09 June, 2011

09 June, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
9 June, 1944       0725

Dearest sweetheart –

There is no question about it now – as of the above new APO number, this outfit has broken all records in the number of APO’s in this war or any other war. Don’t try to figure out the reason, dear. Undoubtedly there is one, but so many times now have we been given a new number, with no effect, that we don’t wonder anymore.

Last night I got some mail – one from my father and two from you, dear – postmarked May 26 and May 31. I suspected you hadn’t been hearing from me for some time, and your letters confirmed that. It must be damned difficult, darling, but there’s nothing to do about it except to reassure yourself that I am writing at each and every opportunity. But remember that I’ve tried to imply in a few of my letters that there were bound to be delays – and I know there will be more – so please keep a stiff upper lip, sweetheart.

In one of your letters you had me hanging onto the edge of the chair, tongue hanging out, and just beginning to drool. That was when you mentioned that one fine day when we were together in Salem, I’d have you to come back to each night, home-cooked meals, our own place – etc. You know, darling, that’s hard to take; the strain is too much; just give me a little at a time. I have thought about such a set-up with you as my own, my very own – so often, dear, that I absolutely feel that nothing else but that will materialize. It just has to be – and it will! Will we be happy, will we find life interesting, are we worth it? I can answer the first two questions in the affirmative; the last one – I hope so.

You write that I didn’t think that things would materialize between us, that I expected you’d meet someone else, that you were young and weren’t sure of your own mind. You are partly correct, dear. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe you. I did – but I felt that it was a temporary feeling, perhaps. But if I didn’t think it would materialize – it wasn’t because I didn’t hope and pray it would. I never wanted anything more than that – and I am ever thankful that things worked out as they did. Even now – at times – I find myself thinking abstractly – probably due to the distance and lapse in mail, and then I awaken with a start and a wonderful feeling when I realize that I am actually engaged to you and that you are my fiancée in every sense of the word. And then sweetheart, I feel so content, satisfied and relaxed – that you’ll never know how easy the war has been for me – because of that feeling –

And how did I get so sentimental so early in the morning? I don’t know, darling, but I do know how much I love you and want to come back and marry you and with that happy thought to ponder over – I think I’d better stroll down to the Dispensary. It usually takes 8-10 minutes. Today dear – it will take 25. So long for now, darling, my love to the folks and to you.

My deepest love


about the Silver Wraith of Sir Bernard Montgomery

Monty's Silver Wraith during War Time
Troops offloading tanks, guns and trucks onto Juno beach may have been startled to see a magnificent and highly polished Rolls Royce Silver Wraith trundling across the sands. The 1939 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith used by Field Marshall Montgomery from 1944 to 1964 was the first 'civilian' vehicle to land in the Allies' French beachhead on Juno Beach on 9 June 1944, only three days after the commencement of the Normandy landings.

When Monty went to war he did it in style. Montgomery used the Silver Wraith as his personal staff car from D+3 right through to when he took the German surrender on Luneberg Heath. He was determined to be seen in a better car than any German general. Despite its being highly conspicuous it survived the War unscathed, although Rommel’s camouflaged staff car was shot up by a Spitfire.

From research done by War Room Collection and Sound Archive's Brian Jewell comes this information dated 1992, which he states is an excerpt from an "as yet unpublished manuscript, Cars of the Commanders comes this:
Rolls Royce Wraith limousine chassis number WMB 40, now at The Museum of Army Transport, in Beverley, UK, is the one that was used by Montgomery in the Second World War. This car is a standard 6-light limousine with coachwork by Park Ward, with a conventional retractable division between the driver's and passenger compartments. In 1941, The Wraith, in private ownership with civilian registration plates FLD 99, was damaged in an air raid, and repair work at the Rolls Royce Crewe works was necessary. In 1944 the car was sold to the War Office, given WD number M 5109209, and allocated to General Montgomery on his appointment as Commander-in-Chief 21 Army Group.

Many people who served in Germany at the latter part and after the Second World War remember seeing Montgomery's Rolls. Mrs Elizabeth Smurthwaite being one: 'Whilst serving with NAAFI in Germany in 1946, I was out hitch-hiking one afternoon with two colleagues, Christine Barclay and Diane Newton. A magnificent staff car pulled up to give us a lift; smashing after some of the tatty old trucks we had sampled! We learned to our surprise that the car belonged to General Montgomery and his driver showed us some of the gadgets in the car. I was told that the driver's instructions were to give anyone who was also British pers0nnel, no matter who, a lift if needed. You can well imagine how thrilled we were to ride in such luxury. I think it was the only time a staff car stopped for me, and I did a fair old bit of sightseeing whilst I was in Germany. We had a very pleasant ride and conversation, and another thrilling experience to our lives.

On 9 June, 1944, the car was landed on Juno Beach, Normandy. On 6 June, 1964, the 20th anniversary of D-Day, the Army Council presented the Wraith to the RASC Training Centre, then at Buller Barracks, Aldershot, after Viscount Montgomery had ridden in it for a final and ceremonial run. In 1978 the Wraith underwent restoration by Rolls Royce Motors Limited and Hooper and Company (coachbuilders). It remains in black and silver livery and still carries the five-star Field Marshal's insignia.
Monty's Silver Wraith Today
 Monty's Rolls Royce still runs and is used frequently for various engagements.

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