Farewell to Arms, page three: Norwich University emagazine

To make the experience even more powerful, she drew on museum and archive records of three people associated with Norwich University, the country’s oldest private military college. She described them as ordinary people whose lives were affected deeply by the war.

  • Gustav "Gus" Nelson entered Norwich as a student in 1915, but his education was interrupted by the call to serve. He did not graduate until 1924. Nelson left the military as an officer and became a popular student, serving as class president.
  • Leona T. Harmon was the wife of Ernest Harmon, whom she met while he was a cadet at West Point and married in 1917 as a newly appointed 2nd lieutenant. She went from a sheltered existence to a succession of military housing situations and the isolation of a pregnant army wife while he fought overseas. Ernest had a successful military career and served as Norwich's president from 1950 to 1965.
  • duVal Allen left Norwich University six months before the U.S. joined the conflict to serve in the French ambulance corps—much like Farewell’s lead character Frederic. Highly decorated as a soldier, Allen never seemed to advance in the military and may have lost rank on a least one occasion.

“He’s done the most and he was a private; the lowest rank,” said Kevin Hicks, a history major, referring to Allen. “I think there is more to this guy.”continue

WWI battle

 Clockwise from top left: Gustav Nelson, duVal Allen and Leona
 Harmon with husband Ernest, NU president from 1950 to 1965.