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 21, 2014

Letter #25 from Wilbur C Garner 9 Juy 1944

The first week in July the 30th Division went to work on the salient which the Germans had kept west of the river Vire, a salient which reached menacingly toward the sea at Carentan, where they were able to keep the bridge on the one road there under intermittent artillery fire. On July 7th the 30th crossed the Vire from the east and the Vire and Taute Canal from the north, and, joined by the 3rd Armored, slugged its way down through St. Jean de Day, to erase the salient. 

9 July:

In St. Jean de Daye area, 120th and 117th Infantry Regiments encounter determined opposition; 119th Infantry Regiment moves south along Vire River through Cavigny. CCB of 3rd Armored Division attacks southwest toward Hts. Vents ( southeast of Esglandes) and reaches objective but is ordered to withdraw. Counterattack by 2nd SS Engineer Battalion is frustrated by heavy artillery concentration.

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

U.S.A. "Somewhere in France"
9 July 1944

Dear Mary,
Well, Sis, I have finally received some mail. I received a letter from Mother, Gwen and one from you today. Boy it was really good to hear from you once more. Your letter was dated the 20th June so you can see how long it takes these days.

You mentioned the candy. Yes I received it and it was very good. In fact, we all enjoyed it very much. I haven't received the nuts but imagine they are on this side someplace. I'm glad you like the little pin I sent you. It wasn't much and had a very poor clasp on it but I thought it would be better than nothing.

So the bill is again before the house to send Waves over. Well you know somebody has to stay home. I don't know whether I'd come over if I were in your shoes or not. Of course they have to pass the bill first. The only thing I can say is that it would surely make you appreciate the good old U.S.A. all the more and I don't mean maybe.

Gwen doesn't seem to like her new station very much. The girls there are much more peculiar than the ones she has been used to. She likes the surrounding better though. It is also in an area that she knows rather well. I guess she'll tell you all about that.
Well there isn't much more to say right now. Just be watching for us. I don't think they know we're here. Well take care of yourself and lots of luck with your exams.

Lots of Love,

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