02 August, 2011

02 August, 1944

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

The other thing I liked about your letter was directness in calling to my attention the fact that I tell you at the end of my letters that I love you “as an afterthought”. Darling – it took courage to write that, because after all – you had no idea how angry I might get on reading that. But of course – I didn’t get so. The first reaction was admiration for your just coming out and writing what you felt. I like that and shall continue to. Then – I pondered over what you wrote and wondered how true it was. One thing you don’t apparently get from my letters, sweetheart, is the fact that I love you not only in the end of them – but all through them – whether I mention “I love you” or not. As I’m sure I’ve written you before – one way or another – every thought or plan I have – is in terms of you and you alone, dear, and that surely is love. I don’t write anything because I think you want me to. That certainly would be sad at this stage of the game, wouldn’t it?

Another thing you must keep clear, darling, is that sometimes I dash a letter off to you in such a hurry – I don’t even know what I’ve written. Believe me, dear, that is often the case – and I can’t help that. I do try my darnedest to write you though and you must realize, I’m sure, that I must be thinking of you all the time. You can’t possible imagine how difficult it is to write – sometimes – and I’m glad if you can’t.

The crux of the matter is this, dear – I am definitely not “cold” – affectionately, at least not as far as you’re concerned. I love you more than anyone I ever have, and I try to tell you that in as many ways as possible. I’ve used V-mail a great deal lately – out of necessity mostly – and I try to tell you as much as possible what’s going on. I reach the bottom of the page and realize that I’ve been concerned in giving you the news and have forgotten what is far more important – namely – that I’m writing to someone I love and I haven’t even mentioned it. When I get back, darling, I’ll tell you about the times I wrote to you, where I am sometimes – when I write – and under what conditions. You’ll know then – what I mean. But for the meantime – dear – keep in mind one thing – regardless of how my letters may sound at times: I want to marry you because I love you, and my whole future is planned around you as a nucleus. I could feel no other way and still want you as a fiancée.

I hope I’ve made myself clear, darling. If not – or if something else comes to your mind that bothers you – I know you’ll be direct enough to tell me. I am the same way – but I can’t complain of a thing about you. I love your letters, your way of telling me things and your directness.

I’ll have to stop now, Sweetheart, and go out and visit some of the gun sections. We got paid last night – the first time in two months. I now get $100. a month as my share – the other hundred going to my bank – thru my father. I arranged for $150 of my $200 to go to my bank and I still have too much money. We can’t spend it here. The gov’t still owes me $350. back pay which I ought to get some day.

I hope all is well at home, sweetheart, and that you’re not getting too tired with your RC work. My love to the folks – and to you, dear –

My everlasting love


about Villedieu-les-Poêles

Villedieu is traditionally a center of metal-work, especially the making of brass and copper pans and basins from which the poêles (frying pan) in its name derives. It is also famous for its skilled hand-manufacture of large church bells, which was started by immigrants from Lorraine around 1780. Its inhabitants are called Sourdins from the French sourd meaning "deaf" because most of the people involved in the manufacturing of copper pans, which involved repeated hammering, became deaf. Villedieu is on "The Lace Road" or "Route de la Dentelle Normande". This route includes Alencon, Bayeux, Caen, Argentan and Courseulles-la-Perriere. Villedieu is famous for bobbin lace.

In 1944, when the Germans withdrew from Villedieu, they left a sniper who shot some of the first US soldiers to enter Villedieu, before being "neutralized". The US commander was about to request airplane bombing runs when the mayor approached him, told him that there were no Germans left in Villedieu and offered to ride through Villedieu in the front seat of a U.S. jeep. Villedieu was thus one of the few towns in the region to escape major destruction.

Greg passed through Villedieu, which is between Dangy and the next stop mentioned in Route of the Question Mark.  The picture labeled "Near Villedieu" is dated July 1944.

Villedieu-les-Poêles - Public Garden Post Card

Villedieu-les-Poêles - Rue du Pavé

Villedieu-les-Poêles - Rue du Pavé Today

Villedieu-les-Poêles - Lace and General View

Greg in an Apple Orchard
Near Villedieu-les-Poêles
(as noted below)

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