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.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Letter #70 from Wilbur C Garner 27 February 1945

"Bailey being constructed across Roer River/ Julich..."
3 soldiers work on construction of bridge over Roer River, Julich, Germany
by Henry Jay MacMillan
The Corps Artillery moved up close, and had their targets zeroed in when the jump-off came. There was some fire for awhile on the bridge sites, but by the time the bridgehead started expanding,  the Corps Battalions had silenced every enemy battery, and the attack was started in full momentum. They showed their power when the 30th Division reported a counterattack on the other side of the Hambach Forest. We fired all the Division Artilleries, and the complete Corps Artillery, 20 battalions, in a serenade. When the smoke cleared a full German battalion had been wiped out, and six to ten tanks.
Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)
"The Bailey bridge across the Roer Julich, Germany"
Soldiers work on & underneath bridge
by Henry Hay MacMillan

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 

"Somewhere in Germany"
 27 February 1945

Dear Sis, 

Howdy! It's me again. Well how are things with you these days? I received the package of nuts you sent me on January 8th and a package from Mother & Dad dated 28th of January. They made fairly good time, I think.

Well I guess you are waiting for the word. Well you thought Jane had an elephant, Gwen gave birth to a baby Girl, weighing 8lb and 8oz on the 17th of February at 7:40 in the evening. It's name is Carol Ann. Both baby and Gwen are doing fine and Gwen is very happy. Can you imagine, a girl. So the Garner family is getting some young ladies in it. I wrote Mother last night but couldn't write any more than two letters so I figured I'd write the rest tonight. Everything went off just fine and no trouble at all.

Incidentally, Sis, thanks a lot for the nuts. They are really good. They certainly have nice ways of packing them. They aren't quite as broken up as they were when in one big box.

Well the weather here has been rather cloudy the last couple of days. It hasn't been very cold though so that is something to be thankful for. I haven't heard from you for a little while now. I hope that everything is OK with you. I guess Souil & Harriet are now at home for a short while. I hope they have a nice furlough because I've got a hunch it may be his last in the U.S. for awhile. 

I hope not though for his sake.

Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now and hope to hear from you soon again.

Loads of Love from Gwen and me,

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