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 14, 2014

Letter #48 from Wilbur C Garner 1 December 1944

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)

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, 6, Minnesota

U.S.A. "Somewhere in Holland"
1 December 1944

Dear Sis,

How is Henri these days? I've heard tell of people getting letters mixed up but that is the first time I've experienced it. Well OK let me in on it. So you are worried about Henri. Have you heard from him yet?

I got a letter from Mother, Souil and you all dated 26th-28th of October and a letter from Gwen dated 16th Nov. Gwen is still feeling fine. I told you she expects the baby about the 8th of February. Gwen is hoping it is born on the 14th then all three of our birthdays will be on the 14th. Gwen's Birthday is 14th October. She is also hoping it is a boy. If a boy we are naming it Wilbur C. (Charles) Garner, Jr. I've suggested several names, if a girl, but we haven't decided about that yet. 

I saw the picture "Janie" last night and that was a really swell picture. I enjoyed it. It sorta took a guys mind off of the war for a few minutes.
I hear the Army-Navy game is being played in Baltimore this year. Boy I'd like to be back there to see it. I'm glad you will be able to get home for Christmas. I'd call that very fortunate.

I'm glad to know that Souil & Harriet have been able to find a nice place. I guess she thinks she is up in the top bracket. Spending the winter in Florida. Well it is much better. Harriet was lucky to get a job there also. Well more power to them. I don't know but I imagine Souil will be coming over some of these days, if it is only after it is all over.

Thanks for sending that stuff for Gwen. I'll see that she gets it.
The weather has been fairly nice here lately, I mean for 24 hours. Darn fortunate if it is nice for any longer than that at one time. A little sunshine looks good once in a while. I guess it has gotten rather cold where you are now.

Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now and hope to hear from you soon again. Take it easy on that Christmas leave. How many days did you get? Let me know how Baltimore looks. Goodnight for now.

Loads of Love from Gwen and me,
P.S. Got any more of those good nuts or sardines or cheese. Thanks

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