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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Letter #17 from WIlbur C Garner 25 May 1944

The following text in blue, is found in the XIX Corps Publication " Normandy to the Elbe,"  a copy of which, is in my archives. An excerpt of the content is reproduced here to provide the blog reader a sense of what was taking place in the XIX Corps up to the time the "Letter to Mary" in this blog entry was written.
XIX Corps began life as the III Armored Corps, activated at Camp Polk, Louisiana, on August 20, 1942 under Major General Willis D. Crittenberger. After training at Camp Polk and two maneuvers in Louisiana in 1943, the headquarters left for England on January 7, 1944. In England General Crittenberger left to head a Corps in Italy, and Major General Charles H. Corlett took over command. The headquarters settled at Knook Camp in Wiltshire, near Warminster, where active planning for the Corps' part in Operation Neptune, for the landing in France, got under way in the old Manor House of Boyton. While the divisions that were to operate under XIX Corps maneuvered and perfected their plans on the Salisbury Plain, the XIX Corps Staff drew up their plans for landing soon after D-Day, as the first of the build-up Corps, to take over the central sector and advance on St. Lo, the strategic communications center of that part of Normandy. It was not merely a question of one plan, but many alternate plans, to take advantage of as many eventualities as could be forseen.

The soft English April passed into May, and many of us were told the target date, and finally the date for D-Day. 
Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr  (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)

S/Sergeant Wilbur C. Garner, 33377578
G-1 Section, HQ XIX Corps
APO 270 c/o Postmaster, N.Y.

Mary W. Garner, SK2c
Disbursing Office
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, Minnesota

25 May, 1944

Dear Mary, 

Well Sis, I guess you spent a very nice furlough at home. It would have really been swell if we could have been home once again all together. Well maybe we will shortly.

I'm sitting in a meeting now and I'm merely a doorman. Spending my day just sitting around here. It's rather chilly sitting here so I guess I'll bring my jacket back this afternoon.
I was up to see Gwen again last night and she has some very good pictures for you. Say did you ever get those trinkets I sent you? I sent a bracelet and small pin the same time I mailed Mother's pendant. I guess it will be at your station when you get back. I hope so anyhow. 

How was everything at home? Is there anything I can do to help with anything? Please let me know if there is anything at all they need.
I got a letter from Souil the other day and he seems much more satisfied than he was at first. I'm glad to see that he finally convinced himself that he may as well make the best of things.
I also got a letter from Colin. He seems rather fed up with that course he is taking. You know Colin though he gets fed up rather easily.

Could you send me more nuts and gum? Say, Sis, that fruit was really good. Some of it I have saved for harder days which are certain to come. Anything that will keep, all of us sock away. It will really come in handy too. I'd like to have some of that dehydrated chicken noodle soup if you can find any around. If there is any little article you think I'd like to have just drop it in one of the larger packages and send it along.

Well there isn't much news now so I guess I'll close.
Lots of Luck and Love
P.S. I am going to send you some more money this week for the pocket book when you get it.

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