06 October, 2011

06 October 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
6 October, 1944         1030
Dearest sweetheart –

Another day another dollar and a day nearer my return. I got 2 more letters from you – the latest written the 24th. I also heard from Lieutenant Alexander. I get a kick out of that – knowing I have a brother who is an officer in this man’s army. He wrote his letter before graduation – so I don’t know yet how that came off. He knew his orders, however, and as far as they went – they’re not bad. I’m anxious for him to remain on the East coast and away from the Pacific. He’ll be able to get home of a week-end now and then and that will make Mother A feel a little it better.

So you were a stay-out late, huh! I don’t blame Mother B for waiting up for you. Hell – I can’t remember staying up so late since I don’t know when – oh yes; just the other night, dear, when we had a brawl. Other than that – only when enemy planes keep us up. Anyway – I’m glad you had a good time at Verna’s I don’t know Harold Shapiro – although I had heard him mentioned at Irv’s.


I’m interested at your reference to the conversation about Stan and Betty. The thing that interests me most is the fact that all of Stan’s closest and best friends seem to have discovered his bad points – all in the same period. I don’t quite understand it – because in all the time I’ve known Stan, I’ve never heard anything bad about him. And here is Irv mentioning his bad points. I’m confused also about their feeling badly about the match – I though Betty and Verna were such good friends. Oh well – it’s human nature I guess and that’s that. I do hope for Stan’s sake that it all turns out well. He’s had a pretty tough time of it all in all – and to his credit – he made the most of his opportunities. I think he’ll probably make a faithful husband – if his wife turns out decent. If not – I think he’ll wander, and that won’t be good.

I had never heard of the book ”Generations of Vipers” – and I don’t know Phillip Wylie. He sounds as if he had had some tough break or other with doctors and has sought vengeance thru the medium of a book. But thanks, darling, for defending the profession. People, professions, business – on the whole – have quite a mixture of good and bad points. I sincerely believe that there is less of the ‘bad’ in the medical profession than in any other. Willingly or not – there’s a good deal of sacrifice, free work, free counsel – and there isn’t a doctor I know who doesn’t get a thrill out of doing something constructive for a patient.

Say – I wish you wouldn’t smoke so much, dear. Now – your Mother isn’t around – so I can speak freely. The fact is – too much of it doesn’t do your lungs any good – and it definitely cuts down on your wind. I don’t want you gasping for breath after one of my special 12-15 minute kisses, Sweetheart. On the other hand – maybe I do!

Thanks again – for your effort in trying to get me a radio, darling. I had no idea it would be so difficult. Now I’m really glad I managed to get one in Liege – even if I did have to pay $80 for it. The one I have plays well.

It is again almost noon – dear – and I’ll stop here. I love you, darling – so very much and miss you terribly. I feel terrible about the delay in mail to you – but you know anyway – that I’m continuing to write constantly – come hell or high water. Love to the folks –

And my everlasting love –
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about The Huertgen Forest in Early October
and The First Attack on Schmidt

Most of what follows was published as "The Battle of Huertgen Forest" at historynet.com.
If a single word can cause a U.S. Army veteran of the European theater to shudder, it would be "Huertgen". The foreboding image of dark forests, steep hills, voracious mud, pillboxes, constant rain and shells bursting in treetops immediately comes to mind. It was the sort of battlefield where soldiers walked a few feet from their foxholes and were never seen again.  What little has been written about Huertgen has often focused on the November 1944 battles involving the 28th Infantry Division and has ignored the horrible prelude to the "Bloody Bucket's" mauling, which occurred over 10 days in October.

The struggle for the 50 square miles of heavily wooded and hilly terrain south of Aachen actually began in mid-September. With their supply line stretched to the breaking point, the Allies' rapid advance through France had finally slowed down at the Siegfried Line, the formidable defensive belt that blocked Germany's western border and guarded the entrance to the Ruhr Valley. Hoping to seize Aachen and establish a firm breach in the Siegfried Line before winter's onset, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, commanding VII Corps, ordered Maj. Gen. Louis A. Craig's 9th Infantry Division to seize the villages of Hürtgen and Kleinhau. After some initial progress, the American drive stalled when two of Craig's regiments were diverted north to assist the 3rd Armored Division, which was embroiled in a brutal battle at the Aachen suburb of Stolberg.

In early October, Craig was ordered to resume his attack in the Huertgen Forest. Now, however, he would have to do so minus his 47th Infantry Regiment, which remained in support of the 3rd Armored, and with understrength units sent from the fighting around Aachen. To further complicate matters, Collins made it clear that the 9th Division's effort was regarded only as secondary — supporting the Allies' main attack at Aachen. That meant Craig would be at the bottom of the list for reinforcements, artillery or air support, though the general took some comfort knowing he was not expected to begin his assault until three days after VII Corps began its renewed push toward Aachen.

The villages of Germeter and Vossenack, as well as the crossroads settlement of Reichelskaul, were designated as the 9th Division's initial objectives. Lieutenant Colonel Van H. Bond's 39th Infantry Regiment would attack on the left. Once it had occupied Germeter, the 39th would seize Vossenack while guarding against an enemy counterattack from the north. Meanwhile, after capturing Reichelskaul, Colonel John G. Van Houten's 60th Infantry Regiment would reorient itself to the south to guard against a German counterthrust from the direction of Monschau. The division would then push on against the town of Schmidt. Jump-off time was originally set for October 5 but was later postponed for 24 hours.

What the Americans did not know was that hidden in the woods were thousands of German soldiers eager for an opportunity to administer a strong counterblow that would blunt the Allied drive into the Third Reich.

On October 1, Germany's LXXIV Army Corps directed Maj. Gen. Hans Schmidt to take over the entire Huertgen sector. Schmidt deployed Col. Schmitz's GR 983 (Grenadierregiment, or infantry regiment) in reserve while assigning the northern sector to Col. Heintz's GR 984. The center was allocated to Lt. Col. Tröster's GR 942, while the southern sector was the responsibility of Colonel Feind's 1,000-man Battalion 253, which was placed along the weakest portion of the line.

Each Grenadierregiment was almost a miniature division allowing its Oberst or Colonel considerable freedom of action in achieving their objectives. It had the usual three infantry battalions plus an infantry gun company, an anti-tank company, a pioneer platoon, and a reconnaissance platoon. The infantry gun company had three platoons each: two light 7.5cm infantry guns and one platoon of heavy 15cm infantry guns. These weapons gave the regimental commander his own artillery, even when the divisional weapons were unavailable. Because they operated well forward with the infantry, the infantry guns were also useful for direct fire at fortified positions. The anti-tank company started the war with four platoons of three 3.7cm guns apiece. Experience in France had already revealed the limitations of this small gun, so by 1942 most regiments were supposed to have one platoon equipped with heavier guns. Although these were supposed to be the 5cm anti-tank gun, there was a serious shortage of these weapons so many divisions found themselves issued the 7.5cm instead.
German Guns
7.5cm Infantry Gun
15cm Infantry Gun

7.5cm Anti-Tank Gun
3.7cm Anti-Tank Gun

The Americans knew few of these details when they began their attack. at 1000 hours on October 6. Craig opened with P-47's dive-bombing at otherwise invisible targets that U.S. artillery units had marked with columns of red smoke. Once the planes departed, there was a five-minute preparatory heavy artillery barrage. At 1130 the U.S. foot soldiers began surging forward.

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