Dear Mary

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Sydney Williams

256 pp., 9 x 6, Paperback


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Sydney M. Williams, Jr., joined the American army in early 1944 and served in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy until his release in late 1945. All during that time he exchanged letters with his beloved wife, Mary, and with other family members and friends waiting anxiously for news at home. In Dear Mary: Letters Home from the 10th Mountain Division, author Sydney M. Williams III uses the correspondence between his parents—a married couple in their thirties with four young children—to show what the war was like both on the battlefield and on the home front.

The letters included here are personal and often intimate, but the story they tell is universal. The United States never suffered the devastation of invading enemy forces or sustained aerial bombing. Homes were not plundered. Women were not raped. Starvation was never a constant companion. Yet the conflict took a heavy toll in other ways: at least half the population of the United States had a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a father or mother serving in the armed forces. The worry brought about by separation, and the fear that came from not knowing what was happening to loved ones, had a profound psychological impact. How did those at home cope? How did those in combat disguise what they must have felt about the horrors they witnessed from those they loved?

Dear Mary also includes commentary that allows readers to follow the course of the 87th Regiment while in combat, drawing on much of the existing literature about the 10th Mountain Division, and listing all the men who served in the 87th.


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