"There Were These Letters"
Updated: May 15, 2019
My mother often spoke of "these letters," letters our Dad had written home from Europe during WW2. Finally, decades after the war, we got to read them.
Our mom and dad grew up during the Great Depression, and then, like everyone else of their generation, endured life during "The Great War," WW2.
All of this is why it's so important for the stories of those who served to be shared now, before the last of that generation leaves us.
To say that World War 2 was a "major event" in the lives of the generation that endured it is an understatement, to be sure. For those of us who came along after The Great War occurred, it's hard to really fathom the impact it had on the lives of those who served or grew up under its shadow. All of this is why it's so important for the stories of those who served to be shared now, before the last of that generation leaves the planet.
Making Their Memories Real
Back in the 1940s, the art of letter writing was widely practiced. A letter from the front during World War II would have obviously been a highly cherished piece of communication, and so families with young men serving in Europe greatly anticipated any messages from their sons.
Our Dad was a dedicated letter writer with a strong interest in literature. He was a great observer, and he somehow had the presence of mind to regularly record his experiences as a navigator and bombardier with the US Army Air Corps during World War II while he was on active duty. His vivid recollections of those often harrowing bombing missions makes for a compelling record of the air war in Europe, as his spirited flight crew endured a series of gut-wrenching near-misses in the air.
Dad's (Bud's) mother, Edith, treasured the letters her son sent home, and she took care to preserve them for posterity. After the war, she collected them into a narrative, (woven together with his diary entries) and had them published in a magazine called "The North Dakota Farmer" in 1947. Years later, the letters were discovered in a bureau drawer and were re-edited by our mother, Muriel, so we were all able to finally read them.
Bud's letters make for a compelling read, as his vivid writing style brings all the action of that time to life. With the DDay invasion of Normandy, France, now approaching its 75th anniversary, the time seems right for sharing Bud's letters with readers interested in the history of the second world war.