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, February 4, 2014

Letter #38 from Henri Romieux 12 October 1944

During the first two weeks of October 1944, John Land loaded provisions as well as troops of the 24th Division, U.S. Army. The crew then secured a radio broadcasting truck on deck and, on the 13th, helped embark Phillippine President Sergio Osmeña and nine members of his cabinet and staff. Assigned to Admiral Barbey's Palo Attack Group, John Land sailed for the Philippines that same day, entering Leyte Gulf without incident on 20 October. After anchoring in the transport area, the radio truck went ashore in an LCM while an LCVP embarked General MacArthur's party from Nashville (CL-43). At 1320, the LCVP, with Gen. MacArthur on board, came alongside for President Osmeña and his party, carrying them to the beaches for their historic radio broadcast to the Philippine people. At 1840 that evening, John Land departed for Hollandia, where she arrived 25 October.

H. Romieux, SK1c USNR
c/o FPO, San Francisco
Mary Garner, SK2c, USNR
c/o Supply Department

U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, 6, Minnesota
12 October 1944

Mary Dear,

Just received two of your letters, and had just began to wonder if you had forgotten all about me. Glad to hear you finally had news from your brother in Belgium, you know I envy him quite a lot, at least they get to see some cities but here it is quite different. Really if I ever get back into civilization again I don't believe I'll know how to act.

So Hammond at last got his orders-wonder what kind of a ship he will get. Yes you don't know but what you may have missed some good times by not running into him before your jaunts. Of course I have my own ideas on this but will not say them.
Surprised to hear about the scuttlebutt about you Waves getting out after two years service - You have something there in your argument with yourself, but I just wonder how satisfied you would be now back to normal with the War still going on. Maybe it would be for the best at that and as you say good jobs are hard to be had now and God only knows what will be available after this horrible mess is over.

At any rate you have done your share and then some, putting up with what you have had to with some of that outfit at Naval Air Station and I guess you know what kind I mean, but you know the censor is ever present. No I don't think you would be wise to go for Foreign Service, cause I imagine a result somewhat like you do.

Wish I had been there to laugh with you and at you when you went to the Chiropractor instead of Photographer. Of course you know I want one of those pictures, please send me one soon as they are finished.

Had a letter from Mother today, she is spending the winter with some nieces of hers in Quebec you know. She is pretty lonesome for a place of her own again and I kind of feel guilty to have left her, cause you know she always made her home with me since Dad died several years ago. She is 74, but seems to be in good health, I hope. She writes rather a pathetic letter, which is most unusual for her, cause as a general rule she at least sounds and acts cheerful, not at all like her to be down at the heels. But I know she worries a lot about me, and the long time between my news. 

Well dear, keep what you call chatter, and I call real interesting letters, coming right along. I don't know what I would do with out them. 

Love and more Love,

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