Alvin Louis Shaw
T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co C
Born 1908 in MD, Died 2005
County of residence at enlistment: Anne Arundel County, MD
Other residence(s): Annapolis, MD
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: ticket, station, and express agents, transportation
Alvin Shaw was born on December 1, 1908 in Annapolis, MD. He was an only child; his father was a blacksmith (as was his grandfather). Blacksmithing as a profession declined rapidly in the 20th century after the introduction of the automobile, and Alvin's father, who must have honed some artistic skills in his blacksmithing, opened a sign painting business prior to 1920. Alvin went to work for his father sometime after graduating from high school. He was also a volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver for the West Annapolis Fire Co.
He eventually took over Shaw's Sign Shop from his father, when the latter went to work for the county.
Alvin registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, and married Margaret Carr in March of 1941. He enlisted on June 1, 1942; his enlistment registration says that his profession was in the category of "ticket, station, and express agents; transportation."
Alvin, though self-taught, was a talented artist, and found himself recruited for the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion of the Ghost Army. He produced some lovely pen and ink drawings of his time in places such as Metz and Trier; these were used in the book The Ghost Army of World War II and were also exhibited.
He was discharged from the Army with the rank of CPL and returned to Annapolis. Margaret had worked as a secretary at the Naval Experimental Station before and during the war, and Alvin found work there after the war as a sign painter. The facility was variously referred to as Annapolis Laboratory, Naval Shipyard R&D Center, US Naval Engineering Experiment Station, and Marine Engineering Experiment Station. (The facility closed in 1999.)
Alvin and Margaret would have two children: Barton and Elizabeth (Beth). Barton would go on to get a PhD in history and spend his career as a history professor, serving on the faculty at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA for over 30 years. He wrote about his father's Ghost Army exploits in a Torch Magazine article in 2019.
Alvin was recognized for 30 years of federal service in 1972 (3 years in the Army and 27 years at the Experiment Station). At the time, he exercised his art and craft in the Shops Division of the Laboratory. Margaret had gone back to work as a secretary at the Naval Academy in 1962; she and Alvin retired together in 1973. From then on, Alvin spent his free time playing golf, and traveling with Margaret.
Margaret died in 2001. Alvin died on September 29, 2005 and is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens in Annapolis. His gravestone bears the epitaph "23rd Headquarters Special Troops."
1940 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1945 article in the Baltimore Sun re his military service
1972 article in The Capital (Annapolis MD) re his work
2001 obituary for his wife, Margaret Carr Shaw
2005 Find a Grave record
2005 Social Security death record
2005 obituary in The Capital (Annapolis, MD)
2019 article in The Torch Magazine by his son, Barton Carr Shaw