30 April, 2012

30 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN

APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
30 April, 1945      0850

My dearest fiancée –

I got started a little late this morning – but the kitchen was a little late, the warm water for shaving was delayed etc; no particular reason except that perhaps of yesterday being Sunday. I was a little less busy yesterday because of the exchange of men – but I should have a fairly busy day today. The higher-ups can’t seem to make up their minds on what sort of camp they want this to be. The end plan is to have the Russians in their own camp, French in theirs, etc. But it doesn’t seem to work out like that; you get one Nationality cleaned out and bingo – the next group arriving from a liberated camp has three or four new ones.

Meanwhile – I’ve been out of contact with battalion headquarters for several days now – and so I’m not getting mail. A truck goes up from here every day and takes our outgoing mail and drops it off, but he doesn’t get to see the mail clerk. I think I’ll send my jeep up this morning and take a look around. I left some laundry to be done and I want to get that packed up. Besides, battalion is moving up to this city and beyond and I want to know what’s what. If it’s not too busy, I’ll go myself.

One nice feature about this temporary set-up I’m in, dear, is the quarters and also my working conditions. The latter consists of a rather modern, pretty well equipped infirmary with plenty of help; our quarters is an apartment in a big building. It has a large living room, two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and large hallway. And there are only 3 of us living here, too. There’d certainly be room for you, darling – and the rent is so reasonable. Whoever was here before we got here – arranged for some civilian foreigners to come in every morning and clean up – so the place stays rather neat. We don’t eat here though – but have our mess where the men eat.

Last night was a real quiet Sunday nite in – and it certainly would have been wonderful to have had you with me here. I got back from the Infirmary just at seven and turned on the radio and sure enough – I heard the Jack Benny show – a rebroadcast of course; then Phil Green’s program, Mail Call, Richard Tauber’s program etc. It was comfortable here, the lights were soft – we had some 1922 Red Wine – Algerian – and well – enough said, darling.

Oh hell – I just got a call. The crowd is in and there’s a couple of cases the boys want me to see – so I’m going to have to run along. I’m enclosing some more photos Sweetheart – this makes 35, I believe – in this last series. I wonder how many I’ve sent home to you dear since I sent the few from England. And how is that scrapbook coming? You haven’t mentioned it in some time. The 3 pictures of corpses, dear, are ugly and I had intended not to sent them. One of the boys reminded me that you’ve seen as much in Life Magazine – which is true, I guess.

I came across a few more pictures – taken with another camera – last winter – and although they’re chronologically out of date – I’ll send them along too. I also have a few more shots of Paris and Brussels – commercial – but I’d like to keep them. I’ve seen all the places and couldn’t see any point in using up good film – when these were available.

And now, darling – they’ll be calling me again in a moment – if I don’t get going. But I always have time to say that April 30 or any other day – I love you and only you, dear. More than anyone else, sweetheart – you fill my life – and it will always be so – I know.

Love to the folks, dear – how is Mother B feeling – you haven’t mentioned in some time.

All my sincerest love


about NBC Radio News

From Past Daily comes this:
The news on this morning in April of 1945 was about the eventual collapse of Germany and the end of the War in Europe. With news reports coming in, and bulletins being reported one on top of the other, news of the Fall of Berlin was being reported. Soviet troops had succeeded in occupying the center of the city, while de facto head of the German government, Heinrich Himmler was busy hammering out surrender terms. The latest communique had Himmler attempting to reach a surrender with the Allies without including the Russians. Needless to say, it was rejected. And despite some rumors to the contrary, no surrender had been arrived at. Allied forces were systematically taking over and occupying every other German city, with news that Munich had fallen while this broadcast was on the air. Also reported was news that the Allies had liberated the Dachau Concentration camp, and news of that discovery would be coming in time. During the course of the morning news broadcast, an address by General Spaatz of the Allied Air Forces announced confirmation that the German Luftwaffe had been completely obliterated and subsequently, the Allied Air Force would change its role over to tactical support of ground forces during these final hours/days.

Meanwhile, the War in the Pacific was still far from over. With news reports of a Kamikaze attack on an Allied Hospital ship near Okinawa brought outrage from the Allied High Command and fighting was still intense.

And that was the news for this April 30, 1945, as presented in two morning Newscasts over NBC. One, the Morning Roundup and the later Alka-Seltzer News Of The World.

Here is the 30 April 1945 NBC news reports from Gordon Skene's Sound Collection at Past Daily:

29 April, 2012

29 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
29 April, 1945      0820

Good morning, Sweetheart –

Again I find that it’s best I write you at this hour. Later it will be well nigh impossible. I spent a very interesting and busy day yesterday and I stayed over at the camp. I may be here for a few days more. There’s a tremendous amount of work to be done – but honestly – it’s fascinating. It’s almost like a guessing game. A fellow comes in and you guess what nationality he is so you’ll know how to speak to him. They all look alike, too, except the Russians and the Indians – yes we have them also. The Indians walk around with full turbans and full beards. The reason the rest of them look alike is that not one of them is wearing a complete uniform, but stuff they’ve had to pick up along the way. There are Americans wearing U.S. shirts, German boots, English trousers etc. and the same is true of the others. They all haven’t shaved for days or weeks and most of them haven’t had haircuts for months. They’re a sad looking lot, dear, and they’ve made an impression upon us entirely different from anything else so far received.

On sick-call – you see a fellow who looks like a Pole and you say Polski? – in anticipation of calling one of the foreign aid men helping us. The fellow answers “I’m American, sir” – and darling – you feel awful realizing that you’ve let the fellow know he has changed so much. Well – all I can say is that I’ve never worked with more care or patience on any group of soldiers before. I started about 0930 – had a short time out for lunch and supper and got thru at 2100. We had seen by that time 227 patients – with all sorts of conditions – and today will be the same. Soon though the evacuation system will speed up and they’ll all get home speedily.

By the way – I came across a fellow from Boston – he was shot down, flying from Italy. I haven’t had much luck to date in getting anyone to call you and say ‘hello’ for me – but I tried again – and if he doesn’t forget, darling, he’ll give you a ring some day – probably before I can.

I’ve been out of touch with battalion but someone brought my mail to me last evening. I had a V-mail from Stan and another letter from you – from New York – the first nite you arrived. I’m so glad you went, dear, and you were apparently getting a big kick out of it. New York does that for one; I’ve always felt that way when I’ve gone there. I’m glad you’re saving the romantic spots for us, dear, although I’ll have to admit I don’t know my way around New York very well. However – any spot we’ll hit together, sweetheart, will be romantic as far as I’m concerned. And I’m ready for it right now – in case you’re waiting for me to say –

In one of your letters, dear, you guessed the date of our crossing as 29 March. Your dream was exactly one week late, darling – but I’ll excuse you this time because you’ve been so near correct – so often. And I got a letter from Sgt. Freeman written from the hospital in Pa. His spirits were excellent – and more power to him. By now – he may have been home and perhaps you know the full extent of his injuries. He’ll have to have a lot of work done – but he took it like a man.

I, too, wish you knew a way of getting me transferred to the Lovell or the Cushing. Darling – I’m willing. I’ve about seen the end of this thing here. I’ve done my duty and would like to go home. There’s plenty of M.C.s in the States who could come over here for the Army of Occupation – or who could go to Japan. But like everyone else – I’m in the Army and I’ll have to take what comes along. May it be good!

Well, my love, I’m going to cut this off now and get to work. For the first time in a long while I feel I’m doing a little bit of good. And it’s a swell feeling too. It’ll be another big day – but I’m honestly looking forward to it. So for now, darling, so long, love to the folks – and remember always – that I love you strongly and as much as I know how.

All my everlasting love
P.S. This makes 28.
Love, G


about Operation Manna

Following the landing of the Allied Forces on D-Day, conditions grew worse and worse in Nazi-occupied Holland. The Allies were able to liberate the southern part of the Netherlands, but their liberation efforts ground to a halt when Operation Market Garden, the attempt to gain control of the bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem, failed. When the national railways complied with the exiled Dutch government' appeal for a railway strike to further the Allied liberation efforts, the German administration retaliated by putting an embargo on all food transports to the western Netherlands.

The Nazi embargo was partially lifted in early November 1944, allowing restricted food transports over water, but by then the unusually early and harsh winter had already set in. The canals froze over and became impassable for barges. Food stocks in the cities in the western Netherlands rapidly ran out.

The harsh winter of 1944-45, is known by the Dutch as the Hongerwinter ("Hunger Winter"). A number of factors combined to create the Dutch famine:

  • Netherlands was one of the main western battlefields
  • The winter of 1944-45 was unusually harsh
  • The war caused widespread dislocation and destruction
  • The retreating German army destroyed locks and bridges to flood the country, ruining agricultural land
  • Distribution of existing food stocks was made difficult by damage to the transportation infrastructure

The adult rations in cities such as Amsterdam had dropped to below 1000 kilocalories a day by the end of November 1944 and to 580 kilocalories in the West by the end of February 1945. As usual it was the civilian population that suffered worst with many old, young and weak dying from starvation and cold. The dire straits the Dutch were in was starkly illustrated by a newsreel of the day:
... there were no cats left, the dustbins were empty ...
From Alistair's blog called "Crivens, Jings and Help Ma Blog" comes this:
By early 1945, the situation was desperate for the three million or more Dutch still under German control. Prince Bernhard appealed directly to the Allies for help to resolve the situation. In response, protracted negotiations began with the occupying German forces. The plan to deliver this humanitarian aid was codenamed "Operation Manna".

Allied contingency planners eventually devised a system whereby food could be air-dropped by bombers, using panniers (called 'blocks') four of which could be fitted to a standard Lancaster bomb bay. Each block held 71 sacks (giving a total weight of 1254 lbs per block) variously containing sugar, dried egg powder, margarine, salt, cheese, tinned meat, flour, dried milk, coffee, cereals, tea, high vitamin chocolate, potatoes, etc. - all supplied from the Ministry of Food's reserve stockpiles. Before the introduction of 'blocks', a variety of possible delivery systems had been devised by squadrons acting individually. As is customary, user trials were flown, one of which involved Canada's 153 Squadron. Fl/Lt Bill Langford recalled,
On April 21st, I flew 'V' Victor to Netheravon, carrying a mixture of goodies, in sacks, slung from ropes on a home-made device in the bomb bay. We were to demonstrate to an assembly of RAF and Army brass, just how food would be dropped to the starving Dutch. Approaching the airfield at around 200 feet, wheels and flaps down for minimum flying speed, we lined up the white cross on the ground, and pressed the button….. when it all went wrong! Sacks of peas, tins of Spam, and all sorts of containers rained from the sky, scattering the assembled brass in all directions. Not what was intended.
Negotiations with the German Occupying Authority for a limited truce to allow food drops to begin, assumed a critical state as the death toll rapidly mounted. At Scampton, as on other stations involved, crews practised low speed/low flying techniques and simulated drops. Eventually, on Sunday 29th April 1945, the codeword "Operation Manna" was issued; this was an inspired choice, for not only does it stand for "bread from Heaven" but it means exactly the same in Dutch. 153 Squadron promptly dispatched 18 aircraft (each carrying 284 bags of food) to a dropping zone at The Hague - all following drops were on Dundigt Racecourse.

On 29 April the people of Holland heard BBC radio announce:
Bombers of the Royal Air Force have just taken off from their bases in England to drop food supplies to the Dutch population in enemy-occupied territory."
Many crews were initially apprehensive over the realization that they would be flying, in broad daylight, at a very low level, in full view of the German A/A defenses, whose gun barrels could be seen to be tracking their flight. However, the reception by the beleaguered Dutch people, who flocked on to the streets, the rooftops and all open spaces, to wave anything to hand, calmed all fears. Subsequent sorties were flown with panache, at very much lower levels, while crews (most of whom parceled up their flying rations of chocolate and sweets and attached them to "parachutes" made from handkerchiefs, as personal gifts for the children) exchanged waves with those below. After dropping their loads, many pilots continued to fly at a very low altitudes, waggling their wings and 'buzzing' the crowds to give them a thrill, with their bomb-aimers flashing "V" for victory on the Aldis signalling lamp. It became a carefree, cheerful occasion for the aircrews, and many could not believe that Manna drops were to be allowed to count towards an operational tour.

Over the ten-day period ending 8th May, the Squadron mounted 111 sorties, shared between all 40 of the active crews, to successfully deliver 271 tons of life-saving provisions. In total, the RAF dropped 7,029.9 tons; the USAF who commenced drops two days later due to concerns about the truce, contributed 4,155.8 tons.

Crews could see the German anti-aircraft guns tracking them, including the fearsome 88mm guns accurate to 20,000ft, and said he felt like they could have reached up and slapped his backside.It was an eerie feeling for crews who were used to bombing from 15,000ft or more to be flying a slow pass over enemy guns at just a couple of hundred feet. Several Lancasters, Dad's included took some rifle fire from below but luckily no one was injured. Dad's pilot retaliated by diving onto a tented German camp, gunning the engines and blowing the tents apart! He also recalled one trip where the pilot took the Lancaster up a wide boulevard in a town at absolutely zero feet while the crew looked up at the cheering faces in the house windows on either side. For men used to dropping destruction it was an incredibly moving experience.

Dutch girl Arie de Jong, a seventeen-year-old student at the time, wrote in her diary:
There are no words to describe the emotions experienced on that Sunday afternoon. More than 300 four-engined Lancasters, flying exceptionally low, suddenly filled the western horizon. One could see the gunners waving in their turrets. A marvellous sight. One Lancaster roared over the town at 70 feet. I saw the aircraft tacking between church steeples and drop its bags in the South. Everywhere we looked, bombers could be seen. No one remained inside and everybody dared to wave cloths and flags. What a feast! Everyone is excited with joy. The war must be over soon now."

Here is short clip of Operation Manna,
taken during a drop.

28 April, 2012

28 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
28 April, 1945      0800

My dearest darling Wilma –

I’m getting an early start this morning because I have to take off in a little while for one of our recaptured prisoner camps and I’ll be gone all day with a good chance that I may have to stay overnight. I was down there today to look the situation over from point of view of sanitation, health – etc. – and there’s a lot of work to be done. There are Russians, Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs, Dutch, Serbs, French, Belgians, British and Americans – all in one camp and if you don’t think it’s a problem, darling, well – it is. And the longer we stay in Germany, the more intensely we hate the Germans. The way they treated these men – legitimate prisoners of war – was horrible. I spoke with one young American – 20 years old. He was shot down last August and was taken to a Camp near Stettin.

Photos of Stalag-IID, 30 km from Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland)
found on the blog called Mary and John's Journey posted by Michael J. Laekas and his wife Johanne.

Since Feb 8 – when the Russians came close and they were moved – he walked 800 miles – until the other day when he was picked up by the Americans. When I saw him today – he had a temperature of 102.5, a developed case of pneumonia; he was undernourished – and was a shell of a person. We have hundreds – literally – just like him. The more our Corps sees of this – the more we toughen up on the thousands of German prisoners we now have – but we just aren’t tough enough. We feed these bastards; one American told me today – that every now and then they would go 2 or 3 days without food. Finally they would get to see the Commandant and he would merely shrug his shoulders and say that as he understood it, they had been issued 3 days’ rations in advance.

Anyway – there’s a lot of work to be done, dear, and I’m going to do a little of it. This outfit has done a good job in the past several weeks – and the other day we received a commendation from the Corps General.

When I got back late this p.m. I found a V-Mail and an Airmail (10th-11th April) from you, sweetheart. You had been to a movie and had seen a newsreel with shots of the University City etc. If you didn’t see vehicles marked 438th AAA – it wasn’t because we weren’t there. We were all over that area. If nothing more in this war – I’ve at least been in or near where most of the important things have happened.

In one of your earlier letters in April – you told me about Arthur’s visit to Washington and his dropping in to see Betty and Stan. The story about Betty, her finances, inheritance etc – is just what you’d expect and what I was pretty certain was true. There’s no doubt now at all – that for Stan – it was a marriage of convenience – and the more fool he. But to talk about it is the pay-off. I just can’t understand it. The poor guy has slipped so much in the last couple of years. And I used to like him so much. I’m sure he was a different man then or I couldn’t possibly have had so much to do with him. Somehow or other – he suddenly became desperate. Yes, he needs a different sort of wife – and that’s why I feel so damned lucky, darling. A man does need a woman to encourage him, please his ego if necessary, give him the drive he sometimes loses. I know you’ll be able to do all that for me – although I hope you won’t find too many weaknesses in my make-up, dear. I love you so much, Wilma, dear – you just can’t conceive it – no matter how I try to tell you. If the Lord remains good to us and brings us together, we’re going to be happy, successful and satisfied with life – for if you want a husband that loves and admires you, one who is faithful and interested only in you, one who is reasonably ambitious and has a pretty good goal in life – well, sweetheart – you’ll have him – and oh yes, “him” will be me. And although I don’t write it too often – I want you to realize that I too miss terribly your not being right up close to me, my kissing you and being kissed by you, breathing hard and hearing you do the same – oh damn it to hell! – it’s so much nicer doing it than writing it!!

Sweetheart – I’ll have to get going again. Keep your spirits up. The end is in sight. Be well, dearest, send my love to the folks – and save my deepest, truest love – entirely for yourself. So long – dear, for now.

Always yours –
P.S. This makes 21.
Love, G.


about My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

APRIL 28, 1945

NEW YORK, Friday — The Congressional committee now visiting concentration camps in Germany are viewing things which we at home find it difficult to take in. The horror-filled pictures and stories which we have been getting day by day in our various newspapers make one shudder. The sufferings inflicted on war victims is cruel enough. But one also wonders what must have been done to a people who are willing to inflict such suffering. Something must have happened that we know nothing about to turn people who were highly educated and civilized into sadists who enjoy seeing other human beings suffer.

I read that one of our men, who had been a prisoner of the Germans and who is now back in this country, laughed when it was suggested that the townspeople near one of these camps did not know what was going on. He pointed out that there was constant communication between the camp and the town, and that it would have been impossible for the people of the town to be oblivious of what was happening. It is therefore not just a question of soldiers obeying orders. It is a question of civilians reaching such a state of servitude that they accepted without protest whatever happened to other human beings.

* * *

No wonder we are concerned about what kind of government and education shall be carried on during the occupation period. None of us can achieve much that is worthwhile unless we understand what happened to these people; and I am frank to say that, for me, it is still a complete mystery. I went to school with German girls, I have known German men and women. The military caste always seemed to me obnoxious, both as travel companions and as passers-by on the street. But the average human beings in Germany seemed just like other people.

The Nazi regime, the SS and the Gestapo are, of course, an obvious explanation. But how could they have become entrenched without the people being aware of what was happening? That is the really terrifying question. One wonders if other people could be fooled in the same way, and one longs to know how to prevent its happening anywhere to any people ever again.

* * *

Our men who have been prisoners of war, and who have seen these horrors which we read about, will have lost some of that confidence in their fellow human beings which is part of the heritage of every American citizen. It will take time to make them believe again that predominately people have good intentions, and I don't think they will be patient with talk which does not materialize into action.

E. R.


27 April, 2012

27 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 April, 1945      0845

Dearest darling Wilma –

I’m settled at last and back into the swing of things. I slept fairly well last night and now I’m ready to go. Last evening we sat around and talked with the new Colonel. He’s a pretty regular guy and much less stiff and formal than Lane. What he’ll be like later on – we’ll have to wait and see. One thing we do know: he’s a rabid Bridge player – and believes in psychic bidding. A couple of boys have played with him and say that not infrequently he opens with game bids or more – and often makes it, too.

This morning I’ve already gathered together a bunch of laundry and a little later I’ll have to dig up some German woman to do it. Then I’ve got to do a bit of traveling around and visit the various elements of the outfit that are scattered all over the place. One element is looking after recaptured Russians and Poles; another – after recaptured British and Americans; and one – is running a tremendous Prisoner of War cage – filled with thousands of Germans.

I had 4 letters from you – in the week I was gone – and two from home. The reaction to Roosevelt’s death was just as stunning over here, dear. We won’t know for a long time just what effect his death will have on the world. But aside from that – most everyone felt that he had lost a good friend.

One of your letters was written in New York – on the 15th of April – my latest letter from you, dear. I’m so glad you were able to make the trip – the change ought to do you a lot of good. You seemed to be enjoying yourself, dear, and yet you sounded sad. Darling – this long wait is getting you down a little – and I can’t blame you one bit. When you write in that vein – I usually blame myself for not being a more ardent fiancé – in my letters. One of the things that seems to be troubling you most of all, sweetheart, is whether we still love each other as much as we felt we did when I left; you often wonder if you’ll be thrilled – whether you’ll react to me the way you once did. All I can say, darling, is that if you haven’t changed, you will react the same way – for I know I haven’t. I, too – crave the closeness and intimacy which we’ve been without – for so long, and which – the Lord knows – we had precious little of – when I was in the States. But, sweetheart, that thrill which both of us experienced was there and will return; that reaction is one which either is or isn’t present; if it isn’t – then love is missing an important element. If it is – then you unconsciously, instinctively feel that with all the other compatibilities, the person who responds that way to you – is the person for you. It works both ways too. I miss your love and your closeness as much as you miss mine – dear – but most of all – I miss you, your presence. I just want to see you, talk with you, keep looking at you; I want to realize there is a you; you know what I mean. This writing and writing to a person over a long period of time – to any person – leaves you with a feeling of abstractness after a while. It is then that the letter in answer becomes so important; it is then that every word you read has so much significance. Sweetheart – if words have significance – I can say truly that what I feel for you is a deep, sincere love in every sense of the word; I love you for the Sweetheart you’ve been during all these lonesome months. I can prove that love to you when I get back. Do you believe me, dear?

I’ll have to stop now, darling, and get to work. For now – so long, love to the folks – and
All my everlasting love is yours –
P.S. This makes 14 snaps in this series.
Love, G.


about the Capture and Death of Mussolini

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism. He was born in the village of Predappio in Forlì, Emilia-Romagna, Italy to blacksmith Alessandro and teacher Rosa Maltoni. By the age of eight, he was banned from his mother's church for pinching people in the pews and throwing stones at them outside after church. He was sent to boarding school later that year and at age 11 was expelled for stabbing a fellow student in the hand and throwing an inkpot at a teacher. He did, however, receive good grades and qualified as an elementary schoolmaster in 1901. In 1902, he emigrated to Switzerland to escape military service but was deported back to Italy after participating in socialist movements in Switzerland. He was involved with the socialist newspaper Avanti! in the Austro-Hungarian-controlled Italian town of Trento. In 1908, he wrote the novel The Cardinal's Mistress.

At the age of 49, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and began using the title Il Duce by 1925. Skillfully using his secret police to intimidate his opponents into silence and exercising his absolute control over the press, Mussolini gradually built up the legend of Il Duce. Mussolini's fascist state, established nearly a decade before Adolf Hitler's rise to power, would provide a model for Hitler's later economic and political policies. In 1925 he introduced the press laws, which stated that all journalists must be registered fascists. However, not all newspapers were taken into public ownership and Corriere della Sera sold on average ten times as many copies as the leading fascist newspaper Il Popolo D'Italia. After 1936, his official title was "His Excellency Benito Mussolini, Head of Government, Duce of Fascism, and Founder of the Empire“.

Mussolini also created and held the supreme military rank of First Marshal of the Empire. By April 1943, the leading anti-Fascist movements had joined forces to overthrow Mussolini. On 25 July, King Victor Emmanuel III summoned him to the palace and dismissed him from office. Upon leaving the palace, Mussolini was arrested. For the next two months he was moved to various places to hide him from the Germans. Ultimately Mussolini was sent to Campo Imperatore, a mountain resort in central Italy (Abruzzo). He was kept there in complete isolation. On 12 September 1943, two months after he was stripped of power, Mussolini was rescued by the Germans in Operation Oak. The Germans relocated Mussolini to northern Italy where he set up a new fascist state, the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana, RSI). Benito Mussolini lived in Gargnano on Lake Garda in Lombardy during this period but he was little more than a puppet under the protection of his German liberators. After yielding to pressures from Hitler and the remaining loyal fascists who formed the government of the Republic of Salo, Mussolini helped orchestrate a series of executions of some of the fascist leaders who had betrayed him at the last meeting of the Fascist Grand Council. As Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Italian Social Republic, Mussolini used much of his time to write his memoirs, titled "My Rise and Fall".

On 27 April 1945 Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were stopped by communist partisans and identified by the political commissar of the partisans' 52nd Garibaldi Brigade, Urbano Lazzaro, near the village of Dongo (Lake Como), as they headed for Switzerland to board a plane to escape to Spain. Benito Mussolini had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform. After several unsuccessful attempts to take them to Como they were brought to Mezzegra. They spent their last night in the house of the De Maria family.

The next day, Mussolini and his mistress were both shot, along with most of the members of their 15-man train, primarily ministers and officials of the Italian Social Republic. The shootings took place in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra. According to the official version of events, the shootings were conducted by "Colonel Valerio" (Colonnello Valerio). Valerio's real name was Walter Audisio. Audisio was the communist partisan commander who was reportedly given the order to kill Mussolini by the National Liberation Committee.When Audisio entered the room where Mussolini and the other fascists were being held, he reportedly announced: "I have come to rescue you!... Do you have any weapons?"

He then had them loaded into transports and driven a short distance. Audisio ordered them to "get down". Petacci hugged Mussolini and refused to move away from him when they were taken to an empty space. Shots were fired and Petacci fell down. Just then Mussolini opened his Jacket and screamed, "Shoot me in the chest!". Audisio shot him in the chest and Mussolini fell down, but he didn't die. He was breathing heavily. Audisio went near and shot one more bullet into Mussolini's chest.

Mussolini’s corpse, along with those of his mistress and others, were dragged through the streets of Milan before being strung up at a gas station. On 29 April the bodies of Mussolini and his mistress were found hanging upside down on meat hooks in a plaza, Piazzale Loreto in Milan, along with those of other fascists, to show the population that the dictator was dead.

The corpse of the deposed leader had been dragged through the streets and became subject to ridicule and abuse by many who felt oppressed by the former dictator's policies. This was both to discourage any fascists to continue the fight and as an act of revenge for the hanging of many partisans in the same place by Axis Powers authorities. Il Duce, himself, had previously expounded upon the idea: “Every man dies the death which befits his character.”

Mussolini's body was eventually taken down and later buried in an unmarked grave in a Milan cemetery until the 1950s, when his body was moved back to Predappio. It was stolen briefly in the late 1950s by neo-fascists, then again returned to Predappio. At the request of his widow, his body was returned and he was buried in a crypt in the family mausoleum. Mussolini was survived by his wife, Donna Rachele Mussolini, by two sons, Vittorio and Romano Mussolini, and his daughters Edda, the widow of Count Ciano and Anna Maria. A third son, Bruno, was killed in an airplane accident while flying a bomber on a test mission on 7 August 1941. Mussolini's granddaughter Alessandra Mussolini, daughter of Romano Mussolini, is currently a member of the European Parliament for the extreme right-wing party Alternativa Sociale; other relatives of Edda (Castrianni) moved to England after the Second World War.

26 April, 2012

26 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
26 April, 1945      1645

My dearest sweetheart –

We got back here – and by chance – we’re still in the same place – about an hour ago. I’m dusty and tired, but if I don’t stay here right now, darling, I know I’ll not get another moment this evening. So darn many things have happened this past week – it’ll take me a couple of days to catch up with events.

None the least of the changes, dear, is one involving Lane. He is no longer with us, having been transferred suddenly. As a matter of fact – it isn’t too much of a surprise because for some time we suspected that – as a Regular Army man, he was due for a promotion; he couldn’t get it in this battalion – because the job doesn’t call for it. So the way it works – the man is transferred to the right job. Were I Regular Army, much the same would have happened to me, no doubt. Anyway, the new fellow, whom I haven’t seen yet today but whom I have met before – is supposed to be O.K. He is not Regular Army and that makes him one of us. He served in the last war – but was very young and is quite active now. His name is McWilliams and I think he’ll get along well here.

Lieutenant Colonel William A. McWilliams
October 1899 - July 1997
Made Brigadier General upon his retirement

The battalion is doing just about everything except AA work, for the fact is, there isn’t any to do. And the chief subject of conversation is what will become of us. I’ve intimated some of the possibilities already, dear – but no one knows for sure. I’m between the devil and deep sea, myself. I don’t know whether to string along with them or whether to make a concerted effort to get out. Of course – attempting the latter doesn’t mean necessarily that I would succeed. Hell – I don’t know what to do, sweetheart, but I can’t help but feel that this outfit will someday go for a long ride, although it certainly would hit the States first. Again, dear, I’m only guessing and have no way whatsoever of knowing for sure.

Enough of this rambling. I haven’t as yet gone over to the Dispensary so I don’t know what mail I have – but I’m certainly looking forward to a bunch of it. I guess my writing to you this past week has been spotty, but darling, you just can’t write on the road. The reason I’m in so early today is because we made the trip back in 2 days this time. In all – we covered 900 miles – roundtrip – and that’s quite a bit. For the time being, anyway, I’ve done all the seeing of Germany’s highways that I want. I’ve really covered this country. Last nite – we stayed in a small city on the edge of the Ruhr. I saw a house – undamaged – which looked clean. It was about 1900. We drove up – I asked for the owner, told him we needed a couple of beds for the night – and that’s all there was to it. Heck – it’s better than the tourist cabins back home. You have to pay a buck there!

I had all available films developed – in Brussels – and I’ll start enclosing them dear. There’s a couple I’ll leave out I think – picture of the dead slave laborers we found in Nordhausen. It’s a bit gruesome – unless the papers in the States have shown it already.

And now, darling, please excuse me – but I’ve got to go report to the new C.O. – etc etc. I’ll write tomorrow – of course. Meanwhile, love to the family – and

All my sincerest love and affection

Here are some photos taken by Greg
while in Halle, Germany in April of 1945

U.S. and British Ex-POWs getting set to leave camp we were running.
Halle, Germany - 1945

An FH-204 - Strafed on the ground
Halle Airfield, Germany - 1945

A Stuka Dive-Bomber that didn't get off
Halle Airfield, Germany - 1945

Plane Factory - HQ for Baker Battery
Note "WILMA TOO" on the front of Greg's jeep
Halle, Germany - 1944

25 April, 2012

25 April 1945

No letter today. Just this:


about East Meets West
"Elbe Day"

American-Russian Linkup Map - 25 April 1945
Showing the routes of the three patrols

From This Day in History:
On 25 April 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircled Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. The country was split in two. Germany was, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces inside Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) as well as outside Russia. It was Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital.
Joe Lipsius, S-2, Headquarters 272nd Infantry Regiment, reported this on 24 January 2008 in an article called "The Russian-American Linkup, April 25, 1945, in Retrospect" on the 69th Infantry Division's web site:
When it boils down to the facts of the linkup, actually three different encounters happened and only 91 men were involved. The 91 men were on what were termed "patrols." And some of these men may not have seen any Russians because of their duty assignment.

The three patrols became known as the Kotzebue Patrol, the Robertson Patrol and the Craig Patrol, named after their leaders and termed Number 1, 2 and 3 in the order of their meeting the Soviets on that fateful day of 25 April 1945. The leader of Patrol Number 1 was 1st Lieutenant Albert L. Kotzebue, Company G 273rd Infantry Regiment. Leading Patrol Number 2 was 2nd Lieutenant William D. Robertson, Headquarters 1st Battalion 273rd Infantry Regiment. The leader of Patrol Number 3 was Major Fred W. Craig, Headquarters 2nd Battalion 273rd Infantry Regiment.

The first contact was made between patrols near Strehla, when First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue crossed the River Elbe in a boat with three men of an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon. On the east bank, they met forward elements of a Soviet Guards-rifle-regiment of the First Ukrainian Front under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Gardiev. The Russian was extremely reticent. He was quiet, reserved, aloof, not enthusiastic. The first meeting of the two Armies certainly was not one of wild joy, but rather of cautious fencing. Or, perhaps, the Russian was just plain stupefied and couldn't realize what had happened.

The same day, another patrol under Robertson, with Frank Huff, James McDonnell and Paul Staub met Soviet Lieutenant Alexander Silvashko with some soldiers on the destroyed Elbe bridge of Torgau.

Lastly, in the photo below, Craig reaches out to a Soviet soldier on his horse. His patrol, the third, had been searching for the Kotzebue patrol when it encountered the Russians at Clanzschwitz at 1645 on 25 April 1945.

Craig (second from left) reaches out

The 69th Infantry Division of the United States First Army and the 58th Guards Rifle Division of the Russian 5th Guards Army met at Torgau, southwest of Berlin. Arrangements were made for the formal "Handshake of Torgau" between Robertson and Silvashko in front of a mass of photographers the following day. They shook hands, posed for thousands of pictures in the center of a shouting, pushing mob of official professional and amateur cameramen. The all then feasted in a German barracks on captured German eggs, black bread with cheese and tumblers of champagne and cognac bottled for the Wehrmacht.
Robertson and Silvashko pose

The following picture was also staged...

"East Meets West" staged handshakes
26 April 1945

Statements were released simultaneously in London, Moscow, and Washington that evening, reaffirming the determination of the three Allied powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich. The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute; in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square.

24 April, 2012

24 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
24 April, 1945
My dearest sweetheart –

Well, I think we’ll stay here today and get started back tomorrow. After all we are soldiers, we are getting paid – and the war just isn’t quite over. Besides – we’ve been up, down and sideways over this town – as in Paris – only there’s less to see.

I don’t remember what time of day I wrote you yesterday, sweetheart, but I’ll tell you anyway – what we did. Early p.m. we went to the Officer’s Px and bought so-called E.T.O. jackets. I don’t know if the officers wear them in the States – but it was copied from the British and Gen. Eisenhower first popularized it for the Americans. He’s usually seen wearing one in the newsreels – by the way. They’re handier than the regulation blouse, and can be worn as dress or in the field. After that we dropped into a British G.I. theater and saw one hour newsreels, shorts – etc. Incidentally – this city is all British – and Americans on leave are very few.

General Eisenhower in his E.T.O. Jacket
with Winston Churchill

In the evening we didn’t have a damn thing to do – so we wandered around and saw a sign “Canadian Officers Club” and dropped in. We sort of joined a group of Australian officers – large hats and all – and they were a swell bunch. They don’t love the British too much, either. We just sat around, drank, sang and told stories. This morning we took care of the ‘business’ we came here for – and in case you’re curious, darling, the ‘business’ was to procure the monthly officers’ liquor ration. That business took all of one hour and we’ve been here 4 days already. Well –

I’ll be damned if I know what we’ll do this p.m. and evening. We’ve been told about some Japanese building which King Leopold brought back piece by piece some years ago – but it’s still cold and raw here and not a good day for sight-seeing. We may end up in a movie. We’ve got to take a look at a good map before tomorrow and find a shorter way back. We had to take the Northern Ruhr road here because the pocket still had a little resistance left; it’s all ended now and we may be able to cut right through; chances are we’ll break the trip up into two days.

Japanese Tower built for King Leopold II in the early 1900's.
Architect Alexandre Marcel oversaw the construction.
The external ornaments were made exclusively in Japan.

I ought to have a nice stack of mail waiting for me when I get back – which will certainly be worth getting back for. Despite all my running around, darling, I can’t, and of course I don’t want to, lose sight of the fact that you and you alone are my first and only attraction. Sweetheart – maybe sooner than we expect we may be together – and doesn’t that give you a thrill unmatched by anything else. It does me!

All for now, dearest. We’ve got to go out and have lunch. I’ll next be writing you from the old stamping grounds. I hope all is well at home. Love to the folks – and

All my deepest love –


about E.T.O. Jackets


In 1942 the US Army started to design a new Combat Uniform for the troops overseas. There were numerous complaints about the older M-41 Jackets, stating that they were too cold in winter and too hot in summer.

A new universal uniform had to be devised to give the troops what they required. The new M-43 (1943) uniform was made up of a number of new items such as: a cotton Field Jacket and trousers, a high neck sweater and Two Buckle Combat Boots. A dramatically revised version of the M-41, the M-43 touted a wind-proof, olive drab colored cotton poplin outer shell with internal layers that could be added or eliminated depending on local battle conditions. In cold environs, its notched lapels converted to a stand-up, storm-flap for added neck protections. A pile jacket liner and fur-edged hood could also be added.

The new M-43 Field Jacket was made out of cotton sateen fabric and featured 4 pockets. Two large cargo-style pockets on the chest and two inner pockets on the hip supplied the GI with sufficient storage capabilities. The Jacket was fly fronted and closed by large brown plastic buttons. The inner lining was light colored poplin and featured a draw cord for easy adjustment.

In early 1943, the Army Quartermaster Corps began looking at a shorter wool service coat as the current 4-pocket service coat was not functional for field operations. General Eisenhower ("Ike") enjoyed the look and functionality of the British Battle Dress coat that they were using and asked his Chief Quartermaster to produce a version of their own. Thus, the "Ike Jacket" was born.


During the Autumn of 1943, the Army Air Corps prototype jacket was sent to Chief Quartermaster of the European Theater of Operations for review and possible adoption by ETO commanding general, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower had already requested a waist-cropped style; his based on the British battle jacket, "but with more distinctive style." Eisenhower was a partisan advocate of the British jacket’s functional sensibilities.

The Eisenhower jacket may have been designed by William Marler, a tailor from New York. Designed to be the second, insulated layer, the Ike jacket, a.k.a. M-44, was created to be worn underneath the M-43. In extreme cold, a sweater, flannel shirt, and wool-cotton T-shirt could be worn under the Ike jacket. In November, 1944, the M-44, or Ike jacket, was classified standard issued. The Ike jacket featured a roomy, bloused back with action pleats and over-sized sleeves, its fit large and loose to accommodate the several added insulating underlays without compromising either comfort or freedom of movement.

Immediately after its issue the Eisenhower jacket was assigned double-duty. Besides being a combat field jacket it was also appointed the Army’s dress and parade uniform. Whether the standard issue, M-44 Field Jacket or its sveltely re-tailored, Ike jacket sibling, their shared common denominators are an olive drab, 18-ounce wool serge. Once turned up and buttoned over, its notched lapels became a convertible, "storm collar" that protected the neck and throat in chilly environs. Staggered cuffs buttons created adjustable cuffs that could be relaxed or cinched tight at the wrist.

To prevent equipment from catching on its buttons, a "fly front" flap concealed its button front, a shrewd design ploy that also prevented snagging in dense underbrush, whether walking or crawling. For the same reason, its flapped, bellows breast pockets touted hidden buttons. The Epaulets corralled shoulder hung equipment. Adjustable buckles at left and right sides cinched the waist-band tight at the hips, delivering added warmth and accentuating its masculine, broad-shouldered lines. "Action-back" pleats, one at each shoulder, extended to the waistband, assuring a slim and trim shape but generously providing ample room for unrestricted freedom of movement, even when firing a raised a rifle or pistol.

Eisenhower modified the basic design of the field jacket at least once. His tailor adapted it to be "very short, very comfortable, and very natty looking," according to an aide. Other officers also had the style tailored to suit their preferences, and a variety of modifications were made to the prototype of "Wool Field Jacket M-1944." Ike himself was known to have worn several versions featuring different pockets and waist tabs.

23 April, 2012

23 April 1945

No letter today. Just this:


about Truman Meets Molotov
without Cocktails

Vyacheslav Mikhaylovich Molotov
9 March 1890 - 8 November 1986

From Wikipedia comes this excerpt:

The name "Molotov cocktail" was coined by the Finns during the "Winter War" and is an insulting reference, not a tribute, to Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, who was responsible for the partition of Finland. The Molotov cocktail, also known as the petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, Molotov bomb, fire bottle, fire bomb, or simply Molotov, is a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons, usually made from a fuel-filled bottle and a rag or piece of rope that acts as a fuse. They are primarily intended to set targets ablaze rather than instantly destroy them.

On 30 November 1939, after a futile year-and-a-half campaign to persuade the Finnish government to cede territory to the Soviet Union and give up some sovereignty by conceding specific military and political favors, the Soviet Union launched an offensive against Finland, starting what came to be known as the "Winter War". The Finnish Army faced large numbers of Red Army tanks. Being short on anti-tank guns, they improvised incendiary devices to use against them.

During the Winter War, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that they were not bombing, but rather delivering food to the starving Finns, the Finns, who were not starving, started to call the air bombs "Molotov bread baskets".

Soon the Finns responded by attacking advancing tanks with "Molotov cocktails", which were "a drink to go with the food". At first, the term was used to describe only the burning mixture itself, but in practical use the term was soon applied to the combination of both the bottle and its contents. This Finnish use of the hand- or sling-thrown explosive against Soviet tanks was repeated in the subsequent Continuation War between the two countries.

The Finns perfected the design and tactical use of the petrol bomb. The fuel for the Molotov cocktail was refined to a slightly sticky mixture of gasoline, kerosene, tar, and potassium chlorate. Further refinements included the attachment of wind-proof matches or a vial of chemicals that would ignite on breakage, thereby removing the need to pre-ignite the bottle, and leaving the bottle about one-third empty was found to make breaking more likely. As the cooling system was almost invariably placed where direct fire wouldn't hit them, the target of choice was the rear deck of a tank; the burning contents of the bottle would pour through the large cooling grills and ignite fuel, hydraulic fluids and ammunition.

Molotov cocktails were eventually mass-produced, bundled with matches to light them. Production totaled 450,000 during the Winter War. The original design of the Molotov cocktail was a mixture of ethanol, tar and gasoline in a 750 ml bottle. The bottle had two long pyrotechnic storm matches attached to either side. Before use, one or both of the matches was lit; when the bottle broke on impact, the mixture ignited. The storm matches were found to be safer to use than a burning rag on the mouth of the bottle.

From This Day in History and from an interview with Walter LaFeber on PBS's American Experience web site comes this information:

When Roosevelt died of a massive stroke on 12 April 1945, Harry S. Truman took over as president. Truman was overwhelmed by the responsibilities so suddenly thrust upon him and, particularly in terms of foreign policy, the new president was uncertain about his approach. Roosevelt had kept his vice-president in the dark about most diplomatic decisions, not even informing Truman about the secret program to develop an atomic bomb. Truman had to learn quickly, however. The approaching end of World War II meant that momentous decisions about the postwar world needed to be made quickly. The primary issue Truman faced was how to deal with the Soviet Union.

Just weeks before his death, Roosevelt had met with Russian leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Yalta to discuss the postwar situation. Molotov was present.

Front Row (l to r) Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin
Behind Stalin stands Molotov

Agreements made during the meeting left the Soviets in de facto control of Eastern Europe in exchange for Soviet promises to hold "democratic" elections in Poland. Some officials in the U.S. government were appalled at these decisions, believing that Roosevelt was too "soft" on the Soviets and naive in his belief that Stalin would cooperate with the West after the war. Truman gravitated to this same point of view, partially because of his desire to appear decisive, but also because of his long-standing animosity toward the Soviets.

On 23 April 1945 Russia's foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, passed through Washington on his way to San Francisco and the United Nations conference and stopped in Washington to talk with Truman about how the Russians were dealing with Poland. They were imposing a Communist government on Poland and Truman thought this was not the way that Roosevelt and Stalin had agreed to deal with Poland at Yalta four months before.

Before Truman met with Molotov in the White House, he called a meeting of his top advisers and those advisers were split on the topic. Probably the most distinguished person in the cabinet, 77 year-old Henry Stimson, the Secretary of War, told Truman that he must be very, very careful in dealing with Molotov on the Polish issue because Poland was a key factor of Russian security. The Germans had attacked Russia through Poland twice in 30 years, making this an extremely sensitive issue.

But there were other people around the table, including Averill Harriman, who had just returned as U.S. Ambassador to Moscow. He told Truman that the Russians had not been upholding the agreements that they had made with Roosevelt and that this was the moment to draw the line.

When Foreign Minister Molotov arrived at the White House for the meeting with the new president, Truman immediately lashed out at Molotov, "in words of one syllable," as the president later recalled. As Molotov listened incredulously, Truman charged that the Soviets were breaking their agreements on Poland and that Stalin needed to keep his word. At the end of Truman's tirade, Molotov indignantly declared that he had never been talked to in such a manner. Truman, not to be outdone, replied that if Molotov had kept his promises, he would not need to be talked to like that. Molotov stormed out of the meeting. Truman was delighted with his own performance, telling one friend that he gave the Soviet official "the straight one-two to the jaw."

This incident indicated that Truman was determined to take a "tougher" stance with the Soviets than his predecessor had. The president was convinced that a tough stance was the only way to deal with the communists, a policy that came to dominate America's early Cold War policies toward the Soviets.

22 April, 2012

22 April 1945 (2nd letter)

22 April, 1945      1400

My dearest Sweetheart –

I guess I turn out to be a punk fiancé from point of view of writing – every time I take a trip, darling, but honestly, I do the best I can. But I’m a bit more rested now and I feel like writing right now.

So far – we haven’t seen a heck of a lot of the city – although it is very pretty. It doesn’t hold a candle to Paris, however, although the people are a helluva lot nicer and more sincere. Last night being Saturday, we had nothing to do. But I had an address given to me by the Prince de Mèrode when we stayed at his place. At that time – he said that if we ever got to Brussels, we ought to look up a friend of his there. Well – it turned out to be 20 miles South of Brussels and the friend was a Countess de Moerkerke. So we called, got ourselves invited, and went out. It was a beautiful place and just as you see it on the card. The countess was a charming woman, very tall and knows how to entertain. There were several RAF and British Army officers there too, from a nearby base. But we were the only Americans. Well Bruce and I had had some Cognac and were feeling pretty good – so we proceeded to act like Americans – informal and free. The British – as usual – were stiff, but before long – the Countess and her husband were spending the evening with us – especially after they found we were from deep in Germany. So, darling, we went out to the jeep and brought in a bottle of the German cognac we had been drinking and when they saw the German label – they decided to drink, too. They hate the Germans fiercely. A detachment of them had stayed at the chateau and scrammed when the Americans came thru – but not before setting a fire to a wing of her place. Anyway – the evening wore on – and we were feeling pretty high – all of us. We got ready to go about midnight – and the Countess wouldn’t hear of it. We sat up, then, until 0130 and then were shown to a large room. You’d love to see the place, darling. It’s furnished beautifully. And if we ever come back here – you and I – we have another fine place to visit, because I told the Countess about us and that we would marry right after the war – and she invited us to visit her – if we come over.

This morning we got up at 0900, had breakfast, had a look around the estate and got back here in time for lunch. We’ll probably take a nap this afternoon, and then look around. I’d like to get some tickets to the opera – if anything good is playing. Being Sunday – everything is closed up tight.

I saw a newspaper for the 1st time in a couple of days – and the news is consistently good – but I hope the war doesn’t end until we get back – because I’d like to be with the troops when that time comes – and not back here.

I suppose, darling, you must wonder how much I think about you and us – when I’m traveling around the continent so. Believe me, dear, I don’t go anywhere – or see anything but what I picture you with me or wish you were along to see everything with me – and that goes for every minute of the day. All I can say, sweetheart, is that regardless of what I’m doing or where I am – I love you as strongly and as constantly as always – and some day – when I get back – I’ll tell you all about the places I’ve been to – and try to relive everything – but with you.

And now Bruce wants to get going – so I’ll stop dear. I hope all is well at home. My love to the folks – and remember –

My love is yours for always –

Here is the above letter, as written on hotel stationery

Here is a post card of Houtain-le-Val, the estate Greg visited,
with the owner's name and address on the back

Hountain-le-Val Castle Today
Still owned by descendents of Count Moerkerke

Below are two pictures Greg collected and two photos he took.

City Hall, Brussels, Belgium, April 1945

Photo Greg took of a museum, Brussels, Belgium, April 1945
Now the botanical Exposition

Photo collected of museum, Brussels, Belgium, April 1945
Now the Botanical Exposition

Botanical Exposition Today

American Officers Leave Club, Brussels, Belgium
April 1945

22 April 1945


438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
22 April, 1945
Dearest darling Wilma –

After being here for two days – we find that this hotel is reserved for War Correspondents – mostly British. I don’t know how we stumbled upon it – but we gave them a song and dance when we arrived – and they’ve treated us very well. The fact is – everyone is very respectful to the Americans who come from a combat area and when they learned we had driven all the way from Halle – they couldn’t do enough for us.

We’ve been here almost 3 days now and hardly done a thing except visit cafés and sip beer. It has been quite cloudy most of the time and I haven’t been able to take any snaps – but I’ll get some before I go. But it is away from the every day Army life and that’s something. The fact is – Sweetheart – that I think I’m really going to enjoy being a civilian again – and with you with me always – I’m sure I’ll know what heaven on earth is really like. Gosh, darling, I can hardly wait to see you and hold you and realize that we are together again. It must come soon – I hope! All for now, dearest; love to the folks – and

My everlasting love


about Walter Winchell

Walter Winchell
(April 7, 1897 – February 20, 1972)

The following short biography has been excerpted from Wikipedia:
Born Walter Weinschel in New York City, he left school in the sixth grade and started performing in a vaudeville troupe known as Gus Edwards' "Newsboys Sextet."

His career in journalism was begun by posting notes about his acting troupe on backstage bulletin boards. Joining the Vaudeville News in 1920, Winchell left the paper for the Evening Graphic in 1924, and in turn was hired on June 10, 1929 by the New York Daily Mirror where he finally became the author of what would be the first syndicated gossip column, entitled On-Broadway. He wrote in a style filled with slang and incomplete sentences.

Using connections in the entertainment, social, and governmental realms, he would expose exciting or embarrassing information about celebrities in those industries. This caused him to become very feared, as a journalist, because he would routinely impact the lives of famous or powerful people, exposing alleged information and rumors about them, using this as ammunition to attack his enemies, and to blackmail influential people. He used this power, trading positive mention in his column (and later, his radio show) for more rumors and secrets.

He made his radio debut over WABC in New York, a CBS affiliate, on 12 May 1930. In 1932, his coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping and subsequent trial received national attention. His newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, and he was read by 50 million people a day from the 1920s until the early 1960s. His Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people from 1930 to the late 1950s.

Winchell, who was Jewish, was one of the first commentators in America to attack Adolf Hitler and American pro-fascist and pro-Nazi organizations such as the German-American Bund. He was a staunch supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal throughout the Depression era, and frequently served as the Roosevelt Administration's mouthpiece in favor of interventionism as the European war crisis loomed in the late 1930s. Early on he denounced American isolationists as favoring appeasement of Hitler.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Winchell was also an outspoken supporter of civil rights for African-Americans, and frequently attacked the Ku Klux Klan and other racist groups as supporting un-American, pro-Nazi goals. After World War II, Winchell began to denounce Communism as the main threat facing America.

In 1948 Winchell had the top rated radio show when he surpassed Fred Allen and Jack Benny. During the 1950s Winchell favored Senator Joseph McCarthy, but he became unpopular as the public turned against McCarthy. He also had a weekly radio broadcast which was simulcast on ABC television until he ended that employment because of a dispute with ABC executives in 1955. A dispute with Jack Paar effectively ended Winchell's career, signaling a shift in power from print to television.

During this time, NBC had given him the opportunity to host a variety show, which lasted only thirteen weeks. His readership gradually dropped, and when his home paper, the New York Daily Mirror, where he'd worked for thirty-four years, closed in 1963, he faded from the public eye. He did, however, receive $25,000 per episode to narrate The Untouchables on the ABC television network for five seasons beginning in 1959.

Winchell opened his radio broadcasts by pressing randomly on a telegraph key, a sound which created a sense of urgency and importance and the catchphrase "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press." He would then read each of his stories with a staccato delivery (up to a rate of 197 words per minute).
Here is Walter Winchell's news report for 22 April 1945

And here are some of his quotes:
A pessimist is one who builds dungeons in the air.

An optimist is someone who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery.

I usually get my stuff from people who promised somebody else that they would keep it a secret.

Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.

Today's gossip is tomorrow's headline.

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

I never lost a friend I wanted to keep.

Remember that nobody will ever get ahead of you as long as he is kicking you in the seat of the pants.

The same thing happened today that happened yesterday, only to different people.

She's been on more laps than a napkin.