31 August, 2011

31 August, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
31 August, 1944         1930

Hello darling!

This will be a quickie and I guess a shortie all in one. We’ve really been busy, dear, and I’ve crossed so many bridges – I’m dizzy. We’ve really been passing thru some hallowed ground – and it amazes me to realize that it took so long to go through in the last war – and we just get into our cars and ride thru it. A few spots I passed today still show evidence of the beating they took 25 years ago.

Two snapshots approaching Charly-sur-Marne,
liberated by the Americans on 28 August 1944

30 August, 2011

30 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
30 August, 1944       1100

Dearest darling Wilma –

I’ve just come from visiting a grand palace not far from here. It had been occupied as an Hq. for the Germans – no more than 4 days ago – but it was empty now – and completely stripped except for some pictures of Hitler lying ingloriously on the floor; apparently they had left in a hurry. I’ve got the pictures and this p.m. my boys will have target practice.

"France - southeast of Paris - August 1944
Former palace of Royalty, later school for Physical Culture for
Women and then German Gestapo Hq. Pictures of Hitler and
Goering were all over the place and we had a field day.
"

We ourselves are in a new mansion of our own – having left the other yesterday p.m. This one is just as beautiful and the estate – larger. The inside is more modern and all the bedrooms have Simmons mattresses. The bedroom I’m using – with one other officer is about 40 feet long and 30 feet wide. Unlike the previous place – the people just didn’t seem to belong to it so I asked them about the history of the place. Up to 2 yrs ago it belonged to a Jew, Bernard Levy, a publisher of Paris. It was taken from him, and his whereabouts are unknown. How the present occupants got control of it, I don’t know – but I’ll bet they were collaborators.

29 August, 2011

29 August, 1944


438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
29 August, 1944     1000

Dearest sweetheart –

It’s raining like fury outside right now – but I’m nice and dry, seated in a large arm chair facing a large window with thrown-open shutters. One thing about the Colonel – he likes to look for comfortable spots for his C.P. Sometimes there are such comfortable places around – but for reasons of safety, etc. – we don’t use them. We’ve been here for two days now and it sure is a grand place. The owner is an old man, dapper and cosmopolitan. He speaks English fairly well. That is true of many many Frenchmen in this part of France, by the way; the lady of the house is ill and spends most of her time in bed. Also living here are a son and daughter-in-law with their 3 children – ages 3, 8, 12. There are 3 cooks and I don’t know how many caretakers. It’s a large estate and only a wealthy man could own it. These people are wealthy. The son is president of a tremendous factory darling with automotive parts – etc. I say tremendous – dear, because I saw the factory yesterday. About 8 of the officers are living in the house and it’s quite comfortable. It is beautifully and richly furnished and I think you’d love it, darling.

Yesterday – I was invited to ‘dejuener’ today. Dejeuner is lunch or dinner here – although for the poorer class, dejuener is breakfast. The master of the house asked me to see his wife yesterday. She has hypertension and they’re having a doctor in today to see her. I’m to meet the doctor and then we’ll all have lunch together. You must think darling that it’s some war I’m fighting. It certainly is – but everything is a paradox and the contrast between where you are and how you live one day or part of one day – and how you lie crouched in a foxhole – the next – is understood only when you study the military situation. It certainly is fluid. At any rate – when you have a chance to be comfortable for even a day or two – we snatch at it. But what makes me wonder – is the fact that it all seems so natural to be under a roof. I’m glad though because I’m sure it will be the most natural thing in the world going back to a normal life. The grounds here – are beautiful. There are large flower gardens – and at one end of the estate is a swell tennis court. There are no tennis balls available, however.

“The ‘first’ time I saw Paris” – sweetheart, I was honestly thrilled. Somehow the thought of all that great city had gone through in the past and the fact that here I was riding through its streets – was something hard to describe. Certainly I was more thrilled than when I first entered London – but then, the comparison is not fair, because the situations were different. There weren’t many soldiers in the part of the city that I was in. My driver, the dentist and I took a ride to see if we could get into the city – past the MP’s etc. To our surprise – there was nobody around to stop us. We just drove in – like conquering heroes – and we were mobbed. Every time the jeep stopped – throngs gathered. If we stopped to try to take a snapshot – Frenchmen took pictures of us. We passed one of the many sidewalk cafés which we see so often in the movies. I thought it would be fun to dash out of the jeep – sit at one of the tables – while our driver took a picture of us. Well – sweetheart – as soon as we sat down – a crowd at another table called the waiter and ordered a bottle of white wine. I didn’t have any opportunity to say ‘no’. The driver – from the curbstone was trying to take our picture – but the crowd was now so big – he had to stand up in the jeep and look down at us. When the man who ordered the wine saw that we were going to have our pictures taken – he and his crowd (there were 3 or 4 couples) – got up and sat at our table. Everybody was laughing, yelling, singing, – the waiter poured wine – and I hope my driver got the shot – because it ought to be a good one. By this time – without exaggeration – there must have been 250-300 people around us – and I was getting worried – because if an MP happened to come by – we would have had a lot of explaining to do. But none came. We pushed thru the crowd – shaking hands, getting patted on the shoulders; waved at, sung at and finally drove off to a chorus of cheers. If I ever was impressed by a people’s emotionalism, sincerity and warmth, it was there, darling – and I mean it when I say I was thrilled. We didn’t see much of Paris – a couple of department stores from the outside, – Place de la Bastille, Place de la Republique – and throngs and throngs of people – happy people, walking the streets. We saw no evidence of damage – and heard and saw no snipers. We scooted out of the city and headed back here. I’ll never forget yesterday morning.

Pictures taken 28 August, 1944
[Remember to click to enlarge.]

"Paris - August 1944 - Place de la Bastille
Man in foreground took our picture in Jeep."

"Paris - August 1944 - Place de la Republique"
(Greg, identified by his armband, is by the rear leg of the Lion.)

"Sidewalk cafe - Paris - August 1944
All these people had been at other tables and surrounded us
when we sat down just to have our picture taken by our driver.
Woman's arm around me - put there at last moment
and removed immediately - so help me!"

"Paris - August 1944
The Seine from one of the bridges with
Cathedral Notre Dame in the distance."

Well – I’ve rambled on – darling – but I thought you’d like to hear about my experience. I’d like to come back to Paris – and with you. It looks like the sort of place people like to live. Perhaps one day we may be able to make it, sweetheart. I sure would love to have you with me to see some of the things I’m seeing. I would enjoy it so much more. I go no place – but what I imagine you with me – enjoying things together – but we will some day, dear, whether it’s here – or in our own place in Salem. It won’t make much difference – as long as I’m married to you and we are companions. I’ll have to stop now, darling, and when I finish this – I think I’ll spend a little time dreaming. Love to the folks – and
My everlasting love and affection
Greg.

The Route of the Question Mark

(A) Perthes to (B) Gretz (23 miles)
27 to 29 August 1944

August 29... Gretz. Here we visited the Rothschild Chateau, found it as large as a hotel, and looked for Jerry soldiers in the neighboring woods. We had a showing of THE SONG OF BERNARDETTE in the theater in town, and the entire civilian population tried to get in.

* TIDBIT *

about The American Parade in Paris

On 29 August 1944, the day after Greg visited Paris, a second parade was held - this one for the Americans. Here is a video of what led up to the Liberation of Paris, produced as a newsreel in 1944. At the beginning and end, the second parade is shown:

28 August, 2011

28 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
28 (I think) August, 1944

My dearest one –

When I write I think it’s the 28th – I mean it. There’s no one around just now and I’m darned if I know for sure. The past couple of days have been terrifically busy – only with moving around and getting settled. Yesterday – for the 1st time in a long while I didn’t get a chance to write you or my folks. You’ll excuse me, darling, I know. I just wish I could tell you the places we’ve passed thru and seen – ‘passed thru’ is the right term, too, dear; our progress is so rapid that we don’t stay in a spot long enough to look around. It’s really wonderful, though, to realize that we’re doing so well.

Naturally – our mail has been confused – and I hope that you’re getting mine, darling, with some semblance of regularity. Today I got two of yours – the 1st for several days – dated 10 and 14th Aug; also one from Dad A, one from a friend in Italy and finally one from a fellow in N.Y. Yours – I liked best of all – simple a statement as that is. I enjoyed so – reading them – I felt immediately relaxed.

I was sorry to read about the “skunk” incident and I hope that by now the mystery is solved and the scoundrel done away with. Dad B has my sympathy; there’s no fun in seeing a good lawn torn to bits.

27 August, 2011

27 August, 1944

No letter today. Just this:



PICTURES AND POSTCARDS ENCLOSED IN A LETTER TO WILMA

[Be sure to Click to enlarge]
Château de Mémorant
"Battalion Command Post - South of Paris
August 1944"

26 August, 2011

26 August, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
26 August, 1944        1000

Good Morning, darling –

No mail the past couple of days – but they have been a bit hectic; nothing serious – but on the go. My driver, jeep and I are still with the battery, dear, but we’ll return tonight to battalion. After trekking all over the place yesterday – we lighted in a beautiful spot by a small lake. The battery has been pulled out for a short rest and cleaning up period and they couldn’t have picked a better spot. I’m going to take advantage of the fact that they’re all together and give some inoculations this p.m. After that they can go swimming – if they can. That’s not so cruel, darling. I’ll have an inoculation myself – because it’s time for it.

[Click to enlarge pictures]

Picture of Greg
"France - August 1944
Old estate with small lake. Just after a swim."

"France - August 1944 - Lake where I went swimming"

25 August, 2011

25 August, 1944

V-MAIL


438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
25August, 1944            0730

Good Morning, darling –

This is the earliest in the day I’ve written you in a long while – but things are a bit different in a battery. Last night I slept out under the stars. We were supposed to move – but late in the evening it was canceled. We had already struck our tents – so we left them that way. It was a beautiful night, darling, and as I lay there looking up at the stars – I imagined every one of them was the first one I saw and I wished and wished and wished.

Today should be a pretty full day and that’s why we’re up to an early start. We had K-rations for breakfast and now we’re standing by for orders to get going. Yesterday I got a little chance to catch up with some of my back mail, dear, and I wrote a friend of mine in the Pacific and also Verna. I also started a very good book – which if you haven’t already read – I think you’ll enjoy – “Roughly Speaking” by Louis Randall Pierson – an autobiography – but one of the best I’ve read – at least so far. Have to stop now, darling. Sure did miss you last nite Sweetheart –

24 August, 2011

24 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
24 August, 1944         1330

Dearest sweetheart –

First of all – note my new APO number of 230. You may or may not remember that one time in England I wrote you that that would be our new number and a few days later it was changed. Well – it is now official and apparently permanent – so start using it, dear. It has no significance whatsoever and our situation is unchanged.

This morning I decided to go out to one of the line batteries and stay for a few days. I’ll then return to battalion and stay awhile and then visit another battery – etc. It will give me a chance to see how things are going and be a change from the hum-drum of headquarters. Right now I’m at A Battery – which is in fact only about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from battalion. I had lunch here and have already seen a couple of sections. I was all ready to relax for the afternoon but just received a call from the battalion that a civilian came in looking for an M.D. From what I could gather by phone – a woman must be having a miscarriage or an abortion. By the way, dear – you do know the difference, don’t you? If not – medically speaking, an abortion is loss of pregnancy in the 1st 3 mos., miscarriage – in the middle 3 mos., and premature labor – in the last 3 months. Anyway – as soon as I finish writing this – I’ll go back to battalion and see how I can help, but I’ll return here again afterwards.

23 August, 2011

23 August, 1944

V-MAIL

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

Wilma darling –

A shortie today – for reasons of entertainment and morale –– : my radio went phooey last night and if I can get the radio repair man to look at it now – I might get it fixed. Otherwise he leaves soon and generally doesn’t get back until dark.

Yesterday was a nice warm day again, sweetheart, and we went looking for a shower point. As usual – when we got to the spot – they had moved out – so we went looking for a creek, river or anything where we could wash up. We found a swell pond and had a swim and tried to wash up – but as usual with ponds – we ended up dirtier than when we started.

22 August, 2011

22 August, 1944 (to her parents)

V-MAIL


438th AAA AW BN
APO 578 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
22 August, 1944

Dear Folks –

I’m sure I can’t possibly write you a thing in the line of news that Wilma hasn’t already told you – but nevertheless I like to keep in touch with you directly.

The news certainly is good here and we are all hoping we’ll be back in due time. It’s hard to see what’s keeping the Germans going – unless it’s the fear that they’ll all be shot or tortured if they surrender. Some of the prisoners have told us that. Even my battalion has captured a good number of them.

Wilma seems to be enjoying her Red Cross work and I think the contacts she’s making are very nice to have. I hope she soon gets paid for her splendid efforts.

Well – that’s all for now. My best regards to the family and take care of yourselves.
Love
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about The Liberation that Wasn't
From the Second World War blog site comes this story:

On Tuesday 22 August 1944 Paris - which had been occupied by the German forces since June 1940 - was 'liberated'. Or, at least, much of the world believed Paris had been liberated after hearing it announced on the radio news and reading it in the newspapers. However, particularly in wartime it is not always wise not to believe everything one hears in the news!

On 22 August 1944 Charles Collingwood, one of the war correspondents from the American CBS was at Twelfth Army Group Headquarters in France. While there, he happened to speak with the American General Omar Bradley who told him the FFI (French Resistance Forces) had risen in Paris and it looked as though the 2nd French Armoured Division would liberate the city. General Bradley did not, however, specify when the 2nd Armoured might do the liberating.

Nevertheless, not wishing to be 'caught out' by missing a despatch deadline about the Allies liberating Paris Charles Collingwood used his new but experimental CBS tape recorder to record the liberation, which he would send over on the next flight. The news report would then be ready and waiting in London and all ready to be broadcast to Europe and the world:

"The 2nd French Armoured Division entered Paris today after the Parisians rose as one man to beat down the terrified German troops who had garrisoned the city ....."

The recording was then enclosed and sent off to the SHAEF censors and duly despatched to London.

However, when the tape recording arrived in London nobody had actually checked to confirm the 'liberation' had actually taken place or not. The CBS office in London believed the statement had been cleared by the censors and was actually true! Consequently, the news was released to the BBC and they made the following 'important announcement':

"Paris has been liberated. I repeat, Paris has been liberated."

As news like this usually does, it spread around the world in no time at all. It made the late editions of the New York newspapers, in Washington President Roosevelt said the news was ".... an ebullient passage of total victory." King George VI sent a personal message of congratulations to the Head of the Free French General De Gaulle. The British Cabinet minister (and future Prime Minister) Anthony Eden proposed a toast to his French counterpart in London, M René Massigli.

Except, the news about the 'liberation' was not actually true! Yet, with events moving towards that outcome SHAEF, who knew truth and that the FFI was still fighting the Germans for control confirmed the bulletin was correct. Hence because of the BBC announcement almost everyone around the world, apart from those living in Paris and the German High Command, believed that Paris was free.

22 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
22 August, 1944          1010

Dearest sweetheart –

Well it looks as if it may clear up this morning, and that will be very welcome. We’re all just a little bit damp and soggy. Yesterday – we all stayed “put” – since there was no point in doing much traveling around. In the p.m. we played poker. It was an ideal day for that. I lost – but I guess I’m still ahead of the game because last month I actually sent home more than my salary. The poker we play – is not monotonous because we play dealer’s choice. The result is we play draw poker, stud, 7 cards – deuces wild, Woolworth (5’s and 10’s wild); baseball (3’s and 9’s wild, but if you get a 3 – you have to match the pot; a 4 gives you a free card down); one-eyed jacks and split-whiskered Kings wild – etc. etc. It’s a lot of fun and helps pass the time.

In the evening I got 3 more letters from you sweetheart – the 31st July 1 August and 11th August. All were very welcome, I can assure you, dear, because on the whole – it was a rather blue day. One thing that made me laugh particularly was the drawing of you with your new hair-do. My goodness, dear, are you trying to discourage me? What a fiancée! What a scowl! Oh well – it is just a sketch – but darling – make the next one smiling!

21 August, 2011

21 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
21 August, 1944         0930

Dearest darling Wilma –

Today is the first bad day in about 3 weeks and so we’re not complaining too much. Ordinarily when it’s like this, dear, you can hardly find a place that’s comfortable – let alone find a spot dry enough to write in. But that is another advantage of this little German car that I have. It has a nice canvas top – not too much unlike the one I had on the Buick. The jeep top is practically useless when it rains, but this one comes down on the sides and is very low anyway – so that it gives very good protection. So that’s where I am this morning, It’s comfortable here and quiet. Most of the fellows have gone back to sleep – but that’s one habit I’ve never cultivated.

Trying to describe the German car reminds me to tell you, darling, that I’m taking more snapshots now of various things I see. I believe I told you I was able to buy about 10 rolls of film to fit my camera. How I’ll get them developed – I haven’t the faintest idea, dear. There are no civilian facilities, and if I send them to the Signal corps – they retain the privilege of impounding for the duration any roll of film that has a picture in it containing military material. I now have 3 rolls taken and I’ll just hang on to them. I don’t think they’ll spoil.

20 August, 2011

20 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
20 August, 1944

Sweetest girl –

Yes we both have been good at writing – and if I’ve ever complained, darling, it was not at your writing – but at the service. And when you come down to it – there’s been little reason to complain. It does amaze me the way we do manage to get mail at all. Sometimes our mail clerk makes a 50 mile trip to the rear – to get mail – or 100 miles round trip.

Yesterday I got 3 letters – all from you and all so wonderfully pleasant. You do tell me – and in so many ways, sweetheart, that you love me – and I hope that I’m making myself as clear to you. Certainly my life is wrapped up inexorably and inextricably with yours, dear – and that we’ll be happy together – I don’t doubt at all. I’m sure of it.

19 August, 2011

19 August, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
19 August, 1944            1400

Dearest sweetheart –

For some reason or other – Saturdays seem to be very busy. For one thing – our weekly report is due on Sat. Yesterday I got one letter from you, also letters from Lawrence, Florence B. and the Salem Hosp. Florence is getting to be quite a correspondent and it’s very sweet of her to keep writing. I’m anxious to get to know her better when I get home. Which reminds me – your last letter sounded a trifle blue, darling – for which I can’t blame you. I wonder how you can sound so cheerful so often. I don’t know what I can write to make you feel a bit better, sweetheart, except to say that I miss you terribly and I too, resent very much having to be separated from you. Darling I love you very much and I hate the time that we’re wasting, but what can we do? We must be thankful that at least we’re winning the war. Just think what it would be like if we weren’t. We’re all optimistic about things over here. The Heinies are really in an awful mess right now.

18 August, 2011

18 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
18 August, 1944      0930

My dearest, sweetest fiancée–

I feel pretty well this morning but a couple of the fellows don’t. It all started with the gin, darling. The trouble is that although we get a full bottle of Scotch each – we have to divide a bottle of gin between two of us. Well – last night the dentist and I brought out our bottle and decided to kill it at a game of cards. There were six of us playing and a bottle doesn’t last long among six growing boys, dear. We had plenty of grapefruit juice from the kitchen rations. Another pair of officers got their bottle etc. and we ended up feeling pretty high – the first time in a long while. We felt like singing, but couldn’t – because of security conditions. It was dark – but no one felt like going to bed. So we sat around and told old stories, admidst ”ssh’s” from the other fellows who were listening – whenever we got too loud. I slept well – and this morning I’m right on the ball.

17 August, 2011

17 August, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
17 August, 1944      1430

Dearest darling –

A “shortie” today, due to the exigencies of war. Ahem – that sounds important. It really isn’t though. I spent the morning visiting 3 of the batteries, dear, chiefly to determine whether I would award any Purple Hearts – or not. In case you don’t know it, sweetheart, I am authorized to make such an award and keep a stock of them on hand. I’m sorry to say that I’ve had occasion to give them out in several cases.

16 August, 2011

16 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
16 August, 1944       0930

My dearest girl –

There was a time in France that when we moved, we stayed ‘put’ for awhile and took care of details etc. For the past 10 days it has not been so, and despite the wear and tear of digging, pitching and striking tents, falling behind in cleanliness, losing out on daily mail and not getting a chance to write much – no one is kicking, dear, because we’re going in the right direction and rapidly. We’re really chewing up the miles these days – and it’s wonderful. We’re bound to meet some opposition soon, I suppose – but right now – there’s no doubt as to which side has the decisive hand. I can well imagine how the news is being received at home. I’m sure everyone must feel the war can only last a few weeks more. I personally think it will last longer – chiefly because I don’t think there’s a mechanism in Germany set up as yet to make or sue for peace. But it will come darling, and with it my early return home to you. I’ve never wanted anything ever – as much as I want to get home and marry you, sweetheart. That it will come – I don’t doubt at all. It’s only a question of time.

This morning (we rarely get mail in the a.m.) I got 2 letters – one from your mother – very sweet, and one from you of August 2nd, dear. I was tickled to read about Mr. Anderson’s offer to you – not because it might mean a paid job – but because it showed he must like your work and have confidence in you. If so – it must mean you have ability – and since I think that anyway, I like to feel that others feel the same way. At any rate – I think you did the right thing when you went to work with the ARC – and paid or not paid – your contacts and experience with them are well worth having.

15 August, 2011

15 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
15 August, 1944         0830

Dearest sweetheart –

We’re gypsying again and I’m getting an early start, dear. The Germans always spoke of the “drang nach Osten” – and that’s just where we’re going. The Lord has favored us with some excellent weather since this push started a few weeks ago – and I think we’ve taken advantage of it.

Speaking of weather – yesterday was another ideal summer day and a few of us took time out to grab another swim in a little swimming hole not far from here. We had gone there the day before also. The water was cool and reasonably clean.

Another new announcement came out yesterday. In England you remember, dear, we were given the opportunity of getting a bottle of Scotch about every month – for the price of 25 shillings (about $5.00) It seems that the British Army still makes liquor available to its officers (and remind me to tell you my impression of British officers – after the war, dear); because in some sectors we are fighting side by side with the British – I guess they decided to make liquor available to us too. At any rate every officer can now receive a ration of a fifth of Scotch and 1 pint of gin per month. The amazing thing is that the Scotch costs us only 76 francs – or $1.52 – which is cost price, I guess – minus tax etc. Just tell your Dad he’s overpaying. About the most important result will be that some of the boys will now stop drinking Cognac or Calvados – the latter being as explosive as TNT and just about as dangerous. We’re gradually leaving the Cognac country behind and reaching the wine country – so we’ll see –

14 August, 2011

14 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
14 August, 1944        0900

My darling –

Two more letters from you last nite – Aug 3 and 4th. Think of that – only 10 days. That, however, represents the best time mail has made. I also heard from Lawrence – and I got a letter from Verna. The latter apologized for Irv’s not writing. I guess he’s pretty busy with his music, tutees and extra-curricular duties. Verna took it upon herself to defend Stan’s failure to write, dear. You may or may not remember – I wrote Irv some time ago that I couldn’t understand Stan, his not writing etc. – and wondered whether he resented my engagement. Verna wrote that Stan was “terrifically” busy; he was – after all – in charge of five stores; he was working very hard and Irv and Verna were hearing from him about once in six weeks; Verna had mentioned to Stan when he was in Boston that I wondered why he hadn’t written me and Stan said he would just have to make a point of doing – and to top it all off – and here’s the paradox to his whole busy state – his social whirl was terrific; he was being rushed by this Wilcoff person (whom Verna also feels I met) and other women too. She closed her letter by saying that after all – I knew Stan better than she – and there couldn’t be an “ounce of resentment in his whole body.” If I ever read a lot of poppy-cock – that letter was it – although it was nice of Verna to write. I’ll answer her and completely ignore the Subject of Stan. The thought of him running around and having a swell time in Washington – makes me kind of see red. Someday, sweetheart, I’ll tell you what was believed to be his real diagnosis when he was paralyzed. The fact is – there are a lot of men in the army now – doing hard fighting – who are in much worse physical shape than he – and he isn’t even doing anything approaching an essential job. How did he get away with it? Goddammit – I get so mad at times, darling – I’m sorry. I just can’t help it – when I see what’s going on here – and realize what some people are “putting” up with at home. Just think – in addition to Music I and the tutees – mind you – poor Irv has the glee club and a class in Harmony. Of course – Cambridge must be very hot this time of the year.

13 August, 2011

13 August, 1944

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

Dearest darling Wilma –

Last nite I received your letters of July 18, 19 and 28 and they sure were nice to get, dear. Before I can possibly digress, I want to answer a few things you seem uncertain about, darling.

In the first place I think you know by now how fortunate I feel that I do have someone to come home to. Mind you, dear, it’s not the abstract idea that I feel fortunate about – but the fact that it is you I’m coming back to. You must always keep that clear. You almost accused me once of fitting you into a pattern. That is not the case. I’d much rather come home to no one than to do a thing like that. I feel lucky, darling, because everything I’ve wanted in a fiancée, in a wife – I found in you – above all personality, bearing, and background. Those things are important to me and sweetheart you have them. The fact that you are attractive and educated make me happy too – but in my mind those factors have always been secondary – because the Lord knows there are plenty of educated, good looking girls – without character. I know I don’t tell you often enough sweetheart how much I love you and what you really mean to me – although I suspect you really know the depth of my affection. Will I be affectionate when I get back? Just you wait and see. Even if a fellow weren’t – before becoming a soldier – he certainly would be after going through a war, darling – because there’s so little of it on a battlefield and you begin to realize that you want affection and want to return it also.

12 August, 2011

12 August, 1944

V-MAIL

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

Good morning, Sweetheart –

We almost slept in a 15th century chateau last nite – but just missed out. Maybe it’s just as well – because the walls weren’t very thick. When we make a move – a reconnaissance party precedes us and picks a site – according to our tactical needs. If there’s a farmhouse or building at the spot – they take over. Then they radio us their position – and we meet them. Something went wrong. They had the beautiful estate all picked out – but when they returned – someone else had moved in. The French persist in saying “C’est la guerre” to that – which I guess it is, darling, although I always reply with every other French saying I can think of such as “Cherchez la femme”, “On y soit qui mal y pense” and Pauline La Fouef. Anyway – we picked another spot – and it was just as noisy, dear.

11 August, 2011

11 August, 1944


438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
11 August, 1944          0900

My dearest fiancée –

Here I am writing you a little bit earlier than usual. One thing about actually living under war conditions is the comparative freedom of our private lives. By that I mean – we’re under no training schedule as we were in the States and in England. When I stop to realize that while in England we used to be doing calisthenics at 0630 and the boys were making long marches daily – I’m glad to be over here – where 0900 seems early. We don’t have the inspectors or the inspections we formerly had to endure – either. And another thing, dear, we don’t have to worry whether our blouse and pinks are cleansed and pressed. I’ve had mine out of my val-a-pak once since leaving England – that was to air it in the sun one day – after a long rainy spell. It was a mess – as are all our clothes – but there’s nothing you can do about it.

Yesterday, Sweetheart, I got your V-mail of July 27th. In this direction there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the time to reach here – between V-mail and airmail. I’m still surprised to find that airmail reaches you earlier. They keep telling us to use V-mail because it’s quicker – but I don’t like it. I don’t mind getting them from you, though, dear. They are quicker and easier to dash off and as long as it’s a letter from you – I enjoy it. So don’t hesitate using V-mail as often as you like, darling.

10 August, 2011

10 August, 1944

V-MAIL

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

My dearest sweetheart –

Zounds! Again ze V-mail! Excuse it dear – but always keep in mind I use it only when absolutely necessary. Blame it on the advancing Yanks. I read with interest your statement of being a bit frightened at the thought of actually leaving home and being married – etc. That’s natural, darling, and don’t think a fellow doesn’t feel a bit the same way – but I know we’ll be happy together, dear, and very content to be living alone.

09 August, 2011

09 August, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
9 August, 1944         1600

Dearest darling –

A hurried letter today, dear, because it has been a busy day. Chief among the things that has preoccupied the medical detachment – has been the “capture” of a small German vehicle similar in purpose to our jeep. It’s the cutest thing you ever saw and in good running order. The only trouble is that a recent order makes us turn in all such things. Up to then we were able to keep them. Anyway – we’re painting Red Crosses all over it – until such a time as we have to give it up.

Everything else is about the same, sweetheart, except my love for you which is one day older and therefore that much richer. Incidentally I loved your part-letter in French. It was well done and strangely enough – I understood all of it. It must be that “language of love” that they write about.

08 August, 2011

08 August, 1944

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

My dearest sweetheart –

I do love you more and more with each passing day – I know that. Your letters – our only medium of contact – make me realize it, too, darling – and I am happy. You say you’re concerned because I keep asking you how you grew to love me in only 4 months. You shouldn’t be concerned, dear. When I ask you that it’s because I can’t believe I was lucky enough to make you love me in so short a time. It’s a combination of ego and satisfaction. It is not doubt that you love me – not that at all, because, darling, I feel that you do. Sometimes you leave just a little suspicious note in a letter about my love for you. I imagine it follows receipt of one of my letters in which I didn’t express myself too well. Dearest girl – by now you must really know and feel too how much I love and care for you. In every thing I do – you are foremost in my mind and with success or not – I try to tell you that, dear, in every letter I write.

I was elated beyond description last night, darling when I received a batch of letters: from you – the 5th, 6th, 7th, 24th, 25th, 26th of July; also a letter from Dr. Finnegan, and one from Lil Zetlan. It sure made a good night’s reading – believe me. And you can see why I kept writing I wasn’t hearing from you. Those letters filled in a lot of spots. By the way, though, dear – there’s been no mention of your being away on vacation. How about that? I really wish you’d go. I think it would do you a lot of good. And before I forget it – how about this dieting business? And who ever told you I’d like you thinner? I liked you – every bit of you – I might add – the way you were, dear – and I don’t want you to get sick – dieting. I do think that weight can be kept level though by judicious eating and see no harm in cutting down on excessive sweets etc. But don’t overdo it!!

07 August, 2011

07 August, 1944

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

Good morning, sweetheart –

Another fine day here, sunny yet cool, clear skies and droves upon droves of beautiful American planes flying overhead. It’s a good sight to see. And no matter how many fly over nor how often – we always look up and some one cries “Give ‘em Hell boys!” And I guess they are. Even the most optimistic here didn’t think we could sail along as swiftly as we are and when we move now, dear, we do it in big chunks. It’s wonderful. I hope it lasts; if it does Paris is going to be mighty near to us soon. Enemy planes do come over – but mostly at night and it is then that we “sweat it out”. How often and to what degree, darling, I’ll tell you after the war.

Yesterday, Sunday, I didn’t do very much. I visited one of the batteries in the forenoon and was invited to stay for dinner. They were eating at 1330. I had to be back at battalion by noon – so I returned and had lunch there at 1215 – spaghetti. I then went back to the battery and had roast duck. It was swell. I wasn’t very hungry at supper time – somehow. In the evening – there wasn’t a damn thing to do – so we played poker – 1st time in a long while. I won about 500 francs. Today I’m going to visit one of the other batteries with our executive officer – Major Bolich. We’re going to stay with the battery for a couple of days – but we’ll be in contact with the battalion of course. We do this every now and then just to get in closer contact with some of the other officers and enlisted men. At the present moment – they’re several miles from here but I think Hq. will probably move down to that vicinity tomorrow.

06 August, 2011

06 August, 1944

438thAAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
6 August, 1944       0915

Dearest sweetheart –

It’s Sunday morning – but heck, no funny parts. We see them once in a while when a fellow gets a Sunday paper mailed to him. I can’t say I really miss the funnies themselves. What I miss is the free and easy, relaxed feeling I used to feel on Sundays; didn’t care if I shaved or not, wore some old gray flannel trousers and a sweatshirt etc. I always liked Sundays and I expect to after the war also.

Oh by the way dear, speaking of funnies and papers made me think of the Stars and Stripes and Yank. The reason you’re not getting them regularly now is because there’s very few of them around. We get a small number for Headquarters Battery and they're passed around and around. I did manage to get the first issue of the Continental S and S and also the first one of the Yank. You probably have them by now.

05 August, 2011

05 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
5 August, 1944        1330

Dearest, sweetest darling –

I got your letter of 22 July yesterday – along with one from my Dad of the same date. I’m a little worried about the latter although I wouldn’t want the family to know it. Lawrence had written me some time ago about my mother going to the Pratt Diagnostic and I didn’t like the inference one bit – because it isn’t like my mother to be going to hospitals unless she wasn’t feeling very well. I hate to think about it but I’m just sitting tight and praying that she’s all right and only over-tired.

My father happened to mention that he had seen some invasion money and it dawned upon me, dear, that I hadn’t sent any for you to see – therefore the enclosure. There’s all kinds of money floating around here – that printed by the U.S. – the German and the French. I didn’t have any of the latter to send along at present. It’s scarce and apparently being hoarded by the French. The money comes in different sizes, colors and shapes and it’s really difficult to keep in the wallet. The pound note I happened to keep when I left England and I thought I might as well send that along too. Remember, dear, the franc is worth 2 cents – as set up by the U.S.

04 August, 2011

04 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
4 August, 1944            1345

My darling –

I’m writing you a little later than usual for me and thereby hangs a tale. You see, dear – it rained like all fury yesterday p.m. – something like a cloudburst. My driver and I had been out to see one of the batteries and had stopped in to take a shower at a shower point which we stumbled on by pure chance. Shower points are run by Q.M. (quartermaster) outfits, usually colored. They set up near some creek, set up large tents, canvas floors and usually have about 24spouts each tent set up. The water is pumped up from the creek, heated, purified – all by one machine. It’s a good set-up.

Well we waited for the shower (rain) to end and then headed back to our apple-orchard bivouac. It was a mess! Fellows were literally flooded out of their foxholes. I took a quick look inside my tent and all looked dry and I sighed with relief. You see, dear, we usually dig our foxhole the size of our sleeping bag and air mattress and then pitch our tents over it so that is looks something like this in cross section.


After supper I decided to take another look. Everything seemed dry – but for some strange reason – the hole didn’t seem so deep so I pressed down and sure enough my sleeping bag, mattress and all were floating! My tent set-up now looked like this:


03 August, 2011

03 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
3 August, 1944        0910
Good morning, darling –

Well two days in a row now an air-mail letter – is unusual for me – I know – but at the moment I have the opportunity and I’m making use of it. I know you’d rather have these than the V-mail, dear – but the latter are really convenient.

Before I forget it I want to mention something you referred to in one of your letters, dear – namely my reaction to Stan and the other fellows like him. The one thing it has been difficult to hold on to since we’ve been in France is our perspective – or at least – mine. And it becomes very easy to generalize upon the mood of the moment. What I’m trying to say, sweetheart, is that after I write anything like I did about Stan or anyone else, I feel sorry. It’s the result usually of feeling mentally low and lonely and resenting anything that someone else has and you haven’t. Fortunately it’s transitory and I get over it. I know I’ve written like that before that letter and since then – but please interpret that as a temporary thing, dear. The greatest part of the time my spirits are actually very good and if anything – I feel sorry for anyone who can’t be a witness to all that is going on around us.

We are getting into a very pretty part of France and yesterday I passed thru some lovely hills and valleys and thought how wonderful it would be if you were here to enjoy these sights with me. Maybe we can come back some day, darling. The scenery was very much like that of New England except that there are no stone walls separating the farms – but still those infernal hedges.

02 August, 2011

02 August, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
2 August, 1944           0915

My dearest one –

They say you don’t really get to know a person until you live with him or her. That may be so, dear, but in lieu of that I’ve gotten to know quite a bit about you from your letters – for which I’m thankful. I hope you feel the same way in that respect. One of the things I liked most about you when I first met you, darling, was your directness and I still like that about you.

I received three letters from you last night postmarked the 13th, 20th and 21st of July. I liked them all but found the one of the 20th particularly interesting. In the first place – your analysis of why you were happy that I was working at a hospital was quite keen and pretty nearly correct – except for one point – the 4th reason why you were happy. That dealt with conditions in my battalion and you were a little off there, dear. The fact is that although things may happen in my battalion – we’re too spread out for me to get to them and as far as I’m concerned – they don’t need an M.D. in an A.A. battalion.

01 August, 2011

01 August, 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
1 August, 1944
Wilma, darling –

It’s 1600 hour right now – but this has been the first opportunity I’ve had today to write. We’ve been on the hop the past few days – sort of keeping up with the smooth progress of our army. I haven’t been able to go to the hospital for 3 days now and they are a good distance behind us. I don’t know when they’ll move or in what direction – but I’ll keep on the look-out for them. If they don’t show up – I’ll try another hospital. Of course, if we keep moving this rapidly I’ll not be able to make contact and do any work – but that’s O.K. with me – because the more we move – the quicker I’ll get home and that’s what I want more than anything else – darling.

Here it is August – and half the summer gone. I hope there’s enough time left to clean up the Germans before Fall and Winter. It seems from here as if they ought to crack-up soon – but they’ll have to be whipped a bit more yet. All sorts of bets float around here on the end of the war – from 100 hours to 100 days. I think a good bet is about six weeks – but then that’s my opinion only.