 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division: April, 1944 to May, 1945. Kensington, MD: 88th Infantry Division Association, 1973.

Scope and Content:

The collection consists mostly of letters from Opie Lee McNutt to his sisters, mother, and father. Also present in the collection are documents related to McNutt’s death in combat, his life insurance benefits, letters of condolences to his family, three letters from other relatives, friends, or acquaintances in the U.S. Army, and one photograph.

Letters to McNutt's family span his time in basic training, shipment to a replacement depot for overseas service, and service with the 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division in Italy June – October 1944. McNutt seems to have devoted equal time to writing to his father, mother, and two sisters Vaudean and Virginia McNutt (later Virginia Taylor.) Approximately one fifth of the letters are V-Mail prints; the remainder are ink or pencil on writing paper. Though McNutt does not discuss operational issues or make specific mention of his experiences in combat, the letters are still of considerable research value. They provide a window into a soldier’s perception of his conditions in the field, and his thoughts about home, family and other concerns during the campaign in Italy.

The collection is arranged in four brief series:

Series I contains letters written from McNutt to his mother, father, and sisters while in basic training and in replacement depots in the U.S.

Series II consists of letters written from McNutt to his mother, father, and sisters while serving overseas in the 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Division in central and northern Italy.

Series III contains documents related to McNutt’s death and application for and payment of various survivors' benefits.

Series IV is comprised of letters from other persons to McNutt’s family, a lapel pin, and one photograph. Included are letters from the Camp Steward, Georgia chaplain, Rev. W. Miles Wright, T/Sgt.Virgil Witucki, L. B. Miller, and Bart Macaulay Henson (nephew of Julia
Wakefield McNutt).

Related Collections:

Other manuscript collections relating to the European theater in World War II include:

AM94-4 Clements (Dr. Joseph H.) Papers
AM04-34 Hanley (Waverly D.) Papers
AM97-23 Hatcher (William H.) Memories of World War II
M285 Leech (Andrew Candler) World War II Diary
AM99-84 Minn (Jim) World War II Memories
AM01-107 Oakman (Jack H.) World War II Memoir
M394 Rimer (Wendell D.) Papers, 1944-1945
AM98-99 Taylor (Riley) World War II Memoir
AM02-26 Tucker (Rev. Elton Cartis) Papers

Folder List

Series I. Letters from camps and posts in the United States
   
Folder 1 Letters to family, November 17, 1943 – December 12, 1943
Folder 2 Letters to family, December 14, 1943 – January 30, 1944
Folder 3 Letters to family February 1, 1944 – April 20, 1944
   
Series II. Letters from Italy
Folder 4 Letters to family, May 30, 1944 – June 25, 1944
Folder 5 Letters to family, June 29, 1944 – July 20, 1944
Folder 6 Letters to family, July 26, 1944 – August 25, 1944
Folder 7 Letters to family, August 28, 1944 – September 19, 1944 and undated
   
Series III.
   
Folder 8 Documents related to McNutt’s life insurance, his death and survivors’ benefits, 1943-49
   
Series IV.
   
Folder 9 Letters from other persons, December 29, 1943 – October 22, 1945, photograph, lapel pin
   
   

Photograph Log

M401-1 Betty, a girl Opie Lee McNutt met while stationed in Maryland
  2 x 2 (B & W) undated
  (Folder 9)


Created by: Mark Danley
Prepared and maintained by
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
http://www.lib.usm.edu/spcol/index.php
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148

Please send comments or questions to Ask-a-Librarian
Revised: January 27, 2005