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 17, 2014

Letter #79 from Wilbur C Garner 9 April 1945

The Weser was a formidable military obstacle in itself, but on the 5th of April a crossing was forced and a bridge was built. By the next day there were three bridges, and the 2nd Armored had advanced almost to Hildesheim, the 30th on the left flank had taken Hameln, and the 83rd had swarmed across on the right of the 2nd Armored and advanced 17 miles beyond the river.
On orders from Ninth Army, these spearhead divisions halted and took the opportunity to reorganize while the attack continued behind them against the north and east of the Ruhr pocket. On the 9th of April, XVI Corps took over this western front and XIX Corps turned its whole attention east again.  
Now began a drive unparalleled in this war for speed and effectiveness. The 2nd Armored was to make 57 miles in one day, and the 30th and 83rd, by drive and and organization nothing short of miraculous, kept up with the armor on each flank. Screening the Corps flanks was the 113th Calvary Group that has been a versatile and hard fighting member of XIX Corps since the early days in Normandy. On the north the 30th Division advanced to Braunschweig where stiff resistance developed. In one day the city was enveloped and cleared, and the 30th had pushed on another 30 miles. The 83rd meanwhile had driven 30 miles to take Halberstadt, and seal off the east and north of another pocket in the Harz Mountains, center of much tradition of the ancient German gods. 

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

Mary W. Garner, Sk1c
Supply Department
U.S. Naval Air Station
Minneapolis, 6 Minnesota 

"Somewhere in Germany"
9 April 1945

Dear Mary,

Howdy, I received your letters of the 6th & 26th of March yesterday. Yes, Mary, I was glad it was a girl, also.
I've got her picture sitting right in front of me, too. Carol is the prettiest baby I've seen in a long time and I know her Aunt Mary will be proud of her as Gwen and I. I even think she is cuter than Bernard, Jr. Of course, I guess little girls are cuter than boys. I just got my set of pictures today. Gwen is sending Mother a set and getting more for you. So ask Mother to send you her set for a peek at Carol.
Say don't let these so called military authorities stuff your heads with the idea that the war is over. There is still plenty of fight in the Germans. I'll tell you the truth. I don't think there is anyone left to make peace with.

I'm glad you got your Easter gift OK. I guess Mother thought you could use the money better than anything else since you are in the Service.
You asked me how long before Carol would be able to stand the trip over. I've told Gwen to go as soon as she feels that Carol is OK and she can get passage through the Embassy. I understand they are paying passage right to their destination. That's just hearsay of course. I imagine Gwen will try about July or August.

Did I tell you I had 2 days in Paris on the way back from England? We were tied up waiting for a train. That town is lousy, capital LOUSY. Especially for a respectably married man. The actions of those Parisians are thoroughly disgusting. Of course, I guess it's a lot different in peacetime.

Well, Sis, I guess I'll close for now and hope to hear from you again real soon. So long for now. Take it easy and don't work too hard.

Lots of Love from Gwen, Carol and myself

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