John F. Kennedy WWII Letters Auctioned Off for $200,000

A trove of letters sent by John F. Kennedy during WWII went down under the hammer recently for a huge $200,000. The letters were sent by the future President of America to the family of a crew mate lost in the said war.

The Boston-based auction house, RR Auction, stated that the John F. Kennedy WWII letters were sold on a two-day auction which took place in the Omni Parker House. The sale happened Thursday, September 19. It was in the same auction that a collection of letters written by JFK’s younger brother, Robert, were also sold.

The letters John F. Kennedy wrote were addressed to the family of Harold Marney, a serviceman killed in 1943 when the boat Kennedy commandeered, a PT-109, was devastated by one of the Japanese warships in the Solomon Islands. John F. Kennedy, a recognized WWII hero for saving his crew mates, penned his condolences to Harold’s parents. According to the auction house, the letters he wrote are a rare example of how the future US leader described the PT-109 devastation in his own words.

In one of the auctioned letters, John F. Kennedy wrote how he was with Harold that night of August 1 to 2 and how a Japanese destroyer, which was travelling at a high speed, cut the ship in two as the PT was about to turn to it for a shot. He went on to say that he was very sorry he couldn’t offer them [the family] hope that their son, Harold, survived that night. But he offered them the consolation that the serviceman died in the service of the country he had sworn to protect.

Furthermore, John F. Kennedy expressed his gratitude for the sympathy letter the Marneys sent in the event of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.’s death, JFK’s brother. It can be remembered that the former, a naval aviator, died while in action in 1944. He stated in his letter that the Marneys, among others, knew how losing a loved one like Harold and his brother, Joe, felt and that nobody could replace them. However, he found solace in the truth that these two men did what they liked doing and they were doing it well. On the other hand, the letters future US Senator, Robert Kennedy, sent were addressed to Peter MacLellan. They bore dates  between 1941 and 1945. Robert Kennedy’s letters fetched $31,250 during the auction.

Nevertheless, the auction house did not mention the two buyers of the trove of letters of the Kennedy brothers as, according to them, they wished to remain anonymous.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE