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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Letter #62 from Wilbur C Garner 24 January 1945

 26 January 1945 Soviet troops liberate Auschwitz

In these images it seems as though there was a bit of celebration as the men donned pieces of a captured Nazi uniform. I think they were entitled!
Bill Garner and Bennie Henderson
Kornelimunster Germany
Benny Henderson and Harold Roberts
Kornelimunster Germany
Bennie Henderson and Harold Roberts
Kornelimunster Germany
Harold Roberts and Benny Henderson
Kornelimunster Germany

S/Sg. Wilbur C. Garner, 33377578
G-1 Section, Hq XIX Corps
APO 270, U.S. Army

Mary W Garner, Sk2c
Supply Department
U,S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, 6 Minnesota 

"Somewhere in Germany"
24 January 1945

Dear Sis,

Howdy Pard! I haven't heard from you in some time. I hope you are OK. I guess you are just busy studying those problems for your exams. I can't remember the last time I wrote you so I thought I'd better write before I get a good bawling out.

Guess what a haul I made with the mail the other day. I got 16 letters from Gwen, 1 from Mother, 1 from Peggy Dashill who lives behind Mother & Dad and two others. Of course Gwen has been taking most of my evenings up. Last night I typed a 2 1/2 page of single spaced letter to Gwen. Probably the longest letter she will ever receive from me. The last letter of hers was dated the 12th of January and she was still feeling fine. I'm glad things have been rather easy for her so far. Gwen had received several letters from you and was in the process of writing you. 

Well, we have had more snow. I don't think there has been a night pass without about 3 inches of snow. Today it has been very clear and you should see the moon tonight. What a shame to let the moon go to waste tonight. Of course, I guess this is about the only place it is going to waste. 

With the moon and the snow tonight, every movement of a person stands out like a sore thumb. You can see a person for about 1000 yards. 

Did you ever receive that small bottle of perfume I sent you? I surely hope it didn't go astray. It was real good stuff.
I guess you really had a nice Christmas at home. Mother tells me that Dad was able to get 7 days off at that time. That was really nice. Things in the office are still rather slow. 

They'll probably be picking up again soon though. Well, I guess you are an Aunt by this time. It won't be long before you'll be another one. Two more weeks and Gwen will be going to the hospital. She is scheduled for the 8th of February.

Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now and hope to hear from you soon again. Take care of yourself and don't work too hard.

Loads of Love from Gwen & myself,


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