02 September, 2011

02 September 1944

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

I can’t tell you much about what’s going on that you’re not reading in the papers. We’ve been in the Champagne country and before the Germans were here – it must have flowed like water. For example – one of my boys had a birthday yesterday and I went out to get champagne for him. I had to pay 75 francs ($1.50) for a full bottle – 25 years old and get this, dear – if I returned the bottle – I got 30 francs back. I got 6 bottles. The stuff is wonderful. They dig it up from the cellars – cobwebby etc and then put on the labels. I’m enclosing one I got from the dealer.

How I can talk about champagne and things like that I don’t know. But if I told you how much I really missed you and wanted you, sweetheart – it would only make you sad. Believe me when I say you mean everything in the world to me, dear, and until I’m near you again – I’ll not be fundamentally happy.

I’ll have to stop now, darling. Love to the folks and

My everlasting love

P.S. I didn’t get a chance to return the bottles. We moved.

Route of the Question Mark

(A) Charly-sur-Marne to (B) Clermont-ler-Fermes (73 miles)
31 August to 2 September 1944

September 2... Clermont les Fermes. The Polish farmers lived here and there was a celebration in the village to honor the Americans, and the Mayor made a speech. This was the first time any of the Polish speaking members of the battery were able to speak to civilians, for all these people spoke Polish, not French. Here for the first time we heard buzz bombs going over our heads on the way to England.


about The Movement of VII Corps into Belgium

VII Corps troops crossed the international boundary into Belgium on September 2nd in an attack that carried as far as 25 miles (40 kms) in some sectors of the Corps zone. Armored elements reached Mons, meeting only scattered rear guard action. Where was the German Seventh Army? The events of the next three days answered that question with a reply that nearly wrecked the plans of the German High Command.

The 2nd Armored Division "Hell on Wheels" web site includes this excerpt from Don Marsh's Pursuit to Belgium and Holland:
On 2 September 1944, at 0930 hours,the 82nd Reconnaissance Battalion of the 2nd Armored Division crossed the French-Belgian border astride the Orchies-Tournai Road near Rumes in force, becoming the first of the Allied Ground Forces to enter Belgium. Eleven minutes later, Combat Command ”A”, now commanded by newly promoted, Brigadier General John H. “Peewee” Collier arrived representing the largest force to enter at that hour. Major General Edward Brooks followed right behind the 82nd Reconaissance Battalion. When Brooks came upon Lt. Col. Wheeler Merriam, 82nd Reconaissance Commanding Officer, stopped with his A and B Companies to refuel, he asked Merriam why he had stopped short with his advance, only to be told by Merriam that they were already ten miles inside the Belgium border.

Afterwards we learned that late that same afternoon, 2 September, at 1630 hours, the 3rd Armored Division entered Belgium. Major General Maurice Rose graciously permitted Brigadier General Doyle Hickey, one of his Combat Commanders, to be the first of that unit to cross the border; mistakenly under the impression that they were the first to cross the border. When the Belgium government recognized the 2nd Armored Division as the first to enter and liberate their country, they erected a monument on the spot, and they awarded the full division the Belgian Fourragere on 22 May 1945, ending that sibling rivalry and dispute about being “first.”

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