31 July, 2011

31 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
31 July, 1944
My dearest darling –

I got three most welcome letters yesterday evening from you, postmarked 15, 16, and 17 July. It was a wonderful tonic. I also heard from my father and I got a combination letter from Barbie and Steve – so you see, sweetheart – I went to bed relaxed. Your letters, dear, sure do a lot for me. I sit and wonder about it after I’m through reading them. It’s a strange reaction – but satisfying, and to know that you continue to love me is the most important part of it.

I wonder occasionally if all the nice things you say about me are true and if I might not disappoint you, perhaps. It isn’t a complex by any means, darling. I just want to live up to everything you think I am – or can be. All in all – I’m a pretty happy guy and I think my present set-up is excellent. I am not referring to France, darling – but to you and home. I do have something to come back to – you; we’re engaged, there’ll be no reason for us to wait long before getting married. Secondly – I don’t have to look for a job; I have my profession and a city to practice it in – which is a mighty important factor, too. Besides – I’m still on the staff of a Class A hospital – and all in all – you can see why I have a right to be happy, sweetheart. Sure – there’s a war on, but I’ve written you before – I try to consider it as an interlude, perhaps part of the price I have to pay for being happy and fortunate.

30 July, 2011

30 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
30 July, 1944

Dearest girl –

I intended writing a regular letter this morning but due to changing events – I’ll have to use this – it’s quicker. Again no mail – darling – but I know you’re writing and I ought to get several letters any day now. It’s Sunday morning at 1030 and I can think of at least 3 things I’d rather be doing than sitting here in a jeep in the middle of an apple orchard in France.

Apple Orchard in Dangy (Today)
I’ve wondered many a time, darling, what our reactions will be when once we see each other again. No doubt we’ll be a bit surprised at how we look to each other; but the realization that actually we belong to each other will be the big thing, I believe; the possessiveness, the closeness which will be mutually felt – will be the thrilling thing. I know it won’t be but a few hours afterwards that we’ll be planning when we’ll get married. Everybody will be kissing everybody else and sometime in the evening – while everyone is talking, I’ll finally have you alone for awhile – and I’ll say “Darling, this is the guy who has been writing you that he loves you; he promised to say it in person and here he is.” And then I’ll tell you dear, how much –

29 July, 2011

29 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
29 July, 1944
Dearest darling –

Another Saturday – but unlike last Saturday – we’re all imbued with quite a bit of spirit today – due to the way the boys have been traveling these past several days. It’s really heartening. Yesterday we had a busy day at the hospital. I met an M.D. from Boston – by the way. He knew several of the men from Salem – and we had quite a chat.

Besides movies in the evening and digging, we have a new sport around here – pitching horse shoes. You’d be surprised how it helps pass the time. We have some really expert hillbilly boys who are very good at it. The stakes, by the way, are parts taken from a German tank – a Mark V.

I sure am missing you these days, Sweetheart – and I can’t tell you enough how much I love you and want to be with you. But the picture has changed these past few weeks and I’m sure we’re going to be back or at least over with this thing – sooner than we hoped for a little while back. So keep your spirits up, darling!

No mail for several days now. Perhaps today?

My love to the folks – and

My deepest love, dear
Greg


28 July, 2011

28 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
28 July, 1944
Dearest sweetheart –

No letter from you for a couple of days now; got one from Lawrence yesterday. I hope, darling, that by this time you’ve managed to have a vacation and if so I hope you had plenty of sunshine and good swimming. It’s years since I last visited Old Orchard – but it sure is a swell spot for bathing. You’re absolutely correct in your opinion about the bathing at Winthrop. It’s definitely not good. But it used to be a nice quiet place to rest – especially evenings. I wonder how it is now.

Yesterday I was busy with battalion duties all day. I had to get one of our men to a certain hospital and before the day was over, darling, I had been in every town – practically – on the whole peninsula. It’s amazing to see how people in the rear go on about their business now as if nothing had happened. Most homes have only partial roofs; practically none has windows. Stores are doing business – with no fronts to them and impromptu entrances. It’s all very strange – darling. I don’t know what the news reels are showing you – but I’m seeing it in the raw. All for now – Sweetheart. I do miss you something awful and I don’t know which is worse – a quiet nite when I can think and yearn – or a noisy one – when I’m scared and too busy to think.

My sincerest love
Greg
My love to the folks

27 July, 2011

27 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
27 July, 1944

Wilma, darling –

I got a sweet letter from your mother yesterday, but none from you. I had been thinking of you and the folks all day and had written them earlier – so it was nice getting a letter. It kept me in the mood. I also heard from Steve who tells me you’re going to be “a sweet wife to have” – because among other things – you know how to put together cardboard cannons. You must show me sometime, darling. He really likes you, though, dear – and he’s frank enough to say he doesn’t – if he doesn’t. He still refers to you as Aunt Wilmer – so please put him straight.

The news around here has been good the past 24 hours and I hope it continues. Everyone here is optimistic – but I hope not dangerously so. It’s awfully easy to wish it were all over – but it isn’t over yet and on this front, at any rate, there’ll be plenty of hard fighting.

I finished reading that book I wrote you about and it was very good. We may have a movie tonite. I hope you’re on your vacation, sweetheart, and getting some relaxation. I continue to think of you and us constantly, dear, and it all ends up with I love you – and strongly! Love to the family and

All my love is yours –
Greg

26 July, 2011

26 July, 1944 (to her parents)

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
26 July, 1944
Dear Mother and Dad B –

I’m going to cheat a bit and write you a combined letter. It’s not because I couldn’t find something to write you individually – but because it takes less time – I have been busy of late.

Hearing from you and realizing that despite my having been away – I am close to you – makes me feel swell. These past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking so much about last summer and how I got to know Wilma and her folks. My thoughts end up so nicely when I realize that I am in fact engaged to Wilma – and I hope strongly that neither of you feels that it has been too difficult for her. If it has been a strain – I promise I’ll make it all up to her once I get back.

25 July, 2011

24 July, 1944 (2nd letter)

[Note from FourthChild: No letter on the 25th so I saved this 2nd letter of the 24th for today.]

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
24 July, 1944         2100

My darling wife-to-be –

Home? A real meaning to me? How can I ever possibly put into words what that word really means? It is the embodiment of everything I dream about, think of, want, live for. Home is something that the Lord somehow doesn’t let us appreciate when we have it – and yet makes us miss it so sorely when we’re away from it. And when I know what’s waiting for me there – well sweetheart, I just can’t write what I feel.

I suppose, dear, I do sound different in my letters than I did in February and March – but I am different, too – and the life I’ve experienced in the past several weeks has made it so. But about you, and home – if I feel different, it’s only because I miss you and want you more strongly. Maybe some of my hurried letters don’t intimate as much, but please try to remember, darling, that I sometimes write you of a day – when I shouldn’t be writing; but I don’t feel right, either, if I don’t jot down even a few words to you each day. War is a rotten business and certainly will change a lot of men – but darling – I don’t think it will change doctors because they’ve seen a lot of misery and human destruction in their work – and this is just more of the same. War usually ends up in terms of territory gained or lost; actually the soldier on the field gets little of that impression; what he sees and what hardens him is the cheapness of life and for him war is expressed in terms of how many of his men were killed or wounded – as against the enemy. At least that’s the way I see it. So don’t worry, darling, about my seeming different. If I am, it’s only because I miss you more acutely than I ever did before and sometimes feel bitter because I can’t be with you yet.

24 July, 2011

24 July, 1944


V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
24 July, 1944        1030

Dearest sweetheart –

Happy Anniversary! And now we’ve known each other an entire year. I do wish we could be celebrating together, darling – but maybe next year we’ll really tie one on. Boy – I sure would like to get fried, boiled, stewed – or just plain stinko! But with you – of course. I’ve had a bottle of Cognac for weeks now and the only part that’s gone is that which I gave my boys the nite I got it. Some of the men over here are really doing some plain and fancy drinking – but I’ll still reserve my drinking for special occasions.

Last nite we had a chance to see a movie, again. “The Uninvited” – with Ruth Hussey and R. Milland – a fair story. We had a few interruptions – which made it even more weird. I got a letter from Mary – with medallions galore for Pete and me. Also got one from Lawrence – of July 10 – but none from you, darling. I wonder if our mail is being held up again – and for what purpose.

Work at the hospital is still quiet – but they work it that way i.e. they flood them with cases for about 2½ - 3 weeks and then ease off for about 10 days. We should start working again soon.

23 July, 2011

23 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
23 July, 1944         1030
Good morning, darling –

It’s Sunday morning and right at the moment, I haven’t a thing to do. Pete dropped over a few minutes ago and when he saw I was writing you he asked me to be sure and send his best regards to you and to thank you for remembering him. I always pass on your regards, dear, but usually forget the reverse.

Everything sees to be going along well – although somewhat slowly in this sector at present. We haven’t been getting the best break in the weather – but we will soon. News from all other sources is so good – I actually worry about it. If it hasn’t much background – there will be an awful let-down. The fact is it can’t last too much longer, darling – and you now what that means. In case you don’t – it means that even with sweating out an Army of Occupation – I’ll be coming home to marry you. Gosh I hope we aren’t being too optimistic. For the time being there’s still plenty of fighting around here – I’m afraid – but we’ve got the Jerries number – and they know it.

22 July, 2011

22 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
22 July, 1944         0940

Dearest one –

Once upon a time Saturday meant a. no school, b. no p.m. classes, c. football games, d. a week-end off from interning, e. office hours in the p.m. and something to do in the evening. And now, dear, Saturday means nothing – nothing but another day to wait through, to leave behind.

I’m reading a book – or I did yesterday. There was a quotation in it, poet not given, and it went something like this:

“Four things greater than all things are,
  Women and horses and power and war.”

I don’t know about the horses, but the others strike home. There is nothing greater in my life at present sweetheart than a woman – you, dear – and the knowledge of you, what you mean to me now and what you are going to mean to me in the future – is certainly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. How unfortunate that two other great things – power and war – have to stand opposed, preventing us from being together!

21 July, 2011

21 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
21 July, 1944

My dearest sweetheart –

I am now sitting in the back of our big truck writing this V-mail to you. It happens to be the driest spot available at the moment – but it’s quite comfortable. As a matter of fact I’ve been rummaging around through some of my boxes and bags and I came across my clarinet and as soon as I’m through writing this – I think I’ll try blowing a few tunes out of it. Anyway – I ought to end up with more room here than there is now!

Greg's "large truck" may have been similar
to this 1/2 ton 4x4 WC54 Field Ambulance

20 July, 2011

20 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
20 July, 1944
Dearest darling –

Good morning! I’m getting an early start today because I expect to be busy a little later. No mail yesterday and probably none today.

Yesterday was another easy day at the hospital and it may be like that for another day or two. In the evening several of us went to a nearby quartermaster shower and saw something new in the line of Army efficiency. Before entering, we passed thru a tent and told a soldier what size underwear, and socks we wore. We were given new socks, underwear – shirts and shorts – plus a large-sized Cannon bath towel. We could keep our dirty clothes or discard them – as we saw fit. How’s that for up to date service?

19 July, 2011

19 July, 1944


438th AAA AW BN

APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
19 July, 1944        0945
My dearest sweetheart –

It’s a quiet Wednesday morning and although there isn’t much in the line of news to write about, dear. I thought I’d ramble on for a bit anyway. We didn’t get any mail yesterday – but we’ve been averaging mail on about 4-5 days out of seven and that’s not much different from England. We get the Continental edition of the Stars and Stripes almost daily and every 2-3 weeks we get a batch of fairly recent magazines, including Life, Look, Esquire, and a bunch of Detective Stories, Mechanics etc. – which I never get around to reading. Oh yes – Coronet and Reader’s Digest are always included. The fact is dear – I don’t even get a chance to read my Medical Journals – but I do read Time.

Yesterday was an easy day at the hospital – they were cleaning out their cases. I got through about 1500 and instead of returning to battalion – I decided to take a trip down to the beach. It was only 10 miles away from where I was and it was a nice day. It was very pretty. The water was greenish-blue – but no one was in swimming. I hated to leave the area – but it was getting on towards supper hour and traffic on the roads is heavy – so we headed back.


18 July, 2011

18 July, 1944

V-MAIL


438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
18 July, 1944

Dearest darling –

Got your letter of 2 July yesterday and one from your mother of 3 July. Mother’s was very sweet – as always. Yours had the post-card showing a couple of “surgeons” and was very appropriate – considering what I’ve been doing for the past week. They’re still going strong at the hospital – although they should be closing down for a rest any day now. They usually work for about 2 weeks or so – not for several days and start all over again. So far we’re still comparatively near to them and I just hope it stays that way. As far as the hospital is concerned – I’ve been told to act as if I were part of it and to go ahead and do anything I want – which is darn white of them. The fellow in charge of the O.R. is a Greek and I think he must think I’m one too – because he’s been swell to me.

17 July, 2011

17 July, 1944

V-MAIL



438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
17 July, 1944
Dearest sweetheart –

Of course I’ll always remember the 24th of July – but the week before that is just as important to me because then it was that I was making the first steps towards meeting you. Remember? I got your letter of July 8 – last night when I got back from the hospital. It was a particularly sweet letter, dear and made me feel good. You express the hope that although I don’t write the same way as I did in Dec. and Jan. – I still feel the same. Don’t you ever have a second’s thought on that account, sweetheart. You mean more to me now – than you ever did – because then, dear, you didn’t belong to me and now you do. If my tune is different it is because my surroundings are different, too, and it’s a rare time when I can be alone and write down in quietness what I’m thinking. As for sharing my experiences – darling. I’m glad you don’t have to and where do you get that stuff about going too far in presuming your presence might help! It certainly would – although I don’t think it would help the war effort. And don’t worry about me hardening. I found how soft and real I could be when I went to work operating in the hospital – and saw all the patients around me. No – I’m not hard, darling – life just takes on a different meaning here – that’s all. There’ll be no barrier for you to crack and I know you’ll find me the same fellow who loved you hard when he last saw you and loves you much more now. Love to the folks, dear and

All my love is yours –
Greg

The Route of the Question Mark


16 July, 2011

16 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
16 July, 1944            1030

My dearest darling –

I thought I’d take some time off for a while and write you a less hurried letter than usual. I’ve really been busy this past week and it has been a great relief. The past 5 days have literally flown by and when evening has come I have been tired and slept well.

When I got back from the hospital last night (the 34th Evacuation Hospital) I found two letters from you, darling, and that’s always been a pleasant way to end up a day away from home. It sure is comforting, dear to realize that despite the tediousness of waiting and wondering – you are still in love with me and keep me first in mind. The fact that the reverse is true – is of course obvious – but in case you’re not sure, sweetheart, I’ll tell you again that nothing occupies my mind so fully, so constantly and so completely – as the thought and vision of you – and us together right after the war and forever after that – ‘until death do us part’ – as man and wife. Like you – I have imagined us together in Salem – so often – that I now accept it as fact – and it must be so some day, dear. I have the added advantage, though, of knowing what Salem is like – what it was like before I went into the Army – and how much I missed by not knowing you earlier. Well – we’ll make up for it!

15 July, 2011

15 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
15 July, 1944

Dearest sweetheart –

I thought it was settled. Of course we’ll be married immediately after the war! I see no sense in waiting. I certainly am not going to wait to see how things are, how I’ll do, what my income will be – etc. You’ll just have to take a chance, darling. We’ll have a nucleus to start with – most important of which will be that I did practice in Salem once before and secondly – I am still a member of the staff at the Hospital.

Was glad to read you had received the books on England – particularly the ones concerning Sherborne. Was afraid they might hold out the latter because I was still in England when I mailed it.

Everything here going along swell. Was at the hospital again yesterday and again got plenty to do. Other advantages of being with the hospital are 1) Shower facilities and 2) Laundry – both of which I was doing without.

14 July, 2011

14 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
14 July, 1944

Hello darling –

Today is Bastille Day in France – once a big holiday – now just a memory. I got three sweet letters from you last nite when I got back from the hospital – dated June 25th, 28th, 29th. All in all and considering our location – we can’t kick about the mail.

Weather of 95 degrees seems inconceivable back here. I don’t know if it ever gets warm in France – but where we are – each day is like the last – and about 75 degrees – just right. But I do miss the swimming, dear – I hope when you get into the water a certain part of the time is for me.

Got a letter from Frank Morse yesterday. He had received mine – written when I first hit France. Although he is quite busy in his hospital – he’s aching to come over here. He should be getting his Majority soon. He should have had it long ago – because his job asks for it.

13 July, 2011

13 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
13 July, 1944        1015

Dearest sweetheart –

Well I thought I’d try an Air mail again for a change and be sure and let me know – as soon as you can make any sense out of it – which type of mail is reaching you more quickly. In this direction – both types are now reaching us in about the same length of time. Our dental officer – jerk to you, dear – heard from Brooklyn (where else would he be from?) yesterday, in a letter dated July 3rd – which was excellent time. Yes, your description of the just mentioned as jerky – was very accurate. He is just that and at times quite intolerable. A Brooklyn Jew comes stamped – and he’s no exception. But we manage to keep peace and get along.

As for the rest of my detachment, darling – take it easy. That fat boy is the one who made the bracelet for you. I’m glad you like it – by the way – and had no idea they were so popular. I may or may not have told you that the thing was made by hand – including the links. The brothers you refer to are twins – formerly identical – and changing somewhat as they get older. They’re from Kentucky and real hillbillies. Before the war they helped manufacture moonshine. As for myself, dear, I’m just about the same, I guess. I haven’t been able to weigh myself in some time – but I have felt fine. Why I looked thinner in the picture – I don’t know.

12 July, 2011

12 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
12 July, 1944
Dear Sweetheart –

I got two letters yesterday – the 24th and 27th and can well understand your reaction on learning we had left England. But I’m glad, dear, that you are taking the right attitude. Just have faith and all will be well. You remember I wrote you yesterday about trying to do some hospital work. Well I went to a nearby Evacuation Hospital. They handle cases after they have been seen in an aid station and a clearing station. They treat for shock, and operate on the shrapnel and bullet wounds etc., put plaster on fractures – etc. Well, sweetheart, that’s what I was doing yesterday from 1300 to 2100. It was the best day I’ve had in the Army in my 2 years – best because I was doing something to help and because I liked the work. I had spoken to the C.O. of the hospital in the a.m. and offered my help and offered to bring some aid men too. He was tickled and asked if I could do surgery. When I said yes – he assigned me to the O.R. and my men also. As it stands now – with the consent of my own C.O. – I’ll do my battalion work by noon – and shoot over to the hosp. for p.m. and evening work – as long as we remain anywhere near them. It’s really wonderful and I hope it lasts. Even if we move far from this one – we’ll volunteer for another. All for now, darling. I hope you share my enthusiasm. I love you, dear – remember?? Love to all and all my love to you –
Greg

11 July, 2011

11 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
11 July

Hello darling!

Tuesday morning and a little sunshine. On 2 successive Mondays it has rained and the days were sort of blue. But things look pretty good today, dear.

Yesterday I was visited by a friend of mine – a Colonel in AA whom I knew with Col. Pereira on maneuvers last year. He heard we were around and he dropped in. We had a nice long talk and reminisced about our days down South in 1943.

This morning I’m going to go to a nearby Army hospital and ask the C.O. if he can use any help. I’ve talked with my Col. and he said it was all right with him. If I can do even part time work of any sort – it will be welcome. I’ll let you know later, dear, how I make out.

10 July, 2011

10 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
10 July, 1944

Dearest Girl –

Got a letter from you yesterday telling about Les’s wedding, one from Florence B, and 3 from my brother – the last – a V-mail – dated 30 June – which is damned good. I think you’re probably correct about receiving V-mail quicker, dear. Lawrence seemed quite affected at the news that I was in this thing. I just hope that all of you are not worrying too much.

The wedding sounded swell – although I agree – too large. Give them my best wishes, darling, and I sure do envy them. Florence’s letter was very nice and it’s swell of her to continue to write. I also got a letter from my Dad thanking us for his gift. He told me of your staying at Winthrop, darling, and he says it thrills him to have you stay with them because you are now no different than any of his children. Gosh, dear, it certainly is swell to read that everything is so amiable and pleasant between you and my folks and I know that it will be the same between your folks and me – as soon as I can get back. You know – I think you and I really ought to hit it off well when we get married. What a way to talk! Well – as you say – I haven’t even seen my fiancée’s ring. But what of that – I’ve seen my fiancée and I know her – and I know she’s the girl for me! By the way – I love her, too. Love to the folks, sweetheart and

All my love for always
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about Battle Casualties Sustained by VII Corps
6 June - 1 July, 1944

Unit                     Killed     Wounded   Missing    Captured         Total
4th Inf Division       844       3,814          788            6             5,452
9th Inf Division       301       2,061            76            0             5,438
79th Inf Division     240       1,896           240           0              2,438
90th Inf Division     386       1,979             34           0              2,376
82d A/B Div            457       1,440        2,571         12              4,480
101st A/B Div         546       2,217        1,907           0              4,480
Corps Troops            37          157            49          61                304
All Units               2,811     13,564        5,665         79            22,119

09 July, 2011

09 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
9 July, 1944

Dear Sweetheart –

I’m writing you a bit later in the day because I’ve been busy up to this moment. This morning I got a call to go to a nearby farmer’s house and found a woman in premature labor. She was between 6 and 7 mos pregnant and had been terrifically frightened by a recent shelling. Well – with what instruments I had, plus some towels – I delivered her. The baby was stillborn, of course – but she was certainly glad to get it over with. It’s been some time now since I delivered anyone – but it was just as natural as anything – except for the poor working conditions. One of my boys acted as a midwife – there being no neighbors around to help.

Perhaps the farmers house was outside of this town...

08 July, 2011

08 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
8 July, 1944          0950

Dearest darling Wilma –

This is Saturday morning and as always, I have to submit my weekly report. That having been done I’m now ready to write you. Yesterday was the banner day for us since arriving in France. I got two letters from you – June 21 and 22 – and one each from my father and yours. The latter thanked me for remembering him on Father’s day – and his letter in general was very well expressed. I was glad to hear from him. My father’s letter was written on June 21st and he hadn’t received his gift yet. He told me about being in Winthrop and that my mother missed my not coming home week-ends. Well – I do, too, darling – although as I remember it, once I met you last summer, I spent precious little time at home anyway. Boy – last summer seems like a dream from where I’m sitting now – but I know it was and is reality. Both you and my dad express satisfaction at my being in England as late as June 8th – as my father wrote. I hope you didn’t worry too much, dear, shortly after that. By now of course – you’ve heard from me in France. I’ve tried to give you as accurate a picture as possible – but I can’t go into tactics, sweetheart, for obvious reasons. And the fact is – that outside of a discussion of tactical changes from day to day – there’s really nothing to report. There’s such a world of difference between training or living in garrison as we did in England – and the real thing.

I liked your letter written on Red Cross stationery – particularly the telegram work sheet part which I believe I would have filled out in just about the same manner. I’m indeed glad you’re not bored – and I believe you when you write it; I also believe that you really like my folks and that, darling, is a very comforting thought – because I’ve seen so much of the opposite. This I know – they’ll never interfere in anything you or I want to do. I don’t mean active interference – but passive interference – which is the aggravating kind. What they want most is for us to be happy and we won’t let them down I know.

07 July, 2011

07 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
7 July, 1944

Hello darling!

Well last night, believe it or not, I saw a movie – right out in a field – but under an apple tree. The screen was rigged up in such a way as not to show any light. Unfortunately the picture was terrible – Gloria Jean in “Moonlight in Vermont” – if you can imagine such a thing. But you’ve got to give our Special Service Officer credit for arranging it. The relaxation was wonderful for 1½ hours.

This might have been the field and apple
tree where the movie was shown.
Officers' Mess
July 1944 - Normandy - South of Carentan
Greg is left side, last toward back

No mail yesterday, Sweetheart – but there should be some today, I hope. Everything has been going along well and I’m not complaining. There seems to be a certain optimism around these parts that the Jerries can’t possibly fight very long. The power we have is terrific and even the fanatical Hitler-Jugend that are being captured – say they never faced anything so terrible.

06 July, 2011

06 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
6 July, 1944          1015

Dearest sweetheart –

Another day, another letter. Again I believe I have been able to write 3 letters in a row without resorting to V-mail. I much prefer this because I don’t feel cramped. I got another letter from you last night – written the 20th of June at the Clark’s. If I can get one a day like that, dear, I’ll be happy. Getting 14 letters from me in 2 days should impress you with at least one thing, if nothing more, – and that is that I’m writing to you. It’s too bad they have to come bunched like that though.

Well I’m glad my check arrived, sweetheart, and I hope you didn’t have to go to too much extra expense to get what you did. And I hope the gifts were enjoyed. It is absolutely impossible to think in terms of things to buy in France. It was bad enough in England – where a shortage existed because 1) lack of manufacture or import and 2) American troops having bought up everything after being in England for two years. In France – the Germans bought up everything usable a long time ago and whatever appears now is black market and worthless. Incidentally everything is priced in the hundreds or thousands of francs and that seems to be the effect of the tremendous amount of francs the Germans printed. They flooded France with it and as a result – our money is just as cheap. As a matter of fact – a storekeeper would much rather have a pack of cigarettes or some GI rations – than the francs – because he can’t buy anything with the latter, anyway.

I had occasion to be in Cherbourg and of course I can’t tell you much about the place for many reasons. As is usual with my outfit – or at least with me – whenever we get anywhere – I manage to see about every part of the place – and so with France, so far. I’ve run into a couple of fellows I knew slightly at Edwards and I don’t remember if I mentioned it to you already – but I did see some evidence of an outfit’s being here that you mentioned in one of your letters – the brother of a girlfriend of yours from Portland, I believe, is in that outfit. Seems to me I may have told you this already – but it’s easy to forget things here.

05 July, 2011

05 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
5 July, 1944         1000

Dearest sweetheart –

I received a letter from you last evening written by you on the 19th of June and mailed on the 20th. Although that made it two weeks old, it sure seemed up to date to me, darling; and as I exclaimed, jokingly to the boys around me when I finished reading it: “She still loved me as recently as the 19th of June!” But it really was good to hear from you and to read that some of my mail was beginning to reach you, dear.

No – I haven’t heard from Stan I can say – literally – for months and I certainly am thoroughly disappointed in him. He never did let me know if he received the lighter – by the way. As for his having ‘found’ a girl – I don’t know. Stan gets strong likes and dislikes – and how long they last depends very often on how long the person is enchanted by his line. Anyway – with the man shortage in Washington – he must be having one heluva time for himself. Apparently he has no self-consciousness whatsoever about being in civilian clothes. Boy – it would do some of those boys a lot of good to get out here and live close to the ground for a little while; to perspire freely after digging a fox-hole and not be able to change their clothes; to find their shirt-collar getting black and grimy – and just go on wearing it; to go 3 or 4 nights in a row without removing their shoes and stockings; to just ache for a bath or shower and finally – regardless of the weather or the water – to bathe by repeatedly filling a helmet with cold water and sponging, sponging and sponging. It would do them a lot of good, I repeat, and might make them appreciate the simple convenience of life a bit more – let alone the luxuries of night clubs, dinner and dancing. I never before resented anyone’s being out of this thing, but you can’t help but build that feeling up in you after awhile. Perhaps it’s because up to France – I wasn’t really in the war, dear – just marking time – and believe me – the difference defies description.

Excuse me, darling, I didn’t mean to get off on that tangent. Incidentally when we take a bath as described above – we say we wash down as far as possible, we wash up as far as possible – but we don’t quite wash possible. Excuse that, too.

04 July, 2011

04 July, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
4 July, 1944 0945

My darling –

On this holiday – I wonder where you are and what you’re doing. Whatever it is – I hope you’re enjoying yourself, dear. This is one of the few days since arriving in France that the date has had any significance for us. The fact is – all days are noisy. I can think of the times when I jumped at the noise of a two-inch firecracker – and now – well the less said the better. Anyway – we’ll try to have a sane and safe 4th. The French – you remember – celebrate the 14th of July, their Bastille Day.

Another date that I remembered was yesterday’s. On July 3, 1942 I reported for active duty. Boy! Was I green! After the war, sweetheart, I’ll give you my impressions of my first few days in the Army. It was really funny. I didn’t know then how long I’d be in the service – but I sure am glad those two years are behind me. By any sort of reasoning or prognostication – more is behind me than ahead of me, and that thought, darling is very soothing.

Let’s see – this is Tuesday, I think, and if so – it must have been difficult to make a long week-end out of the Holiday, although I suppose some people were able to take Monday off. Last night at supper we got to thinking and talking about the night before the 4th in the old days – and each fellow had a slightly different version of what it was like in his city; represented were Buffalo, York Pa, Brooklyn, Portland Me, Chicago, Phila, Davenport Iowa, and Portsmouth N.H. I took care of Boston. You can see that an interesting discussion took place. All agreed however that we’d probably awaken today with clearer heads – and we did.

03 July, 2011

03 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
3 July, 1944

Dearest fiancée –

You know that’s a real French word. Some of the French farmers ask me if I’m married. I say ‘no’ – of course – but follow it up immediately with the picture of ‘ma fiancée’. They all say “très jolie, très gentile, vous êtes très heureux” – and darling – I agree.

No mail for a couple of days – but in view of the situation – that’s understandable. Nothing much happening here, though, dear.

I get awful blue spells when the going seems slow – but now is the time we must be really patient, darling – and I guess I can hold out. I hope your patience is with you too, sweetheart.

Sorry – I can’t write more right now. Love to all at home, dear.

My everlasting love –
Greg


* TIDBIT *

02 July, 2011

02 July, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
2 July, 1944
Sunday morning      0930

Dearest darling –

After 3 days in a row (I believe) of regular letters – I have to resort to this again – time, as usual, being the factor.

Things are going along well and there’s nothing particular to complain about, dear, except that I grew sad last night while listening to my radio in my tent. I don’t know the name of the song – but one phrase caught my attention and made me wince – “every day we’re apart is a day wasted” – not particularly original, darling, – but it just happened to strike me as being true. Well – I’m positive there’s more behind us than ahead of us and when we’re together, sweetheart – we’ll make each and every day count!

Nothing else new dear to tell you. I love you and have been missing you terribly – but that’s a good sign – isn’t it? Love to the family, regards from Pete who thanks you for your constancy in remembering him. All for now, darling, and

All my love
Greg

The Route of the Question Mark

The middle of Page 23 from The Route of the Question Mark tells this:

Page 23

July 2... St Come du Mont. The 155 mm guns in the adjoining fields made sleep impossible. The mosquitoes were in there fighting, too, and German planes were being knocked down all around us. We never strayed far from our foxholes and we slept in them every night. Farmers were continually driving live-stock through our area and a herd of horses used to gallop around, miraculously avoiding every tent.

Fields around St. Come du Mont

01 July, 2011

01 July, 1944


438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
1 July, 1944        1030

Dearest sweetheart –

I’ve got a chance to write just now so I’d better try to get this off before something else turns up. Everything here is going along quite well and we’re getting used to living in the field again. We had been pretty well toughened up until we hit Sherborne Castle – that really was the soft spot in England for us and of course it beat anything we ever had in the States. The set-up was just unbelievable and it was pure luck I guess that brought us there. We ate in a tremendous dining room – just for our officersand the mess was excellently run. Oh well – we got softened up I guess – but we’re gradually getting into stride and are becoming the field soldiers we were meant to be.

There was no real mail last nite, just packages and journals. I got the June 19th issue of Time and the June 12th pony edition of the Boston Herald. The envelope was marked – compliments of Miller – some street in Dorchester. I know no such person – but I’ve been receiving the paper weekly now for a couple of months. It was interesting – this particular paper – because it had a picture on the front page – of one of the towns we had been in when the going was hot, and the write-up covered the whole area we’ve been in. It seemed strange to read about it in a Boston paper and then to realize that I’m here and taking part in it.