March 23, 2015 – my baby’s birthday – the end of the battle for Falaise

Starting with the letter first tonight… August seems to be flying by because there were not that many letters. She was way too busy taking care of those poor wounded soldiers.

Lieut n/s P O’Connor
No 8 Cdn Gen Hosp.
Aug 17, 1944

Hello dears:

I shall try the ordinary mail this time because I want to send these clippings home of some of the lads.  Aren’t they wonderful? (no clippings in the envelop)

I have a day off today. The first since reaching Normandy.   Last nite it poured rain so I went to bed at nine o’clock and right to sleep and Kathie woke me up at one to-day and brought me my dinner so I feel like a million.   I am sitting out in the sun in my bathing suit now trying to get letters written.   I get so hopelessly behind.

Isn’t the news wonderful! Everyone is betting on it all being over next month.   I am so elated – imagine no more casualties, what a wonderful thing.   Dick says Nov 20 definitely.   Yes Dick and Norm are both married, didn’t I tell you. We three are just very good friends and I would hate to do without them.   The other nite I told them about not getting enough water, they were furious so the next nite Norm brought me five gallons in a “jerry” can to keep as an extra supply. Lib and I had been washing in the same water for a day and a half and they say there is really no need for it.   Poor organization or something.

I hear from Sheila a lot. I wish she was over here.

Have had a perfect time lately.  Was at a party at Teds mess the other nite.   A lot of the lads have gone now back to England and then home maybe.   They have completed their tour of operations.   Danny, Doug Lindsay, Andy MacKenzie and Bill Conrad.  I  will miss them.  They are all perfect people and great fliers.

Ted and Wallie Hill are going on leave the 20th for seven days.  They were over yesterday and took me swimming on my hour off.   It was marvelous!   They are moving soon also so we should all stay close together.

No 2 and 12 CGH’s have arrived and they are staying in No 7 and 8’s place as base hospitals because they are twelve hundred beds and we are moving up closer.   I am a little sorry to leave this happy spot but am always ready to be on the go and if everyone is going up,   That’s the place for me.   By the time you get this I should be there.

Kathie and I picked some long blackberry’s today. They were very good.

I am afraid I write to you in all my moods. I should wait until I calm down. Dick says I shouldn’t be a nurse at all but a war correspondent other than I would probably be put in jail for the things I’d write.   He said I should have been a journalist which I found very flattering when I consider the time I use to spend wishing to be one but not doing anything about it.  Oh well, I’m quite happy to be here in any capacity.

That G/C Bill MacBrien (St. Catherine) has a huge great dane called “Mike” who I adore.  He is as big as I am.

The children must be darling. I am dying to see them all.   I am praying that Jean will be well and fine and I am thinking about her often.  We had a lovely long letter form Connie.
Well, my pets be happy and good and all my love.
Now for my day……..

Many years ago I was pregnant with my last child.  Oh well, you might say, must have been pretty use to the process by then.  But the problem was that I had had two c-sections and one was a sudden event and the other was just a nightmare of complications.  I never seem to do anything easily.

So with this baby we had decided after hearing from other friends of ours about having Dad in the operating room we would see if we could do that.  Well, we did everything we were told to do except one thing – D went and spoke to the head of the hospital, the surgeons etc and they all said great, you can do that.  What they did not do was tell us that the people who run the ER are the anesthesiologists.  Not the OB-GYN..

I checked into the hospital the day before the scheduled surgery.  Went through all the nasty proceedures they put you through back in the old days and was settled down in bed ready to wait for the next day when we would meet our baby.  No ultrasounds in those days so we just figured it was either going to be Danny or Annie.  Then Mike Jakubowski walked into the room and introduced himself.  He was representing the anesthesiology group and informed D and I that if he was in the operating room they would not be there.  In retrospect we realized that the OB’s were using us to try and force the issue. The problem was that it was snowing out and what were we to do?  If I had been thinking straight I would have told them I was going home to decide what I would do next.  And maybe then I would have throught about my cousin John in Syracuse and called him to ask him if a member of his practice would deliver this baby.

As a result of all this upset we felt trapped, very upset and not in a good state of mind to be going through surgery.  And it turned out all hell broke lose after they put the needle in my back and rolled me over. I went into shock, the baby was in terrible danger and everyone was yelling about getting more people in there. Finally they did me a favor and put me out. I figured the kid was dead, they had been yelling for a pediatrician and another doctor etc. It was not the happiest day of my life and yet later I was happy when they finally showed the little guy to me and I knew he was breathing and okay.

The ped. and I both worried for a full year if he was going to be okay. He had been oxygen deprived for quite a while and was orange from all the blood he was swallowed.  Good thing Dan was positive and I was negative since if it had been the opposite he might have died from swallowing the blood. Happily he did everything ahead of schedule and when he turned one the doctor and I talked about how neither of us had said anything but had been watching him for deficits but none ever showed up.

Dan turned out to be the sweetest, nicest little guy and always there when I needed to be rescued.  I figure he is here for a reason and to do something special in life – not sure what that will be but he has always been special to me.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Danny Boy

Had a good ride home today. Lovely sunny crisp weather.  Glad to be home and back in my own bed.  Loved being with the kids in DC and will see them again really soon.

From the

The Normandy campaign finally ended on 21 August 1944, with Canadians playing an important role in closing the Falaise Gap and assisting in the capture of approximately 150,000 German soldiers. Now the pursuit of the enemy into Holland, Belgium and Germany could begin.

Total German casualties (killed and wounded) in the Normandy campaign were estimated at more than 200,000, while the Allies suffered 209,000 casualties among the more than two million soldiers landed in France since D-Day. Among those were more than 18,700 Canadians killed and wounded.

The Canadian War Cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer, 2012. Image: © Richard Foot.


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