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 28, 2014

Letter #31 from Henri Romieux 16 August 1944

 While en route, BM2c (Boatswain Mate 2nd Class) John D. DeLucca died of wounds received on Tinian. The transport USS John Land anchored in Segund Channel there on 9 August and debarked her passengers.

Reporting to Transport Division 24, 3d Fleet, John Land provisioned at Espiritu Santo before sailing north to the Russel Islands, arriving there via Guadalcanal on 17 August 1944. She then loaded 1,219 men from 2d battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, and conducted rehearsals for the upcoming Palau landings off Cape Esperance on 26-29 August.
(Text from

H. Romieux, SK1c USNR
USS John Land
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.

Mary Garner, Sk2c USNR
c/o Naval Air Station
Wold-Chamberlain Field
Minneapolis, Minnesota

16 August

Mary dear,

Just received your letter for which many thanks, I have not written for quite a spell but not that long, so expect by now you have had more of this chatter from me. Have been busier than usual the past few weeks and had to neglect my correspondence a bit. 

My mother writes that she has not heard from me for several weeks also. Sure was surprised to hear about Naval Air Station not taking more cadets, what on earth are they going to do with that place from now on? And civilian help too. Gee it would be something if you were transferred to Frisco. Maybe I could see you sometime before long. I am sure you would like it out there better than in Minneapolis anyway.

Had quite a celebration when we crossed the equator, we all were dunked in the swimming pool and of course had our hair all cut up, so that I had to get a baldy-I wonder if it will ever grow back, because I look llike something the cat dragged in without it. But anyway we all had alot of fun and it helps when one is so far from no-where.

As to sending me something thanks a lot but really there is nothing I need. We have a pretty fair canteen here and I eat more candy than is good for me. What do you hear from your brother in Normandy, and does he like it better than before? Here all is fine and I am accumulating more and more to tell you about when we next meet. 

Is Edwards still out there, I thought she was going to write me some time-have not heard from her yet.

Well Mary, will say so long for today, take good care of yourself and write real soon, won't you. 

Love, Henri

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