It’s Sunday morning again and you’ll have to forgive me for continually reminding you of it – but it always was a special sort of day; I’m kind of glad that after two-and-one-half years of the Army – Sunday still seems a little bit different. That’s a good sign, dear – and oh! oh! – here comes sick-call, see you later sweetheart.
Hello again, dear – Well – that’s how long sick-call lasted this morning; not bad – but there’ll probably be some more in this afternoon.
Today is a sort of anniversary for me – I’ve been a Captain for 2 years – which is a long time. In any other outfit – I’d have been a Major some time ago – but except for some extra money, it doesn’t make a heluva lot of difference. Incidentally, I don’t think I’ll celebrate. But I felt like celebrating yesterday p.m. when I got six letters from you – 11,12,13,14,15,16 December, one from Eleanor, one from Dad A, one from Dr. Gardner in the Mariannas, and by coincidence – one from Carolyn Gardner, his wife, – in Salem; I also got two from Florence B. – and really, she’s been a peach of a correspondent. Considering how little we know each other – I think it’s swell of her to keep writing so regularly. That was some haul – after what we’ve been getting and the age of the letters mattered not at all. As a matter of fact, dear, it’s nice to get six consecutive letters and read them at one sitting. When I got thru reading of your activities over a week’s stretch – I closed my eyes and damned if I didn’t feel as if I had just spent the week with you. I was right back home seeing your friends with you, dropping in at the Red Cross, visiting my folks with you etc. It made me very homesick, sweetheart – but I like to feel homesick because then I’m positive that that’s where I belong. And that’s not as strange as it sounds. You’d be surprised at how many fellows in the Army have become separated from those at home. They’ve been away so long that the Army and their present contacts seem more important to them. That’s a tough state to be in – and I’m glad I haven’t been affected so. And don’t worry for one moment, sweetheart, that I may. Time is making me older – but that’s the only way it is affecting me. I feel so strongly about my love and desire for you and about everything at home – it doesn’t seem as if I could possibly have been gone so long. I can’t understand why there’s been so much talk about the Vet’s return, rehabilitation, knowing their wives etc – as you mentioned. I’ve been in long enough to have become accustomed to the uniform, the regimen and in a way, the freedom and independence of a moving Army. But I feel as certain as I’ve ever been about anything – that the day I shed my uniform – the Army will be a thing of the past as far as I’m concerned; I’m sure I’ll be able to take up just where I left off – and in our case, darling, we’ll take up where we left off in our last letter. I say – I’ll forget about the Army, but you’ll probably have to listen to anecdotes for the next twenty years, dear, so steel yourself. That reminds me – you remember I wrote you about the Prince of Mèrode? We heard yesterday that he was a prisoner of the Germans, presumably alive – but not certainly so. During the breakthrough he went down to a village – in his province – to supervise the distribution of food. It was a place near the western tip of the salient – and while he was there – the place was over-run by the Germans. I hope he’s safe because he was a swell guy.
And now, darling, it’s time to eat lunch again. It seems as if I usually end my letters to you just in time to eat. But it leaves me with a swell taste and it’s too bad I just can’t have a little bite of you – darling – but I will dear, I will –
All for now, dear, love to the folks and to you
Through the course of the Ardennes fighting, the 12th Army Group commander, General Bradley, had been aware that General Eisenhower intended a return to a main effort in the north. Since the Ninth Army was to remain under Montgomery's command and participate in that drive, Bradley eventually would have to relinquish divisions to bring the Ninth Army to a strength at least equal to that which had existed before General Simpson had released divisions to fight in the Ardennes. General Bradley nevertheless hoped to be able to continue to attack with his army group beyond the Ardennes to cut through northern reaches of the Eifel to the Rhine.
Against the obvious difficulties of attacking in winter over countryside equally as inhospitable as that of the Ardennes and through the West Wall, Bradley could argue that an offensive in the Eifel fitted best as a continuation of the attack to reduce the bulge. It would avoid a pause to regroup; it would insure a constant and mounting pressure against the Germans; it would capitalize on probable German expectation of an Allied return to the offensive in the north; and it would put the 12th Army Group in a position to unhinge the Germans in front of the 21 Army Group. To at least some among the American command, rather delicate considerations of national prestige also were involved, making it advisable to give to American armies and an American command that had incurred a reverse in the Ardennes a leading part in the new offensive.
Attacking through the Eifel also would avoid directly confronting an obstacle that had plagued Bradley and the First Army's General Hodges all through the preceding autumn, a series of dams known collectively as the Roer River dams in rugged country along headwaters of the river near Monschau. So long as the Germans retained control of these dams, they might manipulate the waters impounded by the dams to jeopardize and even deny any Allied crossing of the normally placid Roer downstream to the north.
Eifel Area of Germany's Rhineland
By pursuing an offensive that the 12th Army Group's planning staff had first suggested in November, General Bradley saw a way to bypass and outflank the dams and still retain his ability to support a main effort farther north. Bradley intended to attack northeastward from a start line generally along the German frontier between Monschau and St. Vith and seize the road center of Euskirchen, not quite thirty miles away, where the Eifel highlands merge with the flatlands of the Cologne plain. This would put American forces behind the enemy's Roer River defenses in a position to unhinge them.
Vertical Line from St Vith to Monchau, Arrow to (A) Euskirchen
Purple Marker Shows Area of Roer River Dams
To the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, Bradley's proposal had the double virtue of being a logical follow-up to the job of reducing the bulge and of accomplishing part of the general buildup along the Rhine that he intended before launching a major offensive deep into Germany. Yet Eisenhower saw a 12th Army Group offensive as no substitute for a main effort later by the 21 Army Group. Since Montgomery had considerable regrouping to do before his offensive would be ready, Eisenhower agreed to let Bradley hold on temporarily to the divisions earmarked for the Ninth Army and take a stab at the Eifel.
General Eisenhower nevertheless sharply qualified his approval. If the attack failed to show early promise of a "decisive success," he intended halting it and shifting strength to the Ninth Army. The definition of decisive success was apparently a quick, broad penetration of the West Wall. Even beyond that the operation was to be subject to review at any time, and General Bradley was to be prepared to pass quickly to the defensive, relinquishing divisions to the Ninth Army.
The 1st Infantry and 82d Airborne Divisions of the XVIII Airborne Corps opened the attack on 28 January 1945.