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.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Joeseph Randolph Garner the years between 1930-1943

This blog continues to fill in the gap in time between the last "Letter to Mary" dated October 1930 and the next "Letter to Mary" dated in 1943. The actual "Letters to Mary" will resume with the next blog post.

It wasn't long after Joe wrote the second letter to Mary dated October 1930 that he was once again in "dutch!"
A copy of his United States Marine Corps discharge dated January 16, 1932, indicated his service was terminated prematurely by the Marines with a "Bad-Conduct Discharge." His character was defined as simply "Bad." His final pay voucher was made out for a sum total of $29.51. It also indicated he was not eligible for any travel allowance. So Joe found himself in Bremerton, Washington 3000 miles away from home, broke at the age of 19,
as the Great Depression in the United States was gaining steam. He made his way home by "Riding the Rails" as a hobo in boxcars, an absolute disgrace to the family. However he was not alone on the rails, as, at the height of the Great Depression, more than a quarter million teenagers were living on the road in America, many criss-crossing the country by illegally hopping freight trains.
Joseph Randolph Garner Marine Discharge
By 1935, in Baltimore, Maryland Joe had become enamored with a young woman named Mary Alice Barham. Joe and Mary Alice married on July 4, 1935 and a year or so later produced one son. 

The marriage lasted but a few years, and ended in divorce. Mary Alice remarried and moved to Massachusetts taking the boy with her. Joe then joined the National Guard* ca. 1940-1942 and he later served in the U.S. Army 29th Infantry Division. 

*Excerpt From Wikipedia on the National Guard

In August 1940, the National Guard was ordered to federal service for 12 months in anticipation of U.S, entry into World War II. More than 400,000 National Guardsmen were called up as parts of divisions or in non-divisional units, immediately doubling the size of the Army. 18 Army divisions, 80 separate regiments, and 29 Army Air Force flying squadrons were mobilized from National Guard organizations beginning in September 1940.
Because National Guard units had been mobilized for over a year in December 1941, they were among the first to enter combat in the following months.
In Europe, the 29th Infantry Division of the Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia National Guard was one of two assault divisions on Omaha Beach in Normandy during the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
National Guard units participated in all combat theaters and took part in 34 separate campaigns and seven assault landings, sustaining 175,000 casualties (killed and wounded).
National Guard infantry divisions which participated in the war included: 26th; 27th; 28th; 29th; 30th; 31st; 32nd; 33rd; 34th; 35th; 36th; 37th; 38th; 40th; 41st; 43rd; 44th; 45th and Americal National Guard regiments were also part of the 7th, 8th, 24th, and 25th Infantry Divisions.

(Photos provided by Joseph Randolph Garner, Jr on January 12, 2015.)

No comments:

Post a Comment