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Elisina Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, September 30, 1945


Par Arnay-le-Duc

(Côte d’Or)

September 30th 1945

Dear Robert.

I feel very sad at the idea of your being in France, and my not being able to see you.

The question of transportation is so very difficult to solve, especially down here, where “gazogènes” are the only vehicles available for hire, and one or two at most are fit to take the road, owning to the condition of their tires.

If there is any chance of your being able to come to Antigny, it would give me the very greatest pleasure to welcome you, and to make you as comfortable as it is possible in the present circumstances. I am bound down here by the necessity of restoring order after five years of neglect and adventurous disorder.

The weather is still sunny, with a slight autumn chill in the air, and Antigny looks well in the fall.

I was happy to have a glimpse of Mildred, though our time together was only too short. I admired her wonderful energy and devotion to her task.Mildred Barnes Bliss was in France as a representative of the American Women’s Voluntary Services during the fall of 1945. In a memorandum of General George C. Marshall (1880–1959) for General LeRoy Lutes (1890–1980), dated November 6, 1945, in Washington, D.C., he writes: “Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, representing the American Women’s Voluntary Services, called on me this morning having just returned from a trip to France in the interests of her organization. She toured throughout France, except the Bordeaux region. Mrs. Bliss is interested in the same proposition as former Ambassador Phillips [William Phillips (1878–1968), former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Italy, and the president’s personal representative in India],that is, furnishing some assistance or measure of relief to the French, particularly in the devastated zones. The proposed plan is to erect a hut in each small town or village, with a large stove, so that the women can gather there for their sewing or whatever hand-work they may wish to engage in. This would conserve fuel and would promote, which they are very anxious to do, community effort in which the French are reported to be greatly lacking. The funds will have to be raised by the organization in this country and they are already having their difficulties because of the Community Chest or War Fund procedure. However, this last is their problem. . . . Will you have a map made for Mrs. Bliss, dotting in red the villages which the American Army is at least partially responsible for destroying. There will be a complication here in regard to the bombing program prior to the Normandy invasion, but we need not quibble over details. Will you also give me your reaction to the possibilities in this case and what form of inquiry we should send General Eisenhower.” Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens, ed.The Papers of George Catlett Marshall 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945–January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003): 352–53. In a letter to Mildred Bliss, dated November 10, 1945, Marshall told her that he had sent a message to Eisenhower requesting: 1) “his comments concerning the possibility of transferring to your project for a nominal payment such surplus housing and construction items that may become available as a result of the reduction of American forces in Europe””; and 2) information regarding damage to small towns and villages in the areas through which U.S. troops had passed. George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia, GCMRL.

My best love, dear Robert. Let me hear news of your intentions, please.

Yours always affectionately