28 February, 2012

28 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 February, 1945      1605
Germany

Dearest darling Wilma –

For awhile I thought I wouldn’t be able to write you today but I’m finally settled and here I am. I won’t be able to write much because there’s lots to do yet but a short letter is better than none at all I figure.

Apartment houses don’t exist anymore, dear, and yet I’m able to write you from a room that has 4 walls. Sweetheart – you’d have to see it to believe it – but a 4-walled structure in these parts is a rarity. Of course when I say 4 walls – I don’t imply necessarily that they are 4 whole walls by any manner or means. I guess I’ve told you a good deal about destruction and ruined towns since I hit the continent – and you must be getting tired of it, but darling, I’m giving you a picture of the war as I’m seeing it and I’ve got to tell you what I see. I just haven’t seen anything like what we’re seeing now. I thought Aachen was laid waste. There just won’t be any cities or towns where we’re passing thru now. It would take years to lug away the debris. We were in a city today of about 50,000 – about Salem’s size. There was not one house, store, building, factory or anything standing. I don’t know how the destruction could have been so complete. Actually – dear – it’s terrifying. Of course there’s not a soul around – and that adds to the picture of death. If the rest of Germany is like this – and a good many bigger spots already are – we won’t have to worry about the next war for some time. Germany will be a primitive nation for years and years. She has nothing left and the pity of it all is that their hopeless war goes on – causing more men to die and be maimed.

27 February, 2012

27 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 February, 1945      0900
Germany

My dearest Sweetheart –

After the lapse of one day, I’ll take up where I left off – and tell you that I love you more than ever, dear, want you more than ever, and miss you more than ever; and I’m going to keep on feeling that way until I come home. Then I want only to love and want you. I hope I’m not compelled to miss you, darling.

Well – as I already implied, I didn’t write you yesterday, dear – but it was for the obvious reasons. I did get mail, however, and boy – am I ever hearing from you, sweetheart! It’s wonderful – V-mails, air-mails – and it’s a race right now – which arrives earlier. Believe it or not – but I received an air mail of the 15th (written) and V-mails of the 15th and 17th of February. Shades of England!

26 February, 2012

26 February 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Route of the Question Mark

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]
(A) Stolberg to (B) Rolsdorf, Germany (14 miles)
5 February to 26 February 1945

Rolsdorf, Germany, is approximately 1000 yards from the Roer River
and 2000 yards from Duren, which had been taken one day earlier.

February 26... Rolsdorf. Our street of deserted houses filled with civilian furnishings, which awakened all our instincts for looting. T/5 [Walter L.] JASKOW setting a fast pace. Here T/5 [Robert E.] BEGGAN, his arms full of cans of jam and jelly when the planes came over, was hurled down the cellar stairs when everyone made a rush for safety.

* TIDBIT *

about More from General Hodges

The snapshots that follow were taken from 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.309-310.

25 February, 2012

25 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
25 February, 1945      0910
Germany

Dearest darling Wilma –

About the one time of week it’s a bit quiet here – is at this time – Sunday morning when the boys are at Catholic services. I can remember when I used to be able to really concentrate on a letter – not only in the States – but in England, too. You once told me my letters to you, dear, were much better then – and certainly that was one factor, because I know that if I’m left alone long enough and quietly enough, I can think clearly what I want to write to you.

Sometimes I feel as if I ought to wait until night time to write you, darling. It seems as if there aren’t so many people around – but – experience has shown that you can’t count on an evening – and I don’t mean because we have movies – but because more often than not, we’re interrupted.

24 February, 2012

24 February 1945

V-MAIL


438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
24 February, 1945      0900
Germany
My dearest sweetheart –

I got your V-mail of 12 February yesterday – and it’s about 4 days ahead of my most recent letter from you – no – 5 days. But you can’t figure the mail out too accurately. I do believe though that V-mail is a bit ahead of Airmail.

This one is not as a test for speed, darling, but because I have a busy day ahead of me and I must get going as soon as I finish this. Yesterday was a nice day here – although a bit noisy. Despite all that we managed to have another movie at battalion – “In the Meantime, darling”.

"In the Meantime"



I don’t know who was in it. You may have seen it, though. It was pretty typical of Army Camp life and quite real about the going overseas part. It brought me back vividly to the night I had to say so long to you, sweetheart – and as I thought about it I realized how inadequate I must have been. I didn’t tell you half as strongly enough how much I loved you and wanted you to wait for me to come back. But you know it now, darling – only I love you infinitely more now and I miss you fiercely! All for now, dear –


All my deepest love – Greg.


* TIDBIT *

about "My Day" by Eleanor Roosevelt

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

According to Wikipedia, "My Day" was a newspaper column that was written by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt six days a week from 1935 to 1962. In her column, she discussed issues such as race, women, and key events, such as Pearl Harbor, Prohibition, and the H-Bomb. This column allowed Mrs. Roosevelt to spread her ideas and thoughts to millions of Americans and give them a new view on the issues they faced every day. George T. Bye, Eleanor Roosevelt's literary agent, encouraged her to write the column. "My Day" influenced many Americans. Women felt empowered by hearing Eleanor Roosevelt's opinion and African Americans were given a sense of hope for the future.

Eleanor with Singer Marian Anderson in 1939

Here is Eleanor's "My Day" column dated 24 February 1945.

NEW YORK, Friday — I must tell you a little bit more about the children's unity festival which I attended yesterday. I arrived just as a wonderful brown bear was being led on the stage, and the children had the most marvelous time watching him go through his tricks. I was a little nervous at first, but the bear seemed accustomed to flash bulbs, enthusiastic applause and hoots and yells. Finally, three little boys even rode on his back.

If audience participation is a sign of a successful performance, these children participated with an abandon which you rarely see in an adult audience. I was a little sorry when they had to listen to speeches, but they bore with us who had to make a few serious remarks.

I left with a feeling that it would be a memorable day in the lives of these children and that the unity pledge which they had taken would be more meaningful because of the remembrance they would have of the day on which they took it. I am printing that pledge because I think it is one which might also be taken by grown-ups.
We now join hands with the children of the world. It matters not whether they are black or white, or where they were born, or if they are Jew or Gentile. We do not ask where or how they worship. We ask only that they love freedom and their neighbors. Together we will make an ever-widening circle around a tired, war-torn world, so that our parents may see our friendship and peace and follow our example. For did not the Prophet say: 'A little child shall lead them'?"
The meeting was sponsored by the Citizens Committee of the Upper West Side and I wish similar meetings could be held everywhere throughout this country.

Last night I finished a most charming story called "The Little Prince." It was written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint Exupery, and though you may think it is a child's book, you will find that much of it can be appreciated only by the very mature adult who has never forgotten what it is like to be a child.

Perhaps the wisest saying in the whole book is: "I made him my friend and now he is unique in all the world."

It will not take you long to read, but I think it will give you food for thought and for dreams which may fill empty hours.

E. R.
COPYRIGHT, 1945, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.

23 February, 2012

23 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
23 February, 1945      0940
Germany

My dearest sweetheart –

Frankly – I’m tired this morning and I don’t know how far I’ll get with this letter. War fatigue? Combat exhaustion? No – none of these, darling – just another celebration. Our new – or loaned – dentist is amazed at all this. He says that they used to have a little fun at his place, drink a few, sit around and talk – and call it a drinking bout. He’s never seen anything like what we put on when we have a celebration – and he can’t understand how we have so many. Well – I’ll admit dear – starting with the first of the year we have had a few – despite some trying days – or maybe as a result of. At any rate – it has helped release the tension at the current time – and that is most important.

As a matter of fact, sweetheart, we did have an excuse for a party last night in the form of Pete’s Captaincy coming thru. You’ve asked me a few times about it and I’ve said nothing because I felt that any day it would come – but administrative details are sometimes slow here. Well – the Colonel had Pete come in from his Battery for supper and he pinned his new bars on him. We had several drinks before and just as many after. The fact that we celebrate more vehemently at a party than most other outfits – is true, I think, dear. It’s all out – and I still do my share – so don’t worry – when I get back, sweetheart, I think I’ll be able to take up where I left off.

22 February, 2012

22 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
22 February, 1945      0930
Germany

Happy Holiday, darling!

Well – if Washington’s Birthday is like it used to be, dear – you ought to be having the day off today, and if so – I hope you’re relaxing, taking it easy – and forgetting about casualties, frantic wives etc. I know your office is open all of the time – but it seems to me that you worked a half day on Christmas – so someone else must be covering now.

Here – although there’s no Holiday Spirit exactly, sweetheart, the weather could easily put you in the mood – but not for Washington’s Birthday – but rather for St. Patrick’s Day or even Patriot’s Day. The sky is as blue and clear as I’ve seen it for a long time and the streets are dry and reasonably clear. I’d like to be in my Buick now, with you – the top down – just riding around somewhere – like we once did. It’s just that kind of day here. Why I should want a ride in a car with the top down though – is beyond me. Boy – I’ve really had my share of open-air driving in that Jeep of mine.

21 February, 2012

21 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
21 February, 1945      0950
Germany
My dearest darling –

I’ve been trying to get this letter started for the past twenty minutes and all I got up to was ‘My dearest darling’ – which isn’t so bad a thought at that. It seems a bit quieter at the moment so maybe I’ll get a bit of a letter written to you, dear.

The month of February is fast slipping by and we’re still sitting on our fannies. What in hell we’re waiting for is beyond me – but it’s getting on my nerves. Despite that – I turned down a 3 day pass to Brussels yesterday – which was to start today. My name was drawn, I accepted, thought it over for a couple of hours – and then decided I wouldn’t go. That’s a bad policy – as a rule – in the Army, because the best bet is to take what’s offered; you usually don’t get a second chance – but I had several things to take care of here for one thing, and secondly, I think I’d prefer to take a chance on getting to Paris – later. I only saw a bit of it the day I was there, but there’s lots more to see. However – if Brussels happens to be the next offering – I’ll take it.

But we did have a pleasant evening. We went to a U.S.O. show that was rank – but it was followed by a swell movie – “Gaslight” – with Boyer and Bergman – and it was excellently done, I thought. This theater – by the way – is the most forward of the circuit’s theaters – and that’s why we’ve managed to see some fairly recent pictures.

Outside of all that, sweetheart, things are status quo and dragging but maybe it won’t be that way for always. Oh by the way – I have never run into any one from the Field Artillery of the numbered battalion you mentioned – although we’ve been right with outfits very close to that number. It may be that that battalion is attached to a division rather than to Corps and that’s why I’ve never seen it around. I’ll keep on the lookout though. And another thing, you mentioned going to eat at the Lobster Claw one day and it just dawned upon me – that I don’t know exactly where 159-61 Mass. Ave. is. Just where is it, dear? The Lobster Claw brought back many memories. We ate there often when we were at Tufts – Leo Waitzskin, Gene Gurabrick (in Australia somewhere), Murray Lawrence (your neighbor) and a couple of other fellows. It was Murray who got sick to his stomach once when we were at the Claw for lunch. We had been doing a little dissecting in Anatomy that morning, and knowing Murray had a weak stomach – we all went into the details around the table. He had to get up and leave. Vicious fun? Gosh I’d like to be a student again – anything, I don’t care about the subject – although I’d prefer to take a couple of courses on Love – with you as the specimen – shall I say? To make it better – I’d like to be the Instructor, but I’d want the class to be private – say limited to you and me. What a lecture I could give!

I reminisced also when you mentioned walking up Tremont Street with Grace one night. I remember those times – very vividly, and unfortunately, they were all too few. But what few we had – were so delightful, so intimate. That’s when I was learning to love you in leaps and bounds dear. And when you love someone – on such a simple basis – how much more do we have to look forward to, darling, in our love – when we can really be with each other, live with each other and get to know one another! Boy am I looking forward to that! I’m going to love you, sweetheart like you never imagined possible – just wait and see ––

And now – for another day, dear, so long and take care of yourself. My love to the folks – and

All my sincerest love,
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about "Gaslight" (1944)


"Gaslight" is a 1944 mystery-thriller film adapted from Patrick Hamilton's play, "Gas Light", performed as "Angel Street" on Broadway in 1941. It was the second version to be filmed; the first, released in the United Kingdom, had been made a mere four years earlier. The film opens just after world-famous opera singer Alice Alquist has been murdered. The perpetrator bolted, without the jewels he sought, after being interrupted by a child — Paula (Ingrid Bergman), Alice's niece, who was raised by her aunt following her mother's death.

The following review was written by James Berardinelli and has been extracted from "reelviews" web site.

Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar for portraying Paula Alquist, the vulnerable, insecure heroine of George Cukor's diabolical, atmospheric thriller, "Gaslight". Bergman, essaying a much different character from either of her previous two roles, is alluring and convincing as a woman held captive by her own fears.

The first half-hour of "Gaslight" is deceptively romantic. We are introduced to Paula, a young English singer living and studying in Italy during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Over the past few weeks, however, her attention has not been on her craft, and her wily mentor remarks that he believes that she's in love. When Paula confirms his suspicions, and indicates that she may marry the gentleman in question, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), she is released from her studies. Less than a week later, she and Gregory are on their honeymoon.

At this point, "Gaslight" turns ominous. Gregory wants to live in England, so he and Paula move into a house that she inherited from her late aunt, a well-known singer who was murdered a decade ago. Once there, Gregory's attentiveness acquires a sinister edge. He convinces Paula that she's having delusions, and, as a result, isn't well enough to see visitors. He hires a forthright young maid, Nancy (Angela Lansbury in her feature debut), who holds her mistress in contempt. And he disappears every night on clandestine business of his own.

A local Scotland Yard officer, Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotten), takes an interest in Paula's predicament, but Gregory and Nancy conspire to keep them from meeting. The more familiar Brian becomes with the situation, however, the more convinced he is that Paula's current circumstances are somehow related to her aunt's murder and a cache of missing jewels.

"Gaslight" may be seen as slow-moving and obvious, but no film can match this picture's intricate psychology. Paula's self-doubt builds slowly as her husband meticulously orchestrates her spiral into insanity. Since she's completely in his thrall, she never senses that he represents a threat. And, because Paula is isolated from everyone except Gregory, Nancy, and one other servant, she has no point of reference against which to gauge her mental stability.

Beautifully filmed in a gloomy, atmospheric black-and-white, "Gaslight" exhibits greatattention to detail. The benighted streets of London are cloaked with fog, and the large, lonely house where most of the action transpires is filled with shadows and strange noises. The paranoid, claustrophobic world of Paula's confinement is effectively conveyed. Even though we, as viewers, know that her insanity is contrived, we can feel the walls of the trap closing in as the situation grows progressively more hopeless.

In addition to Bergman's fine performance as the harried Paula, Charles Boyer and Angela Lansbury do excellent jobs. In less than two hours, Boyer's Gregory goes from a suave, debonair gentleman to a cunning, fiendish villain. The success of this transformation is an eloquent testament to Boyer's range. Meanwhile, 18-year old Lansbury imbues Nancy with a impertinence that makes her Gregory's perfect, albeit unwitting, accomplice.

In many ways, "Gaslight" is as much a character study as a thriller. Yes, the ending is weak, and there are aspects of the story that don't stand up to scrutiny, but this is the kind of effectively-crafted, well-acted motion picture that rises above its faults to earn its "classic" appellation.
The dénouement partly involves Paula indulging herself in a bit of revenge, psychologically torturing Gregory after he's been bound to a chair, tantalizing him with the suggestion that she might free him so he can escape arrest, trial, and execution.

Here is the Trailer from "Gaslight"

20 February, 2012

20 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
20 February, 1945      0930
Germany

My dearest sweetheart –

Tuesday morning over here and what will today bring that’s different? That’s the way we get to thinking after we’ve been sitting in one spot a little longer than usual. It’s a sure bet that this Spring will be a good one for fighting because we’ve already had our thaw, mud and flood – and those are the usual obstacles.

We had a ‘Party’ yesterday, dear – but as usual, we had an excuse. One of our Sergeants – from a line Battery – became a 2nd Lieutenant – one of these battlefield promotions that you’ve probably read about. Anyway – he was sworn in yesterday p.m. and we had to have something to drink. Boy – we really ended up with a corker. We haven’t named it exactly – but this morning I suggested “Green Death” – and everyone thought that should be the name. This week – and the first time in six months – we had fresh oranges one morning for breakfast. There were about 10 left in the kitchen – so we juiced those – as a starter. To that we added the following: one full quart of alcohol, 1½ quarts of water, 1½ quarts of grapefruit juice, ¾ bottle of Coca Cola and 1 quart of Champagne. It really went down nicely and we ended up by having a good get together. There were about 17 of us.

19 February, 2012

19 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
19 February, 1945      1100
Germany

Wilma, darling –

Well – this morning I’m late for another reason. We had a visiting team from Army down to give us a little talk on the pleasant subject of bombs, saboteurs, counter-espionage etc. – all with a view towards putting us on our guard as we get farther into Germany. It was very interesting, particularly because one member of the team had landed by parachute – in France – six months or so before D-day. His mission was sabotage and he told some interesting stories. As usual – the real is more vivid than what you see in the movies.

Yesterday was a very ordinary day for the most part. I can tell you this, darling, – it was enlivened by a very unusual incident – and I don’t think it will be a breach of army security to tell you. Sweetheart – I had my first Coke in fifteen months!! Now that’s really something and gives you a better idea of what war can really be like. But you’d be surprised what a commotion it caused. We each got an issue of 2 bottles – and to show you what will-power I have – I still have one bottle left. Some of the boys mixed theirs with Scotch, or gin – or Cognac – but not I – I drank mine straight – and you know, dear – I burped the first honest-to-goodness-gassy burp in over a year. What a day!! I’ll never forget it.

18 February, 2012

18 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
18 February, 1945      0910
Germany

Dearest sweetheart –

It’s comparatively quiet here right now. Most of the boys are at services (Catholic) and the sick boys haven’t come in as yet. There are only periods in a day, darling, and often I’m not ready myself.

This Sunday it’s raining – but a mild gentle type of rain like the rain we have in Boston – March and April. It’s still hard to believe that winter can be over here – but this month is slipping by fast – unless March is a tough month. We had quite a snowstorm the 31st of January, I believe, with the snow piled up quite high. The next day it started to rain – and it didn’t stop until all the snow had gone. I have never seen anything quite like it. You can imagine how mucky things were. Unlike New England – instead of freezing, it just stayed warm – and it hasn’t been cold since.

17 February, 2012

17 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
17 February, 1945       1120
Germany

Dearest darling, Wilma –

Today it’s air-mail day again. I know how you dislike V-mail but occasionally it just can’t be helped. From what I read though, it does seem as if V-mail is consistently ahead of air-mail, but if you don’t mind the delay – I’d rather write this type anyway. I’m a verbose sort of person and I always feel so damned confined when I start writing on a limited surface. Goddamit – I’ll be glad when I don’t have to resort to writing at all when I want to say something to you, dear. I get fed up too with this being apart – just as you are. I got 4 letters yesterday from you, sweetheart, the middle of January – and you really sounded tired of it all. And I can’t blame you one bit, dear. I know it has been a longer harder task than you ever dreamed of. I guess it had everyone fooled though. And with people telling you it wasn’t so smart getting engaged or wondering how you can be so strong as not to date – it must be even more difficult. At least that’s one thing I don’t have to put up with. I have no other choice right now than to continue being a soldier, dear.

16 February, 2012

16 February 1945

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
16 February, 1945
Germany

Good Morning, Sweetheart –

Here goes your pet hate – a V-mail – but I haven’t overdone it – have I? If I don’t get this off now – I know I’ll not get a chance to write. Damn it – the boys are playing “There Goes That Song Again” on the Vic. We just got it the other day and I like it – but it’s sad. I don’t know how old it is but it must have been fairly high on the Hit Parade.

Here is a clip of "There Goes That Song Again," from "Carolina Blues."

15 February, 2012

15 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
15 February, 1945       1020
Germany

Wilma, darling –

Believe it or not there’s actually a taste of Spring in the air today and woo! woo! – it looks like it’s going to be particularly tough to take this year. It was tough enough last year, dear – what are we going to do now? With all the snow and cold you’re having now – I suppose that’s far from your mind – but Spring will come to Boston and you’re going to have the same problem. And there are no pills for that!

The sun has shone for 3 consecutive days, but the wind is still with us and probably will be for some time. Yesterday was a reasonably quiet day. In the p.m. we had an officers’ meeting with most of the line officers coming in. There were a lot of administrative details to discuss and the meeting lasted from 1400 to 1630. It was good seeing the fellows again – we get together so seldom. And in the evening we had a movie – “Carolina Blues” – with K. Kayser, Ann Miller etc. It was class B but the music was good and I enjoyed it. This p.m. I’ve got to go to Corps Surgeon’s office on a little business – but that isn’t much of a trip.

I got a laugh out of what you wrote some time ago about my being called “Doc”. I laughed because I’ve never liked that either. It’s just unavoidable, I guess, and some people persist in using it – although I think I get away with it more than most. A good many don’t know what to do about it. I’m glad you like my name, sweetheart, because someday you’ll be able to tack “Mrs.” In front of it – and you can call me anything you like – I’ll come!

14 February, 2012

14 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
14 February, 1945       1000
Germany
My dearest sweetest Valentine –

I hope you’ll excuse me for neglecting you – I so enjoyed the Valentines you sent me, dear – and I felt terrible that I hadn’t been able to send you at least one. You’ll just have to understand that Valentines were farthest from all our minds about the time they should have been sent out and they were unobtainable, anyway. I hope, though, that you received some notice of the day from me.

The Germans don’t know about Valentine’s Day, it seems, and so the War goes on with no display of hearts and flowers. We’re not making the news these days, darling, but believe me when I say that for some of the boys the fighting and the horrors of war are just as bitter as if we were making the headlines.

Yesterday was a dull, boring, long day – and I was glad when it was over. It seemed to drag more than even other slow days. I did manage to get over to a bath-house they have in this city and soak in a tub for about an hour – and then I took a shower. Boy! That’s really something. When we were in this city last – the place wasn’t open. Since then it was taken over by an American outfit which employs German laborers and they draw the water for the tub and clean up after you. When we first got here we all took 3 baths in a row to soak some of the dirt off us – it really was a relief.

13 February, 2012

13 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
13 February, 1945     1100
Germany

My dearest darling Wilma –

I was literally overwhelmed yesterday when I received 18 letters in the mail, the biggest haul in a long while and it was truly wonderful. Furthermore – quite a few were recent letters – particularly from you. I also – in addition to 5 letters from you – heard from several friends of mine in the service, the Salem Hospital, Steve L., Bea Caplan, Mary W., Lil Zetlan, Dr. Curtis from Salem and a couple of others I can’t think of – off hand. It’s the best reading material in the world and nothing makes me feel better or raises my morale more successfully, dear.

Your letter written to me on my Birthday, sweetheart, was wonderful and it was awfully decent of the girls to take the trouble to jot me separate notes. I know you’ll thank each of them for me, dear. You know by now that I did, in fact, have a Birthday and that your surprise worked as successfully as if I were home. I was completely dumb-founded by it and it was certainly original.

12 February, 2012

12 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
12 February, 1945      0945
Germany

Dearest darling, Wilma –

Shall we chalk up Lincoln’s Birthday as another Holiday we owe each other – or shall we just let it ride? You know what? – I’m going to let you decide that all by yourself – and don’t let me ever hear you say I’m not fair and square about things! I don’t suppose it’s much of a Holiday in Boston either – and boy! Oh boy! Are you ever getting the snow! I guess about the one nice thing the Army has done for me has been to keep me out of three tough New England winters. We had a b–h of a January here but it started raining about the 31st and in 3 days of February the snow and cold disappeared – and fingers crossed – it’s been mild, though rainy, ever since. If it would only dry up a bit!

And what do you think – Yesterday I got a letter from you written on the 30th of January. That’s wonderful and entirely unusual. But you chided me for the type of letter I wrote or had written to you recently because they were cheery and you thought I was fooling you. Well, sweetheart – I’ve still got you fooled. You wrote – “Now that I know” – and I’d like to know dear, what do you know now? I’m sure you haven’t yet grasped the difference between being very lonely for home, fed-up with the Army, being utterly blue – and – being uncomfortable, being cold, being shelled, being raided. The two sets of reactions don’t necessarily go together, sweetheart – and very often don’t, because when the latter of the two conditions exist – you just don’t have the time to be lonesome. I write you blue letters, dear – not often, I’ll admit – but often enough. The fact is I am not a mope by nature and I don’t stay that way long. I force myself to be cheerful – and after a half hour or so goes by – I do actually feel better. It may be that at such times – I’m writing to you – and my cheeriness doesn’t seem real – but it isn’t, darling, because I’m trying to impress you – but rather that I’m trying to impress myself. Is that confusing? Anyway, dear – I’ll be hard to change –

11 February, 2012

11 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
11 February, 1945
Germany

My dearest sweetheart –

When we’re on the move and the days are long and difficult we don’t know Sunday from any other day – but today I know it’s Sunday and by that I imply then, dear, that we’re taking things easy. Despite that – and I hate to write this darling – we suffered our first casualty in the medical detachment since landing – the other day. Oh – we’ve lost one fellow before this due to combat exhaustion – he never came back to us – and a couple due to illness, but this was the first actual case of being wounded in action – and I’m worried about the effect it will have on the family. I’ll make myself clearer, dear – although I can’t be too specific due to security reasons – and because there’s some regulation about not mentioning casualties until a certain time period has elapsed. I wouldn’t mention it to you either, dear, because I know you’ll worry – but the soldier was one who lives near us and I know that when his mother is notified – that he was wounded – she’ll certainly call Mother A and tell her about it – and that’s all she’ll need. So far I’ve been able to keep her reasonably convinced that all is well with our set-up and that we’re hardly ever exposed to danger. I’m writing all this – darling – so that if and when she hears about it and perhaps tells you – you’ll be able to tell her that the soldier in question was at a line battery and nowhere near me and that I never go or have to go where the others have to and anything else you can think of dear. I know you’ll do this for my sake and the folks – and that includes yours too. I debated long before writing this to you but I know what would happen and it’s best that someone at home be informed – and darling – it had to be you – naturally. Incidentally – he was severely wounded.

10 February, 2012

10 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
10 February, 1945      1000
Germany

Good Morning, Sweetheart –

It is now 1020 – but maybe I can get started this time. I don’t remember if I told you – or not, dear – but I had been trying to get an ambulance for the battalion for some time. No one knows why – but we don’t have an ambulance on our table of allowance but there have been many occasions when we needed something better than a jeep with which to transport patients. Well – we finally got one on loan about a week ago and for some reason or other – they changed it this morning and gave us another. Incidentally – the ambulance comes complete with two drivers. With all our vehicles and trailers put together – we almost make up a convoy of our own when we travel now.

Darling – I couldn’t write you yesterday, I was just plain too tired when evening came. I was in court all day and I’m inclined to believe that with all its shortcomings, Medicine has Law beat six different ways. But it was interesting and I enjoyed it. It was really something different – making objections, being objected to, thinking up new questions on the spur of the moment – and trying to anticipate new questions on the part of the prosecution. To add to all the confusion – every question and answer had to be given over again in German. I could have saved a lot of time by doing my questioning in German – but the judge knew no German.

09 February, 2012

09 February 1945

No letter today. Just this:


* TIDBIT *

about Seizing the Roer River Dam
(Part 2)

Below is an excerpt from the Personal Memoirs of General Frank Camm Jr. as found on Scorpio's website called "The Battle of the Huertgen Forest." Desiring to fight beside his father when he graduated from West Point, Frank Jr. requested assignment to the 78th Division, where his father was an artillery colonel. Here he could serve beside him in the combat engineers - not under him which may have raised concerns of favoritism.

Lieutenant General Frank A. Camm, Jr.
We spent the night of 8 February 1945 standing by to undertake an assault crossing [of the Roer River], but the order never came. Instead, I received instructions to provide a patrol to inspect the Schwammenauel dam once we reached it. We had to be sure that the Germans had not prepared it for demolition to flood the Roer River valley while our forces were in the midst of crossing it downstream. If the Krauts were to blow the dam, an 18-foot wall of water would crash 36 miles down the Roer across our front. Within four hours, this German-made flood would trap any allied forces that had ventured across the Roer into the Cologne Plain. I designated my company executive officer, Lieutenant Maurice Phelan, to organize and lead the patrol. A sharp and reliable officer, Phelan selected Private First Class Pearl Albough, Private First Class Harold Fisher and Private Kenneth Hart from Bill Monroe's 3rd Platoon and Private Kurt Storkel from Glen Timm's 2nd Platoon to accompany him.

08 February, 2012

08 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
8 February, 1945
Germany        1030

Wilma, darling –

I’m getting an earlier start today than I did yesterday – but I expect to be busy for the rest of the day. I told you yesterday about the military government case I was working on and that’s really got me running around. But since I undertook to handle the thing at all – I might as well do as good a job as possible. Today is the last day before the trial and I’ve got to re-drill some of my witnesses. I’ve had lots of good help from some of the officers in the outfit – including the Colonel.

Last night I wrote you that I was trying to relax and take it easy – if I could. Well it didn’t work, darling, it just didn’t work. One of our officers had his Birthday yesterday and the boys insisted on celebrating. I really didn’t feel like it – but hell – you just can’t refuse. Well – we started out playing Michican Poker – or Rummy – I don’t know which – but the game didn’t go along too well due to the liquid diversion – in the form of French 75’s; that dear, in case you’re not aware, is a mixture of champagne and cognac – and it’s just a little bit stronger than strychnine. You know, sweetheart, bartenders in the States are going to have a helluva time with the returning soldiers because they’re going to get requests for the oddest drinks. Just having a Scotch and soda or rum-coke seems too uninteresting after the variety we’ve learned to drink. For example a mixture of Scotch or Cognac with Benedictine – is one of the nicest drinks you can get and I know a bartender back home will think someone crazy for asking for it.

07 February, 2012

07 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
7 February, 1945      1830
Germany

Wilma, my dearest –

I thought for awhile today that I wouldn’t have a chance to write, but as things turned out – I’ve just taken a break and here I am. And I don’t want this letter to get any older before I tell you that I love you stronger than anything else in this world.

That wasn’t a very well-connected paragraph, dear, but you know what I mean. We’re still settled in the same spot and things are going along very nicely. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be very busy right now – but as usual – I seem to have something to do all the time – and this time, darling, it’s a corker. Next to the place where our C.P. is a woman, her married daughter, son, younger daughter – and a grandson live – all in about a room and a half. I took care of the old lady for a heart attack – the last time I was here. The p.m. we arrived this time – I was called to see her for another attack and this time she was quite ill; not only that – but hysterical. She raved about the M.P.’s (several live upstairs in the same house) advances to her daughter etc. etc. And it seemed that because of one reason or another – the M.P.s found a loaded German gun in the next store to where these people live. The next store belongs to the woman but was unoccupied – until we moved in.


Well – the whole thing smelled pretty strange to me. We had been here for about a month before, and the people seemed O.K. If anything – the married daughter was too attractive. At any rate – they charged the daughter with having the gun in her house and arrested her. She was confined to a dingy jail. What interested me was the fact the mother – who owns the store – was not confined and the daughter was. The mother insisted they knew nothing of the gun and said it was just done out of spite.

I didn’t want to get mixed up in treating a case – when things were hot like that – so, dear, yesterday I went to the Military Gov’t and told them I was treating someone etc. etc. I asked what would happen and I was told that if connected – death was the penalty. Well – that’s a pretty stiff penalty it seemed to me – especially if these people were innocent, as I believe them to be. I asked one of the officers what sort of defense they’d have and he said they’d pick some officer, any officer – and out of a clear sky he asked why I didn’t defend her especially since I spoke German and needed no interpreter. I went back to see Col. Lane and he said “by all means” – and there you have it, sweetheart. I’ve been appointed by the Mil. Gov’t of this City to defend a German woman who is on trial for her life. And I a doctor!

You know, dear – law takes a lot of running around and that’s what I’ve been doing for a day and a half. This is Wednesday evening and the trial is Friday a.m. at 0900. I guess most of our officers will be there to listen in. It’s held in the City Hall. If I didn’t think these people were guiltless I wouldn’t have touched the case. As it is – the burden of proof rests on me – because the fact is the M.P.s did find a gun on their property. All day today I ran around getting witnesses lined up and it took all the German I knew to convince all of them that I was on the level and was going to defend a German against some American soldiers. It ought to make an interesting case.

Gosh, darling I had no idea I had rambled on for 4 pages already but I wanted you to know most of the details so that if I referred to the case again you’d know what I was talking about, dear.

Other than that, sweetheart, everything is normal. We got no mail the past 2 days but that always happens under these circumstances. When I get thru writing this I’m going to try and take it easy for the rest of the evening and then retire early – but I suppose something will turn up.

So for awhile, sweetheart, so long and remember that no matter what I’m doing you are still the first one in my mind and heart and always will it be so. My love to the folks and

My deepest love to you –
Greg.

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]

Authorization given to the jailor for Greg to visit the defendant
on 06 February 1945

MILITARY GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS
DETACHMENT H2 H2, COMPANY H
2D. E.C.A. REGIMENT

APO 658
6 Feb 45

 SUBJECT:     Visitation of Prisoner.
 TO           :      Jailor

                        This is your authorization to permit Capt. H.G.A. to visit Marianne Atzenhofer for the purpose of discussing her case.

                                                                                             JACOB JOHNSON
                                                                                             Capt, SP
                                                                                             Deputy Mil Gov Officer

* TIDBIT *

about Seizing the Roer River Dam


Below is an excerpt from the Personal Memoirs of General Frank Camm Jr. on Scorpio's website called "The Battle of the Huertgen Forest."
When the Germans had been pushed back from the Bulge, it was time for our 78th Division to attack again. Our goal was still to seize the Schammenauel Dam and prevent the Germans from blowing it to flood valleys downstream, blocking further advance of Allied forces in the north. The 310th and 311th would start the attack to clear our south flank while the 309th would hold in the north, prepared to repel counterattacks. Our combat engineers would open routes through our minefields and breach through the German mine fields. The snow was still on the ground, about a foot deep, so we issued white snow-capes to our men and built sleds to move heavy loads over the snow...

... On 7 February, our regiment's northward drive into the toughly defended stronghold of Schmidt would have made a good movie setting. Having rebuffed a couple of previous American attacks, Schmidt looked like a tank and vehicle graveyard. The bodies of dead Krauts lay all around, some missing ring fingers that scavengers had already reached. Tanks hung over edges of cliffs. Other paraphernalia of broken weapons, occasional overcoats, and cartridge belts remained where their owners had dropped them. Minefields were also there--one large one covered the northwest approach to town. Elements of four German divisions were defending Schmidt--the 85th Infantry, 9th Panzer, 3rd Parachute and 3rd Panzergrenadier. As mortar and artillery fire fell on the town, the 311th doughboys dashed forward, hitting the ground, jumping up for another dash, hitting the ground again, firing as they advanced. Krauts on the far side of Schmidt scurried out of town so fast their overcoats were flying over their heads. Godfrey Stallings in K Company of the 311th Infantry described his company's attack as follows:
My company was to make the main direct assault on this village... Our approach was to be across a wide-open space from the edge of a forest where we were to rendezvous with tanks. Tanks always make a lot of noise when they move with their motors roaring, treads clanking and squeaking...The enemy found out we were in the woods behind the tanks... and began a heavy barrage of artillery shells into the woods where we were waiting... Boy! Those artillery shells were knocking down trees, plowing up the ground, and shrapnel from the exploding shells was flying everywhere, causing casualties...I fell down beside a large tree seeking as much protection as possible. A shell cut the top out of that tree... the top slid down the tree trunk and almost pinned me to the ground. Our captain, realizing we would be cut to pieces if we stayed there, jumped up and started ordering us to move forward out of the woods. We started the attack across the open area on foot ... Everybody seemed to be firing everything they had and I do mean everybody was shooting... We didn't have much protection in the open area. Just blades of grass, weeds, and depressions in the ground left by tank tracks. Our best bet was to keep moving forward. One group would shoot while another group moved forward. They would hit the ground and shoot while another group moved up. It was sort of a leap frog action. When you ran forward, it was a zigzag pattern and when you hit the ground you rolled to spoil the aim of any enemy shooting at you.

When the leading tank got almost to the edge of the village, it was hit by antitank shells and set on fire. Seeing this, the other two tanks wheeled around and started back toward the woods. Seeing the attack faltering, Captain Ferry (my company commander) ordered everybody to start moving toward the village again and kept the attack going. We finally made it to the edge of the village and the house-to-house fighting began... Two of our guys started running toward a house when a hidden machine gun opened up on them. One guy fell to the ground and the other guy dived through an open space that had once been a window or door. Spotting smoke from the machine gun firing at them, he lobbed a hand grenade that took care of the situation. I thought the guy that fell to the ground had been hit, but he had stumbled over a piece of wire that probably saved his life... Whew! What a way to earn $64.80 a month as a private first class plus $10 a month for my Combat Infantry Badge!

Finally our 310th and 311th Infantry regiments gained possession of Schmidt, which had stayed the military might of our allied forces for several months. Some military writers have estimated this town was worth at least five divisions to the enemy.

While the 310th went through Schmidt and on to capture Harscheidt, the 311th moved toward the dam, following the curving north shoreline of the reservoir.

Just after we captured Schmidt, I was ordered to lead a daylight patrol to look for a good site from which to launch assault boats to ferry infantry across the lake behind Schwammenauel Dam on the Roer River. The far side had steep hills occupied by enemy soldiers with good observation on us. A 311th Infantry company took up positions on high ground overlooking my patrol route along the lake south of Schmidt while I took a squad of infantry along for security. We soon found an empty German dugout with a field telephone that had obviously served as a German forward observation post. Ever fearful of running into Krauts, we followed the telephone line to where it went into the lake. We encountered no enemy, but they were obviously over there on the far shore, prevented from shooting us by our overwatching infantry. We came back to report that we could emplace assault boats under cover of night or heavy smoke, and ferry infantry across, but the hills on the far shore would be terribly challenging.

In our drive for the dam, Dad's division artillery was given enormous artillery support from Corps and Army artillery. At one point, he was coordinating the fires of 26 artillery battalions, including 155-mm guns, 8" howitzers, huge 240mm howitzers, and even a British rocket battalion. This concentration of firepower of nearly 300 artillery pieces was one of strongest artillery concentrations in First Army history.

06 February, 2012

06 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
6 February, 1945       0950
GERMANY

My dearest sweetheart –

It is with real satisfaction that I can again head my letters to you the word ‘Germany’. From the last time I wrote it until now – we’ve traveled a lot, seen a lot and suffered a little; we had anxious moments but my own particular concern was always as to how you at home were taking the news. I knew mail was delayed – there were more important uses for vehicles – and I can well imagine how you all ‘sweated it out’. That bothered me more than anything, darling, that and the effect on our pride. This has been a damned good Army we’ve been in, dear, better, I think, than any other on this Front – and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve got the best boys of any in this Army or any other Army. From the day we landed we have never had to go backwards because of enemy action and that’s a pretty good record – and when we went backwards this time – it was only because they wanted a damn good Corps to knock Rundstadt silly. The actual breakthrough – as you must have surmised – came in another sector. And we did knock him silly.

05 February, 2012

05 February 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Route of the Question Mark

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]
(A) Failon, Belgium to (B) Stolberg, Germany (62 miles)
24 January to 5 February 1945

February 5 ... Stolberg. Back to our old quarters in the department store with the Nazis pinned behind the Siegfried line once more. Presparations for The Battle of Germany. Replacements arrived from the States, and all of them good men, which was a miracle. The impressive warnings against fraternizing with the Germans - we are to remain cold and aloof at all times. Capt A's frantic and successful efforts to get "The Blonde" out of jail, which made T/Sgt [Clayton W. or Lars G.?] PIERSON and several others very happy.

City Square - Now a GI Car Park
Stolberg, Germany - 1945

04 February, 2012

04 February 1945

No letter today. Just this:


* TIDBIT *

about The Yalta Conference

Seated (l to r) Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin
4 February 1945

The Yalta Conference took place between 4 February 1945 and 11 February 1945. Much can be said about the Conference, but this is not the place for that. Instead, here are some simple summaries. First, The following was taken from History.com's "This Day in History."
On 4 February 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin met at Yalta, in the Crimea, to discuss and plan the postwar world — namely, to address the redistribution of power and influence. It is at Yalta that many place the birth of the Cold War.

It had already been determined that a defeated Germany would be sliced up into zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, the principal Allied powers. Once in Germany, the Allies would see to the deconstruction of the German military and the prosecution of war criminals. A special commission would also determine war reparations.

03 February, 2012

03-04 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
3 February, 1945         2130

My dearest girl –

I can’t remember when I’ve started a letter to you so late in the day. I probably won’t finish this tonite – but I’ll feel better for at least having made a start. In the next day or two I may have to miss writing you and I didn’t want to make it two days in a row if I could help it. There was a time when I used to like the peace and quiet of an evening in which to write but I’ve lost some of my ability to relax in the latter part of the day and when the night comes – even if I’m not busy I want to talk with the fellows or play some Bridge. During the day – the mornings particularly when I write you – things are usually in a state of turmoil here and I know my letters to you, dear, suffer in content and expression; but you know what I mean and you must realize sweetheart that it’s just impossible to concentrate. I haven’t apologized for my letters to you in a long while but I know they’re often jumbled and must lack continuity of thought. But I do love you, darling, and no one but you – and when I’m back home again – that will be the thing that counts most of all.

You know, dear, the boys wonder how I can find material to write you most every day. They’ll stand and watch me and say “What! Wilma again!” And I tell them they don’t know what it is to be in love and that I could write page upon page by the hour if I had the time and the place. And they say no more. And I’ll say no more for tonight, sweetheart, except that I love you dearly and miss you more. I’m tired, dear, and I’m going off to bed. See you in the morning, darling. Goodnite for now –
Love
Greg

Sunday, 4 February,    1300

Hello again – dear!

02 February, 2012

02 February 1945

V-MAIL

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
2 February, 1945           1830
Dearest sweetheart –

I love you and here it is late in the day and I’m just getting around to telling you. I’m too busy to write this right now honestly, darling, but I hate to miss the day. I started to say ‘I love you’ and got side-tracked; I not only love you, but I miss you, want you, need you – and aim to have you!! And the sooner the better, darling.

Chalk up 31 months of the Army for me, dearest – and I’m mighty glad it’s behind me. But I’m still kicking and I’ve got lots of pep left – and it’ll take more than this to get me down.

Sorry – kid – I have to run along. Be well, dear, love to the folks and

My everlasting love is yours
Greg


* TIDBIT *

about "As I Please"

01 February, 2012

01 February 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
1 February, 1945         1130

My dearest and only sweetheart –

First of all, I love you more than you can possibly imagine, because no matter how much I try, I believe I must fall short in expressing it! But you are the only girl in the world for me, darling, and I mean that – and no matter what I write or don’t write, that should sum up everything. I suppose I haven’t been the most ardent of fiancĂ©s – probably because sweet things don’t come easily from my lips, dear – but if you want one that’s sincere and honest and interested in only one girl, I’m that type. And that goes forever, sweetheart, not for just now, because I’m away from you, sentimental and lonesome. It’s because I am that way that I appreciate you all the more and my only regret is that I don’t tell you often enough.

My Birthday yesterday turned out wonderfully and for surprises – you take the cake, darling (literally). It was shaping up as a pretty drab one – and I believe I wrote you that nothing unusual happened. Well I was busy most of the p.m. and got back late. We eat at 1700 and I appeared about 1715. Everyone was at the table and when I came in the Colonel led the singing of “Happy Birthday – dear doctor”. I still didn’t notice anything until I sat down and there – in the center of the table, was this big gorgeous cake – with the words “Happy Birthday – from Wilma”. My first reaction was that someone of the boys had arranged for our kitchen to bake it – but I realized immediately that they couldn’t possibly have made so lovely a cake. The boys kept me guessing awhile and then I heard how the special service office had been contacted by Special Services of Corps who had in turn been contacted by Red Cross in Paris. It was a wonderful idea, darling, a complete surprise – and I can only say “Thanks!!” Later in the evening several of the boys who could get off came up to the Dispensary and I opened a bottle of cognac and guess what – the box of cookies you had sent me a long time ago in one of your Christmas packages. I had saved it – I didn’t know for what – but it just came in right last nite. So darling – I had a pretty swell Birthday – considering you weren’t around – and there’s still a bit of a war on.