Posts Tagged ‘war’

SUPER HELEN

April 30, 2017

helen-in-cape

I have to admit that I’m not sure how I came across this cape. I discovered it when I unrolled an Army sleeping bag. Helen did not like the Army’s fashion sense. More than once, she got in trouble for not wearing her helmet or her cap.

Who could blame her? Here’s how the Army described the clothing for Army nurses:  Cape, Olive Drab, Nurses’ – Stock No. 55-C-5910
Wool Barathea Cape in two layers, with newly designed collar and buttoned tab closure, in Olive Drab Shade No. 51      Jacket, Wool, Olive Drab, Women;  Skirt, Wool, Olive Drab Dark; Trenchcoat, Wool . . .

Adding insult to injury (as Mom used to say), nurses had to pay for their own uniforms–plus their nurse’s uniforms! Not many of my frugal parents’ uniforms survived because as soon as they were out of the Army, they re-purposed coats and jackets so they could wear them in civilian life.

UNCLE WILBUR EBERHART

April 25, 2017

Uncle Web

If  you’ve read WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE, then you’ve already met my Uncle Wilbur, aka Uncle Web. Helen received a touching letter from him while they were both in active duty during WW2. And she told Frank proudly that her brother lost a rank or two because he’d decked an officer who’d barged into an elderly German lady’s home to steal the silver candlesticks he’d spied in her window. I had a big fat scene about him, but it was one of many I had to cut, or the book would have run over 1,000 pages. Helen loved her big brother twins, Walter and Wilbur.

Here’s what Wilbur’s son, my cousin Roger, related: Dad earned 2 Bronze stars. I know that one was when they left him behind to resupply ammunition for his 155 mm cannon.  Germans counter attacked with tanks rushing over the hill.  He said that being alone, he has to choose to run or fight. He loaded the shells by himself and fired them like a rifle.  After several rounds, the tanks turned around.  Good thing he still had the strength of a farm boy. Those shells probably weighed about 100 lbs each. His favorite story was after the war ended.  His job, since he spoke some German, was to tour the area and round up stragglers. A young boy was trying to get home.  Dad picked him up.   A Lieutenant stopped his jeep and ordered him to put that boy in the field with soldiers that had surrendered.  As you may have guessed, he chose to ignore that order since the field offered no protection from the rain etc. Instead, he drove him to his parents home. They were so happy to see their boy that he was invited to stay for dinner.  He said it wasn’t much but was still the best food he has eaten in months. Most of his stories were about people he met and not about battles. 

 

 

WITH LOVE…Before and After

April 21, 2017

2 Franks

War changes everything, including warriors. Lt. Frank R. Daley, M.D. is in both photos. In the first one, I think he looks so young and eager, still stateside, but about to travel and see the world. In the bottom photo, he’s on his way to Alsace-Lorraine, a stopover before pushing into Germany with a battalion unit. He’s seen a lot, too much. He knows that the railroad car he’s traveling in was purloined from the Nazis. And he strongly suspects that the train had been used to carry captives to concentration camps.

I discovered the second photo in one of Frank’s letters to Helen. At first, I wondered at his odd expression from the box car. Then I read the letter. He explains that he was sucking on a rare piece of hard candy when the picture was taken.

WITH LOVE. . . In War

April 18, 2017

 

Imagine being crazy in love, marrying in haste because you might not be together until the war ends, then being shipped overseas to the front, but to different countries. With nothing but their letters to keep them together for months at a time, Helen and Frank (aka Mom and Dad) wrote each other 2-3 times a day, often signing: With Love, Wherever You Are. Delivery of those letters was unreliable, with no word for days and days, and then a flood of 14 letters.

These V-mails were supposed to travel faster than letters. Both Helen and Frank hated the V-mails because there was never enough room to say all they wanted to say. I had much the same reaction to the tiny V-mails, though for different reasons. Their handwriting had to be so tiny that the letters are hard to read. Thankfully, they discovered that the infamous V-mails traveled no faster than their regular letters, so they went back to writing letters.

Food ration stamps, mail stamps, and even matches bore war slogans. Frank wrote his bride: “War gets into every corner.”

WITH LOVE…In Rennes, France

April 15, 2017

Rennes 3

Helen eventually got to Rennes, France, where she cared for Allied soldiers with everything from trench foot and amputations to shrapnel and gunshot, rare diseases, and victims of shell-shock. She also cared for German prisoners of war and survivors of the horrible concentration camps. Frank moved from France to Alsace-Lorraine, then on into Germany, where he set up a battalion aid station. I love the picture with both of them on a rare rendezvous, the light from above shining down on them.

With Love, Hair-ever You Are

April 12, 2017

hair (2)

First lieutenant Frank R. Daley, M.D., U.S. Army, took issue with the orders of a certain bald Colonel, orders which had little to do with combat. I don’t understand why the colonel wanted Frank to cut his hair. Helen loved to run her fingers through those curls. But Frank’s refusal, along with his comment to the hairless colonel: “I guess misery loves company,” put him on the train to a much more dangerous assignment.