A unique perspective on the last months of WWII and the allied occupation of Europe, this personal, yet universal, story highlights the “overwhelming sense of the continuity of history.”
Jim McKay heads for combat as his troop ship leaves New York in November, 1944. The young battalion surgeon leaves his bride, Liz, behind for an ordeal that will shape his life. Jim’s letters portray an ambitious young doctor struggling to treat the 500 men of his battalion, lead his medics, and keep himself sane while longing for the woman he left behind. Within a week of landing, Jim’s battalion is thrown into the Battle of the Bulge. Through the next five months of combat and 15 months of occupation, Jim describes his anger and frustration, his challenges and rewards, and his love for Liz. He emerges a top-notch doctor with a world view that will carry him through his long life.
Well-educated and sophisticated, fluent in German and French, Jim’s view of Europe is quickly shattered. After a week of combat his pre-war respect for German culture turns to revulsion. After the war, he is assigned to establish a hospital in Germany. He comes to terms with the defeated Germans around him, including prewar German friends struggling to survive.
The author is Jim’s son Tim, who weaves excerpts from Jim’s letters with the memories they provoke and research into his father’s battalion, both at the National Archives and in Europe. Letters to a War Bride is both an intimate portrait of a driven, honorable, and loving man, and a fascinating glimpse into the formative years of the Greatest Generation.