Category Archives: War in 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?




July 26, 2015 – the missing two sisters

I have a few stories of interesting people on our tree.  This story is sad.   When my Aunt Mary died and I brought the boxes of family history items to my house I found several family bibles.  In one of them Daniel O’Connor had listed all of his children.  In all the previous papers and stories Daniel and Bridget was said to have had nine children but turns out that was not true.  There has never been even a vague mention of the two girls.

The first girl Catherine Mary was born in 1835 and died in 1850.  The second girl was Mary Ann born in 1837 and died in 1844.  There is no information on how they died or where they are buried. I have tried to find them in several of the books I have of Leeds County Cemeteries with no luck.   It is one of those family secrets that are hard to resolve.  Because they died in different years one assumes it might have been sickness.

In this family it seems very strange that no one ever talked about it.  In reading the old diaries I would think someone might have mentioned their deceased sisters but nope, not a word.   I hate family secrets.  But at least we know they existed even if we have not found anything else about them.

So back to Sheila.

Dr + Mrs Fergus O’Connor,    193 Earl Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
24/7/44/       #13 C.G.H.

24 July 1944

Dear All:

I am lying on top of my bed and it is about 8:30 just got off duty about 15 minutes ago as we are starting to get casualties into the wards, and where I work has been medical but this afternoon I admitted 28 surgicals to our ward back about 1 week from France, all darn good heads but they are all so gosh darn young, averaging from 19 to 25.   Just boys really but as I said – all real good heads.

I am tired but I can say, I enjoyed it all, as you really feel as if you are in it all when the ambulance drives up and they call our stretcher bearers out and 10 come in per stretcher the rest could walk. Also the English Red Cross are grand. On hearing the news that boys were back from France they came about 6:00 o’clock with cigarettes, choc bars, and another lady following with tooth brushes, shaving, etc as the boys loses or mislay so much. The English Red Cross is really doing a good job of it all. They are really wonderful people but like that, but otherwise I’m not very fond of them all.

The doctors here are very good too. Some of them have been over here too long though and at this point are fed up with it all, but when they see them all come in, like they did to-night, they are all willing to do anything for the boys, it is a good spirit all around.

I got two letters to-day, one from Marg telling me just how much she loved being home and what a grand rest they all had and how she had got caught up on all the latest news, she was very very pleased with her holidays and I can realize how thrilled Mom and Dad must have been to have her.

Also received a really darling letter from Eileen. It was a grand letter Lizzie and I loved it. Be sure to have Janie say her prayers for me every night as I shall certainly appreciate them. I can imagine how sweet she must be, I wish I could pop in, even just to brush her hair. I shall love the Laura’s when they arrive.

Hope you didn’t mind my asking you to send cig + candy as this food is my main interest in life these days and I shall love the Lauras. Well dears this shall be all for now as the paper is all gone. Pattsy has left me definitely but do not know her new address as yet.

Love + Kisses

S. S.O’Connor N/S C.A.O.