About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Back Story... Souil William Garner

This blog post continues to fill in the events that took place in the gap of time between the last "Letter to Mary" dated October 1930 and the next "Letter to Mary" dated 1943. This blog profiles her oldest brother, Souil William Garner.
The Garner family in the summer of 1937. Top left Bernard Garner, Souil Garner, Phoebe Emma Garner, Mary Willis Garner
Bottom left Souil Wade Garner, WIlbur Cecil Garner (Absent Joseph Randolph Garner)
After completing his grade school work, he attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for one year. For reasons unknown (probably economic) he was not able to finish his schooling at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and instead, attended night school in commercial classes at the Y.M.C.A. and later the Strayers Business College, Baltimore, Md. 

At the age of 16, in 1922,  Souil, entered the employment of The Maryland Casualty Company as a file clerk.
In August of 1925, he met Harriet Kimpton, the fourth child of Thomas Soden Kimpton and his wife, Eva May Stansbury. On July, 17, 1929 they were married in a garden wedding at the home of Harriet's parents in Forest Glen, Maryland. Souil and Harriet set up housekeeping and lived happily as a married couple.
Souil William Garner and Harriet Kimpton Wedding day 1929
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the need for men increased as the war escalated, and Souil was drafted in July of 1943. He was 37 years old and sent to Miami Beach for basic training in the Army Air Force. After his basic training he was reassigned to The Army Finance School in Indiana where he studied for 16 weeks. Upon completion of his 16 weeks he was reassigned to the Finance Office at Fort Dix, Trenton, New Jersey. There he computed and prepared enlisted men's payrolls and prepared reimbursement vouchers for enlisted men's rations and quarters.
Souil William Garner

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