Diddle family had 4 in war.
Nov. 11, 2011
By Nancy Tullis (ntullis@Reviewonline.com)
East Liverpool – During the United States’ involvement in World War 11, four of the six Diddle boys of Cadmus Street went off to war.
Their service spanned from 1942 to 1946. They served in both Europe and the South Pacific.
They all came home.
Gladys Elizabeth (Mom) and John Everett (Pop) Diddle reared 12 children. There was a time during the war that all four of the boys who served were at war at the same time.
Surviving brothers Ray, who will be 90 on Dec. 12, and Earl, 84, now both live in St. Clair Township. Delma Diddle Eisenhart is the other surviving sibling.
Ray and Earl reflected Thursday on their family’s service to the United States during World War II.
Ray’s son Jeff Diddle said the family has an immense sense of pride about the four men who served. Floyd and Clyde are now deceased. Jeff said he would like to take Ray and Earl to Washington, D. C. to see the World War II memorial.
“They are the Greatest Generation of Americans,” he said.
Ray said he thought it newsworthy that four East Liverpool boys from the same house went off to war. He said he wanted to tell the story to honor his parents. He said he is sure there was a lot of praying and worrying going on in the Cadmus Street house while four boys were at war.
Earl explained that the two eldest were exempt from the draft because they were married and had children.
One of the Diddle girls, Ruth, was a registered nurse, and tried to enlist. She was rejected because she was considered to be too thin.
When asked Thursday how they felt about their service, both agreed there wasn’t much to think about.
“You just had to do it,” Earl said.
Floyd, the oldest of the four Diddle boys who served in WWII, was drafted into the Army in 1942 at age 36. He served from 1942-45.
Clyde, second oldest of the four, was drafted into the army in 1942, at age 26 and served until 1946.
Ray Diddle, second from the youngest of the four Diddle boys who served in WWII was working at Crucible Steel in Midland, Pa when he was drafted into the Army in 1943 at age 2. He served until 1946. Earl Diddle and several friends enlisted in the Navy prior to graduating from high school. Ten days after graduation in June 1944, they left for Navy boot camp.
Asked what they think of now about their service, Earl remembered, “We just wanted to get the war over and come home.
“I felt lucky that I got back home,” Ray said. “A lot of things could have happened. For all of us to get back OK is pretty fortunate.”
Earl said he and some friends enlisted in the Navy during their senior year rather than waiting to be drafted. “We didn’t want to wait to be drafted because they were sending a lot of boys over there to die.”
Earl spent his time in the Philippines in the mail service, delivering bulk mail back and forth from ship to shore. He was still there when the U. S. dropped the atom bomb.
“That was something,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
“The war ended real quickly after that.” Ray added.
After completing his officer training, Ray was sent to Louisiana and put in charge of an engineering platoon of all African American soldiers. He said it was a unique experience in a time when military units were segregated.
“The boys were all from the Deep South, he said. “We stayed together the whole time.
I didn’t have any problems.”
Ray had returned to the United States after the war in Europe ended. He had 30 days leave and then was to report to Florida to then be shipped to serve in the South Pacific.
“We got married and they dropped the bomb,” he said.
When they returned Ray worked again for a time at Crucible Steel. Both ultimately ended up working for the Ohio Bell Telephone Co.
Ray has been married to Ruth Esther for 66 years. They had four children and 10 grandchildren. Earl has been married to Bonnie Jean for 43 years. They had three children and four grandchildren
Both Ray and Earl said mail from home was important during their time overseas. The only way they knew what was going on at home, or with one another, was in the letters from home.
They were not able to correspond with one another directly.
“I learned he (Ray) got married,” Earl said.
“I learned my brother Clyde was in the south of France the same time I was,” Ray said. “We had done a lot of retreating (because of the Battle of the Bulge) and we weren’t doing anything. We couldn’t move. I read that letter, and found out Clyde was in a hospital in France. “I borrowed our captain’s car and got some one to drive me,” he continued. “I got to the hospital and thy told Clyde, ‘Your brother is here to see you.’ He didn’t believe them. He said ‘My brother isn’t here.’ But we got to spend some time together.”
Ray said that was the only time during the war any of their paths crossed.
Getting mail from home was always welcome, Ray and Earl said. They noted none of the boys got a “Dear John” letter during the war.
Ray recalled that he went off to war with a promise from Ruth Esther that she would wait for him.
“Yes, she said she would wait,: he said. “And I was afraid she would.
This article contained pictures of the Diddle boys.