Oklahoma City, OK
April 20, 1944
Dear brother and family
I got your letter today. Sure was glad to hear from you all but I sure have been places since I seen you all last. I have been in Boston, Mass. A friend and I went on a pass and went to Providence, Rhode Island and stayed overnight. …
Well I am a long ways farther from home than Boston now. I am in England somewhere, I can’t tell you just where. I went on a pass and went to Liverpool, England. …
Tell the kiddos hello. Will try to write more next time.
So long, your loving brother, John.
May 2, 1944
Dear Brother and family
I received your letter today that you mailed the 17 of April, I sure was glad to get it too. Well this much I can tell you all, I am still in England and pretty good. … Ed when have you been down to Willies last and how was he? You can tell him when you see him again that I am getting ready to pay a visit to the Germans. …tell him that I am in England going further some of these days. …
Well our camp is located on a golf course and we are all living in tents. We have a nice camp and pretty good eats. …
Well Bub, I think of you all every day and I know you all do me. I will quit for this time. I have to go write to my wife yet.
When Uncle Wes wrote that letter seventy years ago he was in Company B, 314th Regiment of the 79th Division of George S. Patton’s 3rd Army. He was billeted at Goldbourne Park, a golf course between Liverpool and Manchester. It was April 1944, late in the preparations for the invasion and quartering was scarce. Plans were for the 79th to remain in reserve with the 3rd Army until it was time to break out of Normandy and onto the plains of France. But German movement caused a change in plans and in May they were reassigned and moved to an assembly area near Southampton on the southern coast of England.
On June 13, one week after the initial D-Day invasion, the 79th was en route across the channel. Battle debris still filled the crossing. When they disembarked they marched up Utah Beach, through the messy remains of the D-Day battle, seven days past. They marched toward Cherbourg and on June 19 orders came down committing the regiment to its first combat. It was October 24—127 days later—before the 314th Regiment was withdrawn from combat for a needed break at Luneville. For the first time in months the men ate hot meals, slept in beds with a roof over their heads, enjoyed hot showers and clean clothes.
In the meantime, in a letter of September 23 Uncle Wes writes that he has been in the hospital “2–3 weeks.” I haven’t been able to find out when or where he was wounded and when he returned to his unit, but he was back on the front lines in October and November 1944. Sometime in November, Pvt. John Rose was separated from his unit and lost behind enemy lines. Several letters to him were returned stamped Missing. He survived his time behind German lines and managed to rejoin his unit November 27. Three days later, Nov. 30, 1944, he was killed in action in the difficult fighting to take Haguenau in the Alsace region of France.
Uncle Wes was 36 years old when he died. He and his wife Ruby didn’t have any children, and they spent a lot of time with my mom and her brother. Wes never failed to ask about “the kiddos” in his letters home. He wrote his wife Ruby every few days but since they didn’t have children I don’t know if anyone else in the family has those letters. My mom has the half-dozen or so letters he wrote to his brother Ed “and family.”
Private John Wesley Rose was first buried in France and then disinterred and returned home after the war to be buried in the Lexington Cemetery. He is listed on the veterans memorial in Lexington, Oklahoma.