31 December, 2011

31 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
31 December, 1944        0915

My dearest and only Sweetheart –

A year ago I wasn’t even engaged to you, but I missed you terribly. This year I miss you even more, darling. You have been my fiancée for nine months and a day; you have been consistently sweet and patient; you have been everything a fellow would want in a sweetheart. You can well imagine, dear, how much I’d like to be with you tonite to see the New Year in.

A year ago, dear, I waited until late in the evening to write you and I was miserably blue. I’m writing you earlier this year, to avoid that mood. Don’t think I wont be blue and reminiscent; I want to be both – but I am going to try to drink enough to take some of the sting off the feeling. I doubt if that will help. Between the bunch of us I think we’ll have enough to sit down and tie one on. We have the makings of a little spread – what with the Christmas packages. We’ve held on to a good bit of our stuff and now have a collection of canned lobster, crabmeat, anchovies, saltines, melba toast, olives, deviled ham etc etc, plus every assortment of sweets imaginable – except you. We have one large room available – not too warm – and we’ll probably hang around and drink, eat and sing.

30 December, 2011

30 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
30 December, 1944        1100

Hello Sweetheart –

Saturday morning, reports to get out for today and also the end of the month and a lot of other things to take care of. One thing I don’t have to think about is my tux and whether or not my stiff shirt is back from the Chink’s – because we’re not going Formal tomorrow nite, dear. As a matter of fact – we’re just not going – but I can well remember the times when I was keyed up about such things.

There’s not much along the lines of New Year’s Spirit here at present – although I imagine a few bottles will turn up by tomorrow nite. No mail or anything again yesterday and we’re really starting to miss be coming thru soon.

29 December, 2011

29 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
29 December, 1944       0945

Wilma, darling –

If I don’t get a hold of some air-mail envelopes soon I’ll have to write V-mail, dear. I’m pretty near down to the last one and our mail orderly has been unable to get any more. But one of these days there’ll be a whole new batch in. I’ve been rather fortunate in being able to write a letter at all this past week. I know a good many soldiers who haven’t been able to.

We’re still not getting any mail at all, although packages continue to come through. I got another one day before yesterday, totally unexpected, from a woman in Chicago who used to be a patient of mine when she lived in Salem. I don’t know where she got my address – although she used an old AP number 515 – remember it, dear? That makes ten packages in all and that’s not bad. I’m afraid, though, that a good many packages and letters will never get to us and a good lot of other soldiers due to circumstances out of our control and about which I can’t write. It’s a damn shame, too, and we won’t know for weeks whether we’re missing letters or packages. If I don’t acknowledge some of your letters from here in and for awhile, darling, you’ll know why.

28 December, 2011

28 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 December, 1944       1025

Good Morning, Sweetheart –

We’ve finally had a change of weather, and today it’s grey and snowing slightly. It looks as if it could develop into a real snowstorm. We’re comfortable where we are – and I can think back to my school days when I’d be looking out of the window as I am now – but seeing a different picture. I’m not anxious for a two foot snowfall. I don’t care if the pond is covered with snow or remains clean and good for skating; the same snow, the same frozen ponds – but what a difference beyond that! Why – I haven’t even got a pair of skates – or a sled!

I used to like to go tramping across the fields and woods of Franklin Park, usually with a couple of good friends. We’d talk about books we had read, about what we’d do when we got older, about traveling, – about almost everything, but never do I remember talking about war and the possibility of our ever being soldiers. Of the 3 of us who were close friends, one is now dead – committed suicide several years ago after a wild life which followed the death of his father. The other fellow became an engineer, went to California, married a gentile, has 3 or 4 kids and never got into the Army – and here I am. In those days – I never thought I’d ever study medicine; it always seemed to me that I’d end up in business with my father. Things work out quite a bit differently from the way we plan and although I can’t exactly say I planned anything, I just let things happen – and they happened.

27 December, 2011

27 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 December, 1944        1330

My dearest darling –

It’s another clear, cold crisp day with not a cloud in the sky. Certainly the Air Corps can’t complain. It’s the nicest stretch of weather we’ve had since we first arrived in Normandy and it comes at an opportune time.

I’ve been here at battalion all day so far and I think I’ll be sticking around for the rest of the day, anyway. We were busy this a.m. – here at the Dispensary and took care of quite a few civilians, too. We had a B.C.’s meeting the latter part of the morning – the meeting being chiefly devoted to Orientation. Later this afternoon I have several house calls to make – a sick kid, a woman with phlebitis, a boy with a bad Rheumatic heart etc. Our evenings here are uncertain; last night we sat around and waited; tonite we’ll try to play some cards, I guess. The mail continues to be elusive – but we expect that. The only letters I want are those from you and my folks, darling. I still have about a dozen letters to answer but I haven’t the time or the desire, for that matter.

26 December, 2011

26 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
26 December, 1944      1430

Wilma, darling –

I’ve just returned from Dog Battery, having spent all morning and the early part of the p.m. there. I should have been there the past two days also – but I couldn’t make it.

And today is just like you’d expect the day after Christmas to be – more quiet and subdued. So I’ve spent two Christmases away from you and home – sweetheart. Gosh – it’s really 3 of them away from home – because I was on maneuvers 3 yrs ago and had my pick of Christmas or New Years for my Leave, and I took the latter. It surprises me how used to things a fellow can become. I guess it’s because even mental resistance seems futile after awhile and you begin to realize that there’s not a goddam thing you can do except to have patience. And that’s what I’m trying to have, darling. I suppose the Christians mind being away on Christmas more than I do – but it’s just the idea of it’s being a Holiday that I mind.

Our present set-up perhaps helped us through Christmas more easily than had we remained at our last C.P. The natives here were wonderful to us and they were coming in all day with bottles of wine, cognac and liqueur – and of course they had to insist that we drink it. By 5 o’clock we were feeling pretty high. Pete came into Battalion mid-afternoon, sent his love, and had a couple of drinks. We had our Turkey dinner – not quite with all the fixings – in the evening. It was well roasted and well enjoyed. We played a little Bridge later on and then to bed.

25 December, 2011

25 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belguim
25 December, 1944       1040

My dearest Sweetheart –

A Merry Christmas to you and to the folks and I hope you spend a very pleasant day. It’s a clear, cold, sunny day here – and it has been so for the past 3 days – and believe me, darling, the clear weather is certainly appreciated. It’s the first cold weather we’ve had in a year – but a good dry cold and nowhere near as hard to take as the raw mess of an English winter. Dressed warmly – it’s really exhilarating – and we have enough clothes to dress warmly.

A good many things must be obvious to you by now, dear, but the whole story will have to wait for some time in the future. The fact is – that all goes well with us and things could be a whole lot worse.

24 December, 2011

24 December 1944

No letter today. Just this:

Christmas Message from the President, 24 December 1944


23 December, 2011

23 December 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
23 December, 1944

Dearest Sweetheart –

Another Saturday, another weekend coming up - and so what? At least it’s one less to sweat out, dear. We got to reminiscing last nite and thinking of the various bars around town – the Merry-Go-Round, Statler etc. I thought about the Sheraton Roof, the Vendome – yes and of Nile’s Oasis. Oh well – they’ll all be there when I get back and we’ll visit them all – in one night.

By the way, sweetheart – I hope you’re not letting some of the news you’re hearing get you down. As usual – this outfit retains the good luck – so please don’t worry. Everything is fine right here and don’t forget, we still have the best damned Army in the world.

22 December, 2011

22 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
22 December, 1944       0920

My darling –

I don’t promise I can finish this but I’ll go as far as I can. I suppose I’ve sounded mysterious in my last couple of letters, dear – but it shouldn’t seem too much so. A good many facts must be apparent to you. You wrote not so long ago, that you had been looking over some of the pictures I had sent home and that you had re-read my letters of the past two months. From the latter you said you were able to get an overall picture; that you could tell when I had a hard day, or when there had been activity – or moving etc. I’m certainly glad you are able to get all that from a collection of my letters, darling – because it’s impossible to give you a more detailed picture in any single letter. You can also get a better idea by correlating the dates of my letters with the actual day it was written – rather than with the day you receive it – or them. That’s difficult to do – especially if a few weeks go by. You wrote also that it was wonderful that I could write every day. I think it is, too, dear – wonderful for me, because – whether you liked the tone of some of them or not, dear – I always feel my day is complete when I do write a letter to you. And when I miss a day, that day is a void one, dear.

21 December, 2011

21 December 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
21 December, 1944

Hello Sweetheart!

It’s the 21st and supposedly the shortest day in the year, which suits me fine. It’s as dark, dismal and gloomy a day as we’ve had in a long time – several factors helping to make it so, darling.

I might as well tell you now, dear, that I’ll probably have to write V-mail letters for the next several days – although I may be wrong, of course. At any rate – I’ll keep something coming to you every day.

All else is O.K. Got another package yesterday – this time from Johnny Johnson who used to be adjutant of this outfit. He’s stationed in Atlantic City now – the lucky devil.

20 December, 2011

20 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
20 December, 1944       0855

My dearest darling –

I was lying in bed last night trying to get to sleep and as always, dear, I was thinking of you. For some reason or other you seemed clearer to me in my vision of you and that was a real treat. Even a picture seems so inadequate, darling, and the Lord knows I look at yours every hour of the day. I don’t know exactly why – but I see you most often just inside your doorway looking out at me. And then I see myself coming thru the doorway, taking you into my arms and hugging you tightly – but quickly – with a quick glance towards the street to see if anyone is watching. That’s the way it was, wasn’t it, dear? It’s a long time ago – but it seems to me that was the way it went. Another thing I think about a great deal is where you’ll be when I get back. I mean what the circumstances will be; Where will we land, where will people be able to meet us – where will you be when I hit town? One of the things I don’t think about is whether I’ll take a quick glance back to see if anyone is watching when I take you in my arms once again and hug and kiss you and well – hug and kiss you, dear.

19 December, 2011

19 December 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
19 December, 1944       1020

Dearest sweetheart –

Well – I have to resort to this after all, dear – but let’s blame it on the military situation. I’ve really been and still am – quite busy, darling – and glad to have the chance to dash even this off.

No mail yesterday – but quite a number of packages – none for me, this time. Despite everything – we’re planning a regular big Christmas celebration here – and already have a big tree set up here. We found some decorations and lights and the tree is beginning to look real nice.

18 December, 2011

18 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
18 December, 1944       1055

Hello darling!

I started to write you a V-mail and changed my mind. This may be a shortie – but I’d rather write that then a V-mail – if possible. You may gather that I’m pretty busy, dear – and I am. If you can recall the date when you receive this – you’ll know why. But everything is going along well enough and there’s nothing to worry about.

Yesterday didn’t seem like Sunday at all – and honestly – all the individuality that Sunday used to have – is fast disappearing. I can’t explain exactly why – but that’s the way it seems to be.

Again I got no mail from you, but I did get a V-mail from Lawrence – still at Holloran General. He didn’t write his new address so I’m unable to answer him for the time being. And I got a letter from the MD friend of mine in Italy with the 5th Army – and boy did my mouth water. A good many of the MC’s are being reassigned to jobs in the States – but of course those fellows have been overseas for some time now. This fellow – for example – came to England in Nov. '43, then went to Africa and then to Italy, where he’s been for longer than a year. So I guess he deserves a trip home. Boy – how I’d love a little trip home like that! How long would it take us to get married, dear??

17 December, 2011

17 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
17 December, 1944        1230

Wilma, darling –

I’m kind of tired today – not having had too much sleep last nite. It was exciting for awhile – but today everything seems to be going along well enough. Yesterday I was too busy to get out to visit A Battery – although in the evening I was able to relax. We had a movie – “Jamie” – and although I hadn’t heard about it at all – it turned out to be very enjoyable entertainment. I think I forgot to mention to you that I saw “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay” – with Gail Russell – some time during the past week. Is that the Russell that had so much written about her? Yes or no – I thought the picture very mediocre – and except for a few laughs – it dragged considerably.

I got one more old letter of yours yesterday, dear – but welcome nonetheless; I also received a Christmas card from Barbara Tucker Ensign – mailed from Salem. I don’t know what she was doing there – there was no note of explanation. And I got my third annual Christmas gift from the Salem Hospital Medical Staff – a leather bound, pocket-sized address book. It’s rather neat but I don’t need it here. I’ll send it along to you, darling, to hold – or to use, for that matter. I’ve already jotted them a note of thanks – and defied them to think of something different for next Christmas. Now! Now!

16 December, 2011

16 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
16 December, 1944      1030

My dearest sweetheart –

Sick call seems to be just about over right now, dear, so here I go again. I don’t know whether I mentioned it or not yesterday – but I’m visiting A Battery these days – but only afternoons – instead of staying with them for 3 days. I had to give that up because there’s too much work around here; the dental and administrative officers go out to stay, though.

I was out all of yesterday p.m. and the fresh air was swell. It was a rather clear day and it looks as if it will be the same today. If it doesn’t rain today – it will make 3 days – and that will be a new record. In the evening I was rather tired – but we played some Bridge just the same. And that reminds me of something I wanted to find out. You play enough Bridge to be able to answer it, darling. When we started playing a few months ago – the only score card we had was one dated 1935. According to that – doubled, not vulnerable – is 100 for the first trick down, and 200 for subsequent tricks; vulnerable is 100 for each trick set, and doubled vulnerable – 200 first trick, and 300 for subsequent tricks. Now the problem arose when one of the officers got a package the other day and among the items were playing cards and a scorecard – etched by Milton C. Wool – but with no date on it. According to this – doubled not vulnerable – is 100, 100, 200, 200, etc; vulnerable – not doubled – 200, 200, 400 etc, and doubled, vulnerable 200, 400, 400 etc. What we’d like to know, dear, is what is the latest along the lines of scoring.

15 December, 2011

15 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
15 December, 1944      1010

Good morning Wilma, darling!

Half the month of December gone – and it’s hard to believe. Where these days go to, I don’t know – but I’m glad they go. Each – is one less to sweat out. Say – before I go any further – you asked me in one of my letters whether I was scared. Now I know I’ve mentioned that word a few times here and there since landing on the Continent – but darling – I don’t want you to start thinking your fiancé is a coward. I’ve been scared – but on occasion only – and anyone who has been here has been the same – from time to time, and if he doesn’t admit it, he’s a g-d’d liar. But it hasn’t affected me in any way at all darling and I’m just as normal as anyone else. It’s just that if you happen to be in a house – and the shells start whistling over – you can’t help being scared; and you go out and stand behind a brick wall, trying to figure out from which direction the shells are coming; and then a few crash not too far from you and the shrapnel flies – and you duck – all that is a tense half-hour or so. And 5 minutes afterwards – you’ve forgotten all about it. As a matter of fact – and this seems to be popular consensus – it’s the whistling of the shell which most of us hate. Now I’m not writing this to worry you, dear, but just to explain how a person can be scared. There are other ways too. Please don’t repeat any of this to your folks or mine.

14 December, 2011

14 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
14 December, 1944        1025

My dearest girl –

I wish it could be empty and quiet here just once in a while – right now, for example, so that I could sit down and write a coherent thoughtful letter. I’m particularly anxious to have that because I’d like to answer your letter of 29 November, dear, when – so to speak – you fired at point blank range. I got your letter yesterday and was anxious to answer immediately – and I was unable to write at all – either to you or my folks. That was the first day missed in a long while. The Colonel and I left for a little trip on business – and we were gone the whole day.

When I first read your letter, I was a little bit peeved – I must admit. For one thing, darling, it’s not fair to read one batch of letters and then another from a different period, compare the two – and find one batch wanting. For instance – if I did that with your letters – I could find that sometimes you have time to concentrate and you really write a swell letter – and then other times – you’re visiting a good deal, going to a movie, playing Bridge – etc – and your letters are a bit more hurried. As a group – that would be noticeable. Individually, I love each and every one of them – they’re from you – and to me; they’re personal; you write to me as you do to no one else – and I’m aware of all that and love you for it.

13 December, 2011

13 December 1944

No letter today. Just this:

* TIDBIT *

about The "Neglected Objective"
The Roer River Dams

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]


The information that follows was extracted from The Siegfried Line Campaign written by Charles B. MacDonald for the U.S. Army's Center for Military History (1990). Go to that site to see footnotes and attributions.
While American troops were approaching the Roer in late November and early December, concern was mounting in command circles about the obstacle that remained before sizable forces might cross the river with reasonable safety. This obstacle was the neglected objective - the dams on the upper reaches of the Roer which the Germans might employ to produce flood waters to isolate any force that had crossed the Roer.

12 December, 2011

12 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
12 December, 1944       0920

Wilma, darling –

The days are sure rolling by and I can’t believe it is actually the 12th of the month already. I’ve been fairly busy of late, dear, but even when I’m hanging around – time has raced right by. And a funny thing is the comparison of our state of mind now as compared with last year’s. Despite the fact that we’re in Germany and supposedly exposed to various dangers – it is much nicer here than it was in England a year ago. We saw pretty nearly all of England in the time we were there – as is characteristic of the 438th, I guess. We were on the West Coast, North, East Anglia and the South, not to mention Scotland, of course – but the worst spot we were in was the Midlands – the dreary industrial area. At least we hit it the worst time of the year – and I guess I must have written you enough about the fog. I wonder if you were able to perceive how thoroughly discouraged and homesick I actually was in those early weeks in England. Gosh, how I missed everything I had left behind – and most of all – you! And I still miss you most of all, Sweetheart, a year later – and that’s a healthy sign; it’s you I’m always thinking of when I think of home and the future – and that happens every hour of the day and before I drop off to sleep at nite and the first thing when I awaken each morning. And not a day goes by, sweetheart, without my thanking God for having you as my fiancée, waiting for me and wanting me as I want you.

11 December, 2011

11 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
11 December, 1944        0905

Good Morning, Sweetheart!

Just look at the time, dear! I know I won’t get very far with this but at least I’ll try. I’ve always preferred writing to you in the a.m. if I could, and the earlier the better; my mind works more easily then. As the day progresses – I usually have about six or seven things to get done and I don’t seem to be wholly relaxed.

In the first place, darling, let me tell you about the enclosed Christmas Card. For some reason or other – when Corps had these made – they didn’t make enough and our outfit got none. Yesterday I managed to get hold of this one card – although I believe we’re trying to have some duplicated. It’s the cleverest thing I’ve seen and when I first saw it I was surprised that it had been passed by the Censor – but passed, it was. It speaks for itself, of course, and I think the Corps is justifiably proud of the part it played and is playing. The Divisions listed on top made up the Corps in the dates shown. Attached outfits – like ours for example – are not listed because there would be too many.

Front and Back Cover of the Christmas Card
from Headquarters VII Corps, 1944

10 December, 2011

10 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
10 December, 1944        1040

Dearest Sweetheart –

It’s Sunday morning again – the time in the week I used to like best dear and the time which I know I will like again. Now “ist es mir egal “ – as the Germans put it; it makes very little difference. My German is coming along fine, by the way, dear. – and I really feel that having majored in it was no waste of time. Although I never spoke it, I did read it well and it’s gratifying to be able to come out with past participles, future perfects, etc. – and correctly too. A most recent patient I took care of asked if I had ever lived in Germany and when I asked her why she asked that, she said I spoke German well enough to have lived here once. That was some compliment, I thought. One patient I have near here, a boy of 14, has studied 4 years of English and when I run into any peculiar constructions I want to use – he helps me more than a book could.

Well last night, sweetheart, several of the officers from the batteries came in and we had a crowd of about 25 of us – the first time we had been anywhere near together for an evening since Sherborne. We mixed up a Punch with some stuff we had and it turned out to be very very potent – so strong in fact, dear, that 4 of the officers passed out early in the evening. It didn’t seem to affect me at all – except of course – I felt pretty high for about 3 hours. All in all – it was good fun getting together – and we’re going to try it all over again probably on Christmas Eve.

09 December, 2011

09 December 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
9 December, 1944        1045

My dearest darling –

Another V-mail for you to excuse, dear, but I can’t help it. Here it is late morning and I still have a whole mess of patients to see – and I haven’t scratched the surface of inspecting B battery – and this is the 3rd or last day allotted me for just that purpose. By tomorrow I should have a little more time.

The mail situation is abominable and I haven’t received a letter from anyone at all for several days. I know I’ll get a whole batch – one of these days – but I don’t like the waiting – do you?

08 December, 2011

08 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
8 December, 1944       1520

My dearest darling Wilma –

I thought I’d be writing you tomorrow that I didn’t have any time to write you today and that you’d have to chalk up one more day that I had to miss. I guess there haven’t been too many misses in the 13 months, dear, have there? At any rate, there’s been a little break in my running around and I’m writing you now. You’ll notice, darling, that I don’t write very often – if ever – at night. The reason is the poor lighting facilities which at present consist of a kerosene lamp. We play Bridge by it – with the help of a candle on the opposite corner of the table – but on the whole – it is not very good light for writing.

It’s a funny thing – but by comparison with the summertime – we’re relatively immobile now and yet it doesn’t seem as if I get as much time to sit down and write a decent letter. What I wonder, sometimes, is how my letters were in August and September when we were really eating up the ground and moving every other day or so. I don’t know how I got letters out to you every day, then; making a 60 or 70 mile trip in each forward move – was not unusual. I wish we were doing it now. We haven’t got a heck of a lot more than 300 miles to go, I should say. I think once this bitter fighting is over with – we’ll start traveling swiftly.

07 December, 2011

07 December 1944


438th AAA AW BN

APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
7 December, 1944       1100


My dearest sweetheart –

This being the 7th – I suppose it is somewhat of a Holiday or something back home – or maybe just a few speeches will mark the day. There’s nothing going on here, dear, except the war – and that just keeps going on. It will soon be six months for us in a combat area and we’re already entitled to two stripes on our left sleeves – for one year overseas. What with the campaign stars we’ve earned for taking part in the Normandy and Northern France Campaign, plus one for our activity in the Battle of Germany – I’ll have a whole mess of stuff to wear. Oh hum! What glory!

I’ve just finished sick call, I hope, and should be free now until noon. Then I must trek out and do a bit of inspecting. Last night I played a bit of Bridge and lost 38 marks – the most I’ve lost at any one time since we started playing. We just couldn’t seem to get decent hands together – no matter who my partner was.

We’ve been sweating out our monthly liquor ration – but it hasn’t come in as yet. We wanted to have a bit of a brawl on Saturday night. We have a good place for it, but how can you tie one on without spirits?

I don’t remember whether I told you or not, dear, but we had a pretty nice movie the other night which you’ve undoubtedly seen – Bing Crosby in “Going My Way”. We were just in the mood for that sort of picture - and I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a picture so much. Barry Fitzgerald as Father Fitzgibbons was excellent.

Gee – I read about your being at Nancy’s one night when she had a half dozen couples over. I didn’t know any of the ones you mentioned – except Verna and Irv, of course, but somehow it made my mouth water – just the thought of it. It seems so long since I’ve done anything like that, Sweetheart, I wonder if I’ll know how to act in the company of gentlemen and ladies, just spending an evening together. When you’ve been in the Army long enough, you get used to having only men around and your conversation deteriorates in character and vocabulary – as a result. Blasphemy and profanity are taken for granted and it almost seems as if it’s impossible to say something without using a couple of profane words – at least. Well – I’ll be able to overcome it, I guess. Life is going to be enjoyable after the war Sweetheart – no matter what hardships may or may not be in store. First of all and most important – I’ll have you – my own and all to myself; that alone is going to be wonderful, darling – and honestly, I find it difficult to believe or even imagine at times. Then we’ll have some nice friends and places to visit. Things like that – from this point – seem like treasures. I’ll stop at this point or I’ll get too nostalgic and now is not the time for it. There’s a war to get over with first. I’ll say only, Sweetheart, that I love you so deeply – it hurts – the hurt coming from the fact that I can’t have you yet. But I will!

Love to the folks, darling and

All my sincerest love.
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about "Going My Way"



Greg mentioned that he saw the movie "Going My Way" with Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. Tom Keogh on Amazon's website briefly describes the movie this way:
This irresistible Oscar winner from writer-director Leo McCarey (An Affair to Remember) stars Bing Crosby as a low-key, crooning priest who joins the parish of a no-nonsense but sweet old Irish man of the cloth (Barry Fitzgerald). While Bing turns local toughs into a choir, the elder priest worries over the church building fund and whether he'll get a chance to see his old mother back in Ireland before she dies. One would have to have a heart of stone not to be won over by this charmer, with a lovely ending guaranteed to make you bawl for a week.

Here is the trailer, followed first by one of the well-known tunes in this movie - the Academy Award winner for "Best Original Song" - Swinging on a Star. That is followed by another sung in the movie, Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's An Irish Lullaby)





06 December, 2011

06 December 1944

V-MAIL


438th AAA AW BN

APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
6 December, 1944        1630

My darling Wilma –

I’ve just returned from one of the batteries – having been there most of the afternoon. I was busy all morning and couldn’t find a moment to write. Among other things we’re having a whole mess of visiting firemen and they’ve been in and out looking our place over all day. It reminds me of the good old days in the States and in England when we had inspection after inspection. They don’t mean quite so much, now, though, as far as I can figure it out.

We’ve had no mail now for a few days running although packages have been coming in. Hope you’re hearing more regularly from me, darling. At any rate – spotty or not, I love you always, dear, and remember that on the days you don’t hear. That’s what I do. Must go now, sweetheart; excuse the brevity, but I can’t help it. Love to all and

My deepest love
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about the Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger"


Mostly from the World War 2 Planes website and Wikipedia comes this description of the Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger (People's Fighter).

By the end of April, 1944, the backbone of the German Jagdwaffe (fighter force) had been broken, with many of its leading aces killed in combat. Replacements were slow to arrive, leaving the Luftwaffe unable to put up much of a fight through the summer of 1944. With few planes coming up to fight, the U.S. fighters were let loose on the German airbases, railways and truck traffic. Logistics soon became a serious problem for the Luftwaffe, maintaining aircraft in fighting condition almost impossible, and having enough fuel for a complete mission profile was even more difficult.

The Volksjäger was designed in an all-out effort to prevent the defeat of Germany near the end of World War II. Heinkel designed the small jet plane, with a sleek, streamlined fuselage. The BMW 003 axial-flow turbojet was mounted atop the fuselage directly aft of the cockpit. Twin vertical tailfins were mounted at the ends of highly dihedralled horizontal tailplanes to clear the jet exhaust. It had a high-mounted straight wing with a forward-swept trailing edge and shallow dihedral, an ejection seat for the pilot, and tricycle landing gear that retracted into the fuselage. It was the world's first operational single jet engine, interceptor fighter and the fastest of the first generation of Axis and Allied jets.

"Volksjäger" was the Reich Air Ministry's official name for the government design competition that the He 162 design had won. Other names given to the plane include Salamander, which was the codename of its construction program, and Spatz ("Sparrow"), which was the name given to the plane by Heinkel. The prototype flew within an astoundingly short period of time: the design was chosen on 25 September and first one flew on 6 December 1944, less than 90 days later. This was despite the fact that the factory in Wuppertal making Tego film plywood glue — used in a substantial number of late-war German aviation designs whose airframes were meant to be constructed mostly from wood — had been bombed by the Royal Air Force and a replacement had to be quickly substituted.

Rear side view of an He 162

Though it was a technical marvel for its time, the aircraft was designed to be among the less expensive and could be built by semi-skilled labor from non-strategic materials like wood. The first flight of the He 162, by Flugkapitän Gotthard Peter, was fairly successful, but during a high-speed run at 840 km/hr (520 mph), the highly acidic replacement glue attaching the nose gear failed and the pilot was forced to land. Other problems were noted as well, notably a pitch instability and problems with slideslip due to the rudder design. Neither was considered important enough to hold up the production schedule for even a day. On a second flight on 10 December, again with Peter at the controls, in front of various Nazi officials, the glue again caused a structural failure. This allowed the aileron to separate from the wing, causing the plane to roll over and crash, killing Peter.

He 162 coming in for a landing

Once the prototype's structural and aerodynamical problems were fixed, the first operational He 162s were delivered to the Luftwaffe in 1945. When the production stopped, approximately 250 units had been built and 800 were at different stages on the assembly lines. The full capacity rate of production had been planned to be of 4,000 units per month.

He 162's were produced underground at
Salzburg, the Hinterbrühl and the Mittlewerk.

While the records are not 100% authoritative, it appears that three individual Luftwaffe pilots did score "credible" kills while flying the He 162 A-1 in combat against the RAF and the USAAF. The first "kill" of is credited to Oberst (CPT) Herbert Ihlefeld's wingman, Sill, near Kirchheim-Treck in early February of 1945. On 21 April 1945, a number of He 162's conducted operational missions against Allied ground forces in northern Germany, operating out of Leck near the Danish-German border. On 26 April 1945, Unteroffizier Rechenbach witnessed to have downed an Allied aircraft flying his He 162. On 04 May 1945, Leutnant Rudolf Schmitt allegedly shot down an RAF Typhoon near Rostock. (Of important note is that official British RAF records do not substantiate this claim.) After the war, the remaining units were taken to the countries of the winning forces and used for jet engine aircraft pilot training. There are eight survivors today, in museums around the world.


Here is some rare footage of the He 162 taking off...

 

05 December, 2011

05 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
5 December, 1944       0855

My dearest sweetheart –

I know I won’t get very far with this letter, but it’s worth a try – In a few minutes I’ll be taking sick call and the morning will be on its way.

1000

Hello again, darling – the morning is on its way all right. I know I won’t be able to write this p.m. because I’m a member of the Board and we’re meeting today. The Board, by the way dear – is a Section VIII.

1040

Hell, dear – I don’t know why I even try to write in the a.m. – but as I started to tell you, I’m on a Section VIII Board and they’re usually long drawn-out affairs. Have you had any occasion to meet up with a Section 8 case? They’re usually rather interesting. This one coming up is morbid, but that’s about all I can tell you about it.

04 December, 2011

04 December 1944


438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
4 December, 1944        1235

Dearest sweetheart –

Monday – the start of another week. It’s not particularly blue here either, dear. For one thing – the sky is clear here at the moment and that makes the day a good one. Secondly – it’s only 21 days to Christmas – although why that should make us feel better, I don’t know – so we’ll leave that one out. Maybe it’s because of the shows we saw yesterday afternoon. We did actually get to see Marlene Dietrich – and believe me, darling, that was a treat. Up to now – we had always just missed out on the big Stars – e.g. Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby – and some of us were beginning to wonder if they actually ever did get up front. Well, Dietrich did, dear, and it was something to see. The show was put on in a German theater – seating capacity about 600, I should say. It got started at 1330 and lasted until 1500. There was the usual M.C. – and a couple of comedians. And then out came Dietrich. It’s hard to describe the reaction experienced by most of the men. You have to be able to picture a theater packed with men in all sorts of uniforms, needing shaves, wearing muddy clothes and boots; in that atmosphere a very attractive woman in a glittering gown steps out on a stage – and boy – they really yelled her a welcome. She surprised me. I thought she’d look older and more tired. Actually she was very refreshing, her hair a glistening blond, and her gown – form-fitting, of course. She didn’t do very much – talked a bit, played a musical saw – yes, she did – and sang a few songs, including the famous Lily Marlene, which is actually a German song, a product of this war.

December 1944 - Stolberg, Germany
Leaving Theater after Marlene Dietrich Show

03 December, 2011

03 December 1944


438th AAA AW BN

APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
3 December, 1944        1015


My dearest Sweetheart –

There’s a short lull in activities at the present moment and I’ll get a letter started to you, dear. Church services are being held next door by our Chaplain and it’s comparatively quiet right now. It looks like another fine day and we’re all surprised. We’ve had 4 or 5 fairly decent days in a row and that is most unusual – It’s really a treat – because one of the pleasures of this war has been in seeing a clear sky above and our fighter-bombers overhead having a field day. And don’t think out Infantry doesn’t love it, either. I was talking with an infantry officer the other day and that was one of the things he mentioned. He said that although they had to duck very often, it was very comforting nevertheless to hear the sound of strafing planes – friendly planes – just ahead of them.

Last night, after a quiet day, we sat around and listened to the Army and Navy game direct from Baltimore. The reception was good and it sure was like old times. I lost 5 marks – my bet with the Colonel. The game went on the air at 1900 and was over at 2115. After that – we played 3 rubbers of Bridge and finished up just short of midnight.


Today there’s a rumor around that Marlene Dietrich is to give another show right here in this town at 1300. We don’t know how true that is – but we’ll probably go down to see. It’s supposed to be given in a theater near our C.P.

Do I play ping pong? I have in the past, darling, but haven’t for some time. I don’t like to play unless I can have a shower immediately following the game because surprisingly that game can really give you a workout.

Your remarks about sex etc. – in a letter of yours – I read very carefully. We never did get much of an opportunity to discuss that subject; and it’s more complex than most people realize. Sexual incompatibility is the basis of more unhappy marriages than most people realize. I sometimes think that free love before marriage is a good idea. The only drawback in my estimation is its impracticability. I agree with you dear that it is a very personal subject and I can’t understand how married people can discuss their own sex problems or situations openly in front of others, no matter how close people may be to them. We’ve had several officers married in our outfit since the early days and the way some of them described things – disgusted me. I could never do it. As for your desire to remain a virgin pro tem – I think that’s a perfectly natural desire and that’s the way I want you. We’ll take our chances on sex –as so many people before us have done. I rather think we’ll make a go of it –

With interruptions and an occasional patient – it is now 1150. I sometimes don’t re-read my letters now before mailing them because they sound so disconnected, but I know you understand. It’s rare that I can start a thought and follow it thru without some sort of interruption. But the fact that I love you, sweetheart, and want you – can never be interrupted in my mind – and that is the most important thought of all. Love to the folks, darling and

My sincerest love,
Greg.

* TIDBIT *

about Frances Y. Slanger, U.S. Army Nurse

Lieutenant Frances Y. Slanger, R.N.
A Time magazine article titled “World Battlefronts: The Wounded Do Not Cry,” from the week of 3 December 1944 (dated 4 December), told some of the story of Army Nurse Lieutenant Frances Slanger. Here is a more complete version of her story:

In 1913 Freidel Yachet Schlanger was born in Lødz, Poland three months after her father left for America. In 1920, seven-year-old Frances, mother Eva, and sister Sally boarded a steamship to escape the persecution of Jews in Poland. They arrived at a U.S. Immigration Station where Frances met her father for the first time. It was here that her name was changed by immigration officials to Frances Y. Slanger. In Roxbury, a part of Boston, Massachusetts, Frances helped her father peddle fruit every day. She remembered her family’s suffering in Eastern Europe and longed to help others as a nurse. Her parents instead hoped that she would marry. Much to her parents’ dismay, Frances followed her dreams, graduating from Boston City Hospital’s School of Nursing in 1937.

Frances Slanger in 1930

At home in Roxbury, 29-year-old Frances Slanger heard news from her relatives in Poland. The invading Nazi forces had torched synagogues and were imprisoning Jews in ghettos. She knew Jews in Lódz were being shipped to Auschwitz and Chelmno. Her Polish relatives (of whom only one survived the Holocaust) were being forced to make German uniforms. Frances longed to help fight for democracy overseas, so in August 1943 she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps. With bad eyesight, she had to talk her way overseas. It was said that she wrote poetry and short stories, valued life, took risks and wanted to make a difference, including helping to resist Hitler's forces.

Army Nurse Recruitment Poster

Just 4 days after the D-Day invasion, Frances waded onshore at Normandy, France, to find 17 truckloads of injured soldiers. Two hours later Lieutenant Frances Slanger and other Army nurses were at work. They slept on the ground and wore the same clothes four days running. In five weeks of rugged going they helped handle 3,000 casualties. Assigned to the 45th Field Hospital, she worked as part of a surgical team on the front lines. Even through these hard times, Slanger knew that she had found her calling. She cared for each and every patient of hers as if they were a long lost brother or friend that she had met again. Here she was free to help her patients as much as she wanted and in any way that she wanted. If the patient was having trouble lifting his head to drink water, she put an IV bottle and rubber tubing together to create a water bottle. If they wanted the bullet or a piece of shrapnel that wounded them as a souvenir, she gave them what would make them happy. And if she wanted to sing to a wide-eyed soldier to remind him of home, then she did just that. Slanger quickly realized that many times the soldiers needed more than just IVs and surgery to heal. These shell-shocked boys needed love and care, as was evident from their frequent moans for their mother. What stood Slanger apart from other nurses was that while most nurses only tended to the soldier’s physical needs, she tended to their psychological needs as well. She often gave them the will to continue fighting to live. To these boys, the nurses in mud-stained dresses and unkempt hair were angels.

By October, the 45th Field Hospital Unit was stationed in Elsenborn, Belgium, where it tended soldiers from the Battle of Aachen. In early October the girls were touched when a news article praised them for sharing the G.I.s' mud and discomfort without a whimper. The night of October 20, Slanger couldn’t sleep. She and her tent mates had been discussing the heroism of the men who put their lives on the line every day, and she felt the need to set her thoughts to paper. The next day, she sent her letter to the Stars and Stripes editors, who ran it in the November 7th edition under the heading, “Nurse Writes Editorial." Here is that letter:

It is 0200, and I have been lying awake for an hour listening to the steady even breathing of the other three nurses in the tent, thinking about some of the things we had discussed during the day.

The fire was burning low, and just a few live coals are on the bottom. With the slow feeding of wood and finally coal, a roaring fire is started. I couldn't help thinking how similar to a human being a fire is. If it is not allowed to run down too low, and if there is a spark of life left in it, it can be nursed back. So can a human being. It is slow. It is gradual. It is done all the time in these field hospitals and other hospitals in the ETO.

We had read several articles in different magazines and papers sent in by grateful GIs praising the work of the nurses around the combat zones. Praising us - for what?

We wade ankle-deep in mud - you have to lie in it. We are restricted to our immediate area, a cow pasture or a hay field, but then who is not restricted?

We have a stove and coal. We even have a laundry line in the tent.

The wind is howling, the tent waving precariously, the rain beating down, the guns firing, and me with a flashlight writing. It all adds up to a feeling of unrealness. Sure we rough it, but in comparison to the way you men are taking it, we can't complain nor do we feel that bouquets are due us. But you - the men behind the guns, the men driving our tanks, flying our planes, sailing our ships, building bridges - it is to you we doff our helmets. To every GI wearing the American uniform, for you we have the greatest admiration and respect.

Yes, this time we are handing out the bouquets - but after taking care of some of your buddies, comforting them when they are brought in, bloody, dirty with the earth, mud and grime, and most of them so tired. Somebody's brothers, somebody's fathers, somebody's sons, seeing them gradually brought back to life, to consciousness, and their lips separate into a grin when they first welcome you. Usually they say, "Hiya babe, Holy Mackerel, an American woman" - or more indiscreetly "How about a kiss?"

These soldiers stay with us but a short time, from ten days to possibly two weeks. We have learned a great deal about our American boy and the stuff he is made of. The wounded do not cry. Their buddies come first. The patience and determination they show, the courage and fortitude they have is sometimes awesome to behold. It is we who are proud of you, a great distinction to see you open your eyes and with that swell American grin, say "Hiya, Babe."
Nurse Slanger never got to see her letter in print. The same day she mailed it, 21 October 1944, the rain fell hard in Elsenborn, Belgium, a town not far from the German border. The area had been quiet for days and dinner was a normal affair. Quite unexpectedly, the 45th Field Hospital came under attack by German artillery. Foxholes had not been dug on the assumption that Elsenborn was in a safe area, and as a result, there was little cover from the barrage of German shells. Days before Frances would get to live her dream as a published writer, a German shell ripped into her tent and slashed through her stomach. She died a half hour later.

Two weeks after her letter was published, the editors of Stars and Stripes printed an article, notifying readers of her death. Hundreds who had been touched by her letter wrote in requesting she be honored for her service to her country. Frances had been the first American nurse to die in Europe. On February 13, 1945, a U.S. Army hospital ship, Lt. Frances Y. Slanger, was named in her memory. The first all-women’s veterans' chapter in the country, the Lt. Frances Y. Slanger Post #313 of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S. was founded in February 1946. Representing all Jewish women veterans, this post was committed to community service, women’s rights, and programs that helped Jewish communities, such as combating anti-Semitism globally. One of the post’s immediate plans was to create recreational facilities for veterans of all religious denominations.

The Grave of Frances Slanger

Frances was buried in the U.S. cemetery in Belgium. In November 1947 her remains were returned home for a memorial service with more than 1,500 in attendance, including friends, relatives and the Mayor of Boston.

02 December, 2011

02 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
2 December, 1944       1030

Good morning, darling –

Well – I ought to have a bit more time today and maybe this will end up as a letter. We’re almost through our week’s work and we’re just catching the loose ends today. It’s a nice crisp Saturday here – a perfect day for the Army-Navy Game. I’m hoping it rains at Annapolis, though – because on a wet field, Navy could win. I’m a mean guy, huh? Well I have a bet on with the Colonel – he being a West Pointer I thought I’d have some fun and pick Navy. The bet is very complicated. It starts our as an even money, big stakes (5 marks) bet. However – if Army wins by 20 points or more, I pay off double; if Navy wins – I get paid double. One of the boys said the game was being broadcast this evening – so we ought to have some fun this evening playing a little Bridge, having a couple of drinks and enjoying the game.

The Colonel, incidentally, has been very nice to me and gave me a very nice recommendation the other day. All MC’s in this theater received a form to fill out concerning past experience, College and Med. School attended, years of internship etc. The form also asked for a preference in assignment, how long with present outfit – and on the last line it asked for the CO’s estimate of the MC’s ability. I naturally said I’d like to do a little surgery after being a battalion surgeon for 29 months. The Colonel wrote a note saying that I have done a “superior” job as battalion surgeon but he believed that it would be for the best of the Service etc. if I could do some hospital work somewhere. Well – it won’t lead to anything, I’m sure, but it was a nice gesture on his part – for it could conceivably mean that he would end up with another M.C. – and it’s much better having one who knows the men of the battalion. He was being very fair about it and generous in his use of the word ‘superior’ – especially as a Regular Army man. They usually don’t go above the word “excellent”.

01 December, 2011

01 December 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
1 December, 1944        1035

Dearest sweetheart –

And now the start of another month away from you. How many more – I wonder? I’ve a pretty busy day scheduled ahead of me and therefore the V-mail. If I don’t get this off now – I might not get a chance to write.

I got some more mail yesterday – and the service in delivery seems to be getting worse. The letters yesterday were from the 23rd and 24th of October. I had almost forgotten that those letters were missing – but they were welcome nevertheless. I also got a letter from Mother B – from way back, one from Stan and one from a friend in the Pacific. Stan told me about the trouble of getting an apartment etc. He did not refer to you at all – or anyone in Boston for that matter.

Right now I’m in the mood for some hard kissing, darling; how about you? I sure would love to give you a sample of my own special brand – Deluxe – Can you wait? Naturally – it’s on a wholesale basis only, dear. Most stop now – sweetheart. Love to all at home – and

All my everlasting love –
Greg

30 November, 2011

30 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
30 November, 1944        1115

My dearest sweetheart –

Another morning coming to an end and sick call just about over with. This is the end of the month again and it marks the 8th month anniversary of our Engagement, dear. It doesn’t really seem so long to me for I still get the same thrill at the realization that I am actually engaged to you, darling. It is so much more pleasure to me when I write you and am aware of what you mean to me. If you yourself are not fully aware, dear, I’ll tell you again that you mean more to me than anything else in the world – and that, sweetheart, is a great deal.

The end of the month also means paying off the men and getting paid myself. I believe I told you that last month I sent all of my pay home; I didn’t miss it either. There’s nothing to spend it on. Playing Bridge now solely and no Poker – I can’t lose much. As a matter of fact, since we’ve started paying, I’m ahead a few dollars. No one ever loses or wins more then 2 or 3 dollars a night and very often we pay off or collect 4 or 5 marks. I’m a confirmed Bridge addict now and prefer it to Poker – whenever there’s a choice. There are about seven of us that play – and there’s a game almost every night.

29 November, 2011

29 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
29 November, 1944       1115
Good Morning, sweetheart –

We’ve been giving some more inoculations again this morning and that will keep us busy for the next few days. It’s a whole lot more trouble when we’re in the field than when we were in garrison – as you can easily imagine. But it gives us something to do and we don’t mind.

Last evening, after supper – before I forget it, let me tell you about our suppers of late. I don’t know how the Army does it – but we have been having some swell food in recent weeks. This past week starting with Turkey on Thanksgiving, we had chicken the next night, steak the next, then roast beef, then steak and tonight we have chicken again. If we get all this, the rest of the Army gets the sauce – and yet there are some guys who bitch at the food.

Anyway, after supper, we had a movie, the first in some time – it seems to me; the title – “Ladies in Washington” – with I don’t know whom. Suffice it to say, it was not Class A.

28 November, 2011

28 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
28 November,       1944
Dearest darling Wilma –

Well, I don’t know; There’s one thing about the war at this point, and that is – the Germans are catching more hell than we are, because in addition to their Army, the civilians are taking a beating. I can’t tell you how many civilians I’ve treated in the past couple of days – badly wounded civilians with serious injuries incurred from booby traps and anti-personnel mines – left behind by their own godammed army. It’s a pleasure to hear these same civilians curse their own soldiers for using tactics like that – because it certainly is a bastardly way to fight a war. Well, every mine exploded by a civilian – is one less we have to worry about. I guess I have about the busiest practice in town – and I think I’ll open an office in Filene’s – on the street floor after the war, dear. This central location of ours – with our Geneva Cross flying in the front and from the back door certainly keeps them coming – wounded, sick babies, old men, children with rashes, etc. Too bad I haven’t got an adjoining operating room – I could really have a field day.

We got some mail yesterday, darling, but I got two only, one from you and one from Eleanor. I’ve still got a bunch of them due me – but they’ll be coming in one of these days. What I’ve just written you, dear, is not to worry you – but merely in answer to one of your letters some time ago in which you hoped we were giving the Germans hell. If the papers say we are – you can believe them in that respect. Any single town that is defended – is being leveled by our artillery, and of course the Air Corps has already done a terrific job. This whole Rhineland is being devastated – and after the war they’ll be busy for years trying to build up some of their cities. I hope the other side of the Rhine catches a bit of the same medicine. If it does, Germany – as a modern, civilized country – will cease to exist.

27 November, 2011

27 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
27 November, 1944        1125

My dearest sweetheart –

Well, as I was saying yesterday, I’ve been pretty busy the last couple of days; particularly so yesterday. In the first place, as I wrote you dear, we are now working out of a large department store. It’s only a one story affair, but it occupies the width of perhaps 7 or 8 ordinary stores, and it is quite deep. We live upstairs in what was an apartment house. The Germans living there were told to scram – and although that sounds rather hard, darling – this is war and I can’t feel sorry for any one of them. In France and Belgium we couldn’t do that. Here – if we find an empty house – we just move in. If we need a spot because of the tactical situation, we so inform the military government and there’s no question asked – the people move out. Where they go – I don’t know, but they don’t argue with us. Of course our military government has said that we can’t be in the same house as Germans – or vice versa, and that makes it tougher on the Germans – because we sometimes have enough room for us and the Germans. It is so in this case, and thus, we’re occupying only about half this apartment house, but the other half is now empty. You don’t realize you are part of an invading Army until things like this occur. If we need stoves, for example, we inform our military government and they tell us where to go and get them – German stoves of course.

American Military Government Headquarters
Stolberg, Germany - December, 1944

26 November, 2011

26 November 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
26 November, 1944      1600

Hello Sweetheart!

This time I really only have a couple of minute’s time in which to write you, dear. It’s been and still is a very busy day from several points of view.

We are now moving our Dispensary on the main street of a fair-sized town – and above all places – inside a Department Store. Our particular section formerly was a ladies underwear department, so the boys have been trying on foundations etc. Most of them were too small for us, though.

Dispensary with a Red Cross Flag
Outside Closed Department Store
Stolberg, Germany 1944

25 November, 2011

25 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
25 November, 1944       1400

My dearest sweetheart –

It is actually 1415 now and I’ve just finished listening to the BBC newscast. Apparently there’s quite a war on, dear, although I don’t really need the radio to tell me that.

Today is Saturday again and this afternoon has just barely cleared out enough to have a football game – I mean if a game were scheduled. It’s quiet here now – outside and just another afternoon to kill. Afternoons have been rather un-busy these past several days – and consequently they pass very slowly. The evenings set in here now just about 1700-1715, as we’re finishing supper, and they’re long. It’s a good thing we’ve got into the habit of playing Bridge, for I’m finding that I manage to play about four nights a week anyway – and it sure does help pass an evening. We played last night and had some swell hands – including a Grand slam which my partner made – although I helped. It’s the first one I’ve ever taken part in, and I got quite a kick out of it.

I was wondering yesterday whether or not you got your Birthday present from me, darling; it seems like an awfully long time since I sent it out, but I haven’t heard a word from the APO – so I don’t know. Our APO is moving, by the way, and I suppose we won’t have any mail for another few days.

24 November, 2011

24 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
24 November, 1944       1100

Dearest sweetheart –

The day after Thanksgiving – and if I were the type that has a big ‘head’ – on the ‘day after’ – I’d have a big head. We really had a party, a good meal, and a good time. When I finished writing to you yesterday, it was about 1430. Having nothing much to do then, I wandered over to Headquarters battery office and found a couple of other officers sitting around. Almost from nowhere, dear, a bottle of Scotch appeared and knowing that the Colonel would not object on a Holiday afternoon – we got going on that. And then it started to come. Each new officer that appeared – after our calling him on the phone, had to bring a bottle of something, half-full, full – in other words, whatever he happened to have. Well darling, the collection included the following: Scotch, Cognac, Armagnac (stronger than Cognac), Champagne, Rhine River Wine, Cointreau, Eau de Vie (which is so strong that we use it for lighter fluid), and Benedictine. I can’t guarantee the order in which they appeared, but I can assure you – everything was consumed just as soon as it appeared. Of course – we ended up with about ten officers, including the Colonel whom we called at about 1600. By this time we were singing all the old songs, trying to harmonize and not succeeding. At 1700 we went over to eat. The enclosed Menu gives you an idea of how much trouble Hq. battery went to to make the meal a better one than most. We went back to Belgium and got a printer to make up the menus, we dug up enough table cloths to cover all our wooden tables and the meal was excellent. It actually included everything you see on the Card. Keep it, darling; I’d like to see it after the war.

Thanksgiving Day Menu, 1944

23 November, 2011

23 November 1944


438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
23 November, 1944       1330

My dearest fiancée –

First of all, dear, a very Happy Birthday to you. Would that I could be with you now to look at you, hold you in my arms, kiss you and tell you I love you. We’re being cheated of so much, darling, it is maddening! I know you so well, I’m engaged to you, I love you so – and I haven’t helped you celebrate one of your birthdays yet – nor you – mine.

Missing a Holiday was always a tough thing, but missing you at a time when we should be celebrating – doesn’t seem fair at all. But this is Thanksgiving – and I’m thankful for all I do have. I guess that’s the best way to look at it, darling. We should be thankful that we have each other, no matter how far removed we are; thankful we are alive so that we can experience the poignancy of our emotion – which must of necessity be experienced at a distance. I’m thankful for you, Sweetheart, and for the fate that brought us together. And I’m thankful I’m in this war – alive and well.

This Thanksgiving will be a better one for us than was last year’s, despite the fact that we’re in enemy territory. Last Thanksgiving was the most miserable one I’ve ever experienced. I believe I told you we were on a train coming down from Scotland. We had K rations only; it was foggy, damp and cold. Everything was strange and lonesome – and believe me, dear, our morale was at a pretty low ebb. It’s not too bad today – considering everything. We’re having a Turkey dinner tonight at 1700; everyone who has any wine left at all is bringing it out and we’ll try to call it a celebration. The war is going on all about us here – as you probably know from the papers and the radio – but it’s funny how we’ve learned to forget about war when we want to, and project ourselves back to an old American custom. We’ve been reminiscing all day about last year – and the good old times before that. We’ll go right on doing that for the rest of the day – and tomorrow? Tomorrow will be just another day in the life of a soldier. We’ll be real again.

The weather here has continued to be abominable and it just doesn’t seem possible that it can be so constantly cloudy and wet. Right now outside my window – it’s coming down in buckets. I think we’re getting used to it though, for we rarely look up now to see if the clouds are breaking up or not.

There was a rumor that there was going to be some mail in tonight. I guess that will be about the best part of the Holiday for us – because we haven’t received mail for 4 days now and we miss it. The last mail I received contained no letter from you, dear. There was one from Charlie Wright – who is still at Fort Dix, New Jersey; and a letter from Mrs. Kerr – the elder – in Salem.

Before I close, Sweetheart, let me wish you the happiest of years, good health and good waiting. Do not forget for one single second, darling, that you have a fiancé who loves you as he has never loved anyone, who loves you and thinks of you constantly. I always shall, dear, and my greatest enjoyment in life will be to show you that love and make you love me even more than you do now. Love to the folks, dearest, so long for a while and

All my everlasting love,
Greg
P.S. Now that you’re 21 and a Major – I suppose we can really discuss intimate things from now on huh?
L.
Greg

P.P.S. OK, OK – that will be the last crack about your age!
L.
G.

* TIDBIT *

about Churchill's "America's Thanksgiving" Speech