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 12, 2014

Letter #74 from Henri C Romieux 1 April 1945

Again assigned to Admiral Barbey's assault force, the troop ship USS John Land steamed to Aitape, New Guinea, where she loaded elements of the 3d Battalion Landing Team, 172d Infantry Regiment, 43d Division, U.S. Army. Getting underway on 28 December 1944, John Land rendezvoused with other warships in Leyte Gulf and proceeded through the Philippines to Lingayan Gulf. While en route, her crew witnessed a Japanese fighter splashed by ship gunfire at 1822 on 7 January 1945 and, later that evening, heard over the radio net as three American destroyers sank Japanese destroyer Hinoki some 15 miles to starboard. The transport arrived off the San Fabian beaches on the morning of 9 January and quickly debarked her troops in LCMs and LCVPs. In the afternoon she anchored 7,000 yards offshore to more quickly unload cargo, completing that task the following day. She remained there, proving boat services as well as refueling small craft, until returning to Leyte Gulf on the 13th. After provisioning, John Land sailed south to Biak, New Guinea, where she embarked elements of the 41st Division, U.S. Army, between 23-31 January. At sea on 2 February, the troop ship sailed to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, where all passengers and cargo went ashore on the 9th. She then steamed to Leyte Gulf to unload excess stores, and transfer her port anchor and 90 fathoms of chain to Starlight (AP-175), before sailing east to Ulithi, arriving there on 18 February.
April 1, 1945 The final amphibious landing of the war occurs as the U.S. Tenth Army invades Okinawa.

Henri C. Romieux, SK1c, V-6 USNR
USS John Land (AP-167)
C/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.

Mary Garner, SK2c, USNR
C/o U.S. Naval Air Station
Wold-Chamberlain Field
Minneapolis, Minnesota
"Supply Office" 

Somewhere at Sea
1 April 1945

Mary dear,

Please again excuse the long delay in my writing to you but really it could not be helped, cause the letter would not have gotten off anyway.

There actually is not much to write about. I have not had a bit of mail for almost six weeks now so I can't even answer questions you may have asked me.

The last letter I had from my Mother she said she would likely leave Montreal the first of March- stop a short time at her nieces in Ontario and then go to Minneapolis for a visit with my Aunt that lives in St Paul. After that she figured on going to Tulsa to stay with my brother for a couple of months. 

Had a quiet Easter Sunday today. We have a Catholic Priest for a Chaplain- so had high mass this afternoon- which really was a nice ceremony and very well attended. Outside of that I spent the balance of the day sleeping and reading mystery stories of which I have become quite fond of reading lately.

Well dear I suppose it is just about getting nice weather back home. How I wish I was there with you at this moment. Well some of these days may be near the end of the year that may be a fact.
Well have to say goodbye for today- what do you hear from your brother in France? 

Write soon and keep your chin up.

Loads of love Henri

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