The days are sure rolling by and I can’t believe it is actually the 12th of the month already. I’ve been fairly busy of late, dear, but even when I’m hanging around – time has raced right by. And a funny thing is the comparison of our state of mind now as compared with last year’s. Despite the fact that we’re in Germany and supposedly exposed to various dangers – it is much nicer here than it was in England a year ago. We saw pretty nearly all of England in the time we were there – as is characteristic of the 438th, I guess. We were on the West Coast, North, East Anglia and the South, not to mention Scotland, of course – but the worst spot we were in was the Midlands – the dreary industrial area. At least we hit it the worst time of the year – and I guess I must have written you enough about the fog. I wonder if you were able to perceive how thoroughly discouraged and homesick I actually was in those early weeks in England. Gosh, how I missed everything I had left behind – and most of all – you! And I still miss you most of all, Sweetheart, a year later – and that’s a healthy sign; it’s you I’m always thinking of when I think of home and the future – and that happens every hour of the day and before I drop off to sleep at nite and the first thing when I awaken each morning. And not a day goes by, sweetheart, without my thanking God for having you as my fiancée, waiting for me and wanting me as I want you.
Well – that was a pretty long paragraph. I just noticed, dear – but it wasn’t written without a couple of interruptions. It is now 1030 – and another slight lull. Yesterday was a thoroughly quiet day once I got over a few details. In the p.m. I tried to get some cough syrup through civilian apothecaries – but they had less than we have. It involved a whole lot of red tape – with a visit first to the Civil Affairs office. Then I visited a Doctor and asked him about the supply situation. None of this is allowed without permission, by the way, because just talking with a German calls for stiff punishment by Court Martial – in many cases. The doctor had had a nice home – but it was practically ruined – except for his office – which was really nice. Boy – my mouth watered.
In the evening we just sat around and talked until about 2200 - and then to bed.
Well, dear, that was a long pause – but several things turned up and I’ve just gotten back to the Dispensary. No mail again for me – but guess what? Sure enough – I received a package from you, dear – and thanks! No – I haven’t opened it as yet but it’s sitting here right beside me on my desk. It’s apparently in good condition – the paper and string are still intact. That’s pretty good because many of the packages are coming thru without string, wet – or with half the paper off. I’m curious as all hell to find out what’s in it – but like everyone else here who gets a package – I’ll look at it for a couple of hours, shake it a little and then try to guess what’s in it. Then I’ll be ready to open it and enjoy it. I’ll let you know tomorrow, dear, how it went – but thanks again in advance. You know – dear – I never did get that package you wrote me about – the one your folks sent – but it’s no doubt somewhere on the way.
Now I’ve got to go back to Hq – which means – next door, and attend a Staff meeting. It’s raining today – but we’ve just had a couple of nice days and it looks as if it might clear out again.
So I’ll stop for now, Sweetheart – until tomorrow. Be well, darling and take good care of yourself. My love to the folks and
"After Battle" and "Personal" Reports
for 12 December 1944
|"Golden Lion" Patch of the 106th Infantry Division|
The 424th Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division of the First Army moved into the front lines for the first time in its history when it relieved the 23rd Infantry of the 2nd Division on 7,000 yards frontage in the St. Vith sector of the Belgium-German border on 11 December 1944. With positions on the western edge of the Siegfried line the 3d Battalion took over prepared emplacements on the left, or north flank and the 2d Battalion moved into the right half of the front lines, adjacent to the 28th Infantry Division. The 1st battalion was kept in reserve at Steinebruck. In the 3d Battalions, K Company, was on the left and L Company on the right, with I Company in reserve. The 2d Battalion placed F Company on the left, G on the right, and E in reserve. Cannon Company cemented a gap between the 2d Battalion and the 106 Reconnaissance troop. The 423rd was on the left.
In the overall tactical picture the commanding General had put the 422nd Infantry to the left on the Division front, the 423rd in the troublesome center sector, and the 424th on the south or right flank. The Regimental CP was at Heckhalenfeld and the Division CP at St. Vith. The regiment made the replacement move without incident, turning its personnel carrying trucks over to the 23rd. The operation was completed by 1530. No artillery, air, or ground interference was encountered.
|St. Josef's Convent, the 106th Division HQ at St.Vith|
First physical contact with the enemy was established at 1830 the same day when the 3d Battalion reported an enemy patrol in front of its lines and requested artillery fire on the patrol. At the same time A Company received the regiment’s actual baptism of fire when 10 rounds of mortar landed in this forward area, wounding two men, the first casualties from intimate action in the regiment. The two men were Private Harold E. Shagrin and Private Fosse. Both received Purple Hearts, the first in the regiment. More mortar fire landed in the G Company area at 2050.
At approximately the same time, the first of a series of fires started in the regimental area. Company C, 81st Engineers, reported one of its small personnel hutment's burning. It was brought under control with only the loss of personal equipment and radio.
Service Company, however, had more trouble in its area. Stationed at ALCHERATH, a fire broke out in a three story structure in which were quartered members of the 2d Battalion motor pool. One man, Private Theron McCollum, H Company, was burned to death in the fire. At the height of the fire, Capt. Uhel Barrickman, MTO, reported a shot was fired at him in the dark. Movements were seen in the brush near the burning house and the two instances of light signals from an adjoining civilian house were noticed. The CIC was called on the case. The rest of the night was quiet, with a minimum of patrol activity by both sides. The next day saw another fire destroy Regimental Headquarters. All records and personal effects, however, were removed. All fires were found have been started from carelessness, not sabotage.
Personal Report of John Connors, 424 Infantry HQ, 2nd Battalion, 12 December 1944
I was the Motor Transportation Officer in the 2nd Battalion of the 424th. After arriving in St. Vith in early December ‘44, with all of the Battalion vehicles. Our CO ordered me to go back to Quartermaster to get trucks to move all of our personnel to the front. When I returned in a day or so we loaded all the men in the trucks and transported them to the front line positions being held by elements of the 2nd Division in the Grosskampenberg area. This was about 3 or 4 days before the 16th, I believe. I then took my men and the Battalion vehicles back to an old deserted farm house to use as a Motor Pool and billet. After deploying the vehicles and setting up a 24 hour guard roster all of us, except the guard on duty, crawled in to our sleeping bags to get some rest.
Around 2 am I awakened to hear men screaming loudly and my first thought was that we were being attacked. I went in to the area where most of the yelling was coming from and it was engulfed in flames. My Sergeant, John Kopko, now deceased) and I routed the men who we could find who were still in their sleeping bags and got them out. We managed to find our way back to the Service Company area and when we checked we had everyone accounted for except one man. As soon as daylight came we went back to the sight which was a pile of smoldering ashes. Upon reaching the area and then going through the ashes we found his remains in a still zipped up sleeping bag. This was quite a shock to all of us and we later found out that the fire was started when one of the guards attempted to heat some coffee with a burner and it started a fire in the dry hay that covered the floor.
The next day I was notified that the Regimental CO, Colonel Reid, ordered me to report to him to explain what happened. My Jeep driver and I started for the Regimental Command Post and as we pulled into a path leading up to the building, another old farm house, I had my head down expecting the worst, when the driver said look! When I looked up the whole Command Post building was engulfed in flames. I learned from the Adjutant that the fire was started by careless use of matches and a candle by one of the CP personnel. The Adjutant then informed me that the Colonel no longer wanted to talk to me about my fire. A day or so later the Bulge started and with things in total confusion we had no idea where our Battalion was. Finally I found out from someone coming back that they had been pulled back to Burg Reuland and with the help of maps, road signs and prayers we found our way back to them and so began our saga of the rest of the Bulge.
Personal report of John P. Dimeglio, 424th Infantry, 12 December 1944
At LeHavre, France we were issued some new equipment and some ammunition. We lined up to be issued galoshes. There were only two sizes left size 8 and size 10 (I wear a size 11 shoe). We had to sign and accept the small size that we couldn’t get on. We discarded the small boots into a large pile. The lack of rubber boots was to cost us much pain in the Bulge. We were trucked up to the front on Dec. 12th to relieve the 2nd Division. They led us to dugouts that held about eight men.