15 September, 2011

15 September 1944

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

I’ve analyzed the situation in matter of fact terms, I know – dear – but I see no harm in that. I just want you to feel that when you’re planning things – that you’ve got something to back up your planning. All we need now, sweetheart, is an end of the war and a speedy return home!

The enclosed snaps, dear, speak for themselves – and don’t tell me I cut my hair too short! A good many of us, by the way, have gone all summer with hair practically all off.

Darling – of course I was jealous when I read about your ‘date’ – but as long as he’s going to China or some place – I don’t mind too much. I guess you know I’m a jealous sort of person, dear – but with reason, I hope. I believe you once told me you were jealous by nature – although you’ve never actually shown it to me.

Although I don’t know Mr. Tofias – I’m very sorry to read about his heart trouble. He undoubtedly had more than just angina – probably a Coronary Thrombosis. From what you’ve written about him in the past – he sounds like a pretty swell guy – and I do hope that for his own sake and that of his family – he pulls thru. Who is taking care of him, by the way?

I had gathered in the past that Nancy and the Rowes didn’t hit it off too well. That’s too bad – of course I’ve known about Verna and the Fines right from the start. Verna made Irv feel quite badly in the early days – by the way she treated – or responded to his folks. No doubt there are two sides to the story – but it’s unfortunate nevertheless. I do hope and pray our set-up will be different. I kind of think it will. I’m not too difficult to get along with, neither are you – and neither are our folks. In addition to all that – we’ll be 20 miles away – which for most young couples – is a good thing. Anyway – that’s one thing I’m not worrying about, dear.

Darling – I’ll have to stop now and do some work. I’ve got to hand in a report on my 3 day inspection with C Battery. Keep your spirits up, sweetheart, enjoy your job while it lasts – because I’ll be coming home and taking you away from it one of these days – and then we’ll be together for always. Love to the folks and

All my sincerest love,


about The Rhineland Campaign Plans

The red dashed line shows the Allied position on 15 September 1944. [Click to enlarge]
The red colored areas show the Siegfried Line.
The long blue river from Holland to Switzerland is the Rhine.
Allied Armies and Generals are in Blue Boxes, Germany's are in Red.

From Rhineland, a U.S. Army Center for Military History brochure written by Ted Ballard comes this information:
In September 1944, the long-awaited final victory over Nazi Germany seemed close at hand for the Allies. In the East, the Red Army moved inexorably towards the German frontier. In the skies over the Third Reich and the occupied countries, Allied air power wreaked havoc on the Wehrmacht, German industry, and lines of communication. In the West, three Allied army groups stretched from the North Sea to Switzerland-poised for the final assault against the Nazi homeland.

The mood in General Dwight D. Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), was almost euphoric. General Eisenhower's intelligence officer predicted that victory in Europe was "within sight, almost within reach." The First Army chief of intelligence was even more optimistic, declaring that it was unlikely that organized German resistance would continue beyond 1 December 1944. Others, however, believed that the Germans remained unbeaten. Col. Oscar W. Koch, the Third Army intelligence officer, was convinced that the German Army, far from being routed, was playing for time and preparing for a "last-ditch struggle in the field at all costs."

Events soon proved Koch correct. Instead of a quick dash into the heart of Germany, what awaited General Eisenhower's armies was an exhausting campaign in horrid weather against a foe whose determination was steeled by the belief that he was fighting for the very survival of his homeland. As SHAEF plotted its next moves, 200,000 workers frantically labored to strengthen the German West Wall defenses, and the Wehrmacht prepared to contest the Allied advance in places like Arnhem, Aachen, the Huertgen Forest, Metz, and the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. The Rhineland Campaign was about to begin.

Montgomery, Bradley, and Patton agreed that the enemy was in disarray and that the time was ripe to exploit his confusion with bold action. Montgomery argued for "one really powerful and full-blooded thrust toward Berlin," by his army group, as a quick, sure way to end the war. To support his coup de grace, the British commander wanted Eisenhower to halt operations in the south and concentrate all available resources in the 21 Army Group. Bradley and Patton, equally anxious to make the main Allied effort, wanted to rush three corps across the Rhine near Wiesbaden, Mannheim, and Karlsruhe to force a rapid conclusion to the conflict. Eisenhower, in personal command of the forces on the European continent since 1 September, remained unconvinced that victory would be so simple. Worried that Germany still had substantial reserves, he believed that a single "pencil like thrust" into the German heartland would certainly be destroyed; instead, Eisenhower favored stretching the enemy everywhere. Enemy resistance, he pointed out, had clearly stiffened as the Allies approached the German frontier, and Allied logistical difficulties had become steadily more critical.

The rapid advance had taken its toll on both men and materiel, while the absence of a major port in the north created severe shortages, particularly in fuel. Indeed, the drive toward Germany was clearly stalling for want of adequate logistical support. Most of the supplies and reinforcements for Eisenhower's forces were still coming ashore across the invasion beaches, a precarious situation given the vulnerability of these unsheltered facilities to bad weather in the English Channel. Although the excellent port of Antwerp had been captured virtually intact on 4 September, it remained unusable because the Germans still controlled the Schelde estuary, the sixty-mile-long waterway that linked Antwerp with the sea, and thus blocked access to the harbor. The Mediterranean French ports had also fallen into Allied hands, but would take time to rehabilitate, as would the entire French rail and road system. With fuel and ammunition running critically short, Allied offensive power was limited.

Eisenhower directed that Montgomery, recently promoted to field marshal, take his 21 Army Group, along with part of the U.S. 12th Army Group and the First Allied Airborne Army, and push over the Rhine in the north. He charged the 12th Army Group (composed of the First, Third and newly operational Ninth Armies) with capturing Brest (in western France) and executing a limited attack to divert German forces southward until Montgomery had established his bridgehead over the Rhine. After the northern bridgehead was secured, the Third Army would advance through the Saar Valley and establish its own crossing sites. Eisenhower also tasked Montgomery to clear the approaches to Antwerp, thereby opening that vital port for Allied use. After securing the bridgeheads across the Rhine, the Allies would seize the Ruhr and concentrate forces for the final drive into Germany.

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