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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"30" for the Tomahawk July 20, 1945

This blog entry text is from the Memorial Edition of the "Tomahawk" the XIX Corps weekly newspaper, which was published in Bad Nauheim, Germany July 20, 1945 
Front page, above the fold of the Memorial Edition of The Tomahawk
Tomahawk Now Silent: It's Name Will Live
 by Cpl. Ed Essertier

To say that anyone in his right mind really enjoyed serving in the XIX Corps or in the Army is sentimental tripe. Circumstances, not choice, put most of the men in Corps, and they leave it for the same reason.
But XIX Corps did a job, and the men who sweated out the lousy, filthy, muddy mess can be proud of their record. When XIX Corps returns home and disintegrates on paper, the men who wore the famous Tomahawk on their left shoulder will remember it, and its history will live.
Above the fold back page.
 "Our Last Resting Place"
  Article reproduced here, by Pvt. Roy Hubbard
  Bad Nauheim --- While the world was celebrating VE Day, XIX Corps convoys were beating their way over a couple of hundred miles of dusty dirt roads, macadam and autobahn ---- leaving behind the Elbe River area where the month preceding Germany's capitulation was spent, and heading south for Hessen to take up temporary occupational duties. 
  Corps Artillery and its attached units stayed in Friedberg, a quiet residential city, while the bulk of Corps headquarters set up offices and living quarters in some of the many hotels in the international health and vacation resort of Bad Nauheim.
  It was pretty good living while it lasted, especially after Corps Special Service got to work. The Stadtisches Schwimmbad was converted into the Tomahawk Swimming Pool (open daily from 10 to 10), almost a dozen tennis courts were rejuvenated and opened to troops serving with Corps, boats which had seen assault duty on the Rhine were provided for fishing in the local lake, and movies were shown nightly in the lavish theater known as the Kurhaus (Cure House).
  Men who had fallen a little behind on their bath schedule during long months of war got a chance to catch up on that function, with the luxurious mineral baths, formerly patronized by rich old gout and rheumatism cases, being opened for GI's. every day 6x6's from the outlying towns trucked in detachments of men who wanted to bathe and relax in the enormous wooden tubs of Nauheim's Badhaus.
  By night the trucks were still cominig, but now laden with pleasure seekers who wanted to dunk a few sinkers in the Red Cross Dugout here and go for walks in the naturally beautiful parks of Bad Nauheim. Not the least among the beauties of the parks were the frauleins -----blonde, brown, black and red-headed-but nobody paid too much attention to them until last week when Ike issues his long-awaited pronunciamento that the de-Nazification of Germany had progressed far enough for the soldiers to be allowed to fraternize with civilians. 
  Word is going around now that Fifteenth Army is going to take over Bad Nauheim. But when that will happen, and where we will go, and how long it will all take, is something that even the brainy Information Please team was unable to answer when it appeared at the Kurhaus this Wednesday and Thursday. Our only advice is to  keep on playing golf and tennis, swimming in the Tomahawk Pool, and spazieren in the park as long as the good-thing lasts.

 XIX Corps "Tomahawk" Uniform Shoulder Patch
To Those We Left Behind

Greater love than this has no man....than he lay down his life for his brother. ~ Christ

We have reached the mid-point in our fight against militaristic terror and oppression. As we pause a moment before taking our places in the concluding half of the war ------ some of us still in the ARMY, others back on the home front----- we can't help thinking of the fellows who won't be going home with us, who won't be there on the final V Day.

There is no denying Winston Churchill's words, "Victory is being paid for in blood, sweat and tears."
We have all sweated-----some more-----some less-----but nothing compared to the sacrifice of our many comrades who laid down their lives in the struggle.

To  make possible the XIX Corps' smashing successes in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, thousands of men made the supreme sacrifice. Brothers, relatives, friends, strangers, -----all have made the greatest offering a man can make along the march to victory ---- a victory which these valiant dead will neither celebrate nor enjoy. There is no way we can repay our friends for their lives. But we can all do our part to make sure that the fruits of their victory will justify their sacrifices.

 by Cpl. Ed Essertier Pvt. Roy Hubbard, editors

Thirty in newspaper parlance, means "The End." It goes at the bottom of stories to tell linotypers and proof readers there's no more to read. This issue of The Tomahawk is our "Thirty" edition. Like munitions factories we're going out of business.

XIX Corps' Europe Push averaged 2 1/2 MI. Daily

From early June 1944 to VE-Day, the XIX Corps was operational for 326 days, and drove more than 800 miles from the Normandy beach over the Elbe, averaging close to two and a half miles a day. This average takes into account long weeks of waitiing before stubbornly defended barriers like St. Lo, the West Wall, and the Roer River ---- and fast drives such as the three day race across France in which Corps hurtled the Seine and the Somme Rivers and entered Belgium on three consecutive days (September 1 to 3, 1944), and the mad dash through the heart of the Reich itself.
The following are a few highlights of the Tomahawk Corps accomplishments in Europe: 

Prisioners of war taken................................................... 249,125
Enemy airplanes shot down ..........................................         297
Bridges built...................................................................         422
(with a total lenght of 37, 083 feet)
Major Rivers crossed....................................................              8
(Vire, Seine, Somme, Meuse, Roer, Rhine, Weser, Elbe)
Battle Stars......................................................................           5
     Northern France
     Central Europe
Armies Served with........................................................           3
    First US Army
    Ninth US Army
    Seventh US Army

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