22 February, 2012

22 February 1945

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

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.

Yesterday, dear, I didn’t move much out of this place – but I managed to keep fairly busy. In the evening I played Bridge – for the first time in several nights. I won my share. We kept changing partners – and I was on the winning end 4 out of 6 rubbers. One hand was extra special and we bid and made 7 Diamonds. I opened 1 No – with a 5 count and my partner double-jumped me to 3 diamonds. I knew we were off. It was a nice hand to hold.

I was awfully sorry to read in one of your letters – about Les White. I don’t remember what I wrote you when you first mentioned his being wounded in the shoulder or arm – but then – you implied it was slight. Of course that’s where the Army puts a family off. As you must know thru your work, dear, the reports are either ‘severe’ or ‘slight’. In order to be ‘severe’ – you’ve really got to be hit – with loss of limb at least. But there’s no ‘moderate’ classification – and I think that’s been fooling a good many families when they get a report of ‘slight’. Of course I can understand Betty being happy to have him back – but nerve injuries are damned tricky and the results uncertain. I do hope he gets along O.K. The Army does a good job though of getting a soldier into a Hospital not far from his family.

Say – what’s this about a post-war scarf? I thought you were making me one for now – although I admit – it’s getting a little bit late for it. O.K. – a post-war scarf – but what if I get back in the middle of the summer? Anyway, it’s thoughtful of you, darling, and I appreciate it. How is it coming along?

And you and Grace better stop thinking about that imaginary trip to Europe – although I see the point, dear. Better let us plan the imaginary trip back to those we love. At least when we get there – we’ll be able to love and live in peace and quiet. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to come back to this goddamned Continent. I don’t see how it will ever overcome some of it’s scars and a peace is not going to make the French, Belgium and Dutch – forgive and forget what has happened. For that matter – the Germans can’t forget it either – because they’ve been knocked cockeyed. No – this continent will stink to high heaven and I don’t believe I could come back here without becoming bitter all over again for the stagnant months I’ve had to spend here. We have two overseas stripes on our uniforms now – 1 for each six month period; and a 3rd stripe is not too far off.

Excuse me for getting into that vein Sweetheart – but I love you and have loved you for a long time now and I’ve had to be away from you all this time and it makes me fit to be tied. These surroundings don’t help one bit. Well – skip it, dear. I’ll stop now and dream awhile about Newton Center. Love to the folks – and
All my everlasting devotion –


P.P.S. I don’t understand these things dear – But if you say it comes out all right – that’s O.K. with me
Love G.


about Operation Clarion

On 22 February 1945 and the morning of 23 February, thousands of bombers and fighters of the Eighth, Ninth and Fifteenth Air Forces, joined by the RAF, dispersed across Germany, Austria and Italy, in small groups, bombing and strafing transportation objectives and targets of opportunity at low altitudes. Eisenhower's headquarters requested the air forces to mount Operation Clarion, a long-standing plan designed to utilize all available British and American air power non-stop day and night in a blow that would affect both economic life and the tactical situation. Some at the highest levels felt it was just the thing that was needed to "break German civilian morale." Thus, "terror bombing" was approved at the highest level, couched in tactical terms.

Although the pilots did not seem to see beyond their orders, American Air Force leaders had no difficulty understanding what Clarion was really about, and some of them protested vehemently. Over 95% of the people killed would be civilians. Those protesting felt that indiscriminate destruction of blocks of cities, including hospitals, ancient irreplaceable cathedrals, and other monuments of human culture and progress was barbaric, placing the perpetrators in the same category as those they criticized for barbarism. Still others felt it would take Allied air effort off the one thing where the Germans were most vulnerable – oil. They felt that any losses would not be just material as they would involve the reputation of the United States and Britain.

Orders went out for press releases and communiques to stress the military value of the listed targets even though the lists included small communities of insignificant military or economic importance, such as Heidelberg, Gottingen and Baden-Baden. It was directed that special care should be taken so as not to give any impression that the operation was aimed at civilian populations nor intended to terrorize them. Secretary of War, Stimson, told a press conference on the day Clarion was launched, “Our policy has never been to inflict terror bombing on civilian populations.” Somehow, he appeared remarkably unaware of what the American Air Force was doing to enemy cities that very day. For example, in the town of Hildesheim the marshaling yard was heavily damaged while the city itself received considerable damage: 102 houses were completely destroyed, and 106 houses and two churches suffered severe damage and 998 houses and four churches were slightly damaged. About 250 people were killed.

Destruction to a rail yard in Cleve, Germany
22 February 1945

Destruction to a bridge in Simmern, Germany
22 February 1945

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