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, March 5, 2014

Letter #68 from Mrs. Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins Garner 22 February 1945

Mrs. Wilbur C.Garner
8 Try-y-sarn Road
Rumney, Cardiff, Eng.

Mary W. Garner, Sk2c
Disbursing Office
Minneapolis, 6 Minnesota


City Maternity Hospital
Cardiff 22nd Feb. 1945

My Dear Mary,

And Carol Ann says good morning Auntie! Well, everything’s all over and done with now, thank goodness, but I had a marvelous time really. I expect you will have heard from Mother about the new arrival as I wrote her straight away the day after Carol was born. She looks very sweet and is so contented when she comes out from the nursery at feeding time. She weighed 8lbs. 8ozs. at birth so she was quite a bonnie lassie. She is the heaviest baby in third ward any rate; I can't bear the nurse to take her away after her feed. If everything is going on as well as it is now I should be home again by this time next week. The attention and care you get in this hospital is beyond praise and the nurses are so helpful and considerate. Of course I'm longing to know what Jane's little bundle of love is, I do hope she had an easy time. 

Bill was getting a little anxious about the 2nd of February and sent a cable through the American Red Cross. Mr. Dunning came to see me last Monday, just to see how I was getting along and told Mum to call and see him when everything was over and he would send a cable back off to Bill with the good news. So Mum went down to the American Red Cross on Sunday, I guess Bill has received that cable by now. I wish I could have seen his face when he read it was a girl. Bill wanted a little girl, so he has his wish any rate I'd give anything in the world if he could only see his daughter now, but maybe he will be able to get 7 days to come across in 2 or 3 months time.

Well, Mary I really do think it's about time I stopped scribbling about my infant and thanked you for the simply beautiful gift you sent me. They are really too lovely to wear- I shall feel like a million dollars when I put them on. Everett, that's the laddie to whom Bill readdresses any parcels for me, brought your package just as Mother was getting ready to come down and see me the night before last. Everyone in the ward admires them too and I really do thank you very much indeed Mary, it is a beautiful gift. I’ll have to keep them nice until I get my figure back to normal- but that won't be long once I start pushing the pedals of my cycle around. That's the one thing I have really been longing for, a nice long ride in the country on my iron steed. I love my old bike, I've done quite a few hundred miles on it. Do you like cycling Mary? 

So far this week I have not had any mail from Bill, but I am hoping there will be one or two for Mother to bring in with her tonight, that is if she comes in. Last night her back was aching rather badly so I told her not to visit me if it is hurting too much today. I would dearly love to see Bill walking in through the ward doorway like so many of the proud fathers with sons and daughters in this ward. But the joy of seeing Bill again and introducing his daughter to him will come when I am home again, I hope.

Do excuse this being written in pencil Mary, and the awful scribble, I'm being thoroughly lazy this afternoon and am writing while lying down. My extremity has become so sensitive sitting fully upright on this hard mattress it is really heaven to relax and stretch right out and I can't do that completely because this bed is not quite long enough for me!

I have had to interrupt this letter so many times Mary I honestly don't know where I am! So many things carry on one after the other with hospital routines that you hardly have two hours at a stretch without some interruption. In just half an hours time Carol will be brought in again so perhaps I had better bring this letter to a close before that or else I might not have the opportunity to finish these few lines until tomorrow and I do want Mum to mail this for me tonight. 

So, Dear Mary, many thanks once again for my gorgeous slips. It won't be long now before I will be coming over, in the fall perhaps.

My love and sincere best wishes,
P.S. Love from Carol Ann too.

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