Life and WW II Research…

Don’t we love it when things flow harmoniously? These moments remind us to be grateful, but our situations can also get complicated. Then, nothing seems right.

This week, our relative faced cancer surgery, which went well. But a few hours later, his blood pressure dropped due to internal bleeding. Things worsened, and two surgeries later, he was on the mend, but you can imagine those tense hours.

Recently the son of a real-life WWII heroine, Dorothy Woebbeking, sent me this photo of the gun turret where his mother fell asleep in the Invasion of Sicily in 1943. She and the other nurses were sent in on the first wave, a huge error by their commander. During incoming fire, a gunner rudely awakened our heroine and sent her below.

What a terrifying period that must have been! Those of you who have read UNTIL THEN

know what happened next, so I won’t spoil it for others, but the war overflowed with situations like this. Dorothy’s son also sent this note printed on the back of the photo.

Even those who’ve never experienced war know that nurses shouldn’t go into battle ahead of the infantry. This frightening circumstance must have caused terror in the heart of every person aboard that LST. ( Read how all of this turned out in UNTIL THEN.)

But in the midst of all the chaos life throws at us, we still discover synchronicity. The other day, I met a man whose accent intrigued me. We chatted, and it turns out he was a child if France during World War II, with vivid memories of that period. We arranged to meet yesterday, and I learned that Jean Jacques still recalls the Allied forces moving north through the French Alps in 1943-44.

His father had sent his family from Marseilles, a center of Nazi and Resistance activity, to a little mountain town for safety. Jean Jacques recalls pleasant childhood times there, but also the American and Canadian troops passing through the Alps.

What’s interesting is that the Eleventh Evacuation Hospital, which included our heroine Dorothy, followed the troops through these mountains to set up their triage and surgery. Wow–it’s entirely possible that Jean Jacques witnessed the truck carrying Dorothy and her thirty-nine-nurse comrades!

Today I’m meeting again with this child of the war, now in his eighties. This time, I get to see some of his photos. And who knows what may result?

Who would have thought that in the tiny mountain town of Pine, Arizona, someone like this would cross my path? But that’s the joy of research–our sources lie all around us!

4 thoughts on “Life and WW II Research…

  1. I recently finished reading “Until Then”. This account certainly enriches your story. How wonderful for you that you had these recent contacts concerning Dorothy.
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  2. Absolutely. I think some of the best parts of our story starts to be formed while doing the research. I know in my non-fiction writing, this is where much of my learning and understanding originates. God’s blessings ma’am.

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