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.


The fact that the news is so good doesn’t dampen our spirits one bit – either, sweetheart. You can’t imagine the drive and spirit that this American army has. It has confidence – knowing its superiority in numbers, equipment, and air power – and it’s really a pleasure to see them push on. Naturally – I’m getting to see a great deal of France – because after all – I started way back on the beach and we’ve come a long way since. As we expected – the people we’re meeting now are the French who really hated the Germans and their joy is understandable. American flags – almost invariably home-made and almost always with the wrong number of stars – are out in every small town we pass through – and I think I’ve already told you about the flowers. They just love to make little bouquets and hurl them at us when we slow down going thru a town. They line the streets – men and women – holding jugs of cider or wine, with glasses – pouring out drinks – and all in all, dear, I think the American effort is being appreciated.

Postcard of a church in Pré-en-Pail, enclosed in a letter to Wilma
and how it can be seen at the end of a street today:

Postcard of "La Mairie" in Pré-en-Pail enclosed in a letter to Wilma:
and how it looks today:

Just when we’ll get a chance to see Paris – I don’t know. At this writing we haven’t taken it – but take it – we will. I do hope I get a chance to see it – but this Army is getting so big in France – there’s no telling where the various outfits will head for. Time enough to think of that.

What I want more than anything is to by-pass a good many spots and head for home, darling. There’s a lot of talk about occupation, Japan, Pacific – and all that. I don’t care where they send me – as long as this damned thing gets over with soon. When it folds – it will do so quickly – I think, and I don’t see why my outfit won’t be disbanded as quickly as anyone else’s. Everything is in a state of soon being unfolded, though, sweetheart – and I know you’ll have the patience to wait for me. I think it will be sooner than either of us hoped for – and the thought certainly thrills me darling; that’s the only word for it – because the very thought of actually getting home and doing what we’ve planned for so long – causes me no end of mental stimulation.

Darling I’ll have to stop now. There’s something doing over at the medical truck and I’d better get over and see what’s up. It sure is swell to think about the future, sweetheart, particularly when that future seems less elusive with each passing day.

Love to the folks, darling and

All my everlasting love
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about Tom Treanor, War Correspondent

Most of the following information comes from Katheleen Pavion's blog, Fallen Journalists:
Tom Treanor was born in Los Angeles on November 8, 1908. He attended Stanford University for two years, then transferred to and graduated from the University of California, Berkley. He began his newspaper career as a reporter for The Los Angeles Evening Press in 1930. He then moved to report for the Oakland Post-Enquirer, The Wisconsin News and The Los Angeles Examiner, before working for The Los Angeles Times starting in 1934. Treanor created a column titled, “The Home Front,” before he went abroad as a war correspondent. The column was devoted to his visits to war plants and war activities, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In his career Treanor covered the battlefields of Egypt, India, Africa and Italy, before reporting on D-Day, the conquest of Normandy and the push towards Paris in the Battle of France. Treanor also wrote several magazine articles and a book, One Damn Thing After Another, published in 1944. His fellow reporters respected him as one of the best WWII correspondents and admired him for his daring ability to get the story for his readers.

Tom Treanor was injured on 18 August 1944, on his way to the Seine River front, when the Army jeep he and two other correspondents were riding in collided with an American tank on a dusty road outside a French village that had just been liberated from the Nazis, east of Chartres, France. Despite emergency medical treatment by U. S. Army personnel, Treanor died early the next day. According to Robert C. Miller, a United Press correspondent, Treanor suffered a crushed leg, internal injuries and head wounds. Miller was the first to deliver the news of Treanor’s accident to The Los Angeles Times, saying that Treanor regained consciousness for a while in the hospital before dying. He lived long enough to learn that the doctor attending his wounds was from Los Angeles and told him he was sorry he wouldn't be able to cover the liberation of Paris.

Treanor was buried at the Army cemetery near Le Mans, about 50 miles from the accident site and about 100 miles from Paris. He was 35 years old when he died. He was honored at Ft. MacArthur, where his widow was presented with the War Department Certificate of Appreciation and European and Pacific Theater of Operations ribbons.

At the news of his death, The Los Angeles Times reported an influx of phone calls that “jammed the switchboards” from friends, readers and acquaintances. The Times said, “Where (ever) Treanor went, there was always action - front line action always vividly, accurately described…”. According to John MacVane, an NBC broadcaster who also covered the battle for France, "Tom was where he wanted to be - at the very tip of the units of the American 3rd Army pushing towards Paris.”
From an LA times blog by Larry Harnisch comes this last story written by Tom Treanor:
[As always, click to enlarge. Back Arrow to return. ]

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