31 October, 2011

31 October 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
31 October, 1944       1530

My dearest darling Wilma –

I don’t recall ever having used the expression before, but anyway – Happy Halloween, dear. I didn’t know whether I’d get a chance to write you or not today, but here I am at B battery, having arrived here about half an hour ago. All is quiet at the moment, and I found myself alone and with the opportunity to write. I had waited around all morning for the money to come in so that I could pay off the men, but I got tired of waiting and took off.

Yesterday was a banner day, sweetheart, with 2 letters from you, one from my Father, one form Nin Feldman, one from my nephew Steve and one from Stan Levine. The latter told me of his marriage – but in no detail except to say they spent a week at Atlantic City and were now back in Washington; Steve wrote a nice letter thanking me for a German helmet I had sent him and telling me about Latin School. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who Mrs. Irv Feldman was – but it was once I began to read the letter. It was sweet of her to write and I enjoyed very much hearing from her. I’ll answer her letter soon.


Your letter of 16 October interested me a great deal, darling. Despite the fact that it happens over and over again – I am nevertheless amazed at the coincidences of our discussing the same subject at about the same time. I don’t remember the exact date that I wrote you, but I’ll bet it wasn’t far off from the 16th when I told you how I felt about your going out, hanging around etc. At about the same time – you must have been reading my mind, dear, because you tell me in no uncertain terms – almost as if you were refuting what I had written – how you feel about such things – and you couldn’t possibly have received my letter at that time. Concerning that letter, by the way, darling, I’m sorry I wrote it, but I had received a whole string of ‘blue’ letters from you and was feeling kind of low myself, I guess. I loved to read what you had to say about dating, going out etc., – and I believe you, dear. You must excuse what I wrote – but much as I’d hate it – I’d rather have you go out – than to feel you were becoming stale or stagnant. You have never implied that, dear, but I would rather anticipate such a condition than to let it occur actually.

You are correct in you observations about my folks, sweetheart; whatever their faults are – one of them will not be interference in our lives. If we ever want advice – I think we’ll have to ask for it. If anything – my mother – in particular – leans over backwards in that respect and I think that is unusual for a man’s mother. Anyway – as I’ve said before, darling, being in Salem will really keep us by ourselves a good part of the time and I think that’s the best way for a newly married couple because if they do have differences of one sort or another – they can usually straighten them out themselves – if they are left alone.

Darling – one of the officers from the Battery just came in and he’s going to show me around the battery. After all – I am here on an inspection trip. So I’ll stop now, dear; remember that I love you sincerely, sweetheart – and I love to hear you tell me the same. Love to the folks – and for now and always

My deepest love
Greg.

* TIDBIT *

about the Low-Level Attack on Aarhus

This information was extracted from an article titled "Mosquito Terror" in Britain At War Magazine, published by Green Arbor Publishing in London, Issue 40, August 2010.
Aarhus, a coastal town on the eastern side of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula, was the country's largest city. It was at the university there that the Gestapo had established its area headquarters. The site had become the location of many thousands of documents and dossiers on Danish patriots and resisters – information that was invaluable to the Gestapo's work. Not only did the buildings house the Gestapo, but they were also used as a short-term prison holding a large number of resistance . Of the 4-5 university buildings immediately adjacent to an autobahn, the Gestapo chiefly occupied College No. 4.

On 31 October 1944 a total of 26 de Havilland Mosquitoes from 3 squadrons, led by Wing Commander Reg Reynolds and his navigator, Squadron Leader Ted Sismore, took off from Swanton Morley just after 0900 hours the 1,000 mile flight, 700 of which were over the North Sea.

Each Mosquito carried two long range drop tanks full of fuel and 500 lb bombs fitted with eleven-second fuses. The bomb load of the last wave of attacking aircraft included incendiaries so that once the target had been destroyed the incendiaries would help burn any surviving Gestapo records. The fusing was arranged so that each of the 4 groups of 6 aircraft could drop their load without the risk of being blown up by bombs of their own section, leaving as little time as possible between group attacks.

En route, one of the aircraft hit a bird and had to return to base. The remaining 25 continued on and were joined by another from the RAF's Film Production Unit. They all were escorted by 8 North American P-51 Mustangs from a Polish squadron. The weather that day was ideal for a low attack. The group flew the entire way at about 50 feet, as was usual for this type of mission. They approached the target so low that they were well below the level of the roof and had to pull up to clear it as they released their bombs. They then continued flying as low as possible and at a high cruising speed until well out to sea on the way home.

One airplane actually touched the roof of the university, knocked off half its elevator and tail wheel, and ripped a gash in the bottom of the fuselage, lodging a lump of masonry within. The pilot had spotted a German shooting at them and, trying to silence him with return fire, had misjudged his height.

One of the Mosquito pilots recalled that during his approach he "could see lots of people giving the 'V' sign and waving." He added that "one man, plowing in a field on the way to the target, came to attention and saluted as we passed. Some of the Mosquitoes were less than ten feet above the buildings and I saw a man duck as the bombs from the Mosquitoes ahead of me passed over his head on their way into the building.”

Two bombs from the lead aircraft were seen to go in through the front door, with two further bombs through the two adjacent windows.One 500 pound bomb was dropped by one aircraft and the pilot in the following aircraft saw it strike the side of the building, turn upward as it entered, emerge through the roof and pass over his plane before it came down again.

The attack was estimated to have taken just nine minutes to complete. Squadron Leader Sismore later commented, “The raid was easy to plan and the target was easy to identify. When we left, fire was raging in the shell of the buildings and the result was what the Danes wanted. Altogether, we dropped 24,000 pounds of bombs.” Unfortunately, ten Danish civilians outside of the university were killed. Early estimates of enemy casualties were placed between 150-165 German and 30 Danes killed, most of whom were considered to be informers. Miraculously, most of the prisoners being held in the buildings survived.

Reports from the Danish Resistance on the success of the mission were already waiting when the Mosquito pilots landed back at their base by 1400 hours, just 5 hours after they had left. It was not known at the time but it was later learned that the Gestapo chief for Jutland had called a conference of his subordinates from all over the province and that they numbered 250. With the destruction of their records and the deaths of so many valuable informers and experience staff, the Gestapo in the Jutland Peninsula were practically neutralize for the remainder of the war.

The Film Production Unit was able to make three passes over the target, filming without interruption. Here are two of the photos which resulted:

Mustang pulling up after dropping bomb

Results of bomb drop

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