Disclaimer: ‘Til We Meet Again by Ray & Betty Whipps (and Craig Borlase) was provided by Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.
Ray and Betty Whipps both served in Europe during World War II: Ray as an infantryman under General Patton in the trenches of Normandy, Paris, and Belgium; and Betty as a field nurse in Cherbourg, France. They met when Betty tended to Ray after he was injured during a fiery exchange between US and German troops in the Hürtgen Forest. As Betty nursed Ray back to health, the two bonded over their shared faith and soon fell in love. Before he was released from the hospital, Ray proposed, and they vowed to marry after the war. However, soon after Ray returned to his unit, he was captured by German forces and held captive in Stalag VII-A, Germany’s largest, most notorious prisoner-of-war camp. It was there that Ray’s faith was put to the ultimate test as he endured the most horrific weeks of his life—weeks marked by brutality, malnutrition, backbreaking labor, and near-constant death. The only thing that kept him alive was the dream of someday reuniting with Betty. Told in first person from Ray’s perspective, with personal wartime letters from Betty interspersed throughout, ‘Til We Meet Again is an epic love story of faith, hope, and resilience, set against the backdrop of one of the most extraordinary eras in world history.
‘Til We Meet Again is exactly what it describes itself as: a memoir of love and war (but mostly war). The story of Ray and Betty is told simply, yet elegantly, and is still gripping and suspenseful even when the reader knows the outcomes of certain battles of World War II. The portrait of war as described by Ray is neither glamorous nor horrendous; there’s a sense of duty and pride running throughout the book that shows more prominently than the awfulness of war or the initial shine of excitement.
Much of the “inner look” at WWII were things I had no idea occurred, such as the souvenirs taken from wounded or captured Germans. It makes sense that this happened, but I never thought about it before. I had to laugh when Ray proposes to Betty with a ring he got from a dying German and then thinks, “I’ll wait to tell her where I got that.” The book was a fascinating read if only for the inner look at the military and some of the more famous battles of WWII. I didn’t know that one branch of the army could draft you out from under the nose of another, and some of the things Ray saw and described you would only hear about from the mouth of a veteran. Textbooks tend to cover things in a more general way. They wouldn’t tell you about the day Ray experienced friendly fire from P-47s, or the frustration at having to follow your superior’s bad commands, or what it’s like to sneak up to a house to see if there are any German snipers waiting to shoot you as soon as they see you move.
Books like ‘Til We Meet Again keep our veterans’ words alive long after they are gone and remind us again and again of the gratitude we should feel to those who fought and suffered to protect our freedoms. A book I highly recommend as a look into one of the most devastating periods of human history from the perspective of a man who is only trying to do his duty and follow God in the midst of war.