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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Letter #44 from Wilbur C Garner 11 November 1944

Jumping off on the 16th of November, the 29th and 30th infantry and the 2nd Armored Divisions drove forward over the flat, scarred, muddy countryside against desperate German resistance made from long prepared defensive positions. To halt this drive the German's command committed his best - 9th and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions against out left flank and 3rd Panzer Grenadier and elements of 116th Panzer Divisions on our right, together with three infantry divisions. As an example of the intensity of enemy resistance, the 2nd Armored Division and Corps Artillery and Anti Tank units knocked out 118 German tanks in badly defeating the 9th Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions. 
(Text from the Corps Newsletter "The Tomahawk Strikes" From Siegfried line to victory)

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

Mary W. Garner, SK2c
Supply Department
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, Minnesota (6)

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

Dear Sis,

Howdy stranger. I received your letter of the 16th Oct. today and sure was glad to hear from you once more. It has been about 2 weeks since I got any mail from the states. I got some mail from Gwen about 4 days ago but that must have piled up someplace also. I know what happened the Air Mail, They sent it by boat.

I sent you a small bottle of Gardenia perfume from Paris. It is supposed to be the real stuff. I believe it was Corday's stuff. I hope you get it OK and like it. I'll be looking out for those six packages you said were on the way and let you know how they arrive.

I went around town today looking for something to send home but all I could find was a small pair of wooden Dutch shoes. I'm sending them to Bernard & Jane. I've sorta neglected them. I hope they like them.

How is the weather out there? It is rather chilly here. We had our first snow this week. It didn’t amount to much but surely made it miserable and uncomfortable for the boys. You asked me if I could use a sweater, yes if it is not too heavy to wear under my shirt. It will probably be a nice cold winter and I'll sure be glad to see spring once more.

Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now. It is 9:45 P.M. and I've finished listening to the Army Notre Dame football game. Army sure plastered them. So long for now, if you have any more sardines or canned goods you can send them along. Incidentally how about a jar of mayonnaise. Mother sent me some ham spread. Thanks a lot. Good night.

Lots of Love and Luck

from Gwen & Me,
The little wooden shoes Bill sent home from Holland

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