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.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Letter #42 from Wilbur C Garner 2 November 1944

The main effort of the American Army in the Fall campaign was centered farther south, but when the jump-off came in the middle of November, XIX Corps attacked for the line of the Roer. The enemy had had time to dig in well, and the resistance they offered was bitter. But the Divisions of the XIX Corps, working under the Corps plan, refused to hit him where he was strongest, by frontal attacks on the line of low ridges parallel to the river. The 2nd Armored lashed out northeast with crushing power, overcoming the muddy terrain and inferiority in tanks by sheer fighting guts. This attack drew most of the German armor, and the enemy threw in the best he had. Against the 2nd Armored he threw the 9th Panzer and the 15th Panzer Grenadier, but the 2nd Armored and the Corps Artillery and Tank Destroyers knocked out 118 of their tanks. As the armor flanked each ridge, the attached infantry cleaned out the Germans from its flanks. At the same time in the center the 29th drove east toward Juelich. Meanwhile the 3rd Panzer Grenadier and elements of the 116th Panzer Division smashed at our right flank where the 30th Division turned them back. By the 28th of November all three divisions were at the Roer, and the plans for crossing were begun. Higher headquarters had to hold up any such operations until possession of the Roer River dams was assured. With these dams under German control a wall of water could be sent down the Roer to wash out any crossing operations, and isolate our bridgeheads beyond rescue. So the Corps held at the Roer to wait for the dams to be taken.
(Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)
Bill and buddy Herleen Holland October 1944
Benny Henderson Herleen Holland 1944
Buddies Herleen Holland 1944
Castle Neubourg, Holland Command post for US Army's XIX Corps

S/Sergent Wilbur C. Garner, 33377528
G-1 Section. Hq XIX Corps
APO 270, c/o Postmaster, N.Y.

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

U.S.A. "Somewhere in Holland"
2 November 1944

Dear Sis, 

Well what do you know, Sis? How has the world been treating you lately? I hope not too rough. I haven't heard from you for about a week but thought I'd write you a few lines tonight.
Well one more month has passed and that means we are one month closer to getting home once more. That will really be the day. Its hard to realize just what that day will be like. 

I hope Gwen will be able to be in the states by that time. She is looking forward very anxiously to meeting the family and setting up a home for me in the states.

It has been another beautiful fall day today, rather chilly though. I dread to think of winter over here because I'm certain they are long and drawn out. 

I got a letter from Gwen today and she is feeling fine. She asked me to send you her love. I'm enclosing a replica of my insignia and a little card I think you will get a little laugh from. 

I thought it was rather cute. I sent one to Souil & Harriet & one to Gwen. I'm going to enclose one in my next letter to Dad & Bernard.

Gee it is a beautiful night tonight. The moon is very brilliant.

Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now and hope to hear from you soon again. Say, Sis, if you can find anymore of those good salted nuts, I'd like to have some more. 

Well I'll say goodnight for now. 
Take care of yourself.
Loads of Love from
Gwen and Me,

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