31 December, 2011

31 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
31 December, 1944        0915

My dearest and only Sweetheart –

A year ago I wasn’t even engaged to you, but I missed you terribly. This year I miss you even more, darling. You have been my fiancée for nine months and a day; you have been consistently sweet and patient; you have been everything a fellow would want in a sweetheart. You can well imagine, dear, how much I’d like to be with you tonite to see the New Year in.

A year ago, dear, I waited until late in the evening to write you and I was miserably blue. I’m writing you earlier this year, to avoid that mood. Don’t think I wont be blue and reminiscent; I want to be both – but I am going to try to drink enough to take some of the sting off the feeling. I doubt if that will help. Between the bunch of us I think we’ll have enough to sit down and tie one on. We have the makings of a little spread – what with the Christmas packages. We’ve held on to a good bit of our stuff and now have a collection of canned lobster, crabmeat, anchovies, saltines, melba toast, olives, deviled ham etc etc, plus every assortment of sweets imaginable – except you. We have one large room available – not too warm – and we’ll probably hang around and drink, eat and sing.

Yesterday, darling, I got the only mail received by the medical detachment it included a V-mail from Lawrence, an announcement from Time Magazine telling me my subscription had been renewed – as a gift – also from Lawrence, a letter from Dr. Finnegan – and guess what? – two Birthday Cards from my Sweetheart! Dr. Finnegan’s letter was interesting. It was mailed in California – the middle of November. He just got fed up with practicing – so he and his wife decided to take a little time off and they headed for Los Angeles – just like that. He planned to return to Salem the 1st week in December. I always thought he had a design for living and I guess he’s proving that he has.

I loved your Birthday cards, dear – particularly the sentimental one which certainly hit the point. You’re writing at the bottom of the card was best of all, though. You do love me, sweetheart, don’t you? I know you do and that’s what makes me love you all the more. I understand very little about love per se. I always felt that if I loved a girl, I would do so with all the power within me; I never thought – and I should have – in terms of reciprocated love – and now I realize that that is the important thing. To feel that someone loves you as strongly as you do her – is just about the most comforting thought a fellow can have.

I’ve never made much of the habit of resolving anything on the New Year’s, dear – but on this New Year – a long way off from you I can say only that my resolution on this day is to try and make you happy for the rest of your life, to love you always as I do now, to have you with me always once we’re together again, and to try always to make you proud and glad you married me. Darling – my sincerest and deepest wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to you – and all your family. And for now – so long

All my everlasting love


about Two Poems by Elmer H. Ake

Elmer H. Ake, 1925-2007

The poems that follow are two among many written by Elmer H. Ake, as found on the site that describes him as "World War II veteran and poet." Elmer served as a medic in Company B of the 417th Infantry Division during the war. The poems, written in later years, speak of his time in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge. Click here to listen to his oral history.

Is that the enemy on yonder hill?
Why are they so quiet, why so still?
Those silent forms laying in the snow
Were living men a little while ago.
Over these still forms the winds will blow
A mantle of white where naught will show.

This is the Ardennes in nineteen forty-four
Where good men perished by the score.
In these snow covered barren fields
Death is the only crop they yield.
The naked barb wire our only shield
But a mightier sword did we wield.

For days we have been forced to retreat
An American army faced with defeat.
Now we have formed a defensive line
To retreat farther we must decline.
When the brass upstairs gives us the sign
We will force the Hun back across the Rhine.

No hot food no warm place to lay
Just a muddy hole in the ground where we stay.
We have formed a new line with new men and supplies
And when the Germans come over yonder rise
They are in for a big surprise.
This is the place of their demise.

As our artillery begins to fire
The enemy now knows our power.
As thousands of shells race through the sky.
Thor said smite thine enemy, Make him cry
Bare thy sword, Cause him to die.
Their advancement farther you will deny.

As the Hun tried to cross those barren slopes
Our gunfire stilled all their hopes.
Now our outlook is a lot more bright
Perhaps we can even sleep tonight.
But I think in the spring these fields will be a ghastly sight
When the warm sun melts those mounds of white.

And Thor laughed and drank a toast
To the sport he loves the most.
As a gentle snow begins to fall
Covering the wounded too weak to crawl
One of our guys had the gall
To say Merry Christmas Peace on Earth to all.


You stand in ice water up to your knees
As your feet slowly start to freeze.
This is Belgium in nineteen forty-four
Your friends have vanished by the score.
The cold rations you can eat no more
The sights of death that you deplore.

Death is your companion day and night
He stands by your side in every fight.
He revels in each exploding shell
He loves the acrid powder smell
Laughs as your friends are blown to hell.
And over the living he casts his spell.

A hundred and seventy men went down this forest tract
Now fifty of us are coming back.
Death stands in the shadows wearing a grin
He has all these souls riding with him.
And he can see the bad shape we are in
He knows tomorrow he will win.

We know the enemy at first light
Will come to finish up this fight.
It's best to meet him on open ground
Where our big guns can thin his ranks down
Without our cannon to roar and pound.
None of us will ever be found.

It's now morning the sky is overcast
We can see our enemy he is coming at last.
Now we can see his advance scouts.
About the same time our radio gives out
Today will be another rout
God really does favor the krauts.

But hundreds of gray clad figures are passing us by
If we're surrounded then we will die.
Then the Captain says out of your holes and on your feet
Once more it's time to retreat.
If we move fast Death we can cheat.
And the Grim Reaper we won't have to meet.

Get up and fall back another mile or two
With just fifty men what else can we do?
We fall back each day and dig in each night
Too few of us to put up a fight
Thousands of the enemy always in plain sight.
The Battle of the Bulge is sure named right.

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