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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
Saturday, just after I finished writing you, a bulletin to the effect that the Allies had landed in France was read over the radio. Not having heard from you in over 2 weeks you can imagine what my first thought and prayer was. The announcement, however, was “killed” about 15 minutes later. Nevertheless we still think “something’s up.” Suspicious, aren’t we?? The man in that moon keeps winking at me every time I look up—must be a message from you—because that’s probably what you’d be doing when we told you we thought “something was up.” Rondy thinks that man in the moon is a pretty funny guy.
As ever, I don’t seem to have much news for you today, sweetheart—life is rather eventless at present, but it’s a good life when there’s our future to dream of. Please kiss me—and hold me close to you, Frank. I adore you—
June 6, 1944
Well, “something was up”—even at the time I was writing you last night. “D-Day” has finally arrived. The news had begun to be broadcast around midnight last night, I believe, but I didn’t know of it until 7 o’clock this morning when I turned the radio on. The news brought a kind of relief and great concern. The first thought of all of us here at home was a prayer. I can’t deny, darling, that anxiety for your well-being fills my heart. True, I don’t know that you are taking part in this phase of the invasion but it is very probable that you are. And my thoughts are with you. Spiritually, I am with you. … You are the one who is making all the sacrifices—and yet you are the one who could find the proper words to give us both strength. The letter in which you reminded me that the desire of both of us is that “God’s will be done” continues to be my favorite “bedtime story,” darling—it’s a masterpiece. … I am unable to tell you of the depth of my emotion on this day—but without my telling you I think you know and understand.
All day the radio has broadcast invasion news—constantly —all regularly scheduled programs have been cancelled—and I have been virtually “glued” to the radio. News broadcasts and prayer led by eminent clergymen have occupied most of the time. Bob Hope’s regular broadcast tonight was altered because of “D” Day—there was no clowning—but Bob came through with what in my opinion was one of the most worthwhile thoughts I heard today. … Naturally none of us here at home can think of anything else. But people took the news calmly and soberly—how else could it be taken but soberly. … Among the things distributed to the soldiers crossing the channel was a vomit bag, I understand—and the commentator added that most of them were used. That has its humorous slant—but really it’s not humorous at all—it has more of grimness about it. How little we here at home sacrifice in comparison with you and all the fellows like you.
Little DeRonda was the only one not affected by the D-Day news—she went about her happy little business of living as usual, entirely unaware of the great event. I hope and pray that she will never remember any of this but only the happiness of the hours that will follow her Daddy’s homecoming step on the porch. Good luck to you, darling, wherever you are. We are waiting for you and loving you with all our hearts.
Polly and Dee
June 7, 1944
On this second day of the invasion the news reports say that ‘all is going well’—and that knowledge is some comfort. If only I could know where you are and that you are safe—but wherever you are dearest, my heart is with you.
Today I was surprised and pleased when the father of one of the girls I went to Mercyhurst with stopped off here while on a business trip. He stayed for lunch and we had a pleasant conversation. I hadn’t seen him since before Dee was born and he was amazed at what a ‘big little girl’ she is. He admired her pretty blue eyes but I don’t think that was the reason she wanted to go right along with him when he left—she doesn’t recognize such compliments yet but I hardly think it will be long until she does. I haven’t listened so closely to the invasion news today—but I’m waiting now to hear the news before I go to bed. Kay Kyser is just signing off—whatever the news will be my darling, like Mr. Kyser, I’m just “thinking of you.”
I love you adoringly, Polly
June 8, 1944
A most wonderful thing happened today. I had a letter from you—the first one in 3 weeks—there was no date on the letter and you didn’t impart much information but it was a blessed letter because it was your words and your writing again. Your Mom was in this afternoon and read your letter too—you will never know—you couldn’t—how we yearn for the sight of “our guy” over there.
Bing Crosby is just signing off—I know how you like him—the way I do—and as I listened to his program. I could only enjoy it half as much as I will when you are here with me listening too. …
I love you, Polly
June 12, 1944 Monday
Dearest darling Frank—