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.


I don’t know what we’d do were I at home, dear, but we’d be together – that’s certain and that’s all that would have mattered. I was amused, darling, at one of your recent letters. (day before yesterday I got mail of the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th August.). In it you stated that visiting and entertaining etc. would be all right – but only after a while; first we’d be alone for a spell. Well, sweetheart, that suits me fine because personally, I’m a home loving type of fellow and with you to spend my time within a place of our own – the only reason I’d want to go out – would be to make a call or go to the hospital. For years – the one thing I’ve wanted was a place of my own – to live in and relax in with someone I loved. I’ve missed that a great deal, dear, and I know that with you to help me make a home – we’ll have just that.

"Beaumont, Belgium - September 1944
Battalion Headquarters. Officers slept on 2nd floor.
Our German Red Cross car can be seen to the right."

"Belgium - September 1944
Gateway to house at Beaumont where
Command Post for battalion was"

I meant to tell you this a couple of days ago – but I keep forgetting. I was able to get hold of a beautiful French clock – mantle-piece style. It’s the typical style – with heavy base and fancy figures – but not too gaudy. The only trouble, dear, is getting it home to you. Right now it is impossible for this reason: all mailing of packages to the States has been canceled except personal objects of a soldier – e.g. a wrist-watch to be repaired – etc. Apparently the APO had been swamped with packages and just can’t handle it anymore. Perhaps this may be canceled later. Even if it is, dear, I wonder how I could mail the clock – it’s so damned heavy. But anyway – I’ve got a clock and I’ll hold on to it as long as I possibly can – even if I have to lug it back to the States myself.

Here is a picture of that clock!

I was interested in your thoughts about marriage and getting to know one another. The way I feel about it is this, dear – you never really get to know a person until you’ve married the person – no matter how long you know him or her. Since that is so – you finally reach a stage when you feel you know a person well enough to love the person and therefore to marry her. Some take a long time to find out and some not so long. Of course – mistakes are made – but I found out in a short time that I loved you and wanted to marry you and my judgment has been good in the past. No, darling, I haven’t the least doubt in my mind that I want to marry you and pronto – on my return. I admit events of last fall do get hazy in my mind, dear but that’s natural. I feel, nevertheless, that we can take up where we left off, and if we had enough confidence in each other to become engaged – we must have really felt we knew each other. It will be a great adventure, sweetheart, and I’m looking forward to it with all the expectation a man can possess.

It’s getting noisy around here now, dear – not from guns though – but from the fellows – so I’d better stop. I do hope you’re spending a pleasant week-end and God willing – we’ll be together next year on this Holiday. My love to the folks – and

My everlasting love, dear
Greg

P.S. This battery is the one Pete is in and he sends his love.
L.
G.


Route of the Question Mark

(A) Clermont-les-Fermes, France to (B) Beaumont, Belgium (58 miles)
2 to 4 September 1944

September 4... Beaumont, Belgium. A city in another foreign country. Our CP was a modern looking chateau commanding a sweeping view of a valley. There was a pony on the lawn that no one could ride. The Belgians gave us little pins with their national colors attached to them. We hauled prisoners here in a big way and 1st Sgt KOWALSKI and Capt SILVIS came in with a hot rumor that the war was over. No such luck!

[Note from FourthChild: Stanley F. Kowalski passed away at the age of 78 on 5 January 1991. He was laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, California.]

* TIDBIT *

about The Pause of VII Corps in Belgium

While the 9th Division and the strongly reinforced 4th Cavalry Group swung east to probe crossings of the Meuse River, the attack of the 3rd Armored Division was temporarily halted near Mons by lack of fuel for its vehicles. The supply lines which furnished food, gasoline, and ammunition to the troops dashing across Europe were getting longer and longer, and in spite of every effort to move these very necessary items up more quickly, the trucks on the "Red Ball" highways could carry only a portion of what was needed. Units had to economize in using their vehicles and troops fed on captured German rations. So the Spearhead was stalled while the Corps collected the gasoline to move it.

As Major General Clarence R. Huebner's Fighting First Division moved north to relieve the armor around Mons, it encountered large numbers of enemy troops marching east, apparently unaware of the presence of American forces in the area. Long columns of motor vehicles and horse-drawn equipment approached from the west, and both 1st and 3d Armored Divisions were heavily engaged. Here was the German Seventh Army, retiring under orders to occupy the Siegfried Line and to keep the American forces out of Germany.

By noon on September 4, the situation in and around Mons had become partially stabilized. 1st Infantry Division was systematically rounding up prisoners. Having waited at Mons for more fuel, the 3rd Armored Division was ordered forward again, Namur being the new objective. Combat Command A of the division reached Namur, taking a route south of Jemeppe which took them through Binche and Charleroi on the way, while Combat Command B advanced further south. One damaged bridge was discovered intact at Namur and engineers built another one across the Meuse, so that by dawn both spans were ready for division traffic. Most of the division was again brought to a halt for lack of fuel.

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