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Robert W. Smith World War II Correspondence

Identifier: Ms-0448

Scope and Content

Items in the Robert B. Smith Correspondence collection are divided into five series: Awards, Newsclippings, Printed Material, and Letters. Four folders contain awards won by Smith and include detail on his service record from the years 1942-1947. Two newsclipping folders contain information on the use of chemical warfare during World War II and information from an Airpost Journal from July 1942 containing information on the institution of "V", or "Victory", mail. In addition to one folder of printed material on Chemical Warfare School from 1942-1943, there is a copy of Rounds Away!, a publication of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion that was compiled in Innsbruck, Austria in 1945, where the unit was stationed. Smith served in this unit from April 1944 until its deactivation in November 1945.

The bulk of the remaining materials contain letters written and received by Capt. Smith during the course of World War II. The letters are first arranged chronologically according to their time of receipt or mailing. Most letters are copies of the originals, and some were left in typescript by the donor. Several letters contained within the series were arranged to the item level, because each involved several different correspondents. In some cases, there is commentary that accompanies the letter received. With some letters, respondents do not have their full names listed within the correspondence.

The remaining letters were sent from Capt. Smith to his wife Annette. These specific exchanges constitute the greatest number of letters , so they are arranged chronologically by folder.


  • 1941 - 1996

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

Copyrights associated with this collection have not been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.


Robert Browning Smith was born 27 September 1906, in Bluejacket, Oklahoma Territory. His family moved to New Mexico in 1908 when his father, Dr. G.W.R. Smith, took a position as resident physician and surgeon for the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad in Vaughn, New Mexico.

Smith was educated in public schools in Vaughn, Alamogordo, Mesilla Park, and Las Cruces. He attended the New Mexico A&M preparatory school, and later graduated from Las Cruces Union High School in 1925. He later attended the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (NMCA&MA; presently known as New Mexico State University) from 1931 through 1934, majoring in Civil Engineering and Business Administration. He also spent one semester of school at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, studying Business Administration.

Smith married Annette Wilson of Hot Springs in October 1935. He had one child, Robert A. Smith, by a previous marriage.

Smith worked several jobs after graduation from high school. He later owned and operated a dry cleaning plant in Hot Springs from 1935 to 1942, at which time he entered the service as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

He entered the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant in August 1942, and was later commissioned as a Captain in May 1943. Capt. Smith served in the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion, Company "C". Earlier assaults had taken this unit to the North African campaign of the Allies (part of "Operation Torch"), and also supported the invasion of Sicily in 1943. After Smith's assignment to the battalion, the unit provided support to ground troops in France after the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, which culminated in the final assault on Germany in early 1945. After the Germans' surrender in May 1945, the unit was enlisted to support the Allied occupation in Austria later that year.

Smith remained in the Army until May 1947. For his efforts on the battlefield, Robert Smith won the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, as well as the Bronze Star for Valor. His Army ranking was listed as superior upon his retirement. Smith returned to Hot Springs, and bought the Valley Motor Supply. He became a director of the Hot Springs National Bank and served as its president later. He died February 10, 1959, and is buried in the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Letters and related awards of Robert W. Smith of Hot Springs (presently Truth or Consequences), New Mexico, a U.S. Army Captain who served in the 83d Chemical Mortar Battalion during World War II.

Related Material

Ms 0023 Albert Fall Chase Papers. Archives and Special Collections Department, New Mexico State University Library. Ms 0345 Martin Corney Photographs. Archives and Special Collections Department, New Mexico State University Library.
Guide to the Robert W. Smith World War II Correspondence
Processed by Bill Boehm, with Cecelia Carrasco, Mari Tellez, and Tiffany Fuller.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA