29 November, 2011

29 November 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
Germany
29 November, 1944       1115
Good Morning, sweetheart –

We’ve been giving some more inoculations again this morning and that will keep us busy for the next few days. It’s a whole lot more trouble when we’re in the field than when we were in garrison – as you can easily imagine. But it gives us something to do and we don’t mind.

Last evening, after supper – before I forget it, let me tell you about our suppers of late. I don’t know how the Army does it – but we have been having some swell food in recent weeks. This past week starting with Turkey on Thanksgiving, we had chicken the next night, steak the next, then roast beef, then steak and tonight we have chicken again. If we get all this, the rest of the Army gets the sauce – and yet there are some guys who bitch at the food.

Anyway, after supper, we had a movie, the first in some time – it seems to me; the title – “Ladies in Washington” – with I don’t know whom. Suffice it to say, it was not Class A.


We didn’t get any mail yesterday, dear, but we do expect some today – and some of the packages should be starting to arrive. Every issue of the Stars and Stripes mentions the thousands of packages arriving here daily from the States – but our battalion hasn’t received very many as yet. Have to stop now and grab a bite to eat, darling. See you soon.

1250

Hello sweetheart –

Here I am again whether you like it or not for a bit more rambling. Gossip at lunch included the facts that the mailman had returned with two large bags full of mail – so I hope I get my share; also that there was to be another movie, probably tonite. “Two Yanks Abroad” – with Wm. Bendix; can’t recall having heard about it – but the price is right.

I enjoyed reading in one of your letters darling that you felt that you could confide in me more than you believed possible and more than in anyone else. That’s the way it should and will be, too. It is inevitable and right that we end up being closer to each other than to anyone else – including our families.

Yes, dear, you did mail a letter to me written 3 Nov. I received it some time ago. I know how you felt, too. I sometimes wonder what I did with a certain letter and for the life of me I can’t remember having mailed it. And I don’t play chess, by the way. When I was a junior intern at the Malden Hospital, years ago it seems, I learned, played it a few months – and I’ve never played it since. I don’t think I’ve ever had enough time to myself. I enjoyed it when I played it though. As you suggest, sweetheart, I’d just as soon stick to love. The Lord knows it’s difficult enough to carry that on by correspondence, darling. Imagine being able to say “I love you” and hearing you say the same to me. It will be strange, but wonderful and so easy to get used to – I should say offhand, dear.

And offhand I should say I ought to stop and do some work now, dear – There’s a new bunch here waiting to be inoculated. I don’t have to do it myself, but I have to get things started. So – for now, au revoir, sweetheart – and love to the folks.

All my deepest love
Greg.

* TIDBIT *

about The Taking of Grosshau

If Colonel Lanham's 22d Infantry could capture Grosshau, the division finally would be in a position to turn its full force northeastward on Duren along a road adequate for a divisional attack. Already commanders at corps and army level were making plans to strengthen the division for a final push. Except for CCR, which was fighting with the V Corps, the entire 5th Armored Division was transferred to the VII Corps and CCA earmarked for attachment to the 4th Division.

22nd Infantry in the Woods Near Grosshau, Germany
November 1944

The 22d Infantry commander, Colonel Lanham, intended to attack early on 29 November at the same time the V Corps was striking the neighboring village of Kleinhau. For all their proximity, Grosshau and Kleinhau were different types of objectives. Kleinhau is on high ground, while Grosshau nestles on the forward slope of a hill whose crest rises 500 yards northeast of the village. Appreciating this difference and all too aware of the carnage that had resulted on 25 November when the regiment had tried to move directly from the woods into Grosshau, Colonel Lanham planned a wide flanking maneuver through the forest to the north in order to seize the dominating ridge. Thereupon the enemy in Grosshau might be induced to surrender without the necessity of another direct assault across open fields.

Kleinhau, Germany - November 1944

German shelling interrupted attack preparations early on 29 November, so that the 5th Armored Division's CCR under the V Corps already was clearing Kleinhau before Lanham's flanking force even began to maneuver. Perhaps because CCR was getting fire from Grosshau, the 4th Division's chief of staff, Col. Richard S. Marr, intervened just before noon in the name of the division conimander to direct that Grosshau be taken that day. Because Colonel Lanham could not guarantee that his delayed flanking maneuver would bring the downfall of Grosshau immediately, Colonel Marr's instruction meant in effect that he had to launch a direct assault against the village.

Too late to recall his flanking force, he had only one battalion left. This was the 2d Battalion under Major Blazzard, which during the attack through the forest had borne responsibility for the regiment's exposed right flank and therefore had sustained correspondingly greater losses than the other battalions. Indeed, at this point, the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, was easily as weak as any battalion in the entire 4th Division. To make matters worse, Major Blazzard had only one company in a position to attack immediately.

Quickly scraping together two tanks and a tank destroyer to support this company, Blazzard ordered an attack on Grosshau down the main road from the west. Within an hour after receipt of the chief of staff's directive, the attack jumped off. Within fifteen more minutes, the infantry was pinned down in the open between the woods and the village and the two tanks had fallen prey to German assault guns. Two hours later Major Blazzard assembled eight more tanks of the attached 70th Tank Battalion and sent them around the right flank of the infantry to hit the village from the southwest. Two of these tanks hit mines at the outset. The others could not get out of the woods because of mine fields and bog.

The sun was going down on an abject failure when two events altered the situation. In the face of persistent resistance, Colonel Lanham's flanking battalion finally cut the Grosshau-Gey highway in the woods north of Grosshau, and as night came one battalion emerged upon the open ridge northeast of Grosshau, virtually in rear of the Germans in the village. Almost coincidentally, a covey of tanks and tank destroyers took advantage of the gathering darkness to reach Major Blazzard's stymied infantry along the road into Grosshau from the west. Firing constantly, the big vehicles moved on toward the village. The infantry followed. In a matter of minutes, the resistance collapsed. By the light of burning buildings and a moon that shone for the first time since the 4th Division had entered the Huertgen Forest, Major Blazzard's infantry methodically mopped up the objective. More than a hundred Germans surrendered.

Grosshau, Germany - November 1944

Sankt Appolonia Church
Grosshau, Germany - Today

In a larger setting, Grosshau was only a clearing in the Huertgen Forest, the point at which the 22d Infantry at last might turn northeastward with the rest of the 4th Division to advance more directly toward the division objective of Duren. During the night of 29 November, General Barton directed the shift. The first step was to sweep the remainder of the Grosshau clearing and to occupy a narrow, irregular stretch of woods lying between Grosshau and Gey. This accomplished, CCA of the 5th Armored Division might be committed to assist the final drive across the plain from Gey to Duren and the Roer River.

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