Corporal Dillon Summers of the 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion was beginning his second month of extensive training in tank warfare in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, when he wrote the following letter home. It was in response to a family tragedy of which he had just learned.
MON OCT 25/43
Somewhere in England
Dearest Mother & all.
Will ans the letter I rec from You today. was more than glad to hear from You again. One also from Hazel & Jean. tell them I will write later.
Lexie was saying in her last letter that she was keeping Donald out of school that day Oct 11 because he had a cold & today I got a Cablegram from Verlon saying he died the 16th.
It was a great shock to me. he was sick only five days wasn't he? Mama it hurt me very bad. An I know Lexie & Paul is killed nearly. we must look forward toward meeting him is all we can do. Also very sorry about Clyde & I have wrote Anna several times writing her again tonight. I will appreciate the paper more than a X-mas present. I meant to send Lexie a Cablegram right back, but on the Cablegram we can send from here don't fit in much all I could of said is Cablegram recieved Many thanks. tell her for me. Love to all. Your Son. Dillon
Learning of his nephew's sudden death tore at Dillon's heart, as his response shows. Lexie was his older sister, and Paul was her husband. Their son Donald had just started school. Hazel and Jean, mentioned early in the letter, were his younger sisters, Hazel being my mother and Jean the youngest of the Summers children. Verlon was Dillon's younger brother. There were seven children total in the Summers family. (I am not sure who Clyde and Anna were or to what Dillon was referring when he said he was "sorry about Clyde.")
(Cpl. Dillon Summers standing in front of a mockup of a German Panzer V tank)
Hundreds of thousands of service members had to deal not only with the dangers of front-line combat and tiring hours of labor making it possible for those front-line personnel to wage the war but also personal and domestic problems and tragedies. Then there were the family members who were back in the States, each of them worrying about their loved ones in the military.
Such realities should make us even more appreciative of our nation's service members and their families. Remember this as Memorial Day approaches, and say a prayer for them all.