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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
‘Lucky guy’ is the way the paper described this particular guy and then they went on to tell his story. He had been in action on several fronts; he had quite an enviable reputation as a brave guy and a fighter. He was given a furlough to go home and take a subsequent bond-selling tour through the states. At the comnletion of the trio he was asked by General Arnold what he would like the most and he was to be granted his wish. So now he is back with his old outfit overseas and sleeping in his old bunk. Talk about nauseating, talk about disgusting—ugh! Just ask me what I would like and darling our days of separation would be limited. …
June 1, 1944
I have a sneaking suspicion that these letters are not being sent via V-mail but rather on the long, long sea voyage before reaching you. If such is the case let me know and I will switch immediately to steady air-mail and at least we will know how it is going and that it will make it eventually. I hope it isn’t a military secret when I tell you that we have been away from our cooks for quite some time. I just bring up the point to extend a little human interest. As you must know the cooks are always a brow-beaten, bullied lot no matter what outfit they are in. Well the other day the poor dears cooked up a batch of huge cookies and sent them down here to where we are stationed. Now wasn’t that nice of them after all the verbal criticism they have gotten for their pains in the past. But I love Polly so much—I’d even eat her biscuits—
I love you, Frank
May 20, 1944
Dad sent a fellow today to fix up our yard and he really did a super job—it looks nice. There is so much shrubbery here and so many with plants all around that I can never find enough time to keep it looking as it should look. Now it looks wonderful. All the spring flowers are beginning to bloom now and the sight of them just increases my longing for you. … Sometimes I sympathize with myself by counting up the months since I’ve seen you—and because they are too many—nearly eight now—I feel very, very sorry for myself. … Really dear, I try not to feel sorry for me—there are many who are much worse off than I—you are the one who is undergoing all the hardship—I have Dee who in herself is enough to compensate for anything. Without her, I don’t see how I would endure this separation. Yet constantly, darling, all of me longs for you. It can’t be much longer now, sweetheart.
I love you, Polly
May 23, 1944
Housecleaning time spurs me to make all kinds of changes in the furnishings of our humble abode. Tonight I am sitting here admiring the appearance of our living room since the furniture has been re-arranged in never-before-tried fashion. I finally got around to putting our small radio into the living room…sounds good now—but this sentimental music, darling, it makes me miss you so terribly. We haven’t heard from you now in a week—but tomorrow’s Saturday and there may be several letters. … I wonder if you are missing me tonight even almost as much as I am missing you. I wish you had had a “hard day” at the mill today and I had housecleaned very industriously—then we had spent a pleasant evening together—and now we were in each other’s arms.
I love you, Polly
Here it is Sunday again—Sunday night. I think this is the most lonely time of the whole week for me. I am so darn lonesome for you, Frank.
May 28, 1944
Here it is Sunday again—Sunday night. I think this is the most lonely time of the whole week for me. I am so darn lonesome for you, Frank darling. Oh I’m not the only one and I know it- there are millions just like me, wishing with all the strength of their hearts and minds for the return of peace and loved ones. — Dee is sleeping on this Sunday night, and the radio is playing old and beautiful music—and I am thinking of the Sunday nights to come when you will be listening to such music with me. — Took Dad to a ball game today—Dee went along—maybe she’ll learn to like baseball as well as her Daddy does—I’ll bet that she will.
I adore you, Polly
June 5, 1944
After a wonderfully lazy weekend at the cottage, I had to engage myself in quite an argument this morning before I was able to convince me that I could arouse enough ambition to do the weekly wash! How cruel grim reality can be!! … This is a beautiful summer evening, darling. I am sitting at the kitchen table (and not even noticing the noise of the refrigerator) from which place by merely lifting my head and looking out the window I can gaze upon a truly silvery, full moon. It’s beautiful, dear—really beautiful, and it has succeeded in making me very sentimental. I had begun to think that I was becoming immune to the moon’s enchantment—so often I have looked at it without you and to keep myself from going mad told myself “It’s pretty, yes—but, so what?”… That’s not the way it really is though, darling—the sight of that shining moon up there—the moon that shines on you, too—fills me with romance—; and even though it’s just a dream now, it’s a promise of a glorious future with one I love more than life. The darned old moon keeps shining for us, darling—and even as it now increases that inescapable loneliness, it also increases my confidence in the future. I truly love you, darling.