04 March, 2012

04 March 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
4 March, 1945      0930

Dearest darling Wilma –

I often think – as I did last night – of the week-end we had together in Holyoke alone. We had never really been alone for any length of time until that Sunday afternoon – as a matter of fact. I knew I was learning to love you for what you were but from a purely physical point of view – we hadn’t quite kissed hard enough or long enough to react to each other truly emotionally. We did that day and I’ve never forgotten about it. It’s such a long time ago, sweetheart, and yet I can still sense the reaction of being close to you, very close; of the satisfaction of knowing we were alone and not to be disturbed; of lying side by side looking up at the ceiling and talking to each other; of just being together there as we hadn’t been before. I suppose anyone reading this other than you would think the worst. But we know otherwise – and that’s all that really matters.

Well – whatever got me started on that subject! Oh – yes – I remembered thinking about it last night. A guy can think – can’t he! I’d better get back to more immediate things, I guess.

Yesterday – to continue the chronicle – was another day of activity and we were more or less kept on our toes. You’ll notice, darling, that we’re not seeing many movies these days – and that’s all right with all of us. So long as we’re busy enough moving about – we know the war is progressing well – and we’ll gladly do without the entertainment. And anyway – all the relaxation I want lies in your letters – of which I received 4 yesterday, two V-mails 14 February and one undated (tch,tch!) and two airmails written 19 and 20 February. Now that’s really something, sweetheart, and really – it’s not such a bad war at all when you can get sweet letters – a variety of them in fact – and of recent date, too. Your Valentine V-mail was cute – and the “Angel” or did you say – Cupid – brought your love all right, dear – for which I thank you. You have mine – of course – for a long time now.

The news about Mother B was really ‘prima’ as they say in this country – and is an entirely different picture than was painted before. You mention a Dr. Pemberton and that you want her to see him anyway. He must be a consultant – and if he is – I certainly think she ought to see him. I don’t happen to know who he is. But it all sounds better than it did the first time you mentioned it – and I’m glad of that.

I’ll have to stop now, darling – the boys are coming back from church service and I’ll have a little work to do. Remember – I love you more each day, dear – and miss you and want you constantly. Knowing you feel the same way – makes it much more bearable. Love to the folks, dear and

All my everlasting love


about Operation "Lumberjack"

Portion of Map of Operation Lumberjack
[Click to Enlarge]
Red Dot indicates Greg's Location on 4 March 1945
Solid Blue Line is the Front on 1 March 1945
Dotted Blue Line Through Cologne is the Front on 7 March 1945

From "U.S. Army in WWII European Theater of Operations: The Last Offensive" by Charles B. MacDonald for the Department of the Army's Office of the Chief of Military History, published in 1973 in Washington, D.C. come these excerpts:
In reaching the Erft River late on 27 February, General Collins's VII Corps had fulfilled its mission in Operation GRENADE. Yet because of the added assignment of guarding the Ninth Army's flank all the way to the Rhine, the Corps would make no pause at the Erft except that necessary to expand the bridgeheads established on the 27th and to put in bridges. By the end of the first day of March, the Corps was beyond the Erft complex astride the main highways leading from Juelich and Dueren to Cologne. Despite frantic efforts by German planes, usually operating singly, six class 40 bridges were in place across the Erft.

The conspicuous feature of the terrain immediately beyond the Erft, west and southwest of Cologne, is a low, plateau-like ridge some twenty-five miles long, the Vorgebirge. Factories and heavily urbanized settlements abound. Northwest of Cologne, the country is generally flat and pastoral, dotted with villages and small towns, particularly along the major highways radiating from Cologne. Because of the basic requirement of protecting the Ninth Army's flank, the VII Corps was to make its main effort north of Cologne, leaving the city to be taken later. General Collins split responsibility for the assignment between General Rose's 3rd Armored Division and the General Lauer's 99th Infantry Division.

The critical assignment went to the armor, beefed up during the opening phase of breaking out of the Erft bridgehead with attachment of the 99th Division's 395th Infantry. Rose was to strike north from the bridgehead to cut the Cologne-Muenchen-Gladbach highway at the town of Stommeln, thereby severing a vital artery leading into the Ninth Army's flank. Meanwhile, General Lauer's infantry was to clear the ground between Rose's armor and the Erft.

When the armor attacked before daylight on 2 March, all thrusts were successful, but they failed to precipitate immediate breakout. Conglomerate German units, mainly from the 9th Panzer Division, fought back stubbornly behind antitank ditches and obstacles that made up an extension of the third line of field fortifications the Germans had prepared behind the Roer. The gains here were insufficient to have any effect on the counterattack projected for that day by the 11th Panzer Division into the Ninth Army's flank; that failed to come off only because the Ninth Army's capture of Muenchen-Gladbach prevented the Panzer Lehr Division from launching its converging thrust.

As night fell on 2 March, the armor had expanded the Erft bridgehead to a depth of three miles, which carried it beyond the northern reaches of the Vorgebirge into open country. From that point the Germans would be capable only of delaying actions, almost always in towns and villages since the flat terrain afforded few military features. That fact was demonstrated early on 3 March when two task forces of Combat Command Hickey moved before dawn to take the Germans by surprise in two villages southwest of Stommeln. So complete was the surprise in the first village that the attacking armored infantrymen incurred not a single casualty. At both villages the Germans were annihilated, leaving nobody to a final village still remaining short of Stommeln, the division's intermediate objective.

Combat Command Howze moved against Stommeln from three sides. Despite an extensive antitank minefield covered by a relatively strong concentration of antitank guns, the columns converged on the town in late afternoon. Aided by P-47 air strikes against the antitank defenses, they cleared the last resistance by nightfall. General Rose meanwhile sent a column from his reserve, Combat Command Boudinot, beyond Stommeln to a village just four miles from the Rhine. Only one more town lay between the armor and the final objective of Worringen.

Even though the 3rd Armored Division still had several miles to go to reach the Rhine, the VII Corps commander, General Collins, deemed it time to shift emphasis from the northward thrust to capturing Cologne. Late on 3 March Collins told General Rose to continue to the Rhine at Worringen the next day but at the same time to divert a force southeast against Cologne. Not waiting for a new day before continuing to the Rhine, patrols of the 3rd Armored's 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion in early evening of 3 March determined that the one town remaining short of Worringen on the Rhine was stoutly defended. Declining to give battle, the reconnaissance battalion turned north over back roads, bypassed the town, and in the process captured an artillery battery and 300 surprised Germans. Before daylight on 4 March 1945 a 4-man patrol led by First Lieutenant Charles E. Coates reached the Rhine north of Worringen. A task force of Combat Command Boudinot then moved up the main road at dawn, cleared the defended town, repulsed a counterattack by 200 infantry supported by five tanks, and drove on to Worringen and the river.

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