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.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Letter #67 from Wilbur C Garner 17 February 1945

S/Sgt. Wilbur C. Garner, 33377578
G-1 Section, Hq XIX Corps
APO 270, c/o Postmaster, N.Y.


"Somewhere in Germany"
17 February 1945

Dear Sis,

It's me again. I just wrote you the day before yesterday but I received your letter of the 3rd of February today and thought I'd keep abreast of the correspondence situation. Night before last I wrote 5 letters and cleared all of my debts. It is much easier than trying to keep up with a batch. 

I haven't heard any news from England but I imagine Gwen is almost getting ready to go back home now. Boy the mail and Red Cross are so slow over here it is pathetic. Someone should do something about it.
Congratulations on making good with your exams for the SK1c rating. more power to you Sis. I guess you'll be making as much as I make now. Can you beat $143.00 a month. After the child is born $155.00. That of course includes all allowances and pay. Of course the expenses are rising in comparison too. It will cost $170.00 for Gwen and the child's fare across the ocean. Of course, to say nothing of the cumulative miscellaneous items which are mounting for all the certificates and documents. It is surprising just where one's money can go. The way I see it, especially now, the more I can save and get into bank before I get out of the Army the better it will be.

Say, Mary have you ever thought or made any post-war plans? For example; Do you intend to live with Mother & Dad? You know, they are both getting up in years and it is going to be our responsibility to all pitch in and take care of them. I've been wondering if it would work or if we could make a plan work where we could all live near or together. 

Mother mentioned to me the fact that Harriet was happy and contented living at home before going to Florida. I was wondering if we could figure something out. Just thinking. I imagine each one has thought about it. I was just curious to get your opinion. Of course, Souil is the one with the biggest sock, but I don't think Mother and dad would be as happy with either of them as they would with you or me. 

You know I was always one to look ahead & try to figure things out.
Well, Mary, I guess I'll close for tonight and hope to hear from you again soon. 

Loads of Love from Gwen and me,

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