Kay Summersby

Kay Summersby

Kay Summersby or Kay Summersby Morgan (1908–1975) was born in County Cork, Ireland. She described her father, a retired Lt. Colonel of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, as black Irish and her mother as English. When Britain entered the Second World War in 1939, Summersby joined the British Mechanised Transport Corps (MTC). When the United States joined the Allies after the German declaration of war in 1941, Summersby was one of many MTC drivers assigned as chauffeurs to high ranking American military officers. She was assigned to drive Major General Dwight Eisenhower when he arrived in London in May, 1942. Though there was a brief interruption of several weeks due to Eisenhower's short return to the U.S., Sommersby drove Ike and later became his secretary until November, 1945. During this time Eisenhower rose in rank to a 5 star General of the Army and Commander of the European Theatre, and Kay, with his help, became a U.S. citizen and a commissioned officer in the U.S. Women's Army Corps (WACs), ultimately leaving the service as a captain in 1947. Captain Summersby's military awards included the Legion of Merit, Women's Army Corps Service Medal, European Campaign Medal, World War Two Victory Medal and the Army of Occupation Medal with "Germany" clasp.

Kay Summersby is notable and has maintained a marginal place in history due to her possible romantic affair with Dwight Eisenhower during the 1942-1945 period. "Eisenhower Was My Boss", Summersby's 1948 memoir of the war years, makes no mention of any "affair" with Eisenhower; however, her 1975 autobiography, "Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower", is a book devoted to the romantic relationship between the two. This second book, written after Eisenhower had died in 1969, was a deathbed statement from Ms. Summersby in which she sets forth that she wanted to set the record straight. There had been many rumors concerning the nature of their relationship, both during and after the war; she stated in her second book that she did not mention anything about this in her war memoir due to her concern for Eisenhower's privacy. The "autobiography" was ghost-written by Barbara Wyden while Summersby was dying of cancer (David, 1981). Persons close to Eisenhower have maintained that the "affair" (which by her ghost-writer's account consisted, sexually, of two unsuccessful attempts to have intercourse) was strictly a fantasy on the part of the ghostwriter and publisher. It is interesting to note, however, that Summersby began the war as a British citizen and the equivalent of a private in the British forces and ended the war as a U.S. citizen and a Captain in the U.S. Army WACs. All of this came about through the direct efforts of General Eisenhower. Whatever the case, it is generally agreed that Kay and Ike were extremely close, were seen together in many press photographs during the war (as shown in the two books and other literature) and (as evidenced by letters between the two) the woman was not well-liked by Eisenhower's wife (who was alive when the second book was published). Ms. Summersby was married and divorced prior to meeting Ike Fact|date=August 2007 and remarried a Mr. Morgan at some appreciable time after her discharge from the Army. There was an engagement to marry a U.S. Army officer that overlapped her initial period with Eisenhower; however, this was ended by the fiancé's (Major Richard "Dick" Arnold) death during the North Africa campaign.cite book |Ike: An American Hero= |Korda= |Michael= |2007= |HarperCollins= |New York= |978-0-06-075665-9= |p 385=

Former President Harry S. Truman reportedly told Merle Miller that in 1945 Eisenhower asked permission from General George Marshall to divorce his wife to marry Summersby, but permission was refused. Truman also said he had the correspondence between Marshall and Eisenhower retrieved from the Army archives and destroyed. (Miller, 1974). Some historians conclude that Truman simply misremembered, and emphasize that Eisenhower had asked permission to bring his wife over to live with him in England. Others have speculated that Truman lied because of animosity to Eisenhower that heightened considerably during the latter's presidency. Fact|date=February 2007 In any event most of the parties, with the exception of Kay Summersby, had important reasons to misrepresent what actually occurred between the future President and his attractive driver.

Further reading

* Ambrose, Stephen E. "Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect 1890-1952" (1983).
* Miller, Merle "Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman" (1974) Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-11261-8. London: Gollancz Ltd. (1974) ISBN 0-575-01841-0 ;Reprint (2005) by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. ISBN 1-57912-437-2
* David, Lester & Irene David "Ike & Mamie, The Story of the General and his Lady" (1981) Academic Press. ISBN 0-399-12644-9
* Morgan, Kay Summersby "Past Forgetting: My Love Affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower". New York: Simon & Schuster. 1976.
* Summersby, Kay "Eisenhower Was My Boss" (1948) New York: Prentice Hall; (1949) Dell mapback
* Perry, Mark "Partners in Command: Penguin Press (2007) New York
* http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,775637,00.html "It's nice getting back" Time, May 28, 1945 (Ike danced with Kay).
* http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,780022,00.html "Kay's War" Time, September 27, 1948
* http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2002/nr02-09.html Summersby's wartime diaries
* http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/trumanl.htm Oral History Interview with General Louis W. Truman, President's cousin, confirming the Truman Eisenhower letter about Summersby

External links

* [http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/listofholdingshtml/finding_aids_w.html Papers of Barbara Wyden (desk calendar diaries kept by Kay Summersby 1944-1945), Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library]

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