Tag Archives: WWII

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?

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March 17, 2017 – Thoughts on our trip – 2- Belgium

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hope you all had a grand day.  We drove down to see our Grandkids..

Belgium was the second leg of our trip.  It is a lovely country, we enjoyed the food, the sights, the history and the chocolate.  And I discovered Advocatt the wonderful drink which is very unique. Yellow, egg nog flavoured, and great with whipped cream and I bet would be delicious in chocolate cups.

We visited three cities. We stayed in Gent/Ghent and took day trips to Antwerp and Bruges.  I wanted to see where my aunt had served in WWII and it was eye opening. Not what I found but what I did not find.  It took me a while to understand the history that made Belgians not willing to to talk about WWII.  First we tried to find in Antwerp the marker for the theater that was bombed and hundreds of people died. We could not find the marker. We had the address but could not find the marker.  I had contacted some history group there and they told me about the marker but could not help me with the location of the hospital.  When we got there I asked the tourist folks for some help and they could not help at all.

We did go and search out some sights with no luck.  At some point I realized that I had seen no memorials to WWII.  Finally towards the end of our day in Antwerp I found one plaque to the Canadian Division #3 which was the force that Aunt Pat was friends with so many people.   About that time we had a long discussion about the lack of statues or walls with names of  the dead in any of the cities we had visited.  Belgium was one of the first countries taken by the Germans and they had a resistance movement but others just went along with being taken over. Basically saving their lives but not fighting things.  They probably did not have an army or if so it would have been small.  We decided that they just don’t like to talk about that part of their history.

But aside from not finding what I had come to find and acknowledging that I need to return and actually to talk to some folks. There must be some historians who have studied that period and know it.

Belgium is a place you can put on your places to go list. It is wonderful there. The folks are wonderful and friendly and helpful. Good food was had, good coffee, desserts, hotels, shops etc.  Just really enjoyed it there.

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September 29, 2015 – Getting better and what is this about the worst storm since Sandy on the way?

I just heard that the storm coming might be worst than the Sandy the hurricane was.. hard to believe since there has been nothing said about it and this weekend the weather is suppose to be terrible.. Yuck. I have to drive down south.  Also have to get some laundry dry so I guess tomorrow it will be on the rack in the kitchen since rain is going to keep coming.

Today started slowly.  Not a lot of energy and I got a couple of naps in during the day.  Would love to say I accomplished something but I guess it will have to wait until some other day. If all goes well tomorrow I will get somethings done so I can leave with a good feeling.

Went to Tai Chi this evening. Really love it and should be doing it every day to perfect the 108 moves and boy am I lazy.  Did I tell you I have been reading a lot about hypothyroidism?  I have had this condition since I was a kid.  Once took meds when I was 19 or 20 for six months and then they left me high and dry.  Next time I was diagnoses was in my 30’s.  All those years of symptoms and my body fighting with me.  My biggest memory is that if I worked really hard one day then next day I would feel like I had been run over by a ten ton truck.  Made having four kids quite the challenge.  Luckily I did not have the problem others have of having problems having kids.  Lots of miscarriages  and other problems.  Mine are just mainly energy issues, weight, dry skin, and a few other things.  I think my next step is to see an endocrinologist. Regular doctors  don’t even seem to know that there are other blood tests that are a better judge of if one is getting the correct dosage.

now a letter from Sheila to her sister Eileen.  Eileen had polio in 1944 and also was pregnant with her second daughter.

No envelope – plain white paper

22-11-44

My Dear Eileen:

I have been intending to write to you for so long, to tell you I have thought and prayed for you so much and hope you are better, or on the road to being alright, quick, of all the rotten luck, Liz to have to get that, you poor kid, I really think it is a shame and hope the leg is not too uncomfortable.

Mom + Dad keep me informed about Janie’s doings and she really sounds like a real little girl now. It seems hard to picture them talking and saying all the things as Mom + Dad write.

But believe it or not it is just 6 months since I left that Kingston station on the Monday night at 7:oo o’clock. It really seems an awful lot longer than that to me. That was such a queer day, I was so torn inside with the wish , of wanting to go overseas, and of wanting to stay, but I think if anyone had mentioned the fact that I didn’t have to go, I would have been off draft P.d.q.
But I am enjoying my army life to the full, and believe or not have learnt not to let little things upset me, because when I see all these lad 19 to 23, minus a leg, eye or arm and still in F.1 humour and going back to Canada, I think “what are all my worries to his huge ones.”

The Canadian lads can certainly take it with flying colours, they are certainly a grand bunch, every one of them.
I am really enjoying my work very much and you should see me around here in the morning. I take blood work, like an old blood sucker, no kidding and I really get the vein right off too – not bad eh – but here I am tooting my own horn at the speed of a hare.

Well dear this has been a queer rambling letter and it start out to be a letter directly to you and all I do is talked about “me”. Such a writer as I am. But anyway dear, do take it easy and get well and strong before you decide the apt. is dirty eh. Do take it easy and get well. I’m very thrilled over the idea of Janie having a brother of sister – what are you going to call the baby?

Must make rounds now so shall close. Give Jane a big kiss for me and all my love to the three or should I say four of you.
Love
Sheila

September 21, 2015 – Birthday Boy, Facebook and WWII

The best thing today is the birthday of my first born.  He is one special fellow and holds a special place in my heart.  My other kids each hold their own special place in my heart but there is something about the first one.. So glad he had a good weekend and then dinner with his wife this evening and we went over for cake.  As a family we have gotten really sloppy about celebrating birthdays in recent years. Does not help that there are six family birthdays between Aug 31 and Sept 22. Try getting everyone together for one celebration does not let anyone feel special.  Not sure what to do about it.

Then there is FACEBOOK. I was going through it this morning I realized that there were at least 40 messages that had no comments from the posters.  They were shares, likes, forwards etc but nothing personal from the folks sending them. It takes so much time going through the postings and I have made a decision – kind of like Lent I am going to abstain from reading posts. I am going through the Notifications and if they have comments from friends about their lives I will read them. Otherwise I won’t be looking at things. Not sure if it will work but there has to be away to get away from all the forwards about politics, cats, recipes, music etc.  Lately a young friend of mine has shared pictures that were porno and I had them taken off.  This is all driving me crazy so I will post personal stuff but nothing else I promise.

Now for Sheila’s letter for today.

Early November 1944

Dear Dad and Mom:

You two were absolutely tops to me when I was leaving and of course I am realizing more each day just what a sweet and very pretty Mom I have, and what a real “cutie pop’s” my dad really is. They don’t come better, and even when I miss you most, I realize just how lucky I was to be born with just the certain Irish type that is so gosh darn nice.

By now, I know we shall not be home for Xmas but I’m quite reconciled to it all, as I know I am so gosh darn lucky not to be a man in infantry or artillery and have to spend it in the front lines, and know I shall have a pleasant Xmas here, for all.

I want you, Dad, to take that $150 Bond which shall come, made out to Bearer and to be delivered to you sometime in November, as you paid for so much when I was leaving it should help cover some of it. Now Mom, get Dad to write you a cheque for $50 from my account and that will cover some of your expense. Write soon and tell me how that suits you and if it coincides with your thoughts on the whole thing. I have written Mary about it, but know now I should have written directly to you, two cute people, hope this arrangement is all right with you. I shall not be sending any more money home for awhile because after my leave & Xmas presents I may need what I have for awhile, but come January I shall send more home then. Let me know if this money arrangement is alright with you.

I miss you all very much and love all your sweet letters, Had one from both of you this week.

– Love Sheila

September 6, 2015 – warm day for my birthday girl

Today is the birthday of my lovely daughter Norah..  she is off on a great birthday trip,with her partner in crime Andrew since he has a birthday as well.  Hope you both have a wonderful time.

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No blogging last night because the computer was being bad again.   Hubby left yesterday so he can get ready for work which starts this week.  I am cleaning.  yesterday was kind of funny really.  I have been seeing signs for town wide garage sales in lovely Lansdowne so thought I should go and support it. well, good thing I did not bring a bunch of people with me because it turned out to brethren houses, maybe four?? So since I was there I hit the two antique stores which are great for browsing.  I found a very old book called the Little Bear series.   I purchased it for my little bear down in DC.  I think she will like it very much.  I found another very old children’s book for the girls. but little bear is for my little cutie..

then I returned home with the intention of starting to clean. I did some but in this heat can you imagine the difficulty with inspiring oneself to do anything.  I did do a couple of things but not as much as I had planned to do.  So today I cleaned the school house and the spare bedroom after having brunch at the Legion Hall in Mallorytown with Pete and Carol.  was fun and then I decided to take a ride and went down to Lyndhurst to checkout the antique store there…. No luck but then decided to take a ride. I drove out Red Horse Lake Road. Interesting in this areaI think of as pretty flat that it goes quite far uphill.  there is no one along that road until you  get to the end where there re lanes towards cottage on the water.  so I turned around and come home. It was nice up there and I will bet in October the levels will be lovely up there.

Found another treasure yesterday……pictures of Sheila and her friends she talks about all the time in her letters so will post them and one of Sheila and Patt in England

23 rd Sept 44

Dear All:

I don’t really know what got into me this last week but I just didn’t seem to be able to write letters at all. I just did not seem to be able to sit down and write at all.

I have seen London, and loved it every part of it. Norm (Patt’s friend) came back to England,   He has hurt his radius from the upper part – compound fracture, has a cast on and they will be doing secondary closure on it any time now.   He is at No 2.   He phoned and I met him in London. He met me at Victoria Station and we took a taxi and registered at the Hotel Waldorf, and then went for a walk down to Trafalgar Square and really I felt like I was in a dream just seeing it, it is wonderful and saw the Admiralty and Admiralty Arch, and Buckingham Palace, but well all, I was disappointed at that as I thought it would be fairyland castle but it is real very military etc. Saw the square that the King and Queen inspect parades, saw the monuments to all the Br. Empire and stood on Waterloo Bridge & saw Big Ben. ST. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly Circus,. It was all so wonderful at 6:00 we went to a play called “While the Sun Shines” by Terence Rattigan. The actors were Douglas Jeffries, Robert Long, Hugh McDermott, Jane Baxter, Ronald Squire, Eugene Deckers? & Brenda Bruce.It was a comedy and very, very good.

I saw all the London Sables and they are not rabbits hair to say the least, they are really something. I enjoyed every minute of it all and really think London is perfect. We had marvelous meals and Norm is grand.

Received one of Mom’s parcels and loved it. Everything was super.

Shall write again soon.

By the way, I have not received any cigarettes from you people yet. Please send some.

Love Sheila

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Waldorf Hotel London

August 24, 2015 – WWII letters and feeling human again

Have been spending time the last couple of days putting Sheila’s letters into a binder.  It realized that there are many letters missing from this group so I have to do a search to see if I can find additional letters.  I am putting the ones that have been transcribed in acid free sheets along with the transcription if it has been printed out already.  Susie did a bunch of them and they were each attached with the original to a transcribed copy..  This is part of the project of getting them ready to donate to the National War Museum.  They are excited to get them since there are pictures etc to go along with them and I have also done research on various people who were close to the aunties and have some info on some of them to go along with the letters.

The tree guy came this morning and started to take down the huge big fir tree. Then the rains came. It was such a strange day. It was sunny, then cloudy, then rainy and then sunny and dried out enough to eat lunch on the deck.  Then it just kept getting nicer and the sky tonight is fabulous with stars and things flying by.  So go figure.  It is chilly in the house – probably around 60 something.  Strange weather this summer. Those two weeks of 90s was it for really warm days. the rest of the time it has been lovely and rained enough to keep everything green.

I went to Tai Chi today and good thing I did. I totally had forgotten the sequences.  I don’t think it is just me and I know I need to practice every day if I am going to commit this to memory.  Cannot wait to get back to my regular classes at home.Got some shopping done for dinner tomorrow night – company coming. And now realize I am missing some things. Darn, will have to go out again tomorrow.

Armed Forces Air Letter – Post Office 239 – Au 28, `44 –(hand written 8 Aug `44)

27-08-44

Dr and Mrs Fergus O’Connor / 193 Earl St / Kingston On

Dear All,

Now I’m a Lieut. My 2nd pep came through blue orders +Part II orders so now I’m a full Lieut. in the Army and can’t say that it makes any difference cause it doesn’t. I am really glad because of the pay but otherwise really don’t care.

The war news definitely looks good these days and really seem to think it is doing alright. Inez Leeder + Gert (?) Bibby came down to see us last week and both look very well and are enjoying the life very well.

Kay Shephard Murphy was over from No. 24. She married Spud Murphy (kid with the one arm, Father Harold Murphy’s brother) and didn’t announce her marriage till after she was on overseas draft and could not get off. She is really very unhappy and we are good to her when she comes over as we are sorry for her.

I had a letter for Len Patterson the other day and am hoping to get together soon, as we can really talk and talk when we do.

Haven’t done much lately. Went down to Brighton on my nite off and really think that place must be nice in peacetime.

What are Jeannie and Maurice’s calling their new offspring?   Did you get the picture of Patt + I and what do you think of them? How is Jeannie? I can think of lots of other question but may get a letter to-morrow telling me them so shall wait.

Well dears, must close now, I am really quite tired to-night, so excuse writing as 3:00 A.M. is really no time to write letters – advantage of nite duty eh – Love for now – Sheila

Lieut. S. O’Connor C.A.O. Armed Forces Air Letter

August 23, 2015 – Good byes again and big scare

Last night we went to the play “Bed and Breakfast” at the 1000 Islands Playhouse.  It was so good.  The two actors played all the roles and they switched from one character to the other flawlessly.  There were few props but great sound effects.  If you can see it there before it ends might be a great night out for you. The playwright is part of the playhouses Playwriters Unit which funds four playwrights a year to develop their plays while in residency at the playhouse.  This one is very good and was a great night out.

Also we ate dinner at the Stonewater Pub across from the Gananoque Inn.  The meal was very good and before hand sitting at the bar we had a great chat with a couple from near Toronto who were visiting the area for the first time.  They were taking the boat cruise last evening.   I had fish and chips and Denis had a wrap with seafood – shrimp etc  We both enjoyed our meals and they were not too big. I don’t like being stuff especially before having to sit for a couple of hours.

The stars were gorgeous last night and the milky way clear as could be. I went out around 11 for a while and just looked up and the sky in wonder.  It never gets old looking at the Universe.  The feeling of being so small and wondering if there are others out there looking up thinking the same things.  If we are here then why not others out there and not ones with strange bodies but creatures just like us.  If there are others out there I hope if they ever come they treat us better than those who invade countries on our planet. We really are not very nice to others we perceive as different from ourselves.

Today I got a bit of a shock this morning when I saw on Facebook that my old buddy Noah who I have known since he was two or three was in a car crash and was in the hospital.  His friend who posted made it sound like he was in really bad condition.  He is injured but not as bad as my imagination had lead me to believe.  His family has been through enough and did not need this or anything worse.  So, I am relieved that he is going to be okay but sore for a while. His dad needs a new vehicle which is not happy but considering the options I guess I would take a totaled car over a totaled kid any day.

The rest of the day got better once I knew Noah was not critical.  I went down to the beach and had a nice visit with the “girls”. Cousins Brenda, Ellen, Annie and Helena. They are so nice and how lucky I am to be their cousin.  Then I went over to say good bye to Kevin and Kate and the boys as they head for home and back to teaching and school. They have a much bigger packing job than we have when it is time to close up.  They have all the boats etc and furniture to put away etc.

I also started putting Sheila’s letters in a binder to be ready to scan them each before they are set up for donation to the War Museum.  Once I have both Pat and Sheila’s letters together and all in binders and make sure they are all scanned in the original form then we can set up a date to donate them to the Museum.  Hopefully by next summer.

2 A.M. 24/8/44

Dear Eileen & Bill:

What a grand surprise I got when your Laura Secords arrived to-day, really they are grand we will certainly enjoy them. We are right out of candy for the last week or so, so Doylie, Mary Kennedy and I really enjoyed a piece tonight before I came on duty.

Funny the way we rationed them so they will last, as they are so good and thank you both very, very much.

I am rather tired to-night as the convoys are really rushing in and all beds are automatically filled up. The planes are really going over to Normandy to-nite. Since 9:00 there has been a continual roll of them going over. So far there has only been one buzz bomb over, but there shall probably be 2 or 3 around 5 or 6, or at least one knows there will be, because they are like clock work, every morning about that time.

This is my 6th nite on duty and have 2 left, but am really not minding it at all as the boys are really perfect. You know they never let up and I’m right in the groove as I get teased from the time I come on till I go off and really like it, as they are all good sports.

We worked from 7 pm to 8 am and have 3 hours off. If we can take it. I’m off from 3-6 tonight and have my nite off to –morrow so I’m really in good spirits now.

Had a letter from Len Patterson the other day and am going to meet him in London next week and it will certainly be good to shoot the breeze with someone familiar.

Our leaves are starting again, so we are all keeping our fingers crossed, that we will get them together and then we shall have an opportunity to see some more of the country. So far we have explored the surrounding places here and really know our way around in Brighton but would like to see London and Northern England.

Well, dears, this must close and thank you both for the Laura’s as I love them and give dear Janie a big kiss form me and tell her I miss her very much. Miss you all alot,

Love and thanks, Sheila

post card of Brighton I found on google…

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