My outfit was stationed in a small community called Leek. It was in England about twelve miles from Manchester, a very large city. Leek was a lovely, hospitable little town, and its residents were most gracious to us curious GIs.
One evening, I went with a few of the men from my company to the local Red Cross Coffee and Doughnut, “Emporium”. We dunked doughnuts and sipped coffee and danced with some of the local young ladies. I met one of these lovely young ladies, and we danced laughed and exchanged pleasantries throughout the evening. She made my evening exhilarating by her cheery, bubbly personality. This was to prove to be rather an illusion as a subsequent event took place.
When the canteen closed, I asked her if I might walk her home and she said yes. Suddenly, as we were walking, this woman began to cry. I kept walking beside her, puzzled and feeling terribly awkward. So I said nothing. She stopped and said, “My boyfriend, Frank, has been killed in Holland. Excuse my behavior.” We continued to walk until we reached her home. Not a word was said to each other. I hugged her and she looked at me and said simply, “Stay alive.” And I realized that this lovely English lady had been crying for all of us.