#WorldPostDay – Eisenhower Letter

#WorldPostDay – Eisenhower Letter

Today is #WorldPostDay and throughout today we will be highlighting some of the wartime letters mentioned in our oral history collection, stressing the importance of their role in the lives of our participants.

In 2017 we interviewed Shauna Kyle (US4) & Kyle Meinzter (US13). Shauna and Kyle are cousins. Shauna is the niece and Kyle is the son of Ballymena woman Dorothy Kyle who met and married GI Wade Meinzter in April 1944. Wade was wounded in action in June 1944 during the Normandy landings as Shauna states ‘there were eight of them in a patrol, and a shell exploded and it killed the guy in front of him and it killed the six guys behind him and he was badly wounded and he lay behind a hedge missing for three days.  Now my grandmother was aware that there was no word and that he was in action and she gave word to the maid that if the telegram boy arrived my Aunt was not to be given any telegram, it was to come to her.  The Americans were eventually able to rescue my Uncle. He was quite badly wounded and he somehow managed to get to a telephone.  He phoned my Aunt (Dorothy) to say that she would receive word that he was missing but he was all right. A telegram did arrive that he was Missing in Action presumed killed but she knew that he was safe, and I think that he was medevacked out to Southampton’.

Dorothy was naturally very worried as she was in Ballymena while her new husband was recuperating in a hospital in Southampton Hospital. Dorothy decided to write a letter to General Eisenhower, who went on to become the 34th President of the United States and who was at that point a five-star general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe.

Kyle grew up hearing about this letter stating ‘I always heard that my mother had a letter from Eisenhower and I’d never seen it and I didn’t know much about it; I just knew she had one’. After his mother’s death Kyle looked through some boxes in the attic stating that ‘I never found the letter that she wrote to Eisenhower but Eisenhower was obviously responding to a letter she had written to him saying something like “My husbands wounded, he’s in a hospital in Central England, we’ve got Hospitals here in Northern Ireland, could you get him transferred”’.

Eisenhower’s response can be seen pictured above, framed alongside Wade’s medals. Eisenhower replied ‘Dear Mrs. Meintzer, in reply to your letter of August 14, I fully understand your feelings, wanting your husband to join you, and feel sure it can be arranged. I will send your letter to the proper authorities, who will make an investigation’. Eisenhower was true to his word and within six days Dorothy and Wade were reunited when he was transferred to an Army hospital just outside Ballymena to recuperate, before eventually being invalided out of the American Army and sent home to America where Dorothy later joined him.

This Eisenhower letter may seem insignificant, but it shows the power of an ordinary letter, to reunite a couple separated by war. Did you know any GI brides? Do you want to share your family’s wartime story?  If you would like to share your memories, please get in touch with our Oral History Coordinator at projects@niwarmemorial.org or on 07588 634847.

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