24 April, 2012

24 April 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
24 April, 1945
Brussels
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 –
Greg

* TIDBIT *

about E.T.O. Jackets

M-43 FIELD JACKET and SERVICE COAT

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.

M-44 "IKE" JACKET and RE-TAILORED "IKE" JACKET

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.

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