Sick call seems to be just about over right now, dear, so here I go again. I don’t know whether I mentioned it or not yesterday – but I’m visiting A Battery these days – but only afternoons – instead of staying with them for 3 days. I had to give that up because there’s too much work around here; the dental and administrative officers go out to stay, though.
I was out all of yesterday p.m. and the fresh air was swell. It was a rather clear day and it looks as if it will be the same today. If it doesn’t rain today – it will make 3 days – and that will be a new record. In the evening I was rather tired – but we played some Bridge just the same. And that reminds me of something I wanted to find out. You play enough Bridge to be able to answer it, darling. When we started playing a few months ago – the only score card we had was one dated 1935. According to that – doubled, not vulnerable – is 100 for the first trick down, and 200 for subsequent tricks; vulnerable is 100 for each trick set, and doubled vulnerable – 200 first trick, and 300 for subsequent tricks. Now the problem arose when one of the officers got a package the other day and among the items were playing cards and a scorecard – etched by Milton C. Wool – but with no date on it. According to this – doubled not vulnerable – is 100, 100, 200, 200, etc; vulnerable – not doubled – 200, 200, 400 etc, and doubled, vulnerable 200, 400, 400 etc. What we’d like to know, dear, is what is the latest along the lines of scoring.
And while I’m on the subject of Bridge – maybe you can get this one – a problem someone presented to us:
The lead is in South’s hand, hearts is trump and you have to make 4 out of the 5 tricks. The solution does not depend on what card West or East plays or discards. You’ll probably find this easy, dear – but we had to sweat it out.
In reading an old letter of yours, sweetheart, you tell me you hope we’ll be happy even after we’re married 20, 30 or 40 years. Darling – if I didn’t think we would be all the years of our married life together – I wouldn’t want to marry you. I don’t need a wife just for the sake of having one. I want to marry someone whom I can make happy, someone on whom I can concentrate my attention and affections for the rest of our lives. I became engaged to you – with your consent, dear – because I felt you were that someone – and I know I’m not wrong. We can’t miss. We know what we want, Sweetheart – and we’ll find it, too.
It’s time to go (11:50). I was interrupted a couple of times – as usual. Be with you in writing tomorrow, dear – but in Spirit – I’m still with you – sealed envelope or no. My love to the folks – and to you
The plan for the Ardennes counteroffensive was born in the mind and will of Hitler. Such was the military, political, economic, and moral position of the Third Reich in the autumn of 1944 that a leader who lacked all of the facts and who by nature clung to a mystic confidence in his star might rationally conclude that defeat could be postponed and perhaps even avoided by some decisive stroke. To this configuration of circumstances must be added Hitler's implicit faith in his own military genius, a faith to all appearance unshaken by defeat and treason, a faith that accepted the possibility, even the probability, that the course of conflict might be reversed by a military stroke of genius.And so it began, on 16 December 1944, as summarized in the entry for this date in Normandy to Victory: The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges & the First U.S. Army, maintained by his aides Major William C. Sylvan and Captain Francis G. Smith Jr.; edited by John T. Greenwood, copyright 2008 by the Association of the United States Army, pp.213-215.
As early as 1939 Hitler had gone on record as to the absolute necessity of protecting the Ruhr industrial area, the heart of the entire war-making machine. Even after the disastrous impact of the 1944 Soviet summer offensive he clung to the belief that the Ruhr factories were more important to Germany than the loss of territory in the east. Politically, if Hitler hoped to lead from strength and parlay a military victory into a diplomatic coup, the monolithic USSR was a less susceptible object than the coalition of powers in the west. August was a nightmare for the German divisions in the west and for the German field commanders. Shattered into bits and pieces by the weight of Allied guns and armor, hunted and hounded along the roads by the unopposed Allied air forces, captured and killed in droves, the German forces in France were thoroughly beaten. All requests for permission to withdraw to more defensible positions were rejected in peremptory fashion by Hitler's headquarters, with the cold rejoinder "stand and hold" or "fight to the last man." In most cases these orders were read on the run by the retreating divisions.
The major reasons for Hitler's selection of the Ardennes were:
- The enemy front in the Ardennes sector was very thinly manned.
- A blow here would strike the seam between the British and Americans and lead to political as well as military disharmony between the Allies. Furthermore an entrance along this seam would isolate the British 21 Army Group and allow the encirclement and destruction of the British and Canadians before the American leadership (particularly the political leadership) could react.
- The distance from the jump-off line to a solid strategic objective (Antwerp) was not too great and could be covered quickly, even in bad weather.
- The configuration of the Ardennes area was such that the ground for maneuver was limited and so would require the use of relatively few divisions.
- The terrain to the east of the breakthrough sector selected was very heavily wooded and offered cover against Allied air observation and attack during the build-up for the assault.An attack to regain the initiative in this particular area would erase the enemy ground threat to the Ruhr.