Monday, August 15, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: Mail from Staffordshire to the Bronx

My mother's twin sister, Dorothy Schwartz, was a WAC in WWII, serving in England and receiving the Bronze Star for "meritorious service in direct support of operations against the enemy." She was the historian for the WAC detachment, 9th Air Force, having joined the company in spring, 1943 and leaving it in summer, 1945, when the war was winding down.

At 24 years old, Dorothy was far from her parents' apartment in the Bronx, NY, for the very first time. It was a difficult separation for my mother, Daisy Schwartz, because she was so close to her twin. (Frequent letters to and fro helped ease the separation, I know.)

On August 11, 1943, Dorothy's parents (my grandparents), Theodore and Hermina Schwartz, received an unexpected but very welcome letter from Edna S. Griffiths at Mayfield House, Stone, Staffordshire, England. She wrote, in part:

I have had the very great pleasure of meeting your daughter Dorothy and I thought I would like to write and tell you how we enjoyed seeing her. Ours was the first English home she had been to and that makes me very thrilled.

I was taking my little Scottie dog for a walk and met Dorothy and her two friends. I was so anxious to meet them and we finished the evening at my father's home. I really think they enjoyed themselves and they were most interested in all we had to tell them. Since that evening we have met so many of your country women. How we do admire them! We all "fell" for them...
I am sure you all miss Dorothy but she will be happy with the English people, we're to make them feel at home but of course we are not so easy to know, that's what I think. I think we are all beginning to feel the strain of this terrible war...
I hope if Dorothy is ever short of a house during her leaves I hope she will come to us. My home is always hers while she is in England. She is really  a beautiful girl and I am sure you are both proud of her.
 My best wishes to you both and may we soon see the end of this awful war. Yours very sincerely,
Edna S. Griffiths
Edna and my grandparents exchanged letters a few more times until 1945, when Dorothy returned home. How lovely it must have been for my grandparents to know that their daughter had caring people she could visit and talk to during her time in England! Thank you, Edna Griffiths.


  1. What a cool story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks so much for reading and leaving me a comment, Sheryl! Happy ancestor hunting to you.

  3. What a wonderful letter...and how it must have eased your grandparents' minds.

  4. Hi Dee, You are so right. My uncle Fred was also overseas in the war, so only my mother was at home during that period. Grandma and Grandpa must have been thrilled to hear from someone who befriended Auntie Dorothy.

  5. What a great letter!! And how sweet of them to make her feel at home.

  6. Jan, I couldn't agree more! Just think, 68 yrs ago, my aunt was helping in the war effort . . . it's wonderful that Edna was so friendly and went out of her way to reassure my grands.

  7. Edna Griffiths was my Grandmother. She was the kindest most loving and generous person I have known. I miss her still. It's lovely to read her letter about your Aunt. Best wishes to you all.

    1. Thank you for reading and leaving me a comment. Edna's letter was a kindness for my family and she sounds like a warm-hearted lady, making my aunt (and others) feel welcome so many miles from home during a terrible time.