Boy I loved reading this letter today… don’t you get the feeling of what this woman was like? I love her passion and enthusiasm.. Maybe I am just wishing I was really like that. No wonder my mom loved her so much. She had such a zest for life. I wish she had lived long enough for me to remember her other than the vague memories I have of her when I was 4 or 5.
It is snowing today and we are going to a movie. I will finish this when we get back.
We went and saw the Second Marigold Hotel movie. I enjoyed it. There were some very good messages in there for us “older” folks. Messages just when I needed them. Then we went to Otis and Olivers for ribs which were so good. Had a great conversation about the book and other things. Cannot wait to get started back at it.
Enjoy this letter. I really did and found it opened up some doors for me.
Lieut (n/s) P O’Connor
No 8 Cdn Gen Hosp
6 Sept 44’
I have a great deal to tell you so I shall start a few days back. Last Friday to be exact. That was the day I wrote last. I saw Norm and we managed to get in touch with Dick to tell him where Norm was. Saturday was lovely. Norm walked over and had supper at our mess and we sat around until it was dark waiting for Dick. We knew he would come no matter how far it was but about 9:30 Norm left before it became very dark and I went to bed and to sleep but at mid-nite my batman woke me to say Dick had come, so I got up, the moon was full and it was as bright as day.
We drove over in Dicks jeep to get Norm. He had his driver with him and they had driven since supper – time and had to be back by morning – such is friendship – so Dick got Norm up and out of his tent. All very quietly and we sat and talked and fooled, we were so happy to see each other all together and Norm was leaving for England the next day. About two a.m. Dick drove me back and left. He was over 100 miles away. I don’t know how he knows which roads to take, nothing is marked and you can’t have lights on vehicles, but he said if he had had to walk, he would have come anyway.
Sun. I got up for 9:30 Mass then back to pack. The tents were coming down at 2 p.m. so we got packed, then Lib and I had our last bath for a few days. We took it in our green canvas bucket, when we were through we moved down to a ward (of the hospital which is where we were) then came back to our ghost orchard and sat on blankets. Norm came over and we brought our supper out. Mary, Kathie, Lib and he and I. After we walked back with him because he was leaving. Walking across the grounds of the hospital I met Tip Roberts. We recognized each other so we stopped and talked. He had a slightly crushed hand but he looked well and asked about Dad and Ferg. I was so surprised. I love seeing people from home.
Norm told me such fascinating things about fighting. Things like when they entered ghost towns where the only living thing was a dog, if there was that and they were never sure whether ‘Jerry’ had cleared out or whether the houses were full of them or whether the town was a network of booby-traps. This was around spots like Falaise, now everything is going so fast. The Jerry’s haven’t time to do much but flee but just before this they did have. I hope he never gets back to France (Norm, I mean). His brigade, the Seventh is the most famous one of the whole war, the old Third Div. What wonderful fighters.
Mon a.m. we got up at five, walked quite a way to breakfast and I had a new experience, eating breakfast in moonlight because it was really just three o’clock. We sat on the grass if you can picture it and ate breakfast. By seven we were loaded in the trucks and about ten to a truck with bedrolls, boxes to sit on and the convoy started out and that is a thrill, believe me, about ninety trucks, when we go down a hill, then up one you can look down on the long string of vehicles, really something. You travel very slowly though and meet other convoys, of jeeps, tanks, paratroopers etc.
It took us all day to make our trip. We stopped to eat by the road only. We carried sandwiches and had water in our water bottles, I loved every minute of it. I sat at the back of the truck so I could see everything. The towns we went through I can’t describe. I couldn’t get over it. I couldn’t believe what I saw, just rubble, stone piles, you could see rooms with closet doors half open two and three stories up and nothing else left.
We crossed La Siene, and I have seen everything now. The bridge was in between our bridge and the Thousand Is one in size and had been bombed by typhoons. The Engineers had made it usable. One truck could cross at a time (they are 3,000 wt) The first part was all planks, then the rest sloped down into the water. Then more planks with water on both sides. Jerry vehicles that had been knocked out were still on it and two dead horses etc.
We passed through Rouen. Hard to believe that less than seven days before it had been one of the hottest spots in France. I might say that we were the first Can girls up so far, we moved before NO 7.
The people cheered and waved. We drove so slowly and stopped so frequently that children, boys and girls and men came up to shake hands with us. They said “Vive La Anglais” so we say, “Non, Les Canadians” or they said “Welcome” and threw kisses. The children all ask “Cigarettes pour papa?” so we give them a few and then they say “pour mama?” so we gave them more . It’s a racket, but I feel so sorry for them regardless, they must be a little tired of strange people and they look very shabby, they all drive in dog-carts and usually have all their possessions with them.
Of –course a lot of the country is untouched and very beautiful.
We arrived at our destination and pitched our tents in another orchard, the apple trees are so heavily loaded, they fall all around and it’s hard to walk but they are rather good to eat.
To-nite I went back on nite-duty because we admitted today. I have a week to put in. The set up is just the same as before only we haven’t electric lights yet so I am writing this with two lanterns.
The news is terrific eh! While we were coming up yesterday, a mail vehicle came along – threw us a paper – it told about the allies being in Germany. I was so excited.
We shall not be here long I expect. Since I started on my Christmas leave last Dec it seems to me I have been on the go steadily. There was that three months at Aldershot, but I had my leave and weekends and nites in London but of course I love it all.
Had Mothers letter on Sun. Thank goodness I got it before I left because the mail may be slow in catching up. I will give you the Edlins address. Mrs. Edlin (Lois) wants to come to Canada with Tony after the war so she is stopping to see us.
Mr and Mrs T. Edlin
17 St. Catherines Terrace
Hove, Sussex, England
Hove was next to Brighton, one street was Brighton and the next Hove, very peculiar eh! She would be thrilled if you wrote. She is really dashing.
I loved hearing about Norah’s family and so glad Jean called the baby Maureen, what a sweet name.
It’s very cold to-nite. Once the sun goes down, it’s immediately gets very cold. I guess it lacks the water.
We are living on “camp rations” again and they are foul, but every move is the same for awhile. We should be moving soon but economically we shouldn’t move sooner than a month but one never knows. All the talk makes me frightfully restless but then I always was eh!
Excuse the paper but I haven’t any and I just pick up what I can find. I have stopped using blue air-mail but if you do not get these fast, tell me and I will change back, I may anyway because I won’t have much to say for while now.
Incidentally I hope I haven’t broken censorship but you read it all in the papers anyway.
I forgot to tell you I need a sweater. I wish I had told you when they were sending the raincoat? I hate to bother you. But I would love a khaki one or a brown one, a pullover, a camels hair Jaeger one would be marvelous, if you could get one. I would wear it under my battle blouse and it would be warm as well as lovely. Sometimes I think, what is the use in case the war is over, but then when I’m cold I change my mind rapidly for this in only Sept. It wouldn’t take long to come, I hope.
If you can’t get one like Jaeger, any nice pullover would do in brown or khaki, but a round neck, not v-shape and long sleeves. I also need brown wool socks, (men’s will do and if they are big it’s alright because they shrink.) If I don’t need them I’ll save them for the boys. Use my money.
One day soon I am sending money home to cover what I have spent, what I sent for and to make up that extra $25.00 I didn’t save Jan and Feb. I want to have saved that much in a year and not touch it so next month I may do that (if I don’t hit Paris or someplace where I can spend a lot)
I would like to get you all something in Paris if we are lucky enough to get there, but right now I might as well be in North Overshoe as far as shopping is concerned.
Marye’s bracelet sounds beautiful! She must write me all about it. I’m glad Misty didn’t go to Halifax, it is too far way.
I must write Sheila and tell her Norm is going to see her but he is probably calling her this minute, he will be wonderful to her. He is getting me a lot of things in England and hopes to get back to take me and anyone I want to dinner in Paris. That will be Lib and Mary and Kathie. He’s so lucky to be alive because it was a machine – gun fire that he walked into. It’s all so dramatic and even a little romantic to talk about, or think about and yet it’s so grim and real the whole business, but it still has those qualities that is one of the reasons war is so bad but then you know all this and I write on and on. Don’t you get tired! I go on for pages but I love to tell you every thing because it’s all so different and to me exciting and even though I would love to be near you all, I wouldn’t have missed a minutes of it all.
I am going to get one of my orderlies to get me some hot water in a NWB and I shall go over to my tent before it is light and stick it in my bed roll – lovely thought that.
Well, I guess I had better stop. Is my writing any better Mother?
I hope I get some mail soon, life is dull without it and I hope this goes airmail.
Do stay well and have fun and be good and lots of love,
See if you can watch this movie on youtube. goes hand in hand with what Pat says in the letter.