The story of the Anzio blanket (my new blankie)
#1

Well, here is a fantastic story. I am still reeling a bit. Wait until you hear this.

 

I am going to share all the correspondence between Verna and myself. And finally a Canadian soldier, Ken Paynter.

=================================

 

Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 11:51:08 AM

Subject: World War II Blanket

 

July 22, 2008

 

A Canadian World War II veteran was given an American blanket at Anzio, Italy. He was told that the American soldier didn't need it anymore as he had just been killed. This Canadian soldier brought it home with him and would like to see it returned to either the family of the American soldier that it once belonged to, but as that seems next to impossible because he doesn't have any names, perhaps to a veteran who served at Anzio or the family of a deceased soldier who was killed at Anzio. Any help from you would be very much appreciated ... as how to get this blanket back to the United States and into the hands of the above-mentioned. Thanks so much.

 

Verna Zadow

 

===============================

 

Dear Verna:

 

Wow, that is really something, but I agree; without a name or serial number, it would be virtually impossible to track down this person, especially after more 60 years.

 

My father served at Anzio, and did many of my veteran friends. I know I for one would be honored to have it within my collection. In fact my father was wounded during the breakout of Anzio, when he was hit by a mortar shell. He did survive, but spent some time at a hospital in Europe before returning to duty.

 

I thank you for writing to me. May I ask how you found my name/website? I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Regards,

Marion

 

=======================

 

Dear Marion:

 

I work for The War Amputations of Canada in Ottawa and received a phone call from a Canadian World War II veteran who had fought in Anzio, Italy. He was in his platoon when a group of American troops came along in a hand car transporting a dead American soldier. They threw the blanket at the Canadian soldier with the words to the effect 'you will need this more than this poor fellow'. The Canadian soldier has kept the blanket all these years but would like it returned to the United States, perferably to the family of the dead soldier. He realizes returning it to the family may be asking too much, but he would like to see the family of a soldier who fought at Anzio receive it. I contacted the American Embassy here in Ottawa and they referred me to The National Museum of the United States Army in Virginia, the U.S. Army Center of Military History

 

in DC, and The National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The museum in New Orleans gave me the VI Corps Combat Engineers' website and that's where I saw your name. I don't have the blanket in my possession but I will get in touch with the gentleman who has and get back to you with his reply. My contact will want to know if your Father is still alive. I'm assuming, yes, but I need to confirm. Also, what part of the United States do you live in? Any additional information you can give me would be appreciated so I can pass it on to my Canadian veteran.

 

 

Thanks so much for replying. Hopefully this will all work out for the best. I'll await your reply before I contact my veteran.

 

Sincerely,

Verna Zadow

 

=====================

 

One more thing... if he deems that it would be more appropriate, I can give him the names of several of my dad's buddies who are still alive, and who were also at Anzio. We will make sure that the blanket is held in a place of honor.

 

Regardless, it would be nice to have it for our reunion this fall. I'm sure the surviving members would love to see it and hear the story.

 

Warmly,

Marion

 

====================

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

 

Thank you for your responses. I think the next step would be to obtain your mailing address and telephone number. I will pass it along to the Canadian veteran and the two of you will be able to communicate. I am not sure if he has e-mail as he did ask that I get your address and telephone number. Thanks for everything. I think he will be very happy with the end results of having the blanket returned to a family of an American WWII veteran.

 

Verna Zadow

 

====================

 

Dear Verna:

 

I am so thrilled, and I am sure my dad in heaven is smiling down on us. He would be tickled pink.

 

Here's my information:

 

Marion J Chard

PO Box 147

1460 Joy St.

Alger, MI 48610

USA

 

phone number 989-859-8418 (this is my cell phone and has voice mail is I am not available.

 

Thank you so much. I am so touched by all of this.

 

Warmly,

Marion

 

=======================

 

Marion:

 

Thank you for your quick reply. I'll call my contact this afternoon and I'm sure he will be in touch with you shortly. It was my pleasure to be the go-between.

 

Verna

 

=========================

 

Well, several days later I received this beautiful handwritten letter from Ken. I am attaching it as a PDF file. You best believe I am calling Ken today.

 

Tell me what an honor this is. I still can't believe it. ME! :wub: This blanket has seen a lot of history and been all over the world and survived six decades. Now it will have a place of honor with me.

Ken_Paynter___Anzio_Blanket001.pdf



Attached Files
.pdf   Ken_Paynter___Anzio_Blanket001.pdf (Size: 407.03 KB / Downloads: 0)
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#2

I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Ken this morning. Grabbed my cell phone about 0900 and put in a call to Ottawa, Canada. What a pleasant man. Well-versed, gentle and instead of his 87 years, sounded much like a man of 60. :armata_PDT_01:

 

We talked for almost 45 minutes, and we enjoyed every minute of it. He gave me a little more of his history with the 1st Canadian Division, which was under the excellent leadership of General Burns. Ken spoke very highly of the general and said he had many a great memory, working directly with him.

 

He joined at the tender age of 16, as a "Saturday night soldier", on 2, September, 1939. He was discharged from the army on 6, January, 1946, as served his country as a staff sergeant. He married an English war bride in 1943, and had three daughters with her before their divorce in 1957. He later remarried a woman from Germany and had a son and several more daughters, and is now a very happy grandfather, many times over.

 

He visited England again in the 80's, and was filled with many memories of the war. His first born moved to England, many, many moons ago, and they still keep in contact.

 

He was thrilled that I was going to get the blanket, and said my dad would be very proud of me. I know he would too.

 

He had a few very cute and funny stories, and promised me he would write some down and send them to me. We vowed to keep in contact and be pen-pals. Here's a few stories he related...

 

Once they were in a small town, with many bombed out buildings. They stopped for some R&R, and said they noticed a tank outside. Well lo and behold they couldn't locate the driver, so he decided to take 'er for a spin. Well... He got 'er started and said, "Good thing the turret was facing in the opposite direction." He then proceeded to get the thing moving and...well...the forces of momentum sort of took over and the lack of experience and kerpowee! Yup he wound up stopping (er...being stopped) by the bombed out building across the way.

 

A very short while later, the tank driver found him, and exclaimed, "Now how am I going to drive my tank?" :cuss::frown:

 

Next story...

 

His colonel told him that he needed some R&R, and told him to go to a certain area where (I believe) the 24th Ambulance unit (not positive of exact unit designation) resided at the moment. When he got there, the officer in charge said, "You must have some beer!" Well sir he voiced, I've already had my daily allotment just a couple of hours ago. Well the officer would not take no for an answer, and after a few of the offerings, fell fast asleep in the back of one of the ambulances. Before he knew it, the ambulance had taken off with him in tow, unknowingly to the driver or himself. When he awoke he was in a nearby hospital with a doctor and nurses surrounding him and the doctor declaring, "There's nothing wrong with this man. Send him back to his unit!" :frown::frown:

 

I just love these stories and can't wait to hear more!

 

Ken is going to mail the blanket to me on Monday, and I promised him I would call and let him know when it safely arrives on my doorstep. B)

 

God bless you Ken. You are one hell of a man! :wub:

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#3

Great and touching story. I know that would be in a place of honor for anyone who fought there.

 

Can't wait to hear more Ken stories. Hope he can several more years of telling them to you (and us!)

Maj Todd O. USMC, Retired
Grandson of LTC John O'Brien
Reply
#4

Oh Marion, Ken's story brought tears to my eyes. What a special person he must be!

 

This surely is a miracle - that this extraordinary memento of Anzio should find it's way to you - someone who can appreciate & honor it's meaning better than almost anyone else.

I can't help but think that your Dad & the soldier who lost his life that day are behind the blanket's journey to you. I DO think so indeed! Clearly, it's a gift to YOU, dear Marion!

 

That blanket represents so very much - the death of that nameless soldier, the kindness of the soldier who gave it to another soldier who needed it, the great faithfulness of Ken who kept & honored it , to the point of wanting it returned to an American Anzio vet's family - and it is also a tangible reminder of all those men & women, known & unknown,

who suffered in the terrible place called "Anzio" 64 years ago. They were all real people:

the soldier who died, his friend who mourned, the Canadian soldier who survived & remembered - and they - like all those who were at Anzio who died, suffered, mourned, and survived - did it so ALL of us could be free!

 

That's what that Anzio blanket means - the sacrifices of so many & especially all the UNKNOWN & unsung sacrifices.

 

mary ann

Reply
#5

Only got a minute (literally), for I am going to be on an Ottawa radio station this morning with Ken. They called yesterday. I said yes. Cool too because today is our 26th wedding anniversary. Pretty neat! Wish me luck!

 

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#6
http://www.939bobfm.com/
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#7

Well the interview was fun and I did okay! :pdt12: It was great talking with Ken and the interviewer, Steve. I emailed the manager and asked him if I could get a copy of the interview. If so, I will post it on the site.

 

Another neat thing to fall into my lap...

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply
#8

We're all looking forward to hearing it.

Chris

Reply
#9

I think I left my blanket at Anzio, We dug into the side of a creek bed. I have been trying to remember if I

had one later, after reading the above. Too old and too long ago. The above is a good story and I do hope

it comes to a very good end. Yep we had some wounded, Roque

Reply
#10
I will take a photo of it and post it here.
Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply


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