March 1945

To learn more about the war in this vicinity, see Bill in Combat January 30 to March 5, 1945.

LETTER 181

After being on the line for 3 months, much of it spent in a foxhole, Bill is entitled to a four day rest. He is located in “a fairly large town where it is possible to obtain almost anything I want…..Boy,oh Boy am I taking it in!” The war news looks good with “the German 15th. Army pinned up against the Rhine.”

March 5, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written to you. It must be 10 days or better. The last one was written from the field but this one is from behind the lines—not just a little behind as usual but way, way behind. You see having been on the line for better than 3 months I’m entitled to a four day rest and this is it. Boy, oh Boy! Am I taking it in. Life here is wonderful. No guard, K.P., responsibilities of any kind—just loaf, relax, and do what I want to do. It does seem odd not to hear the thunder and whistle of the guns but I can take it. I’m located in a fairly large town where it is possible to obtain most anything I want. There are ice cream and pastry shops, places to buy souvenirs and also there is a photographer. I haven’t inquired there yet but if it is possible I would like to have a picture and send it to you.

We have movies every night and various sorts of entertainment during the day—swing sessions, a snack bar, and occasionally a 100 piece military band—very good too. We eat in a modern hotel where the food is excellent though there’s not enough for a growing boy like you know who. We have French waitresses and generally music with our meals. You can see that after living for months in the mud all this luxury is pretty nearly overwhelming.

The news certainly looks good this morning with the German 15th. Army pinned up against the Rhine. I just hope that by the time you receive this letter the news will be even better.

That about does it.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 182

Bill continues to unwind during his 4-day break off the line. “Until one gets back to a place like this he doesn’t realize the nervious tension he’s been under.” The morning paper says that American troops are across the Rhine and have captured “some 8 divisions or more.” Bill confidently exclaims, “It shouldn’t last long unless they are determined to die for ‘der Fuhrer.’ If so, we’ll oblige the SOB’s.”

March 6, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Thought I’d knock off a short note to you before lunch. There’s not much to write but I know you want to hear something. I’ve been doing a lot of relaxing for the last couple of days, seen a couple of shows and wandered around in general. Nothing that amounts to much but it suits my mood. Until one gets back to a place like this he doesn’t realize the nervous tension he’s been under. Compared with the rear echelon boys most of us look tense and tired. Didn’t notice it before.

This morning’s paper says that American troops are across the Rhine, and have trapped some 8 divisions or more. I can’t see how they keep going. Well, it shouldn’t last too long unless they all are determined to die for “der Fuhrer.” If so we’ll oblige the S.O.B’s.

I haven’t received any mail from you for about a week now. I hope there’s some at the company when I get back.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 183

Bill returns to his company and is delighted to receive a cherished fruitcake from home, exclaiming “boy, oh boy! Need I say more?” The company censor compliments Bill on his letter writing skills, “not that it’s any of his business” Bill caustically remarks.

March 14, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Here’s another late letter, you see. I wrote one to you 5 days ago and was unable to mail it before it disappeared. I hate to keep you waiting for mail but that’s the way it goes. I’ve been back with the company now for several days.

I received a letter from you today, Mudder. The one acknowledging my acknowledgement of the first fruitcake you sent me. Now there’s a brainy sentence. It’s the first letter I’ve had in several days. I shouldn’t complain though. Last time I did get mail there were eight letters: seven from you and one from Jess. In the letter I wrote and lost I answered several questions for you. Now I haven’t got your old letters nor mine and I can’t remember what the questions were. Alas! Wot a life.

Anyway, when I returned from the rest area the other day what should be waiting but a package. It was the second fruitcake. Boy, oh Boy! Need I say more?

I’ll tell why it took so long for my November Bond to show up. You see I didn’t get paid for almost 3 months and when I don’t get paid the Bond doesn’t go through.

In a few days, if I get the chance, I’m going to send my combat I’m going to –what am I doing?? anyhow. I’ll send my Combat Infantry Badge home along with a couple souvenirs I picked up in the rest area. I’d like you to wear it, Mudder. You know, it really means “sumpin”.

I see where Bob Brewer was up at school the other day. I can’t understand it. I can’t write home about my outfit yet he seems to know more about it than I do.

Thanks for the compliment about my letter-writing. The Co. censor told me I wrote well the other day—not that it’s any of his business. I suppose he means well, however.

That about does it.

Best Love, — Bill

LETTER 184

Bill apologizes for the condition of his last letter saying, “it had gone through a battle and about 5 days inside my helmet before I was able to mail it.” Company A is back off the line for a brief respite. “One minute a person is neck deep in this ‘unpleasantness’ and the next he is hardly aware that there’s a war going on….Sessti la Guirri.”

March 21, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

Well, here it is the first day of spring. The weather is beautiful. For the last week the sun’s been shining bright, clear and warm. Last night it was foggy, but this morning it’s nice again. I haven’t been able to write much lately and you know why. The newspapers make that clear enough. You undoubtedly noticed the condition of the envelope on my last letter. It had gone through a battle and about 5 days inside of my helmet before I was able to mail it. But, as the French say, “Sessti la guirri.” One minute a person is neck deep in this “unpleasantness” and the next he is hardly aware that there’s a war going on. Right now is one of those occasions. Just loaf around all day and sleep twelve to fourteen hours a night (generally no one up here gets more than 4 or 5 hours a night) and three hot meals a day. Of course, it’s hard to say how long it will last but I’m satisfied. I don’t want “an egg in my beer”.

We’re not getting much mail nowadays but it’s understandable. I did receive one letter from you and another from Jess the other day. I had to pull out though and since no one can carry letters, etc., with them when moving I burned them. “Sessti la Guirri” or T.S. as we say in the army. However, Jess said she had sent me a five pound box of candy bars. She asked me in a recent letter what I wanted and I said a few candy bars and she really came through.

Gotta close now—chow!

Best Love, — Bill

To learn more about the war in this vicinity, see Bill in Combat March 5-15, 1945.

LETTER 185

Bill struggles to write this letter using a “lousy Jerry pen.” Things are moving so fast that “nobody can tell what’s going to happen the next minute.” He receives 7 letters from home. In closing Bill laments,”I wish I could tell you what’s going on here.”

March 24, 1945
[France]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

I don’t know if you will be able to read this. I’m trying to write with a lousy Jerry pen.

Things are moving so fast these days that I don’t know what’s what. Nobody can tell what’s going to happen the next minute.

This won’t be much of a letter but I’d better write while I can. I received my first mail in several days this evening, and I got 7 letters.

By the way, I got a letter from Bob Brewer the other day. It had been written on the eleventh. He said that he didn’t know whether or not the army medics wanted to operate on that head wound. Too dangerous. I understand he wants to get married soon.

I can’t stop thinking about the progress of this the war (damned this pen). I wish I could tell you about what’s going on here. †

Oh. Gotta close. “Helluva” letter, huh?

Best Love, — Bill

† To learn what the censors won’t let Bill write, see Bill in Combat March 16-24, 1945.

LETTER 186

For the first time Bill writes from German soil. Things continue at lighting speed. “Armies tearing here and there…..Patton, I fully expect will be fighting in China in a few weeks.” He describes Germany as “rich and beautiful” except for the towns where “the effectivenes of our air corps is quite evident.” The people, Bill says “appear well fed and are anxious to please us (they’re quite afraid of us).”

March 29, 1945
[Germany]

Dear Mudder and Dad,

This has sure been an exciting time these past few days. Armies tearing here and there. The war’s been going so fast that we really don’t know what the score is. I suppose the headlines at home are a foot high. There have been so many sensational advances during the past few days that the Stars and Stripes has to put items that ordinarily rate two full columns on the front page somewhere in with the comics. Patton, I fully expect, will be fighting in China in a few weeks if he continues to push as he has during the past week.

The mail situation is about the same. I believe airmail is still faster that V-Mail, and now they don’t even put the V-Mail in envelopes.

I suppose you are eager to hear about Germany. I don’t know what I can say but I’ll tell you a little anyway. Germany, as much as I’ve seen of it is rich and beautiful. In towns, of course, the effectiveness of our air corps is quite evident. Nevertheless, Germany has France beaten all hollow. The houses in Germany are clean, bright, and well appointed. Even their plumbing is second only to ours. The people appear well fed and are quite anxious to please us (they’re quite afraid of us) and, they all claim to be ANTI-NAZI, GOOD PROTESTANTS OR CATHOLICS as the case may be, and every damn one of them has at least 3 close relations living in America. About that time I feel like slapping them in the face with a rifle butt. Oddly enough they don’t know or pretend they don’t know who they’re fighting. One man thought we’re English, another Russian??!!, and several said we’re Canadians. Either they’re terribly stupid or awful liars—maybe both. That’s about all that’s general enough to write. Censorship is pretty strict.

I don’t remember whether or not I told you in my last letter but I received a letter from Bob Brewer the other day written on the 11th. He told me about his wound and getting married.

It’s raining like the devil outside now. I’m glad I’m indoors.

Chow will be here in a minute so it gives me an excuse to close.

Best Love, — Bill

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