08 June, 2012

08 June 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 339 % Postmaster, N.Y.
8 June, 1945     0815

Dearest darling Wilma –

I received two letters from you yesterday postmarked 28 and 31 May – and that’s really something – considering that the papers at home are writing that letters will be delayed, lost etc. Of all the stupid things to print! It’s people who print stuff like that that make it tough for soldiers. I think letters from home mean much more now than they ever did before. I’m glad you haven’t been influenced and are still writing sweetheart. It makes no difference where a soldier goes – his mail always follows him. So far – our position is status quo. When I think I’m heading home, I’ll write you, sweetheart. Until then – don’t believe a word you read in the papers, because they don’t know what they’re talking about. Each and every outfit over here is a separate entity in itself, and we’re no exception. For example, and this is the very latest rumor – we heard that 7th Corps had been alerted yesterday for a quick return to the States – but that the 438th was not alerted with them. Well – the latter is true anyway – because we are not alerted. Now 7th Corps – means just 7th Corps Hq and no one else. The rumor, incidentally, went on to say that within a week or 10 days, we’d be heading for Belgium or France. And just the day before – the 7th Corps and we – were supposed to be going to Bavaria. So you see, darling, how can the papers in Boston, for example, possibly know what’s in store for the 438th? I’m certain of one thing – we won’t be part of the permanent army of occupation – and that we’ll get home for a long Leave. I know also that the Divisions heading for home this month – have been here the shortest – they get home sooner – but they go to the Pacific first – and that’s O.K. with me.

I searched in both of your letters for some reaction to my discussion or mention of marriage which I believe appeared in almost every letter I’ve written since VE day. Perhaps some of those letters haven’t reached you as yet – because you don’t bring up the subject at all, though I can understand that your mind must have been upset and preoccupied with Florence’s death. But it’s just because I want to get home with you and “live” – as you put it – that I’m anxious to hear from you. If you haven’t before realized how short life can be – you certainly had it shown to you now. It’s no surprise to me; I’ve seen it over and over again. And that – among other reasons – is why I want to hurry home and marry you, darling. Oh – I’m not afraid of any impending doom – or anything like that. It’s just that I’m so sure of my love for you and yours for me. Then why not get married and enjoy life? I know I’ll be around long enough to make it sensible.

Incidentally – I’m a little rusty in my medicine, but I don’t quite follow Florence’s case. If she had a Waterhouse-Friedricksen’s Syndrome – that must have been part of the picture. As I remember that – it represents a condition of hemorrhage in the adrenal glands. I’ve got no book on medicine so I can’t be sure. But it’s fatal in itself – aside from any meningitis. Did she develop meningitis – and as a result of the disease – have hemorrhage into her adrenals? And they must have taken a spinal culture. What was the organism?

I don’t know what Mrs. Countis’s brother’s transfer means. I’ve stopped thinking about it (transfers) and I’m just going to follow my course. I want one thing more than anything – and that is to get home to you, talk things over and marry you. I’m sure of that feeling – and I feel it’s the best thing. I’m hoping you’re going to feel the same way, darling.

I’ll have to go downstairs now, dear, and do a little work. Send my love to the folks – and remember I love you hard, strongly, constantly and deeply. You’ll see –
All my everlasting love,


about One "Axis Sally"

On 8 June 1945 The New York Times published an article with the title “Americans Seize Axis Sally in Italy; Fascist Broadcaster Born Here”. On 9 June, Tom C. Clark, US Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division was asked whether a charge of treason was in order following an article in The Washington Daily News:
Rome, June 7 -- Allied headquarters announced today the arrest in Turin of "Axis Sally," whose honeyed voice dripped propaganda poison into the ears of radio listeners during the war in the Mediterranean. She is Rita Louisa Zucca, 33, born in New York City. Her father operates a restaurant on 49th Street, officials said.

Wikipedia says the following about this Axis Sally:
Rita Luisa Zucca, born in 1912, was an Italian-American radio announcer who broadcast Axis propaganda to Allied troops in Italy and North Africa. She became known as one of the "Axis Sallys," along with Mildred Gillars, who broadcast out of Berlin, Germany.

Zucca's father, Louis, owned a very successful restaurant in New York's midtown in the 1930s and 1940s, called Zucca's Italian Garden. Located at 116-118-120 West 49th Street, the restaurant had its own promotional postcards which displayed a distinctly refined setting. Zucca spent her teenage years in a convent school in Florence and, as a young woman, had worked in the family business.

Zucca's Italian Garden Postcard

She returned to Italy in 1938, working as a typist and renouncing her American citizenship three years later to save her family's property from expropriation by Mussolini's government.

As the Allied invasion of Italy progressed, the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini decided to try and emulate the German radio’s Axis Sally broadcasts of Mildred Gillars. In the summer of 1943, the Italian national radio network in Rome hired the 30-year-old Zucca with this aim in mind, in spite of her losing a typing job in 1942 for copying an anti-Fascist pamphlet.

Zucca was teamed with German broadcaster Charles Goedel in the program 'Jerry's Front Calling'. Much to Gillars' chagrin, Zucca was also referred to as Axis Sally. Zucca's trademark sign-off was "a sweet kiss from Sally", and she was often mistaken for Gillars. According to one account, Zucca signed onto each show by uttering "Hello Suckers!" and her signature tune was "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea". Here is that song as it was originally recorded by Cab Calloway in 1931.

Zucca's broadcasts sometimes used intelligence provided by the German embassy in Rome in an attempt to confuse Allied troops. One notable example came on July 8, 1943, the night before the invasion of Sicily. Her broadcast that night told "the wonderful boys of the 504th Parachute Regiment" that "Col. Willis Mitchell's playboys [the 61st Troop Carrier Group] are going to carry you to certain death. We know where and when you are jumping and you will be wiped out." The value of this particular revelation backfired when Sally announced to the men that their regiment had been decimated — a full hour before the first plane took off.

As the Allied armies advanced north into Rome, Zucca retreated north with the Germans in 1944 and resumed broadcasting from Milan. There, in September 1944, the broadcast crew of Jerry's Front was attached to a German military propaganda unit called the Liberty Station. By then Zucca was pregnant. Her son was born on 15 December 1944. She returned to the microphone 40 days later and continued until her final broadcast on 25 April 1945.

As the Axis army finally collapsed, Zucca went by train to her uncle’s home in Milan, where she took refuge until her identification and arrest on 5 June 1945. A correspondent from the American military magazine Stars and Stripes, said that Zucca's well-known crossed-eye condition did nothing to detract from her attractiveness: "True, her left eye is inclined to wander—but that cooey, sexy voice really has something to back it up." Newspapers in America were far more scathing. "Soft-Voiced 'Sally' Found to Be Ugly Ex–N.Y. Girl" was a typical headline, with descriptions of the young mother as "[as] ugly and unattractive in person as her voice was appealing." Another journalist called her "cross-eyed, bow-legged and sallow-skinned."

All attempts by the American government to prosecute Zucca for treason broke down when it became clear that she had renounced her American citizenship before she had started broadcasting. The FBI's J. Edgar Hoover wrote to the Justice Department, "In view of the fact that she has lost her American citizenship, no efforts are being made at the present time to develop a treason case against her."

Zucca was then tried by an Italian military tribunal on charges of collaboration. On March 29, 1946 she was sentenced to 4½ years in prison, but was released after 9 months. She was barred from returning to the United States.

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