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.


You mentioned the subject of voting, darling, in one of your letters. That made me wonder – how many more years, dear, before you can vote? Don’t worry, though, I’ll vote anyway. I’ve written for a ballot – by the way. By writing to Salem I’ll get one that covers everything from the President down to State Representative. I’m taking this means to vote rather than the G.I. form because I wanted to be kept listed on the Salem lists. As you mentioned – there seems to be considerable apathy among the soldiers. No one seems to give a damn about anything except getting home – which is certainly a short sighted point of view.

You keep wondering when I’m coming home and I keep wondering the same, sweetheart. I want you so badly I’m at a complete loss at explaining it to you. Everything we do here, every piece of good news is always interpreted in terms of ‘when do I get back home?’. But every day I feel closer to you even though our backs are facing the Atlantic. Despite all fanaticism and inability on the part of Hitler to try for peace – his armies will eventually be so completely smashed, surrounded and broken up that I’m sure they’ll lose all capacity for making war.

I enjoyed that clipping concerning dates and the end of the war. I passed it around and of course that started a wave of speculation. I think Sept. is a bit early. I like to think it will be by November – the late fall – when a good many wars in the past have ended.

There’s been little mail this past week for some reason or other – but then – we’re getting farther and farther away from the beachhead or Cherbourg – whichever place the mail is being landed. There’s been a statement in the Continental S and S that soon mail will go directly between France and the U.S. without stopping in England. That should help speed things up a bit.

Sweetheart – I’ve got to pack a couple of things because we’re taking off right after lunch or chow. Dear if I come home after being out on a call and yell “Is chow ready?” – you won’t mind too much, will you? If you do – you can punish me by making me kiss you, say 5-20x. Boy – what punishment! Chow! Chow! Chow!

I hope all is well at home, dear, my love to the folks and

All my love is yours –
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about The German Counterattack

The Germans launched their last large offensive in Normandy, Operation Luttich, in the night from August 6 to August 7. All the units planned for the attack were not yet joined together, but General von Kluge did not wait and ordered the beginning of the Luttich operation. A strong force of German tanks and infantry led the attack, and the brunt of the blow fell on the 30th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Mortain. Von Kluge aimed both to drive a wedge between the American First and Third Armies and to reach the sea, along a line connecting Mortain to Avranches.

Americans on the road from Avranches to Mortain.
The jeep coming up on the Sherman tank has a
German prisoner on the hood.

145 German tanks attacked at dawn through an impenetrable fog. The 2nd SS Panzer Division headed towards Avranches from a distance of approximately 10 kilometers. The Americans decided to engage the 3rd Armored division to counter the attack. Although they knew their Sherman tanks couldn't counter the Tiger tanks, they felt the German offensive must be broken or slowed down at any cost.

Initially, the Allies air support was unable to intervene because of the weather. But about midday, the fog rose and the American fighters took off to attack the Panzers columns. The take-off of the American fighter-bombers marked the beginning of the end of Operation Lüttich. Before the Tiger tanks even met the 3rd Armored division, the VII Corps artillery and supporting air units stopped the German progression and nearly 60 tanks were destroyed. Von Kluge received a message from Hitler saying that he was extremely disappointed by this result.

As for the American planes that Greg was delighted to see, the U.S. Eighth Air Force flew three strategic missions on 7 August.

1. 672 bombers and 352 fighters were dispatched to hit rail and other targets in the French/German border area and oil dumps and bridges southeast of Paris.

2. 482 bombers and 178 fighters were dispatched to oil installations and dumps in the Brussels, Paris and Lille areas as well as V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais.

3. 133 P-38s and P-47s flew fighter-bomber missions against rail traffic in the Metz-Strasbourg-Saarbrucken areas.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Ninth Air Force flew tactical missions. In France, more than 180 A-20s and B-26s bombed rail bridges, overpasses, and junctions at Mantes-la-Jolie, Chartres, La Chenaie and Merey, a fuel dump at Maintenon, and alternate rail targets in the North. In addition, fighters escorted IX Bomber Command bombers and a few C-47s, provided cover for ground forces, and flew armed reconnaissance over wide areas of Northern and Western France.

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