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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Letter #53 from Wilbur C Garner 15 December 1944

December 16-27, 1944  Battle of The Bulge in the Ardennes

Part of the Prisoner of War Interrogation team at Corps had been attached to the 113th Cavalry near Sittard when we were getting ready to hit for the Roer. The officer with them was on his way to his old home, with a good escort of the American Army: Lt. Ernest Kaufman had grown up just on the other side of the Roer, in a little town just south of Duren. Just before he had been forced to leave Germany in '38 all the countryside had known about the great new dams that were being built in the wooded area up the Roer. He came and talked about it to Colonel Washington Platt, the G-2, who sent him to First Army with the urgent advice to listen to him. The Army Engineer did, and it was news to him. Lt. Kaufman was among the first into Aachen, and made for where he knew the information would be: the offices of Water Administration. He had to blow a safe to get them, but there they were - the complete Wehrmacht plans for the flooding that would follow the destruction of the three great dams, with the delineation of the area to be flooded, the speed of water, the duration of the flooding and all. Now the Army was really interested, and we could see the results in the way the plans were laid. It was then, on the 16th of December, that the Ardennes offensive of von Rundstedt struck, and forced a postponement of three months in all our plans. The Corps moved south of Aachen and took over the divisions formerly under VII Corps: the 104th, the 78th, and the 8th. There with a Command Post in an old monastery in Kornelimunster, the Corps held the north shoulder of the "Bulge", rebuffed German patrols, and later pushed forward toward the big dams on the fronts of the 78th and 8th Divisions.

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

"Somewhere in Holland"
15 December 1944

Dear Mary,

Howdy, Sis! I received two letters from you yesterday dated 9th and 12th November. It's about time I was hearing from you once more. The mail has been lousy going and coming lately. Did you ever receive that small bottle of perfume from Paris that I sent you? I hope it hasn't gone astray. 

So you think Gwen is a good luck charm for me. I wonder what makes you feel that way. Gwen is a wonderful girl and will really make a good mother & wife. Incidentally she hates smoking and drinking. I think maybe that is something else that made me like her so much.
Don't worry about not being able to send her anything more than you have. I hope to be able to get Gwen to the States about April or may of next year. Of course, a lot depends upon how strong the baby is and whether or not Gwen feels like she can make the trip. The sooner the better, I figure. She'll be much happier, too. If you have anything you want to send her, send it to me, I'll see that she gets it.

Hey you dummy, that insignia I sent you is mine (XIX CORPS). Here is a paper clipping you may be interested in. Ops! Excuse me. I sent the last one I had to Mother.

So you think I'm going to let you spoil my child, huh?
Not on your life. You probably won't pay any attention to mine if Jane has twins. I wouldn't like that. One at a time goes further. I guess they'll all be spoiled. I haven't seen any children around that home that didn't become spoiled. We'll see.
I had a letter from Gwen day before yesterday dated 5th December and she is still feeling fine. I feel certain everything will be OK with her.

I haven't heard from Souil & Harriet for sometime but I guess she is OK. Harriet was very fortunate to get a job right next door to where Souil works. I hope she'll decide to stay with him for the duration or as long as he remains in the States.

Well, Sis, there is not much more news now so I guess I'll be signing off. So long and take care of yourself I hope you had a nice Christmas at home "Lucky".

Lots of Love from Gwen and Me,
P.S. Can you get any cheese up that way?

No comments:

Post a Comment