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.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Letter #56 from Wilbur C Garner 26 December 1944

 Monastery, Kornelimunster, Germany; founded in 807 A.D. by son of Charlemagne; served as command post for XIX Corps Image rendered by Henry J MacMillan corps artist

On the 22nd of December, XIX Corps was ordered south to the area of Aachen to take over the divisions formerly under VII Corps; the 104th, the 8th and the 78th Infantry Divisions In the bitter cold of the German winter, the Corps held the north shoulder of the "Bulge" and even undertook local attacks led by the 78th Division to straighten out the line, and keep the German forces there busy. In our CP in an old monastery at Kornelimunster we spent a cold and relatively cheerless Christmas, mindful of the bitter fighting and suffering going on further south. (Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)
Images of Aachen in rubble when the XIX Corps entered town. Images captured by Wilbur C Garner

S/Sgt. 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 

"Somewhere in Germany"
26 December 1944

Howdy kid! At long last a couple of letters have come through. I received your letter of the 9th Dec today. In the last 2 days I have received 4 packages from you mailed in September. I received another 3 or 4 last week from you so I guess they all came through. I have not received the nightgown and slip for Gwen yet but expect that will be coming along the next day or so. 

Well as you can see from the heading I spent Christmas and a couple of days in Germany. I was very sorry to leave our other area. I cannot tell you much about it except to say it was a very nice set-up. Of course, we could talk with people there. I found a very nice family and used to spend a number of evenings there. Of course, since we are in Germany we can't even look at people much less talk to them.

I can't give you much news from Gwen because I haven't had a letter from her since 4th of December. Your letter today and the one from Mother are the first letters I've had from anyone for about 3 weeks. Maybe it will start coming through again soon. I'll let you know when I receive one and give you the news.

It has been beautiful weather for the last 4 days. Days are clear and the nights have been moonlight.
Mary, please don't use any of your ration points on stuff to send me. After I had written you asking for some cheese I realized it required points. Please forget it. I've got enough chewing gum to last me months too. Thanks to you.

Well, Sis, I'll close for now and hope to hear from you soon again. I guess you had a very pleasant Christmas at home. So long for now.

Loads of Love from Gwen and me,

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