25 March, 2012

25 March 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
25 March, 1945      0840
Germany

Dearest sweetheart Wilma –

It’s still a little noisy in here this morning but the boys will be going to Church soon and things should quiet down. This is Palm Sunday and it seems hard to believe that Easter is here next Sunday. I believe there’s to be some kind of Passover Service at the Corps the latter part of this week – but as usual I don’t know yet whether or not I’ll be able to make it. Meanwhile the weather stays beautiful, the days get longer and warmer, and if it weren’t for an occasional this or that – it would be easy to forget there was a war on. I’ve never seen so much of anything drunk as I have of this wine here. Most of the 800 bottles are gone, but the boys found a shed with tremendous kegs – all filled with fine red wine. They fill up 5 gallon cans and pass them around. We’ve sent a lot of stuff out to the batteries.

1015

I got busy again and here I am back. That’s when you can’t forget about war, darling. Damn it – everything seems so peaceful and serene and suddenly – bang! – and there’s work to do.

1050

Darling – it looks like a tough day so I’m going to sail right along and make this a short one. I wanted to tell you something – and with all the confusion here, I’m damned if I can think what it was. I do remember one thing I’ve meant to clear up some time ago. That was something you mentioned in a letter a couple of weeks ago. You were telling me about being out with Barbara and a fellow named Mel. You told me how he had missed going overseas when he broke his leg and you said I would have been very mad had that happened to me and then you said I like being in this thing. Well, Sweetheart, “like” is hardly the word, and where in the world did you get the impression that I like being in this war. You must remember this, dear, there’s a world of difference between making the best of things, trying to overlook an occasional hardship as discomfort – there’s a world of difference between that and liking it. No, I don’t like this or any part of the war. It has cheated me already of some very precious years of my life and has kept me away from marrying and living with a girl I waited a long time to meet. If you knew how I hated being here, how futile and wasteful it all seems – you could never say I like being in it. Darling – give me credit for making the best of a rotten situation, but that’s all. You’ll know what I thought and think of being a soldier – and over here – only when it’s all over. Then, dear, I think you’ll be surprised.

And now I honestly have to quit, dearest. It’s busy here today and they’re waiting for me. I love you, sweetheart, as life itself, and I always shall. Each day finds me missing you more and more – and only the good news makes the waiting a bit easier. Be well, dear, and send love to the folks. For now so long –
Always yours –
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about the Drive From the Rhine
Small dotted line is Front Line on 22 March 1945
Dashed line is Front Line on 26 March
Note Operation Varsity in the North
Greg's Unit is pushing East north of Remagen with VII Corps

At 0400 hours on 25 March 1945 United States First Army launched a coordinated attack with the VII, III, and V Corps heading eastward out from the bridgehead. The 3d Armored Division passed through the 1st and 104th in four columns, closely followed by the supporting infantry, and despite difficult terrain, minefields, and enemy fire from small arms, self-propelled guns, and tanks, good progress was made. Infantry regiments from the 1st and 104th Infantry Divisions moved forward behind tank units. The 78th Infantry Division started to take over the 1st Infantry Division’s sector along the Sieg River. The 78th Division’s 309th Infantry Regiment eliminated an enemy foothold south of the river near Hennef.

Using strong forces of tanks and infantry from reinforcements rushed into the threatened area, the enemy unsuccessfully attempted to stem our advance. Eight enemy divisions were identified on the VII Corps front, but in spite of the number of units, the quality of many of the troops was low. In the first day's drive the armored columns advanced 20 kilometers. Resistance to the advance of the 104th Division on the south was moderate, but the 1st Division farther north fought off determined counterattacks as it moved east and also protected part of the Corps left flank. This explains why Greg was suddenly busy again.

The snapshot that follows was taken from Normandy to Victory: The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges & the First U.S. Army, maintained by his aides Major William C. Sylvan and Captain Francis G. Smith Jr.; edited by John T. Greenwood, copyright 2008 by the Association of the United States Army, p 347.

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