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, January 1, 2016

Letter to Pvt. Souil W. Garner U.S. Army Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana December 21, 1943

This letter is also from Phoebe Emma Garner, Bill, Mary and Souil's mother.
Mrs. S. Wade Garner
6000 York Rd
 Baltimore -12 Md

Dec 21 st Tuesday
My Dear Souil,

Your letter just arrived, + without writing a letter in return I could just say, "thems my sentiments too." It just seemed as though a good part of that letter I must have written to you, instead of just the opposite. Well I certainly do share thoroughly the way you feel about Christmas, to me it doesn't seem possible it will be here + gone in just a few short days, + even now since Dad has put up a tree + trimmed it, it still does not seem actually that Christmas is here. Bernard went out on the lot in back of their house + cut one for us + Christman's + himself. Mr. C drove back there + brought them home; he trimmed theirs last Sunday afternoon + Dad trimmed ours while I sat in a chair + bossed the job. I am getting more expert at that all the time. But the tree has not made it seem a bit more like Christmas, neither could all the gifts the world holds, without my kids; it only emphasizes the fact that they are not here. Jane's mother + Dad want her home for Christmas day + Bernard don't want to go. He vows he is going to have dinner in his own home if he has to cook it,  + eat it alone.
So Dad + I are going to be home as usual + if he comes in for a while, or they both do, all right, if not we may go to Aunt Eva's a little while in the afternoon. But I told him to go along with Jane + don't spoil their  Christmas because he wants to be with us. My cold does not seem to leave, it is better for a few days + then I seem to start all over again, I have been afraid to go out for every time I do I come back sneezing + coughing. Maybe I am coddling myself too much. But I am getting out of patience with myself.
Hugh Sebra called yesterday, said he  + Alameda had both been sick with Grippe + he has an ulcered stomach. He said too; Uncle Willie Johnson is in bed with a heart ailment + is not expected to recover. Aunt Gertrude has had a hemorrhage in one eye + has lost the sight of it. He said she has been working for about two years in a millinery store on N. Charles St., but has had to quit now. Also said Frank Groton was married about three weeks ago. Wonders never cease, do they? It is very cold here, but you must have Balto beaten, for we have only had two mornings that the thermometer registered 17, last week it hovered around between twenty + thirty degrees a good part of the time. It looks like snow this morning + I shouldn't be surprised if we get some. I was talking to Aunt Eva on the phone and she said Uncle John has gotten over his bad cold + is feeling fairly well again. Dad is surely breaking the record this year, he has not had one cold so far + I hope he continues so. I am glad Harriet seems to be content  + I felt sure she would adjust herself to conditions as she found them, don't spoil the present, thinking  about the future. Just be thankful for the day as it comes, + trust for the rest. It seems that is all any of us can do, + after all, we are only given that one day at a time, so why waste the strength we need to get through that one, fretting about tomorrow.  Guess you can understand all this lingo.

I received a card from the War Department too notifying me of Wilbur's (Bill's) change of address. I couldn't explain how I do feel about it, if I tried, so its best not to try I guess. All we can do is trust. Poor Kid! He surely has had some hard knocks in his short life, + I do think he was dreading, the coming  of Christmas at Camp Polk without Betty. Well now My Dear Boy I do sincerely wish for both of you + Harriet a happy Christmas, + am certainly thankful you can be together, at least some time through the Christmas season. My love to both of you + lots of it.
Yours Lovingly Mother

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