Polk County

Written by Kath, the wife of Bede Irvin, AP photographer

In bold text find inserted "additional" copy that was left out of the Eugene Register news article. The bold text was included in the news item published in the Waterloo Daily Courier, Oct. 19, 1944. Both articles were written by Hal Boyle.


Kath Writes Her Final Letter To The Buddies Of Her Husband

Kath Wrote Bede Every Day Till He Went Away for Good

By Hal Boyle

WITH AMERICAN TROOPS, in Germany, Oct. 11-(delayed) (AP) - In two years with the troops overseas I have read many stirring letters from wives who lost her husbands in foreign combat but none more moving than the one written by Kath Irvin whose husband, Bede Irvin, was killed when an American bomb fell short in the breakthrough near St. Lo last July.

Bede, an Associated Press war photographer, whose parents live in Des Moines, Ia., now lies buried in France. He was the envy of every soldier and correspondent who knew him because the mailman never passed him by. He was gone from home a year and three months and every day his wife sent him a gay, gossipy letter invariably well-written and cheerful.

Like thousands of other American women whose husbands have died in action, Kath has found it difficult to adjust herself to the finality of his death.

Writes to His Comrade.

She expressed this lost feeling in a letter to Danny Grossi, another AP photographer, thanking him for telling her the details of Bede's death.

(Mrs. Irvin, who was living in Los Angeles with her mother when her husband was killed in France, has returned to Detroit, where she lived while Bede was a photographer in the Associated Press Bureau there.)

Because I knew Bede and Kath well I received her last letter and I should like to share it with you for the picture it gives of a perfect marriage broken by war. I know Kath will understand the reason and therefore won't mind.

" . . . nothing is very real even now," she wrote. "And I find myself putting away little chitchat in my mind for future letters I will be writing to Bede and then I remember there can be no more letters to write him, can be no more mail coming from him, can be no homeleave, no homecoming at all so far as my Bede is concerned. But it is the impossibility of everything which makes it hard for me to believe that it is true and makes me think that he will someday be returning home like millions of other men will someday be doing . . .

So Little Comfort.

"There is so little comfort in the fact that Bede was a good soldier and died a good soldier's death...Bede held no ideas of ever being heroic. He would say how little he did over there compared to what so many other men were contributing. Yet he had a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that he was doing whatever he had to do to the best of his ability. I know Bede was happy this past year and three months -- as happy as any man can be so far away from his family and home.

". . . There are so many things I want to thank you for -- the pictures you sent -- Bede's campaign ribbon -- andthe mass you asked your uncle to say for Bede. That was a beautiful thing to do. Danny -- I know of no lovelier thing than one man sharing his religion with another. . .

"I don't know if you are married, Danny, but there are so many hopes and plans between a husband and wife. Plans that won't for Bede and myself ever come true.

"Nothing we ever dreamed of together can ever come true now. Little sounds of shattering hopes and dreams are big noises now -- nothing to hope for -- and no understanding.

Carefully Dry Eyes.

" . . . Not seeing Bede around the house isn't an unusual thing for me - it has been a long time since we were together in our own apartment. For you boys in London it is different. You have seen Bede more recently than I. You have eaten with him, talked with him, been around him - and now that he is gone it is hard in another way for all of you, too. . . . I know how heavy your hearts will be . . . and how carefully dry your eyes will be as you carefully try to avoid mention of Bede's name.

"I, too, have things to face. There will be no more dinners for us together, no more future to dream of and plan on together. But most of all there will be no more Bede. No more Bede to ever meet again. No Bede ever coming home again. I do have memories - memories of Bede and memories of happiness we found together in some eight years of being married. I have memories and pictures and letters. They're good to have - good to lean on - but there is never to be a Bede himself again.

"No, Danny, there is nothing more you can do. You've already done so much and there is nothing more I could ask for. The one thing I want cannot be acquired -- Bede.

"Maybe You Can Tell Me."

"Maybe someday, if ever we meet again, perhaps you can talk to me about Bede -- tell me of Bede the soldier, for the only one I know is the Bede that was with me for all too short a time, the Bede who listened to the sounds of taps on his 34th birthday, the Bede who now lies asleep on French soil where he once picked two red poppies and sent them to me in one of his last letters."

Kath kept Bede happy by her letters to the day of his untimely death. Through her letters she was with him part of his life every day for the 15 months he was away.

And the moral if you want one is:

Write that letter to your man in service.

Many a soldier will die on German battlefields still sweating out that letter from home that never comes. Many will fare into bloody darkness unhappy because some wife or sweetheart is less faithful and understanding than Kath.

Source: Eugene Register-Guard, Thursday, Oct. 19, 1944; page 14