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A Great Blow for the Poles

Posted by on April 21, 2015

The waning days of July 1943 brings two letters from friends back home.

The first is from Anne McCann (nee Moran), who as you remember married her sweetheart Paul in April. She writes on July 24 during a break at work. While she does not mention where she works, she goes into some detail about her job as a telephone switchboard operator. “I love this work, so different and interesting. The board I operate is a large, two position one, plug in type and very busy. We have 14 trunk lines, 5 combinations and 5 attendants, three tall terminals nearly one hundred extensions and direct lines to our plants in New York, Hartford, New Haven, Utica and Poughkeepsie.” She mentions that she is working on a Saturday on her own. With five attendants each girl works every fifth Saturday.

A WWII era switchboard similar to the one that Ann McCann may have operated.

A WWII era switchboard similar to the one that Ann McCann may have operated.

Anne mentions that she has heard that Stanley was promoted to sergeant and she congratulates Dad on earning his corporal stripes. She asks if Dad is due for a furlough and mentions that Paul is trying to get a furlough too. Apparently Anne has not seen her husband since they were married.

Dad also got a letter dated July 29th from Isabelle Pawluc, Secretary for St. Cecelia’s Choir. She also mentions that she has heard about Stanley’s promotion to sergeant and relays to Dad how good it was to see Stanley when he was home on furlough. “I was never more surprised in my life when I walked very casually to Mass and saw your brother standing in front of the church.” Like Anne, Isabelle asks if there is any chance that Dad will be getting a furlough soon. As an aside, she asks if there are any Victory Gardens on the base and mentions that in Albany “everyone seems to be sporting string beans or tomatoes here.”

Isabelle goes on to write that even though it is summertime, there are no vacations for the choir as their schedule is busy. They have regular Wednesday rehearsals and every member has an opportunity to sing solo. Of note, Isabelle writes, “Last Sunday a special Mass was sung in memory of General Sikorski. The choir prepared a quartet which sung hymns and I offered my rendition of Ave Maria… It certainly was a great blow for the Poles to lose such a firm leader as the General was.” I will note here that as the parish and neighborhood is predominantly Polish, it is not a surprise that they would mark Sikorski’s passing as he served in WWI and he was the Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile when he died in a B-24 crash off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, 1943. Below is newsreel footage covering the death and funeral of General Sikorski.

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