Letters, Diaries and Tributes

In this electronic age, letter writing is a dying art.  This was not the case in WWII.  Letters to and from home,  to girlfriends, or just friends, were all part of the war experience.  Some contained good news and others had bad news, but they are all part of the history of the Night Fighters.  This page is dedicated to reliving and remembering the moments captured in those letters.

Letters in this section are organized by NFS member name.

Letters and website dedicated to 2LT Thomas E. Cartmell

2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF,  served with the 417th NFS in March and April, 1945. He and his RO, 2LT Hal Anderson were shot down and killed by friendly fire over the Dillingen Bridgehead. It was their first and only combat mission.

In 2017, Dr. Michael Hughey found a collection of letters and written by his Uncle Thomas to his sister, his parents, and his girlfriend (later wife) during his wartime experience. The letters chronicle his training, from preflight training through transitioning to the P-61 Black Widow.

Dr. Hughey has created a beautiful web site to honor the memories of his Uncle Tom.   You can read more by clicking on this link:

2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF.  A Young Man Went off to War

Letters in relation to Raymond Christensen:

1944 Letter from Raymond Christensen to co-worker E.E. Bauman This letter is a transcript of a letter Raymond sent to his co-worker at State Farm Insurance in St. Paul Minnesota.

1944 Letter from Bill Henderson to Ray Christensen’s Mother This is one of those heartbreaking letters.  Raymond’s mother has received news that Ray has been declared dead even though no body was removed.  1st Lt William Christensen tries to provide more details and insight.

1945 Letter from Bill Henderson to Ray Christensen’s MotherThis 2nd letter from Bill to Raymond’s mother provides more details about then other members of the 417th that Ray served with.


Like letters, the diaries that soldiers kept give us a first hand view of what life was like in the war.  Raw, unedited and sometimes not for the faint hearted.

Diaries in this section are listed by the soldier’s name:

David F. Diehl

David F Diehl Oct 1943 newspaper Air Force notice lores

David F. Diehl served in the 417th NFS as a radar operator on a Black Widow (P-61) fighter.   David kept a diary during his time in the service and his daughter Julie has graciously allowed us to share this on the website.  The diary starts on December 13th, 1944 and continues for just about a year.  Due to the size of the diary, it has been broken down into sections, typically by month.  The first 4 parts are below.  More will be added in the future as time allows.

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 1- Dec 1944 thru Jan 1945

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 2 – Feb 1945

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 3 – March 1945

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 4 – April 1945

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 5 – May 1945

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 6 – June 1945

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 7 (July 1945)

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 8 (August 1945) 

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 9 (Sept 1945)

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 10 (October 1945)

David F Diehl WWII Diary Part 11 (Nov 1945-Jan1946)  Please note that there are some blank pages in this section.


The following document is written by Karen Seeman and details the life of Ray Christensen, her great-uncle.  Ray was among the first members of the 417th, but his life was cut short when Ray and fellow crew member Joe Leonard failed to return from their mission on May 13th, 1944.   Even if you don’t know Ray, his story and the details on life in the 417th NFS make for a compelling read.

Raymond Christensen

Raymond Christensen 1914 – 1944

Karen has also provide this website with a copy of Joseph Leonard’s logbook.   Click on the link below to read the logbook.

Joseph Leonard Log Book


Joe Leonard’s Service Photo


Video Interview with Normal L. Keepers.


2 thoughts on “Letters, Diaries and Tributes”

    1. Thank you for preserving snd sharing these remarkable and wonderful historical pieces. They bring to life these soldiers experiences. Brave young men. Outstanding.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: