16 October, 2011

16 October 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
16 October, 1944         1000
Dearest darling Wilma –

I am a good business man, regardless of what Arthur had to say. I was good enough to become engaged to you with the Atlantic Ocean separating us and that’s a heck of a lot better than some fellows could do who were near you! And furthermore, I never leave undone what I’ve started and you can tell him that also.

You perhaps gather by now, darling that I received one of your October letters. I did – last night – that written October 2nd. That’s my most recent one from you and in it you make reference to some pictures I sent you. I was glad to read that, dear, because I had been wondering the past few days whether or not they had gotten by the censors. Apparently some did, anyway. I didn’t think they were so swell, by the way, that they needed a magnifying glass to see them – but I hope it helps you see what you want, sweetheart.

I get a real kick out of your “ups” and “downs” in moods – in relation to the war situation, but from what I hear the other fellows discussing, the girl friends, fiancées and wives at home are all feeling about the same way. I think it would be a whole lot better if they just let you have the news – without the Pearsons and the Winchells and the Swings to interpret them. If you ask me – they’ve all been wrong about a half a dozen times now, and despite all their sources of news – none of them has been here and seen a fanatic SS soldier in action, or a frightened German civilian who has been brow-beaten into resisting. I’ve seen that, dear, as so many other soldiers over here have – and I know why the war is continuing. It will continue as long as Hitler is in power with his Himmler troops. As soon as they are beaten to a pulp by the same kind of toughness they’ve dished out – the war here will end. I don’t believe anyone in Germany could organize a revolt at this moment. Our boys here are giving them plenty of hell, though, don’t forget that. It’s just a question now whether the German tough guys can take it as well as they’ve dished it out. I’ve seen plenty of them come in whimpering – the pick of the crop, too – and their first question is – “When do we get shot?” That’s why they’re fighting now – because they have the fear of God in them and thank that God that we’re able to put that fear into them. I know Sweetheart that the war must be dragging terribly for you at home – but, darling, I wish I could do something about it. I know too that you must be lonely and fed up and honestly, I don’t’ blame you one bit – for with all the hardships that we occasionally have to put up with here – the fact is that the excitement helps pass the time. Are you getting out enough, dear? Do you think it would be better if you accepted a date or two? Mind you, sweetheart, I’m terribly jealous and the thought would kill me – but damn it – I am a reasonable man and I know what you’re putting up with.

Another thing that worries me is my mother. I know that she is fundamentally well – and yet her sensitivity, her acute feeling of being responsible for everything, her worry for me and now for Lawrence, I presume – makes her suffer more than if she had a definite ailment. I hate to think of it because she is – my mother or not – a darned nice person. When you write that she was disappointed about your not coming over of an evening, dear, I can just see her. Why she is like that – I don’t know. I know of so many mothers-in-law – intended or actual, who would merely shrug their shoulders and not let it bother them. Are you still in touch with her daily, darling? I know how busy you are these days, but if you knew how much it meant to her – as I guess you do. I’m only asking because you used to write that you did and now you mention it only now and then. My folks love you as their own, sweetheart, I know that, in whatever homey way they may express it and I’m so anxious that the tie between you remains very very close.

Incidentally – unlike most sons – I’m not immune to some of the faults my folks have. I guess all of us have some. I know that were we living together, you and I, we’d probably talk of a whole lot of things we don’t discuss now by letter. I’ve intended mentioning this before but I always forget. What I mean is this, dear, I want our separation not to interfere with our exchange of ideas. You’ve told me nothing but nice things about my folks; you know them a whole lot better now. What are their faults – in your eyes? Don’t get me wrong, sweetheart – I’m not looking for trouble. I merely want us all to know and understand each other as much as we can while I’m away – I don’t want to waste one minute when I return!

Boy – what a long winded bunch of words. Excuse it, darling – just felt like rambling. I’ve got to hurry now without a chance to read this over. Maybe if I did – I’d cross out some of it. Anyway – the important thing is that I love you terribly, darling, and I must have you for my own some day! Be well, dear – love to the folks and
My everlasting love,


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

From HistoryNet's Battle of the Hurtgen Forest comes this:

Schmidt planned on renewing the counterattack on October 13, but orders from German LXXIV Army Corps directed the immediate removal of all officer candidates from the combat zone, which cut in half what remained of Wegelein's unit. While he reorganizing his unit, the 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry, launched an attack of its own against Wegelein's troops. K Company led the effort, trailed by L Company. As the latter moved up on line, both of its leading platoons were ambushed and wiped out. K Company maneuvered to attack the enemy facing L Company while the 1st Battalion sent B and C companies into the fight. Another counterattack inflicted heavy losses on the right platoon of Dunlap's company, but the American advance continued.

At 1730 hours, a German bearing a white flag approached B Company and requested a brief cease-fire while his unit prepared to surrender. Dunlap sent the man back with a message that he would hold his fire for five minutes. When the German emissary did not reappear within the stated time, B Company resumed its advance, only to run into a torrent of small-arms fire. It was now almost dark, and the enemy seemed to be on all sides. Fearing that his exhausted company was losing its cohesion, Dunlap ordered his men to fall back a short distance and dig in.

Facing four enemy battalions at Raffelsbrand, the 1st Battalion, 60th Infantry, was experiencing its own difficulties. Just before dawn, a surprise German attack seized a pillbox occupied by C Company. Although the seven GIs inside were able to escape, a counterattack by 30 men was unable to regain the position. Three Sherman tanks and two infantry companies eventually arrived to lend a hand, but even with those reinforcements, a heavy crossfire from several machine guns prevented the Americans from making any progress. One of the tanks was hit by an antitank rocket that wounded several men and forced the crew to evacuate the vehicle. A daring German soldier then ran out to the tank and drove it behind a nearby pillbox before the Americans could react. With this, the Americans lost all momentum, and at 1730 hours they began to fall back, suffering heavy casualties from enemy artillery and mortar fire.

That evening Wegelein went to Schmidt's headquarters to protest orders for a renewed advance on the morning of October 14, stating that communications to his battalions and companies were so poor there was a risk that all units might not receive a regimental order. Schmidt replied that he would accuse Wegelein of cowardice if he did not resume his attacks. Determined to show that he was no coward, Wegelein spent a busy night personally delivering the orders to his units. He still had more visits to make as the sun rose on the 14th. At 0800 hours, however, the colonel was shot and killed by a sergeant from the U.S. 39th Infantry, and his regimental adjutant was captured moments later.

The fighting sputtered on and off for two more days, but it was clear that both sides were too exhausted to achieve significant results. At a cost of 4,410 casualties, the Americans succeeded in pushing their front line an average of 3,500 yards to the east. Non-battle losses (sickness, injury, etc.) for American units totaled nearly 1,000. The toll for the defenders was also high — approximately 2,000 killed or wounded and 1,308 prisoners.

After breaking off the offensive, Collins made the questionable claim that the sacrifices of Craig's men had drawn off German units that could have been thrown into the battle for Aachen. Although it is true that 19 German infantry and engineer battalions opposed six American infantry battalions, many of the defending units were much smaller than their counterparts. In any case, though the Huertgen fighting might have prevented some German units from being sent to Aachen, their redeployment would not have altered that city's eventual fate.

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