There are few signs left in Leominster of the WWII invasion, by thousands of Americans soldiers. But they have left a deep impression: ‘They smelled nice, had good teeth and always gave us chocolate and gum!’ They had decamped to this north Herefordshire town while awaiting D.Day. Amongst the units based in Leominster were the 5th Ranger Division and 90th Infantry Division, both of which played a major part in the D-Day landings. Other units such as the 7th Armoured Division and the 736th Field Artillery Battalion were to spend time in Leominster while awaiting relocation to the Continent.
They were billeted mostly in Barons Cross, a couple of miles outside the town, but they also commandeered many buildings in the town, including the Forbury, home of my project, ‘Cartographic Love Letters’. Among the service men taking up residence in this tall redbrick, Georgian-like building, was the author of this letter, Joseph F Mocker, of Taunton, Massachusetts.
He wrote regularly to George Bishop and his family, and this is the only letter that survives. I’m grateful to his daughter, Yvonne Conod, for sharing it with me.
It’s curious that Joseph went on to open a nursing home in Massachusetts, and his former billet, the Forbury, would also take on a new identity in later years, as a residential home.
I have a good friend, who is a journalist on the Providence Journal, Rhode Island, just 30 miles from Taunton, Mass. We’ve talked about the letter and guess what? She is going to see if she can track down Joseph’s relatives. Keep posted.