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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
… The invasion, I read, is a topic of daily conjecture among the people at home and I guess you are a mite worried. Well, sweetheart, don’t worry, please. It is possible I may be a member in the assault but no more possible than that I may someday die. It is God’s will darling, to which we must all bow, and His will be done is a daily admonition we make. I don’t hold with the ‘theory of the inevitable’ school and so you may be sure that I won’t invite disaster in any form. In prep school we had a quarterback who always qualified his pre-game prayers with the phrase, “Not my will God, but Thine” and so it is sweetheart and so it must always be—we must trust our God unflinchingly, unquestioningIy. But enough of this heavy stuff…school’s out.
I love ‘em all but Polly best of all—
May 10, 1944
… You know something that makes me pensive even brings on a sort of nostalgic sentimentality. It’s a Blondie comic strip with its down-to-earth, American, homely comedy. It is like a look into our future and sort of bewilders me. I query myself as to will I be like that, am I that dumb, will Polly do this? But however it may be it’s a nice feeling even if it does cause a homesick hangover. What a hangover I anticipate on my arrival in Ne Ca.
I love Paul-y, Frank
May 18, 1944
I can’t begin to tell you how much that picture affected me. I saw my daughter as though for the first time. She stood alone and grown. Unsupported by adult hands with flowers of much bedimmed beauty in her hands. …
I love you, Frank
May 21, 1944
I sat down to write this about ten minutes ago. In the interim we had a mail call. I was unanimously elected to represent mv group at this sometimes disheartening ritual. As I expected and true to precedent I was not mentioned in the list. So now I lack the original spirit which I had when I first sat down. My adoration for Polly hasn’t been affected in the least but somehow or other my greedy nature went without being satiated and I feel like panting. See what a big boob of a baby you are wedded to? … Remember that slogan, “Lucky Strike green has gone to war”? Well, this must be it because today we drew rations and those who smoke Luckies saw the pack coated with its homesickening green. I luckily procured a Liberty magazine recently and got on the Cock-eyed Crossword puzzle—for a moment there I thought I was slipping but I finally did get it solved though no time records were challenged. The one that stumped me was 50 Across: When a landlord can’t collect rent for this, he Sioux. Answer: TEPEE. So … I still retain some of my masterful touch. (And do I hate to brag.) Today I took a shower. To you that is a very commonplace statement of an even more commonplace event—but not to me. On this island England, water is a rationed item (but not to civilians). Hot water is as rare as scotch whiskey and in such quantities as to make a shower feasible, well it just ain’t had. Thus we experience the rigors of war. I once wrote and told you of the contents of the army food ration-K. Now I can tell you of an even more tempting ration known as 10-in-1 milk, butter, jam, bacon, sausage, stew, cereal, salt, just everything. Well, the other day someone left a box of said rations sitting out in front of the CP tent. Ashby and I schemed to relieve the owner of such an oppressive burden and carried it off. We removed the delectable contents of the box and refilled it with sod in order to escape immediate detection. Well, the gag of the month is that the box belonged to Ashby in the first place and was placed there without his knowledge. … By the way—what’s happened to the baseball boys—even with all the 4-F’s and over/under aged players there is no excuse for the Philadelphia (Blue Jays?) Phillies being subjected to the altitude of 3rd place. Something is surely amiss. It won’t be long till Judge Landis is petitioned to investigate the situation. G’night love and all my love.
May 26, 1944
And again today there is no mail delivery. I protest most vehemently, it ain’t right. As Patrick Henry once said, give me liberty or give me some mail—yeah and even a long liberty over here couldn’t make up for some little mail from my darling wife. —
May 27, 1944
… Darn it darling, I would certainly like to be on hand when Dee goes to see her first movie. Take her to Youngstown, Pittsburgh or Cleveland to one of those theatres with a long impressive lobby with candy counters and attractive posters. I’ll bet she will love it. Don’t postpone her enjoyment till I come home, but let me know how she reacts to all the glamour of Hollywood’s productions. …
May 31, 1944