16 March, 2012

16 March 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
16 March, 1945      1100

Dearest darling Wilma –

I started out to write you about an hour and a half ago but got sidetracked until just now. Perhaps I can keep going for awhile. It’s another swell day here today. I’m up in my room writing this. It’s a small room, but was left tidy. This could be an awfully nice, quiet neighborhood – but the damned artillery – our own, I mean – is so noisy – we couldn’t sleep much last nite, and these cottages are so lightly constructed – the whole place quivers and shakes every time they open up.

We got some mail yesterday – but mostly from back in December – a couple of Christmas Cards, old issues of Time; there were none from you, dear; one was from Charlie Wright. He is now with a convalescent hospital – not as a patient – at Daytona Beach, Florida. What a set-up! The scenery around here is not so tough, though. From where we’re located we can look across and see the famous Castles that this area is noted for – tremendous places with spires, etc. – sitting in a cleared area in the middle of a wooded high spot. This must have been quite a spot in peace times.

And today is 16 months overseas duty from us, sweetheart, a pretty good stretch – it seems to me – 9 of them in combat – and that’s what counts most. Half of my Army Career has now been spent away from the States. But all that is nothing. The thing that interests me more than anything else is the fact that I’ve been away from you, dear. For over 16 months. I just can’t conceive it – and yet it’s so true and undeniable. I don’t know what I thought, actually, when I said ‘so long’ that day. I knew you for about 4 months and I knew enough about you and us to know I’d keep after you until I could marry you if I were only sticking around. I honestly didn’t dare dream that you’d not only keep up your interest in me – but consent to become engaged to me the way we did. No – I haven’t forgotten the excitement, tenseness, impatient waiting I went thru – and you, too – a year ago – winter – February, March and – April. Yes – it was April before I knew. And in two weeks – we will have been engaged one full year. You’ll just have to excuse me, sweetheart, if I say I can’t realize it; I just can’t. To be in love with you all this time is one thing; to be engaged to you in addition – and to have missed the intimacies and affection which an engaged couple are entitled to – is something we’ll never exactly make up – and for which I’ll always feel extremely bitter when the subject of war is brought up. And no celebration, no party, no anniversary; just a letter from me, sweetheart, telling you – reminding you how happy a man you made me when you agreed to become engaged to me the way you did, when you thereby gave up all others – and devoted yourself to being constant, lovable, sincere – to me alone. I was happy – a year ago, dear – but not so deeply happy and content as I am now – in the realization that what might have been criticized as a flighty decision on the part of either of us – has turned out to be a permanent and binding one, respected by time and by our continued and growing love for each other. You’ve been the best and most lovable fiancée a fellow could ask for or dream of. I can say only, darling, that I’m aware of it and I’ll never forget it. Good luck, dear, and many many more anniversaries together with me.

Love to the folks – and

All my everlasting love is yours


about Castles of the Lower Middle Rhine

There are six castles along the banks of the Rhine from Bonn to Koblenz, including the baroque castle "Freiligrathaus", built in 1760 in Unkel, and the fabled castle of Drachenburg, atop Drachenfels - one of the best-known mountains in Germany and arguably the most scenic. Two views of Drachenburg are shown below:

Schloss Drachenburg is a private Villa in Palace style located on the Drachenfels hill in Königswinter, a German town at the Rhine River near the city of Bonn. Baron Stephan Sarter (1833-1902), son of a Bonn-based restaurant owner, who became wealthy as a stock broker and was therefore known as the “Baron of Sarter”, purchased a piece of land right underneath the ruin of a fortress at the Drachenfels, in order to fulfill his living dream. Between 1882 and 1884 an imposing work of art from the period of "promoterism" was erected here. Although the Baron planned to live there, he never did.The architecture and design of the castle put visitors into times long past.

The castle was heavily damaged during the 2nd World War and in the post-war period, so that in the 1960s it was empty and about to fall into decay. It was Paul Spinat, who saved it from its destiny as he purchased the castle and opened it for the public in 1973. Up until his death in 1989, the lord of the castle resided in the Castle Drachenburg. Today the Palace is in the possession of the State Foundation of North Rhine-Westphal

Another notable castle is Godesburg Castle near Bonn, of which only ruins remain, although the tower is still standing and can be climbed. Below are an etching from 1646 of how the castle once looked and a photo of the castle today.

The Godesburg is a castle in Bad Godesberg, a formerly independent part of Bonn, Germany. The castle was founded in 1210 and enlarged in 1244 and 1340. It was built on the Godesberg, a hill of volcanic origin, on the former site of a former Roman fortification. It was largely destroyed following a siege in 1583 at the start of the Cologne (Truchsessischen) War (1583-1588). The attackers penetrated into the castle complex through the lavatory, leading to its destruction.

In 1891, the German emperor Wilhelm II donated the castle's ruin to the city of Bad Godesberg. In 1959, the ruin was rebuilt according to plans by Gottfried Böhm, to house a hotel and restaurant. Today, the restaurant is still in operation, but the hotel tract has been divided into apartments.

Other castles in the area include Rheineck Castle, located between Bonn and Koblenz, which is now a museum and restaurant. Erzbichofburg castle (near Eltville) sits right on the river and offers one of the most impressive sights to visitors. Built in 1353 and partially destroyed in 1635, it has been restored and is now open as a museum, offering reenactment rooms featuring Middle-Age artifacts and items, including a 15th century printer's workshop.

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