Roxie Neale didn’t know much about her father’s time spent in World War II, something he liked to keep to himself, until she found a scrapbook he had put together for her, containing his historical markers of his service and the war.
“We’ve got a little piece of history here,” Neale’s husband, Russell Neale said.
The scrapbook was given to Roxie Neale by her mother back in 1999, a year after her father, Lawrence Edwin Kidwell Sr., had died at 76. However, she had lost it later that year when she moved, and only recently recovered it after her half-sister found it in storage.
The scrapbook contains various badges and patches Kidwell received during his service, as well as letters, photographs, and old newspaper clippings of events going on during the war, like the announcement of victory in Europe, or a map of the weather.
Neale said her father had first enlisted as a cook’s helper in 1940, and had to lie about his age, as he was only 17 at the time, and spent time in the war fighting across Africa and Italy as part of the 36th Division of the army. There was even a movie made about his division released in 1951, “Force of Arms.” During his service, Kidwell fought in five major battles and two major land assaults, and served in the front lines for an entire year.
“It’s awesome that he would even think of doing something like this for us,” Roxie Neale said.
After his time spent in the war, Neale said her father spent time working in management at a local grocery store before retiring at Albertsons. Kidwell didn’t like to talk about his time in the war, Neale said, and was shocked when her mother gave her an entire scrapbook on his time spent in Europe.
“All he told us was that he’d seen some of his friends die in front of him,” she said. “That’s all he said.”
Since recovering the scrapbook, the Neales said they have gone around to various libraries and museums, including the Midland Centennial Library and the local VFW post, to show what their father had documented.
“Everywhere we take it, they want us to donate it,” Russell Neale said.
But Roxie Neale said she has no intention of donating it, as she plans on passing it down to her son, Patrick, who himself served in the army in Iraq.
“I like family traditions,” she said. “My kids like things handed down because they were raised up like I was.”