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.


This evening I got 3 letters of yours – 10, 11, 12th of July. That’s good! I enjoyed them immensely an darling – I hope you’re not too lonesome. I think your plan of getting a couple of weeks off is excellent and I hope you’ve done just that by now. To realize also that you and my folks are getting along so well – is wonderful for me, dear, because I feel that at least you’re not completely wasting your time.

You imply you have an idea of where I am and generally speaking you’re correct, dear. But remember – as the map moves – so do we. We are not stationary.

As for experiences – yes I’ll have a lot to tell you if you won’t tire of listening. Sweetheart – I don’t know what other fellows can be writing about what they’re doing – that I’m not. You should have a pretty good picture of my activities by now. Up to noon time – I’ve been spending my time with the battalion – usually visiting one of the batteries each day. That means traveling a few miles in various directions – because they’re spread out, checking on sanitation, health, diet, etc. After lunch – I head for the hospital and stay there until mid-evening usually; anywhere from 1800 to 2100. I have been doing surgery there – as I wrote you; lots of it and it’s been a wonderful opportunity. By the time I return (the hospital is quite a distance behind us now) I do a few odd things and then it’s time for bed. If my outfit moves during the day – as it does about every 3-4 days – when I return, I have to dig in. That’s all there is, darling, nothing more – day in and day out. We listen to the news as often as we can and get just as excited about it as you. Often we find out by radio what has happened during the day – happened just a few miles from us.
Soldier receiving mail in a camouflaged foxhole
Sweetheart – that’s about all for now. It’ll be getting dark soon and I have a couple of things to take care of. You must know, dear, how much I miss and love you; I can’t tell you too often. I dream only of us and my return and I, too, feel it won’t be too far off – so keep your chin up darling and before you know you will wake up to find me beside you –

Love to the family and
All my love is yours, dear
Greg.

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