My mother was a Red Cross volunteer stationed at the 129th General Hospital in Overton-on-Dee in 1945. She wrote long, descriptive letters home, which I have donated to the WW2 US Medical Research Centre in Boston, Lincolnshire. I did make transcripts, that I am attaching for your information. Sincerely, Virginia Jenkins. Hyde Park, Vermont, USA
Chapter Two 129th General Hospital, Wrexham, Wales
Postmarked April 16, 1945
Dear Mother and Dad
You have probably received my new A.P.O. number and address. Yes, your wandering daughter is now in Wales. It seems so strange to be back here after 7 years. Harriet Link is within easy bicycling distance of me. We left London together and were moral support for one-another all of the way. The countryside was perfectly beautiful and we enjoyed every minute of the trip, although we were filled with misgivings. The fruit trees are in bloom and we passed lots of fields full of baby lambs frisking about. We worried a great deal about getting off at the right station. You know how difficult that is. You have to hurl yourself off of the train, loaded down like a mule and rush back to the luggage van to be sure they put off your stuff.
I was met at the station by my Assistant Field Director in charge of the Red Cross work at the general hospital to which I have been assigned. She seems to be a very nice person, praise be unto Allah. I was, frankly, scared. I even wondered why I ever left home. Miss Grey met me and we drove to the hospital in a Jeep, which was quite a thrill for me, being my first trip in one. Then I spent several hours reading reports and being shown around the post. We went into the officers club for a drink and there we met our C.O., a very nice Colonel. He was kindness itself and we had dinner with him. This hospital treats all of the hand injuries in this area and the doctors are very enthusiastic about the Red Cross program, especially in craft work. They think that I am a craft worker, heaven help them. The Colonel was showing a visitor around, so after dinner we went too. This is like all army hospitals. There are a series of small ward buildings connected by roofed over runways. The Red Cross has a special building which houses the recreation hall and craft shop. Its very attractively arranged. We live in the Red Cross hut in the Nurses area.
There are four of us at present. An Assistant field director and her assistant who look after the case work, and two staff aides who handle the recreation program. The hut is built of concrete and ply board with a tin roof. We have a concrete floor, cots, a coal stove in the middle and 3 bureaus. My corner is all filled up with books and pictures. As soon as I had your picture out I felt at home. Sister and Tibby and Nina and Toby Belch [Clara’s bulldog] complete the scene. I have a wooden dressing table and bedside light. Our latrine is across the court. In rainy weather it will be a problem.
We are really in the country with all the sounds of the farm to greet us in the morning. Some of the officers have even claimed that they found pigs and chickens under their beds! Two of the girls went to a dance at a nearby hospital but I had a headache from all of the excitement and went to bed early.
In addition to the buildings I have described we have the officers mess and officers club where we go. There is a chapel, PX etc. I have noticed a small village church just off the grounds and hope to be able to get there to services. Maybe they will be in Welsh!
Thursday, April 12th
As I write this my feet are aching and I am weary but happy. I have had a very busy day. It started out very nicely. The Red Cross staff, instead of eating breakfast in the Mess Hall, where everyone is cross and sleepy, goes over to Miss Gray’s office. We have a very sweet boy assigned to us who gets our breakfast. Hes so anxious to do anything he can for us that its almost pathetic. We have fruit juice, coffee, toast and real fresh eggs which are a luxury.
Before I forget it, last night while I was washing up I got to talking to one of the nurses. Her name is Daisy Norton and she cured at Gaylord. Before that she worked at Winchester. Imagine meeting an old patient of Dad’s here. She asked after Dr. Morris and Mrs. Mac especially.
Also, one of the first sights that greeted my eyes was a major astride a nice looking horse. We had a chat and it seems that he hails from Bridgeport and has ridden frequently in the Orange Street Armory. He has promised to take me out. I’ll have to clean my slacks but if you could send me a pair of cheap jodpurs and my jodphur boots, I’d love it. My old jodphurs are much too big. Here are the measurements. Take them to the Army & Navy Store on Congress Avenue where they have a
good stack and get me some and I’ll be very pleased. Then if I get any time off I can ride. (Get them plenty big, better than too small.)
Leg below knee 13 ½ “
Leg above knee 20” (6 inches above knee) Hips 42”
This morning we had meetings to decide on the division of work. We got lots of cigarettes in and I fixed baskets and arranged the things for our volunteer ladies to distribute (writing paper, shaving cream, etc.) After lunch I set out with huge basket of cigarettes to distribute. The first thing I did was to fall flat on my face and distribute cigarettes all over the landscape. The chaplains assistant picked me up and helped me collect my packages and a Major came along and patched up the knee that I had skidded on. I must have walked for miles, but it gave me a chance to get on all of the wards and to introduce myself to the patients. My feet ache from the concrete of which all the paths and ramps are made.
After dinner we got a group of the boys in the recreation hall painting. They seemed to enjoy it and we spread paint all over the landscape. I’ve worked today from 9:00 am until 9:30 pm and am ready for bed. It’s now 11:30 and I have done all of my unpacking. Theres lots more to tell but it will have to wait. All my love to you. Having your picture out does make you seem nearer. I miss you.
Postmarked April 20, 1945
There is so much to tell you that is close to my heart that I hardly know how to begin. The last few days I have been in such a daze that I haven’t been able to put pen to paper, and I didn’t want to write until I was sure of myself. I’ve met the man I am going to marry, God willing. So many things can happen between now and the return of life to normal that I hardly dare say it.
I don’t know how much I have already written you about Carl. Hes made me happier that I ever thought possible. His name is Carl Jenkins. Hes a Staff Sargent in the combat infantry. 29th Division. He has been in it all, through D day and with the first troops entering Paris etc. He was finally hospitalized for a staph infection and his next step will be home. What a deal! The first day I’m here I meet him and he will be home, leaving me high and dry. He expects to be sent out again to the Pacific.
Perhaps I am prejudiced but he is wonderful. His ideals and standards are mine. I have more fun with him than with anyone I ever knew. He loves animals, country life and children. He comes from Logan West Va and has the loveliest looking family – three [four] sisters and a brother. His father died when he was young. He has put one sister through college and is now doing the same for the youngest. He doesn’t know what hes going to do after the war but is interested in advertising and sales management. He managed a drug store before the war. He has always had everything he wanted as he has worked for it and I have no qualms about his being able to make a place for himself.
Carl is 25 and very nice looking. He has blondish hair, lovely brown eyes and long lashes. When I’m with him I’m so happy that it hurts. He has a grand sense of humor. He is so sweet about his family. His mother has a wonderful face and from all he has told me about her is quite a person. I’ll send a picture as soon as I get one.
When he leaves it is really going to be rough! He has promised to phone you for me when he hits the states. When I told him that I hadn’t written you in several days he was very stern with me for neglecting my family. He takes such good care of me. You know me. When I get something on my mind I can’t eat. He heard that I wasn’t eating well and threatened to feed me himself or spank me. The other night he made me go to bed early because I looked tired.
Can you imagine anything worse than the set-up here? He is a patient. Supposedly I can’t date an enlisted man. Hes not allowed off of the post. Its like living in a goldfish bowl and there is little chance to be alone. He has been in the Red Cross all of our open hours, helping me sort books, move furniture, etc. After hours we have been meeting here. He has to be on his ward by 11:00. We are trying to get him a pass to go bicycling, which would be wonderful. Then we could go and sit in a field somewhere and forget about the war.
Please keep us in your prayers. I’m so afraid that something will happen and I’ll need all the moral support I can get when Carl leaves. Its not going to be easy to settle down happily here.
My job goes along smoothly. I am in charge of the building and library, in addition to helping with the hall and ward programs. The other day I had to go on a ward of new patients with face injuries, and talk with each boy. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. We are busy redecorating, painting and cleaning the hall. Liz Rouse is still a patient here but is better. I’ve got to play a game of pingpong with the boys, as I’m on duty tonight.
I went to [censored] on a trip this afternoon. Four boys from our hospital went with a group from another hospital. We went on a tour and then had tea at the English Speaking Union, returning here at 6:00. Two of my four ran out on me and I couldn’t find them anywhere. We waiting an extra ½ hour and had to come home without them. What a good record I lose 50% of them. I felt badly about running off and leaving them and only hope they get back without getting into trouble.
All my love Jane
Tuesday, April 17th Postmarked April 20, 1945 Dear Mother and Dad
My mind is in such a whirl that I have had little time to do much writing. Yesterday we were recovering from the episode I wrote you about. We even had an M.P. guarding our hut and challenging us all with “ halt advance and be recognized.” The Major in charge of it all came over and gave us all sleeping pills. All is under control now and life is much more peaceful.
Today I worked hard until 5:00. There was an epidemic of letters to write for the boys on the hand wards. A new girl came. I think that I am going to like her very much. She is to be the head recreation worker and her name is Marjorie Hurd. Shes an old-timer in the E. T. O. At five I took off on my bicycle for a spin. Much to my chagrin I discovered when I started down hill that the brakes don’t work. I had to have a tumble in a hedge row to stop. Then I found a lovely tree over a stream. I climbed up in it and munched a hershey bar in place of dinner. There were lots of people going by on bikes – doctors, nurses, detachment personnel etc. I figured that if any of the psychiatrists should see me it might be too bad. The evening was nice and the countryside is really very beautiful. After my spin I went back to the ward and had a visit with Liz. Shes feeling pretty well. Then Carl and I met in the Red Cross house and played the most fantastic game of pool you have ever seen. I haven’t had as much fun in a coon’s age. We took 2 ½ hours to pocket 11 balls apiece. We’d hit one or two and then sit down for a cigarette. At about 11:00 p.m. the two other gals ambled in with two lieutenants. We opened a box of food from home and had a wonderful party. Chicken a la King, Vienna sausage, mushrooms, fried eggs, coffee and then a highball. We sat and talked until 2:00 a.m.
Do you think its possible to fall in love with someone on three days acquaintance? Carl is one of the sweetest people I have ever known. I feel that I know him better after three days than I have ever known anyone. Everything he likes to do, I like. His ideals and standards are the same as mine. We haven’t found a single subject to really disagree on. Hes a very good- looking boy and a most worthwhile one. He has put one sister through college and is now planning for the youngest. (His father died when he was small). He has the nicest looking family – three sisters and a brother. I’m so happy when I’m with him that I am walking on air. Do such things really happen? The hell of it is that hes leaving at any time! Now that I’ve blown off I do feel better. How I wish that you could meet him. Hes promised to phone you for me if he reaches New York.
Wed. April 18
This morning the Chaplain’s driver took me over to the 68th General Hosp to see Harriet. I didn’t sleep any last night and when I looked at the clock I nearly died. I had 5 minutes to dress and meet him. It was a lovely day and the countryside was gorgeous. I put a bandana over my head and we breezed along at a great rate. I visited with Harriet and had chow with them. They have a nice set-up but the hospital is very GI. They have to stand retreat, drill and go to classes. She said that she had never seen me look so well and happy – like a new person. Spring fever, I guess.
Then I came back to find Carl in the office with the cheerful news that he his ward boy had reported him for being AWOL. I was in an uproar because the last thing that I ever want is to get anyone in trouble. It all straightened out THANK GOODNESS as the nurse didn’t write it up in her report. He wasn’t AWOL anyhow, as he didn’t go off the post. He apologized to his nurse who said it was perfectly alright but in the future to tell her if he stayed out late.
This evening I had a visit with Liz and then went over to the Rec Hall and we had a Sargent who can really play the piano come over and play for the boys. He plays jazz and the keys were really burning up there. They loved it.
Margie and I had a cigarette in the office with Carl and then came home. I got a message that one of the nurses father had a heart attack and her presence was recommended. Noone else was here so I had to go and tell her and it was really rough. I sat and chatted with her for ½ hour or so and she was O.K when I left her.
I meant to get to bed early but I had to wash clothes, myself, my hair, and write to you. It is now 12:20. A letter from Daddy today, sending me addresses. Many thanks
All my love Jane
My day by day letters seem to have fallen by the wayside. Now that the work routine has settled down it seems silly to write that way. Carl has occupied every spare moment until 11:00 P.M. when he has to be on the ward for bed check. This not knowing what day he will be going has me wild. Although I haven’t been getting to bed late I have been under a strain.
Life here has been strenuous. The other day we got in a shipment of patients who had just been liberated from German prison camps. The first job was to get ditty bags, comfort articles etc to them all. They were the saddest looking fellows. It really made me feel very badly and I went to bed with a headache. They all had a beaten look in their eyes that was almost more than I could take. They were all suffering from mal-nutrition etc and many of the poor boys were in much worse shape.
There is one boy on the ward who makes you realize how fine these fellows can be. I went in to play checkers with him the other evening. He had one hip shot away, the other leg and one arm hit. Hes only 19 and was drafted from Junior year in high school. He was born in Mexico and we spoke Spanish. It was such a deep satisfaction to be able to do something for him. When I left he really seemed happier He had told me all about his family, showed me his pictures etc. Never once, since he has been here, has he complained of pain or of his injury. The fellows on his ward are wonderful to him. Any spare time (?) I have will be there.
I have been enjoying a day off. There is no place to go and of course I want to be near Carl so I spent the day in the Red Cross, just talking and working on a piece of plexiglass. I have a four-leaf clover I found which I am putting in it with a picture (for Carl). Then I worked on plans for our birthday party Sat night. Every month we have a birthday party for the boys born in that month. I am in charge of games and decorations for this one. We will have a birthday cake and ice cream and there are some of the detachment boys who are going to play their banjos for us. The decorations are going to carry out the April shower motif – a large umbrella over the cake, covered with crape paper and with thin streamers of rain (crepe paper – all colors) hanging from it.
Carl, Ginna, one of the other boys, Ruth and I all had supper in the office – eggs, coffee, toast and jam. It was very quiet and nice. After dinner we sat in the back office and got most hilarious with a silly drawing game. I’ve never know anyone that I could have so much fun with as Carl. He has a grand sense of humor and is always so sweet and thoughtful.
The mail has been wonderful, with regular letters from you. I got a nice one from Winnie, and one of Mr. Willard. Nina and Clara have been grand about writing. I hate to send any more requests, but I do need sheets and pillowcases. I have been able to get them from medical supply, but it seems that I am supposed to have my own. They might have told us that in Washington! Any crackers or cookies would be most welcome, as would any food, such as spreads, soup, canned fruit etc that we can use for our office meals. We get plenty of candy, bread, butter, coffee and occasionally eggs.
I was so sorry to hear about Ingy, but am glad that hes all right. I’ll try to drop him a line. I got a nice letter today from George Price whom I knew on the ship. He invited me and Harriet to visit them in Sheffield. I have three days leave coming soon and I would like to go, but I have no intentions of doing so if my Sargent is still here. In his usual generous way he has been telling me that I should go and that it would do me good to get away but they leave here on such short notice that I don’t want to come back and find him gone.
Its now 12:30 and I have a hard day ahead, so good night darlings and God bless you. Jane
For the past few days I have been wanting to write to you, but my life has been so upsetting. Carl has left and you can imagine how I have been feeling. He walked in here one afternoon and announced that he was leaving at 2:30 in the morning. The pencil that I was writing with broke and my hands turned as cold as ice. I knew it was coming sooner or later but it really made me feel awful. I had the hardest time getting any work done the rest of the day. After we closed shop, Carl told the ward boy he wouldn’t be in and we sat here until 1:00, so happy and so miserable at the same time. As he says, however, all good things are worth waiting for. If I still love him and want to marry him when I get back it will be the acid test.
The night before he left we had a party in the back office – six of us. We had all pooled our liquor rations and had 1 ½ bottles of Scotch. Margie presented us with a package which contained the most adorable measuring cup (silver). They all drank a toast to us with it. Wasn’t that sweet?
I promised my Carl that there would be no tears when he left. There weren’t as I was too dazed, but I woke up in tears the next morning and did not appear at work until noon. Then I was so busy scrubbing and spring cleaning that I didn’t have time to think. Frances was very nice about it and all of the girls were wonderful to me. He’ll be phoning you some day, maybe before you get this. I imagine hes a bit scared at the prospect. How I wish that I could bring him home with me.
We have been more than busy around the Red Cross. Theres always something to do. As I told you, I have charge of the building and its a headache. There is so much to do. I have finally gotten the library corner looking a bit more attractive and the book cart organized. Two English volunteers come each day to take it on the wards for me. Then I have to see that the place is cleaned, that the boys assigned to us are on the job, help Margie with her craft work, help plan the evening programs, answer a million questions, smile at everyone, chat with all of the fellows, visit the wards, write letters, distribute cigarettes etc. etc. etc.
Last night we had our first patient dance. The girl who had made all of the plans in in the hospital, full of dope to make her sleep, so we didn’t know what the score was. We got 50 civilian girls. The post orchestra contributed their services. We had to make sandwiches and punch for 200. I got three fellows to help and we went over to the patients mess. They put out the ham, cheese and loaves of bread and we made them. The punch was good – grape juice, grapefrult & pineapple. We got one boy to stand at the door and see that only patients came and that they had class A uniform on. Then we had to get a detail to clean the theatre before and one after. The number of things we had to think of were many. Margie and I managed all the details with the help of Sgt. Blake. We danced from 8 – 11:30 and everyone had a good time. For the first hour I was tearing my hair because the girls sat in one corner and the boys in another. Many hadn’t danced in a long time. Some had casts on and were afraid to try. One boy with stitches in his back finally ventured forth and I danced most of the quiet ones with him. The Colonel came in for a visit and fortunately everything was under control. The permission for more depends on him. I never danced so many different styles in my life. Then we had to see that all of the girls got into the trucks and off the post. The fellows were told that there would be bed check at 12:00 and that anyone absent would be AWOL. There have been no repercussions so I guess they all got in.
I have been very busy today getting out the program for next week. It doesn’t have to be approved until tomorrow, but I have the day off and am planning to go to Wrexham or Chester for the day. Next week I have three days off. I have just made reservations at Stratford-on-Avon for Harriet Link and myself. Luckily she has the same days off. We are going to stay at the Officers Club there and we have tickets to “Twelfth Night” and “She Stoops to Conquer” It should be great fun and I certainly am looking forward to getting away. The place is haunted and I can’t get over the feeling that I’ll walk in and find Carl here.
We have had the worst kind of weather. Two days ago it snowed hard for an hour. Keeping the fire going in the hut is an awful job. I sleep with bed socks, long red underwear, flannel nightgown and a sweater. What will I do when winter comes?
The news is too marvelous. I was sitting in the office this evening, cutting out animal patterns, when I heard the news of the surrender in Italy.
Your letters have been wonderful. Tomorrow I hope to write Sister and all others I have gotten letters from. I do hope that Tibby will be showing up before long. I have to go over to the Motor Pool now and bum a ride for tomorrow.
Love, Jane May 9, 1945
I have just finished tea and am snatching a moment to drop you a line. Yesterday, V-2 Day, was a great day for all of us and and I only wish that we could all have been together, but before I tell you about this end of it, I’ll have to catch up on the past week.
The dance, you know about. Two days after that we had a picnic for the boys who had been PWs. We took them out in the country to a lovely spot by the River Dee. Major Abrahams came along and cooked the steaks for us and we had potato salad, beer and apple pie. It would have done your heart good to see them enjoy their food and relax a bit. We spread blankets on a hillside and all sat around and sang. You would have been amused by the boy who grabbed the guitar and insisted on wandering off to serenade the cows in the neighboring field with the “Cow Cow Boogie.” They all gathered around and looked amazed and amused, if cows can look amused.
On Saturday night I went to the dance at the Officers Club with Captain Barron, a very nice person. I enjoyed the evening very much as he is a good dancer and the post band is good, but I should have gladly traded my dances with the Colonel and all the rest of them for one with Carl.
Sunday afternoon we served cocoa to 75 fellows in the hall. Monday was a wild day. We had a carnival planned for the evening. We started working on it in the afternoon. Then the news of Germany’s surrender came through and we were all exalted and had to make a big sign (Its Over Over Here) in red, white and blue to hang up. There were so many details for the party. Some 200 patients came to play roulette, darts, ring toss, drink lemonade and eat popcorn. I had to pop the corn on a coal stove. We had patients running the games for us, a barker, etc. I think they all had a good time. Then I went for a bicycle ride with a Sgt. Lyman from Nebraska. When I got back I stopped by the Red Cross to see Ginna and Ward, a very sweet boy who is leaving. I was informed that the Red Cross was wanted at the Officers Club for a celebration. I said that I’d go to represent us as the other girls were occupied with more interesting things. As I was going by the officers ward a Lt named Johnnie said that he’d come by the hut for me in 15 minutes. I was so tired as we hadn’t even had any dinner. I went to the hut and there were no lights as the fuse had blown. I got into my suit and when Johnnie came I ventured forth, only hoping that I had all my clothes on.
The party was O.K. Everyone was quite high. We all had our faces blacked and the officers were stripped of their ties and blouses, even the Colonal. The post orchestra was playing at the Sargents Club but we danced to the Victrola. Then someone played the piano and we sang. The liquid refreshment consisted of gin and grapefruit juice. Gin makes me sick, and on top of no food – UGH! I drank two of them and that was plenty. Johnnie got tight and disappeared, but Lt. Kent from Poughkeepsie took me home.
My three day pass started Tuesday. I had the awfullest time getting out of bed. Then I went over to the Mess and they gave me a cup of coffee. I got a ride in an ambulance to the station. Harriet was supposed to get on at Goboulen, but she wasn’t there, so I had to get off and decide what to do. As I was pacing the platform the station master summoned me to the phone. It was Harriet to say that she had been restricted to her post and couldn’t join me. I was all ready to go home when she phoned again to say that she had fixed it up with her Colonel. Of course by then we had missed our train. I went out to the hospital for lunch with Harriet and we got the afternoon train, changing twice, at Birmingham and Halton and finally arriving here at Stratford-on-Avon.
The train trip was a revelation, all of the British were on the go, and oh so happy. Every little town was decked out with flags and all of the people had red, white and blue rosettes and flags on. We had two drunken Scots in our compartment who were feeling no pain and were trying to kiss everyone and even climb up in the baggage racks. I was so sorry not to be able to hear Churchill, but we were en route at the time. There were some nice G.I.s on the train, travelling with us who insisted on carrying our musette bags for us.
We walked from the station to our club. We are staying at the Red Cross Officers Club here, a very nice place. The house used to be the home of Marie Carelli. They have dormitory rooms for men and women a lovely lounge and beautiful grounds with lounge chairs in the sun. The Enlisted Men’s Club is in the Swan Inn, where we stayed. It has made a wonderful club.
We got settled and then went to the William and Anne hotel for dinner and then went to see “Twelfth Night” which we enjoyed very much. The intermission was timed to hear the Kings speech. Then we came back here and had a snack and went out in the back to watch the bonfire. All of the neighborhood had turned out. They were snake-dancing around it, singing “There’ll Always Be An England.” It was very dramatic. I somehow couldn’t get excited – the end came so gradually and was not unexpected and then too there is such a job ahead. I couldn’t help thinking of Carl and hoping he was home to celebrate. By the time you get this he will probably have phoned!
Today we have been very busy. Everything was closed but we walked all over the place, went for a boat trip on the Avon (we got a row boat and oh, my aching back!), went to see “She Stoops to Conquer” (delightful), came back here for tea, went to the Swan’s Nest for Dinner, went to “Anthony and Cleopatra,” came back here for cocoa and sandwiches, went out to watch the bonfire and am now winding up this letter and going to bed exhausted but happy. Tomorrow we are going on a tour and shopping and then home.
Your letters have meant a great deal, darlings. The mail has been good to me. I got a very sweet letter from Aunt Lib. My love to you all, Jane
This has been more than a hectic week, with many things on my mind. The fact that I got my pictures cheered me up no end. I have two wonderful ones of you. When you consider that we used every combination on the camera its a miracle that they all came out. So soon as I can get another set made I’ll send the pictures.
My last day in Stratford was lots of fun. We spent the morning in a violent round of sight-seeing – Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Trinity Church where he is buried etc. Then I bought two more horse brasses – one with a devil on it, one with three horseshoes and one with a cock crowing. The train ride back was uneventful except for my being so sleepy that I gave the conductor the floor plan of Trinity Church instead of my travel warrant.
When I got back things were in a bit of an uproar, and I’m afraid very little was being done. Such romancing has been going on in the office with the door locked all day. Every time you tried to get in there would be a great whispering and shuffling. It makes me sort of mad, as I think the door should be open most of the time.
Miss Gray went away for three days to Edinburgh and we were all kept very busy. Sunday we had a very nice Mothers Day service in the chapel, except for the fact that Chaplain C. always startles me a bit – this time he said “Will all those who want to play baseball with the Bible come tonight at 7:00.” I couldn’t really believe my ears. You must admit it did sound odd. Then I had to distribute a Mothers Day poem written by Lt. Wolf on A-3, to all of the wards. It was very well done and Bill illustrated it and we had it mimeographed. Sunday evening I held a Bingo party on B-12, where there are a lot of fellows in traction. They enjoyed it very much. I guess when you are confined to bed as they are boredom will drive you to do anything.
Yesterday afternoon was spent decorating the theatre for the dance last night. It really looked well. We had red, white and blue pennants strung on string all around. The British and American flags were crossed over the orchestra, with a big sign ITS OVER HERE in red, white and blue under them. The bar had a big V with Germany Quits under it, red streamers, and the Chinese and Russian flags over it. The place really looked nice. The orchestra and girls finally arrived and all went well, with a few bad moments. The Colonel arrived and danced with each of us. Just as I started to dance with him the lights went out. We went down to see about it and a fuse had blown. I’m a bird brain when it comes to such matters. The Colonel said “I don’t know whether it was accidental or on purpose, but the lights are off. Would you try to dance with me anyhow?” I was petrified that someone would crash into us and say “For Christ’s sake look out where you’re going.” The CO wouldn’t mind but the fellow would if he saw the eagles. Then we had to have the M.P.s keep an eye on three hot-heads who threatened to take our four colored patients out and beat them up for dancing with the English girls. Thats really a touchy situation for us to handle.
The mail brought me an explosion from Mother. I rather expected it but of course it didn’t make me very happy. Naturally she was upset but in view of the fact that you are on the opposite side of the ocean she should relax. I told her that we had both agreed to be frank if we changed our minds, that we were waiting to see if we both felt the same way when we both got back. As she said “If Carl is all that you think he is, time will prove you right or wrong.” I’m not in the least worried about my Carl. Even though we’ve know each other such a short time I think I’m right in believing that you are capable of doing whatever you set your mind to and want to do. Finding the right place won’t be easy for any of you fellows, but you know that you have my moral support, if that helps any with the news as it stands, goodness knows where I’ll be next. I rather hope that we’ll go to the C.O.I. and not with the Army of Occupation. Somehow I feel that I have a better chance of getting home sooner than I would if I went with the Army of Occupation.
I’m watching every mail now for a letter from you. Perhaps it will be quite a while before one comes through, but it gives me something to look forward to.
All my love Jane Thursday, May 17th
Life has been very busy. I don’t think that I’ve brought you up to date since my three days in Stratford. Our last day there we spent the morning sight-seeing, and we saw Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeares birthplace, Trinity Church and all the sights. Then I did a bit of shopping and got some horse brasses. I am collecting them and have hung the six I have around the wall by my bed. The trip back was uneventful except for the fact that I was so sleepy that I handed the conductor the ground plan of Trinity Church instead of my pass!
Things were in an uproar here. The girls had affairs of the heart on their minds and little work was being done. Margie was mad about the whole situation and everyone needed pacifying. I have been busy playing Bingo on the wards with the most patients in traction. They are very appreciative and enjoy any change from their ordinary routine.
Monday night we had a victory dance for the patients. We now have a committee of patients to help us. We decorated the theatre with red, white and blue pennants, red streamers, red, white and blue V…. and flags and it looked very nice. The music was good and they all had a good time. We had about 200 people. The Colonel came in to see it and I was just starting to dance with him when the lights all went out – a fuse had blown. After a bit of dashing around he said “The lights are out, either accidently or on purpose, but would you like to dance anyhow?” We started out and I was petrified that someone would barge into him in the dark and bust loose with the language usually heard on such occasions. He wouldn’t have minded but I’m sure that the boy would have.
On Tuesday night we had a ping pong and snooker tournament which was fun. After closing at nine we had a party for the three boys who have been working for us. We staged a mock retreat and presented them with awards. Bill Pitney who does a lot of art work for us made the ribbons and I wrote up the citations in manuscript scrolls. Frances was a Colonel, with huge eagles on her shoulder. I was the bugler with a helmet, white gloves, a harmonica and staff sargents stripes, Ernie Baker, our office helper was the adjudant (Major) and read the orders, Bill was a batallion leader (Cap.) and the girls were the guard of honor, wearing helmets and carrying tiny little American flags. Homer, who worked in the back room and made tea every afternoon for our volunteers was awarded a lime ribbon with tea leaf cluster and titled MCK, GTT (Master of the Kitchen Cabinet and Guardian of the Thirty Two (volunteers)] Brucy, who looked after the keys and the Jerry’s who do our cleaning was presented with Crossed Broomsticks with Mop and titled KKK (Keeper of the Keys and Krauts).
Edwards, who always maked scarf-frames for Margie and was in charge of the tools got a scarf frame with bar and the title Master of the Tool Bar or MTB. How I kept a straight face I don’t know as these three were completely surprised and everytime they looked at us would burst out laughing. We then had sandwiches and Coca Cola in the back office. It was a huge success. I talked to their night nurse the next day and she said that she could hardly get them to bed, that they were laughing and carrying on like small boys when they came in.
Yesterday was a very hectic day. Ruth and Ginna left for Edinburgh with two of the doctors for a three day vacation. They went in a jeep! Margie had to have a doctors appt and treatment and wasn’t feeling well and I was left with my hands full. The morning undid me completely. I went to write a letter for a boy on the surgical ward with the worst cases. There was one fellow there who had been badly burned all over his body with white phosphorus. He was in agony and shrieked his head off all the time I was there. I have never heard such sounds. It was terrible to sit there and calmly write a letter with
that going on. The poor boy who was writing was so upset by it that the perspiration was pouring down his face. I’m all right while I’m on a ward and have to put up a calm front but when I got out of there my knees were knocking and I had to sit down and cool off before I could do more.
Then I had to see a boy who had a very strange request. It seems that he is a pigeon fancier. We put him in touch with an Englishman near here who raises them. This man had come to see him and wanted to give him a pair of pigeons to take home. He wanted to know if we could get him permission to take the birds home with him! This job is never dull.
Last night a group of some 30 Welsh singers came and I took them to three wards where they put on a beautiful program for the boys. They certainly have music in their souls. One girl played the piano accordion and sang “Only A Rose”. She had a really lovely voice. I was sitting by one fellow who was in the Harvard Glee Club when he was drafted and he said it made him homesick. After singing on the wards we served coffee for them in the hall and they sang “Men of Harlich” for me. Next week they are going to the coast to sing in an all-Welsh tournament. My, but I would love to hear it.
This is my day off. I slept until 11:30, did a huge laundry, cleaned house and worked on a plexiglass frame for a lovely picture I have of Carl. Also on a lucky piece for him with a four-leaf clover on one side and a picture on the other. This evening I am catching up on my correspondence.
The mail has been poor. I haven’t had a letter from Daddy in a long time. One came from Mother today, dated April 12th; also the handkies and hairbrush – Many Thanks, they are perfect. Margie commented “I see that your family hasn’t yet learned to fill up request boxes with all they will hold..” Not a bad idea. There is one thing that I need or will very soon – stockings. I am very hard on them and although I seem to be washing and mending constantly I am going through them fast. As we may move in a month or so, and there will be a stretch before I have a new address, I would like to replenish my supply.
Now that I am allowed to give details I can tell you that we are just over the Welsh border, about 3 miles from Overton. Wrexham is the nearest town. The hospital is at Penley Hall, an estate turned over for the purpose. The grounds are very nice, with many lovely trees. If you find any 616 film I’ll get some pictures of the place and people.
All my love Jane May 17th
Dear Aunt Lil
Your sweet letter gave me a great deal of pleasure. I do hope that Daddy keeps you posted with my letters. I try to write all of the news to him as I have so little time for letters.
My life with the Red Cross is wonderful. It is certainly an experience that I will never forget or regret. Nowhere at home is there the opportunity to work with so many different types of personalities. Some of them get on ones nerves at times and it is hard to be smiling and nice to some of them, but a good night’s sleep usually fixes that. There is an advantage in working in a hospital. The hours are long, but we seldom work very late at night.
We are all busily wondering where we will be next but noone knows. Rumors have had us all over the map. I only hope that I will be able to stay with this unit wherever it goes, because we have a very congenial group, which makes such a difference.
The Welsh countryside is lovely now. We have had some lovely sunny days and the green fields and hedge rows and the flowering trees and shrubs have been beautiful. Some parts of Wales are so barren, but this is not one of them.
Please give my love to Uncle Jim and the rest of the family. There is always a very special spot in my heart for my Aunt Lil!
Love Jane Monday, May 21st
There is little news to bring you up to date on. You see, I have been seeing how the other half lives since Friday night, when I was sent in to the hospital. As I am leaving tomorrow, feeling very fit, you need not be concerned.
On Friday, I had a wild day at the Red Cross. In the afternoon I was the only one on duty, as Frances had gone to a meeting and Margie with a tour. I nearly went crazy answering both phones, planning the next weeks program, answering a million questions, handing our 4 volunteers and filling requests. I had a cough all day and when evening came I went to bed right after supper. I had a slight fever so Margie got Capt. Barron to come in and he sent me to the admitting office with a note which just said “Please admit Jane.” It didn’t even say Jane who, and the Sargent on duty was both surprised and amused.
I have had the best of care, including x-rays, blood counts, urinalysis etc. They don’t miss a trick, but its hard to get out. I have taken advantage of the rest, consumed lots of fruit juice and water and even read the copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn that I brought over with me.
Last night I got four letters from Daddy and three from Mother. They were dear letters and I have been reading and re- reading them. I also got one from Sister. She told me about the plans for Tibby. They sound too wonderful and I do hope that they will work out. If any two people ever deserved a break they do. I miss my big sister a great deal. That year with her in Washington was wonderful.
Maybe you’d like to hear my impressions of an Army hospital ward from a patients point-of-view? Each ward is in a separate building along a covered concrete ramp. The building is concrete with a tin roof. As you enter the door there is the kitchen, utilites room, patients latrine, treatment room, two private rooms and the nurses office opening on the corridor.
There is a little window in the nurses office looking into the ward. There are 30 beds in the ward; white iron cots with white blankets with U.S. Army MD on them. They look very neat and clean and are not uncomfortable. There are windows all the way around, so that the ward is bright and cheerful. The old black-out curtains are still up. We are kept warm by three coal stoves down the middle of the ward. There is a long table in the middle of the room from which the meals are served on tea trays, marked off in compartments. There is another table at the end with books and magazines. Over the door is the loudspeaker of the PBS (Patients Broadcasting System) which goes almost all day with music, news, announcements etc.
The nurses are, of course, in the brown and white seersucker of the Nurse Corps. We have a Major as ward officer who seems very competent but is not a very approachable person. The ward boys, detachment personnel and corporals, are kept busy cleaning, filling up the stoves, serving food, pushing wheelchairs, etc. We have all nurses and Red Cross personnel here. Its very nice and friendly. Thats the story.
The answer to Dad’s question about my salary is as follows – It is divided like this: (every 2 weeks) to me 37.50
to Dad 26.80
Tax deduction 10.70
They deduct the tax for a while until you are safely overseas and then refund it to you. When that happens you should get
37.50 every 2 weeks. I’m probably going to change my allotment so that it will be more. I should have a refund coming to me from Civil Service for the retirement money they took out of my pay (over $150). Has it come?
I have saved out the $100 as you told me and am on the lookout for something to keep. I have an idea that I would like a set of old coffee spoons.
There are more rumors flying around about our plans. At this point I won’t believe anything until it happens. I have requested to stay with this unit, wherever it goes, as I like the personnel and am just getting to know them.
I’m worried about Daddy and his running all over the State. Please, darling, take care of your precious self and don’t over- do it.
No word from my Sargeant as yet. I often wonder whether he has phoned you. This waiting for mail is tough. I’ll be out of here tomorrow and back on the job. Don’t worry about my taking care of myself. I’ve had enough lectures on that subject from Carl and I couldn’t look his picture in the eye if I didn’t
Friday, May 25th
My letter writing during the past week has gone to the dogs, but with good cause. Now that I know there is nothing to worry about I can write you all about it. When I last wrote, I was in the hospital with a cold. I sat up in bed suddenly and my back started to hurt. I didn’t say anything about it, because I thought it would clear off, as it has before. On Tuesday morning I was discharged and sent back to the hut. That night I went to the Red Cross to a meeting of the Brains Trust, and English group which conducts a program very much like our Forum of the Air. They discussed various political problems in answer to the questions submitted to them. There was a member to represent each political party. Questions ranged to “Is Churchill justified in calling an election now?” to “What do you think of Yanks marrying American girls?” My back hurt all that night and still hurt in the morning. While I was in the hospital before Capt. Barron, a very nice person, came over to see me and I told him off the record about it. After a bit of poking and prodding he said he didn’t think it was connected with my old injury, but that if I got a back ache on the hospital record and they took an x-ray I might be ZI’d (Zone of the Interior) and sent home just on my history. Having just come over to do a job that would never do, so he agreed to not say anything and wait to see how it felt. When it got worse I didn’t care who knew it and came in. I have been flat on my back with a board under the mattress etc. X-rays have been taken from all angles and are O.K. Theres certainly an advantage in being sick in ones own hospital. (This is where all the women patients from the area are hospitalized) Major Schiowitz and Colonel Foisier just came in and gave me a good going over and have told me that nothing is wrong except a strain. They have all been wonderful to me. Al (Maj. S.) said that he could ZI me if I wanted it but if I didn’t would do everything to keep me where I want to be.
My ward officer, Major Schwartz, is from Stamford Conn and has met Daddy at meetings at Trudeau. He is a very fine person.
Tonight I feel fine. My back has stopped hurting and I got the sweetest letter from Colonel Anderson (dated April 7th) and of all things, expressing appreciation for all that I did for Medical Intelligence! He said so many lovely things that I feel guilty about leaving. All in all I could dance the Highland Fling.
We have a new head recreation worker who came today. Her name is Verna Emmanuel and she seems very nice. What will happen to us I do not know. Our unit will doubtless change considerably and I only hope that we will stay with a congenial Red Cross crowd. It makes such a difference.
I was much interested in Clara’s letter about her interest in painting three cheers! I’m all for it and know it can be a wonderful outlet. Lets hope that she finds it so. The news about Tibby is too good for words. My how I hope that it will work out, for they could really have a fine set-up in Washington, with a life of their own, and I do think that Tibby would enjoy the people in the office.
We are having the Red Cross painted which will be an improvement by the time [ ] it should be ready for a function. I’ve had a chance to get a lot of reading done here. My Bible reading, which I have been doing every night has progressed through the New Testament to Romans. I have read Somerset Maugham’s “The Razor’s Edge” and am now reading “The Moon and Sixpence.”
I’m now bucking to get out of here, but I’m in good hands and know that I’ll get out only when I should.
Our Ward boy is a panic (the one on duty at night) He just came in and has been regaling us with tales of how we talk in our sleep and what a kick he gets out of listening to us. About 5:00 A.M. last night I hollered for a blanket as I was freezing to death. He has been teasing me because they were all on the floor and he says I was too lazy to pick them up. Hes very good to us and right now is making coffee on the stove in the middle of the ward.
This is enough rambling for the present. I didn’t want you to worry. Everything is under control. I take it that Carl hasn’t phoned you yet. I knew it would be at least 6 weeks before I got a letter but the waiting is getting hard. There will be bigger and better letters in the future, darlings.
Love, Jane Friday, June 1st
As of yesterday I went back to work. Wednesday night on the ward I got so mad at our ward boy that I nearly expired. He had let the fire in the stove go out so he came in, dumped on coal and started banging with the poker. I thought the roof was falling, woke up with a jump and demanded the time. It was 2:30 A.M. He repeated the performance at five a.m.! Major Abrahams discharged me but I have to go to P.T. every morning to have infra red on my back.
Yesterday was a busy one although nothing exceptional happened. I was talking a lot of Spanish to a boy named Benny Gonzalez from California. We get a lot of patients from there who speak Spanish and some of them very little English. Then an announcement came over the broadcasting system that Benny Gonzalez was dedicating a song to “The Red Cross Girl.” It was sung in Spanish by Bing Crosby and, of all things, entitled “Let Me Love You Tonight.” I nearly expired.
Last night I was tired and achy, so I didn’t work after dinner, but came home, took a bath, and set my hair and went to bed. Ginna is sick and Al came over to give her a shot and cheer her up. I can assure you that we are in good hands. He is the guardian angel of the Red Cross. I was in tears because all of a sudden I felt so lonely for Carl. He poked and punched my back and asked if it hurt. Every time I’d say No he’d say “Don’t lie to me!” It hurt only a very little and I wasn’t admitting it. He said I still had a muscular spasm and to take it easy. Then he went tearing out, and I went over and wept on Ginna’s shoulder and felt better. In two minutes he was back with a bottle of good Scotch and insisted on pouring it down us. After a couple of drinks I felt better. Its a real gesture to sacrifice good Scotch to such a cause. Just at that point two girls from a nearby hospital came in and joined us. Then a knock came on the door and a timid voice said “Do the Red Cross girls live here?” Then a head appeared and looked a bit startled to see Al with a bottle in one hand. It was an old friend of Ginnas, also in Red Cross. Then three girls with suitcases came in, one of them who had been on the ship with me. They were down from Glasglow. It was quite a party, and there I was resplendent in pajamas and curlers. After that Al kissed us both goodnight and we felt swell! What we’d do without him I don’t know.
This morning I got up early and rushed over to help Frances G.I. the building. We were getting ready for the meeting she had this afternoon of Red Cross workers from all the hospitals in this area. You know how such a group is. They snoop around and compare what they find with what they have. We got the hall clean, sent Bill out to steal some flowers for us (he came back with roses, fern, delphinium and foxglove). We had about fifteen people for lunch and at 2:30 there was a meeting. The Recreation and Craft Directors from London were there. They had a craft exhibit which was most interesting. The girls had brought things made in their hospitals. You would be amazed at the variety and ingenuity displayed. Mr.
Bowler, the craft man, said the nicest things about us. He said that he had visited some 90 hospitals and that only 8 or 9 had top notch halls, as far as appearance goes, and ours was one of them. He said that it showed we were on the ball and he told them to look it over.
The hall does look nice. The walls are light blue, the bookshelves dark blue and the curtains a dull orange. We had the flowers around on the piano and in the windows. In the craft shop we have the various division patches painted around the walls, and they are very colorful.
Our Colonel came and opened the meeting and we were very proud of him. He is such a sweet man and it felt good to have him get up and tell them what an indispensable part of his hospital he considered the Red Cross to be. He ended up by saying “My hat’s off to the Red Cross.” We served ice cream with chocolate sauce when it was all over and everyone was happy. We had the meeting in the Officers Club. Liz Rouse was there and we had a very nice visit.
Then we had a pile of people to entertain for dinner. This evening we had another “Brains Trust” I think I wrote you about them before. Last time the questions were political. This time they were of all types. As a special speaker they brought along Miss Ann Temple who writes for the Daily Mail. She is the Dorothy Dix of England and a most capable and attractive person. One never knows what the American G.I. will think up to ask. We had the darndest questions, some of which could have been very embarassing. For example “What will happen to the love life of the English girls now that the Yanks are leaving?” “Why were the British people so aroused when the Prince of Wales Married?” Fortunately the “experts” had a sense of humor and handled them all well. We had other questions like “What is the pay of the British Private?” “What places in America does the average Englishman want to visit and why?” “Will Europe be communistic after the war?” “Why do women swoon when they hear Frank Sinatra?” You can see that the evening wasn’t dull. We had about 50 patients there, all quite interested. There were good discussions and the applause at the end was spontaneous and enthusiastic. We are all very well pleased with the whole day – strenuous but satisfactory.
The time is coming when I will know from Red Cross what my future plans will be. I’m prepared to be stubborn about sticking with the Unit and am ready to threaten to resign if I can’t. When I find a good thing I want to hang on to it and I
see no sense in shifting anyone out who is happy. Al said that if I had any trouble he would speak to the Colonel and Capt. Barron has told me that I’d have no trouble. I hope not. We are all so congenial and we want to stay together, as a Red Cross unit.
I got the sweetest and most satisfactory 6 page letter from Carl. Clara wrote to me saying that she hoped he would be a good correspondent because you can learn a lot about someone from letters. He told me about the time they had on their 24 hour pass in New York. What a thrill it must have been. Carl said that it seemed that every civilian in the place knew they were just back from overseas and wanted to help them celebrate. He was introduced to a “Staten Cocktail” by some Russians – Vodka and milk – Ooooh! He said that he didn’t want to become friends with the stuff and I know what he meant. Hes at Butler General Hospital in Rome Georgia, but now should be at home on pass. I guess maybe hes phoned. He wrote that he would do so from home.
The news about Tibby’s attitude made me so mad that I frothed at the mouth all day. I could shake him until his teeth rattle. The fact that his pride should come first makes me see Red. Honestly, men can be so ornery. I do believe that many of them have absolutely no conception of how hard it is for the wives at home. Oh well, things usually work out for the best and I hope this situation will.
Mr. Willard sent me an Episcopal war cross and a Service Prayer Book – very good of him. He sent some extra War Crosses which I will give to the Chaplain, who had never heard of them. I gave mine to Carl and so wrote to Mr. W. for another. Also a sweet letter from Aunt Lil, and the Gaylord news. I’m so proud of my daddy, I’m like to burst a blood vessel or pop a button every time I think of what he has made of Gaylord. It’s getting late, dears, and time to stop rambling.
All my love, Jane Sunday, June 3rd
Not much news I’m afraid, just a line to say I love you. Yesterday I spent all afternoon on the wards, talking to the fellows in traction. There is a nice fellow here from El Salvador whom I spoke Spanish with and who knows several of my friends in Guatemala. He plays the guitar very well and gets up to the Red Cross in his wheel chair. I lent my camera to one of the fellows who is trying to get some pictures of the ward. Another wanted a picture of himself in traction – imagine! I drew one for him and he was much pleased that he had it to send home.
Last night we had a Ping Pong Tournament and a Bingo party. There is one very nice fellow whom I have played a lot of ping pong with. We’re going bike riding tomorrow night if it can be done. Its such a nuisance having to go out the AWOL gate, but as we are only supposed to go out with officers it has to be done.
Last night Margie and I retired early and read Rupert Brooke and The White Cliffs of Dover out loud. Very nice. Eddie Barron came by to get Frances and stopped to chat for a while. He showed me the silliest thing, as follows. Its a phone message that Major Cohens maid took for him once. To be read with a good Jewish accent!
MSMXKOLDUP Mrs Max called up
SOZUN so soon
UKUMININ you coming in
KULRUP call her up
MEMERREH no matter
OWLET how late
ZGONBE its gonna be
KOLRUP call her up
I got up this morning just in time for Chapel. After lunch I went on the wards again, pinning up our weekly program and talking to the fellows. This evening we played ping pong and worked in the craft shop on some leather samples.
We are still in the air about our future. Probably by the end of the week we will be out of patients. Then I guess I’ll have to report to London for orders. Keep your fingers crossed very hard that I’ll be able to stay with the unit.
No packages have come except the handkies and hairbrush. I hope we won’t shove off before the others catch up with me.
I was delighted to get mothers letter today about the legacy, but would have been interested to know who left it. That was very interesting about Marie Corelli and Mark Twain [?]
All my love Jane
Wed. June 6th
The past three days have been busy ones. Monday was rather routine, and we had a bit of trouble with the evening program. Our pianist and hillbilly quartet all backed out at the last minute, as they were detachment men and all had jobs thrust on them. On the spur of the moment we worked up a quiz program and then my friend Luis from El Salvador came and played the guitar and sang. He got one of the fellows to bring him up in the wheel chair. He has a lovely voice and he sang all of those dreamy songs I loved. Then I went for a bike ride with my friend of the ping pong table. We didn’t do too much riding, because I was being easy on my back. We biked out to a nice spot nearby and sat and talked until midnight – it was just getting dark when we came back. He had taken his raincoat to sit on and the cheese and crackers out of his K ration and we had a very nice time. He was very sweet. He tried to get affectionate, as they all do, and when I told him I guessed I was thinking of a certain Staff Sargent at home who might object he said “Well, I guess he outranks me.” That was that and I thought it was cute of him.
Tuesday was more than hectic. The day was uneventful, but we had three big events to run in the evening. There was a party for one of the nurses and we made the arrangements for their refreshments, etc. Then the Welsh singers came, forty strong. They sang in the hall for the ambulatory patients and after went on the wards. I now know their proper names – The CEFN (pronounced Kevn) Choir. The girl who sings is so popular that I had to take her on some side trips to wards and then take her to catch up with the group. I was as thrilled as ever, hearing their lovely voices. They sang on one ward with a lot of traction cases. One fellow was lying there with his leg in traction and a terrible skin disease all over him. He was lying there with his eyes closed and I was standing beside him. When I looked down I noticed that the tears were trickling down his face. It was very moving. After they finished they headed back to the Red Cross, singing all the way. The procession was brought up by all of the ambulatory patients from other wards, madder than hops with us because we had skipped their wards. We served coffee to them all and gave them hershey bars and they sang for us. When they left in the trucks at 10:00, they were still singing.
After that we had a party for the three boys who had been working for us for so long. Frances announced that the Colonel was coming and did I think he’d mind sitting down with enlisted men? MIND? He not only came with Al, but was the life of the party. We had scrambled eggs on toast, coffee and ice cream. We gave presents to the fellows. After they had left the Colonel and the Major insisted on doing the KP. I wish you could have seen Colonel Blout, his blouse off, his sleeves rolled up and a towel around his waist. He grabbed a towel, handed me the other end of it and we wiped dishes together. Then we all sang, while Ruthie played the piano. The Colonel escorted the Red Cross home and thanked us for letting him come to such a nice party. We got to bed about 2:00 tired but happy. Do you wonder I want to stay with a unit that has such a marvellous C.O.?
Today we lost most of our ambulatory patients and many litter cases. The convoy drove away and we went out to see them off. This afternoon I got my teeth checked for our physical, which we all have to have, and worked sorting the books that are coming back from the wards. Afterwards I went down to the soda fountain and had 2 chocolate sodas with one of the
M.P.s. Life is really rugged in the E.T.O. with chocolate sodas! I had to laugh at a little nurse just over from the States. She was talking about the set-up here, and she said “Isn’t it primitive?” She has to go outside to get to the latrine and she can’t get over it. Its a good substantial brick building too.
After dinner Ginna and I went down to one of the traction wards to visit. The boys were restless and blue so we got permission from the nurse, had a piano brought in and I went in search of Ruthie to play for us. I found her in bed, in tears. Her very special beau has been shipped out this morning. She has the good old Red Cross spirit and the show must go on so she got up and came on down. She played and we tried to have some singing. It was up-hill work this time. A few boys sang, but on the whole they didn’t feel like it. They were very appreciative and did enjoy the music. There were several amputation cases. They make me very sad. I was sitting on the bed of one, chatting with him and it made me feel so good to have him tell me what a wonderful job he thought we were doing and how much it meant to have us come and talk to them. Just as we were leaving the Colonel, Al and Col. Forsie and some visiting firemen came in. The Colonel asked for an
encore. The Major got out in the middle of the ward and led them all in singing ALOUETTE. They all loved it and joined in, including the Colonel and the party ended with a bang. The Colonel is wonderful. He came in that ward and went right up to a colored fellow who has lost a leg and is so pathetic. He was especially nice to him and seemed to know the ones who needed a kind word. You simply can’t beat this group I’m with.
Then we went over to the Club and found Al and Col. Forsie there. We all had several beers and sang and then I came back to bed. We are so spoiled. I’ve never once been in that Club but that my drinks have been provided. The fellows won’t let us buy our own.
Tomorrow Margie and I have a day off together and hope to go to Llangollen and poke around the antique shops.
We had some pictures taken today of the Hall and I hope to get some copies to send you. The mail brought me a nice letter from one of the boys who left a while ago. He was a character and used to follow me around like a dog. Nothing was too much for him to do to help us. It makes you feel good when they remember you after they have left.
Your letters have meant so much to me, darlings. I do have the sweetest parents in the world. All my love Jane
P.S. The riding pants and boots came but I won’t be needing them, so don’t be surprised if they turn up. I’m sending a few of my souvenirs home with them.
Daddy darling, I was distressed to hear about Uncle Gordon, and know how much he has always meant to you. I only wish that I could be there to help over the rough spots at such a time. However, you know I’m never far from you.
Sat. June 9th
Thursday was the most perfect day. Margie and I went off together for an outing. We started off on the wrong foot by missing the bus, but we got a ride to Wrexham and then took a bus to Llangollen. Its a beautiful Welsh village, set down in a valley, with the river Dee running through it. The hills rise up steeply on each side, with the ruins of a castle silhouetted against the sky on one of them. We walked all over the village and then had coffee and Welsh rarebit in a little shop near the river. After lunch we planned to shop but found that it was early closing day. We went to see Plas Newyd, the home of two Irish ladies who went there together to live. Its a lovely place, with beautiful grounds and the most gorgeous wood carving inside and out. Many famous people have stayed there, including the Duke of Wellington, and Coleridge. We wandered down in a lovely little glen in back of the grounds. Then I found a saddler that was open and got two more horse brasses.
They we took a bus back to Wrexham, had tea, went to a fish and chips place and ate chips. Then we shopped a bit. I found a Welsh grammar and a darling little copy of the Vicar of Wakefield in Welsh to send to Saul for his collection of language books. After that we went to the movies, ate more chips, stopped by at a carnival and came back tired but happy. To end a perfect day there was a letter from Carl waiting for me – more about that later.
Last night the officers had a barbecue in back of the mess hall with all of us in slacks and fatigues. The chicken, cooked slowly over hot coals with a special sauce was very good. I met one of the officers I hadn’t known before, a very nice person, who reminded me ever so much of Dr. Peter. I went over to his office with him and had a most interesting time while he showed me in one of his medical books how skin grafts, plastic surgery and amputations were handled. Then he presented me with a very good box of candy he got from home and we went for a walk. I came back with the loveliest bouquet of wild rosebuds – Captain Kress was the gentleman’s name for the record.
This morning we had a hard time getting up. Our volunteers were all arriving in the afternoon for a party for them. We had to wrap 45 presents for them. We didn’t have much to give them, only cosmetics and candy that we got at the PX, but as they can’t get any they are always welcome. We had coffee, tea, sandwiches and cakes. The Colonel came and made a speech, Frances thanked them, they thanked us, we all sang “Old Lang Syne” and then we collapsed. There is nothing more exhausting than a bunch of chattering women. To top it off the tea came from the Mess Hall and was awful – so strong and luke warm. One lady came up to Frances and said “Do you mind if I pour in a little coffee to warm up my tea?”
Theres a dance at the Club tonight but I’m too tired and achy to go. I piled in bed, minus sheets, because Medical Supply wouldn’t change mine for clean ones – the Capt there was nasty to me. Eddie came to the hut before the dance. I insisted
that I was all right and didn’t want to move, but he said “I’ve got an idea in my head so I guess you’ll have to have a sheet” He went out and brought me a sheet and pillow case – hes such a thoughtful person.
One copy of the Times came, enjoyed by all. We are having all of the detachment in for an open house tomorrow (enlisted personnel).
Carl is such an angel. He wrote me the dearest letter which I wish I could send you, but I want to keep it. It made me very proud of him. I can’t send it to you, but I would like to quote some of it.
“I guess I’ll either have to come back to England to bring you home if you are going to be getting sick. I hope you are all right now honey because I don’t like to think of you being sick or even feeling bad.”
“I wouldn’t blame your father if he hit the roof. I believe I know how a father should feel who had a daughter as sweet as you and some G.I. Joe tried to steal her away. Not knowing the G.I. is another thing. I guess I’ll have to have a long talk with your mother. I want your family on our side honey.”
“I believe I am going to be able to get a discharge. I don’t know a thing for certain a yet, but there is a better than 50-50 chance. I was talking with the president of our local bank the other day, and he has offered me a job if I do get out. I don’t think I’ll stay here in Logan after all of this. I don’t know as yet. Jobs are about the easiest thing in the world to get. I am trying to get a bit of book learning before I get out. I am up to my ears in a correspondance course on Business Management and another on Merchandising. If I learn everything I’ll have a fairly good idea how to do a job along that line.”
Carl has so much on the ball. I do wish that you knew him, he is such a fine person. Some people you have a great deal of fun with and others are kind and thoughtful and dependable – the combination is wonderful. I don’t know where he will settle on to live. I have no qualms about his being able to get a job he wants. Logan is too small town for him he says. He wants to live in the suburbs of a large town. Carl enjoys outdoor life and animals and all that go with them too much to want to live in a city apartment. He wants to raise hunting dogs for a hobby. He loves to swim and fish and ride – he has been fox hunting. We’ve dreamt of the days when we can do these things together.
Its just like him to be taking those courses and to be seeing about possibilities for a job. He has such a sense of responsibility and a great deal of initiative.
It is a blessing that I am busy. At times when I get to bed, with his picture by my bed and reading his letters I feel so lonely and blue. I want to see him so badly. When hes around everything is all right and I feel that I could never be afraid or worried about anything. Our plans are so uncertain now that it makes things twice as hard. We have lost our last patient. We haven’t heard from Red Cross what they are going to do with us. I guess we’ll have to report to headquarters before long to find out.
All my love Jane
P.S. I gather from your letters and Carl’s that he hasn’t phoned you. I wish he would, but I guess he has put it off and it gets harder and harder to do. I do wish that you could meet him. Maybe if he does get a discharge he could visit you in New Haven. You have his address, don’t you?
S/sgt Carl McAllister Jenkins A2 Holland Apts.
Logan, West Va.
June 11, 1945
Another letter from you today was almost too good to be true. My mind has been in such an uproar, what with the Red Cross hounding me about what I wanted to do, and your letter saying that you might be discharged. The fact that I have been in the Red Cross such a short time makes things doubly hard. I have a New England conscience that at times I would like to amputate, but it seems to follow me around. I know that I have a job to do and with peoples lives so backed up at present I don’t feel that I have the right to throw it all up for my personal happiness. Although the waiting is hard, as you said “all good things are worth waiting for” and when its all over I’ll have a clear conscience about having seen the job through. I think you understand the way I feel and that helps. You have never put any pressure on me to walk out on my job and I love you for it. Goodness knows its time to be at home to settle our plans definitely and to be moral support for you. I’m not one to rush into anything, but in spite of the fact that we have known each other for such a short time I feel that we have really something unbeatable. You were so sweet to say that you wanted my family on our side. You didn’t tell me how your family had reacted. Before we do make our final decision I want to meet your family and to have you meet mine. My family has always meant so much to me and have sacrificed so much to make me what they considered best for me, to do anything to make them unhappy. I’m sure that once they meet you and find out what a fine person you are there will be no objection. I’m sure you feel the same way about your family. I am very anxious to meet them. Judging by their son they must be wonderful people.
As for your job and a possible future residence for us you must know that I can’t possibly make any decision long distance. I trust your judgment darling. I want you to find a job in which you will be happy. If the bank job doesn’t really appeal to you for goodness sake don’t take it just for the security of it. I have faith in the fact that you are capable of doing anything you set your mind to doing. If you want a job in the merchandizing or advertising line, why don’t you look around for one?
I know nothing about Logan or West Virginia as a State. If you feel that your future lies there and thats where you want to live its fine with me. I’m not worried about our being able to make friends or to find our place wherever we settle upon. The only part of the South I really know at all is Virginia, especially Charlottesville. I have been brought up in a University town, and Charlottesville is one too. I have so many interests that I have often wondered whether or not I would be happy in a small town without the advantages of much intellectual stimulus – I love good music, the theatre, etc. I’m sure they aren’t essential to make me happy. Remember, we almost had an argument about whether or not you would let me have a job – thats the result of Daddy having insisted that I prepare myself to do one if I should find myself in the position of having to support myself. Marriage is a real job, I know that, but I do feel that wives with outside interests, are much more interesting people, and have more to offer their families. Some parts of the South that I have seen are so provincial and have such very poor educational facilities that I feel that they are difficult places to live in and to raise children. Being with you, however, is the most important thing. As I said before, and repeat, if Logan is to be the place its fine with me. How can I say whether or not I’d like it, when I’ve never been there? A home is what you make it and I’m sure that ours would be happy even if you should decide to live on Pikes Peak.
I am fighting hard to stay in this unit. Keep your fingers crossed honey. If all turns out well I may be using that phone number you gave me, before we reach our new destination!
We are busy packing up and the hall looks very bare with the curtains down and the rugs up. I’ve been ordering Jerries around all day and have kept them on the jump. They have done all of the moving and carrying for me. I sure hope that your pictures come before we move. Daddy promised to send you mine. Will you please phone them if you haven’t yet? New Haven 7-2605.
How I wish that we could talk this all over together. The mail is a poor substitute. I love you dear, and should like to be able to tell you so myself – just in case you need to be reminded.
All my love Jane
Your letters have been grand. I am very much upset about Sister. You should have heard me blowing my top when I heard that Tibby’s transfer had not been approved. Its a damned shame. Clara has been such a good sport about it all, and very courageous.
There is little news that would really interest you. Sunday afternoon we had the party or open house for the detachment. Until now the boys of the detachment have not come to the Red Cross as our program has been for patients – that is the recreation program. Frances has done case work and tours for them. We gave them all silly bags, coca cola and food, magazines and books, writing paper, and playing cards. Unfortunately we had all of our tools out to start packing. They must have thought it was Christmas because before we knew it they were helping themselves to those.
All week we have been packing like mad, and what a job. Everything that goes back to headquarters has to be inventoried. Our volunteers have been coming to help us pack. I have been put in the office to help Frances and her secretary finish up the records. Ruth, our secretary, made me mad and I went on strike and slept late this morning. I am supposed to be helping her with a lot of work that she hasn’t gotten done. Last night I worked late only to find that she spent the evening writing letters. From now on in I work when she works I don’t care how long or how late but I will not be a door mat. The hall looks so bare now, with all the furniture etc. gone. We have only the office work to finish now.
Breakfasts have been fun, with various of our officers dropping around for coffee and toast. Sometimes they bring eggs.
This evening I went to the movies. They were showing “A Song To Remember,” in technicolor. Its perfectly lovely. Have you seen it? Its the life story of Chopin. I never before realized that List and Chopin were friends. Then I went to the Club for a beer and then I came home to put my cold to bed. I have a cold in my nose. Al came by and insisted on feeding me mushroom soup, which he fixed on our stove. I have my canteen full of water by my bed and am pouring the water down.
The shoes, sweater and Jodphurs have come. I am keeping the saddle shoes but as we are moving in the near future I am returning the other shoes and riding pants. Also come of my heavy clothing which I don’t think I am going to need.
Probably the Red Cross will pull a fast one and I’ll be sent to the North Pole and you’ll have to send them back.
We expect to be through packing this week. Next week we will have to report to London for orders. We have all filled out questionnaires as to our preference of remaining in England, France, Belgium or Germany. We all put that we wanted to stay with our unit or be transferred to Domestic Work. I really want to do that. My conscience wouldn’t let me get out of the Red Cross as long as there is a job to do but it would be a good deal to work in a hospital at home and be able to see something of Carl while we make our final decision. We are all crazy about our unit and would be happy to stay with it. I don’t want to raise your hopes as nothing is decided and our plans may change but after you get my last letter before I have to stop writing, hold everything at home for me. There is a chance of the unit getting home before further assignment and we may stay with it and get home too. Thats the hitch. If the unit gets home the Red Cross may not let us go too – especially me, as I have been over such a short time. We all want to stay together and the Colonel wants us so it may be possible. Hes going to fight for us.
All my love Jane
P.S. Another wonderful letter from Carl, but a very difficult one to answer. He spoke again of getting discharged and it looks very probable. Now he is faced with the problem of getting a job. He said that he had been offered several but as yet is in no position to accept one. He spoke of the bank job again. As he said it has short hours, but short pay to start with. The man told him that they were reorganizing and that if he could get a start now he would stand a good chance of getting a pretty good thing out of it. Then he said
“Now here is the question honey. This whole deal concerns you as much as it does me. If I do get out and take this job what do you think of W. Va as a place to live in? The town is small as I have told you. There are a lot of nice people here
… It wouldn’t be hard on you to get acquainted and make friends. If we do go to a new place together – which is all right with me – we both would have to start at the bottom of the acquaintance ladder. Honey I love you and want you to be as happy as I can make you, so think about this and let me know what you think.”
Then he spoke more of the job in the bank and said
“Now I am thinking of you …. if we plan to settle down I had better start thinking along the lines of a future for both of us. I don’t want you to make any quick decisions honey because as I told you I want you to be happy. I know I will be happy as long as we are together.”
Have you sent the picture? He asked about it, as I had promised him one
I wrote him a long letter. Carl is such a sweet, thoughtful person and its so typical of him to put the whole problem to me. I told him that I couldn’t possibly make any such decision, that I trusted his judgment, and he would have to decide. I told him that I knew nothing about West Virginia then I explained how I felt about small southern towns on the whole. I could be happy in one but they are very provincial and the educational system is so poor. As far as the job, I told him not to take the bank job if he didn’t really want it. He had refused it before the war and I don’t think he is really interested. He wants something in the merchandising or advertising line and I think he should try to get into something he really wants and not just take that job for the security of it. I have heard of so many really intelligent boys getting stuck in small bank jobs with no future to them. I also pointed out that I wanted to get home, have him know you and to meet his family before we make our final decision. I’m not one to rush into anything so important. I wouldn’t want him to leave Logan, find a job and get settled in a new place with our future in mind, and then have us decide not to get married – with things as they are and having known him such a short time I can’t say thats impossible, although if I continue to feel as I do its most improbable. Its so hard not to be able to decide anything so important together, but I trust his judgement and have confidence in his doing the right thing. I do so want you to meet him. I bawled him out for not phoning you, but I do know how he must feel. Imagine having to call perfect strangers and say “I’m Carl, I’m in love with your daughter!”
Enough for tonight, darlings. I know this whole mess will straighten out some day. Love Jane
June 17, 1945
There is no real news since my trip to Southport. I got the sweetest letter from Dad when I got home. He said “Your “No 1 boy” called up from West Virginia tonight. I liked his voice very much
and hope he liked mine. If he does get his discharge and gets home I will try to get a glimpse of him when I go down to Virginia one of these days”
I hope that can be arranged. He is such a lamb, and I do want you to know each other. It tickles me so the way he writes to me as “Dear Starry eyes” and signs himself “Your No. 2 boy.” Thanks for phoning them dear, I know it meant a lot.
Yesterday I worked in the office, helping Ruth to wind up her work. She is very slow and apt to be on the inefficient side so I have been doing office work for the past week. I can’t say that I enjoy it. Last night my darned old back bothered me so that I could hardly put one foot in front of the other, so I went to bed and am spending the day taking it easy. The weather is grand and I lay out in the sun this morning in my bathing suit. Now that I know that my back is only sprained, and has nothing to do with my old injury I’m not worried. I am upset to have it acting up again at this strategic moment. We have a lot of moving and packing to do in the next few days and I don’t want to say anything about it because I have my heart set on staying with this unit and I don’t want to be left behind. Keep your fingers crossed for me, honey.
Our new A.F.D. will be turning up in a few days and of course we are all wondering what she will be like. It can make so much difference when you have to work as well as live with her all the time.
I still have the four leaf clover for you. When I figure out how to fix the pieces of plexiglass you’ll get it. You have been wonderful about writing. Your letters mean so much.
All my love Jane
Sunnyville Hotel, Alexandra Road, Southport, England Postmarked June 19, 1945 U.S. Army Postal Service
Sunday Carl darling
This writing paper explains my location at present. On Friday I was so restless around the Red Cross that I thought I should scream if I didn’t do something. Then a letter arrived from you, describing the joys of eating banana pie and milk and your plans to go riding. That was too much for me so Margie and I decided we simply had to get away. Al and Ginna were
driving the Jeep to Liverpool, so we got a ride. It was wonderful, tearing around corners. It was a lovely day, and by the time we got to Liverpool, I felt a great deal better. It was a fascinating drive through Birkenhead, under the Mersey River in a beautiful tunnel, and then through Liverpool. They let us off at the Red Cross club. Then we went for supper to “China Town” and ate at the Far East. You have never seen such a place – full of Chinamen all diving into enormous bowls of rice with chopsticks. There were signs in Chinese all over and no English being spoken at all. It was a hole, but the food was very good – especially the sweet and sour meat balls.
After dinner we went for a walk down around the docks and through the cathedral. Then we went for a ferry ride and then home to bed. Those Red Cross beds are pretty grim. I got up early yesterday and went out to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The Registrar there knows Miss Gray. She showed me around the museum, which is most interesting. Then she introduced me to Prof. Blacklark, the head of the school, and World Famous in the field of Tropical medicine. I had used some of his publications when I worked in Washington. He was just starting to give the last lecture to a group of our Army doctors who have been taking a two week course there. He was very kind and let me sit in on it. I walked in and sat down by a delegation from the 129 and they were very surprised to see me there. I got a ride back to the club in one of our ambulances.
Margie and I decided to clear out of Liverpool which struck me as the grimest, dirtiest, most depressing place I have ever seen. I remembered that I had cousins in Freshfield, so we went to look them up – I found them at home, two of the quaintest, dearest little old ladies you have ever seen. They are twin sisters, aged 83. One of them still does the gardening. Cousin Lillian carefully explained to me that she was getting a bit deaf and the only way she could explain it was by the constant bombing they had heard. Imagine, at the age of 83! They had seen Daddy 30 years ago. He has been writing to them and sending them packages every few weeks. It was quite an experience. After we left them we went to Southport. We managed to get a room through the Red Cross (a wonderful organization!)
We have done so very many things in the past day that I hardly know where to begin. We have walked for miles on the beach, been to a band concert, ridden in an open carriage along the promenade, and last but not least, Margie got me on the roller coaster, a thing I have sworn I’d never do. I went around twice and it was awful. If you had been there to hang on to maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad. They have a very nice Red Cross club there too. Its a beautiful spot, with lovely flowers everywhere and lots of nice people. We had breakfast in bed, which was heavenly and then sat out on the boardwalk until train time. Margie took some pictures and if we ever get them I’ll send you some.
We came back by train and got a ride in the Jeep back from Wrexham. This evening we have all been packing madly. We’re still awaiting the call to report to London.
I was sorry to hear that my letters haven’t been getting through. You know I’ve been writing. I sent them all, except the last one, home.
Keep your fingers crossed dear. The way things stand, and if the Red Cross doesn’t pull a fast one I may be phoning you before many moons are up. I’m going to be nasty if I have to be. I simply won’t hang around with the Army of Occupation and if I can’t stay with this outfit I’ve requested a transfer to Domestic Work. If you are going to get discharged it makes good sense to me to have a domestic job, where we can see each other and make our final decision. I don’t feel that I can throw up my job as long as there is so much to do, but that might be a compromise. They do need us in the Pacific and if I can stay with this unit I probably will. If this sounds mixed up don’t be surprised, because I am mixed up. Ye Gods, why can’t we talk this whole thing over. Sometimes I feel as if I were batting my head against a stone wall. Have you phoned Dad yet? (7-2605.) I don’t like to be a pest but I do so want you to. Take care of yourself darling and remember, I love you. Jane
Tuesday, June 17
The past few days have been so packed full, that I have lots to tell you. The Red Cross is, to all purposes, closed. We have a very slow girl for a secretary and I have been pinch hitting for her. I hate office routine and it has been a grind. On Wednesday evening Margie and I were invited to visit Mrs. and Mr. Alchurch, who live just down the road. Prior to the war they were living in Kenya, as he was in the Colonial Service. They were evacuated here from London. We had tea and a delightful time hearing all about West Africa.
They had a native cook, whom Mrs. A. had trained. She went in the kitchen one day and found him straining soup through a sock! She was horrified and he said “It’s alright Missy, the sock wasn’t clean.” Then she gave him a paper frill to put around a lemon pie and told him he must serve the pie with the frill on. He arrived on the scene with the pie in his hand and the frill around his neck!
On Friday I was so restless I thought I would die. Then I got a letter in the mail from Carl saying that he was eating banana pie and drinking milk and that he was going to spend the afternoon riding. That was too much for me, so Margie and I decided to go off for two days. Al and Ginna were leaving for Liverpool after lunch so we hitched a ride. They had the open jeep and we had more fun. It was a beautiful day and the ride through Birkenhead and along the Mersey River to Liverpool was quite a thrill.
We had reservations at the Red Cross Officers Club. That evening Margie and I went to Liverpool’s China Town for dinner. We ate in a wild place called The Far East. Aside from a colored soldier with his English girl (!!) we were the only occidentals. All of these Chinamen were seated around a big table diving into huge dishes of food with their chopsticks.
After dinner we walked around the town. Its a horrible place but it stays light so long that one can wander around in the evenings. We visited the Church of England Cathedral. Its interesting that the Protestant Cathedral is being designed by a Catholic, while a Protestant architect is doing the R.C. one. We wandered down by the docks, and of course there are signs of the visits of the Luftwoffe on all sides. We saw a Ferry landing so we hopped aboard the first boat and went to New Brighton just for the ride – then to bed. I have never in my life seen such hard beds!
On Saturday I got up early and went out to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. They are giving courses there now, two weeks in length, for the U.S. Med. Corps I met Prof. Blacklock, the head of the school, and he let me sit in on his final lecture. I walked in and sat down in front of the delegation from the 129 and they were rather surprised. Then I spent some time in their museum, a perfectly fascinating place. I got a ride in the 129 ambulance back to the club, where Margie and I had a sandwich and a Coke.
After lunch we set out to find Freshfield and Cousin Lil. Its not at all hard to get to from Liverpool. We walked quite a way from the Freshfield station, but finally located Aviemore on Gare’s Lane. Freshfield is a most attractive little town with winding, shaded streets and many most attractive houses. We walked up the path and knocked. The maid, Ruby, answered and I asked for Mrs. Cox, and said “Tell her Miss Lyman is here.” She went into the next room and I heard a voice say “But I don’t know any Miss Lyman.” Then Cousin Evelyn appeared – the dearest little old lady, with an amazing amount of energy. She insisted on going upstairs and getting Cousin Lillian, who has not been well and was resting. Then she laid and lit the fire. They have been having a very hard time getting enough fuel. They are dears and really quite amazing. I took my picture of you along and they said “David look a great deal stronger than he did when we saw him last” It seems that was 30 years ago! Poor Cousin Lillian confessed that she was getting a bit deaf and that she simply couldn’t understand it unless it was due to the incessant bombing they had had to put up with!! They showed me the little closet under the stairs where they used to sit during an attack and where they had their tea served. Then they showed me their closet upstairs where on a shelf they kept all of the things “that David sent.” Many times they told me how much they had meant. Their house is something out of this world. Every inch is taken up with some old picture or souvenir. They have a kitchen, dining room and sitting room downstairs, and four minute bedrooms and a bath upstairs. The brother from Windemere and his wife were coming to stay with them this week. Margie was much amused to be told that one brother lived with them until he was 70 and then he got married “Some widow caught him” ! I heard all about their visit at Springbank and what a pest Daddy was when Cousin Lil was trying to sketch. Then they took me out in the yard, a sweet little yard with a pathetic little vegetable garden. Cousin Evelyn works in the garden. They have managed to get a man who mows the lawn and keeps the hedge cut. The side of the house is shady and windy. Cousin Evelyn says “we call this pneumonia alley” When I left they gave me the quaintest picture of themselves taken years and years ago. Cousin Lillian gave me a sweet little gold bracelet and sent Clara a set of souvenir spoons she had collected in the States. Sister will die when she sees them. They are all done up in chamois and lace and say Grants Tomb, The Alamo and Remember the Maine on them. Margie took some pictures of me with one cousin on each side. I towered over them both!
From there we went to Southport for the night. The Red Cross got us a room in a small private hotel where we were very comfortable and had breakfast in bed. Southport is a lovely place. We sat in lawn chairs and listened to a band concert, rode in an open carriage along the promenade, walked on the beach, visited the Red Cross Club which is lovely, went window shopping and then went out to the amusement park. Margie argued me into going on the roller coaster, a thing I’ve always sworn I’d never do. I can’t say that I enjoyed it. We took the 3:20 train home via Liverpool and got to Wrexham at 6:30. We were lucky to get a lift back by Jeep from one of our officers.
Yesterday I worked all day in the office. My back snapped on me again and by supper time I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without pain, so I went to bed. Today I am just lying around, in hopes it will behave. I think that carrying my musette bag all weekend started it up. This is a fine time to have trouble, as in the next few days I have a lot of packing and moving to do. We have to report to London the end of the week. Margie got a call yesterday. She is being transferred to a hospital near Glasgow. In so far as we know, with the exception of a new A.F.D., the rest of us will stay together.
I was so pleased to get a letter from Agnes yesterday and one from Dad saying that Carl had phoned. I hope that you will like him as well as his voice!
Don’t be surprised if you get a pile of packages from me. I am sending home a lot of my heavy clothes, plus some souvenirs I have picked up or been given, and my horse brasses. We are all planning to put a lot of Red Cross equipment in our hand luggage and I have to make room for it. No shipping space is allotted to the Red Cross so we have to put most of our essential stuff in our own bags.
I am enclosing a money order for $100.00, to be put into my account, or if Daddy had bought those bonds, to pay him for some of it. I’m glad that he is buying bonds but only hope that all of my money isn’t going there. I will want some cash when the time comes to be lazy for a while and to get a new wardrobe. I have saved out the $100.00 as Daddy directed and hope to buy myself a real souvenir in London. I may go to Liberty’s as they are reliable. I know that they are expensive but I haven’t the time to shop around, and don’t know my old silver etc well enough not to be stung. I’d love to find a set of old coffee spoons.
All my love Jane
The past few days have been highlighted by gorgeous sunny, warm weather. We have been living in the most complete bedlam. Our hut is a mess. The bureaus have been taken out and, of course, we have no closets. Miss Grey and Margie are being transferred to Glasglow and leave on Sunday. The rest of us are trying to get organized to pack. There is no place to spread out stuff except on the floor and of course we have laundry lines in all directions. They have taken all of our blankets except two apiece and the stove has been greased and painted and we can’t use it. Sometimes when all our damp clothes are hanging in there on a rainy day its a bit chilly. The other day we debated lighting the stove as a court marshall seemed preferable to pneumonia.
Most of the time we have been able to be lazy. There have been odds and ends of work to do, winding up in the office. The rest of the time we have sat in the sun, gone down to the ice cream parlor for Sundaes, and slept late.
Theres little continuity to our doings. There have been a few incidents that might amuse you. The static water tanks have been cleaned out and are now in use as swimming pools. The other day Jim Hird, one of our detachment men, had a detail of Jerries to clean out the tank. Colonel Blount came by and said “Hird, have those men take their shoes off” Jim, who is a sweet, slow-speaking southerner, said “Yes Sir, I don’t speak any German but I’ll try” He told them to take them off and was ignored completely. None of them understood him. The Colonel on his way back said “Hird, I told you to tell those men to take their shoes off and I meant it, now get them off.” Jim is slow to anger but this time he got mad, pulled his carbine of his shoulder, cocked it, aimed it at them and said “Take those shoes off or I’ll kill every one of you.” Such a dropping of brooms, pails, mops, you have never seen. Those shoes came off like a flash.
Yesterday was out of this world. After lunch, Ginna and I put on our bathing suits and got out on a blanket in the sun by the hut. Al came along with salad oil and vinegar (3 pts to 1) for my skin. I got all greased up to keep from burning. Then he got gin and grapefruit juice for himself and Ginna, and Scotch for me. We had the best time and were joined by two of the nurses from the hut down the way.
After dinner we went back to the hut and it started to pour. First Frances and Capt. Barron (Eddie) came back from a bicycle ride, drenched to the skin. Then Al appeared. We got out the Scotch, made coffee and cooked up some “K” ration eggs. I was having a gloomy spell and felt terribly depressed. Sometimes I feel that way and don’t quite know why. Al tried to get me to have a drink, but I didn’t feel like it. Eddie said “Jane, your preoccupied this evening and thats not allowed.” They are all so nice to their Red Cross. Ruthie saw through my mood and we went for a walk in the rain. She
said “I know whats the matter with you. You’re trying to be realistic and figure things out, and it can’t be done here. Things will all work out for better or worse.” That about summed it up and when we got back, Al said “Hello transformation, have a drink” I did and we all had more fun. Ginna and Al were dancing to the radio. They had to maneuver around the laundry, the packing, the food, etc. Ginna drew some nice sketches and we had a great powwow. At about 12:30 Al departed and we all got ready for bed. I rubbed Verna’s back and she went off to sleep. Frances headed for the latrine to set her hair and I was to rub her back when she got in bed. While she was out there came a knock on the door and in came Col. Foisie, the chief of our Surgical Service and a grand person. He had been to London, finished his work there early and said he was lonesome and had to come home. He saw a light in the hut and came over to say hello (at 12:45 a.m.!) We fixed him a drink and were all sitting on Ginna’s bed talking when in comes Frances. Shes a sweet, soft spoken person, with big brown eyes, rather quiet and a bit shy. She took one look, let out a yell and fled to her corner saying “Phillip, I haven’t much modesty left, but I have a great deal of vanity.” Then we went on talking and she reminded me of the back rub. I went over to rub her back and had to stop because I was laughing so hard. She would only let me expose about two square inches. Then Phillip decided he would rub her back and she was too cute. I can hear her now “Phillip you’re not going to rub my back. Go away sweetie pie and let me alone.” She has the cutest Southern accent. Finally he left at about 1:30 with a promise to come and lie in the sun with us today. To top the evening off, when we were all finally
in bed, Verna started talking in her sleep. She had been in charge of packing supplies and getting the truck loaded. She said “You mean you can’t load one more box.” We got such a kick out of the poor girl working overtime that way.
I know this sounds like complete and utter bedlam and confusion. You must wonder just what goes on. You have to know all of these people. They are wonderful and we have such a good time with them. We certainly are lucky to have such a set-up.
We should have fun next week when we report to London. Phillip and Al are going along to help us have a good time. I got a nice letter from George Rosen yesterday. He is still in London but plans to move with his office to Versailles after the first. I have reservations in London for Monday – Thursday nights. We all have to be there Wednesday night but I am going early to have a glimpse of George and perhaps to try and get up to see Mrs. Alhusen.
The food and stockings arrived and were much appreciated. We had dinner in the office the other night with the food we had all gotten.
We all hate to see Frances go. She has been such a wonderful person to work for. Our new A.F.D. has not appeared as yet.
I have to spend the afternoon supervising the cleaning of the building and getting the floors polished. Tonight we are having a sunning and swimming party, cocktails, dinner and then a big party at the Officer’s Club.
No mail for a few days. Hope there will be some today. All my love Jane
You’d never recognize this place if you could see it now. Everything is out except a table, one chair and a box in the office. There are piles of trash in the corners on the floor, and the rest of the place is bare. I am sitting here waiting for some Jerries who are going to scrub, cart out trash and wax the floors.
Life here is quite pleasant now. We have been having the most beautiful sunny weather. There has been a little work, but not much. We have been lying around in the sun, going down to the Px for ice cream, sleeping late and staying up late. The static water tanks have been cleaned out for swimming pools. Jim Hird had a detail of Jerries to clean out the one on the B ramp. The Colonel came by and said “Hird have those men take off their shoes.” Jim said “Sir, I don’t know any German but I’ll try.” He told them to take their shoes off and they paid no attention – didn’t understand (?) The C.O. came back and said “Hird, I told you to tell them to take their shoes off, and I meant it.” Jim got mad, took his carbine, cocked it, aimed it at them and said “Take those shoes off or I’ll kill every one of you.” Such a dropping of pails, mops, and brooms you have never seen. Those shoes came off like a flash.
Our hut is like something in a bad dream. They have taken all of our bureaus. The stove has been painted so we can’t use it and we have only 2 blankets apiece. The other day it started to rain and we had laundry, wet, all over the place. It was ever so cold and damp. We debated lighting the stove as it seemed to be a choice between pneumonia or a Court Marshall.
Fortunately the sun came out.
Last night was like “You Can’t Take It With You.” We started out by lying in the sun in the afternoon. Al (Maj. Schiowitz) came over to join us, bringing salad oil and vinegar to put all over me. I get burned so easily, and never have been able to get a good tan. We had Scotch highballs and just sat and gabbed. After dinner, about 9:00 we were sitting in the hut. It was pouring outside. Frances and Eddie (Capt. Barron) came in, simply drenched, from their bicycle ride. Al came over. We got out the Scotch, made coffee and fixed up some food.
I was feeling very gloomy and blue. Didn’t want a drink, didn’t want to be sociable, didn’t want anything. In short I was very poor company. Al and Eddie both tried to jolly me out of it, but it didn’t work. Ruth saw through my mood and took me for a walk in the rain. She said “I know whats the matter with you, you’re trying to be realistic and figure things out in a sensible way, and it can’t be done.” She hit the nail on the head. I knew I wanted to see you and that I was unhappy about not being able to know what the future holds in store. The wonderful two weeks we had together seem so far away and so unreal. Theres so much you don’t know about me and vice versa. I want to be with you so much, yet it seems so hopeless. Sometimes I feel as though I were battering my head against a stone wall. We walked in the rain and talked and I felt 100% better. When I got back Al said “Hello transformation, have a drink.” I did and we all had loads of fun. Al and Ginna were trying some fancy dance steps in and out among the laundry piles. Ginna did some nice sketches. Al left at about 12:30.
We were all ready for bed when a knock came on the door and in came Col. Foisie. We gave him a drink and he sat on the bed and gabbed for a while.
When we finally turned the lights out Verna started talking in her sleep. We were so amused because she has been supervising loading the trucks with supplies. She said in a loud voice “Why can’t you take one more load.” The poor girl, working overtime like that!
On Monday I am going to London. The rest of the girls will come in on Wednesday as we have to report to the A.R.C. on Thursday for orders. Lets hope those orders are to stay with the 129th. My friend from Washington, Capt. Rosen, is there and I hope to see something of him. Remember, he is the one who told me I could weep on his shoulder any time? Last time I saw him we spent the evening walking through Hyde Park while he gave me good advice about my career in Public Health. He’ll be a bit surprised when I tell him that maybe I’m not going to be a career woman after all. Al and Col. F. are going to join us Wed. for some fun.
It makes me frantic to think of the good times we are having now and of all of the restrictions and red tape we had to put up with when you were here. Next time we meet (which I hope will be before long) we won’t have to worry about bed check, etc.
I’m just hoping that your pictures will come before I have to move and that I’ll get another letter soon. My morale has so many ups and downs now. If you were here or I were there maybe it would be all ups.
All my love Jane
July 1, 1945
My conscience is pricking because I haven’t written you for over a week, but honestly I haven’t written to anybody as I have been so busy. You will see how it has been. As for your remarks that I find time to write to you in between my letters to Carl, don’t you know better than that? You still rate first on my list and always will.
Last Saturday night Margie and I had the loveliest time. We went for a walk with two of the detachment boys and sat on a hilltop watching the sun go down and we sang all of the old songs until late. Then we went for a long walk and picked flowers and chatted. On Sunday Margie and Frances left us. They were both assigned to the 316th General Hospital in Glasglow and we miss them very much indeed. That evening – but I’m getting ahead of myself. Sunday afternoon a group of us went to Wrexham to a Strawberry Tea, given by a Welshman who is a member of the Ministry of Information. He is really quite a character and says the wildest things just to get a rise out of you. The strawberries were delicious and we all
stuffed. That evening we had a barbeque in back of the officers club. I couldn’t even look at it because of all the strawberries and cream, the cider which followed and the ride back in the truck which made me feel definitely seasick. After the barbeque four of us went for a walk – Eddie, Verna, Joe (Capt. Pacifici) and myself. We had a lovely time and sat on a rock pile out along a country lane and chatted for hours.
Monday Ruth (Spenser, from Syracuse New York) and I had our plans made to take the afternoon train to London. At lunch time we had a terrible blow and we all felt just sick about it. Al came up and told us that he was being transferred out of the unit. He has been so wonderful to us all and such an angel that we felt terribly badly about it. He was so upset because he had had his heart set on going with the unit. The next blow was to hear that Eddie was also leaving as well as several other of the nicer ones. All of our Red Cross supporters are departing and we certainly hate it. Ruth and I took the train to London. We almost missed it because the command car broke down and we had to wait for them to send back to the post for a jeep to get us there in time. The trip down was long and tiring but when we got there I was lucky to have a comfortable place to stay. I got a room in the club at Gloucester Place. You know the one I stayed in when I first got over. The reason for my trip to London was the fact that we all had to report to headquarters on Thursday. George Rosen had written me that he was leaving on the first of the month and I wanted to see something of him before he left.
On Tuesday I called George and made plans to meet him the next day. Then I went shopping, had my hair done and went to the movies with some of the girls staying at the club. It was quite a different place from the first visit. This time it was full of girls bucking to get home, girls awaiting orders, and girls trying to get out of units they did not like. They all had a gripe or one kind or another and you should have heard me sounding off about what a wonderful outfit I was with, what a charming and delightful C.O. we have and what a wonderful staff.
Wednesday morning I slept late and George called for me in time to go to the Grosvenor Mess for lunch. Then I poked around some shops until three, when he slipped out of his office. We shopped up and down Bond Street and Charing Cross Road. I was looking for a certain book and also wanted to find something to remember the trip by as you told me to. No luck. After dinner we went to see the Three Caballeros, parts of which I enjoyed no end. Then we went back to the club and had hot chocolate in the living room and talked some more. He is such a very sweet person. I don’t know how he manages all the work he does. On the side he paints, is working on a book comparing public health development in England, the States, France and Germany, is collecting material for the second volume of his book on Miner’s Diseases and has just been asked to edit the new journal on the history of medicine which is to appear in the States in 1946. He says that the present Journal of the History of Medicine has more manuscripts that it can handle and that there is really a place for such a publication. He has already been promised manuscripts by some of the leading British authorities on the subject.
The other girls (Ginna Loren and Verna Emanuel) arrived Wednesday night. Thursday morning we went over to headquarters and had a gruelling time. We spent all morning just sitting in the waiting room. Our secretary and our new AFD, who came in to meet us, were summoned up to the personnel office and came back all smiles to tell us that all had been fixed and herded us on our next stop in the clearance process. They didn’t tell us a thing and finally we got mad and said “Look, we don’t mind being a bunch of sheep, but we would like to know what goes on” They finally got around to telling us that we were staying together and that we had the assignment we all wanted. We had to clear our finances and get new clothing issue (combat pants and jacket and field shoes)
Our new AFD is a Miss Bozeman who has been with another hospital here. The first impression was fairly good but as the day wore on we got a bit worried. She is young and quite attractive. However not once all day did she warm up, show any interest in her New Staff or give us any information about herself etc. We tried very hard to be friendly and nice to her but finally gave up. I think she is unhappy about leaving her unit and that may account for it. We expect her here tomorrow and are just keeping our fingers crossed. Frances was such a charming and gracious person and got along so well with everyone, especially the Colonel, that I can’t imagine anyone taking her place.
That evening I had the most wonderful time. I discovered that Doyle Carte was playing out in Hammersmith, and managed to get two tickets. Verna had never seen them so I took her with me. The performance was the Gondoliers and of course I just sat there in seventh heaven. Then I got an idea in my head that I would like to meet Leslie Rands who had been with the Company that played in New Haven. He took the part of Giuseppe, one of the Gondoliers. After the show we beat it around to the stage door and told the doorman that we wanted to see Mr. Rands. There was an American General who had the same idea, and of course he was escorted by to the dressing room leaving us outside. We were told to wait and after he had dressed Mr. Rands came out. I told him how much I had enjoyed the performance and how I hoped that they would be playing in the States again soon and that they would certainly get a warm reception. I told him I had seen them in New Haven. He said “I have a dear friend there, her first name is Mary” I said “Mary Nettleton?” and he said “Thats right, do you know her?” Then we had quite a time talking about Mary. He insisted on going in and getting his wife and introducing
her to us. She is Marjory Eyre and played the part of Tessa the wife of Giuseppe in the play. They were both perfectly charming. He wrote a note to Mary on my program and told me to give her a kiss for him when I saw her. PLEASE don’t tell her because I want to tell her myself in the near future.
Friday was a perfectly exhausting day. Verna and I decided that we wanted to stay over another night but we did not have a bed. We got up early and went by a boarding house to pick up a watch she had left with the woman there. The proprietress is a floozy blonde, just what I imagine the Madame of a “House” must look like. She had on a sloppy house coat and old slippers. We had heard that the place was all right and clean so we asked her if she had a room. We were quite taken aback when she said “Let me see, I don’t have a double room. Most of my rooms have four beds in them. There is one room with four beds. I have a Major and a Captain there but they won’t mind” I looked at Verna and her eyes were twinkling and I could see that she was having a hard time keeping her face straight. Then our hostess went on to remark that she could move them out. Then she offered to fix us up with dates. We were much amused and said that we were going to the theatre and she said, quick as you please “Oh, maybe you’d like to be fixed up for nigh clubbing afterwards.” We declined politely and left. We went over to Grosvenor and had a drink with Al and Ginna who were staying there. He had come in to meet her. We told them of our setup for the night and Al, who always looks after the Red Cross was much concerned. He made us promise to call him if we needed any help.
After lunch Verna and I went shopping. She collapsed at three and went back to the room for a rest but I continued on as I was determined to take advantage of every minute and would rest up when I got home. I found just what I wanted – a beautiful old mother of pearl card case, large enough and deep enough to be made into a wonderful evening compact or cigarette case, and then a pair of George II silver serving spoons, perfectly lovely. They have all the proper marks on them and the man gave me a written guarantee etc.
We had had so much fun the evening before that we decided that we simply had to go back to the G. and S. We didn’t have seats so we went early and there was already a long line for the unreserved seats. While we were standing there Verna suggested that I go and ask if there had been any cancellation. We were lucky again and got two seats. We had a half an hour to the performance so we went to a little restaurant next door for fish and chips. There were no vacant tables so the waitress asked a gentleman who was alone if we could sit with him. We got talking and he asked us if we were going to the show. We said yes and Verna took a shot in the dark and said “Aren’t you in the cast.” He was. He played the Duke of Plaza Toro the night before and was to the the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe that night. We had a very interesting chat with him. Fifteen minutes before show time he was still eating fish and chips. Then he asked us to pop around after the show and to have a drink with him. I asked him if he were singing “The nightmare song” and he said that it was one of the most difficult of them all to sing. We sat next to two very nice English girls during the performance and they couldn’t figure us out. We seemed to know some of the cast and during the intermission the manager came around and told us that Mr. Rands had been asking if we were in the audience. After the performance, which was delightful, we went back to Mr. Grahame Cliffords dressing room. He had beer for us and insisted on taking our names and addresses in case he comes to the States. He gave us autographed pictures of himself as the Lord Chancellor and made us promise to have dinner with him if we got a chance to get to London again. When I was at home I had heard that Martyn Greene had been killed in the Aircorps. I asked about him and they said that he was in the Air Corps but was alive and well and out in India. The Company lost five of their sets during the Blitz and won’t be able to put on those Operas until after the war. You can imagine how thrilled I was by the whole thing.
Saturday we took the train home. It was a long, tiring trip, with the train late. Our Colonel is an angel. Transportation was waiting for us at the train. We got in at about 8:00. No sooner had we hit our hut but there came a knock on the door and the Officer of the Day came in to say that the Colonel had sent him to welcome us back, that supper was waiting for us in the mess hall and that we were expected over at the officers club for a party. We went to the party, which was for the new members of the unit. The club had been all decorated with flowers and they had a long receiving line for the new staff, including a new chief nurse and a new assistant. They both seemed so nice and it will make such a difference to the morale of the nurses who couldn’t stand the old chief nurse.
We spent today packing. Dinner was lots of fun. They served a buffet in the officers club. Sgt. Kemble, the Chaplain’s assistant played dinner music. Then Sgt. Martell of the dental clinic played Jazz as only he can do. Then various members of the staff got up and performed. They even made the Red Cross get up and do something. None of us have any parlor tricks and we ended up by leading them all in singing “Dinah.” Colonel Blunt even got up and sang a silly ditty entitled “Oh, Monkeys Don’t Have Tails in Zamboanga” (They were bitten off by whales). We had quite a floor show of local talent. There is the nicest spirit about this unit. Everyone has such a good time for themselves and the officers act like a bunch of kids.
We spent the evening packing and then invited two of the nurses in for a drink of Scotch and some popcorn which we made over our fire.
Now you are caught up on the news. I guess you will gather that you will be seeing me soon. Can you stand it? Mail is funny. I got two letters today from Daddy, one dated May 21 and one June 24. Something must have been happening to my letters because until this one I have been writing regularly. I got the write up about Gaylord and it was very interesting.
All my love Jane
July 2, 1945
These past few days have been more than hectic and I’m afraid that I have been neglecting my letters. You haven’t been far from my thoughts at any time. We all got back from London on Saturday night after a week there. We had a wonderful time, and best of all got the assignment we wanted. It looks as if I’d be seeing you before long. How does that strike you? It seems almost too good to be true and I’m just holding my breath. I’m just praying that your pictures will come before I have to move.
Where will you be, I wonder? I’m glad that I have your phone number because it won’t take long to find out. Mails are most unsatisfactory things and I’m just waiting for another line from you.
There have been quite a few changes in this unit. All of our old standbyes have left, leaving us completely sunk. We hated to see them go as they always took such good care of us and we could call on them for anything. There is a new head nurse who seems very nice and should be a great improvement.
London was great fun. I am crazy about Gilbert and Sullivan music and when I heard that the Doyle Carte Company was playing, I was thrilled. They are the original company and I had seen them on both of their tours to the States. Verna (one of our new girls), went with me. After the show (The Gondoliers) we went around to the stage door and I asked to see Leslie Rands, whom I had seen in New Haven. He came out and also introduced us to his wife. We discovered some mutual friends in New Haven and he sent messages to them. Both he and his wife were charming. The next evening we went back, although we didn’t have any tickets. We were lucky to pick up two cancellations, and as we had time to spare, stopped in at a restaurant for fish and chips. We were seated at a table with a gentleman who turned out to be a member of the cast. He had the leading comic role. He was charming and invited us around to his dressing room after the show for a drink. It was my first venture backstage and we had a lovely time. Also, during the intermission the manager came up to us and said that Mr. Rands, our friend of the night before, had asked if we were in the audience.
You would have been amused by our rooming situation. When we decided to stay over an extra day we had no room. We happened to go by a rooming house to pick up a watch that had been left there for Verna. The proprietress was a floozy looking blonde in a shabby house coat – she fitted my mental picture of the Madame of a “house.” We asked her if she had any rooms and she said “Well, let me see. I have a room with four beds in it. There are a major and a captain in there, but they won’t mind.” Verna and I didn’t dare look at each other. I knew she was having a hard time keeping a straight face as I was. Then she went on to say “I’ll just move them out.” We signed the register and she asked us if we would like to be fixed up with dates! We said no, that we had plans for the evening, that we were going to the theatre. She didn’t miss a trick because she then said “Maybe you’d like to go night clubbing afterwards.”
After we had left our things we went to the Grosvenor House and had drinks with Ginna and Al. He was much upset when we told him, but we allowed that we could take care of ourselves, and promised to call him if we needed help. Of course everything turned out well, the beds were divine and the place clean and quite all right, including a delicious breakfast with fresh eggs. We were a bit surprised when we got in, however, and she said “There is a key in your door but please leave it in the lock (on the outside) because the lock is broken. That was a new one, so we did as she asked and just propped a chair under the doorknob on the inside.
Our C.O. is certainly an angel. When we got back here there was transportation waiting and no sooner had we gotten back to the hut than the A.O.D. came over saying that the Colonel had sent him to welcome us back, that supper was ready for us in the mess hall and that we were expected at the club for a party. It is grand to be with such thoughtful and friendly people.
We had a buffet supper in the officers club last night. Sgt. Kemble, the Chaplain’s assistant played dinner music. Then Sgt. Martell came and played Jazz as only he can do it. They called various groups to perform, including the Red Cross. None of us have any parlor tricks and we felt like a bunch of dopes. Finally Martie played Dinah and we led them all in singing it. Colonel Blount got up with all of the Chiefs of Services and sang “Monkeys don’t have tails in Zamboanga” (they were bitten off by whales)
We met our new boss in London and were not impressed. Shes young and rather hard-looking and made no effort whatever to be friendly. I hope that my first impression will prove false.
Thats enough rambling for now, honey. If my letters should stop soon you will know that there is a good reason for it. I miss you all the time and can’t wait to see you.
All my love Jane
The highlight of the fourth of July was a sweet letter from you. I simply cannot understand why you have not been getting my letters. I’ve really been good about writing, but its no effort to write to you. Did you ever get the picture of Dr. Kildare that we drew? I sent it along with the others, weeks ago. I have been sending all of my letters to your home as I was afraid that you might move at any time and I was sure that your mother would do a better job of forwarding than the Army would.
We had the most amazing Fourth I have ever spent. We had a parade with a 48 gun salute, a bagpipe band in kilts and the Lord Mayor of Wrexham in all of his regalia. They even marched the P.W.’s out to watch proceedings. After a delicious lunch with chicken and ice cream we had a cricket game. The British played but some of our ball team took part and our English friends were both amazed and amused by all of the yelling and free advice from the crowd.
Yesterday Verna and I went down to the 168th for a visit. We spent the afternoon with some English friends of hers and were given all of the red raspberries and strawberries we could eat. It was a real treat and I made a pig of myself. Last evening we went over to the club at the hospital and had a nice time talking, eating, and drinking. Verna had been stationed there before she came to us. The 168th is an old Iceland outfit. They have had a bad deal. After 2 years in Iceland they were sent here without any leave home. They are now starting on their 5th year overseas. They have been kicked around a lot, first being used as a PW hospital and then being given the only outfit of colored nurses in the E.T.O. [European Theater of Operations]
We are all going frantic sitting around. I hope to be able to spend next weekend in Sheffield visiting a very charming Englishman and his wife. I met him coming over. I was much amused by a letter I got from him. George was bound and determined that I was going to marry and Englishman and stay over here. In his letter he said “It will be a shame if you are whisked away before you have a chance to marry or to make the arrangements.” I can just imagine myself marrying an Englishman and settling down here.
I went riding the other day with a group of 16 of our officers and nurses. Most of them were beginners and hardly knew one end of the horse from the other. I wish I had had a movie camera along because there were horses and people flying off in every direction. I got a very good mount and had a lovely time, although I am ever so stiff now. Tomorrow we have Rhumba lessons in the morning and are going to a horseshow in the afternoon. Imagine, being paid for these weeks of leisure!
From your letter I am completely up in the air about your future plans, as I suppose you are too. Unfortunately it seems possible that your furlough will be over when I get home. Of course I’ll just have to see you and we’ll manage it somehow. I don’t know how long I’ll have before going on to my new assignment. I’d certainly like to have a chance to meet your family. There are so many things I want to talk over with you too. Mother has written me some pretty grim letters. The last one made me see absolutely red and I’m glad that I decided to ignore it instead of answer it. Its impossible to discuss anything in the mail, especially when she has not met you. Anyhow, I have told them that I have not made any final decision, so they have no need to get excited. If I do decide that my Carl is the one and that I think we would be happy together we can all sit down calmly and have it out.
I too find letters a poor substitute and would give anything to have you with me. I miss you very much and you are never far from my thoughts. I do so wonder what the future holds for us. Mother is much upset about the difference in our educational backgrounds. Dad pointed out that my Grandfather had never finished High School; he left school to go to work and was very successful. He did add, however, that most businesses give preference to college graduates and asked me if you had ever considered taking a business course. Knowing you I am not worried about your getting to the top in whatever you undertake. Have you thought of taking a course in Merchandising, Advertising or Business Management? It would take you a bit longer to get started but you might get something better in the end. I don’t know what the situation is in those fields, but its an idea. Aren’t you entitled to it under the G. I. Bill of Rights if you want it? As things stand I shall be tied up in the Red Cross for a while yet. Lets hope it won’t be long, for I long to see this whole business over so that all of our private lives will be our own.
The possibility of seeing you soon is too wonderful. I dream of it and think of it constantly. My first move will be to phone your mother and find out where you are.
All my love Jane
Friday July 6th
The past few days have been busy ones. Tuesday afternoon 16 of us went riding. It was good fun and I had two very good mounts. Most of the crowd were beginners and I only wish that I had had my movie camera with me. There were horses and people flying around in every direction. I went for a short group ride and spent the rest of the afternoon in the big fields nearby. The Protestant Chaplain came along and was very funny. Hes a very tall, blonde Texan, who towered above some of the small horses. He was too funny about the English saddles. He said that if he had a lot of money he could endow the English with a beautiful cathedral, or a university, but he guessed what they needed most were some decent saddles! That evening I sat around the club having beer with Capt. Lilly, who had gone riding with us. Do you remember I wrote you that when I tried to get sheets one of the officers was so nasty? I didn’t know him at the time, but it turned out to be Capt. Lilly. He spent half the evening appologizing. It seems that he always has trouble with people about sheets and had had quite a row with one of the nurses who must have told the Colonel, because Colonel Blount had said to him “Lilly, why do you have to be nasty to little girls about sheets? You know you shouldn’t!” I was amused to have him apologize six weeks later!
Wednesday was a most unusual day. I celebrated the fourth of July by going to the Mess Hall for breakfast for the first time since I got here. It wasn’t hard to get up because at 6:30 the post orchestra came riding through the officers quarters on a trailer behind a Jeep playing “Honeysuckle Rose,” Reveille, and all their favorites.
At 11:30 we had a ceremony. The Mayor and Mayoress of Wrexham were there, he in his red robes and official regalia. The British provided two guns for a 48 gun salute, we had a Scottish bagpipe band, our own band, a parade of officers,
nurses and detachment. The Jerry PW’s were also paraded out to watch the proceedings. Lord and Lady Kenyon, neighbors of ours were there. Just before the parade began Alex (Capt. Alexander, the executive officer), came running over with a job for us. The Parade ground is right back of the last line of nurses huts and some of the gals had their laundry out. The Scotch band was lined up in front of girdles, brassieres and stockings waving in the breeze and Ginna and I had to go and take them down amid much comment.
Lunch was extra nice with flowers, tablecloths, chicken and ice cream. Colonel Blount sat at the head table with the guests and in his usual gracioius manner he introduced them all to us. After lunch the British put on a cricket match for us. It was lots of fun because they put some of our ball team on either side and of course the crowd cheered and gave free advice in usual baseball style, much to the amazement and amusement of our British friends. The match was followed by a soft-ball game with another hospital.
Thursday morning Verna and I bummed a ride with the daily dispensary run to the 168th Station Hospital near Warrington, where Verna had been stationed before. We left our things there and then went and spent the afternoon with some English friends of hers, the Nicoles. They have a lovely home and were most hospitable. They live in Winulick. Dr. Nicole is French and Swiss; she is English. He is the Supt. of the County Mental Hospital of some 2,000 beds. Their home adjoins the hospital and is lovely, especially the grounds. Mrs. Nicole greeted us and took us out in the yard. They have a lovely large lawn, with a beautiful flower border. We sat out there and had tea, which consisted chiefly of two large bowls of fresh
raspberries and strawberries from their garden. It was such a treat and we just stuffed. Dr. Nicole joined us. He is delightful. We were much interested in reading the proofs of his new book on Normal and Abnormal Psychology. Then I discovered that he is a stamp collector and we went into his study and I had a lovely time looking over his stamps. He has asked me to trade with him if the time ever comes when I can. He has a lovely collection and has never bought a stamp. He gets them all by trading or as he says “scrounging.” He has a lovely study, overlooking their garden, and filled with books. We had a glass of sherry with them and then went back to the hospital. We missed the bus, but were lucky enough to get a ride.
After a nap we went over to the Officers Club and spent a lovely evening eating, drinking (the first rum I’ve had, and my favorite) and [ ]. I liked all of the officers very much. It is a very interesting outfit but they certainly have gotten a rough deal. They have been overseas for over four years. They spent two years in Iceland and then, without any leave in the States were sent here. They were used as a P.W. hospital and now they are the only outfit in the E.T.O. with coloured nurses. Its pretty grim for them.
We overslept this morning and missed our transportation home. We had to take a bus from Warrington to Chester. There we had tea at the Red Cross, I bought 10 more Horse Brasses and we got a bus to Wrexham and then a taxi back to the Hospital, which cost us 6 dollars(!) but was well worth it to save the wear and tear.
Our new AFD is here and I still haven’t figured her out. She seems nice enough, but she doesn’t make any attempt to loosen up.
I hope to be able to get up to Sheffield next weekend to visit the Prices. It looks as if I will be able to make it as things stand. Please get out my summer clothes, at least a few nice ones, so that I can luxuriate in civilian clothes before too long!
Tuesday, July 9
At this point I am stretched out in the sun in my bathing suit, trying to decide whether or not its warm enough or not. This weather is so impossible. First its sunny and warm, and then the sun sneaks behind a cloud. I’m trying my best to acquire some sort of a sun tan, and you know how almost impossible that is for me.
Friday, after I wrote you, we had the funniest conversation outside of our hut. We had all gone to bed and our laundry was out on the line in back. The first thing I knew I heard a man’s voice saying “one, two, three . . there’s eight,” The other said “no, there’s twelve” I recognized the voices of two of our doctors, both screwballs, and a lot of fun. I said “Verna, they’re after your laundry.” She flew out of bed and stuck her head out of the door and said “If you take that laundry I’ll murder you.” Capt Mitchell said “Oh no Ma’am. We’re not taking any, we’re just counting it.” We went back to bed and were much amused at the argument that went on about how many pairs of pants were on the line. We teased them both the next day about seeing double.
Saturday was a busy one. I got up early and went over to the ball field for practice. The nurses had challenged the officers to a game of softball on Sunday. The detachment turned out to help us. They put five girls on each side and filled in with the boys. They got a big kick out of us. I hit one ball and started for first base. My feet bogged down, I couldn’t move and fell flat on my face, sliding right down the base line, getting covered with chalk and a big bruise on my knee.
After lunch a busload of us, led by Major Cohen from Bridgeport, went to a local Gymkhana. You know what fun I always have when there are horses around! I have seldom seen so many cute children and lovely ponies. We got back late, and supposedly were to have dinner waiting. We were all hungry and completely disgusted to be fed cold corned beef, greasy luke-warm beans, cold mashed potato and cold coffee. Ugh!
Verna and I took our time dressing and went over to the club at about 9:30. I hadn’t planned to enjoy myself, but as it turned out I had a grand time with a British “Leftenent” named Henry Hall. I had sat next to him at the cricket match on the 4th and had tried to explain our baseball to them. It was a very nice party. They had the bagpiper from across the way and we danced some Scottish reels. I came home with the insignia of the Northamptonshire Regiment ( a lovely silver horse) and one of the Royal Artillery which had been worn all through the North African campaign.
Sunday I turned out for the baseball game, but was not needed, so I joined the spectators and had a lot of fun. The nurses have a way of freezing out the Red Cross which gets under ones skin at times and the only solution is to ignore it. Of course we were there cheering for the girls. I almost got mad at one point. Verna was yelling too. One girl was put out at third base, and it was so obvious that there wasn’t any question. The nurses were yelling “she’s safe,” Verna said “No, she was out” and a nasty little blonde turned around and said “You wouldn’t expect the Red Cross to support the nurses.” UGH!
The game was lots of fun and quite funny. I nearly expired when Major Cohen was trying to run from first to second and the gal on second ran out and held him while the shortstop put him out. Then the chaplain, our tall Texan, slid to base and knocked down the little gal playing third. It was good fun. After the game we were all hot – I had quite a sunburn- and we went over to the club for beer and a movie.
Yesterday was too awful. We are all perfect wrecks today and I can hardly move. At 12:30 all of the officers and nurses, with the exception of a few with better sense, piled onto three busses. We were supposed to go on a hike and picnic. It was cloudy when we started. We drove through lovely country to a village in the Vale of Llyngollen. There was a Welshman along for a guide who is a mountain climber from way back. You remember these Welsh valleys, how steep the hills are on either side? We hiked for 3 ½ hours. It seems we only went 6 miles to where the busses met us but I never thought I’d make it. The first 3 miles were uphill all the way. It was grim. We had our combat suits on and the pants and jacket are wool and heavy. I was simply drenched with perspiration. We were all concentrating so hard on keeping up that we couldn’t enjoy the view, which was really gorgeous. When we got to the top of the ridge it started to pour and it was windy. We were all soaked and shivering after being so hot. We sat and listened to a lecture on Welsh History. We walked a mile along the ridge on the level and then two miles down a steep incline which was almost as bad as going up. By then my knees were knocking and all of my muscles screaming for a rest. Even the men and the most athletic girls were beat up.
Did you ever hear of anything so silly, taking us on a hike like that without previous training? Col. Blount was the only one who showed no signs of being tired.
The busses were waiting for us at the end and our dinner was served outside of the small inn by our Mess Sargent. We were all too tired to enjoy the chicken and ice cream, although all of the children of the village had a lovely time. You should have seen them lining up for ice cream. The Liverpool newspaper had sent a man to take a picture of the whole group and he got one of the Sgt giving ice cream to the children. The payoff came on the way back when Col. Blount had to stop and go through some fish hatcheries. I balked with Ginna (who had had to be carried the last 500 yards) and we stayed on the bus. Honestly, last night I thought I should die. I was too tired to sleep. Everyone wanted a hot bath and it was late before I got a tub and then the water was lukewarm. Today the leg I fell on playing baseball is so stiff and sore that I can’t move it with any degree of comfort. You have never seen such a bunch of sad sacks as we are today.
I called George Price in Sheffield today and I am going up there tomorrow for two days. I have to be back here on Friday morning because we are trying to organize a detachment show and we have a meeting then.
Carl has been wonderful about writing, and as Clara told me, you can learn a lot about people from their letters. He isn’t sure about a discharge as yet and heaven knows where he’ll be when I hit the States. He’s wonderful about my work. He said he would never ask me to give it up, because he knew that I felt I should do it; that he would always be proud of the fact that I was with the Red Cross, and when it is all over he will be within hailing distance if I decide I am ready for a different king of a job. He is one in a million.
All my love to you Jane
Sat. July 14th
My trip to Sheffield was a huge success. On Wednesday morning I rode to Warrington with the ambulance on the dispensary run, had lunch at the hospital, took the Jeep to the station and from there to Manchester. I had a while between trains so I dropped into the Red Cross and had a cup of coffee with a couple of G.I.s George met the train at Sheffield and took me straight to a hotel for tea. Then we drove out to their house in Gridleford, about 5 miles out of town. We had a delicious meal, complete with Sauterne and then spent the evening motoring around the countryside. Derbyshire is perfectly beautiful.
Thursday morning I slept until 11:00. It was so luxurious to be in a big double bed with a lovely blue comforter on it. We met George in town and had lunch at a very smooth hotel and then they took me to hear Madam Butterfly, given by the Royal San Carlo Opera Company. It was delightful. After the Opera we went out to the cricket club and saw a game between the Sheffield Collegians and an Australian RAF team. I had the game carefully explained to me and I really enjoyed it very much. I met some very nice people. Of course they all stopped for tea. The score was 156 to 132, the game lasted 3 hours and each side came to bat only once! We had dinner at the club after the game and then went for a ride.
George gave me his report to read – he is a mining engineer and was sent by the Ministry of Fuel and Power to make a survey of coal mines in the U.S. (Ohio, West Va and Illinois).
I had to catch a 7:30 train on Friday and got here at 2:00, tired but happy and grateful to them for all of their hospitality.
When I got back I found two letters from my Carl and a wonderful picture in a lovely leather case. Everyone has been having a fit over it. I know that I am prejudiced but he is a fine looking boy. If he is discharged when I get home I don’t know what I’ll do. I can’t see letting him sit around waiting for me for goodness knows how long – not after all he has been through. Ah well, no use crossing that bridge yet.
I’m on my way to a horse show now, so I have to sign off. We also have a dance tonight. Starting Monday we have to do calisthenics every a.m. at 9:15! I guess it will be good for us. I sure hope I won’t be sitting around here much longer.
All my love Jane Friday June 20th [JULY] Dear family
This was a thrilling day. Do you remember my regrets about not going up Snowdon in the cable car when we drove by there? Well today I did just that. Thirty doctors and nurses went in a bus. We left after breakfast and the drive was lovely. It brought back many memories as we drove through Colwlyn Bay and Conway Castle. Do you remember how the road there goes right through the old gateway of the castle? We had our lunch with us, sandwiches, eggs, cookies and pineapple juice. The cable car didn’t go to the top because there was such a gale blowing. We went about 2/3 rds to 3/4ths of the way up, then got out and walked around. It was cold and windy, but the view was perfectly gorgeous. The barren, rolling hills have a great charm for me. Those bare mountain sides with their stone walls and sheep grazing. One gal with us was bored stiff and said she’d settle for the Adirondocks. Can you imagine people with such little imagination?
This past week has been another comparatively idle one. I went to another horse show, got up to calisthenics every morning and have played lots of bridge with Verna as a partner. We have a tournament on with the girls in hut 13. We haven’t held the cards and at present we owe them 13 double Scotches each. The other night three inspecting officers were here from London and I spent the evening talking to them at the club. They were very nice. The funny part of it was that Verna nearly expired when they walked in because the major in charge of the group was the only man in the ETO that she has ever stood up on a date!
On Sunday I went to church in the morning and again in the evening when we had a service at the little Methodist Church across the road and sang American hymns for the local congregation. After the service I went with the Chaplain to see the Alchurches and had tea and sandwiches with them.
The hospital has taken part in several ceremonies the past week, but as Red Cross doesn’t enter into military functions unless requested to do so we weren’t there. The first took place in Wrexham when the unit marched to the church and presented the city with a plaque, thanking them for their hospitality. A similar ceremony, but on a smaller scale was held at the local parish church, when we gave them a scroll.
The other night at the club a group of Welshmen representing the local district council was there. They made speeches thanking us for all we had done, praising the conduct of the American troops, telling us how different we were from what the movies had led them to believe etc. Major Nardi played the piano and we all sang many American songs for them.
The highlight of the week was the reassignment of Al Schiowitz to our unit. We were all thrilled by the news and fell all over him when he got back, beaming from ear to ear like a small boy. I’ve written you many times about how perfectly wonderful he has been to us all. The unit just wasn’t the same when he was away and we all have that wonderful feeling
that there is someone whose shoulder we can weep on and who is always there to help out in any emergency. Hes a very real and sincere person and just the salt of the earth.
Tomorrow I hope to go into Whitchurch with the mail truck to get some more horse brasses. Theres a place there that has them lining the rafters. Then there will be a big party at the club tomorrow night. Its our last one and in addition its Colonel Blounts birthday. It should be fun because Verna has invited some of her friends up from the 168th and she asked Capt.
Graham for me. He was very nice to me when I was down there.
This will be my last letter darlings. Don’t be surprised if you get a phone call before too many moons are over and for goodness sakes have my summer clothes out and ready for action.
All my love Jane
Tuesday July 24th
My last letter was supposedly the last, but I found that I can get this one off to you. Many things have happened these past few days. Last Saturday evening we had a dance at the club. Capt. Polin, the psychiatrist took me in tow and I did have a nice time dancing. I couldn’t help thinking of that line “It’s just someone to dance with”. Hes a good dancer but a bit on the dopey side. On Sunday morning I went to chapel. The Organ had been packed so Sgt. Kemble played the piano accordion, or as the fellows say, the stomach steinway. After lunch I played 4 sets of tennis with Captain Schfelt.
Sunday evening we had a tremendous time. The Detachment was having a dance in the theatre and we were invited. This was the first time we had been allowed to go to an enlisted men’s dance! You see we have the funny situation of being under the Chief Nurse and subject to the same regulations as the nurses; they as officers can’t go. Col. Blount said that from now on the Red Cross is to go and thats as it should be.
About five o’clock that afternoon we were told that we were invited and could we do any decorating. We took flowers and Verna and I made a large sign with “Cherio Wales” on one side, Sad Sack rowing in a lifeboat and “Hello U.S.A.” on the other. The boys were wonderful. They fussed over us like mother hens, bringing us beer, cigarettes etc. One of them said “Are you staying with us” and when I said “You bet” he said “that’s right, you’re our girls.” It made us feel very good. I wish that I had the time or the space to describe all of the characters there. Some of them were out of this world. It was like watching 16 sideshows at once. You’ve never seen so many different dance steps in your life or heard as many different lines as these boys hand out. There is one short fellow who does imitations of Donald Duck. Hes short and stocky and walks like a duck. Hes a born comedian. The boy they call Zoot Suit is good for an evenings entertainment anytime. He is a really good jitterbug. When he gets going everyone clears the floor. He does the splits, kicks over his head etc. He too is short, he wears a long jacket and his pants, which are always on the baggy side are tucked into his shoes. His hair is long on top and when he dances it falls over his eyes and he tosses it back in rhythm with the dance. There are many, many others like the little Italian boy with the curly hair and big brown eyes who knows all the dance halls in Bridgeport and New Haven. Andy Harper who was the night ward boy when I was sick, Bill Combs the day ward boy, Jim Heard who plays with the Hillbillies and George Armbruster, a cute kid with a nice voice who looks as if he had just walked off of a college campus (he did just that). We have a very fine group of boys in the detachment. Verna and I were busy lining up talent for our detachment show and we found a lot of it. At twelve the orchestra quit and Harper walked us home.
Last night Verna and I went to Liverpool with a group of officers and nurses who were going roller skating. We went to the movies. Then we all met at the officers club for cokes and food and drove back. We rode in an Army truck and were bounced to death on those hard boards they call seats. We sang all the way home, led by Chaplain Browning.
This morning I got up for breakfast and went riding with Major Cohen. We rode for 2 hours and had a lot of fun. After lunch I went on a road march with 150 of the detachment and 6 officers. When we took a break along the way Colonel Blount gave a talk on Yaws, their cause, treatment and prevention.
After dinner we went down to the theatre to a band concert given by the British band attached to the Unit taking over Pealey. They were good. Then we went over to the club and I danced with Capt. Polin as long as I could stand it. I’ve had enough today to last me the rest of my life.
The man who owns the horses has offered to let me ride one of them over to a show at Bangor on Dee tomorrow. I’m still trying to decide. Its a good horse and I’d get a free ride.
We have had a very unpleasant situation here with our new AFO. You know from my letters what a part of the family Al is. Well the other day Ginna came home without any dinner and not feeling very well. Major Leino our head nurse sent Al over to see if she’d eat anything, so he was in the hut when Miss Bozeman came in. As he was leaving he said jokingly “May I sneak out the back way, its shorter.” Her retort was, in all seriousness “If you have to sneak out maybe it would be better if you hadn’t come in at all. You know you are not supposed to be in here.” We were all completely floored. I could have murdered her. I have seldom seen such a hurt expression in my life as that on Al’s face. Although she apologized to Ginna the next day none of us can quite forgive her. It makes it very awkward because Al has always been around, sat with us in the mess hall etc. Now he won’t sit with us when shes there, so Ginna goes and sits with him and the split is noticable. Of all people to make a remark like that to she picked the worst. She can’t afford to alienate the best friend the Red Cross has. Al told us that if she didn’t meet us half way he’d fix her and he will too.
This is my last letter until I see you, cross my heart. I’m really so excited at the prospect of the weeks ahead that I can hardly stand it.
My mother was a Red Cross volunteer stationed at the 129th General Hospital in Overton-on-Dee in 1945. She wrote long, descriptive letters home, which I have donated to the WW2 US Medical Research Centre in Boston, Lincolnshire. I did make transcripts, that I am attaching for your information.
Virginia Jenkins. Hyde Park, Vermont, USA