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 11, 2014

Letter #45 from Wilbur C Garner 17 - 19 November 1944

More enemy armor fell before the attacks of the 29th and 30th. Captured German staff officers were unanimous in their praise of the tactics employed in this Corps drive - complaining that they were constantly confused as to the direction and strength of the effort by our refusing to plunge head-on into their planned defenses, and by our unexpected maneuver and feints. Model tactics executed by hard fighting veteran troops crushed one of the enemy's most concentrated efforts since D-Day, and by the 28th of November the 2nd Armored, 29th and 30th Divisions were on the Roer River. Some Germans held out in the Sportsplatz of Juelich, and a little pocket in Hasenfeld Gut farther north. These pockets took a few more days of desperate in-fighting to eliminate.(Text from the Corps Newsletter "The Tomahawk Strikes" From Siegfried line to victory)

Making the Army's main effort, General McLain's XIX Corps was to prepare plans for seizing a bridgehead over the Roer River at Juelich. In line with the mission of protecting the First Army's left flank, General McLain was to make his main effort close alongside the First Army. (Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)

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

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

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

Dear Sis,

Good afternoon, kid. How are you doing these days? Boy I sure hope you've been getting my mail better than I've been getting yours. I haven't had any mail or packages from home for about two weeks now. I know it is tied up here on the continent though because Gwen writes every day and I haven't received any letters from her for almost the same length of time. I can't give you any news of her? Gwen was fine on 27th of Oct.

Have you received the small bottle of perfume I sent you? It was a bottle the Colonel brought back from Paris. Boy I sure hope you receive it in good shape. I got a bottle for Gwen too. Hers was a little larger.

How is the weather out your way these days? I imagine it has started to get rather cold. It has not been so cold here but it has been nasty and rainy.

"Somewhere in Holland"
19 November 1944

Hello. I didn't get a chance to finish this letter the other night but will before I go to bed tonight. Boy I feel fine tonight. I finally got a letter from Gwen dated November 3rd. There are six before that one, that are still missing. Gwen is feeling fine, "I'm feeling fine-never felt better in all my life", which is just how things should be. And if it is double trouble honey - just you look out - when I meet you again - for not warning me!! There are twins in her family also and due this generation. Ha! ha! Wouldn't that be something? What a man. Well we shall see. Gwen is very anxious for time to pass quickly so that we can get back to the States.

Well kid I'll close for now and hope to hear from you real soon. No mail from the States for a couple of weeks. Got any more nuts or canned meats/ Boy sure could use some. So long for now. Take it easy and don't work too hard.

Loads of Love from Gwen and me.

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