08 March, 2012

08 March 1945

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

Dearest darling Wilma –

Mirabile dictu! – or I don’t believe it – but yesterday I actually received a letter from you post-marked and written 28 February. After the long waiting periods for letters – hearing from you one week after you wrote a letter is amazing and wonderful. It’s strange how the nearness of a date can make you seem so near. It makes me angry when I realize that mail can reach us so quickly and yet takes 4 and 5 weeks sometimes. By the way – I can’t seem to remember what date I used on the letter I wrote you yesterday, darling; it seems to me I used the 6th instead of the 7th – or it may have been the letter I wrote home.

Well, sweetheart, what can I tell you that’s news from this part of the world? Oh – that reminds me – dear; you always refer to my being 3000 miles away. It seems to me it’s even farther than that; if it isn’t actually – it feels that way anyway. Just a point, just a point. Well there isn’t a heck of a lot of news except war news and that as you know is good. It was a quiet day here most of the day and in the late evening we played a little Black Jack and Poker – the first time in a long while. I won about 100 francs. Incidentally – we get paid in Belgian francs now rather than the previous – U.S. marks. The latter were no good to us because we couldn’t buy anything in Germany anyway, and when we got back to Belgium – we had to convert.

I found your letter of 26 February, dear, extremely interesting. It was written after you had read my mail to you of the month of January and you told me about my experiences as you interpreted them, when you thought I moved – etc. Actually – we moved more there than you believed we did. You were right about the rotten month we had. It was – but it could have been worse. And your ‘moody’ letters of late December – didn’t worry me, really, dear. I understood how you felt – and I don’t expect you to be cheery all of the time. I know that’s impossible.

You still have trouble visualizing the part A.A – or rather this Battalion is playing in the war. I can’t help that, dear. If you’re confused – it’s because our own particular missions vary from time to time – and because all A.A. over here or anywhere – don’t do the same thing. You say the pictures of my activities is meager and yet I feel I tell you quite a bit. I can’t for the life of me see the point in my writing to you about tactics, maneuvers etc. – which – in the first place is strictly forbidden, and which secondly – even if not – would not help you stand the war one bit easier. If it’s tactics you want sweetheart, I’ll give you all the dope I know after the war – until it comes out of your ears!

You mention receiving more pictures, dear – I’d almost forgotten all about the batch I sent you. How many did you finally receive? I think I sent out something like 23 or 24 or 25. File them away with the rest, dear. We ought to have quite a few before we’re through. You have some from England, too, haven’t you? I’ve already got 3-4 more rolls ready for developing – but I don’t know where or when –

As for Admiral – he was a cute trick. We had him for about 4-5 mos. altogether. Before this last push – he got a bit sick and we left him with some Germans. We just didn’t have the medicine or time to look after him. I hated to leave him – but we couldn’t help it.

And I’m glad you found out about the Birthday cake and how nicely your surprise really worked. It really had me puzzled but I enjoyed it tremendously. It was interesting to note that the Field Director wrote his rather full address – a no no, dear – you should know – if you didn’t already – what Army and what Corps we’re with.

I didn’t mean to bring up the subject of age difference – dear. I don’t fear it either and as a matter of fact – it rarely enters my mind now – although, frankly, it used to. But the best and most important factor was that I never once was aware of it when I was with you – riding, talking, dancing, kissing. I always felt we clicked together – and I know that’s what counts most.

Yes – I heard from Lawrence yesterday as of 17 February. He didn’t actually say he had applied for overseas duty....



about Bonn, Beethoven and Another Bridge

Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 15 miles south of Cologne its history dates back to Roman times. In about 11 BC, the Roman Army appears to have stationed a small unit in what is presently the historical center of the town. Even earlier, the Army had resettled members of a Germanic tribal group allied with Rome, the Ubii, in Bonn. The Latin name for that settlement, "Bonna", may stem from the original population of this and many other settlements in the area, the Eburoni.

Bonn's most famous son, Ludwig van Beethoven, was born in 1770 in a house that is now a museum with many original artifacts including the great man's grand piano. The Beethoven Monument, a large bronze statue which stands on the Münsterplatz, was unveiled on 12 August 1845, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the composer's birth.

When the Münsterplatz was bombed, Beethoven was untouched

Beethoven today showing buildings on his right

Münsterplatz today

On 8 March 1945 the First Infantry Division was continuing its attack to the east, with its main objective the capture of the City of Bonn. In the late afternoon of March 8th, elements of the 3rd Battalion, 18th Infantry, cleared the town of Ollekoven, and also attacked into Bonn. By the end of the day, elements of the 16th and 18th Infantry were fighting in the streets of Bonn. Stiff resistance was encountered both on the outskirts and in the city, and over 1,000 prisoners were taken. Contact was maintained between the 1st Infantry Division and the 8th Infantry Division. At 8:30 P.M. the 3rd Armored Division joined the First Infantry Division and assembled in the vicinity of Liblar.

The Rhine Bridge, the only exit for the Germans, was a touch and go affair. Several German prisoners reported that they had seen the bridge prepared for demolition, and most of them were surprised that the bridge had not been blown already. The bridge was blown at 9:15 pm, 8 March 8 1945, by a Captain of the 6th (German) Engineer Regiment (later captured by the First Division), who had not slept for three days worrying over whether he would be able to blow the bridge at precisely the right moment. He succeeded admirably.

Soon after the destruction ferries, boats and some truck ferries transferred goods and people between both sides. From 29 August 1945, on Bonn's Committee for Urban Planning, the "Bauausschuss", dealt with the construction of a new bridge and released the plans in March 1946. In September 1946 Grün and Bilfinger started with the construction. The bridge was built on the nearly intact pillows within 36 months. On 12 November 1949 the new bridge was opened. On December 2, 1963, just ten days after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy the bridge was renamed to "Kennedy Bridge". Necessary reconstruction and widening of the bridge was begun in 2006 and is now complete.

Print of Rhine Bridge as it Looked in 1945

Photo of Rhine Bridge in 1920

Kennedy Bridge Today

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