March 26, 2015 – Birthdays and Prisoners of War and Misery

This is a sweet letter from Pat to her only Aunt Madeline.  Her father had this one sister who never married and was quite the character.  She was a true “cat lady” in all sense of the phrase.  She always had cats in-spite of her asthma which when we were young you could only visit her after noons because in the morning her asthma was not good. And the place was full of cat hair and cat smells.  When we went to visit her she always gave us a glass of ginger ale.  She kept lovely gardens always.  She also had taken in boarders to support herself as her parents had when they moved to Kingston.  So for years everyone catered to Madeline’s needs and gave her as much attention as possible.  She lived into her 90’s and basically like her brother just faded away in old age.

Picture of a Canadian Medical Corps jeep ambulance

Lieut n/s P O’Connor
No 8 Cdn Gen Hosp.
BLA
27 Aug 44

Dear ‘Mad’

Happy Birthday dear. I hope you have a lovely one and get lots of nice things.

I am on nite duty now. Have just got everyone settled down. That takes quite awhile. We have a lot of sick boys that need a lot of watching. The tents are really quite inconvenient because there are no electric lights and they are so big but I am getting used to staggering around in the dark with my lantern over my arm.

I had a F/o (flight officer) come in last nite. He is a cousin of Mary Doyle. His name is Bill Doyle.  He crashed a week ago and was taken to a German Hospital.  He had minor face injuries, a broken jaw and I imagine concussion.  He was unconscious for days.  He was never washed and had no food.   Just a little to drink.   He is so exhausted and so thin.  He can’t even hold his cigarette.   We, the army captured the hospital and he was brought here.  He is very vague etc. When I think of how well we treat the POW’s we get in here and yet they do that to our boys.  He says a lot of RAF flyers they had in that hospital were shot, especially the ones who fly ….…… the Spitfire pilots they don’t shoot as much.   I don’t know why.   However he is an example of how they treat them and I shan’t forget it.   You hear some great and terrible stories from the boys who come in.   I wish I could recount them all. Even though our victories are wonderful there are still so many sectors where it is a man to man fight and our casualties are ghastly.

Their mortar shells do the most damage. The boys don’t hear them coming and so have no time to duck and there are all kinds of things in them and gas gangrene.

Everyone has dysentery over here, even myself.  It is going all through the troops and believe me after having it, it would be no fun to fight with it.   I feel so sorry for them.   I didn’t have to stay off duty but I took lots of sulphaquinadine and that is wonderful.   Really puts you back on your feet.   We call our disease the “Normandy Glide”.   It is one of the curses of war.   Thank God we live in a clean country.

I suppose you read my letters to the family so I don’t want to be too repetitious.   We are patiently awaiting our next move but have no idea where or when it will be.

The nites are beginning to be very cold.  The sunset and sunrise are the most beautiful I have ever seen.  The climate is really lovely a lot like Canada but a little warmer, I think.  The country is lovely but very dusty, along the roads every tree and bush is covered gray with dust and if we ride in a jeep or any vehicle we are covered from head to toe with dirt.   It is all comparatively safe.   M.P.’s are stationed along the roads and warn you about the still mined areas.   But everything is very dark, no vehicle is allowed a light so it takes a long time to get anywhere after dark.   It is going to seem very strange when I get back home to see lights at nite.   I just haven’t seen one since I came over.  The guards can shoot out any light at nite.

Ferg wrote me that he had sent me a box and in it were some good things from you. Thank you, dear very much.  I can certainly use them but you really should keep them.   We enjoy everything so much.   Living the way we do certainly makes one appreciate everything so much more.   In fact it astounds me that I ever took so much for granted, never again will I do that.

I have a grand time usually.   I have some wonderful friends.   It is very hard to forget about the war and not talk about it and sometimes we manage to quite successfully but usually I am with people who can’t talk about it with the men they live and fight with and they have to get it said so they pour it all out.   This is especially with the flyers.   Everything is a big joke to them on the surface but underneath it is quite different.   Of course I am absolutely filled with admiration for them all.

I hope you are all better now. How are Mrs Green and Arthur?  Give them my love. Write when you can. I love to hear. Our mail seems to come through fairly well.   We get is eventually.   Go for days without any, then get … same day I am very lucky.   I usually get quite a few.   The family are wonderful about writing etc. but they are wonderful period.

Well dear, I’ll write you again soon but wanted to get this off to say a very ‘happy birthday’ it will probably be a bit late s it is.
Love Patt

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