The title does not tell it all. Was a wonderful day out. Warm, in the 40’s and lovely to be out in. I went to the town hall and opted out of them collecting twigs etc all spring and summer. They call it a fee, I call it additional taxes that I can refuse to pay.
Then I went to my chair yoga class and stretched out all my muscles that were sore from walking yesterday. My dear neighbor Jo was there and next week I will pick her up and drive her. She thinks she is the oldest person there. When we moved here her daughter babysat for us and her husband stopped by and told us a lot of the history of our home since one of their daughters married one of the sons of this house way back then. I rushed off to a meeting which was lots of fun. I love prevention meetings. And then after making a lovely little gluten free pizza we headed off to the Capital District Celtic Cultural Association for a concert. A trad group called Lunesa. It appears most of them live in NY and the new guy in the group lives in Florida. Don’t ask me how that works since I don’t have a clue. I suppose they could skype rehearsals. Concert was great and we really enjoyed it. Went with friends Rich and Laura so that made it even more pleasant.
So that was my day and here are three more of Pat’s letters as they wait for the word as to when and where they will be going. Must have been anxious times for all the military folks.
21 June 44’
I got the parcel with the flannelette sheets. What a wonderful parcel. Thanks a million. Now I have enough things to do me forever so don’t worry about sending anything anymore. I will let you know in good time if I require anything. of course Kleenix I always need even though I use it much more sparingly than I ever did, but nothing else. The magazines were perfect. I just pounced on them and I read the Register. Very good “address” Frankie my love! after I read it I took it down to Padre O’Leary so he could read it and he was so happy to get it. He is a dear, doesn’t miss a trick but is a marvelous sport and we get along very well.
I loved Penny’s picture. Isn’t she sweet? I showed it to everyone and the gals thought she was beautiful. I always love to hear Maryes descriptions of her – I can just imagine her. Thank you Liz very much, she does you proud.
Had a box of Laura Secords from Cynthia Sims today. (V.A. D or O in Ottawa, remember) She is sweet, writes me all the time etc.
I was just going to start this to nite because I wrote yesterday but I seem as usual to get a lot written so will probably mail it.
Lib and I are staying in to-nite to recover from a 12 mile route march. It nearly finished us as you can imagine.
Saw a movie the other nite “The Sullivan’s” it was marvelous and so sweet but rather tragic. I nearly died. it’s a true story about five brothers who went down on a ship in the South Pacific. But the story was a scream so real. maybe you saw it.
And oh yes, thanks for all the airmail forms. I was out of them and definitely we can’t have more than one a week now.
Haven’t had a letter fro ten days now. so hope you are all fine and having fun. I suppose Marg will be down soon for her vacation.
Give everyone my bestest love and I do hope my mail is going through now. Of course I am dying to hear about Sheila. Every day I hope to hear from her because “times awaiting” if you only knew.
lots of love Pat
23 June 44’
Had a letter from Mother and one from Dad both were grand to get. They took two weeks to get here, but it is wonderful getting them.
I have had a lovely week. Last week early I met a grand lad from Toronto, Paul Slathe? He was up here on a course so I have seen quite a bit of him and we have a marvelous time. I hate to leave but c’est la guerre. I am getting used to this.
There is nothing new. I have recently written you so often. soon I shall be too busy to – I hope I haven’t got you spoiled.
I shall not be seeing Sheila – for awhile anyway, too bad eh! So near and yet so far. Oh well I kept hoping.
This will be very short but I wanted to get this off to you tonite.
I sent my two good travelling cases, my big trunk etc to kit storage did I tell you? We are traveling very light these days.
Well, my pets must get to bed. all the children sound like great fun. I would love to hear Penny talk, see Michael walk, Mary and Brenda and of course my Fergie Joe. I bet he is having himself a good time on the farm. I’m so glad Jeannie is feeling alright. I know everything will be wonderful. The place will be really an uproar when the Doherty’s arrive.
Good night and all my love,
27 June 44’
Dear Mother and Dad:
Last letter I wrote was so dull. Had nothing to tell you and this one there is so much to tell you. Such a beautiful spot. In peacetime it would be like Atlantic City, I imagine and we are having a grand time. I never think of the invasion because I’d be heart sick – so I just keep that far away from me.
Everyone here is very good to us like the other nite Lib and I and Mary Wright and Kathy MacDonald (they are the two Red Cross girls I was telling you about, they live with Lib and I and are very sweet) were having dinner at a perfect hotel complete with white linen tablecloth and serviette and after living the way we have been you’ll never know how grand it is to eat with the correct silver and take a lot of time and the food was marvelous – we had fresh strawberries and cream – (we priced some peaches the other day an they were 6 shillings for one, that is $1.25) which was wonderful and after we had coffee, the waiter brought us “sherry” with he said “a gentleman’s compliments and good luck wishes” and everything was paid for. We certainly appreciate gestures like that. Everyone is perfect to us.
Then we got a marvelous surprise. Robi walked in, she was looking for me, they are only a short distance from us. It was so grand seeing her. Polly McIlroy was with her, she’s a pal of mine too.
So yesterday Lib and Mary and I went over to see them and I had just arrived when girls came rushing out to me asking if I was Pat O’Connor so I said “yes” “well” they said “your sister is at “thirteen” dying to see you” I just screamed of course and rushed to a phone booth down the street and got right through. Isn’t that perfect. She is only fifteen miles away so I am leaving in an hour to go over and I have a 24 hour pas so I shall stay all night. What marvelous luck!
I am not getting mail you see so none of her letters reached me and she was told wild stories about me so it looked bad for awhile but now everything is perfect. I don’t know if I can mail this but you will get it eventually. I’ll write and tell you all about the visit. Sheila has Friday off so I hope she can come down here. Dying for her to see this town. It’s so lovely. Will tell you where sometime. If she can’t I’ll go back to see her.
Hope everyone is well and happy and lots of love, Patt.
Information about Portsmouth where I believe Pat was waiting to go over. This comes from their D-Day Museum site on line. i did some other looking on line and found that those heading for Juno beach did leave from Southampton/Portsmouth.
Over the centuries, Portsmouth Harbour has witnessed the preparation and departure of many military and naval expeditions. None has been on such a scale and required such concentrated effort as Operation Overlord in June 1944.
Preparations for Operation Overlord led to restrictions on the movement of the people of Portsmouth. In August, 1943, Southsea seafront was declared a restricted zone, and on April 1, 1944, Portsmouth was part of the 10-mile deep coastal strip, from the Wash to Land’s End, closed to all visitors. By the spring of 1944 southern England was fast becoming a huge armed camp, as men, vehicles, stores and ammunition moved to their marshalling areas. Portsmouth was the headquarters and main departure point for the military and naval units destined for Sword Beach on the Normandy coast. Taking advantage of the natural woodland cover, the troops camped to the north and east of Portsmouth.
Looking down from Portsdown Hill there were so many ships and landing craft to be seen that it seemed as though it would be possible to walk from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight across their decks. The troops were sealed into their camps on May 26 so that the final briefings could begin. Then as D-Day approached, the men began to embark for the cross-channel assault from Southsea beach, the naval dockyard, Gosport, Stokes Bay and numerous other points along the south coast.
Southwick House, just to the north of Portsmouth, had been chosen as the headquarters for the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower. Terrible weather delayed D-Day by 24 hours, but then Eisenhower announced his decision to launch the invasion with the famous words – “OK, let’s go.” On the morning of June 6 the people of Portsmouth awoke to find the vast armada of ships had gone. The streets hitherto choked with military traffic were deserted. Simple messages had been chalked on the roads by the departing troops: “Thank you, Cowplain,” “Thank you, Waterlooville.” D-Day had come.
The following is a list of some key sites associated with D-Day in the Portsmouth area:
1. Southwick House: Here the Allied commanders, led by US General Dwight Eisenhower – the Supreme Allied Commander – decided that D-Day would be on 6 June 1944.
2. Fort Southwick: Tunnels underneath this Victorian fort housed the Combined Operations Headquarters, which co-ordinated and monitored the progress of the D-Day invasion fleet.
3. Christ Church, Portsdown: On 4 June 1944, the headquarters staff of British 2nd Army (which controlled the British and Canadian troops who landed on D-Day) held a service here.