Six months after Danny Wilson was buried in the temporary cemetery in France, his mother received this official letter (addressed to Clabe Wilson) from the Quartermaster General:
7 March 1947
Dear Mr. Wilson:
The War Department is most desirous that you be furnished the latest information regarding the burial location of your son, the late Second Lieutenant Daniel S. Wilson, A.S.N. 0 770 058.
The records of this office disclose that his remains were originally interred in a temporary cemetery established near the place where he met his death, but were later moved to a more suitable site where constant care of the grave can be assured by our Forces in the field.
The records further disclose that his remains are now interred in the U. S. Military Cemetery St. Avold, plot KKKK, row 3, grave 64, located twenty-three miles east of Metz, France.
(An identical letter was sent 24 April 1947, with his addition: You may be assured that the identification and interment have been accomplished with fitting dignity and solemnity.)
The War Department has now been authorized to comply, at Government expense, with the feasible wishes of the next of kin regarding final interment, here or abroad, of the remains of your loved one. At a later date, this office will, without any action on your part, provide all legal next of kin with full information and solicit their detailed desires.
Please accept my sincere sympathy in your great loss.
Sincerely yours, T. B. LARKIN, Major General, The Quartermaster General
By this time, Leora was widowed. Her oldest son Delbert and his family were living with her on the acreage near Perry. Evelyn and little Leora Darlene had moved to Iowa with him at the end of the war, and baby Donna was born in Perry in November 1945.
I was in Metz, France many times. The train station there was my entry and exit point for my tour of duty in Etain, France, and it served as a departure point for my trips to Germany. I remember signs pointing to St. Avold, but I never knew about the cemetery there. Sadly, I missed the chance to see it.
The French and Belgians are much more knowledgeable about what their wars cost young Americans than we do. Most of the burials at St. Avold are from the Battle of the Bulge. More Americans are buried at Lorraine National Cemetery (more than 10,000) than at Normandy (9,400).
That photo is such a treasure, so is the letter.
When I first looked at the photos, I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. They are much more poignant now.
I’m particuarly taken with the last photo of the womenfolk.
I’d never thought of it in context of what they were going through.
That’s a good point. The photograph of all women and little girls takes on a whole new meaning when we consider the context.