01 September, 2011

01 September 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
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"

"The Marne - August 1944
Not far from Chateau Thierry"

"Near Charly-sur-Marne - August 1944
Old doctor's house used as German Hq a few
days before our Command Post for 2 days"

"Champagne, Beer and Boat House - August 1944
on the way to Chateau Thierry 11 kilometers away"

"Monument commemorating last war
Outside Chateau Thierry - August 1944"

"Monument near Chateau Thierry - August 1944
Germans had left the area 2 days before.
French were getting ready to put up
American and French flags."

The day before yesterday was the last time I had a couple of hours to myself, dear, and I went over to visit one of the estates of Rothschild – Maurice, I believe. The entrance to it led through a forest and by a lake and then you go up a long driveway and you’re there. You can’t see all of the building from one spot because it stretches out in two directions. We entered – cautiously – because it had been a German Hq. as recently as the day before; some Maquis were still hunting for them on the grounds and in the cellar. From the moment I entered and went into room after room – I was awestruck. It was certainly the most fabulously ornate place I had ever been in and the realization that it was a home of the Rothschilds – made it more impressive, of course. We spent about two hours looking over the place and then had to return.

The towns we are hitting now – have been passed thru so swiftly by American infantry and tanks – that when we stop for a nite or two – the people overwhelm us with enthusiasm. In this particular section, we seem to be hitting the champagne country. A couple of officers bought champagne – 30 yrs old – last nite for 115 francs ($2.30) which is pretty cheap, it seems to me. Still on the lookout for fresh eggs – I went across the street from where we’re staying – because I saw some hens. I was invited in by a very friendly woman and her husband – and out came the white wine. As usual – they wanted to know if I were married and of course I explained about my fiancée; as usual – I showed them your picture, sweetheart and as usual they said “très jolie, très charmant, très gentile.” I always agree, dear, and with emphasis! I have shown your picture, now, to a good many Frenchmen and women and I might as well give you the score. Without exception – they pick your college picture as showing you to be younger than the other side of the folder picture – the one with you sitting down. They guess your age to be between 19 and 21 – which always makes me laugh. They always want to know why I laugh and I always ask “Alors – si ma fiancée a vingt ans, combien des ans ai-je, croyez-vous?” And, sweetheart – I swear I’m telling the truth – the average age they pick me to be is 25. Now I don’t know whether it’s because you’re so young – they expect me to be also – or because I look it. I’m pretty sure it’s the former. Anyway I always tell them I’m 32 and I ask if I’m too old for you and they say – 100% – not at all! So I guess everything is all right, darling. Boy! I can see you squirm – at that!

Gosh would I love to see you and hold you and kiss you, sweetheart! It’s been kind of bad the past several days – but I’m promising you a tough struggle when I get back, dear. That’s fair warning!!

That’s all for now, sweetheart; I’m off to look for a trailer for our truck. We’re kind of crowded – with the new officer’s luggage et al. Hope all is well at home, darling. My love to the folks and to you.

My sincerest love, dear

P.S. I got 4 eggs


about The Battle of Chateau-Thierry (1918)

From Wikipedia comes this summary of the the World War I battle of Chateau Thierry and the memorial built to commemorate that fight:
The Battle of Château-Thierry was fought on 18 July 1918 and was one of the first actions the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) under General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing. It was a battle in World War I as part of the Second Battle of the Marne, initially prompted by a German offensive launched on 15 July against the newest troops on the front, the AEF.

On the morning of 18 July 1918, the French (some of them colonial) and American forces between Fontenoy and Château-Thierry launched a counter-assault against the Germa positions. This assault on a 25 mile (40 km) wide front was the first for over a year. The American army played the larger role fighting for the regions around Soissons and Château-Thierry. The allied forces had managed to keep their plans a secret, and their attack at 04:45 took the Germans by surprise when the troops went "Over the Top" without a preparatory artillery bombardment, but instead followed closely behind a rolling barrage which began with great synchronized precision. Eventually, the two opposing assaults (lines) inter-penetrated and individual American units exercised initiative and continued fighting despite being nominally behind enemy lines.

After World War I, a memorial was built on Hill 204, 2 miles (3 km) west of the town for which it is named. The Chateau-Thierry Monument, designed by Paul P. Cret of Philadelphia, was constructed by the American Battle Monuments Commission "to commemorate the sacrifices and achievements of American and French fighting men in the region, and the friendship and cooperation of French and American forces during World War I."

This dramatic "Monuments aux Morts" (monument to the dead) in Chateau Thierry, by Achille Jacobin in 1928, is one of many throughout France.

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