- Katherine Dudley Hoehn
D is for D-Day and Dad
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
My father was a letter writer. He had a big bold distinctive handwriting like I have never seen anywhere before. While stationed in England and France during WWII, he wrote letters to his family in Kentucky on a daily basis.
I have more than 400 letters that Dad wrote home from summer camp, college and during the war. He was stationed in a hospital and never saw combat. In his free time, when not enjoying the theatre and sites in London and Paris, Dad wrote letters.
Other than his social activities, Dad never spoke of the war, the casualties he saw or the friends he lost. His letters home don’t mention this either, although some have significant redactions that may have given some clues.
In his letter written June 6, 1944, from a post somewhere in England, Dad talked about listening to the BBC broadcast, General Eisenhower’s talk and the message from King George VI. After the King spoke, they played “God Save the King” and Dad wrote:
“most everyone sitting here in the billet about the radio started humming the familiar tune and coming forth with the words, “God Save the King…”
I listened to both addresses this morning (on YouTube of course) and was overcome thinking that my Dad listened to the same messages 75 years ago from a radio in a hut somewhere in England.
He closed his letter with these words:
“As I say good night I realize how much we are going to need to pray and trust in Him whose faith and guidance will carry us to victory. I thank God you are safe from it all. May the loss of live among the allies and the enemy be small and victory swift. So much lies ahead and so much I should like to say but cannot find the words now. Good night. God bless you. Your devoted Buddy.”
I am certain that then, only a few years after he finished college and quickly enlisted, he had no idea that his children and grandchildren would be reading his letters or even that he would have children and grandchildren! Life at war, combat or not, probably did not involve too much time spent thinking far into the future.
D-Day had a more immediate impact on Dad, his family and millions of other affected by the horrors of war at that time. Many millions more have benefitted from the price of so many lives lost. They brought us freedom, realized because they stopped the strategic advances of evil that would have upended the world forever.
My father came home alive more than a year later, went to graduate school, found my Mom and became a wonderful father of three and grandfather of nine.
Dad instilled in me the values of correspondence, writing a good letter and telling an interesting story. By a very young age, I knew how to properly address an envelope and write a pretty good letter. I joined him as the assistant family Christmas card writer; he fostered my love of writing and encouraged me even when my messages were unlikely to be as interesting as his.
To commemorate my elevated status, Dad gave me my first fountain pen. I cherished it, even though I was constantly covered in the ink that seemed to leak in all directions and spoiled a few articles of clothing.
To this day I love a great pen, now using a much higher-end fountain pen that keeps my hands relatively ink-free. I still think of Dad when I write a letter, update my journal, send a card or even write a thank you note.
Thanks to Dad, I write and I love it. His letters and a series of his audiotapes are the basis for a book I promised him I would write and I will.
On D-Day I think of Dad and am eternally grateful for his many gifts: service, love of God and family, wonderful siblings, patriotism, encouragement, and writing.
Dad enclosed copies of The Times of London and Daily Express from June 7, 1944