30 September, 2011

30 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
30 September, 1944       1100
Dearest sweetheart –

This is Saturday morning and besides the usual Saturday weekly report I have to submit, there are the monthly ones due today also – so I should be busy, but with a good staff sergeant and an administrative officer – all I have to do is sign a mess of papers, look them over and pass them on. Oh hum, dear – I’ll really be spoiled. Let’s see, you can type, add and subtract – and in addition to all that, you can sit on my lap. Boy! – you ought to make one swell secretary! And from the dream I had last night – you’re going to make a swell wife. What a dream! What a dream! Jeepers – if I weren’t so sophisticated, I think I’d blush – just thinking about it – because after all, darling, we’re only engaged. But then – in the dream – you were my wife, so it’s O.K. dear, don’t worry. I hadn’t dreamed about you or us for a long time – but it certainly was swell seeing you again. For no matter how much you look at a picture, or close your eyes and try to imagine someone, there’s nothing like the vision of person in a dream to make the person seem real – except reality itself, of course, and that’s something we’ll have to wait for, I guess.

29 September, 2011

29 September 1944

Letterhead

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
29 September, 1944     1130
My darling –

I am not writing from a prison camp so don’t be alarmed at the stationery; Just happened to pick some up at an S.S. headquarters we went into. We finally did get around to leaving our bivouac area in a small forest and moved into a small town. The men are billeted in 2 vacant houses and the officers are spread out in 3 houses. It is far more comfortable. We didn’t get in until fairly late yesterday p.m. and this morning we got everything under control. We have a little Dispensary set-up in one of the vacant buildings and I have an office, with desks, chairs, lamps and a stove – not bad. These vacant buildings are usually furnished, by the way, and left – as is – by the Germans when the Americans came.

Last night, dear, I received a letter from you written the 15th (my latest from you) and one from my brother and another from Ethel Kerr in Salem. I had heard something about the hurricane in the Stars and Stripes which we get only occasionally now – and always 2-3 days late. I’m so glad it avoided hitting Boston and environs badly – although I was surprised to read you had no electricity. We’re kind of used to that by now – and it’s a rare privilege when we do have it. We do have it where we are now – and we’re continually putting the switch on and off just to see it work. I guess we’ve grown to be quite primitive, darling.

28 September, 2011

28 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
28 September, 1944      0925
My dearest darling –

First – excuse me for the hurried V-mail written last nite, dear, but I did want to get something off to you before the day was over. Yesterday was Yom Kippur and about 9 of us headed back to Corps headquarters where services were to be held. We had to cross a ford at one point and the recent rain swelled all the creeks – the result being that both jeeps got stuck and then some! Poor ‘Wilma’ – she really got covered with mud. She was a mess, but then – before it was all over – so was I. We finally got help from a large truck which had to winch us out. We were quite late at this point but continued on our way and did manage to get to our destination before the services were over.

Jeep in the mud in Huertgen Forest
(Occupants unknown)

I prayed hard, sweetheart, for everything that we both want so much and I’m certain that we’ll have it all some day. Incidentally the B.B.C. made a recording of the services and I assume that it was or will be re-broadcast.

27 September, 2011

27 September 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
27 September, 1944      2100
Dearest Sweetheart –

Excuse the V-mail but I couldn’t help it today. I almost missed writing you altogether, darling – but it’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world going to sleep of a night without having written you sometime during the day – so I’m trying to get this off to you.

I was away all day and got back a little while ago. I’ll write you the first thing in the morning, dear, and tell you where I was etc.; nothing important – but I like to keep you posted from day to day.

26 September, 2011

26 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
26 September, 1944      1000

Wilma, darling –

No mail yesterday and the government owes me a whole bag full by now. Although I’ve continued to hear intermittently, there are a lot of gaps to be filled in, dear, but as long as I continue to hear even sporadically, I’m satisfied.

Yesterday was a miserable, wet day and the tent was cold. We have a good gasoline lantern for it now – but that was not enough to make it comfortable. So although we’re entitled to an oil stove on our table of basic allowance, I’ve been in the Army long enough to know that we’ll probably get it in the Spring. Accordingly, dear, I got into our jeep and headed back to Belgium. I had already been on a scavenger hunt here – but these Germans are completely electrified and an electric stove is no good for us. I was going to go to Liege, but stopped short of there in a city of about 100,000 – Verviers. I’m still amazed at Europe and the products it has. If it is emaciated and starved – none of us has seen it so far. And the large cities may have gone without food, but they didn’t go without clothes and accessories. For example – the city I visited yesterday had 3 large, modern department stores and they had plenty of merchandise to sell. We passed some jewelry stores with the windows loaded with watches, clocks etc.

25 September, 2011

25 September, 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
25 September, 1944       0900
My dearest sweetheart –

As has happened so often in the past, I received a letter from you today discussing a subject which I had written about that same day. I think, however, that had I waited until I received your letter – I might not have attempted to discuss in such simple terms, dear, so complicated a matter. At least your quote from “advice to the lovelorn” made the subject of love even more complicated than I had given it credit for being.

I want to say first, darling, that I do admire your frankness in discussing subjects like this so openly – and yet, on the other hand – how else should it be? If you and I can’t discuss intimate matters at this stage, then we have no business being engaged. My own plain attempt at telling you I love you seems very puny when I read your quotes – and yet I experience ‘love’ and that’s what matters most. As for the interpretation of it – I’ll tell you this, dear, too many marriages have gone on the rocks because one partner tried to follow too literally something he or she had read in some psychiatric or other book on ‘love’. On that subject, I know what I’m talking about – because I have had such patients.

24 September, 2011

24 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
24 September, 1944
Sunday Morning          0915
Dearest sweetheart – Wilma,

It’s a gray cold Sunday morning, the kind I’d want to hang around the house taking it easy and interfering with your attempts to get things cleaned up. I can imagine you saying – “Now Greg. Mother A or Mother B will be coming down this afternoon and I have to get things ‘tidied’ up”. Of course that will have no effect upon me whatsoever and the net result is that we end up in a wrestling match with the winner always in doubt because the phone interrupts.

Well – things are quite a bit different this Sunday morning, darling, and we’re far apart and lonely. But it won’t always be thus and I guess that is what keeps us going – isn’t it? I awakened in the middle of last night due to some noise – and couldn’t get to sleep right away. So I got to thinking of you and me – as I always do – and it certainly is a tonic or an hypnotic for me. I forget the moment, I forget where I am. I become imbued with a spirit of thankfulness, of love – which just can’t be described, dear. Love has always been something a little bit unclear to me – although I’ve used the word many many times. But the more I dwell upon it – the more I begin to feel ‘love’ – which I think is the only way the word can be interpreted. And when I feel it – as I do now, I feel so close to you that I’m amazed at my reaction. It’s a possessive feeling, a realization that you are mine, mine – and belong to no one else. You made me even more conscious of that emotion in your last letter when you mentioned that subject yourself. And there’s nothing a man likes better than to know that his sweetheart, his fiancée, his wife – is his alone. I hope, Sweetheart, that you have the same feeling about me.

23 September, 2011

23 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
23 September, 1944

My dearest one –

This is Heine, Kraut or just plain dirty Bosche writing paper which we acquired – but dammit – it is good writing material so I’m using some of it. There seems to be some controversy, by the way, over whether or not we’re allowed to state that we’re actually in Germany. Since I have seen nothing in writing saying we can’t – I’m writing that I am. Some of the censorship rules seem awfully silly to me. If we left our address blank – after having written France and the Belgium, it seems to me it would be quite obvious where we were now; however – as the Germans say “es machte nichts aus”.

Yesterday I got two swell much-needed letters from you, sweetheart – postmarked 8 and 9th September. Darling, you certainly seemed to take to heart what the papers had to say about demobilization – and although you said in your letter that you were trying hard to make me laugh but couldn’t, actually, darling – I did. Don’t worry, dear, even though the war isn’t over yet, we are sweating out the subject of demobilization already, but take it from me – what you read in the papers is a lot of hokum. I don’t think the Army has a plan and when it finally works one out, I see no reason at all why my outfit, or I, won’t get out just as soon as the others. With every passing month – our seniority over-seas is mounting – and that’s what will count most of all, I believe. There are thousands upon thousands of troops that hit England and France – after we did, remember. I think Time summed it up best when it concluded that – whatever the plan turns out to be – the chances seem to indicate that the newest soldiers will get out last. And anyway, dear, when I get back to the States – demobilized or not, we’ll get married immediately, wherever I happen to be stationed. Right?

22 September, 2011

22 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
22 September, 1944     0900
Dearest darling –

I’m trying to get an early start this morning in writing to you but it looks as if I’ll not have a smooth time of it because there are a lot of fellows around and everybody is talking and joking and in general – trying to prevent me from writing. I’m in the C.P. tent of Battery D – at the moment – but I think I’ll have to go outside if I ever expect to get this finished.

No mail came from battalion for me last night, dear, but I shouldn’t complain too much because I have heard from you quite regularly. In that connection, sweetheart, I intended to mention something to you about that before – namely your writing every day – now that you’re working every day. I realize dear that you have a pretty full schedule these days and that occasionally you have something or other to do of an evening. If you try to write every evening – you’ll get all tired out. I’d rather you didn’t write of an evening darling than to see you writing at midnight or past that – as you have done so often before, dear. Mind you – the more I hear from you – the more I love it – but you do have a job now and I’ll understand. It’s different with me, darling. Most days of the week I can get a letter off to you – at some hour of the day or night. Occasionally we make a move at an awkward hour – or something else turns up – and I can’t write, but ordinarily I can, I do – and I love to.

21 September, 2011

21 September 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
21 September, 1944        1730
Dearest sweetheart –

A busy day today – and I forgot to tell you yesterday that I am again visiting – or inspecting, and this time D battery. I stepped around all day today from early morning on – but I’ll be able to take it easy tomorrow. I got no mail here yesterday, but it’s possible there was some for me at battalion. I asked the mail clerk here to ask for my mail today. It was kind of lonesome here yesterday – not being with battalion and not hearing from you and it getting dark so early – etc. I do miss you awfully these long nights, sweetheart – possibly because we climb into our tents so early and have that much more time to realize what we’re missing. I don’t know what I’d do without this radio I just bought and despite the fact that it’s working fine – I’m waiting anxiously for my Dad to send me one. I’ll then sell this one and start off with a new one.

Incidentally – darling – a little news – about Pete. He has taken over C battery and if he stays with them – he will be battery commander and therefore will be eligible for a captaincy. I hope he does it. All for now, dearest – except I love you more each day, and never forget that! Love to the folks and to you –

My deepest love
Greg

20 September, 2011

20 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
20 September, 1944     1830
Dearest darling –

Germany, so far, looks just like any other country we’ve been in but – the people don’t. What a change just a boundary line can make! The towns along the border have taken a pasting and no one among the American soldiers seems to be sad over that fact. It has been a long time since Germany has been invaded. Maybe they will think things over next time. It’s a pleasure to go into someone’s field now and chew it all to hell and then leave – I used to feel sorry for the poor French and Belgians, but it’s so different now. As we ride through a small town – it seems strange not to see waving arms and broad smiles and gaily decorated streets. Instead, the people look sullen and only one person today smiled at us – he was in Priest’s clothing. An odd sight – all the white flags hanging out of many of the windows. Some are made of pillow cases, linen pieces with fancy edges, bed sheets – and even Turkish towels.

Today we saw the Seigfried line – or at least a part of it – and I was amazed at its simplicity. Certain it is – that so far – it has not been formidable and if the Allied progress has been slow – it has been due only to the ferocity of the German fighting rather than to the fortifications. Maybe it will be worse – deeper into Germany – but so far it is something that good propaganda was able to build up in the world’s mind – as something terrible and impregnable.

19 September, 2011

19 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
19 September, 1944       1835

My dearest darling –

I’ll have to write swiftly because it will be dark soon – and then complete blackout. This is so much different than maneuvers – by the way, dear. A stray or careless lighting of a match or lighter is often fatal here. The boys take no chances. They shoot and ask questions afterwards – particularly in the region where we’re at now – but don’t worry, darling. I’m taking good care of myself.

I was busy all day today, dear, and that accounts for my getting started so late in writing. Tomorrow I go to another battery for a 3 day inspection – and that should end my traipsing around for a spell. The territory around here is very beautiful and scenic – but one doesn’t travel along with the reckless abandon which was characteristic up to now. You have to watch out.

18 September, 2011

18 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
18 September, 1944        1130

Dearest fiancée –

I just got back from New Year’s services at a nearby hospital and I enjoyed it very much. There was only a small group of us – but a Captain from N.Y. carried on very well and we went through the whole series of prayers – there’s something about praying that is satisfying – and when the Services were over – I felt a great deal closer in spirit to you and the families. The Lord has been good to us darling, to have kept us for each other, despite the distance separating us and the dangers involved. I prayed today that He continue to favor us by watching over us.

Strangely enough, dear, the hospital I visited today was one which came overseas with us from N.Y. They were on the same ship – which, by the way, if I haven’t told you already, dear, was the Aquitania. I met 2 of the fellows who had occupied the same state-room as I and we had a nice chat – reminiscing. They spent all their time in England in one spot and landed in France about 10 days after we did – but this is the first time I’ve run into them. If we stay close to them for awhile – I’m going to see if they can use some more help.

Last nite it was cold and rainy and really quite miserable outside. But we had pitched our Medical Tent, made it light proof and lighted some candles. We have a gasoline lantern for it but it is not working at present. Well – you’d be surprised how warm candles can make a tent. We called the Colonel in and we had a swell game of bridge. It was the first time any of us had played since way back in the early days at England. The colonel – by the way – is a cracker-jack player and I’ve picked up quite a bit from him.

17 September, 2011

17 September 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
17 September, 1944      1800
Dearest darling Wilma –

Happy New Year to you sweetheart, – and to the family – and I hope this is the last one we have to spend apart from one another. Somehow dearest, I miss you awfully on the Holidays – and tonight is no exception. I sure could kiss and hug you to a fair-thee-well or is it fare-thee-well? In any respect – I’d love to be doing just that right now, dear – and very, very hard!

Excuse the V-mail, darling. This time it is not due to being hurried – but to the weather – which all day has been unpleasant. I waited until now – but I finally had to start because it will be dark soon. We went back on the old time – last nite and it now gets dark early.

16 September, 2011

16 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
16 September, 1944      1300
Dearest sweetheart –

I started to write you a V-mail because we’re off on a storm again – but we’ve been delayed for 30 minutes – so I started this. If I end abruptly, dear, you’ll know why.

I received one more letter from you – 22 August and very sweet and sentimental. We do see eye to eye, dear – and I don’t see how we can miss hitting off a very happy life together.

Yesterday p.m. I went looking for a radio and believe it or not, I found one. They are scarcer than anything you can imagine – especially battery sets. I found one – an R.C.A. and it plays well. I had to pay 4000 francs for it – that’s $80.00 and I’ve already been offered $20.00 profit by at least 3 different men. I’ve already written you I believe, darling, that I asked my father to get me one. If he has already done so – it is all right – because I can get rid of this one without any trouble at all. And besides – this one I have is for battery only and he may send me the combination type.

15 September, 2011

15 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
15 September, 1944       0950
My dearest sweetheart –

Nothing pleases me much more these days than letters from you in which you plan for the future. I do the same and it’s so comforting to realize that we think alike along important lines. The fact is we have several things already settled – and despite the fact that I’ve been away a long time, we were engaged through the mails etc. – we are closer and more settled than a good many couples who have known each other for years, got engaged and then wonder – what next? I’ve known dozens of such instances and so must you, no doubt.

Starting from the beginning – let’s take stock – so to speak. I know I love you, need you, want you and I’m positive you’re the kind of wife I’ve always wanted. You feel that I’ll make a good husband and I know you love me, dear. Well – that’s a good beginning and a necessary one. A good many couples get that far. How do we differ? Well – sweetheart – in the 1st place, I’ve got a job – or profession. That’s very important – because we’ve got to live and we’ll assume the job will give us security. I’ve had a crack at it and despite the war – it won’t be like starting new. What else? Well – we know where we’re going to settle down – i.e. – in Salem – so that’s another thing we don’t have to ponder over.

As I see it, darling, we have to decide the following: the actual date of our marriage, the actual spot where we’ll live and the site of my office – and dammit – that shouldn’t be too tough to take care of. And with those things settled we can sail right into a long and happy lifetime together.

14 September, 2011

14 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
14 September, 1944       1100
Dearest sweetheart –

First of all I answer your most recent letter 1st. I received a whole harvest of mail from you yesterday – the last dated 5 Sept. I think Drew Person will be wrong, darling, although the Lord knows – there’s no reason why the Germans should still be fighting. They are hopelessly licked. But Hitler will not quit unless I miss my guess. He will have to be destroyed 1st – either by himself or by someone else. Now – darling – “them’s” my news and mine alone. You know Army officers are not supposed to express military news unless they are entirely personal.

Secondly – and I should have put this first – Congratulations on your job. I knew you’d get it – if it were at all available. For I figured they must like you pretty well at R.C. – and why not? Anyway, dear, I am glad and I know it must be very satisfying to you to realize that you’re getting paid for your effort. And 37 bucks – to be common – is darn good salary. Hell – it’s about as much as I’m making! I really am happy for you, though, sweetheart – and proud, too!


13 September, 2011

13 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
13 September, 1944     1200
Dearest darling Wilma –

At last two letters from you – dated Aug 27th and 28th – and I was interested in your comments on the Germans and their tactics. You cannot imagine darling just how rotten they were until you speak to people who were a witness to the atrocities. I won’t go into details – because I don’t like to write such things – but it was terrible. And you can understand after a while how these people hate the Germans with such intensity. Last nite we were coming thru town at dusk; A crowd was gathered around a truck carrying a man with hands held high. There was jeering and taunting and I stopped to ask what was going on. The man was a collaborateur who was a tip-off man for the Gestapo. I asked what they were going to do to him and a woman said “What does one do to a traitor?” They were taking him off to shoot him and I didn’t feel the least bit sorry for him. The poor Belgians were having enough trouble as it was without having to put up with their own traitors.

Belgian Resistance workers
with a Nazi collaborator

In that connection – I met two Jewish gentlemen yesterday p.m. I was surprised because I didn’t think there were any around – but thisis a big city. Both showed me their identification cards – stamped with a large Jűde on it and their yellow stars of David which they had now taken off their coats. Again – the stories they told were horrible and they couldn’t speak too highly of the Belgians and how wonderful they had been in trying to protect them and others who were chased all over their country.

12 September, 2011

12 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
12 September, 1944      1000
Dearest sweetheart –

I was unable to write you yesterday because I was traveling most of the day, dear. I am now with another battery – visiting – this one is headed by Captain Morgan who is an old-timer with our outfit and an old friend. He’s got a swell wife and a cute baby. They live in New Jersey and after the war – we’ll have to look them up too.

George Morgan is a peculiar sort of fellow; he is either very morose and dull – or the exact opposite – he rarely strikes a medium. I’ve always gotten along with him – although many of the officers don’t. One thing about him – he always seems to end up with more adventures of one sort or another – than anyone else I’ve ever met up with dear – and that includes myself. Back in France he tied himself up with some of the Maquis – a band of about 60 men and two officers and they have followed him ever since. If his battery is near a wooded area where some Germans are known to be hiding – he sends the Maquis out and they hunt them down with a vengeance. When I arrived here late yesterday p.m. the 2 officers and Morgan were discussing the 8 German SS soldiers that had been shot in the last area. We had supper together – the officers eat with the battery – the 60 men eat off the land. They are all just what you’d imagine to be – a rough lot, oddly uniformed – with all sorts of guns, pistols, light machine guns and grenades – and all intent on one thing – killing Germans. They haven’t taken many prisoners – from what I can gather and they sure are looking forward to getting into Germany. This is, of course – only a small group – dear, but take it from me – all over Europe there are thousands like them – from France, Belgium, Holland Poland and Italy – following the American and British Army and ready to take some revenge for all they suffered. Almost anyone of them can tell a tale of atrocity from his home town and all you have read in the papers in past years – as far as I can see, darling, is true. The Germans are barbarians and even now – when they are not in the driver’s seat – they are continuing some vile acts.

11 September, 2011

11 September 1944

No letter today. Just this:

Route of the Question Mark


(A) Saint Gerard to (B) Romsée (55 miles)
7 to 11 September 1944

September 11... Romsee. It was near Liege, and the 90 mm's in the next field brought down a German plane the first night we were there. Capt ELLIS was injured in a fall from his motorcycle. We found a German warehouse and got ourselves a fine collection of blankets and mattresses. We had a shower near a coal mine, and one night we had ice cream.


10 September, 2011

10 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
10 September, 1944       1145
Dearest sweetheart –

It’s almost noon now – but I’ll get this started anyway because I expect to be kind of busy after lunch. We’ll probably be leaving this place tomorrow and we’ll all miss it because it certainly was a comfortable and luxurious spot.

We haven’t had any mail for a few days and because of the situation at the moment – I don’t think much of our mail has gone out recently. That means that you’ll probably be getting a bunch of these letters at one time, dear, so bear with me. (See you later)

Later… Yesterday I took the opportunity of taking a little trip to a city not too far away. I looked around for things to buy – but these cities have really been cleaned and you may think things are expensive in the States, but you should see the prices here. We – another officer and I went into a ladies’ store – or should I say a women’s apparel store? Anyway the price for a handkerchief, not laced or anything like that – came to three dollars, and these flimsy blouses that girls wear – sold for the equivalent of $25.00. The Prince – by the way – told us to beware of things made of cloth – that we might want to buy here because most of the articles are Ersetz and dissolve in warm water.

09 September, 2011

09 September 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
9 September, 1944       1000
Hello darling!

A shortie this morning because I have several things to take care of and a couple of them have to be done before noon. This is Saturday again – and they sure roll around; Saturdays – you know, dear – always mean a report due to the Chief Surgeon’s office.

Yesterday I took care of one of my boys in another battery who received a very nasty scalp wound. He’s lucky he wasn’t killed outright. There weren’t any hospitals around to send him to; so I took care of it myself – although conditions weren’t ideal. Have to run over to see how he’s doing today.

08 September, 2011

08 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
8 September, 1944       0930
Wilma darling –

At last a chance to write you early in the a.m. before I start chasing around. I don’t have a heck of a lot to do – but somehow the days whiz by. Last night I got a V- mail from you – dated 22nd Aug, and this morning – apparently part of the same mail – letters of the 24th and 25th. All were most welcome.

You were pretty nearly correct in your surmise about where I was when Paris was liberated and darling – from what I saw of it, there was really very little damage. It’s a beautiful city – but people here tell us that Brussels is just as pretty – on a smaller scale.

I really enjoy hearing about your work, dear – particularly – I like your enthusiasm. Nothing makes a job more interesting than a comprehension of what that job is – and I guess you know. Still – I wish you had had that vacation. You implied you might take a week off near the end of August – but I see no signs of it yet.

07 September, 2011

07 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
7 September, 1944       1800
My dearest fiancée –

I’ve just returned from being out all day and I thought I’d write you before ‘dining’ – Yesterday evening I heard from you via two letters – 14th and 17th August. It was good hearing from you, sweetheart – and I do love your letters. In one of your others – you mentioned Stan’s getting married. I wasn’t too surprised – because I know he wanted to very badly; but I hope he’s marrying for love and I hope he’s happy. I’m glad you sent his address because although I haven’t heard from him since April – I guess I ought to drop him a note and wish him luck. I do envy his ability to get married on whatever date he wishes – but I'll tell you this, dear – that is all I envy, because I know that I have the sweetest girl in the world waiting for me, and that I love her and want to marry her because I do, and because she’ll make the kind of wife I’ve always dreamed about – and for a hundred thousand other reasons. Darling – it’s been a long hard struggle waiting this thing out – and despite war etc., it has undoubtedly been more difficult for you than for me. Don’t think I don’t realize and don’t think I’ll ever forget what an angel you’ve been about it. It has really been an inspiration for me, darling, to know that despite the way you may feel at times – your spirit is always excellent when you write to me. I do appreciate it, dearest.

06 September, 2011

06 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
6 September, 1944       0930
My dearest darling –

I can’t remember when I last wrote you anything like a coordinated letter – although it was perhaps only 2 or 3 days ago. I hate to be repetitious and enthusiastic – but darling – one can’t have entered Belgium – as we did – among the first troops – and not be filled with a spirit never felt before. I can’t possibly write you what my reactions were – let alone try to describe those of the Belgians. They either felt the Nazis more bitterly or are more reactionary; Certainly they have taken up arms more quickly and are hunting down escaping Germans with more vigor than the French.

My driver and I had the fortune to enter a little village that had no troops of ours go thru. Ours was the first jeep they had seen. Crowds swarmed in front of us and asked if we were English, Canadian or American. When we told them we were the latter – the whole town cheered and the mayor or somebody broke thru the crowd, grabbed my hand and shouted “Goodbye!” Then everybody shouted “Goodbye” and started pumping our hands. By this time we were literally pulled out of the car and dragged into a large house. Out came the Burgundy and we drank. At this stage the babies are lifted up by their mothers and you get kissed on both cheeks (wish you were there, darling – you’d get kissed back) – then a line forms and you could stay there for hours – if you wished. In this case – we broke away and started to leave. As we came outside – the crowd cheered. When we got back to the jeep – this is the truth, darling – you could hardly see it for the flowers in and outside it. It was covered with them and the whole back of it – filled. Women and men, too, stood there laughing and crying and honestly, dear, I almost felt like crying myself. All the wasted time, our separation and longing for one another, my inability to do much medical work – all in that moment seemed worthwhile having gone thru – to be able to be part of an Army liberating an oppressed people. Like everyone else – I hardly know what I’m fighting for – but I know this – it is worth fighting for a cause that primarily, at least, frees people and makes them the equal of others. I’ll never forget that experience.

05 September, 2011

05 September 1944

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Belgium
5 September, 1944        1700

Dearest sweetheart –

Things are certainly happening swiftly here and we’re getting around. Yesterday was a thrilling day and the Belgians make the French seem apathetic – in contrast to their emotional reaction. Tomorrow I expect to have more time and I’ll try to write you in more detail, dear. I’m still with the battery – but going back to battalion soon. Speaking of batteries, reminds me – my radio has gone on the blink – and apparently for good – one of the transformers is gone and that can’t be repaired. I had the set down to a signal company and got the sad news. I’m lost without it and I’m going to write my dad today to do his darndest to get me one. It will have to be small, though, because they won’t let a large one go through, I imagine. One of the officers got one through the mail – not long ago.

04 September, 2011

04 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
4 September, 1944         0915

Dearest darling Wilma –

It hardly seems possible that today is Labor Day – although we did try our darndest last nite to make it a celebration. I’m with a battery now – joined them yesterday for 3 days; I like the six officers in this battery as a whole better than any other group. We always have had a lot of fun together. We moved to a new location and found a farmer who offered us a two room cottage to sleep in. The Germans had been in it the day before, but hadn’t stayed long enough to dirty it up. One room is a cozy kitchen and has a stove, table, several chairs etc. The building has shutters on it – so last nite, after we got settled – we closed the shutters, lined the cracks and procured a kerosene lamp. One of the boys dug out his ration of Scotch and gin and we proceeded to play cards. We started at 2200 and got through at 0300. We finished the Scotch – but only half finished the gin – all straight, of course. At midnite we made several toasts – and all I all it was a little attempt at remembering the Holiday at home.

03 September, 2011

03 September 1944

No letter today. Just this:


* TIDBIT *

about "Buzz Bombs"


V-1 Rocket at a launch site

The Route of the Question Mark mentioned that buzz bombs were heard overhead, heading for England, on 2 September 1944. Here is more about this device:

02 September, 2011

02 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
2 September, 1944      0640

My dearest sweetheart –

It has been a busy day and I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to write you, but I do hate to miss a day and just don’t feel right if I do. It’s impossible to tell you how much jumping around I’m doing. You’ll just have to take my word for it, darling. If my thought seems jumbled, it’s because I’m a little bit tired today. We got going at 0300 this morning and I haven’t stopped until just now. I was supposed to have gone to visit one of the batteries for another 3 day spell – but I was needed at battalion and I’ll go tomorrow instead – I expect.

In all the commotion, etc. – we were lucky enough to get some mail last nite – dated August 21st; there must be a whole week’s mail coming to us – because the last previous letter, sweetheart – was dated August 14th. I also heard from Eleanor, Dad A, two friends of mine in Italy and Charlie Wright. The latter, by the way, misses this outfit one helluvalot. He’s been returned to full duty and is now at Fort Dix. The two fellows in Italy have been overseas ever since the African landing and they’re mighty fed up with things – for which I don’t blame them one bit. I’m fed up and am a comparative rookie against them. It sure does get me mad to think of those fellows who still have soft jobs in the States – I mean in the Army or Navy. I’m not angry at them, really, dear – just at the idea. I do miss you so, sweetheart, and I know you miss me too – and it just hurts to realize that we have to be apart so long. We can’t do a damned thing about it – I know – but it is so aggravating and depressing at times. I pray only you don’t get too tired and discouraged in waiting. Please don’t, darling. I promise you we’ll make up for lost time; I love you strongly and deeply enough to be able to make that promise good – I know dear.

01 September, 2011

01 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
France
1 September, 1944      0900

My dearest sweetheart –

September morning and the Germans can’t have much more fight left in them – as I see it. I don’t know what constitutes a rout or what doesn’t – but when you chase the hell out of someone and he can’t stop long enough to give a fight – that’s good enough for me. And that’s what is happening every day over here, darling. After those first several weeks of tough, slow going in Normandy, we never dreamed that we’d ever travel this way – but here we are.

The following snapshots were actually taken on 31 August 1944
Greg - "13 km from Chateau-Thierry
August 1944"

"Chateau Thierry - August 1944
From hill on the outskirts showing the River Marne"