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Veteran receives mother’s 1944 letters after 60 years

Correspondence recently discovered

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

MAASBREE, the Netherlands - Letters written by an anguished mother to her soldier son in 1944, were discovered recently in the Netherlands and presented to the original addressee, Ken McKernan, now 79. The British war veteran could read for the first time letters written to him by his mother who was living in the U.S. at the time. In 1944, McKernan fought in the Netherlands, after having landed in Normandy on June 6, D Day.

The mail to Private McKernan was addressed to various field offices and probably missed the intended recipient on a number of occasions. McKernan's unit did not fight in Maasbree (in southern Limburg), but passed through nearby Blerick, until 1940 part of the municipality of Maasbree.

The letters were discovered in a cigar box in Maasbree historical museum and became the subject of a quest for answers by a local historian.

A number of U.K. war documentation centres could not provide immediate answers. One of the McKernan letters with a request for additional information then was posted on a website. McKernan's son happened to visit the website and immediate established contact with the Maasbree historian, Mr. Jeu Henkens.

This September, Veteran Ken McKernan visited the Netherlands again, invited by the Market Garden Veterans Association in Nijmegen. A side trip to Maasbree united McKernan with his long-lost mail. During the war, his mother, who had left her family in the U.K. for the U.S. in the mid-1930s, wrote her son many times. In one of the lost letters, dated November 7, 1944, she wrote that she had received a letter from a U.S. soldier mentioning that Ken was in France. “God will keep you safe”, she added, continuing with the hope that “the war is over soon and we can meet again. I'll come home and look for you.”