Sunday, October 23, 2011
Only in Print: Kendal at Hanover residents publish book of war memories
WASP Louise Brown shares her stories in World War II Remembered.
From Union Leader.com: Only in Print: Kendal at Hanover residents publish book of war memories
HANOVER — He was injured at both the D-Day landing in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, but his assignment to oversee an emancipated concentration camp in Germany when World War II ended was what left the most lasting impact on Clinton Gardner.
“The memory of it is so deep, it has affected me ever since,” he said.
He tells his story “Three Unlikely Wounds” in the new book World War II Remembered, a collection of 56 memoirs by residents of the retirement community Kendal at Hanover. The book was released this week.
Gardner, 88, managing editor in the book’s publication, said Wednesday that residents of Kendal at Hanover were inspired after reading a book of World War II memoirs written by residents of the retirement community Wake Robin, in Shelburne, Vt.
Wake Robin individuals gladly consulted the Kendal residents on the project, Gardener said. “We thought it was a great idea and we gave them a call and asked them how they did it.”
Kendal residents Jane Barlow, Robert Christie, Elinor Horne, Mary Jenkins, James Sheridan and Robert Stanbaugh also served as editors of the book.
“My memoir, I’ve given the title ‘Three Unlikely Wounds.’ I received the first wound on D-Day. … Everyone around me thought I was gone. My helmet was split in half by a shell that went through it. … The second was during the Battle of the Bulge. And the third — I am calling it a wound, but it was a psychological wound — was when I was put in charge of the Buchenwald concentration camp,” Gardner said. “That was one of the big concentration camps. In fact, it was one of the first concentration camps freed.”
When the U.S. Army freed the camp, there were 20,000 people in it — “3,000 were half alive and dying at a rate of 50 a day.”
Buchenwald was where the some of the first reports of the Auschwitz gas chambers were reported by prisoners, so officers were brought in to interview them.
While he had quickly recovered from his battle wounds in army hospitals, the scars left by the horrors of his three months in the camp have stayed with Gardner; he said he has memories of seeing the huge number of dead and visiting the morgue daily.
“World War II Remembered” tells other stories from both the European and Pacific fronts, as well as those who did their part at home or who lived under Nazi rule.
Gardner is quick to point out two-thirds of the memoirs were written by women. Louise Brown flew planes to various locations within the country as a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. The WASPS, as they were called, never saw combat but Brown had a close call.
Jean Sonder wrote a detailed account of her childhood living in Nazi-occupied Holland. She recalls the day parachutes of the invading army rained down on The Hague and how she was taught to protect herself and her family. “We children were warned by our parents, and also by a teacher, to watch what we said in public, as the Germans were encouraging people to tell them what they heard or saw of anti-German behavior and tricking the younger children at school into revealing that their parents listened to the BBC,” she wrote.
Her father, who was Jewish, was eventually sent to Auschwitz, where he died while her mother, who had dual citizenship, fled with the children to the United States.
“I think the most interesting thing for me is the effect of seeing such varied reports of the war,” Gardner said.
“World War II Remembered” was published by the Kendal Residents Association. The book is priced at $22.95 and available at the Dartmouth Bookstore. An order form for the book is also available on the Kendal at Hanover website, kah.kendal.org.