Category Archives: Caen France

March 18, 2017 – Thoughts on our trip – 3- France

Have to start by saying today was a wonderful day.  Temps in the 50’s and we took a hike in Rock Creek Park in DC and it was delightful.  Being in the woods, walking along a river, climbing hills and walking down them again.  The girls were wonderful and good sports.  We will all sleep well tonight.  The parents are out having a date night which we always try to provide for them when we come down.

So, now thoughts about France. We both enjoyed our visit to France. Going to Normandy was a good thing to do and I think we could have used one more day to see all that I wanted to see or maybe even two.  The hotel we stayed at in Bayeux was lovely and they were very helpful to us.  The one in Rouen on the other hand was not so nice and I would not send anyone else there who speaks English.  Or I would take a refresher course in French before returning there but would not stay at that hotel.  They were rude and the idea that a hotel in a tourist area only has staff that speak French is weird. No where else that we visited on this trip or others have we run into a problem where hotel staff could not assist us and just gave us the “No English” statement.  Not even the staff in the little restaurant for breakfast were helpful.

Seeing just one of the cemeteries from WWII was moving.  The men were so young and there were unmarked graves, they know the soldier was a Brit but they did not find their ID.  I imagine today they should be able to use DNA to figure out who they were.  We did not get to the Juno Beach as I wanted but that was because I was sick to my stomach that morning..  I think more time is needed to deal with and confront feelings as one visits the various sites.  By the time my Aunt Pat arrived in Mid July 1944 the troops had moved on as they were pushing back the German’s pretty quickly at that point.  Things were slower in Belgium and that is where Pat really experienced bombing and large numbers of soldiers coming in quickly from the front either to be fixed up to be sent home or to have their hands held as they died. And some went back to fight another day.

War is not something I have ever had to confront myself and even during the Viet Nam War I did not have close friends that I knew were there.. I might have found out about old classmates much later but not during the actual War.  And I do know if my brother had been drafted I would have taken him to Canada and left him there. No way would I have wanted him over there. It was a useless war and not one that brought about feelings of patriotism.  They were no direct threat to us so why were we fighting them.

But in WWII it was obvious that we needed to be there.  I had two aunts, and one uncle actually over there near or in the battle areas.  Also another Uncle worked with the US on developing treatments for those coming back with what we now call PTSD.  I found some articles he had written about this.  And on my Dad’s side he had cousins who lived in England fighting from the very beginning of the Brits being involved. And some lost their lives.  I never knew any of this but research has opened up those pages of the family history in both World Wars.

France was nice but either we needed longer or a different approach to our visit.  Maybe going their first and then up to Belgium might have helped give a clearer feeling about Pat’s travels. I will never know one way or the other now will I?




March 27, 2015 – Decisions, changes in plans and spending money – Caen, moving again

Well, what turned into a rainy yucky day. But in the mean time after reading the newspaper and seeing that Jim Burgess had passed away. His wife Mae was so good to my mother back in the early 90’s and we speak and see each other at the Senior Center or Church. The wake is tomorrow and I want to be there.  Then I got an email from the fellow who is doing our kitchen wants to come on Saturday to show us a sample of the counter.. So I guess it is not a good weekend to drive up north no matter how much my heart wants to be up there.  Will have to relook at my schedule and make other arrangements.

As a result I went out and bought new sheets and a mattress cover for our bed and pulled out a mattress for Asta to sleep on when she comes. Going to go and get a mattress cover for that little bed and for Solveigs so they will be allergy protected.  Also going to clean the carpet in there to try and eliminate as much that can cause allergies as possible. Poor little Sol seems to have allergies that make her constantly stuffy and coughs all the time.  She has those dark circles under her eyes.  So at least Grandma will try her best. for this place to be allergy proof. Means a lot of dusting needs to be done too.  yuck…..

After lunch I got the 2014-15 inkind up to date for the grant and started double checking the 2013-14 to make sure all of the info has been entered.  Once I finish filing them away I will do the April forms and get them sent out.  Will be interesting to see who sends them in this month.  Some people never send them back even though they were at the coalition meeting and do things for us.  Every minute of time adds up.

This letter is to Pat’s sister Eileen who she called Liz and her brother in law Bill.  Their daughter is Jane.  Again she was thrilled to have received a letter from Jean about baby Maureen..

Lieut (n/s) P O’Connor
No 8 Cdn Gen Hosp
29 Aug 44’

Dearest Liz and Bill:

I got your two sweet letters yesterday Liz. Thank you dear, they came together so I guess all mail is coming to France via the air because Ferg’s letters also arrived together, one ordinary and one blue-form.  I also got your box of Laura Secords and they were wonderful, very fresh and new looking.  What a thrill! Thanks for those also.  You are all much too good to me, it always amazes me afresh when I think of how I was blessed with you all.   I can’t get over it.

But seeing all the desolation and destruction and waste in this country really shakes one. Caen is a ruin and a lot of little places around it.  I am hoping that Paris will not be destroyed although I hear it is being bombed.

I am packing today, once again.  I was on nites until last nite when we packed up everything and they took the tents down, it seemed like a great job for such a short time but that is the only question I had – I am very happy to be leaving.   I don’t mind anything these days – thinking how soon it will be all over.

Last nite after I was off-duty Lib and Mary and Kathie and I went out on a party with the “gang”. We had a lot of fun but didn’t do much.

Today Lib and I slept until noon, then I did a washing because it couldn’t go this week and I hung it out in the pouring rain.  I hope it dries sometime.  It has rained a good deal lately but that too has ceased to bother me any.

We expect to be still in tents but shall be billeted by cold weather I hope.   They say this northern part of France is quite cold.

I have written so many letters lately and being on “nites” leaves me without much news for you dears, but you read all the rest anyway.

Had a darling letter from Jeannie. I’m so glad it is over and thrilled about the baby.

I would love to see Jane. Mother writes me a lot about her, so does Dad so I keep an idea of her in my head. You must have a perfect time with her.

The house sounds perfect! How I would like to see it and I will when I am out of a job and that should be fairly soon if “Monty” and Eisenhower” aren’t kidding us!   So happy about the maid and so very happy to hear Mother is looking and feeling well and so is Dad. That is the most important news to me.

Had a lovely letter from Madeline. I had written her so they crossed.   It is sweet of her to send me things, much too nice of everyone but this country is really lacking in everything.   As I have said, money is no good here because there is nothing to buy.   Paris may be different of course, but it is hard to believe any place could be so stripped.
There are scads of black-berry bushes all over and we pick the ones on the outside of the bushes but am afraid to go through them on account of mines.   The fields etc are well swept but bushes might not be too safe so we keep well away from them.

I understood your “feelings” about this big battle perfectly.   I had just been saying to the gals how I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to know how much the Infantry go through unless they see them, when I got your letter and read how you thought about it.   I might have known you people would because you are clever, imaginative and sensitive and the rest of the people who don’t are too small to matter.   I mean small in mind not in number.   Anyway it is all too big for me so I just string along and it has done me a lot of good and as yet no harm so I have absolutely no kick what so ever.

Well my pets, thanks again for the letters and candy. The former of course is always the best but everything is pretty wonderful.   When I get the coat and other parcel I need nothing so don’t worry about a thing until I tell you and as you know I always “yell” when I want something.

All my love to you and everyone,
PS I send all my letters right on to Sheila,
Love P
another PS
I didn’t tell you about us all having the “Normandy Glide”, it is that dreadful disease call dysentery that is running rampant through the troops.   I am so healthy that I threw my attack right off but was sick enough to feel very sorry for all the boys who have it and go on fighting.   I didn’t stay off duty or anything but took great doses of sulphaquanadine.  It is marvelous, doesn’t make you sick or anything. This is such a dirty country no wonder everyone gets such diseases. Nothing surprises me.

But our life is so healthy! Last nite I lay in the tent with all the flaps up and the wind was high and it sounded so lovely.   All I needed was to hear the sound of water lapping on the shore, and I said to Lib, how lucky we were to live all summer like that instead of in some crowded office in some city.   So help me, the wide open spaces is all I will ever want from now on.   Lib and I say we would “panic” if we ever got on Yonge St in Toronto or some similar spot and lights will blind us and a telephone will be such a thrill.   Kathie and Mary and the two of us talk and laugh for hrs about the way we live.    We have a lot of fun, the four of us just sitting around the tent at nite.    Kathie is a marvelous “food scavenger” so we use a little cooker we were issued with it consists of a three way gadget big enough to hold a tin cup on and some paraffin cubes which we light and hold under it.   Wonderful invention but it certainly heats up things while nearly driving us out with the smell.
Well once again I must stop.
so Love, Patt
PIcture of Caen from an image search on Yahoo.