I got your letter of 26 December late yesterday afternoon and I read it over and over again. You were blue, you were sad, you were romantic, sentimental. You were sweet, poignant; you were a woman. I always felt you loved me, sweetheart, before I left and more so after I came overseas. But never before have you expressed yourself so clearly, so warmly, so affectionately. You put me at a loss for words to adequately describe to you my feelings on reading that letter. I thought I had powers of expression, darling, but I don’t see how I could possibly do as well as you.
Sweetheart – you ask me to put aside any hesitation I might have about writing you a sentimental letter. Do you catch any sentiment in my letters at all or do I hide it too well? Every hour, every day – I’m filled with sentiment, and thought and love for you. It becomes so aggravating I lose my civility. I want to write you, to tell you all the things that run through my mind – and I stop; I become matter of fact, tell you some of my activities and let it go at that. I tell myself then what a good soldier I am.
I suppose I am, but it hurt me to read your letter asking me to tell you I love you, I miss you. It makes me feel I haven’t been a very good fiancé – when all the while my longing for you and my heartache that we must be apart are enough to drive me mad at times, enough to make me want to do almost anything to get out of here and back to you where I belong. Each hour, each day is interminable for me away from you; I’m so jealous of time I become morbid over it. I see a cloudy sky and realize the war is thus delayed another day and I’m miserable. I’m not the happy-go-lucky fellow I once was, darling, not by a long shot. I can’t be – although my nature is such. I see you in everything I do and seeing you I want you and not having you is frustrating to the point of agony. Lonely? How can a fellow become lonely with thousands of soldiers about him, with things popping around him – and I’m lonely, so terribly lonesome at times, so more lonesome than I’ve ever been before, darling – lonesome for you and your love and warmth and affection and intimacy; lonesome for you and you alone darling. I want you, I want us to be together, alone as man and wife, living as we should be living, dear – not in this strange way, waiting anxiously for letters, thinking into the dimming past about the few precious months we had together. I can sit by the hour and think about those times, about how I came to love you, how I was fighting against the time I had to leave and angry with fate because I hadn’t quite enough time to ask you to be my fiancée. I knew then how I felt, but I wouldn’t let myself, you or anyone else say or think I had tied you down at the last moment. I wanted time to dignify our engagement, and it did. But not before I worried about it, wondered what would happen, asked myself if I were going to lose you after having found you – the girl I wanted as my wife. Those were trying months, too, sweetheart. And then when we did become engaged – it was chagrin all over again at my not being able to see you, feel you, kiss you and tell you the things I felt in my heart and only partially said because I knew that we could take it better that way, that we could learn to miss each other more easily.
And what do you suppose combat has been like? You can read a lot about it in the papers – but you can’t find out what I’ve felt and experienced – not in the horrors of war, but in what goes thru a fellow’s mind when he’s in love and wants to get back to the one he loves – whole and sound as he left –
Sweetheart – believe me when I write that I believe the way I’ve written in the past is best for both of us. You must know in a hundred different ways that no one in this world means as much to me as you, that I love you as I’ve loved no one before, that my one goal is to marry you and make you happier than you’ve ever been before in your life. Have faith, darling, and patience – and when the time comes we’ll be the happiest, luckiest, most in-love couple in the world. Remember ever and always – that I love you deeply, sincerely, faithfully – and that now and always I’m
The battlefield east of Celles was a white silence, darkly blotched with corpses and wreckage. At Celles, three miles short of the Meuse River, the German spearhead which had reached 50 miles into Belgium was blunted and turned back.
2nd Panzer Division near Celles, Belgium - December 1944
When Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt's advanced forces reached Celles they were jumped by First Army tanks, artillery and infantry, aided by U.S. and British planes. The enemy lost 63 tanks, 49 guns, 177 vehicles, 1,200 prisoners, uncounted dead. Then, in a wild two-day battle the German remnants were driven back to Rochefort.
Rocks in the Stream. The German drive had already been slowed down by the heroic stand of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne (see below), which confined Rundstedt's columns to secondary roads north and south of the town. The 82nd Airborne had put up a fierce defense around Stavelot, the 7th Armored between Saint-Vith and Vielsalm, the 1st Infantry at the north shoulder of the salient below Monschau, and the 4th Infantry at the south shoulder, around Echternach. The two infantry outfits had prevented Rundstedt from widening the salient's base. They were pegs that did not pull out.
In the path of the Germans, U.S. troops died with knives clenched in their fists, having run out of ammunition. Others, bypassed and trapped, lived for days on raw potatoes. The situation looked bad when the two German prongs merged in one bulge. It seemed the enemy might reach the great sweep of the Meuse from Liège to Sedan,dig in behind the river.
In the early days of the attack, General Eisenhower had hustled to a headquarters at Verdun, conferred with his top generals. In 15 minutes he had appraised the scope and probable aims of the push, taken his decisions, issued his orders. First Army reserves bore down from the north, compressed the salient's right flank, recaptured Grandmenil and Manhay. On the south, General Patton's armor blasted a corridor to Bastogne, pushed on to the north and then west to encircle the German tip south of Saint-Hubert. Patton also broadened his attacking front all the way east to Echternach.
Shrinking Salient. Last week Patton's wedge was only 13 miles from the First Army dents in the north. The German position was something like that in the Falaise-Argentan pincers of last summer. Could the Germans get out? It was well to remember that last summer, when the Wehrmacht was less ably commanded than it is now, the Germans who had seemed hopelessly bottled in the Falaise trap were able to extricate five divisions of armor almost intact. If Rundstedt was content with the delay and damage already wrought against his foes in the west, he might be able to pull back to the West Wall without serious loss.
Up to this week, however, he gave no sign of preparing such a move. His salient was contracting, but it was shrinking around a hard armored shell—in which he might be regrouping for another thrust at Liège, main Allied rear base for the Aachen-Cologne sector. The first heavy German blow in four days was an assault by three divisions on the Bastogne corridor.