Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain

Wallace's Tent on Salisbury Plain
Writing a letter with candle on clipboard, see Oct. 16 letter

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 27, 1944 Wednesday

Somewhere in France

Hello, my Honey—

At last we are back where I am able to write a real letter to you. I am very glad of the chance, too, you can imagine! Right now I am quartered with a M. Kaiser and he has cooperated very well in giving me ink and paper to write on. It’s not the best in the world but it serves the purpose very well.

I am feeling quite “mellow” today, for the first time in many days. We arrived here early one morning, and spent most of the day hunting quarters for the men. Then yesterday at three P.M. I got free and am now resting with all my might and main. I slept a solid 15 hours last night—on a real mattress!  That came just after the Colonel the tank battalion “C” company is now working with fed all of us officers a Christmas turkey with all the fixin’s, beer, apples, candy, etc., etc. That was the first meal I had had in 18 hours so you can see how it was enjoyed. Then this morning we had pancakes for breakfast. My cook friends made mine special, frying them with butter in them. I ate all I could hold and am now in perfect condition to write to my best girl. She has been badly neglected lately, and I wish I could make up for it. She’s such a wonderful girl, you know, that she should never be neglected.

Guess I’ll just write along whatever I am thinking about, Hon. There is more to tell than I could ever cover, so I’ll just say all I can of it as it comes. For local color I might describe the room I am writing in. It is M. Kaiser’s living room, with a richly carved stove in one corner, a clock that has chimes, on the wall between two large religious pictures; two Millet paintings are opposite—The Angelus and The Gleaners. Now there is a Christmas tree on the table. It looks like an American tree, except there are no electrical trimmings. The three little children here are very fond of their “Kristbaum,” and are like children everywhere. I wish I could understand their dialect, which they refuse to call German. But I know it is not French. The middle-aged people can speak French, but the old and very young know only this German dialect. They have many religious mottoes on the wall, and they are all in German. So are their books. This room could easily come out of a fairy tale—I am the only thing that is not completely quaint and European here.

Of course you know, Honey, that I have done many things lately that I haven’t told you about. One reason was censorship rules, another, time available to write, and another was I didn’t want to worry you. The first two couldn’t be helped, but the last one could. I think now that I was wrong in not telling you all I could—I didn’t practice what I preach about telling each other everything and being perfectly sincere all the time. That is more important than anything. And anyway, perhaps you would be more at ease if you knew all you could than if I tried to pad things for you. So please forgive me, Hon, from now on I shall tell all I can about what I do, as truthfully as I can and without making them better or worse than they are.

Let’s see, I told you about catching those AWOL soldiers sometime back, right? Well, when we left that place we were headed for the front with the mission of breaking through the Maginot line. We shivered around in the mud a few days jockeying into position. Finally we got so cold we just looked forward to this heat of battle they talk about. Of course, our orders came about 2 a.m., and I rolled out from about 2 inches of new fallen snow that had gathered on my sleeping bag and got my boys ready to go. We went from one assembly area to another, and finally wound up spending the next night in a Maginot pillbox—Everybody was cold but me, and I slept on the lee side of “Falstaff” Forchielli—he just radiates heat. We took off early the next morning, bucked a few pillboxes and made a grand assault on a village. We “done noble” and the second platoon occupied the place all alone that first night—with German artillery falling all over the place. In “C” company that town is known as “Our Town” now. We took it, held it, lived in it and have passed through it many times since. After the attack things were pretty quiet except for snipers, a few mines and incessant artillery. But these were compensated for by regular chow, relative comfort (we could sleep in the houses we took) and a certain sense of pride in showing the big bugs the area you had taken. Colonels treat us Loolys like white men when we know the places to duck to and they don’t. Time went by in “our town,” a thousand little things happening each day—a few prisoners, civilians to evacuate, oh yes!, and a night patrol of mine out after a mortar position that drew for me a letter of commendation. I don’t really know why—we only found out where the Germans had been a few minutes ago. Maybe they saw us coming and ran; anyway we got credit for clearing out that woods and it was only a 5 man patrol. They said if we had received any enemy fire, it would have been worth a silver star for me! I am satisfied with the letter as long as they do not fire! American artillery has been our main worry on patrols—no matter how often you tell them where you are going, they always seem to plop a concentration right on top of you before you get back.

As the situation changed the 2nd platoon came to occupy hill 310 [near Moyenvic and Dieuze, Lorraine] defensively. We sat on it for about a week and had a lot of fun, except for sweating out the possible counter-attacks. Jerry was on the next ridge over—front, right front, and left front. We would lay in our positions and snipe or direct mortar and artillery fire over a radio. It makes you feel very powerful to direct corps artillery—like Zeus with his thunderbolts. German morale seemed very low and many surrendered. Hill 310 was the point of our front > —like that—so everybody up to the general staff came up to see how the 2nd platoon was doing on it. We were well dug in, so it really wasn’t too rought—we didn’t get much big stuff on us—after the first couple days, tho, there was enough so that few but my own platoon cared to come up on the hill—that was how we got so much practice with artillery control. We had a loud speaker from corps set up on our hill and ask the Germans to surrender. They listened politely and then began sniping at the speaker. That was O.K. except I was lying just under the speaker. I had them get it off my hill very quickly.

I guess you do not know Lt. Parsons—he was a southerner in my O.C.S. class. He has a mortar platoon here and we worked together all along. He would come to my O.P. and direct the fire of his platoon—he used to get a big kick out of firing white phosphorous shells and chasing Jerries all over the hill with it. It makes them come out of their holes and run. Lt. Bukovinac has left us for a time at least. We hope he will be back with us in the near future. He thanked you for the Xmas card as do all the other “C” company officers. It was very thoughtful of you, Hon.

We had a busy Christmas day, but our morale was of the best. I spent a part of Christmas eve at my most forward listening post, and had all the usual thoughts of the incongruity of it all as I listened to the German vehicles and voices in the clear cold starry night. There was no singing “Silent Night” across the lines tho, and our only greetings to them were beautifully bursting incendiary shells that looked for all the world like Xmas lights.

I did have time for a few dreams of you and our future on Christmas Day. One I like best, one that seems from here like the very consummation of all dreams, is of meeting you first after the war. It always takes place in the Great North Station, and we are anticipating a few days by ourselves in the Bradford Hotel. That day will be a great beginning for us, Hon, and it can’t come too fast for me. You know how much I love you, Bunny – it is the most real and the most precious and the best thing in my life. I know that more and more as time goes by, and I can never forget it – even in the thick of this lousy war.

All yours always,


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