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.


Right now, though, darling – the thing that is keeping me fine is the chance to do some work – and work to do – there is! I went into the operating room at 1315 yesterday and didn’t move out of it until after 1800 – all in one stretch. I then ate and put in a couple of hours in the Shock ward before returning here. I got back here about 2130 and in a short while it was time for sleep. It certainly makes for a full day – because by the time I get thru shaving in the morning, filling out a few forms – etc. – it’s just about time enough to dash out, see a battery or a couple of gun sections – and then return for lunch. But – hell – I just hope the set-up continues and I think I can take it.

I wish I could go into detail on what I’ve been doing at the hospital – in just two days, mind you, dear the variety of cases is terrific – and in addition to just surgery – we put plaster-casts on by the dozen. And the best part of all is that as far as the hospital is concerned – I’m on one of their surgical teams.

I better stop raving because I suppose it will be for a short time only – but while it lasts – I can gain quite a bit of experience. Yes – just to scrub up, put on a cap, mask, gown and rubber gloves again has been quite a thrill for me – so excuse the enthusiasm sweetheart.

I’ll really have to stop now, dear and do a couple of things. I experimented with a flea powder issued by the gov’t. – by dissolving it in Kerosene and sprinkling it on our tents – as a mosquito repellent which as yet – has not been issued. It has worked fine now for 1 week – with only 1 sprinkling. I’m having some directions typed up and I’m getting it out to the batteries.

It seems as if I’m always rushed – when writing you, darling, – but you are not rushed in my mind – believe me, dear – because there you rest always as a comfort to me. Every bit of love you have for me is equaled on my account – of that you can be sure and time alone will give us a chance to show it. Meanwhile – don’t worry and take care of yourself. Love to the folks.

All my love for always –
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about The Drive South
and the Plan for Operation "Cobra"

On 2 July, VII Corps had taken over a sector between the VIII and XIX Corps in preparation for the drive south. Major General Robert C. Macon's 83d Infantry Division held the new Corps sector, a narrow front where operations were canalized by the Taute River and the swampy inundations of the Prairies Marecageuses. The 83d's attacks to gain maneuver room for the commitment of more troops met determined resistance, built about the hedgerows characteristic of this area. Dug into the earthen walls that marked each hedge, the German positions presented a defense that could be eliminated only by slow, tedious, and costly attacks.

The 4th Infantry Division joined the struggle, and later the Corps zone was extended eastward to include the area of the 9th. The infantry-artillery duel continued, gains were small, counterattacks were numerous and determined. The 4th and 83d Divisions continued to shoulder along the Carentan-Périers highway, more and more aided by the pressure exerted from the east by the 9th Division. On 13 July, that unit drove nearly to the important crossroads at les Champs-de-Losque.

According to Wikipedia:
In order to gain a decisive victory and to break through the area of hedgerow defenses, the First U.S. Army planned Operation Cobra, a coordinated attack by which the Army would drive south into areas more suited for the operation of its armored units. The originator of the idea for Operation Cobra remains disputed. According to Montgomery's official biographer, the foundation of Operation Cobra was laid on 13 June. General Omar Bradley later took credit for the planning of in his memoirs. However, Bradley's plan resembled—with only slight revisions—an earlier concept devised by none other than General George S. Patton. In any case, VII Corps was selected to make the main effort, and boundaries and troops began to be shifted to position the Corps for the task. It was to be launched on 25 July 1944.

In the first phase, the breakthrough attack would be conducted by the 9th and 30th Infantry divisions, which would punch a hole in the German tactical zone and then hold the flanks of the penetration while the 1st Infantry and 2nd Armored divisions pushed into the depth of the position until resistance collapsed. During the second phase, an exploitation force of five to six divisions would pass through the opening created in the German defenses and swing west. If these two phases were successful the western German position would become untenable, and the third phase would permit a relatively easy advance to the southwest end of the bocage to cut off and seize the Brittany peninsula. First Army's intelligence estimated that no German counterattack would occur in the first few days after Cobra's launch, and that if attacks materialized after that date, they would consist of no more than battalion-sized operations.

Cobra was to be a concentrated attack on a 7,000 yard (6,400 meter) front, unlike previous American "broad front" offensives, and would have heavy air support. Fighter-bombers would concentrate on hitting forward German defenses in a 250 yard (230 meter) belt immediately south of the Saint-Lô–Periers road, while heavy bombers would bomb to a depth of 2,500 yards (2,300 meters) behind the German main line of resistance. It was anticipated that the physical destruction and shock value of a short, intense preliminary bombardment would greatly weaken the German defense, so in addition to divisional artillery, Army- and Corps-level units would provide support, including nine heavy, five medium, and seven light artillery battalions. Over 1,000 tubes of divisional and corps artillery were committed to the offensive, and approximately 140,000 artillery rounds were allocated to the operation in VII Corps alone, with another 27,000 for VIII Corps.

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