An Unlucky Draft Number

In honor of Veterans Day, I decided to post something about Dad’s entrance into the Army. He had only been home four months when suddenly, he had to report for duty. Why did this happen so soon after he finally returned from the Soviet Union? The German invasion of the USSR less than five months earlier meant that the rest of his family could not leave by the same route across the Soviet Union through Japan.

I read about the draft in effect at that time and learned that the first peacetime draft had been passed on September 16,1940- The Selective Training and Service Act . On October 29, 1940, the first numbers were drawn. 9000 capsules were placed in a fishbowl and stirred by a wooden spoon made from part of a beam from Independence Hall in Philadelphia. There were 7836 numbers and 1164 blanks. The 7836 represented the greatest number of men registered at a single draft board, and the blanks were apparently added to account for potential increases in the number of men.

On July 17, 1941, the second draft lottery occurred. This time, only 800 numbers were chosen, I believe, because not as many were needed this time.  These additional numbers were integrated into the previous draft selection by inserting one of the 800 numbers after each 10 of the previous.

I guess Dad was not very lucky, because on November 5, 1941 he reported for duty at Fort Dix, New Jersey.  Unfortunately, because he did not know the whereabouts of his family, he was unable to communicate this information to them. When they arrived in Kuibyshev, they assumed he was still safe at home with his godmother, Mrs. Chwat, in Rockaway, New Jersey.  It would be several months before his family would learn Dad was in the Army.

 Dad at Fort Dix, NJ



About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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