Let’s see – I last wrote you on Friday the 15th and this is Tuesday. We left Leipzig at 0800 in convoy and did about 200 miles along the Autobahn. We stayed for the night in the outskirts of a town named Giessen. The outfit pitched tents in a large field – but a couple of us went into the nearest village, saw the Burgermeister and got a nice clean bed for the night.
|Geissen, Germany today|
We left early the next day – that was Sunday and kept traveling west and a little South. We passed Frankfort on the Main, then Mainz, crossed the Rhine below Mainz and then the Moselle at Trier. This all was very beautiful country and the ride was enjoyable. We did more than 200 miles the second day.
Before hitting France – we passed thru a delightful small country – Luxembourg – and the City of Luxembourg is one of the prettiest I’ve seen over here. Well – we finally got here to Reims, dear, and not to Chalons – as I had written you. We got our mission too – and we’re not too pleased, although no one can tell what’s what – these days – anyway. We are to become M.P.’s!! – not the medics of course – although we still stay with the outfit. We live in a tent city here in Reims for about a week – while the men take a course in M.P. duty – and then – as orders read now – we go to Nancy – for our Hq – and in addition – we cover the cities of Metz, Dijou and Epernay i.e. – there’ll be a battery in each city. Now, what do you think of that, darling? How long it will be – no one knows right now – of course – but there are other Cat. IV outfits doing the same thing. It seems that the mechanism of getting all men in the outfit ready for eventual discharge – takes time. Newer men, replacements – etc. – with fewer points, have to be weeded out and the outfit – filled with high point men. Then – when this is done – the outfit is ready for sailing home and discharge en masse upon arrival.
|Tent City at Reims - June 1945|
Where I come into the picture, sweetheart, I don’t know. It seems as if my chances of being dropped out of the outfit are about 50-50. If I’m dropped right away, the chances are I’d be added to an outfit going to the States and then to the Pacific. If I stay on here and am overlooked, because the outfit is small and easily forgotten about, I’ll build up good time, and even if I’m eventually separated – I’ll have a pretty good background by that time – against going to the P.T.O. And do you want to know how I feel about it all, darling? I’ll tell you. Despite the fact that I hate the thought of the Pacific – I’m so fed up, and bored with all this, I’m so dreadfully homesick for you and my family – that I’d gladly settle right now for a trip home for 30 days – even if the penalty were the Pacific. I’m terribly blue right now, sweetheart, and I miss you fiercely. Each day now seems endless – and I just don’t know where I am or fit in the scheme of things. This mood will pass over, I know, and I’m sure that as I look back at things later on – I’ll realize that this all was for the best. I’ve been pretty lucky so far and I guess I’ll just have to hang on to that a little while longer.
We won’t get mail for some time, I guess – but our official APO is now 513. I’d love to hear from you soon, but I’ll have to wait – just like everyone else does. I haven’t had a chance to see much of the city yet – but I will. The Cathedral here is one of the world’s most famous.
|Reims Cathedral today|
|Reims Cathedral - June 1945|
So long for now and love to the folks.
Reims Cathedral, also called the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims, is located in the city of Reims, France, on the Vesle River east-northeast of Paris. Reims was the site of 25 coronations of the kings of France, from Louis VIII in 1223 to Charles X in 1825, including the crowning of Charles VII in 1429 in the presence of Joan of Arc. The cathedral, which was begun in 1211 under the auspices of Archbishop Aubry de Humbert and designer Jean d’Orbais, was modeled on Chartres Cathedral (begun about 1194) and was intended to replace an earlier church destroyed by fire in 1210. The main construction was overseen by four different architects and lasted some 80 years; expansions and decorative work continued on the church for centuries.
Reims Cathedral incorporated several new architectural techniques, notably bar tracery. It has a total finished length of 489 feet (149.2 meters)—about 26 feet (8 meters) longer than Chartres—with an interior length of 455 feet (138.7 meters) and a nave reaching 377 feet (115 meters). The twin towers in the west facade have a height of 266 feet (81 meters). The chevet (eastern end), with its five relatively large chapels, is nearly the same width as the transept (201 feet [61.3 meters]), giving the cathedral an unusually compact, unified appearance. This unity is emphasized by the use of nearly identical window types in the aisle and clerestory stories, as well as the complementary rose windows in the west facade and central portal and those in the transepts’ facades. Reims is richly decorated with elegant masonry sculpture (particularly the exterior) and exceptional stained-glass windows, making it one of the artistic masterpieces of the French High Gothic period.
The cathedral’s historic site, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991, includes the former Abbey of Saint-Rémi (begun about 1170 and containing the remains of the 5th–6th century archbishop St. Remigius) and the archiepiscopal Tau Palace (reconstructed in the 17th century). Restoration was undertaken in the 20th century after the cathedral was seriously damaged by shelling during World War I.