Posted by: notsofancynancy | January 24, 2013

World War II Chapter 48, White Cliff’s of Dover

World War II

Chapter 48

White Cliff’s of Dover

Service Platoon Men in the back of the truck, Duke in seat and Keller on hood

Service Platoon Men in the back of the truck, Duke (dog) in seat and Keller on hood (William G. Price, Sgt. Joe Sill, John A. Keller)

Right now Dad’s division is in a bivouac (temporary camp) near St. Clair France and the Quartermaster seems to be moving along with the 35th Infantry.  Dad is still wondering why he is not getting the mail as he thinks it should come. My parents are expecting their first child expected in January of 1945. Although he is not talking about it the war is raging all around him. It is really hard for me to think this young man will become my father, the wise old man who helped raise my daughter.

2 August 1944, Near St. Clair, France

Gosh Mommie today seemed long. No mail. It didn’t come and even though we knew none much would come and we always look for it. I dug up some of your old letters and read them again. I have read them a couple dozen times but I always like to read the part where you say you love me and such. Gosh Mommie without that I guess I wouldn’t get along. I love you so much. So are treating Junior with the greatest care? Boy you better. I’m certainly looking forward to an off spring about Jan. I know you are though. Sweet only I had to have something to say and that was one thing on my mind. Oh! Yes I have a two tracked mind now. You and Junior. And I spend most of my time thinking about you. And the rest of the time I spend trying to keep someone from bothering me so I can keep my mind on my work. Well Mommie I guess it’s about getting time. So I better tell you how much I love you. Of course I can’t in one letter. I guess that is why I write some in each. I do love you very much my Darling wife.

3 August Quartermaster (QM) moved to bivouac area approximately four miles SW of Torigni.  Billeted in “Cheteau de Breuilly.” (From “Various stations and areas occupied by the 35th Quartermaster since entry into federal active service” provided by Marvin Cain’s Family)

French Wheat Field

French Wheat Field

5 August QM moved to bivouac area approximately eight miles NW of St. Pois, France in a wheat field

3-4-5 August , Near St. Pois, France

Hi Honey, Hows [sic] every little thing. I’m sorry honey I haven’t written the last two nights but I’ve been on a couple late details and have been awful tired when I come in. So have gone to bed and neglected you. Ain’t  I awful though. I hope you will forgive me sweet. I’ll do better now for awhile. Have caught up on everything including my sleep. Bob and I have finally found us a mascot. A small bull calf. Its about 2 months old and just as tame as can be. I wanted a heifer but we couldn’t get near one of them.  Gosh haven’t you gotten any of my mail yet from the 29th. God honey there’s no reason it shouldn’t have been coming right straight though. Everybody back home has been hearing from us. Why shouldn’t you. Your last letter reached me in 6 days but I didn’t get any written from the 20th to the 28th. So I hope I have some coming yet. They’ll be here one of these days I guess. I sure would like one of those colored pictures if you have any two about alike. I’ll bet they are nice. The ones Ben got are. I guess I better stop. I ran out of ink and Bob doesn’t seem to be here so I’ll have to finish in pencil. I guess I can say I love you in pencil as well. I do love you my darling wife. Very much

6 August QM moved to bivouac area about four miles south of St. Hilaire-du-Harcouet, France-35 Division was place under Third Army after being under the First Army since arrival in France.

Hardcourt (I guess) France (35) (35th QM Area, Hardcourt-Cai

Hardcourt (I guess) France  (35th QM Area, Hardcourt-Cain)

7 August, Near Hilaire-du-Harcouet, France

Well Mommie I didn’t get to write last night. We had to work again. Don’t know Mommie. I’m looking forward to getting letters from you then don’t get to write. It hasn’t been my fault though. We have been having extra work to do.  I got a letter from Mom yesterday and one from you both today. Mom’s one was awful late. It was written July 10 and today’s was the 25th. Gosh I was glad to get them though. I was just tired enough and run down that I really enjoyed them. Just like cups of coffee at midnight. Only much sweeter. I don’t like sugar in my coffee. I have seen several Gildersleeve pictures. He is usually on with Fiber McGee and Molly. I guess he really wasn’t stared in them. Don’t remember seeing Gene Kelly though must be something new. Honey didn’t —yes I guess we did. Gosh I’m still about run down. I bet this is going to be an interesting letter. Lucille had written that Mike had been in the hospital once but never did say anything else. Guess I just haven’t heard since. Maybe I haven’t written I don’t know. I am not about to be worrying my brain with it tonight anyway. Mommie I’m about to go to bed tonight. So I’ll say I love you very much. I only wish this damn war was over so I could get home to you.  I love you my Darling. I love you so much.

According to the Combat Chronicle after mopping up in the Saint-Lô area, the 35th Infantry took part in the offensive action southwest of Saint-Lô, pushing the Germans across the Vire River, 2 August, and breaking out of the Cotentin Peninsula. While en route to an assembly area, the Division took part in the attempt to stop Operation Luttich, secure the Mortain-Avranches corridor and to relieve the 30th Division, which was taking a severe beating from the Germans’ assault, 7–13 August.

9 August, Near Hilaire-du-Harcouet, France

My Darling Wife, Well I used to do this back in the states. Lay on the nice green grass and write I mean. Don’t know though I seem to be all out of (unreadable) I didn’t get to write again last night. I’m sorry again honey. But the Army says work before pleasure and don’t they mean it now days. Yes honey I do feel happy about Junior. Gosh I am getting to feel like a Dad already. Believe my hair has even turned a little lighter. (Could be the sun you know) I am happy about it though. And have been doing lots of day dreaming myself. I love you darling. If I keep up I might get a couple of pages filled tonight. I have squeezed and used that old line but no news will come out. I guess I’ll just have to string you along Mommie. Oh guess what. Bob and I fixed potatoes just like I like them. Someone had dug them and left them so we grabbed a couple big ones and lit up the stove and boy were they good. First time I had spuds like that since I quit cooking. Maybe we will try again tonight. I’m getting darn hungry. You know Honey if we get enough sunshine I might get a tan too. I don’t know though. It’s hard to do. Vitamin D would do you lots of good Honey. Does that sound strange. I mean with Junior and all.

St Jean, France

St Jean, France

10 August, Near Hilaire-du-Harcouet, France

Gosh Mommie paper with lines. Maybe you will be able to read my letters without standing on your head. No remarks about my writing either. You can write and be comfortable at the same time. And now I am trying to do both. Going to see my congressman about that too. Remember all those blackout drives I used to talk about. Well I went on the mother of them all last night. Had a dry run and drove around all night. There was only myself and driver. We had a time. Got back at 6 this morning and went to bed. I guess I slept to [sic] much or to [sic] hard anyway I sure had a headache now. Not a hangover either.  Mom asked if they censored your mail to me. As yet none has been. Guess they do spot censor one now and then. I haven’t heard of anyone who has had even that done. How is Junior lately Mommie. I told Bob about it. He wrote and told Madeline and she said that it was nice. She asked if you were excited. I don’t know what he answered but I am. All I can talk about now is us. Of course I’m like you. I have kept it a secret (except Bob) so we have our nightly chats. Well honey I guess I am all run down now. Going to find something to eat and go to bed. Won’t be bad for a change.

11 August, Near Hilaire-du-Harcouet, France

Hi Mommie, How’s Junior? Fine I hope. Papa is. I got a letter from you today. Came through in 10 days so that’s not so bad. Gosh was I glad to get it too. Cause I’ve in a mood to eat 40 fellows and try to take on a couple more. Sure wish I was with you and everything was as nice as is now. Gosh could we have fun. Green lawn the sun just set. Its cool and all that just one of those romantic evenings and I sure would like to make love to you. I just made my bed so now as soon as I finish I can run and jump in. I’m tired. Bob and I had lunch again last night and I couldn’t sleep. You know what I would like to do Honey. I would like to be with you and dance and dance. I saw a sign today Dance and Ping Pong. Man did my feet get itchy. It reminded me of the USO when you, Ben, Ann and I were there. Them were the days. I saw the White Cliffs of Dover Honey. It was good. I can agree with you everywhere. Only when I saw them I didn’t cry.

Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia

I did not know there were actually “White Cliffs of Dover.”  According to Wikipedia:

The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which form part of the English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are part of the North Downs formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to 350 feet (110 m),[1] owes its striking façade to its composition of chalk accentuated by streaks of black flint. The cliffs spread east and west from the town of Dover in the county of Kent, an ancient and still important English port.

Listen to Vera Lynn sing The White Cliffs of Dover

Written in 1941 the song touched many with its wartime lyrics.

There will be blue birds over

                The white cliffs of Dover

                Tomorrow, you just wait and see.

                There’ll be love and laughter

                And peace ever after

                Tomorrow, when the world is free

Lyrics by Nat Burton, music by Walter Kent, 1941

I don’t know about you but it brought a tear to my eye. Interesting enough while researching the song I found that France does not have bluebirds. An interesting tidbit to file in my fun fact folder.

Back to Dad’s Letter,

You say you were down in the dumps. Gosh so have I been. I told you about that though. Seems around here the harder you work the more they chew. They wouldn’t be happy if you were perfect.  Probably they’re so dumb they wouldn’t know the difference anyway. I love you so much. Wish I was there. I love you.

12 August, Near Hilaire-du-Harcouet, France

My Darling Wife, Gosh Honey do I rate with you. Three letters today. I knew I had them coming only didn’t know when they would get here. So tonight I’m contentedly happy. Your mail isn’t coming as you write it. I got one today from the 24 July and the 4 of Aug. and I have one of the 31 for ages. They’re all missed up. But even so I sure like to get them. I guess I was misleading about Ann and Ben. No they are not expecting a new comer.  Ben sure wishes they were though. She has been letting on you were though. She wrote to Ben to ask me if I could describe the PJ’s you wore until she talked you into buying a nightgown. Of course she was only kidding. There was a lot more to go with it only now I have forgotten it. Wasn’t important I guess.

St. Jean, France

St. Jean, France

The story about the PJ’s as I know it was when Mom went to meet Dad on that furlough when they got married she wore a pair of her Dad’s Pajama’s. That means Mom was wearing men’s pajamas on their wedding night.  It was a standing joke for quite a while.

It gets quite warm here at times honey. Although at times back home its had anything but Alabama beat. Mommie can you pack up that extra weight you have gained and send it to me. I’m getting pretty thin myself. Remember those pants I got while you were there. Well I wrap them around twice at night and use them as blankets. Some packages came in today and were they a mess. I’m glad I have told you not to send anything. I just doesn’t pay. And really I don’t need anything except for that port folio I asked for. Well darling I guess its time to stop. Have to find a radio to listen to the news. I love you my darling. I love you so much honey. Wish I was there.

Dad’s division is on the move again. I am sure this will be the theme for the rest of his time overseas.

© 2013 notsofancynancy

Marvin Cain, Robert “Bob” Winter, Truman “Ben” Howard

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Responses

  1. Ah, Vera Lynn and the white cliffs of dover – she’s a national treasure and still going strong! Love the PJ story.

  2. With each chapter you draw me back in time.

    • I sure had taught me a lot about the era. I love it. Thank you

  3. My uncle flew for the US Army Air Force duirng the War – a bomber.

    Thaks for this.

    S. Thomas Summers
    Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War

    • Thanks for his service! There were not many of their age that did not serve if they could. It was an amazingly patriotic time. Thanks again for stopping by!

      • The mantle of “the Greatest Generation” is well earned.

      • That is for certain. Although I did not know about this title until I started Dad’s journey, but he is the epitome of The Greatest Generation

  4. There most certainly are white cliffs of Dover. If you ever have a chance to visit Dover Castle, it is fascinating to tour the underground section which was used during World War II. This is where the Dunkirk evacuation was planned, among other things.

    • Thanks I have pictures of Dad’s that shows underground bunkers. He called it the Maginot line of 1914. I think it was closer to the border between France and Germany though.

  5. Your dad is getting near my dad now! I wish I knew which division my dad was in. I know these letter are from you dad, but you have no idea how much they mean to me as it allows me to follow my dad too.

    • You don’t know how much your words mean to me, thank you!

  6. Wow! You are the best.. 😉

    • Why thank you!

      • I really love all your post! 🙂

      • I really love all your posts! 🙂

  7. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing these photo and your father’s letters. Just wonderful!

    Regarding the song, The White Cliffs of Dover and the reference to bluebirds. The Royal Air Force (RAF) spitfire aircraft had blue bellies, and were painted sky blue and sea gray. From the Cliffs of Dover, residents of Dover and reporters watched RAF Spitfires and Hawks, piloted by volunteers from 14 countries in addition to England, intercept German planes and engage them in aerial dogfights.

    The song was written by two Americans in support of the British people, who’d been suffering through the Battle of Britain, and Dover was used as the symbol for the entire country because Dover had been taking a pounding from the Germans. The song was a huge hit in England and in all the allied countries. The fact that there were no bluebirds in England wasn’t an issue back then, because the public understood the reference was to those aircraft and pilots in the sky rescuing them from the German bombs. When they looked up to “the angry skies” they saw the blue planes.

    The song is especially moving when one is aware of that, and also to what the lyrics refer in the lines about the angry skies, and little Tommy sleeping in his own bed again, as children had been evacuated, creating more sadness and trauma for both children and their parents.

    • Thank you so much for that clarification! It certainly does make more sense knowing it was written about the planes and I am so glad Tommy is sleeping in his own bed again! It was certainly a hard time for everyone involved.

  8. I’m sorry, but I should have written, “Spitfires and Hurricanes” rather than Hawks.


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