Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The War Journal of Lila Ann Smith-Irving Warner

The War Journal of Lila Ann Smith
Irving Warner
Pleasure Boat, Oct 2007, $16.00
ISBN: 9781929355334

In 1979, Lila Ann Smith died at the Meadows facility in Cedar falls, Iowa; she had no known living relatives so the director handled her funeral and disposed of her possessions. Of most interest to him is her diary kept during WW II.

On September 2 1941, sixty-one years old Lila Ann and her second husband Osmond were sailing on the not so pleasant boat the Northern Supplier to provide the Bureau of Indian Affairs missionary services to Aleut Indians in Chchigof Village on Attu Island, Alaska territory. They reach their destination twenty days later and are welcomed by the villagers led by Chief Alexi Chirikoff. They were especially in awe of the six foot Lila Ann, the teacher to their children. In spite of the threat of hostilities, Pearl Harbor and the war, the Smiths enjoy their time with the Aleuts. That is until Jun 6, 1942 when Japanese Rear Admiral Omori takes control of the island; Osmond is killed. Not long afterward Lila Ann and forty-four Aleuts are moved to Otaru, Japan. Lila Ann continues her journal until 1945 when the Americans free her and her companions.

Based on a real event, THE WAR JOURNAL OF LILA ANN SMITH is an exciting historical fiction that shows how far-reaching WWII was. The use of a journal enables the audience to understand how Lila Ann feels about events including the tedium of the voyage, the enthusiasm of her students, the death of her second husband, and the incarceration-exile as civilian POWs with no Habeas Corpus available for her or the Aleuts. However, this format also slows down the story line as it moves forward in leaps and bounds from incident to incident over four years. Still Irving Warner provides a vivid glimpse of a little known WW II episode.

Harriet Klausner

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