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, December 30, 2015

Letter to Mrs. Souil W. Garner June 14, 1943 Camp Polk Louisiana

This is the last letter in our files that was sent to Harriet and Souil before Bill's beloved Betty passed away in Baltimore. She had returned to Baltimore to live when Bill was transferred to Camp Polk.
Betty Sutton Garner, Bill's wife passed away at the age of 21, on June 25, 1943, when she went into a diabetic shock from an undiagnosed diabetic condition.  She had been married to Bill just shy of two years. She was laid to rest in Druid Hill Cemetery, (Groveland section) Baltimore, Md. Bill was notified of her passing by the Army and he spent 48 hours traveling on trains, trying to get back to Baltimore for her burial, which was handled by her parents. Having not slept in the past 48 hours, he arrived in Baltimore the day of her burial filled with sadness. (Not the jovial upbeat Bill who wrote the letter below just two weeks before her passing.)
 Cpl. W.C. Garner
G-1 Section APO 353
Camp Polk, La.

12 June 1943
Dear Souil & Harriet,

Hello you hard workers. What's wrong? Can't you even drop me a line? How is Harriet's job coming? Tell me is she losing any weight on that job or is IT spreading. Lets hope it isn't spreading. Don't be offended my little chubby-wub. As long as we can still beat the pants off of Betty and her in pinochle everything is OK.

Well I guess you are anxious to know about my job. There really isn't much to it at present. I am working for a Colonel L. LeR. Martin who is in charge of G-1 section. I am supposed to be classified as a stenographer. I take dictation from the Colonel and also a Captain in this section. I know nothing about what rating I'll end up with or when I'll get it but here's hoping it isn't far off. As for maneuvers, I am supposed to go out for about 15 days and then return to the office for awhile.  As for the cadre; I don't know whether I'll go out on cadre or not. That just about sums up the military situation at home.

It looks like our boys will soon be giving them hell. The sooner they start blasting away at them, the sooner this thing will be over. I hope it won't be long either.

It has really been hot down here lately. I guess it is beginning to get hot at home too now. I would rather be hot at home than to be hot in Louisiana.

I hear Betty spent a very enjoyable evening with you and Harriet about a week ago. You didn't tell her any good jokes that I should know did you? I'm all ears if you have any.

Well be good and don't take and wooden nickels. I hope to hear from you all soon.
Luck to both of you

Wilbur C. Garner, 33377578,
Corporal, Hqs, III Armd Corps

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