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.


You bet we’ll have a dog, Sweetheart, although until you get them grown – they require care. But I think they add warmth to a house, home or apartment. Of course kids do too – and so we’ll have to have them.

By the way, dear, I meant to ask you before; isn’t there a new air-mail rate? I notice you use a 6 cents stamp. It seems to me I read some time ago that the rate was going up. There’s nothing been said here about it.

You mention going to lunch with Verna. I think you mentioned it once before, dear. How do you find her anyway? And just what do you think she thinks about us? You remember Stan had rightly or wrongly inferred that Irv and Verna thought we weren’t exactly suited. I wonder what they really think. As a couple – I like them both – and I’ve always liked Irv – individually, too. Incidentally – one or the other of them owes me a letter.

One more thing, Sweetheart, please don’t feel that I’m being cheated in any way because I’m not around to enjoy your happiness – our happiness. I love you enough, darling, to get happiness out of just reading of yours. You’ve made me happy in becoming my fiancée – and I don’t forget it for a moment. I’m nowhere near as lonesome as I used to be – because I have such concrete things to think about that I didn’t have before. No – I’m not cheated, darling. I’m thankful for what I have and for what I hope to have – years of happiness with you, sweetheart.

That’s all for now, dear. I hope my mail is reaching you regularly and rapidly, too. Best love to the folks and

My love is forever yours –
Greg.

* TIDBIT *

about Operation Tiger
Part I

In preparing for the Normandy Invasion, the United States Army conducted various training exercises at Slapton Sands in Start Bay and in the nearby Tor Bay on the Southwestern coast of England, beginning on December 15, 1943. Slapton was an unspoiled beach of coarse gravel, fronting a shallow lagoon that was backed by bluffs that resembled Omaha Beach. After the people in the nearby village were evacuated, it was an almost perfect place to simulate the Normandy landings. Here is one villager's recollection of the evacuation, as told by Norman Wills, copied exactly from BBC's WW2 People's War:
In November 1943 my Father received a letter from the Admiralty telling us that we had to give up our home. One usually thinks of children being evacuated without their families, however, in our case the whole family was evacuated with everything we possessed, furniture, sheds and even the chickens! Although we only moved a few miles it had a great effect on us and our whole village of Chillington in South Devonshire.

We moved eight miles away to share a house in the village of Aveton Gifford. We had no real idea why we had to move, except perhaps, that our village and others near Start Bay were to be used as a military practice area.

American military vehicles soon began rolling through Aveton Gifford on their way from Plymouth to Start Bay and thousands of American soldiers marched through in single file on each side of the road. When they sawchildren the Americans would sometimes stop and make pancakes and we would beg them for some “Gum Chum”, but the Americans marching through the village often wanted bread and they would give us as much as 2/6d (12 ½ p), a lot of money, as a 2 lb loaf of bread only cost 5d (2p). To us the Americans seemed very well off and we envied their canned food, but, as we were in the country we managed to get enough fresh food and sometimes even Devonshire clotted cream on Sundays.

Slapton Sands, Devon, UK
TIGER was the code name of the training exercise for the Utah Beach assault forces under Admiral Don P. Moon. It was held from April 22-30, 1944. The invasion training was long and thorough. The culmination of the joint training program was a pair of full scale rehearsals in late April and early May, involving 30,000 soldiers and two assault forces.

The troops and equipment embarked on the same ships and for the most part from the same ports from which they would later leave for France. Six of the days in the exercise were taken up by the marshaling of the troops and the embarkation of the landing craft.

The convoy of ships set sail from local ports, including Dartmouth and Plymouth with escorts provided by the Royal Navy. HMS Scimitar, a destroyer, was to take the lead and a corvette, HMS Azalea, bring up the rear. The first signs of anything going wrong was that HMS Scimitar was rammed and holed by another vessel and was ordered to remain in port. Nobody thought to inform the commander of the exercise of this fact. The convoy started without an escort and the corvette, HMS Azalea, had no radio contact with the Landing Craft - it was not deemed necessary! A typing error in the frequencies has come to light as a probable cause for the ships not having the same information.

During the night of April 26-27, 1944, the main force proceeded through Lyme Bay with mine craft sweeping ahead of them as if crossing the channel. German E-boats, which were high-speed torpedo boats capable of operating at speeds of 34-36 knots, sometimes patrolled the channel at night. Because of this, the British Commander in Chief, who was responsible for protecting the rehearsal, threw patrols across the mouth of Lyme Bay. These patrols consisted of two destroyers, three motor torpedo boats and two motor gunboats. Another motor torpedo patrol was sent to watch Cherbourg, the main ports where the German E-boats were based. Following the "bombardment" on Slapton Sands, the exercise "landings" were begun during the morning of April 27. Landing craft were used to deploy the soldiers, and their equipment, onto the beaches. Meanwhile, along the Atlantic Wall in France, German listening posts picked up prolific signals emanating from American forces in the Southwest of England. They were listening in on Operation Tiger.

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