13 August, 2011

13 August, 1944

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

I know dear that there’s lots of little yet important things we never get a chance to discuss. It’s understandable, though. I think the most that letters can accomplish is to keep close contact between people and help exchange broad ideas. Intimate discussion is pretty difficult because so much time elapses between answers.

What I want from life together with you is first of all mutual love, affection and respect. I know we’ll have that. I want next to be able to provide for you and give you the things you’d like to have. That will make me happy. I want to have a family in the worst way, sweetheart – a few children anyway. I envy every couple who already have a family started. I love children and I hope we have them.

Well – what else? That’s quite a bit already, darling, and if we have that – the Lord will have been kind to us. I hope then that we can have a decent spot in our social community, that we have nice friends, that we can visit with people and have then visit with us, that we can get to Boston often enough to visit our folks, to hear concerts and see good plays. I want very much to stay as young as you are, sweetheart.

All that is quite a bit, dear, and quite rosy. It will take time. I’ll have a practice to build and a reputation to re-establish – but I’m not afraid to face that with you helping me. I have faith in your help – and I feel that if things are slow and perhaps dull in the early days of my practice – that you’ll give me the inspiration not to get blue. I know I can count on you, too.

One more thing, dear, before I change the subject. The one thing that never enters my mind as a problem is the subject of adjustment. That’s a psychiatric word that need not enter the sphere of two normal people. It’s the most natural thing in the world for a fellow and girl to become married and live together and why shouldn’t we be able to do what so many others have done before us? No – there need be no question of adjustment. I’ll come home to you, sweetheart, get to know you again in a very short time. We’ll get married as soon as possible, honeymoon somewhere and find a place for us to live in Salem. Salem, by the way, as you probably know – is from the old Hebrew “Shalom” – meaning peace – and darling – that’s where we’ll find it – and happiness too.

I guess I sort of wound myself up on that one – but I hope I’ve made myself clear, dear. If not – ask me again and we’ll discuss some other angle. I want everything to be as clear in your mind as it is in mine.

I’ll stop now, dear. It’s Sunday morning – and I have a few things to do now. I hope, darling, that from all this you can gather how much I love you. It’s a great great deal and you’ll know when I see you. Love to the folks and

My everlasting love –
P.S. Of course a convertible!


about Eisenhower's Message and
Bradley's Messy Decision

From the U.S. Army Center of Military History's "Command Decisions", Chapter 17 by Martin Blumenson, comes this slightly modified excerpt:
Attacking toward Argentan on the morning of 13 August, the XV Corps struck surprising resistance. The advance halted temporarily. But as the corps was preparing to make a renewed effort to get to and through Argentan, a surprising message came from the Third Army. General Bradley had forbidden further movement northward. General Patton had to order General Haislip to stop. Instead of continuing to the north to an eventual meeting with the Canadians, the XV Corps was to hold in place. Less than twenty-five miles separated Canadians and Americans - the Argentan-Falaise gap - through which the Germans tried to escape. Why Bradley did not allow Patton to let the XV Corps continue north and seal the Argentan-Falaise pocket is a question of debate.

The failure of the Canadians to reach Falaise more quickly made General Bradley's decision to halt the XV Corps appear in retrospect to many commanders, both Allied and German, to have been a tactical error, a failure to take full advantage of German vulnerability. It seemed particularly true because General Bradley himself had suggested and General Montgomery had accepted the idea of literal encirclement. So too had General Patton. If, as Patton said, the "purpose of the operation is to surround and destroy the German west of the Seine," as he understood it to be, the Germans had first to be surrounded so that their destruction would be inevitable. He envisioned pincers - the Canadians and the XV Corps on opposite sides - cutting through the German rear on relatively narrow fronts and actually encircling the enemy as a preliminary to destruction. Thus, he had given the XV Corps the task of making contact with the Canadians on the opposite Allied flank.

Long after the event, General Bradley explained that a head-on juncture of Canadians and Americans would have been a "dangerous and uncontrollable maneuver." According to General Eisenhower, it might have caused a "calamitous battle between friends." General Bradley himself later considered the failure to close the gap a mistake, and he placed the responsibility on Montgomery. He recalled that he and Patton had doubted "Monty's ability to close the gap at Argentan" from the north, and they had "waited impatiently" for word from Montgomery to authorize continuation of the XV Corps advance. While waiting, according to Bradley, he and Patton had seen the Germans reinforce the shoulders of the Argentan-Falaise gap and watched the enemy pour troops and materiel eastward to escape the unsealed pocket. It seemed to him and Patton, Bradley remembered, that Dempsey's British Second Army, driving from the northwest, accelerated German movement eastward and facilitated German escape by pushing the Germans out of the open end of the pocket like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. "If Monty's tactics mystified me," Bradley later wrote, "they dismayed Eisenhower even more. And ... a shocked Third Army looked on helplessly as its quarry fled [while] Patton raged at Montgomery's blunder."

At least in part, the failure to close the Argentan-Falaise gap can be blamed on lack of communication that resulted from growing jealousies within the coalition. In Normandy, the Montgomery-Bradley relationship had been characterized by mutual respect and deference, but friction between the two staffs had increased with Bradley's rise to army group command and the corresponding growth in stature of the American effort within the Allied command structure. Given their successes, the Americans were less willing to accept a role subordinate to a British officer, especially one they viewed as arrogant and overly cautious. Montgomery had to defer to this growing independence while continuing to exercise responsibility for coordinating Allied movements until Eisenhower formally assumed command on the Continent. To complicate matters further, the French were already showing a dismaying tendency to go their own way on matters they considered vital to their national interest. In the cases of the Falaise gap, the liberation of Paris, the long envelopment to the Seine, establishment of boundaries, and debate over the single versus broad front, it is not surprising that coalition politics hampered the efficient exercise of command. Eisenhower's political skills as supreme commander have often been taken for granted, but they were certainly tested during the campaign for northern France.

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