Words from the war

Send by emailSend by email
18 July 2012

FORT KENT– According to Betty Savage, or Mrs. Richard Theriault of Fort Kent, her uncle Corporal Martin Savage passed away a few years ago, but thanks to Susan and Alan Boulay of Fort Kent, a piece of his life has found its way back to the family.

IMG_3019letters

Betty Savage Theriault sits in her living room on Charette Hill in Fort Kent reading the recently reclaimed letters from her uncle Martin Savage during his time stationed abroad in World War II. An old picture perched on her end table shows members of Martin and Betty’s family. - Julie Daigle image

The Boulays recently discovered a series of Corporal Savage’s worn and tattered, but still readable, European World War II letters that were lost for 60 years or so in among the rafters of their home.

Susan thinks the letters may have accidentally fallen from the eaves of the house into the gaps in the trusses between the original roof and a second roof placed on top of the first sometime afterward.

Martin’s parents, George and Elizabeth Savage, built the home in which the Boulays now live in 1938, and were the first owners. The Boulay’s home is located on Hall Street, just down the road from Savage Street.

Susan thinks the house has changed hands several times since George and Elizabeth built it. No one found the letters until the most recent owners decided to do a comprehensive home renovation this summer in response to rising oil prices and heating costs.

“Alan was on the lookout,” said Susan. “We thought there might be old newspapers or clothing or whatever.”

She was referring to the well-known habit of older generations of providing some home insulation by using newspapers or discarded clothing.

IMG_3002letters

LETTERS HOME - Martin’s parents and his niece, Betty, are pictured above with other members of his family. - Contributed image

The Boulays hardly expected to find personal letters from wartime Europe, and from a previous resident no less. The unexpected find also included a card from an as-yet unidentified “Becky” and letters from a James, someone who Betty Theriault identified as Martin’s brother, also a soldier in World War II.

After the couple realized what they’d found, Susan did an Internet search to see if she could discover who Martin Savage was. In typical Fort Kent fashion, a conversation with the police chief and another at Quigley’s led to contact with Betty, Martin’s niece.

Martin’s siblings Burns and Patricia are still alive, said Betty, along with his children, Philip, James, Jane and Nancy. Although the letters were written before the children were born and possibly even before Martin married the children’s mother Yvette, they mention Yvette and all of his siblings: Burns, Patsy, Anne, and Gilman. Martin was the youngest boy, said Betty, with Patsy the youngest in the family, and Anne the oldest.

All were “beautiful musicians,” reminisced Betty.

The oldest letter was written in February of 1944 and the most recent one in July of 1945. In February 1944, it appears that the military was sending Corporal Savage to England before they shipped him to the front lines in Europe. This was just prior to the U.S. bombing of Berlin in March of the same year. In 1945, he was awaiting transport home. The address lines in two other letters in that bracket of dates state that he was “somewhere in France” and in another, in Luxembourg.

Sometime after Martin’s return to the U.S., he moved to Caribou and became a postal worker there, said Betty.

About her uncle, she said, “He was a nice man, a very nice man.”

She said she plans to give the letters to his children still living in Caribou.

Comments

re: Word from the War article

correction: Martin & Yvette had 4 children: Nancy, Philip, Jane, and James. As a daughter of Martin & Yvette, I was excited to hear the news and cannot wait to be able to see and read the letters. Thank you for submitting this article.

Thanks JUmphrey

We try to be as accurate as possible, but all too often mistakes creep in. We apologize for any confusion this error may have caused.

Words from the War

Martin, my father, landed at Normandy beach 6 days after D-Day after his stay in England. He was assigned to an anti-aircraft unit. Much of his early experience was in St. Lo, a Norman town. Also, to make a small correction to the article, my Uncle James was my father's youngest brother; Dad was the third child and second son.