10 February, 2012

10 February 1945

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

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.

And the result? It was referred to a higher court for another trial – on the suggestion of the judge, who said that the charge against the defendant was too serious a charge for him to rule on. Why he waited until we had spent hours on it, I don’t know. If we’re still around when the case comes up again – I’m still the defense attorney. I’m in it so far – I may as well stick it out – but there’s a lot of work to it, darling. From what I heard the prosecution present, I can’t see how they can prove she knew there was a gun in the store next to her home, or that she was responsible for an unoccupied store. There are half-a-hundred other angles to it – and by the way – before the trial was over yesterday, I was told that the Associated Press was interested in the case. I hope they stay out of it though.

More important than that, though – sweetheart – is the fact that I received mail from you yesterday post-marked 29 January – although the letter was written on the 25th and 26th. But that is far-and-away the most recent mail from you in months and as you know, dear – although all mail from you is welcome – there’s something about a recent letter; it makes me feel just a little bit closer to you. You must experience the same reaction – I’m sure – sweetheart.

Apparently you were really having a cold spell because you sounded – as you said – positively frozen. We were having a very cold spell just about the same time. Fortunately since then it has been much milder and the past several days – although rainy – have been almost Spring-like. I’m sure that the greatest part of winter must be behind us now – and I’m not sorry. And yes – darling – I do use a scarf. I have one I’ve used for the past two winters and I could certainly use a new one – so I’m waiting.

Here are the facts about the weather in Boston for the week beginning 21 January 1945:                                                                                            
           High         Average        Low           

      Average High Temperature          37 °F             28 °F          14 °F
      Average Mean Temperature          32 °F             20 °F              5 °F
      Average Low Temperature          26 °F             12 °F          -4 °F
                                                                                                             Click on the chart below to see how the temperatures that week compared to "normal."                                                                                                 

I was glad to read that you enjoyed my mother’s strudel – and you didn’t make my mouth water. I used to like it and then lost all desire for it. I was surprised to read about Lawrence’s 5 day leave. I suppose he’s thru with Carlisle and sweating out a new assignment. I pray he stays in the States a while longer and if he has to come over – I hope it’s over here – then I’d be able to look him up. The last letter I had from him – he still didn’t know what his next assignment would be.

I think I’ll be the domestic type dearest. I’ll certainly feel like settling down after all this is over, and just the thought of settling down with you, darling – is almost more than I can stand. If only we could get going right away. If we could only be together NOW. I mind the war most, sweetheart, when I think of that and the delay – but hell – it will be and it can’t be too long now.

I’ll stop now, dear. I love you as much as any man can love a woman and I just can’t wait for the time when I can tell you that, show you – and be with you always. Love to the folks.

All my everlasting love –


about Seizing the Roer River Dam
(Part 3)

Aerial views of the Schwammenauel Dam Today
Left shows the Reservoir and Right shows the Roer River Below

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.
Phelan's patrol tried again at midnight. Dashing a thousand feet across the dam through rifle fire and bursting artillery, they found the spillway inaccessible. Sliding down the two hundred-foot face of the dam to a tunnel entrance on the enemy side, they slipped into a six-foot causeway, surprising and capturing six German machine gunners and riflemen. Within a few minutes, the patrol reached the tunnel entrance, and the engineers entered to make their inspection, while the doughboys took up defensive positions at the entrance. Groping their way through the inspection tunnel in the very bowels of the Dam, the engineers knew that an already lighted fuse could be burning closer to a mighty charge. Nervously but quickly, they searched for explosives set to blowup the dam, scouting for wires and fuses, any shred of evidence the dam was mined. It was a ticklish job, but it had to be done. Phelan later told reporters, "We expected to be blown to bits by hidden charges."

Lt. Phelan's patrol returned to the 1st Battalion CP at about 0300 hours on 10 February 1945. Incredibly and much to everyone's surprise, the dam itself had not been prepared for demolition! The logical place for explosives in the tunnel contained no prepared charges! The Germans had not mined the structure. A bridge across the sluiceway and the control houses on the far side had been demolished. The control to the penstock tunnel was also destroyed, sending a thirteen-foot diameter stream of water gushing out of the reservoir. It would take several days for the Roer River to subside. Schwammenauel dam no longer was a menace to four Allied Armies in the north. Fearful of being engulfed by the eighteen-foot wall of water that the Germans could unleash on them within four hours, these armies had been waiting since November to cross the river.

Meanwhile, Staff Sergeant Ed Naylor from our 303rd Engineer S-2 Intelligence Section led another reconnaissance party with a bomb-disposal sergeant from Army and seven infantrymen to the gatehouse. They blasted its door open with a bazooka and returned about 0400 to confirm that the outlets had been blown and water was rushing into the valley below.

Later on the morning of 10 February, the 303rd Engineers dispatched the following message:


By blowing only the valves in the underground flume and keeping the great structure intact, the Germans created sufficient flooding of the Roer River to delay Allied crossings for another two weeks. Had they demolished the dam itself, the flash flood would have lasted only about one day. Thus, the Germans delayed us substantially longer with their partial demolition than they would have if they had blown the full dam.

Following seizure of the dam, Major General C.R. Huebner, V Corps commander, dispatched a commendation to our 78th Division stressing the strategic importance of our accomplishment, "Without which further contemplated operations against the enemy on the northern front would have been impossible... Although the 78th Infantry Division is relatively new in combat, you have given ample proof that in future operations you will add new honors to those you have already achieved in this..."
Writes Scorpio:
Source: The Personal Memoirs of General Frank Camm Jr.
"I would like to thank Frank Camm for granting me permission to reproduce this chapter of his memoirs on my web site."

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