06 August, 2011

06 August, 1944

438thAAA AW BN
APO 403 % Postmaster, N.Y.
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.

Well I wrote you yesterday p.m. darling that I was going to sleep in a farm house. I did and it was quite comfortable and also unusual after sleeping on the ground and outdoors for a couple of months’ stretch. In addition it was a fairly quiet night and that was well appreciated also. I know the news of our advance here in France must be making you happy – just as it is us. We study maps from the first thing in the morning until it gets dark and we know every element and factor concerned in an advance or penetration. Being in Headquarters and eating and living with the Staff – which includes an S-2 and a liaison officer – I’m getting to be quite a tactician. Just where we are on the map, sweetheart, I can’t tell you, naturally, despite the fact that some of your friends hear more from their boy friends. I don’t know what they’re writing darling, but I’ll bet they aren’t giving away much military information. Also, dear, in respect to the types of cases – etc. I worked on at the hospital – that is strictly taboo. I can tell you this – on the whole, the work was gruesome and for the first few days I was shocked. Then everything seemed natural again. I was a doctor and supposed to see such things and I went about my work.

Here is a farmhouse and its vast view in La Chapelle-Cecelin.
Perhaps it is where Greg stayed...

I was re-reading one of your letters of a recent date, Sweetheart, and I got a real laugh out of the story about the Rabbi who forgot about the wedding. That must have been an awful situation to have been in. I don’t know what we’d have done, dear, but I’d have been damned impatient – I know that much! I don’t know L. Beckwith – although if he’s the Beckwith of the Riding habits etc. – I believe some of my family knows them.

G-dammit how in hell do all these guys still get away with these few months at Harvard and a few months at MIT set-up? It makes you wonder what the Army’s thinking of. Are they still planning for something long in the Pacific – or is the machinery for stopping these schools too cumbersome to cut out such stuff? What the Army needs now – is a lot of men in the infantry – and personally I think they’re wasting a good deal of time and money. Oh hell – I don’t really care, darling, but sometimes I wish I could be stationed near you for a couple of months – even weeks. (I’ll settle for 1 hour.) Boy! I’d love that. You’ve been telling me how you’ll show me how much you love me, sweetheart – well – you will if you’re still able to when I’m through showing you. I sure do miss you these days and nights, dearest. The moon the past few nights was particularly hard to take. Am I ever going to kiss and hug and love you once I get hold of you!

And so ends another letter and so lingers another thought. I was wondering one day why I hadn’t had a diary since coming to France – but I guess my letters will serve as such, because my every thought and emotion, darling, has been translated into my letters to you.

Hope to hear from you today, darling; I haven’t for a couple of days now. Send my best love to the folks and for yourself keep

All my everlasting love

about the S-2 and Liaison Officers

Greg mentioned becoming a tactician by being around an S-2 and liaison officer. Here is an explanation of how that could have helped him.

In the continental staff system (also known as the general staff system), which is based on one originally employed by the French Army in the 19th century, each staff position in a headquarters is assigned a letter-prefix corresponding to the formation's element and one or more numbers specifying a role.

The element prefixes are:
  • A, for Air Force headquarters;
  • C, for combined headquarters (multiple nations) headquarters;
  • F, for certain forward or deployable headquarters;
  • G, for Army or Marines headquarters, division level and up ("General" or "Ground")
  • J, for Joint (multiple services) headquarters;
  • N, for Navy headquarters; and
  • S, for staff roles within headquarters of organizations commanded by an executive officer with the rank of major or above, such as regiments, groups, and battalions.
  • The staff numbers are assigned according to function not hierarchy, traceable back to French practice; i.e., "1" is not "higher ranking" than "2". Here are the numbers:
  • 1, for personnel and administration
  • 2, for intelligence and security
  • 3, for operations
  • 4, for logistics
  • 5, for plans; and
  • 6, for signal (i.e., communications)
  • The intelligence section, #2 above, is responsible for collecting and analyzing intelligence information about the enemy to determine what the enemy is doing, or might do, to prevent the accomplishment of the unit's mission. This office may also control maps and geographical information systems and data. Thus, an S-2 of a battalion is the executive officer with a rank of major or above who is responsible for the intelligence and security operations of the battalion.

    The liaison officer is a special staff officer responsible for representing the commander at the headquarters of another unit, to effect coordination and promote cooperation between the two units. Liaison is established
  • from left to right,
  • from rear to forward units for units of the same level,
  • from higher to lower level of command,
  • from supporting to supported units,
  • from relieving to relieved units.
  • Liaison involves the contact or intercommunication maintained between elements of military forces to ensure mutual understanding and unity of purpose and action as well as the reduction of the "fog" of war through direct communications. Liaison is important during operations and normal daily activity to help preserve freedom of action and maintain flexibility between units. Liaison is meant to ensure that senior commanders remain aware of the tactical situation by providing them with exceptional, critical, or routine information, verification of information, and clarification of operational questions, thereby helping the commander synchronize and focus the combat power.

    Thus, a liaison officer is given both the role of pursuing mutual cooperation and understanding between commanders and staffs of different headquarters and the role of enabling coordination on tactical matters to achieve mutual purpose, support, and action. He does this through the exact and precise understanding and communication of implied or inferred coordination measures, with the goal of achieving synchronized results.

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