- Historic Sites
D-day: What It Cost
This is a story of the months prior to June 6,1944, and a few of the days following, told through some of the letters my twenty-three-year-old father, Frank Elliott, wrote my mother, Pauline, while he was with Company A of the 741st Tank Battalion, and some she sent him at the time of the Normandy landings.
May/June 1994 | Volume 45, Issue 3
… To-day we got our implements and on our particular weapon was the message “Good luck boys I hope you win soon. Love and kisses—I am a little girl.” Cute, don’t you think? It was written in a childish hand. (Such as mine.) Kiss our very beautiful little girl for me darling. …
All my love, Frank
November 25, 1943
The people of this vicinity of the British Empire have good reason to give thanks on this Thanksgiving day. The reason; the sun is actually shining. The sun, ol’ sol, that immense planet that gives its life heat to that part of the world where I was born. Last seen by myself in New York, I thought it phenomenal that it was no longer in evidence. I scanned the papers in vain for some clue as to its departure but, failing to see it mentioned, I decided it came under that vast category—a military secret. The tri-partite powers have condescended to let it reappear at the appropriate time. …
Sincerely I love you, Frank
December 3, 1943
… Rondy is a cute pseudonym for our daughter but it will be DeRonda whenever she misbehaves—as if she ever could! I get a pass to Bristol soon and will put forth supreme effort to get my wife and sweet child a gift. But since I’m going on a Sunday I don’t know what fruits my efforts will bear. There are so many things I should like to tell you dearest but some of them are censorable and some are too sacred to us to be written—even in a whisper. I was sorry to hear about the glass top to our coffee table. That particular glass top held many pleasant memories of tangy beers and good books—ah well! It served us well and sentiments should not be wasted. …
I love you I love you Frank
December 8, 1943
I never mentioned about the car. It will inconvenience you a great deal and the decision is therefore one for you to make. I am glad of / course that you were able to realize such a good price on it. Figuring the radio and heater, we lost only about 150 $. If I figured in the repair bills I would have to consult Morgenthau. … I wonder what kind of car we will be buying after this war? Since you have a more practical mind than I and excellent taste as well I will leave that also to you. …
December 11, 1943
Ah the dreadful ways of fate. Woe to the lover if he is an E.M. in the E.T.O. (enlisted man in the European Theatre of Operations). Here is what I mean. A beautiful moon, the censor, and you. The moon tonight resembles the mythical silver dollar, a romantic moon in a starry sky. Remember how I used to compose poetry to your beauty when I was at Georgetown? Well I have the same feeling now. The words are formed, the stanzas composed, the meter is established but—enter censor. Oh, tut, tut, they wouldn’t let it be known to my compatriots but I can just visualize and preconceive the agony I would experience if I ever sent a poem as I feel I could right now. I can see the amused glances, the contemptuous smirks, the jeering silence of the censor’s eyes as we passed on the street. I should be like the killer whose own conscience condemned him. Oh well you probably wouldn’t like the poem anyhow and it isn’t so complicated that I can’t boil it down to—I love you very much darling.
December 11, 1943
… We had a windshield laying on the table in the barracks to-day and I unthinkingly tossed my cigarettes and lighter on it as being the most convenient spot. I reached for them later and was struck immediately that they reminded me of something past. In just that common rearranged picture I was swept on a wave of nostalgia to our own warm living room. I won’t pretend that the polished surface of our coffee table in the least resembled this crude clapboard table nor that the shining glass top at home bears any similarity to the dirty mine creased windshield of a tank but the basic elements of glass and wood were there and my second gear brain ground out the rest. Actually darling I could perceive the sounds and smells that so much endear me to our home. I half expected to hear you speak. Ah I guess all this sounds exaggerated or melodramatic or acutely sentimental but the feeling I have just tried to describe was a moving thing. …
Your loving husband, Frank
December 12, 1943
My darling wife,
… This is in your hands probably just two or less days before Christmas. It is a matter of record that this is the one event in my daughter’s life that I shall miss most keenly. Her first Christmas. … Me, I’m saving for the Christmas that sees me kissing you just before we go to Mass and for the Christmas Eve when I get to read “Twas the Night etc.” to our angel.
All my love, Frank
I did not find a letter dated Christmas Day. There was an Army greeting card and the following clipping from The New Yorker magazine.
Love in War