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I'll Be Back When Summer's in the Meadow Vol 1

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I'll Be Back When Summer's in the Meadow

Volume 1, 1942-1943

A World War 2 Chronicle

  • Compiled and Edited by Melanie A. Ippolito
    • Merriam Press World War 2 Memoir Series
      • Second Edition 2012
      • 344 6x9-inch pages
      • 60 photos, letters, envelopes, documents

The beautiful and amazing love letters written by an Irish woman and an American Army sergeant during World War II.

Very detailed coverage of how the war affected these two and the people around them.

This is the first of three planned volumes and covers 1942-43.

Reveiws

"This is a three-volume set of love letters between an Irish woman and a U.S. Army sergeant during the war. The letters detail the war’s effect on both of them." From the WWII History Magazine, "New and Noteworthy," April 2014.

Introduction from the Book

I was thirteen when I saw them. We had recently moved and the letters, hundreds of them tied up into neat little bundles, were spilling out of two rather battered cardboard boxes in an upstairs closet. I knew immediately what they were as I had heard the story many times. My mother was a war bride from Belfast, Northern Ireland. My dad had been stationed at Musgrave Park with Harvard’s 5th General Hospital in the spring of 1942.

My parents met at a dance at the Albert Whites Ballroom in Belfast. My mom explained, “After staring at me most of the night he had the cheek to ask me to dance at the very end of the very last dance of the evening, and then insisted on seeing me home.” My dad told it differently; it took him most of the evening to get up his nerve to approach her.


It was an intense whirlwind of a courtship. They talked of marriage around the time the 5th General was shipping over to England. My mom was just 20 at that time and her parents would not give their permission for her to wed. My grandparents did not want to see their eldest daughter living so far from home. The problem was compounded by the fact that my dad was Roman Catholic and my mom’s family was Methodist. My grandparents were convinced that nothing but unhappiness would follow their daughter; they knew of many ‘mixed marriages’ that had ended in heartache. They were fond of my father, but believed strongly that it could never work. That was a reality in Northern Ireland in the 1940s.


My parents were separated by war for close to three years and for another seven months after the war ended. Their letters written to each other almost daily tell their story. As a thirteen-year-old I respected their privacy and gently put the spilling bundles back into the boxes as best I could. My next encounter with the letters happened, sadly, shortly after my mother’s death at just 65 years of age in the spring of 1988. My father, brother and sisters and I were sorting through Mom’s belongings. Toward the back of her closet I came upon the letters. When my father saw me tucking some of the bundles back into the now seriously crumbling boxes, he told me he wanted to burn them. I do not know if it was his grief that made him say that, but I pleaded that he should give himself time to think before destroying something that was obviously so precious to our mother. I told him there had to be a reason Mom kept the letters safe for so many years.


Ten years later, in March of 1998, my dad passed away just days before his 81st birthday.


Once again my sisters, brother and I had the sad task of going through a parent’s belongings, the letters were still there…….


My father had never spoken much about the war. Like many others of his generation he wanted to forget the horror he had seen.


One story my dad did tell us has stayed with me. Dad took my mother to eat at a hotel in New York City just after she arrived in America. Mom burst into tears when she saw all of the food. She was thinking of her family back in Ireland doing without. Many times, when I was a young child, I watched as my mother packed up boxes of food to send to her family in Ireland.


My mother was 16 years old when on September 3, 1939 the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. On October 25, 1940 the first sirens sounded in Belfast and again over twenty times more before the first bombs fell. In April and May of 1941 Belfast endured over ten hours of bombing by the German Luftwaffe. On Easter Tuesday alone at least 900 people in Belfast were killed during close to six hours of bombing. Belfast’s shipyards and munitions factories made it an attractive target. My mom, caught away from home during one of the raids, spent long hours in an air raid shelter while her parents were frantic with worry.


Much of what they experienced I learned from the letters. The letters were self-censored by my parents and later read by army and civilian censors. In one of my father’s early letters home he wrote, “All the things I would like to write about would be censored.” Some of the letters did have words cut out of them by the civilian or army censors. These are indicated by the word censored.


I will start at the beginning. My parents saved most of the letters they wrote to one another. My grandmother kept some of the letters her son wrote to her, especially those written in 1942, but I have very few that she wrote to my father. Since they were in the boxes along with several from other relatives, I can only surmise that my mother had asked my grandmother if she could have them.


Many of the approximately 2,000 letters have been edited for content and space, and a few for privacy considerations. Some names have been changed for reasons of privacy. Nothing of historical or sociological significance has been omitted.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1942
  • Muriel Mitchell
  • January 1943
  • February 1943
  • March 1943
  • April 1943
  • May 1943
  • June 1943
  • July 1943
  • August 1943
  • September 1943
  • October 1943
  • November 1943
  • December 1943

The Author

Melanie Ippolito lives in upstate New York with her husband Len. Their two grown sons and many of their extended family live close-by, and she still has ties to her cousins in Northern Ireland. Melanie is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a BA in Sociology. She has worked in a number of public libraries throughout the years. This World War II Chronicle is her first book and she is currently working on the second volume of this trilogy.

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