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About this collection



The family of Bernard L. "Mutt" Gritten (1924-2012) and Nellie Wilson Gritten (1925-2016) is currently working through the process of settling the estate. Mrs. Gritten, who passed away last year, has left a vast number of personal belongings, ranging from decorative items,to furniture and clothes etc. to a massive collection of personal memorabilia and family history. This digital library will serve as a respository for a select few of these objects and texts. As various family members sort through the personal belongings, each has a unique opportunity to experience their family history and to perform this familial duty. By showcasing these materials in the digital library, family and friends can share this experience with one another, preserve family history, and also place these materials in historical and individual context, thus creating meaning and processing their significance. For the purposes of this assignment, this small collection will focus on objects, texts and images that support the creation of a family narrative about Mutt Gritten and his service in the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne "All Americans". 





Instructions on how to access digital files: 




  • To see a larger version of a digital object and more detailed information, click on the thumbnail (the small image). 
  • If selecting an audio file, click on the image "Audio", then click on the file name ending with .wav to download the audio file.
  • This collection can be downloaded and shared. Click on the "download" button to download and save a file to your computer. To share, hover the cursor over an image and a Pinterest "P Save" button allows pinning to Pinterest boards. Or, look above the digital object title and click the "Share" tab for a variety of sharing options.
  • For more information about each digital object, scroll down beneath the image to read metadata, or "data about data". For example, "Date Original" will be in the format of yyyy-mm-dd, denoting the date the original image or digital object was created.
  • The collection can be searched using the "search" box. Simply enter a key word or phrase, or even a date to find the desired results. For example, if you want to read a letter written from France, simply enter "France" in the search box.


To use the search, use the following search terms for best results:

  • Bernard L. Gritten, Mutt Gritten, Mutt
  • Nellie, Nellie Pauline Wilson, Nellie Wilson, Nellie Gritten
  • Alva H. Gritten
  • Mrs. W.M. Gritten
  • Mr. W.M. Gritten
  • Glider
  • 194th
  • 17th Airborne
  • 82nd Airborne
  • Germany
  • France
  • Chalons-en-Champagne
  • Chalons-Sur-Marne
  • Wesel
  • Berlin
  • Belgium
  • By year, for example, 1946
  • Camp Mackall
  • Camp Forrest


Note: All digital object titles suplied by the cataloger. 





Bernard L. “Mutt” Gritten’s Military Service



This FAQ contains a short overview and description of Mr. Gritten’s life and military service, a brief description of the regiments he belonged to and a chronology of relevant historical events, as well as a combined unit history and Mutt Gritten correspondence timeline. The 82nd Airborne and 17th Airborne Division descriptions and chornology are found at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Boyhood Home and Museum website. 


Bernard Leon Gritten was born July 7, 1924 in Harveysburg Indiana to Alva H. Gritten and Evalena Shoaf. He was their second child; his siblings included an older brother Fred (1920-1992) and a younger sister Ruth Marie (1927-1928). His father was in the “junk business” as the manage of a junk yard and also a farmer. The family resided in the small rural township of Fulton in Fountain County Indiana and later in Kingman Indiana, also in Fountain County. He enlisted in the army as a private on April 7, 1943. His brother Fred also joined up in September of 1942, and his cousins Alvin and Calvin joined the month before he did. “Mutt” as Bernard was known, belonged to the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division. (Later the 17th joined the 82nd Airborne, known as the “All Americans”.) He trained to be a paratrooper (parachutists who jumped from aircraft, landing behind enemy lines). He was also assigned as a driver for officers of the Regiment. He trained at Camp Mackall North Carolina, and Camp Forest in Tulahoma Tennessee. He served with honor, participating in Operation Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge and the Allied Occupation of Germany. After he returned home he married Nellie Pauline Wilson (also from Kingman Indiana) on August 3, 1946. They had three children, Suzanne, Diane and Randy. Mutt Gritten drove a grain truck and owned a farm in Kingman Indiana. When he died in 2012, he was survived by three children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.


82nd Airborne & 17th Airborne Division

(The following division descriptions and chronology are taken directly (screen captures) and given verbatim from the U.S. Army: Unit Records Book 1 (Boxes1-126) Finding Aid found at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library. According to their site overview, "Generally, materials produced by Federal agencies are in the public domain and may be reproduced without persmission.")




Integrated Timeline of Military Units, WWII and Mutt Gritten

To place each letter or object in the larger context of World War II, use the Integrated WWII Timeline of Unit History and Mutt Gritten's personal history and correspodence*. For example, scan the timeline below. If you wish to read the letters in the digital collection in the order the were written, choose files in the chronolgical order given below. For example, to read Gritten's first letter after enlisting, use either the file name, "muttltr11.tiff" or search "basic training". If you have read a letter and you are not quite sure where it fits in the chronology, use this method in reverse. Note the date or file name, and locate it on this timeline, or on the unit timelines above to place the letter in context of larger historical events.


*Not all war letters from Mutt Gritten are currently in the online digital collection (March 2017). Check back for additions to this collection.


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