Friday, March 8, 2013

Celebrating Women's History - Undeliverable: Return to Sender

Day 8 Blog Prompt form Lisa Alzo at The Accidental Genealogist

Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

 Today I decided to share a letter that my Great Aunt Bertie Lee Roberts wrote to her brother, my Grandfather, Gilbert Ernest Roberts while he was serving in the Marines during WWII.
  When Bertie Lee mailed the letter on 28 Sept. 1944  she had no idea that Gilbert would never receive it. He was shot and killed the next day, 29 Sept. 1944, during the Battle of Peleliu.

     The letter was returned to Bertie Lee and left in it's unopened state until 2006 when it was given to my Mother, Gilbert's daughter. 

Envelope of Letter from Bertie Lee Roberts to brother Pfc. Gilbert E. Roberts
Postmarked 3pm  28 Sep. 1944, Charlotte, NC
Return Postmark: 18 Nov.1944, HQ. USMC, Washington, DC
© Cheri Hudson Passey

Letter from Bertie Lee Roberts to brother Pfc. Gilbert E. Roberts
26 Sept. 1944 pg. 1
© Cheri Hudson Passey

Letter from Bertie Lee Roberts to Pfc..Gilbert E. Roberts
26 Sept. 1944 pg. 2
© Cheri Hudson Passey

Letter from Bertie Lee Roberts to brother Pfc. Gilbert  E. Roberts
26 Sept.1944 pg. 3
© Cheri Hudson Passey

   Transcription of letter:

  Page 1-                                                                                        203 Goff St.
                                                                                                      Charlotte, 2, NC                                                                                                                         Sept. 26                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Dear Gilbert,                                                                                           
 I hope you are getting along                                                                    
fine. I'm O.K. I was out at
Lucille yesterday. They are all 
all fine too. Anne is growing taller.
 I read in Sunday's paper 
where Wilbert had been
 given the "Combat Infantry 
Badge". It was wrote,
with the 5th Army somewhere in
Italy. I got a letter from 
him last week. He said
he hadn't heard from 
you but once since you

page 2-
had been overseas.
 I got a letter from Leroy
two weeks ago he said he
was going on a picnic. 
I am going home this weekend.
Thelma came up here and
stayed one weekend with
me. We really had a good
time. We started to the
 show and met two girls
friends. We started to get
something to eat and I
met four soldiers from
the field that I have
 known for a long time. So
we ate and window shopped.
We picked out all we wanted

Page 3-

from dolls to wallpaper.
Everything around here is
about the same.
I'm sending you a box for
Christmas soon.
Well, so long. Write soon
and take good care of 
                                Your sister,
                               Bertie Lee

Bertie Lee Roberts
About 1944
Charlotte, NC
© Cheri Hudson Passey

Pfc. Gilbert E. Roberts
Spring 1944, Charlotte, NC
On home visit before shipping off

 In the letter Bertie Lee mentions brothers Leroy and Wilbert. Leroy returned from service, but Wilbert did not. He died on 1 October 1944 in Italy. Another brother Lester survived Pearl Harbor.
 Unfortunately her letter to Gilbert was not the only "Undeliverable-Return to Sender" letter Bertie Lee received.  In 1943, brother Edman was reported missing in action. Bertie Lee had written him in June and August, but the letters were returned stamped with the message that he had been declared missing. Edman's plane had been shot down in the waters off of Italy.His body was never found and he was declared dead in August of 1944.



  1. To have ONE letter returned under those circumstances is devastating enough, but more than one - unspeakable! But what a devoted and loyal sister and friend Bertie was.

    1. Bertie Lee never married and lived in the family home until her death in 2001. She made sure all the family letters and pictures were kept and shared many with me. I owe much of what I know about the Roberts family in that time period from her.
      She was a very sweet lady who never seemed to age!
      Thank you for your kind comment Wendy!

  2. What a sweet letter, full of everyday doings and the security of home life. Bertie Lee sounds like a woman easy to get to know. That war took a devastating toll. How infinitely sad for all the Bertie Lees who had their letters returned undelivered

  3. Very sad. I also have telegrams sent to the family letting them know their boys were mission and/or dead. That will be a blog post I do at a future time.
    Thanks Mariann