Helmet For My Pillow
By Robert Leckie
I'm going to cheat a little for this blog entry. My mother sent this book my way and left an interesting note inside the pages that seems to speak more about this book than any drivel I would have written. So instead of my usual bloviating, allow me to reprint my mother's note verbatim. It's way more interesting:
Fabulous book. I thought of (my) Dad and Uncle Bill throughout the entire read. Uncle Bill (Charles) died in 1975 in a road accident with his grandson. Uncle Bill married Aunt Lottie, a widow, and fell in love with her daughter (Irene P-----) and adopted her. You know Irene. Uncle Bill was fun loving and up for anything. I remember him as loving to play cards.When the war started Dad got his mother to okay that he could join the Royal Navy (as the youngest son he needed his mother's okay). Uncle Bill and dad joined together and spent the war on all the same ships and subs.Stories I remember:Dad and Bill were invited to an elegant home in New York and both of them threw up all over the place as they were so drunk.Bill finding Dad passed out drunk around a toilet in South Africa.Bill and Dad on guard duty in San Francisco letting their shipmates back on board as they had left the ship unauthorized to party it up.Bill so drunk on their return to the sub that he thought that the entrance to their sub was a pool and dove in. Dad says that was why he had a hearing problem.This book was according to the stories I heard was as it really was.Substitute the marines with the navy and I think Dad would have also agreed that it was a true account.I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.Love, Mom.P.S. Dad always said the best looking women in the world are from Malta. I always wondered about that.Did you know I was named after a British nurse when Dad was in the hospital in Britain. Also, he refused to meet the Queen when she was touring that hospital during the war.
My grandfather, Harrison Pelley, died in 2002 when I was 28 years old. While he was always a little reluctant to talk about the war, especially with my grandmother around, you could always get a few great stories out of him when he was alone. One of my greatest regrets in life is not taking the time to listen to more of his stories.
I miss my grandfather very much, but just a little more while reading this book.