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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Says It's HELL Over In France

June 12, 1944

My Darling Mark
Hello Sweetheart!!
I got your letter of the 25th yesterday & the one of the 17th today – so I’ll just answer both at the same time.
It was the first mail we got since we hit France & it sure was good to hear from you.
I hope you’re feeling better by now honey – I have an idea that I could have helped your sore throat if I was there!
It made it kinda rough not to be able to eat what you would have liked huh? Waistline smaller? I’ve lost weight too – but not because I was sick!
I’m still okay honey and feeling pretty good. Mostly feeling for you.
It’s hell over here honey – you have no idea what it’s really like – thank God – I wish it would end soon.
I’m sure going to be a home-loving ole cuss when I get back, & I really mean it!
The weather here is very unusual today – the sun is shining. It’s about the only day it hasn’t rained. I never seen such a wet country & yet so dry – if you know what I mean. The Germans took most of the wine.
I have been lit up on some cider here. Potent stuff! There’s not much of it either!
Well honey – I guess I’d better write home now.
Bobby will probably still have his boat – but don’t you think it might be a little dangerous for me & you to make  love in a boat??
I love you honey & miss you like hell! You’ll never know – until I get home – how much! Bye for now honey & write soon & often. I don’t get many chances to write. Don’t hold it against me huh?  
All My love always     Johnny

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Is Catching Up Answering Letters While Most of the Boys Are On Pass

June 10, 1944
Sat. Eve.

My Darling Mark
Hello Sweetheart!!
I got your letter of the 29th today & was glad to hear from you again so soon. Just keep it up honey.
I’m on C.Q. tonite & have a chance to catch up on some writing. Most of the boys are on pass or to the show. I just finished writing to Sis & Bobbie.
No, honey I can’t have any pictures taken here & even if we had a Kodak – film here just can’t be had.
I guess you’ll have to wait honey till I get back to the states & then you’ll have the chance of seeing me in person & action!
I guess I told you I heard from Cec. & he mentioned the baby.
I’m looking over your letter of the 15th again too.
I’m feeling okay honey- but mostly for you.
I’m not gaining any weight – but I’m not losing any either. I’d be willing to let you love off about 10 lbs tho – how about it?
Did you get that letter with all the hell in it? I really blew my top in that one! Huh? Forget about it! I wouldn’t save that one if I was you!
I’d like to have a little of that nice weather you’re having back there. I’d like to have anything back there in fact!
Dora is still with Ralph in Lakeland Florida.
Has Cec. & Lu. been over lately? How is Larry? Tell them hello for me.
How is Dee Dee? Tell her I said hello.
Well sweetheart I’ve run dry on writing – I’m surprised I wrote 5 pages.
I guess I’ll go to communion in the morning. I haven’t went since Easter.
This will have to be all for now honey. I’ve got a little work to do yet & have to shave too. Bye for now, Sweetheart. Write Soon. I love you & miss you honey.
All My Love        Johnny
Did you get the 10 shilling note?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Our WWII Soldier is Sorry He Wrote The Letter Where He Gave His Sweetheart Hell

Author’s note:  The return address now has the rank of Corporal.

June 8, 1944
Thurs. morn

My Darling Mark
Hello Sweetheart!!
I got your very nice and welcome letter of the 15th yesterday.
I guess you’ve got the letter I gave you all the hell in by now. I wish I hadn’t of written it now – but I was plenty hot around the collar anyway - you had it coming don’t you think? It’s too late to talk about that now anyway I just hope you keep writing like you have been doing lately & more.
I finally got a letter from Cec. too – I sent him a kinda nasty letter too – He wrote before he got it I know. He told me about the coming event.
I’m glad you got the threepence – I'm sending a 10 shilling note in this letter – its worth about $1.00 in Am. money.  [Author’s note: mostly illegible, blacked out sentence here – something about $??? in Am. money] That’s the kind of money we’re using here.
I have to go back on guard in a little while so I’d better start closing this letter. I hope you get to go out to the folks – I know they’d be glad to see you.
I sent Mom a cablegram on Mother’s Day – but I don’t think it ever went thru.
I haven’t received the stationery as yet honey but I guess I will in time.
Honey – you can send those pictures you took – I’m always glad to get pictures of you. I’ve got to go now – honey. Write soon. I love you sweetheart!!
All My Love always - Johnny

Ten Shilling Note

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Can't Write About What Goes On, And Is Ready to Catch Up On Loving With His Sweetheart

May 16, 1944
Thurs. Eve.

My Darling Mark
Hello Sweetheart!!
I got your letter of the 2nd the other day. We were in the field & just got in last nite late. I couldn’t answer sooner honey – or I would have. I have to write to Mom & Sis tonite too.
Honey you know better than to ask me if I love you enough to write long letters. Honey I love you & miss you so much it hurts. I could write pages on what I do & what goes on but you know it would never go thru the censor. Someday I’ll tell you all that I’ve left out of my letters. That is after I catch up on the loving I’m missing – probably take a year or more to catch up huh? There won’t be any time for talk honey. That day couldn’t come soon enough or last long enough – as you say honey!
If you think I’ll think a wild woman’s got a hold of me & I think you’ll have a wild man got hold of you there’s going to be a hell of a fight honey. Nice fight!
That’s a fine thing to tell me honey, about the “Three Feathers”. Here we’re lucky to get what they call beer – let alone whiskey. Once in a while they have Scotch – you’re lucky to get 2 shots.
By the way – I’d have got what honey????? Or am I being silly?
Honey you don’t like it because I don’t write a long letter & then you don’t write at all for a week or two. Tain’t being fair honey. I guess you’re pretty busy – so am I but I can always make time to answer your letters. I don’t like to write you a short letter honey – but sometimes I get so damned disgusted I just can’t write at all. I don’t mean at you honey. But honey I do wish you’d write more often.
Sis gave me a dick in her last letter saying that she got the longest letter I wrote her – 3 pages. I know I’ve written her 4 already.
It’s been rainy & cold here lately – very disgusting weather. I wouldn’t [mind] this in K.C. tho.
Well honey I guess a 7 page letter isn’t so short now is it? I’ll try & make them all this long or longer honey.  I’m going to write to Mom & Sis now & the get in my favorite position – mainly horizontal!
Honey – I could write 7 more pages & tell you how much I love & miss you.
Honey I do love you – some day I hope to prove it. Goodnite for now honey. I love you Darling.
All My Love always,   Johnny

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Sends Home a British Sixpence

May 4, 1944
Thurs. Eve.

My Darling Mark
Hello Sweetheart!
How goes everything? I’m missing you more every day, & that picture makes it all the more so.
I haven’t much to write about tonite. I’ve got to answer a letter to Mom and one to Mary.
Honey how long does it take for my letters to reach you. Lately I’ve been getting mail between 7 – 8 days from the states.
How are Lu & Cec.? I haven’t heard from them for quite some time.
How is your Mother and sisters and Dee Dee? Tell Dee Dee I said hello.
We had a little rain here today – but the weather has been unusually nice here lately.
Is your brother still in Sicily?
Well honey I think I’ll call it a nite and hit the horizontal position.
Goodnite Darling.
Write Soon.
All My Love        Johnny
This sixpence is worth 10 cents in Am. money.

British sixpence, c. 1934

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Comes Back From the Field; Are They Preparing for the Invasion of Normandy?

May 3, 1944
Wed. Eve.

My Darling Mark
Hello Sweetheart!
If I can keep from falling sleep – I’ll answer the letters I got from you today. I got the one you started the 19th & finished the 24th & the one of the 25th.
I can say I was mighty happy to get them honey – after that long lull.
I was beginning to wonder whether you were sick or had forgotten somebody!
I was going to raise a little hell in this letter but when I got the picture today – I couldn’t. Honey – its beautiful just as it should be. I know I’m really lucky to have a girl like you.
You said you didn’t have any excuse for not writing honey. You know I have. I just came in from the field today, as usual I can’t say what we were doing or where I was. I’m sure seeing a lot of England tho.
Had the jet cross got thru? Did you ever get the threepence I sent?
I don’t object to you saving my letters honey – what could I do about it over here anyway?
Dad said you were over & Mom & Sis had to be away to the show.
I wonder if Cec. broke his arm I haven’t heard from him for about 2 months & I’ve written 2 letters since the last one I got from him. Maybe he’s pretty busy.
I got a letter from Ralph today – Dora is down visiting him & they’re going to try & get married by a priest – but I doubt if they can.
It’s been wonderful weather here – today was quite windy tho.
“Higher & Higher” is playing at the theatre tonite – but I’m too tired to sit thru a show tonight.
Honey I guess I’ll close for tonight. I’ve got some equipment to clean up yet.
The picture was in good shape – honey – I’m glad it didn’t get scarred. Bye for now honey – I miss you & love you honey. Please write soon.
All My Love        Johnny

[Author's Note:  Based on the timing (spring of 1944) and the fact that Johnny can't write about where he goes or what he does, I believe he's part of the preparation for the Invasion of Normandy, which occurred June 6, 1944.  Here's an article I found about it online, if you want to read more about it. ]

The Preparation and Build Up for the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy


D - DAY 6th JUNE 1944

See all 8 photos


The 6th June 1944 marked the beginning of the end of the war which had started in September 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland.
Early in 1940 Belgium and France were invaded by German Panzer divisions and the British Expeditionary Force was evacuated home via Dunkirk. The Germans did not push home this advantage choosing to invade Russia whilst Japan bombed Pearl Harbour bringing the United States into the conflict. The attention of the Allied forces was focused in Burma and the Pacific and North Africa whilst only Russia was fighting the Germans in Europe.
Benito Mussolini of Italy
Benito Mussolini of Italy
Josef Stalin of USSR
Josef Stalin of USSR
In July 1943 the Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini was overthrown and hanged by Italian patriots who immediately sued for peace with the Allies. This enabled the Allied forces to move through Italy via Sardinia and fight the Germans on Italian soil. The British 8th army and the United States 5th army battled through Italy in what would be a rehearsal for a full scale invasion and in a move which made the Allied forces feel that the war was turning their way.
The British and American navies were gaining supremacy on the seas and Germany was running short of foods and essential supplies. With Allied bombardments continuing German moral and the average citizen were suffering. The invasion had always been planned for 1944 but it took on more importance when it became known that the Russians were breaking through on the eastern front. Invasion from the west became more urgent to avoid the replacement of rule by Berlin to rule by Moscow.


The training of the army started in earnest. Over 3/4 million US soldiers were stationed in the west of England. Soldiers were trained in the use of rifles, machine guns, mortars and the ever popular Mills grenade which would explode a few seconds after the priming pin had been removed.
The Allies had a greater weight and variety of artillery than the Germans but the Germans had the advantage in anti tank guns which were self propelled and had a longer range than the Allies. Both sides had tanks but the Allied Shermans, Churchills and Cromwells were not he equal of the German Panther or Tiger with their thicker armour and heavier guns capable of firing at a longer range. The Allies built specialist vehicles with the invasion in mind, such as the Crocodile which was a Churchill tank which towed an armoured trailer full of fuel and through its fire gun it spurted jets of flame burning the enemy out. One lifesaver was the Flails known to soldiers as the Crabs. These consisted of a Sherman tank fitted with large chains attached to a revolving drum which swept the ground in front of the tank clearing mines as it went.

Many killed during the Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsals are meant to be like the real thing but in April 1944 the Allies had more than they bargained for. The US army had been practising with a number of landing craft at Slapton Sands and were surprised by German U boats- at least 700 men lost their lives that day. As the bodies were brought ashore stories were told of land slippages which had caused their deaths;all to keep secret the news of the Invasion. Ordinary Seaman Jack Buster Brown of HMS Kellett, recalled"I remember the dozens of corpses floating in the sea" Ordinary Seaman Geoffrey Cassidy saw the situation develop " US ambulances were taking the dead away, six to a van, and it went on until four in the morning" - extracted from "Forgotten Voices" by Max Arthur.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Sir Bernard Montgomery "Monty"
Sir Bernard Montgomery "Monty"

The Allied Commanders

The Allied commanders were all experienced men given much more freedom of command by Churchill. The Supreme Commander was General Dwight D Eisenhower. The Ground Force Commander General Montgomery of Desert Rat fame was responsible for success or failure on the ground. Air Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh Mallory was tasked to smash German communications in France and Belgium, to carry troops and provide cover for invading forces by bombing enemy defences. Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was in charge of the Allied Navy Expeditionary force across the channel and providing cover for landings by using naval guns against defences. In contrast the German armies were struggling all over Europe with a thinly spread army. Sensing the change amongst the Allies they tried to strengthen forces in western Europe with Field Marshall Von Rundstedt appointed as commander in chief and Field Marshall Rommel in charge of ground forces.
The amount of men, vehicles and equipment needed to be moved across the channel for the invasion was enormous. As no port was available artificial harbours were built and towed across the channel. The harbours were known as Mulberries but the soldiers referred to them as Noah's Arks. The Allies would need large amounts of oil so one of the first objectives of the assault was to capture the port of Cherbourg. Once in Allied hands an especially designed oil supply pipe codenamed Pluto was put into place.
The Preparations, both equipment and man power training and build up could not be hidden from the Germans who knew an invasion was coming but did not know where. The Allies tried to misfeed locations to the Germans sending out signals containing false information. Dummy craft were assembled on the eastern side of the UK to confuse the Germans even more. Perhaps the most dramatic and well known trick was "the man who never was". False papers, "Official Secrets" were placed on the body of a dead British Naval Officer. The body was dropped into the sea off the coast of Spain and washed up. The "official Secrets" were sent to and believed by, Berlin.
Despite all the Allies attempts to hide and confuse the German High Command were certain the attack would take place in wither Pas De Calais, Normandy or Brittany. They didn't know which or indeed there were some thoughts it might be all three areas. As a result the Germans took no chances and had their forces thinly stretched out over the whole of North Western France. Attempts to move forces to the areas of attack were thwarted as the Allies destroyed their road and rail links. Adolf Hitler was quoted as saying " If we do not stop the invasion and do not drive the enemy back into the sea, the war will be lost".
Operation Overlord
The invasion was sited at Normandy which was chosen because it had long stretches of sheltered beaches suitable for unloading troops munitions and stores. The beaches lay within the range of fighter aircraft based in southern England. A large port was needed to supply the soldiers once landed, therefore a proximity to Cherbourg was ideal. If Caen could be captured then the road and rail network for the region would be under Allied control. The geography of the area with thick shrub lands, high banks and flooded lowlands meant that it would be very difficult for the Germans to assemble large amounts of armoured forces quickly. The plan was to establish a deep bridgehead in Normandy, overrun Brittany and drive the enemy eastwards. The criteria for the time of the invasion was that it was made in the half light of dawn and as soon after low tide as possible, so that German obstacles and mines on the beaches would be spotted.
The weather turned vicious and the future of the Invasion was in doubt. However late in the evening of the 4th June General Eisenhower made his final decision that the assault would take place on the morning of the 6th June 1944.
Private Peter Fussell of No 1 commando remembered "At about four o'clock in the afternoon we were told to stand down.......the weather had broken..........we were told that a decision would be made on Sunday"

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