Red-headed romance opens Doll’s eyes |

Red-headed romance opens Doll’s eyes

The battalion remained in Scotland for 36 hours when it should have only been 10. Finally, the train pulled out for Southern England.

Once in Cinderford, Frank orchestrated his battalion with unloading the train and setting up a tent camp in the woods. This was a small English village nestled against yet another hill with shops lining the streets to the top of the hill.

Because he was always the last one to arrive in a new camp, Doll was at a disadvantage to figure out the social scene. However, Gordon was just the opposite. He made it his business to find out what was happening in any new town. Gordon had already made his way about town and learned that nearby was a factory that made Lancaster bombers, and a whole fleet of pretty women worked in the factory.

In town, they met a couple of girls to whom Gordon had previously been introduced. Gordon had already chosen his pick of the girls and Frank ended up with a petite, 5-foot, 2-inch red-headed woman whose brother was in the British navy. They spent a pleasant evening going to the movies. Frank enjoyed her company and was happy to see her on a few more occasions.

Then she invited him home to meet her family. At the girlfriend’s home, Frank was introduced to the father, a ruddy-cheeked man with a grumpy disposition, and the mother was pudgy, but nice. A few days later, when Frank had use of an Army Jeep, he and Gordon drove into town and spotted the mother on her way up the hill to the market, most likely to get her weekly ration of food.

Despite it being against regulations, Frank stopped and offered her a ride. She accepted. Frank drove her to the market where she received her rationed goods, put them in a basket, and Frank dutifully placed the basket in the rear seat. So thankful to be given a lift, the mother invited Frank and Gordon to dinner.

They happily accepted. At the dinner table, Frank watched horrified as the father cut the rationed meat with surgical precision. Each slice was no wider than a razor blade. Then it dawned on him that this meat was intended to feed the family for the week, and here were Frank and Gordon, consuming a good share of the meat.

To be in the Army meant that Frank did not have rationed food and ate very well.

Usually the mess hall was amply stocked with food from America, and the United States soldiers did not want for anything. So after this dinner with the rationed meat, Frank went over the mess hall and found crates of oranges stacked six feet high.

He gathered a sack full of oranges and took them to the girl’s family. When the mother saw the bright beautiful oranges, she took in her hand, held it, then smelled it with her eyes closed, her chin trembled, and she nearly wept.

Smiling at Frank she said, “We haven’t had an orange in three years. Thank you so much. You have no idea what this means to us.” Turning away, she quietly sobbed.

Frank later learned that the girl, embarrassed because the family had oranges, took one of the pieces of fruit to the bomber factory, peeled it, and shared it with her co-workers.

Shortly after this, Frank was on the move again. Days were full of loading and unloading goods and heavy artillery and soon Cinderford was only a small hill in the foreground.

Many years later, Frank wrote to the family and learned that his girlfriend had married an American soldier and that the marriage was not going smoothly. Since his own marriage had suffered the consequences of war, he understood but still felt sorry for the family.

He wrote back and asked, “Is there anything you need?”

In the next letter came the reply, “Father needs ties.”

Frank cleaned out his closet and sent the family a bunch of ties. At long last, Frank felt that maybe the score had been settled between the rationed meat and the American soldiers.

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