Army Life – Letter From Dan in London – April 4, 1944

I don’t have very many copies of letters from Dan, but this one is interesting. He is stationed in London and makes frequent trips to Paris prior to D-Day. He is a surveyor and Civil Engineer so I wonder what, if anything, he had to do with the planning of the Invasion on that fateful day. He may have been involved with making maps. I don’t know of any stories he told so unless we discover letters or memoirs, we’ll probably never know.

Daniel (Dan) Beck Guion

Daniel Beck Guion

4 April

London

Hello, again, Pater, old Bean! I am going to devote this first paragraph to a testimonial on the inspiration your letters afford – – which, however enigmatical it may seem on the strength of evidence, keeps me writing with greater regularity then the dictates of my erstwhile conscience! Particularly effective (in a supplementary way, of course) is your happy policy of quoting directly from letters you receive from other current Guion’s – and I suggest that you elaborate on this policy to the fullest extent. In the same vein I am more than delighted to receive snapshots of the family not only for my own delight but also to show proudly to my acquaintances over here. Apropos of that, I have hied myself to the photographer’s to have a series of pictures taken – 48 separate poses – portraying the several vagaries of expression at my command, but I must wait several days for the proofs, after which I shall select the most flattering profile and have an enlargement made and sent to you.

At this point I must dispel the “illusion of the good conduct medal” over which the General has caused such an unwitting stir. After discounting for my natural modesty, the facts still remain about like this: the “medal” is a red ribbon which adorns the breast of some 40% of all American soldiers. Although it carries a certain amount of significance, it seems to have been designed primarily to aid morale – a sort of reward for having stayed out of the guard house an average number of times. It is about as much a travesty on decorations as the E.T.O. ribbon we are required to wear as a reward for crossing the Atlantic under orders – or the yellow ribbon awarded to those who happened to be in the Army before Pearl Harbor. At home they might seem impressive, but in England, where  a ribbon means actual campaign experience, they border on the ludicrous and become embarrassing to explain. To knock the last prop from your pride (and thus undo all that the General has striven to accomplish) I must confess that I have never actually been given the ribbon, having been on furlough when the award was made.

So, when you receive the photograph I shall send you, no amount of scrutiny will divulge more than the lonely E.T.O. ribbon over my left pocket, where it must remain as a constant reminder to the British people that I have the guts to obey the U.S. Army when they told me I was going again ”overseas”!

It is amazing how quickly my attitude has been altered by living for such a short while in England. I feel the strongest resentment against anti-British sentiment in the American press. The traveling Congressmen who created such a furor last fall were either acting with malicious designs on vote gathering among the large prejudiced group of Americans or else they were just ignorant rumor mongers. It infuriates me to hear anything said about the Americans by Britishers who have never been to America and I’m equally impatient with criticism of England by those who have not lived over here. Fortunately, most intelligent people see our differences in perspective but small things uttered by little people can produce mighty echoes, thus jeopardizing our personal relationships with each other but also perpetrating the sort of sentiment and resentment that has brought the world to its present state. Hate is not bred by understanding. I am quite fond of the British people. They take a hell of a lot of criticism when it is justified, and even much that is ill considered, but no people can be expected to smile and turn the other cheek when they are struck blows of ignorant prejudice. I have listened to complaints against America which I know to be widespread and utterly false, and I realize more and more how rarely a man is justified in passing judgment based on hearsay evidence. It is hard for the British to understand our customs. We feel the same way about their “teatime”, which brings their meals up to five per day – breakfast about seven, tea about 11 (with rolls or cake), luncheon from one to two o’clock, tea and sandwiches at four or five o’clock, dinner at seven or eight. And sometimes a sixth “meal” is taken before bedtime – a sort of tea-snack. So there.

Please try to find and send me a small brass brush for polishing buttons.

Dan

Tomorrow, a letter from Grandpa, then one from Dave and on Friday, one from Marian.

Judy Guion

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