30 April, 2011

30 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
30 April, 1944        0900
Sunday Morning

Good Morning, darling –

And a good morning it is, too; nine o’clock is really only 0700 because of the double summer time – but already the sun is shining brilliantly and everything outside seems so much alive. I’ve just had breakfast – there were only a few of us down, the rest were sleeping late. I haven’t shaved as yet, but I’m going to take my time. We’re supposed to have a volley-ball game on later, officers vs. enlisted men, and after that – I think the money will be here for the men’s pay – and ours, too. Another month has slipped by. This month was a good one, sweetheart, although we were actually engaged in March.

Mentioning pay reminds me that with the close of this month – the gov’t is six months late in changing my allotment to myself – and still no word from the New Jersey office where the changes are made. Our personnel office has sent out a couple of tracers – but still no word. I’m not worried because it’s on the books and it will come thru in a lump sum – eventually. In essence I’ve been getting $150.00 per month instead of $200; so I have $300.00 coming to me as of today.

29 April, 2011

29 April, 1944 (to her mother)

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
29 April, 1944
Dear Mother B.

First – thanks for your swell letter which I received a couple of days ago. I like your letters for they help me to feel closer to all of you and I like that sensation.

I spend pleasant hours these days dreaming about life after the war – and what it will mean to me – and to all of us. Becoming engaged to Wilma has made so much difference in the way I can sit back and think of the future, and – well – it’s just very very pleasant food for thought.

You recall very nice memories when you mention the Copley. I do remember meeting the Shribmans – although I don’t remember the name – Gwen. I wish I were around to be congratulated – but so long as Wilma is happy about everything, I feel fully satisfied.

Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, 1930s

Before closing – let me substitute this letter for a card. A Happy Mother’s Day, to you – with many more – at which I hope to be present to pay you my respects as a son – in every sense of the word. Best regards to the family.
With love
Greg.

29 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN

APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
29 April, 1944       1045


Dearest sweetheart –

Another fresh start this morning, dear, this time from the Castle. Perhaps I can finish this in one sitting and make the letter sound a bit more connected. At the moment it is quiet here, and I’ve just been sitting by the window looking out over the back lawn and lake and thinking hard of you, darling. It’s really a continuation of my thoughts last night. I felt particularly mellow then. I was alone in my room for most of the evening – and as usual – I got to thinking of home, and you, and us and I felt so nice about everything. It’s really paradoxical, dear, how I can feel so contented about things, and yet be in the Army and 3000 miles from those I love. I guess it’s because I feel so certain that everything will work out so well for us once I get back. It is absolutely the most satisfying and comforting feeling imaginable to realize that I have you to come home to, – a sweetheart, a fiancée, a girl who loves me as I love her – who wants to be married to me and is willing to wait for me. Well, darling, I just can’t tell you what that all means to me. Only after the war, when we’re married and alone, when we’re sitting around of an evening relaxing – then I’ll close my eyes, sit close to you with my arms around you and think back to these days in England. I’ll tell you then what I used to think on these quiet nights; I’ll tell you what the knowledge of your love meant for me, and how the war and separation were tolerable to me because of what I knew was in store for me when I finally got home.

I have no fear or apprehension of what may lie ahead because my mind seems to transcend that and jumps beyond it, and even when the immediate future becomes the present – I won’t be living in the present – but only in our future. And I owe all this ability to you, sweetheart. And again I say I’m thankful –


28 April, 2011

28 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
28 April, 1944       1010
My dearest fiancée –

I am now at the Dispensary, the most difficult place to write a letter, by the way, but since I am free for the moment, I decided to start writing now. Usually things get busy.

1140

See what I mean, dear? I didn’t finish the above sentence, when our new chaplain dropped into the Dispensary to make a social call. When he left, it was time to come back to the Castle and here I am again. It’s lovely out again, though a bit cooler than yesterday. Charlie et al are not back yet, so I’m still somewhat more alone than usual. Yesterday was a rather quiet day and evening. After dinner I did a little reading – medical journals – and listened to the radio. There was no mail at all for me, but I didn’t mind as much as I used to because I know there’s some mail on the way and I know you’re my true sweetheart and fiancée to boot – and when I think those things over, I feel so good that I can overlook the lapse.

This morning my eye is definitely on the mend and the assortment of colors is starting to disappear. There never was any pain associated with it – and since the cosmetic factor has no value over here to me – I didn’t mind the thing at all.

27 April, 2011

27 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
27 April, 1944       1100

Dearest darling –

I just got back from the Dispensary. It’s beautiful out today, warm and hazy, and it sure would be swell to go for a long walk or bike ride with you, but that will have to wait a bit. This month has slipped by very fast for me, I don’t know exactly why – but probably because of our engagement and receiving some swell letters.

Speaking of letters, I got a dandy from Mother B – yesterday p.m.  Considering the little time I had to get to know your folks it’s amazing how close I feel to them – but it’s no doubt due to the fact that they make me feel that way. Anyway I’m tickled that I do feel that way, and I know that when I return it will be the easiest thing in the world to be a member of your family in every sense of the word.

It is natural to wonder how you and I will seem to each other. I have been away longer, already, than the time I actually went with you –but I don’t have the slightest qualm about us. Our continued correspondence has kept us very close together and it won’t necessarily be a question of making up the interval. I feel that we’ll just take up from where we left off in our last letters and continue from there. I must admit though, darling, that as fertile as my imagination can sometimes be, I get completely lost and bewildered when I think in terms of arriving in some eastern port and wiring or calling for you. I get that far – and I get mixed up on what follows; mixed up only because I know my emotions from that time on will be at a bursting level. The thought of the moment when I see you again, rush to you, hug and kiss you and know that I’m back to stay with you for the rest of our natural lives – well, sweetheart – that thought is what even my imagination fails to give me clearly enough. I suppose it’s better that way –

26 April, 2011

26 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
26 April, 1944        1030

Dearest sweetheart –

I’ve just completed sick-call, kitchen inspection and a couple of other details – and practically speaking, I’m through for the day. What a job! I’m back at the castle and when I’m through writing you, dear, all I have to do is straighten out my room a bit and clean the fireplace. Although the weather has continued to be Spring-like, the castle is a chilly place and central heating has been discontinued. Consequently a fireplace is mighty comfortable most evenings.

Yesterday I played squash in the p.m. with the Rev. and Mr. Westlake who is a physical director of the School – and plays a good game by the way. One of the games was interrupted by a smart crack over the eye which none other than I received from a racquet wielded by the Reverend. Boy – I saw stars! Don’t worry, dear, it was nothing serious. I was rushing in for a shot which I anticipated was going into the corner. The Rev. swung backhand and clipped me. I now have the makings of a beautiful shiner, – one each, left – English style – as the Army would catalogue it. Of course I told everybody I was attacked by no less than 6 (six) G.I.’s and only one of them touched me.

Other than that – the p.m. was quite uneventful. On return to the Castle – what do you suppose was waiting for me – but a letter from you, darling, and post-marked April 20!!! Great balls – but if that isn’t wonderful, I don’t know what is! Why it’s almost like being in the States. When I was in Carolina – the mail sometimes took as much as five days from Massachusetts. You had written the letter on the 19th – and gosh that was just a little while ago.

25 April, 2011

25 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
25 April, 1944       0725

Good Morning, sweetheart –

Well – today is a sort of key date also. I associate it with Thanksgiving day and you know what significance that has for me. I can hardly believe that so much time has elapsed and it just proves that humans can take things in stride if they have to.

I’ve just finished my breakfast, dear, and since I’m a bit early for the Dispensary I thought I’d jot down a few lines. Charlie left early this morning for a few days with some of the others – so I’ll be able to take it a bit easier for a short while. As a matter of fact I have a date to play squash with Reverend Bell this p.m. He’s turned out to be a pretty swell guy, by the way. His wife has been very friendly, too. They called me Sunday and invited me to tea. I was quite busy most of the day – as I wrote you – but I managed to get over there between 1600 and 1700. When you’re invited for tea – you are supposed to go. I don’t know how much I’ve told you about the Bells. He did missionary work in Rhodesia, West Africa – where he met his wife. It was because of an illness – that they had to leave Africa. He then came here to take the job as chaplain of the school. They have the nicest little house imaginable with a large surrounding garden – entirely closed by a high wall. Tea is served in the garden and we’ve had some delightful chats.

24 April, 2011

24 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
24 April, 1944       1100

My dearest darling –

Yes – nine months ago today I met you and little did either of us dream that we would end up becoming engaged. But then – lots of other people start out the same way – so we needn’t feel we’re too different. I don’t know what the statistics are concerning engagements by mail; probably not too high, but hell – anybody can get engaged the usual way. I shall insist on the latter, though, for our marriage, darling, for general reasons.

Well I got a good night’s sleep last night and feel quite chipper this a.m. I almost had to go on another business trip today but on studying the map, it seemed a little bit too far – so I’ve decided to transact my business by mail this time. I’ve just returned from the dispensary and am at the Castle now – waiting for a battery commander’s meeting at 1130.

23 April, 2011

23 April, 1944

V-MAIL


438th AAA AW BN

APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
23 April, 1944
Dear Sweetheart –

It’s 2300 now and I’m just getting ready for bed. This has been the first opportunity I’ve had to write today. Yesterday – Saturday – we had the brawl we expected – and darling, temporarily at least – I consider I partly celebrated our Engagement. We started sipping beer at about 1500 and gradually worked into the Scotch, rum and gin. When that was gone, we went back to the beer and I really felt more gay than I have for a long time. If only you could have been here, dear, everything would have been perfect.

Today I slept late – and after lunch I had to leave and have been away most of the day – until a little while ago. There’s nothing else to write now, dear, except to say I love you and miss you terribly. I got a letter from my father yesterday in which he told me how happy he and my mother were – over our engagement. That makes it unanimous. I’ll write again tomorrow, dear. Love to the folks – and for now –
All my love
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about Operation Overlord:
Primary Missions of the Air Plan


Operation Overlord, the code name for the allied invasion of France, had built into it the movement of a total of 3 million men in 47 divisions, moved by 6000 ships with aerial cover provided by 5000 fighter planes. On April 23, 1944 the primary mission was set forth in the over-all air plan for Overlord. According to HyperWar: Army Air Forces in World War II: Volume III, this mission was defined as:
The attainment and maintenance of an air situation in which the German Air Force would be incapable of interfering with the Allied landings. In the first or preliminary phase, extending from D minus 50 to D minus 30, the stress would be placed on counter-air force operations and on reconnaissance. Air priorities for a second or preparatory phase, running from D minus 30 to D minus 1, were named in the order of (1) the German Air Force, (2) Strategic Railway Centers, (3) Selected Coastal Batteries, and (4) Airfields within a radius of 130 miles of Caen.

Summarizing using extracts from HyperWar, the 4 priorities listed were well met:
(1) The German Air Force. The plans rested upon the assumption that the Allies would enjoy the advantage of overwhelming strength in the air. Beyond all expectations, by D-day British and American air strength amounted to 3,467 heavy bombers, 1,645 medium, light, and torpedo bombers, 5,409 fighters, and 2,316 transport and troop carrier aircraft against Germany's 3,222 fighters and bombers in condition for combat on the eve of the invasion.

(2) Strategic Railway Centers. The primary purpose of the transportation plan was to isolate the invasion area through extensive bombing of vital rail centers and repair facilities, since their destruction would likely cripple the entire system immediately. The battle against enemy transportation was a splendid success. On the eve of D-day, British-American aircraft had dropped a total of 76,200 tons (on rail centers 71,000, bridges 4,400, and open lines 800). Germany had been unable to move effective reinforcements into the Seine-Loire triangle at the time of the invasion, and its forces had been committed piecemeal rather than being deployed as units. Thus the Allies had won their premier objective in the transportation campaign: they were able to build up their forces in Normandy from across the Channel faster than the Germans could reinforce theirs from adjacent areas in France.

(3) Selected Coastal Batteries. By the spring of 1944 the Nazis had built a wall of intricate and ingenious shore defenses along exposed beaches in the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France. This so-called Atlantic Wall was supposed to dominate the coast sufficiently to keep Allied landing craft from approaching the continent, thus rendering a seaborne assault impossible. The Allied planners were most concerned about coastal batteries along the Atlantic Wall, each of which held from two to six guns ranging in caliber from 105 mm. to 400 mm. Perhaps fifty of these batteries, it was estimated, would be functioning in Normandy by June 1944. The guns could command the sea approaches and inflict murderous damage on the assault craft. Camouflaged, cleverly located, and usually buttressed with steel and concrete, these coastal batteries would be exceedingly difficult to neutralize. The greatest pains had to be taken to conceal from the Germans the special interest which the Normandy batteries had for the Allies. Thus two targets outside the area were chosen for each one inside it. On the eve of D-day, 5,904 tons of bombs and 495 sixty-pound rocket projectiles had been directed at coastal batteries in the Normandy area, while 17,190 tons had been dropped on batteries outside the invasion sector. Most post-invasion surveys concluded that the bombings of coastal batteries before and on D-day destroyed comparatively few gun emplacements. But the unbalancing and dislocation of guns, the demoralization of their crews, and delays to the completion of the Normandy beach batteries were accomplishments of no small nature.

(4) Airfields around Caen. There were approximately 100 airfields within 350 miles of the Normandy shore from which the German Air Force could operate. The master plan for Allied air supremacy depended upon three main programs: continued policing to keep the Luftwaffe in its reduced state; heavy bomber missions deep into Germany just before and soon after the invasion to discourage the Germans from removing their fighters to France; and wholesale attacks on airfields in France during the three weeks before D-day. By waiting until the last three weeks before D-day to bomb airfields around Caen there would be less danger of giving away the invasion secret and less time for those airfields to be repaired. By D-day, airfields in a 130 mile arc around Caen had received 6,717 tons of bombs. The principal purpose of the program had been attained. Because of the ruined air bases, the transportation chaos, and the danger of great British-American fighter fleets ranging over France, the Germans could not possibly move substantial Luftwaffe units to contest the invasion. Indeed, one of the most remarkable facts of the entire war is that the Luftwaffe did not make a single daylight attack on D-day against Allied forces in the Channel or on the beaches.


Click Here to read the full text of what was extracted for this overview.

22 April, 2011

22 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
22 April, 1944        1145


Dearest darling Wilma –

I’ll just start a few lines before lunch. How are you, dearest? I didn’t hear from you yesterday, but I ought to today, perhaps. A short while ago – after weeks of arranging – I got a photographer to come up to the Castle grounds and take a picture of the 3 officers and our medical detachment personnel. No darling, I could not get him to take one of me myself. They just don’t have the paper and they are not interested in taking single photos; they save the paper for group pictures. At any rate, we all got dressed up, posed and were taken. While we were all together – I got a few snaps of the group and I’ll try to have the pictures developed. I just got back one roll, sweetheart, and I’m having another set made. As soon as it’s back I’ll send you a set and my folks one. There’s so much damned red tape about photographs – but I guess these will be O.K. Gotta run now, darling – dinner bell is ringing –

1225
Hello again, dear –

As you can see – dinner wasn’t very much today. I guess it was really a lunch. But tonite we’re having steak and it looks as if the binge I mentioned is going to materialize. Some time this p.m. – after I clean up a little of my work – we’re going to start drinking beer (saving our Scotch for the last possible moment). We got hold of a piano – 10 shillings a week. Half the keys don’t work – but we gather around it and yell our heads off. Thru Special Service we get most of the popular songs.

21 April, 2011

21 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
21 April, 1944       1230

Wilma, darling –

Busy seems to be the word for things for me in the last couple of letters, but I’m doing my darn’dest to keep the mail going. I’ve just finished lunch and I’m up in my room. If I don’t finish writing now, dear, I’ll probably get a chance a little later.

I got one letter yesterday – a V-mail from you of April 9th. There was no other mail – but it has really been excellent these past 10 days or so.

Today, darling, makes 3 weeks that we’re engaged – but only 9 days that I know about it. I don’t suppose I’ll really get the real thrill of it until the day I actually see you again – but I know I am getting the maximum sensation possible – with us apart. It’s just such a satisfying feeling to know I have you, darling, and – willing to wait for me. You will be so nice to come home to – and just think of the real pleasure that awaits me – knowing that one day I’ll be heading for home and you. I wonder how much elation and joy a person can stand. Whatever the limit – on that day, Sweetheart – I shall approach it.

20 April, 2011

20 April, 1944 (to her Dad)

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 c/o Postmaster N.Y.
England
20 April 1944

Dear Dad B. –

I got your letter of April 2nd – yesterday and you certainly make me ‘feel at home’, so to speak. I sincerely hope that all your wishes came true, for all of us – and certain it is that my one ambition is to get home well – to marry Wilma and really get to know my other folks. It will all come in due time – I have not doubt about that.

As for being pals – I guess you can count on me – and I look forward to having some great time together. Meanwhile – I’m very happy about our Engagement – and all in all, considering circumstances etc. – I think I’m a pretty lucky guy. Love to the family and so long for now.

Love
Greg.

20 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
20 April, 1944       1330


My dearest sweetheart –

I’m at the Dispensary right now and if it stays quiet long enough I’ll try to get a letter off to you. I’ve got quite a few of your recent ones to re-read and answer because it seems to me that you mentioned a few things here and there that require some comment.

In the first place, darling, your trip to the Boston Public Library was very amusing to me – even if you did get drenched. I can’t tell you very much, dear, but you aren’t far from wrong. You know, though – what surprises me more than anything else is the speed with which you receive my mail – and on the whole – how regularly. I think it’s swell that you do and it seems to me that Air-mail must be arriving ahead of the V-mail. Again I must warn you though not to expect it to continue indefinitely that way. The chances are that there will be delays – and also – that there will be days when I can’t write at all. I don’t think it is breaking censorship rules to write that; I am merely implying that I expect to be busy –

Your having lunch with Shirley F. interested me – when you mentioned that Stan’s name didn’t come up at all. Apparently she means to forget him completely. I don’t know when she wrote me, by the way, but as yet I haven’t received it. And about a call from London – if it is being allowed, I’m sure it is from London only. If I get there again – that’s the first thing I’ll try to do, believe me. It would certainly be worth it to me to be able to actually tell you I love you and have you say the same to me. For the time being, darling, it will have to wait.

19 April, 2011

19 April, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
19 April, 1944

Hello Darling!

I haven’t taken much advantage of V-mail before but I have to today, dear or I won’t be able to get anything off to you at all. The plain fact is we’re quite busy and my days are full.

Yesterday I got your letters of March 31 and April 3 – very important ones to me, sweetheart, because I now have a pretty complete story of what was going on a few weeks ago. You certainly were happy and I guess you know you’ve made me that way.

I also received some swell letters from your Dad – our Dad, I mean, Jeannette Berns, my brother-in-law Irv, and my sister Ruth. All were congratulations, and very sweet and made me feel quite important. The first chance I get I’ll start answering some of them – but it will be a few days yet before I can do it.

Incidentally, Charlie and the boys got back yesterday and we’re all together again – and so I’m a little less lonesome. It doesn’t seem like a holiday at all here today – just another work day and a busy one at that. But I’d much rather be busy then to have to sit around. That’s all for now, darling. Love to the folks – and
All my love
Greg

17 April, 2011

17 April, 1944 (2nd letter)

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
17 April, 1944          2230

My dearest darling Wilma –

I haven’t written you at this hour for a long time, it seems – but I thought I’d better write tonite because I’m pretty certain I won’t be able to get a letter off tomorrow. I have to make a trip after some medical supplies starting early in the morning and since it’s quite a way off, I’m pretty sure of getting back quite late – and probably tired. Besides, darling, I got three letters from you, dated on the outside of the envelope April 6, April 11 and April 12!! Just think of it – 5 days later and I’m reading it! That is absolutely the best time ever – and there doesn’t seem to be any doubt about those letters having been flown over. Boy, it’s wonderful to read something you wrote less than a week ago – that makes me feel so close. I had to stop and wonder how I’d feel when I actually saw you in person. I know I’ll be beside myself with joy and exaltation when that time comes, darling.

Your letters, dearest, are very sweet and give me the uplift you imply mine do for you. Being actually engaged to you is still like a dream for me – and when you refer to our first meeting each other – I have to stop and recapitulate events and wonder how I was so lucky to have reached this state. I can’t believe it possible – and yet you write me of your ring and I see in print – that everyone else can see too – our name linked in engagement. I was thrilled by the newspaper clipping sweetheart – and thrilled isn’t even the word. There in print it says that Mr. and Mrs. Etc. announce the engagement etc. – and this time as I read it – it concerns you and me and not some other couple. It almost startles me, darling – but oh! so pleasantly! Darling I’m so proud of you and so happy that I was able to become your fiancé in every sense of the word.


17 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
17 April, 1944           0820


My dearest sweetheart –

The start of another week and Charlie and the boys should be back tonight or tomorrow. I’ll be glad to see them again – because although it has been quite restful here – it has also been very lonesome. The weather hasn’t been too good either – but the natives say that around this time of April there’s always a 10 day period of cool, raw weather – which is then followed by real spring.

Yesterday, sweetheart, I wrote you early – and that was about the only active piece of work I did all the day. I read and dozed and dreamed and listened to the radio. Incidentally it has been announced here that one game a day – baseball game – will be broadcast directly from some ball-park in the States. They are certainly trying to make us feel at home here in the E.T.O. The game will be heard here at 2130 – corresponding to 1530 at home and will mean we’ll hear a full game minus the first few innings perhaps. I think it’s wonderful except for the undeniable fact that all these radio programs from home make you fundamentally more homesick. Lying on my bed yesterday p.m. and evening, I would close my eyes – and it was so easy to imagine myself at home – and so disappointing to realize you weren’t. Well – we shouldn’t kick – because there are so many fellows in such tough set-ups.

16 April, 2011

16 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
16 April, 1944       0900
Sunday Morning

Dearest darling –

Although it’s Sunday morning and we’ve been sleeping later, I’ve already had my breakfast, tidied up my room and I’m ready to write you, dear – and it’s only 0900. I’m so darned rested up, it’s appalling. What with taking it so easy these past 10 days, plus several work-outs in squash – I’m really in better shape than I’ve been in a heck of a long time.

Today should be another quiet day, like yesterday. I didn’t budge out of my room all day except to eat. It was sort of raw out and I had my fireplace going the whole day. I shall probably do the same today as the weather is still about the same. This room of ours – is really pretty. It’s rectangular except for a sort of bay window with fancy glass – the window overlooking the Lake. If you received the card I sent you – you can see what we look out on. The fireplace is at one end of the room with a fancy white mantelpiece, and of course there’s room for two single beds, one large desk and two bed tables. We have a straw – summer type rug and our own sink and mirror. So it’s not too bad a room to have to hang around in, darling – if only you were around here to come up and visit it.

Yesterday I got two letters from you – March 25th and 26th – and what interests me particularly, sweetheart, is that apparently everything concerning our engagement was hanging mid-air, so to speak, until the very last moment, because for example, in your letter of the 26th – no mention whatsoever is made of it and yet 5 days later we were engaged. Apparently my letters were held up and they were the necessary go-ahead signs – which is as it should be – I think.

15 April, 2011

15 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
15 April, 1944        0830

My dearest darling Wilma –

Well it’s half a month now that we’re engaged. My how time flies! I didn’t get any mail yesterday, so I re-read several of your most recent letters and darling I’m so glad that you’re so happy about us. I know you are – and it’s so nice to read. I am too – and considering that our folks are pleased, also – all in all it sounds like a satisfactory set-up. As a matter of fact, the set-up is actually wonderful – and it will be some time yet, I know, before I’m fully aware of the fact that we are actually engaged.

Back here, darling, it’s a dull Saturday morning – with nothing particular in view to break up the day. It’s still very quiet and lonesome but should return to normal in about 3-4 more days.

Yesterday I was able to arrange a game of squash with the English officer I played with earlier in the week. We had an excellent match – and this time I beat the pants off him. They play the game a bit differently here in England and with not having been in trim condition from just sitting around – I couldn’t win consistently. But I’ve now played several times, my stiffness is gone and I was really running around the court yesterday.

14 April, 2011

14 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
14 April, 1944        0900

Dearest sweetheart –

Little by little I’m getting a picture of what went on during the last few days of March and the first few days of April – and you know, darling, I don’t know but what I’m enjoying it as much as you did. I have the opportunity of reading an episode, thinking it over, liking it and going right back and reading it over again. That’s grati somni – as the Latins would say – but there’s nothing like trying to fool oneself.

Yesterday, darling, I got your letters of March 23, 27, 31, April 1 and 3 – and also a very nice letter from Florence B. who wished us luck etc. Well those letters helped clear up some of the details leading to our engagement, with a couple of days of the aftermath – so now, dear, I’m able to think of everything a little more clearly.

Apparently – getting a ring these days and just before the new tax went into effect – was quite an ordeal – and I’m glad that one way or another – one was gotten. I’m also glad to note that my dad didn’t waste time in putting it on your finger, darling. As to the type of stone – I guess I don’t know much about diamonds, dear. Is the emerald cut – rectangular and plain – as opposed to the round, multi-surfaced type of stone? That’s the only differentiation I can make in stones – but whatever type it is – sweetheart – is immaterial to me so long as you personally like it and it is worthy of being worn by you.

13 April, 2011

13 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
13 April, 1944       0900
My darling fiancée –

At last I can call you that! Officially, sentimentally, actually – you are now my honest-to-goodness fiancée, and I can hardly believe it. Yesterday p.m. I got a letter from you written April 5, stamped April 6th and just think – I had it on the 12th! Well I’m missing some before that – and in reading along in your letter, dear, – I come across the sentence “tomorrow will be a week that we’re engaged or that I’m wearing your ring” – and I jumped up with the realization of what I was reading. Here I had been engaged for about 12 days and I didn’t know it. At that – Sweetheart – I ordinarily might have had to wait longer than that if it hadn’t been for the amazing speed of delivery of that letter. Well – I stopped reading, shut my eyes and tried to imagine you with a ring on your ring finger – left hand. I had often wondered what it was like – placing an engagement ring on a girl’s finger. I had seen it in the movies, read it in books – and when I hear from my dad – I’ll still be reading about it. Well – when I get back – I’ll take it off your finger, kiss you – and put it right back on. Incidentally, darling – I hope you like the ring and I hope it was something along the lines you wanted.

Wilma looks at her engagement ring

12 April, 2011

12 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
12 April, 1944        0815
My dearest sweetheart –

I’m getting off to an early start today, although I may not be able to finish this until later in the day. I expect to be fairly busy this morning – for a change. Darling, I’ve been going batty hanging around here with nothing to do and if I can help it – I’ll not stay with a rear detail again. It’s not even restful – because the last few nights I have hardly slept at all. I was awake at 0330 this morning for no apparent reason – except that I guess I wasn’t tired. I dozed intermittently from there until 0730 when I arose. I’ve just had breakfast – and honestly, dear, I actually feel tired. I’ll get some exercise again today and maybe I’ll really get tired enough to sleep tonite. I am getting in shape again, though – and that’s a help – because when you’re in shape you’re that much better able to take care of yourself if there ever be a need for it. I’ve been running around the squash court like a man possessed of the devil, darling – and the stamina is fast returning and increasing. Were I able to hug you and kiss you now, Sweetheart – I have no doubt that would be one continuous kiss of say – a half-day at a time – without coming up for air. Boy! Wouldn’t that be something though – a nice long, thorough, really hard kiss!

Yesterday, dear, there was no mail again. I got a couple of N.E. Journals of Medicine and a letter from my fraternity – Tau Epsilon Phi. I hadn’t heard from them in some time. The same old pep talk and hard luck story. Fraternities are really taking it on the chin these days, though. The day was very long. I listened to the radio most of the day and evening – interspersed with some reading of the journals. I’ve sort of fallen behind on my medical reading, as has Charlie – and we’re trying to catch up. In the evening I heard Hit Parade – and maybe you can get an idea of how late the programs are. On this Hit Parade – No. 1 was “My Heart Tells Me”. “Duffy’s Tavern” was also on – and that’s really a good show. Herbert Marshall was guest star and there were quite a few laughs.

By the way, darling, I meant to ask you before – how is Les making out with his ASTP? I understood that some branches of it were still to be continued – or at least a certain quota. If he isn’t kept in it – what you write about the Infantry is probably true – because almost every other branch of the Army is pretty well filled. It just goes to show what the vagaries of war can be. I feel sorry for them, too – but they never seemed to realize that it was actually the Army that Les was in and that you can’t gamble on the Army. Well I hope all works out for them eventually as they want it to.

Sweetheart – I wonder how things are developing at home. I wonder it all day, all evening and when I awake in the middle of the nite. I’m not worried – or anything like that dear – because I know we’ve proved to those concerned that we love each other and that we’re willing to wait for each other. I’m just anxious to find out when you start wearing my ring and become officially my fiancée. You can understand, my feelings, can’t you, darling? Gosh I love you and miss you so – and all I can do is tell you by letter – But you must know how strong that feeling is. Even if I didn’t write it – the air waves should be oozing with it from me to you. Do you feel it – darling?

I’ll have to stop now, dear. My love to the folks and

All my love to you, sweetheart
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about the Army Specialized Training Program
The ASTP Patch
Lamp of Knowledge crossed with the Sword of Valor

Greg wondered how Wilma's friend, Les, was making out with the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program), guessing that he may soon be in the infantry. It was an educated guess.

The Army Specialized Training Program was a military training program instituted by the United States Army during World War II at a number of American universities. Its primary purpose was to provide the continuous and accelerated flow of high grade technicians and specialists in the areas of engineering, foreign languages and medicine. ASTP was approved in September 1942 and implemented in December.

High school graduates were offered a chance to apply, though the majority of participants were already active duty soldiers. Entry requirements were high; minimum IQ was 115 (later 120), which was higher than Officers Candidate School. All new soldiers were required to complete 13 weeks of infantry basic training before being assigned to a college campus. Col. Henry Beukema, a Professor of History at West Point, was named Director of the program. He was responsible for sending 200,000 soldiers to 227 land-grant universities around the country at cost of $127,000,000.

The Army Specialized Training Program included intensive courses, approximately 25 class-time hours per quarter, in engineering, science, medicine, dentistry, personnel psychology, and 34 different foreign languages. Students were expected to complete the program in 18 months with a four-year degree and a commission. This included many volunteers from the civilian echelons who were at least 17 but less than 18 years of age. While in academic training the soldiers were on active duty, in uniform, under military discipline, and received regular army pay. Recruits marched to class in groups, ate in mess halls located in the barracks, and trained in the fields around a campus. The soldiers' week was made up of 59 hours of supervised activity, including at least 24 hours of classroom and lab work, 24 hours of required study, six hours of physical instruction, and five hours of military instruction.

By November 1943 the Army recognized that its replacement training centers were not producing nearly enough new soldiers for the Army Ground Forces, particularly in light of the impending invasion of France. General Lesley J. McNair felt ASTP took young men with leadership potential away from combat positions where they were most needed stating, "...with 300,000 men short, we are sending men to college." Manpower planners calculated that more infantrymen would be required in advance of the planned invasion of Europe. ASTP was not only one of the easiest programs to reduce or eliminate, it also provided a large pool of ready-trained soldiers. In February 1944, about 110,000 ASTP students were told they would be transferred to combat units. From a wartime high of 150,000 students, ASTP was immediately reduced to approximately 60,000 members. The remainder, having already completed basic training, were sent to the Army Ground Forces.

A large number of its trainees, almost overnight, became infantry privates. They could not be used immediately to meet the need for more intelligent non-commissioned officers because of their lack of military training and experience, and because most units, with their privates withdrawn as overseas replacements, had at least a full complement, and sometimes a surplus, of non-commissioned officers. It was desired and expected that ASTP trainees would soon show their superiority over the older non-commissioned officers, win ratings, and become leaders of small units. For its trainees, the ASTP was a series of dis-illusionments. Some, had they not been sent to college, would undoubtedly have gone to officer candidate schools, to the advantage both of themselves and of the Army Ground Forces.

In the spring of 1944 ASTP levels were further reduced at the direction of the Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall. Later, when the defeat of Germany was in sight, and the testing of the new atomic bomb successful, the apparent need for potential junior officer replacements disappeared and the final ASTP groups were largely disbanded. Major General Henry Twaddle wrote, "The underlying reason for institution of the ASTP program was to prevent some colleges and universities from going into bankruptcy. From a strictly mobilization viewpoint, the value of the program was nil." Indeed, a secondary benefit of ASTP was the financial subsidy of land grant colleges, whose male student bodies had been decimated by the diversion of about 14 million men into the various armed forces.

Although considered largely a failure, an unanticipated benefit to the Army of the ASTP was the softening of university resistance to lowering the draft age from twenty to eighteen. Another positive contribution was the number of men exposed to college who might not have attended otherwise. After the war ended, four out of five surviving ASTP alumni returned to college.

Known alumni and positions they have held include the following:

Robert Dole, U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader
Edward Koch, U.S. Congressman, New York City Mayor
Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State, Nobel Prize winner
Gore Vidal, author and politician
Andy Rooney, radio and television commentator
Arch Moore, Governor of West Virginia
Frank Church, U.S. Senator
Roger Mudd, TV newscaster
Mel Brooks, movie actor, director
George Koval, Russian spy in Manhattan Project World War II

Click here to read a complete review of the ASTP at the ASTP web site home page.

11 April, 2011

11 April, 1944


438th AAA AW BN

APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
11 April, 1944 1045
Dearest one –

There was no mail yesterday so I’m missing out on the day to day episode of our engagement. However – since I have a good imagination – I fill in what I think must be happening – and then I’ll have your letters to see how far from right I was.

I was thinking yesterday how surprised some of my friends will be who don’t know you or rather had no way of knowing about us; for although several of my friends do know you – I never let them know how close we were getting from point of view of an engagement for the simple reason – something might have gone wrong, or been delayed. So I’m going to get a big kick out of spreading the news. It’s been different with you, dear, being home. Everyone I know is going to pop with curiosity, I’m sure, about who you are, where I met you, where you’re from etc. – and it’s too bad we’re not around to meet them all – but look at the fun we will have! And I’m so sure, darling, that everyone will think you’re ‘swell’ and will be glad for me that I was able to find so charming a girl. Gosh – those will be exciting days when I finally get back! There’ll be so many things to do, and places to go – and with all that there’ll be the important business of getting my practice started – finding a place to live and a hundred other things. Great day in the morning – we’ll make up for all these lonely days away from each other, darling! I won’t let you out of my sight for a moment – you can believe me, dear – because we’ll be far behind in knowing each other – and we’ll have to catch up.


10 April, 2011

10 April, 1944 (to her parents)

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 c/o Postmaster N.Y.
England
10 April 1944
Dear Mother B. –

Your most recent letter to me was as sweet as could be, and as I wrote Wilma, I don’t see how a fellow could possibly acquire another Mother and Dad more easily and with greater pleasure than I have.

I have no doubt about my being able to love, admire and respect my new parents as I do my own – for the fact is you have already created those reactions in me. All we need now is a little closer contact to further those feelings.

I am so glad that you feel I have been able to make Wilma happy. The Lord knows that is just what I wanted to do. I know what she means to you, and I guess you must know what she means to me. She has made me a very happy fellow – happier than I’ve ever been before believe me – and I can think of no greater happiness than a future with Wilma as my wife.

I must repeat what I believe I wrote in an earlier letter. I am gratified in your confidence and faith in me, and your trust in my ability to make a good husband for your daughter. I know you must have given it considerable thought, and I’m glad you didn’t find me wanting.

That’s all for now – except to say that in calling Wilma’s parents – and mine-to-be – Mother and Dad, the pleasure and honor is all mine – and shall always be so. Love to the rest of the family.

Your loving son –
Greg

10 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
10 April, 1944       0930
Dearest Sweetheart –

Again yesterday – I received two up-to-date letters – one from you written March 29 and one from your mother – the same date. Your mother – and mine-to-be is a perfect darling in the way she writes me – and if anyone were ever made to feel welcome into a family, dear, your folks are certainly making me feel that way.

Your own letter of the same date, Sweetheart, only shows how confusion must result when a principal party involved is not around – meaning myself. Were I around, dear, I should have known what you liked and gone about getting it for you in my own way. If things have been confused, darling, and I gather that they have been, excuse it – as I know you are. Why in the world my mother should suddenly suggest that you look for a ring yourself – is beyond me – particularly when my father had written me what he had intended doing. The only possible suggestion for her action was that she wants you to have something you’ll like and she must have figured that was the best way to do it. I hope by now that something has been accomplished – and by my father, without the necessity of troubling your folks – dear – because that’s the way it should be.

09 April, 2011

09 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
9 April, 1944       1030
Dearest darling Wilma –

Easter Sunday – and a bad day here. It’s really a shame, too, for there have been so many nice days recently. Easter Sunday – and the war in Europe is still on – contrary to prognosticators, seers, dreamers, et al. We’ve now passed Christmas and are passing Easter and I wonder when the next time limit will be announced. There’s only one hope I have of an unexpected break in the war and that is the way the last war ended. Right up to the end – no one suspected anything – and then suddenly it was over. Maybe the same will occur this time.

Meanwhile, sweetheart, in the midst of all this waiting and lonesomeness – I am completely happy, content, satisfied and relaxed – and it’s all due to you, darling, and to what has happened to us in this past Summer, Winter and Spring. To have dreamed that it could happen would have been truly only dreaming, and I still have to reassure myself, dear, from time to time that things are as they are between us. It almost doesn’t seem possible that we could have met as we did and then carry on just as if I were still around. And yet when I think it over – as I am doing continuously it seems – there’s no doubt in my mind that all this would have happened had I stayed around. I knew I loved you when I left and I would have followed up that love to its natural conclusion. And that’s what makes our becoming engaged so real, sensible and natural – despite its unusual aspect.

08 April, 2011

08 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
8 April, 1944        0930
Darling Wilma –

Well the first day of our being alone here passed by rather uneventfully. There just wasn’t a darn thing to do around. Being Good Friday – the town was closed up in its entirety. After lunch I took a nap for the first time in a long while – I mean a real nap. The net result was that despite going to bed for the night at about 2330 – I didn’t sleep too well. One thing, darling, you’ll not have to worry about – and that is sleeping away the time. I’ve always felt that it’s really a great waste. I’d much rather be up doing something. Of course, sweetheart, that’s from a single man’s point of view.

When I got up – I washed and decided to ride down to the Dispensary on my bike. On the way down – I passed Mrs. Whitfield – who was also on a bike. She is the woman who was trying to get us ration coupons – presumably for Mother’s Days gifts. She had tried to contact me to tell me that her efforts were unsuccessful but that she and a friend of hers would like to give Charlie and me some of their own. I of course refused. Anyway – she invited me to supper at her house tonight at 1930. She wants me to meet her son – you remember he was the fellow who went to the Rivers School in Brookline while she was traveling in the U.S. So I accepted – although I wished she had asked me to come over another night. It means, dear, that I play squash in the p.m., then have tea with the Reverend and his wife and then dinner. What a way to fight a war! It will be a full day – but I’ll have nothing to do the rest of the week.

07 April, 2011

07 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
7 April, 1944       1015
My dearest darling –

Tonite is Passover and although I was unable to be at the services at home last year, somehow it was different. For one thing, I remember I was in Tennessee at the time and I was able to call home and at least speak to the folks late that afternoon. Another difference is that I didn’t have a sweetheart who might have been able to attend the services with me were I home. I don’t know what plans have materialized between you and my family but I hope you will be able to be with them some part of the holidays. I know it will make them feel better. Gosh how I’d like to be home with the family and you – all seated around the table, drinking wine and making merry. We’ll have a lot of fun, someday, darling – and I hope it’s not too far off.

At the present moment I’m at the Castle. It’s a very quiet right now, the reason being that there are only 3 other officers besides myself staying here. The rest of us have gone to do what we did at Wellfleet on good old Cape Cod – remember, dear? Ordinarily I’ve always gone on such things but the colonel wanted one MC to remain behind to help watch over things so I decided to stay. It will be a sort of vacation for me except that I’ll be rather tied down to the immediate area. They’ll be gone about the usual length of time.

06 April, 2011

06 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
6 April, 1944         1245
Dearest sweetheart –

In writing you yesterday, I forgot to thank you for the package you sent me. I got it late yesterday afternoon and in excellent condition. I re-read the letter you sent me the day you finally sent it off and got another laugh. Couldn’t you get a larger bottle for the hair tonic, darling? You are either counting on a long war or you figure there’s still a chance. At any rate, dear, I shall find good use for it. The candy was perfect and I’m still enjoying it.

I’ve just had lunch. I have to be at the Dispensary in one hour and I’ll be busy most of the afternoon thereafter – so I thought I’d start writing you now. There was no mail yesterday – but that cablegram sure took the sting out of waiting – and now I’ve changed from a state of anxiety to one of pleasant curiosity. I’m still a little in a fog when I stop to realize what has happened or is happening to both of us – but it’s such a pleasant fog, darling. I hope your folks are genuinely convinced that it wasn’t the wrong decision to make. I feel that it wasn’t and I know you do. The rest is up to us – and we won’t let them down.

05 April, 2011

05 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
5 April, 1944        1045
My own darling –

I wrote your folks last night after receiving your Dad’s cablegram. What can I say to you sweetheart, that I didn’t say to them? Darling – after reading the message over and over – I was left in a fog, a happy one. I was so thrilled I couldn’t collect my thoughts for a couple of hours afterwards. I realized that what I had hoped for so much – was actually going to happen – and I just can’t believe I’m fortunate enough to have that happen to me. When I can officially call you my fiancée – matters very little. The point is that your folks have given us their blessing and that was all that was needed to complete the picture. I was really concerned about the delay in hearing from them until I realized through your more recent letters that they didn’t hear from me as soon as they should have. Anyway, Sweetheart – every thing is wonderful now and it will take me a little while yet to let everything sink in. I’ve never felt like this before. I’m aware of what it means, though, dearest. I have a real honest-to-goodness responsibility – one that serves as my goal – and I know I’ll not let you down.

Meanwhile I have to sit on edge until more of the details trickle in. That’s where you have the advantage on me, sweetheart. You know what’s going on – just when it’s going on – and I have to imagine. But your own job wasn’t an easy one – and I shall ever be grateful to you, darling, for helping to steer us where we both wanted to go. I hope you’re as happy as I am and I wish it were possible to kiss and hug you the way you should be by me – but we’ll have our lives ahead of us to do that, darling, and I know now that you’re a good waiter.

04 April, 2011

04 April, 1944 (to her parents)

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 c/o Postmaster N.Y.
England
4 April 1944

Dear Folks –

A short time ago I received your Cablegram. It had gone thru many diverse spots apparently before reaching me. I had no idea what the envelope contained – and when I opened it, I read the message twice before I realized its full meaning. I thereupon gave out a full-lunged whoop and explained to the fellows around me why I was so happy.

It seems like ages since I wrote you last telling you how I felt about Wil – and I wasn’t sure just how you would take it. The past few weeks have been uneasy ones for me for just that reason. It’s pretty difficult to convey by letter the emotion expressed in a firm shaking of the hand and a kiss – things I would like to do were I around. I can say only that you have made me infinitely more happy than I can ever remember being before. I admire your understanding, and trust in me, and I promise to do what is in my power now and in the future to make Wilma happy and therefore you, too, I know.

Needless to say, you know how my folks feel about Wilma. They truly love her and I know she’s very fond of them. I’m certain that when I return everything will work out well and that we’ll all make up for lost time. I was very fond of you both before I left. Perhaps I wasn’t very demonstrative. I guess I’m slow in that respect but on the other hand, I don’t think I’m very flighty – and when I get to love someone I do so sincerely.

I’m still a little awhirl as a result of the cablegram, but I am fully aware of what it means and the responsibility that goes with it. You’ve made me very happy and I hope to be able to make you so too. For now – so long and love to Wilma.

Love
Greg.

The long-awaited cablegram!

04 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
4 April, 1944          1115

My dearest darling -

Right now Charlie and I are goldbricking. We’re back in our room and ordinarily it’s rather early in the day to be back here. But we finished our work and didn’t have very much ambition – so we headed back to the Castle. It’s a fine sunny day and frankly, dear, I’m lazy. Incidentally – when I read some of your letters about your getting up at such and such an hour – late morning or even early afternoon – I wince, but I don’t blame you because among other things, it must help shorten the day considerably.

Yesterday, darling, I hit another Bonanza and got five letters from you from around the 17th, 19th, 16th etc. of March and one actually from the 21st. I underline “actually” because as you’ve already noted – I received an earlier letter already dated the 21st.

What distresses me mostly in the last few days’ mail, dear, is that apparently up to the 21st you still weren’t sure how I feel about an engagement – or a ring; and also – that apparently your folks had not yet heard from me. I’ve lost track of the date when I wrote both your folks and you about how I felt – and I can’t remember whether it was after my leave or not – but gee – it seems like a long time ago. Maybe it’s because we’ve moved in the interim and our last spot already seems far away in point of time. I’m sure, though, that by now, sweetheart, how I feel must be clear to you all – and I’m just waiting to hear. You even mention a letter of your mother’s written January 25th. That particular letter didn’t get to me for a long time – for some reason or other and then I wrote and explained. Apparently, dear, a whole bunch of our mail from the middle of March – was delayed, because some of the other fellows have had mail from home complaining of the delay.

03 April, 2011

03 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
3 April, 1944         1400
Wilma, sweetheart –

Twenty-one months ago today I went into active service. It’s getting to be a long time – and yet I can recall very vividly all that has happened and I can’t make myself believe that almost two years of my life have slipped by, with me in uniform. I’m just looking forward to the day when I can merely look back on it all – which reminds me of the bird called the “Oozle-finch”, which always flies backwards. It doesn’t care where it’s going, it just wants to know where it’s been. Did you ever hear of such a bird, dear? – And you won’t find it in the dictionary –

I got Phil and Florence’s address and I’ll jot them a note. If you say they’d like to hear from me, darling, I’ll be glad to write. You mention a Sylvia as asking for me. Do I know her – or is she one of the children?

I’m glad you like Nancy Rowe. Somehow in the few times I had met her I found her a little more sincere and real than many of her friends seemed. Your description of Abbot is true. There’s something peculiar about him – or he’s hard to know, I’m not sure which. But the truth is I never did get to meet them very often. When I was in Salem, I came into town on a Saturday night – only occasionally. It was after I closed my practice that I started to get around a bit more.

02 April, 2011

02 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
2 April, 1944      1430

Dearest darling,

Kiss my blues away! I got a nice bunch of mail late yesterday and it certainly did help my spirits tremendously. I got letters from you from way back in March – the 1st and then spread out until March 21st. There are still a lot of spaces in between. From no one of your letters did I receive any clue as to whether your folks had received my letters to them – or what is more important, dear, what their reaction was. They must have heard by now and perhaps a letter is on its way.

Your letters were all so sweet and lovable – even those that were “moody”. I love them all – including your reference to being “mushy” – which I never think you are. You also want to know why I don’t write a little bit more about how I actually feel at times. Believe me, sweetheart, if I don’t write how much I’d love to have you close to me so that I could kiss you the way sweethearts should kiss, so that I could say soft things for only you to hear, so that I could make you gasp a little for breath – if I don’t write those things, darling, it is not because I don’t think them, want them, miss them or dream about them constantly. Yet, dear, I don’t think I’ve been exactly restrained in my manner of writing to you. It’s just very difficult to write like that and not feel the want of it more acutely – and the Lord knows I feel the want – very very much!

01 April, 2011

01 April, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
England
1 April, 1944      1145
My darling,

It’s very close to lunch and I shall have to stop in a few minutes, but I thought I’d start writing anyway. All Fool’s Day – and just another day here. There hasn’t been a prank pulled so far today. Maybe I’m premature. The fact is, sweetheart, there seems to be a sense of seriousness about all the men and officers which has grown on all of us in recent weeks. And it isn’t only our outfit; I seem to notice it on the other troops as well. Whether or not it has any significance, I don’t know – but it must have something to do with the time of the year and the part of England we’re in. I think everyone is aware that there must be big things ahead of us soon and I guess everyone feels he will be a part of it. And it’s a good feeling, too. The confidence which everyone seems to have is so much different from that when they came overseas. They’re proud of the way they look when they march down the street and they really handle their guns. The rivalry between various sections is very keen and they arrange all sorts of bets, prizes etc – as to which is the speediest, snappiest, most accurate – and so on. Dinner bell – dear – I’ll run along now –
1606
Hello sweetheart –

I haven’t been eating all this time. We were supposed to have a court martial last night – but because of a long class, it was too late and it was held today at 1300. We just got through. It was the case I wrote you about – one of my men. He had a fair trial and a fair sentence, too, I believe. I think it will help the discipline in my own detachment which I fear hasn’t been too good – chiefly because of my being easy.