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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Letter to Pvt. Souil W. Garner U.S. Army Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana December 19, 1943

This letter is from Phoebe Emma Garner (Souil, Bill and Mary's mother). As of the date of this letter, she had three of five children in the armed services, Mary in Minneapolis, Souil in Indiana and Bill in DeRidder, Louisiana, preparing to depart for Europe.
Mrs. S. Wade Garner
6000 York Road
 Baltimore -12 Md. 
Dec. 17 - 43
My Dear Souil,

Your letter received yesterday morning + I surely did enjoy reading it and so did Dad when he came home last night. I surely felt relieved to know that Harriet had gotten a comfortable room. See, what a lucky bunch we are! But that's not luck either, simply the one who notes the sparrow's fall, supplying our daily needs; call it what will. I don't think I would like at all, to feel that you children were in a strange City, among strangers and not Also know that He who made the universe has you under His care.Well, today is the big day you have looked forward to; so I, like yourself am wondering where + what, for you. I had a phone call from Wilbur on Tuesday night, (I think it was Tuesday) He said he had been trying to get one through to you, all the evening, he was then in DeRidder, + said there was no change in his plans. He had said before in his letters he expected to leave on the 15th of December, so I suppose he didn't want to say so, but meant that as good bye, for the present. Well, the only thing we do is trust, where we can't see, + we surely can't see far.
We are having a very cold spell of weather; last Monday it began + yesterday it was down to seven degrees. I expect it is just as cold this morning. Was nice clear weather though + the weather bureau says clear today. Baltimore is certainly hard hit by the Grippe Epidemic. There is talk of closing the schools, on account of it. I am glad you will be able to use the barracks for sleeping during that extra period. I don't imagine it would be very comfortable sleeping outdoors in such cold weather, unless absolutely necessary, it does not seem practical or sensible to me, but guess Uncle Sam might think otherwise. 
Dad + I had a good laugh about the long underwear, but I'll bet you are thankful to have it now. I wonder how Mary is managing to keep warm. I think about her each morning when we get up, how cold she used to be. I'll bet she, like ourselves + thousands more, will be too happy for words, when Peace finally comes. 
I am much relieved, + not at all surprised to know Harriet has landed herself work to keep her busy: you can't keep a jump ahead of that girl, + I imagine, she'll keep two jumps ahead of you and that is good for you. Well I hope she doesn't over do her strength, for she is a real bunch or energy, + would never be happy idle. 
Colin Bell will be home next Sunday + will leave on the 26th of Dec. to go back to college at Macon, Georgia, so I imagine he would get your note here before he leaves, I do not have his school address, but if you want it I will get it from his mother, for his birthday is Jan 1st and we have always sent him cards, so I will need it anyway. 
We are fairly well, my cold is still trying to hang on, but I feel pretty good except coughing + hoarseness + time will take care of that, I think. Jane has been home with a cold since Tuesday, is better now. Hope you get the box all right, wish it could have been more, but I couldn't get out shopping much on account of the cold, so now, Bye, Bye, + lots of love to you both, we certainly do think of you often.
Yours Lovingly Mother 

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