World War 2 Letter ~ From Soldier to Wife ~ Birth of a Son
Newlyweds, December 1942
A letter from a soldier to his wife...
This took place many years ago...1944, in fact...but continues to this day when families are separated due to deployments during times of war or even during peace-time separations.
The fact of this letter being family related gives me the opportunity to fill in a few more details.
The times may have changed and perhaps fewer handwritten letters are being authored these days because of the change in technology, but the sentiments are probably universally felt when a deployed soldier learns of the birth of his son.
The setting: World War 2.
Author of this letter: My husband's father.
He was a pharmacist and an Army Lieutenant stationed at a hospital in England.
World War 2 photo taken in England
Here is the letter in it's entirety...
July 5, 1944
What a joyful day today. Bruce Eldon has come at last. Oh Sweetheart I'm so happy that I could shout for joy.
The telegram arrived this morning. What does he weigh? etc. How about the particulars? No doubt they are on the way but I'm sure anxious to know what the details are.
I'm so excited today I can hardly write to you. There's so much I have to say to you & yet I don't know how to say it.
Oh Darling. You are so grand. I only regret that I wasn't there to be with you.
I can never thank your father enough for caring for you and all they've done for you since you got back to Monroe.
My Dear. I am today the happiest man on earth.
Remember we have a date July 1, 1945.
P.S. You can read my letters to our son and tell him how much I love you and how sweet his mother is.
Portion of 1944 handwritten letter
Censor mark on pictures during WW2
World War 2 Postal Censorship
My husband's parents had met each other when both were studying to become pharmacists while at Drake University in Iowa.
After graduating from college with his pharmacy degree in hand, Jack was too young at age 20 to be hired. One had to be 21 years old at that time to work as a registered pharmacist.
Drafted into the service of his country during WWII and marrying his college sweetheart, they spent a short amount of time on this side of the Atlantic before he was sent overseas.
During that time many letters and pictures were exchanged as well as postcards.
During WWII prior to letters being sent...especially from a war zone country...there were censors who looked over the communications to make sure that if the letters or pictures fell into enemy hands, no secrets of any military significance would aid in their efforts. Thus, many of the pictures Jack sent to his wife had censor stamps on the back of them.
In some cases (none in our possession) certain words would be marked out of a letter making that word or words unreadable. The letter would then be sent to the recipient and the reader could perhaps understand the intent of the letter even if not every exact word that had been blacked out.
1944 Photo of Mother and Child
Hospital Births in 1944
Times were really different back then compared to today!
In our possession is a receipt for $80.00 from Iowa Methodist Hospital to my future mother-in-law for a "10 day rate."
Imagine having your meals prepared, your bed linens changed and freshened and your baby brought to you for feedings and then being well tended while one rested up from giving birth for a total of 10 days!
Since she was a pharmacist at that same hospital, perhaps she was given a discounted rate?
Can you imagine a price of $80.00 for even a one day stay today? That would be an unheard of bargain!
In any case, new mothers were pampered compared to the way they are treated today where a hospital stay for giving birth is almost like experiencing a revolving door.
Western Union Cablegram from 1944
Western Union Cablegram
Back in 1944 the fastest way to deliver important messages (text messaging and emails were not yet invented) was to send a Western Union Cablegram.
We have a receipt from Iowa Methodist Hospital paid by Emma's mother to send a cablegram to Emma's soldier husband to notify him that he had become a new father.
Things were abbreviated as much as possible because each word cost money.
Succinct and to the point, the message relayed was this: BRUCE ARRIVED BOTH FINE.
It cost $8.86 to send this message and it actually transpired a few days after the actual birth although paid for on the exact date.
Not exactly instant messaging!
The letter from Jack to his "Darling" wife was in response to this cablegram.
Mother and baby son
While Jack served his country during World War II overseas, Emma and her baby son had moved back home to live with her parents.
This was a fairly common thing back then. Families pulled together and supported one another during times of separation or stress such as was caused by this world war.
Obviously having her own parents to advise in the rearing of her son would also have eased the transition into the complexities of motherhood. After all...they were already experienced at being parents!
Frequent letters and pictures and descriptions of the events surrounding the milestones in his son's life kept Jack updated and longing for the day to be able to see these things for himself and also begin to participate in his son's upbringing.
Pictures such as this one of healthy mother and son would have pleased him.
Family reunited after WWII
Was anyone in your family a soldier during World War II?See results without voting
Soldier Returns Home
This day that probably seemed so far off finally happened.
Jack returned home in early December of 1945.
His son was a toddler of 16 months and was walking and talking.
Seen here with his wife and child their entire lives lay before them and the future looked rosy.
But it was not to be!
With his darling wife in the car with him and his baby boy left at home with the grandparents, they were driving to get his discharge papers from the army when a malfunction in the car caused an accident to occur.
There were no seat belts back in those days and the car rolled on top of him literally crushing the promising life out of him. Emma suffered severe back injuries but survived. This was on December 3, 1945...three years later to the exact date of their marriage!
Her parents subsequently had an apartment built onto their existing home. That is where Emma and her son lived for several years prior to her being able to go back to work as a pharmacist and start leading a more independent life for her small nuclear family of two.
Dreams of a "happily ever after" with her sweetheart Jack would now have to reside in memories of their short times spent together.
Life holds no promises for anyone of us. Live and love each day as if it were our last and this Emma seemed to do with the rest of her life. She wrung the joy out of each day as it presented itself and gave her son the benefit of her optimistic outlook on life. I can still imagine seeing my mother-in-law's smile. It seldom left her face!
U.S. Postage stamps in 1944
Perhaps some of you have special letters, World War 2 or others, from soldiers celebrating the birth of their son or daughter? Hang onto them for posterity reasons and also to bring a smile to one's face when reading. These vintage letters are special indeed!
© 2011 Peggy Woods
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