29 May, 2011

29 May, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 654 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
29 May, 1944        0715

My dearest darling –

The start of another week with lots of things to take care of. But one thing about being busy – the days do go by very quickly, and I like that, dear. This past week-end was gorgeous from point of view of weather – although we couldn’t partake of it too much. However – for a couple of hours – Sunday afternoon we were able to play a game of soft-ball, officers v. enlisted men (we lost 17-5!). The sun was actually very hot and I ended up with a swell burn.

Sweetheart, before I forget it, Father’s day is fast approaching and I’ve done nothing about it. I haven’t got the slightest idea about presents from way back here, but you ought to be able to figure something out. I’m enclosing a check, dear, which ought to cover a Father’s Day gift for both our dads. Send them from both of us – if you wish, but at any rate – will you take care of getting a couple of gifts and seeing that they are delivered on the appropriate day? I wouldn’t ask you to do it, darling, but you invited me some time ago. Incidentally – if you see something you’d like to get that the check won’t cover – get it – and let me know the difference.

I was interested in your statements about Stanley Berns, how he looked and how he felt about going back. I guess the Pacific assignment is no sinecure – and from what I’ve gathered from others who have been there – they’re never anxious to return. I’m sure glad they didn’t send us in that direction; it could very well have been, too, because others went there at the same time that we were coming over here.


Darling, don’t you forget for a moment that I realize how much you’re doing to help my folks forget I’m away. You shouldn’t have any doubts about that at all. I think if I hadn’t met you and become engaged to you – they’d have taken my being away very much harder than they do now. And especially are they happy in the thought that when I come home, I’ll marry you. They’ve always wanted to see me married – and I think they see now why I waited so long. Put it all together, sweetheart, you have made them very happy and given them a new interest – at a time when they needed it most – and I want you to realize that I know that and appreciate it.

Well, my pet, I’ve got to go to work again – and try to earn my pay. I hope all is well with you at home – and the family – and send my love to the folks. I love you and miss you, dearest, and if I don’t tell you that often enough – it isn’t because I’m not thinking it and feeling it.

For now, all my love, darling
Greg.


* TIDBIT *

about Stanley Berns

Mr. Berns was born in Roxbury and moved to Brookline in 1920. He was educated in Brookline and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1939.After Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Navy was assigned to Officer Candidate School at Columbia University, where he was commissioned an ensign in 1942.

Here are four pages from Side Boy, the book published for the graduating class of Midshipman in which Stanley was trained. The first two are the title page and an excerpt from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Navy Day speech from October 27, 1941. The last two are about the 23rd Company in which he was trained. [Click to enlarge. Back arrow to return here.]




Stanley served as communications officer aboard the USS Griswold between 1942 and 1945 and saw action in the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal and the Pacific theater. The Griswold (DE-7) was launched 28 April 1943 at the Boston Navy Yard. After shakedown in Bermuda, Griswold headed for the Pacific. Immediately pressed into service, she escorted convoys through the South Pacific. On 12 September, 1944 she conducted a 4-hour attack on a Japanese submarine off Guadalcanal but was not credited with a "kill." At 2200 on the night of 23 December, 1944, patrolling off Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, she was dispatched to investigate a periscope sighting. Alert sonar operators picked up the contact immediately, and held it for the next 5 hours as the determined DE conducted attack after attack on the elusive Japanese raider. Oil slicks and air bubbles after the sixth and seventh attacks told Griswold that her quarry was hit—this was confirmed shortly before 0300 on 24 December when a periscope poked out of the water. Griswold charged in for her eighth attack, laying a lethal pattern of twelve depth charges. A heavy oil slick dotted with debris rose to the surface, and the tenacious ship and crew were credited with sinking I-39.

U.S.S. Griswold
After overhaul at Mare Island, the escort ship returned to the Pacific theater on 3 June 1944 to escort convoys and participate in training exercises out of Pearl Harbor well into 1945. Reaching Okinawa on 27 May 1945, Griswold was shortly rewarded with two kamikaze kills, 31 May and 5 June. The second of those would-be kamikazes dived on Griswold; but she evaded him and the marauder exploded into the ocean so close that fragments of the Japanese plane showered over her. That same day two other American ships were seriously damaged by kamikazes as Japan made her desperate, and futile, effort to reverse the tide of war. At war's end she sailed triumphantly into Japanese waters, anchoring in Tokyo Bay on 10 September, 1945. Embarking passengers for stateside, Griswold cleared Tokyo 6 days later and arrived in San Pedro, California on 8 October, 1945.

After the war Stanley returned to Boston. He and his brother co-founded Pullman Vacuum Cleaner Corp., which went on to become the world's largest manufacturer of commercial vacuum cleaners. In 1960 he developed an interest in horticulture and bought a 76-acre parcel in Sandwich, Massachusetts known as the Dexter Estate. He rehabilitated the grounds and grew and sold rhododendrons and azaleas throughout the East Coast. Later, he sold the estate to the Lilly Foundation and it became Heritage Plantation, now named Heritage Museums and Gardens.

Stanley Berns died on July 28, 2005, leaving two sons, a daughter, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as well as a brother and a sister.

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