Sitting in a damp, cold foxhole or the cockpit of a plane, or the seat of a Jeep, or perhaps marching across the unrelenting desert, one of the few things that kept men going during wartime was the thought of loved ones back home. They inspired men to take care or be unbelievably brave, and their letters will, without fail, bring a lump to the throat.
Love letters that have recently seen the light of day more than 70 years after they were sent are a poignant reminder of the home fires kept burning and the effect that those letters had on both the servicemen and the ladies, so often, left behind.
Ilene Ortiz, who lives in Westminster in Colorado, purchased some long playing records some time ago and in looking through them, she came across an old letter. She took the faded pages from the envelope and when she had read the letter she thought, “This is such a romantic letter and someone should have it.” This prompted her to find the family and return it to them. Taking her quest to KMGH, the Denver affiliate of ABC, she asked for their help in locating the family concerned.
Thus the letter was returned to Melinda Gale of Evergreen, Colorado and she was in tears as she read the words that her father had written to her mother so very long ago.
The letter, written by Bill Moore, then aged 20 and serving with the 10th Armoured Division of Patton’s Third Army, was dated 29th December 1944 and read “My darling, lovable, alluring, Bernadean, I ran out of space, but I could have written a lot more adjectives describing you. You are so lovely, darling, that I often wonder how it is possible that you are mine. I’m the luckiest guy in the world, you know. And you are the reason, Bernadean. Even your name sounds lovely to me.”
Melinda’s mother was a high school scholar at the time and living in Fredonia in Kansas.
His letter continued to say, “It’s just when I get so horribly, terribly lonely for you that I write letters like this. I have never been so homesick for anyone in my life as I am for you.”
Melinda was mesmerised by the depth of feeling that poured from the page, and she was again humbled by the deep love that existed between her parents, who eventually were married for 63 years.
In 2000, Melinda and her parents and sister took a trip to Europe to trace the path that her father had travelled during WWII. She said, “My sister is a history teacher. Mom had never gotten to see everywhere he had been. We did this amazing trip so I can picture exactly where he was on December 29 of 1944, sitting in this miserable, cold, dark forest in the northern region where France, Germany, and Belgium all meet.”
Melinda’s mother died in April 2010, and when her father could no longer live on his own, the family sold all the household contents and the record containing the precious letter was sold. Bill moved to a veteran’s assisted care facility and received a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift when his daughter brought back his “darling, lovable, alluring, Bernadean.”
“What a sweet, wonderful Valentines gift to give our family,” Gale said, “I didn’t get to meet this wonderful lady who found the letter, but I just can’t thank her enough.”