|Holiday V-Mail, December, 1944.|
Christmas is just two days away! Are you as excited as I am? Maybe you are, or maybe no, not this year? I know the holidays can be a joyous time for some and dreadful for others, depending on what life has dealt you at the time. Many individuals are lucky enough to spend the holidays with their loved ones, while others are missing those nearest to their hearts for whatever reason. I do not know if you feel the same, but I feel very fortunate to live in the age of technology where even distance can be conquered if we have the means, and will, to do so. We can be thousands of miles away from our family and still be able to see their faces through the internet. Of course, even that could never replace physically being in their presence, but it beats the alternative. During World War II, the only way families could stay in contact with loved ones overseas was through letters. It must have been torture not knowing where they were exactly, not knowing if they were safe or if they would be okay by the time the letter was received.
I would like to share a few holiday letters written by a Bedford Boy to his lovely wife, Sergeant John B. Schenk to Ivylyn Jordan Schenk.
“12-9-42, My Darling Lynn, Oh yes you guessed it. I am just a little homesick. Just think what fun I am missing by being over here. When you get this letter it probably will be Xmas so here is hoping you have a most pleasant one. Two of the boys were just in my room and brought a fruit cake with them. We were discussing what we were going to do when we get home and we all said the first thing would be to go on a honeymoon. Of course I had to tell them about ours and they agreed it was much better than traveling…”
“December 16, 1942, 7:30P.M., My Darling Lynn, Here it is nine days till Xmas and I haven’t got a bit of Xmas spirit… I am invited to have Xmas dinner with the same people I had dinner with last nite. We did have a real nice time. Each person had a foot of silver on each side of his plate. When I finished the meal I had used every piece so I think I did a good job of it...”
|John Schenk and his wife, Ivylyn.|
“December 24, 1942, England, My Darling Lynn, Here tis Xmas Eve and I am 4000 miles away from you but my heart and soul are with you. My love for you is increasing each day. Every night and many times during the day I am praying for your happiness. Also I pray for a quick end to this foolish war and by the looks of things my prayers are being answered. When I say foolish I mean foolish. Tell me what can one gain by war. Of course it is different with us. Our freedom was endangered and we are fighting to keep it. I guess I am first a lover of peace is the reason I think all disagreements could be settled without the loss of lives. It takes civilized people to see it that way I guess. I was in town this A.M. and the British just like the Americans believe in Xmas. Everyone greets you with a smile and wishes you a merry Xmas. People like that couldn’t believe in war. On every smiling face you could see that God was there. These people believe in him just as we do. Even the war worn German prisoner has a smile for us. It may be that he is getting more to eat than usual but I think down deep in his heart he is much like you and I. He is forced into battle by Hitler’s threats. For him it is either fight or starve. Anyway darling we, the allies are going to win this war. It is you we are fighting for not ourselves. Our lives are not worth the value of a Confederate bill and you know from history that isn’t worth much.”
“… Judging from this letter you would think I was home sick but really I am not. Well not very much any way. I would give an arm just to see you and hold you close and tell you how much I love you. Darling you are all I have so take good care of yourself. God will bring me back to soon. Good nite and a Merry Christmas. All My Love, John.”
John was killed in action on June 6, 1944. As you may have guessed, these letters were the last holiday exchange these two would ever have together. In fact, the only Christmas we know they spent together was in 1941, before they were married.
Letters such as John’s show us how similar human beings really are, even when we come from such different times and places. I think anyone missing a loved one over the holidays can feel a connection with John and Ivylyn through their letters. John’s sentiments make me thankful for what I have and hold dear. I hope they do the same for you.