Over the years of doing research for my
web site, I came across this story in the
Portland Press Herald, dated, May 12,
1943 and became somewhat obsessed
The Title of the short story is "Mrs.
Evelyn Brown McClellan Recognizes
Husband In Film"
Evelyn's husband Major James T.
McClellan was captured at the
surrender of Corregidor. Evelyn had not
heard from her husband in over a year,
and the only news she had received
was a War Department letter notifying
her that her husband was a prisoner of
One night while Evelyn was at the
Strand Theater in Portland, a news film
was being shown. The news film
contained a captured Japanese film in
which showed footage of the surrender
of American Officers at Corregidor.
Evelyn recognized her husband as one
of the surrendering officers.
Its hard to imagine, the shock she must
have felt, when she saw her husband
appear on a film. Especially, having not
seen him in over two years, and not
hearing any news in 10 months.
She must have had such a mixture of
emotions, happy to see him alive and
perhaps new hope. But also fear, worry,
and concern with his well-being as a
prisoner of the Japanese.
I started doing some research and
found James and Evelyn's 1937
picture in the Portland Press herald,
James was from Mississippi, and
from Portland, James was stationed at
Fort Williams in 1937 ,and this is how
they most likely met.
James was later transferred to Fort
Benning Ga., where their daughter
Nancy was born March 17, 1938.
James was eventually transferred to the
Philippines, and Evelyn and their
daughter Nancy followed in 1939. As
relations with Japan worsened, Evelyn
and Nancy were ordered home by the
War Department, as were all American
military families, they arrived back in
New York May, 1941.
In the Portland Press Herald May 30,
1946, the first Memorial Day after
the end of WW II, the Press Herald ran a
story "Maine To Commemorate Dead
Wars Today" The photo accompanying
the article is a picture of Evelyn sitting
in a chair in her home looking at a
portrait of James, while she is holding
Lilacs. The title for the picture is "Purple
Lilacs for a Hero"
James did not survive the war, he
survived the Japanese prison camps,
only to die aboard a Japanese prison
ship known as a "Hell Ship" The
began to ship prisoners out of the
Philippines to Japan and other
destinations,as American forces were
closing in on the Philippines.
The Japanese did not mark their ships
as POW ships, American planes would
bomb the vessels not realizing their
country men were aboard. James died
on one such ship named the Brazil Maru
January 27, 1945.
Evelyn never remarried in died in
Augusta, Maine in 1981. I have never
ever to locate her daughter Nancy.
Memorial Day to me, is the day we
take special remembrance of those
who gave their lives for all the freedoms
we enjoy today. I also feel, its the day for
special honor for the families that loved
them, and suffered a love lost.
I'll think of Evelyn this Memorial Day.
- Rob Carr