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.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Back Story....Wilbur Cecil Garner, Sr.

This blog post continues to share the "back stories" that led to the next "Letter to Mary" dated 1943.....
Circa 1938 Wilbur C Garner on the left with high school buddies Towson, Md.

Written by Wilbur Cecil Garner, Sr. October 1, 1976

Bill wrote:
"I started my education at Public School No. 63. Around 1933, when Dad lost the family home due to the failure of his butter and egg delivery business, the family moved to a rented apartment in a lovely home on Beverly Road and Register Avenue, in Baltimore County. I transferred to Stoneleigh School to continue my education. I went on to complete my education at Towson High School. 
Wilbur's Senior Class picture Towson High School 1938
During and immediately after high school I held part time jobs and then in March 1940, entered the employ of The Baltimore Gas and Electric Company. 
Elizabeth Ann Sutton Circa 1941
On August 2, 1941, at Gorans Methodist Church on York Rd. and Beaumont Avenue,  I married Elizabeth Ann Sutton, better known as Betty, a daughter of Howard Claggett Sutton. 
Betty and Wilbur November 1942 Louisiana
We set up residence at 3600 Copely Road, Baltimore, Maryland where we lived happily for a year until I was drafted to serve in the Army during World War II on September 29, 1942."

I entered active duty on October 13, 1942 and left Baltimore for Camp Lee, Virginia. After three days at Camp Lee, I was sent to Camp Hood, Texas joining the 802nd TD Battalion. I became a Corporal on January 1, 1943 and the company clerk. By April of 1943 I was reassigned to Camp Polk, Louisiana. I applied for Clerical Administrative Warrant Officer (Junior Grade). I finished my Army education as clerical, learning preparation of military correspondence, reports, records, forms and typing, at Fort Knox, Kentucky in May.* Extracted from Military records and written in first person for consistency.

Corporal Wilbur C. Garner April 23, 1943
Footnote* Dad (Bill, Will, Wilbur) always had a great sense of humor. The postcard below was sent to his brother Souil William Garner during Bill's active duty transport from Camp Lee, Virginia to Camp Hood, Texas. I had to include here as it is part of his journey and it reveals a glimpse into his character.

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