Footlocker on permanent loan to RCMS

A footlocker containing artifacts from World War II — on permanent loan to RCMS by the MacArthur Memorial — was shown to the seventh-graders at the school this spring.

“One day, during history class, we looked at items from a footlocker and we took notes on them,” seventh-grade Trailblazer Shreya Rao recollects.

The MacArthur Memorial was founded to honor General Douglas MacArthur, who helped occupy Japan during World War II. He also led the United Nations during the Korean War. 

A footlocker is a personal storage trunk that is usually stored near a bed. This footlocker belonged to a soldier and is filled with personal items from the war. They include a high school yearbook, dog tags, a tin of bug repellent, a water canteen, and many more interesting things. 

One of these items was an ACME clicker, otherwise known as a cricket. Soldiers would use it to identify allies from the enemy during active duty. One click was sent out by a soldier and if two clicks were received, the soldier would know he was among friends. They were especially useful during D-Day. 

Having the footlocker is an awesome opportunity. None of the other schools in the FCPS have a footlocker, so RCMS lends it to them sometimes. It was lent to RCMS five years ago. The footlocker is not officially the school’s  property, it has just been lent for an indefinite period of time.

The footlocker is a rectangular prism about the length of two desks and the height of the seat of a chair. The shape made it easy to transport them and store them. 

“It would help with logistics, maybe to, like, carry the footlockers,” seventh-grade All-Star Raj Wankhede says.

There is a downside, though.

“The task would probably fall to troops of color to load and unload the footlockers”, Trailblazers history teacher, Mrs. Sharri Clifford says.

Several people reflected on the limited amount of space in the footlockers.

“I don’t think they will be able to carry much stuff at war. Nothing  they have can be bigger[than the footlocker]. However, they didn’t have much space… to fit [their items] in,” Shreya says.

“Probably not [useful] to keep everything that the soldier wanted, but I think it was pretty big,” seventh-grade Trailblazer Mithra Venkatesan says.

People speculated on what the soldiers would keep in their footlockers

“Probably like pictures, maybe medicine, maybe like old notebooks, a journal,” Mithra thinks.

“Clothes, memorable things from home, things that remind them of their family, maybe war materials… bug repellent, mosquito repellent,” Shreya guessed.

“If you’re in the military…, you don’t really have time to think about what’s in your footlocker, right? You only need the basic supplies: food, water, and clothing,” Raj thinks.

Footlockers contain the personal belongings of soldiers in WWII. They contain bits of history that help us imagine what their life must have been like.