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Lieutenant Sam Sloan: I am gone now, let me tell you what I saw ...

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Time travel and messages from those who have departed, the stuff of science fiction and fantasy writers ... but really, closer than you sometimes think. When you look at an old photograph, you share the same scene that the photographer viewed through the camera. As the shutter closed, we are taken to that day and place where the light passed through the lenses and struck the film. Time and distance are collapsed in one brief second and held on a piece of photo stock for as long as the image exists. It is imperfect time travel but as close as we will get. If the image has a notation on the back, all the better. Now it speaks to us in the photographer's voice even if it has gone silent in all other respects.

We know very little about Lieutenant Sam Sloan beyond his name. He grew up in New York City, became a dentist after the war. In Germany in the closing months of the war, he was a Medical Service officer. He may have been attached to one of the Army Air Force units or a supporting signal battalion that moved to Bad Kissingen in the immediate post war period.

 

Three groups of photographs came up for bid on E Bay as a seller helped liquidate an estate. Group one featured Army Air Corps personnel in England, the second group showed scenes in Europe and the final group, only three images, was labeled as "Bad Kissingen photographs". All images were taken by Lieutenant Sloan. We bid on the latter two groups and won the third auction. Mrs. Doris Monson, a dedicated photograph collector won the large group of European photos and then graciously allowed us to use them on the site. Thanks very much!

 

26 images had no caption or were modern day prints from negatives won in the auction. 31 first generation prints had written captions on the back and several photos were stamped by US Army censors, part of an inspection process as he returned to the USA. Four German photographs apparently found in the rubble along the way were a part of this group and were also annotated. Some of the captions included dates and locations.

 

We hope that Mr. Sloan is well remembered by children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors. Perhaps at a gathering following the funeral, they recalled his jokes, his good deeds, the time he had the hole in one, the time the dog got loose at the wedding. For us, Sam Sloan speaks as a Lieutenant watching the last days of the war as he travels across Germany. His immediate post war destination was Bad Kissingen.

 

All photos are posted with original captions. Where we have added (parentheses), the information is to clarify something that Lt. Sloan wrote. A few of the non captioned images have been added to the captioned sequence where there is an apparent fit. A selection of the other non captioned photographs appears at the end of the group.

 

My name is Lieutenant Sam Sloan and this is what I saw ...
 

 
 

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