Once again, I’m trying to understand how my Dad fit into a larger pattern of what was occurring at this point in the war. I googled “December 1944 Germany” and one of the striking things that comes up is The Battle of the Bulge. It appears that at this point in time he may have been part of a movement of troops into Germany to take part in this massive campaign that took place on December 16th. That endearing Christmas tree that he and his buddies created back at headquarters must be seeming painfully like a thing of the past as he moves into German territory.
8 DEC 1944 V-MAIL
HELLO, SWEETIE, TOMORROW I GO BACK TO BN. IT HAS BEEN VERY PLEASANT DOWN HERE, AND I LIKE IT BETTER THAN BN IN EVERY WAY EXCEPT FOOD AND SLEEPING QUARTERS. ALSO VERY LITTLE CHANCE TO GET ANY PLACE WHEN YOU ARE ON DETACHED SERVICE AS I AM HERE. ANY PROMOTIONS MUST COME FROM OUTFIT TO WHICH YOU ARE ASSIGNED AND THEY CAN FORGET YOU VERY EASILY WHEN YOU AREN’T THERE. SO I’LL BE LOADING MY CONSIDERABLE STORE OF JUNK INTO OUR MESSENGERS CAR TOMORROW AND BE OFF AND AWAY AGAIN.
THE GUYS HERE HAVE RIGGED UP A XMAS TREE THAT IS REALLY A DILLY. SOMEONE CHOPPED IT OUT IN THE WOODS AND DRAGGED IT IN. ANOTHER GUY REALIZED WRAPPERS AROUND THE LIFE-SAVER FRUIT DROPS WERE PRETTY COLORFUL, SO HE HOOKED EACH ONE ON A STRAIGHTENED OUT PAPER CLIP AND HUnG THEM ON THE TREE. ANOTHER CUT ROUND AND ROUND ON THE TINFOIL WRAPINGS AND MADE SPARKLERS TO THROW ON THE TREE. ANOTHER (THIS WAS PURE INSPIRATION) TOOK A USED BLACK & RED TYPEWRITER RIBBON AND DRAPED IT ALL AROUNd. ANOTHER DREW COLORED BALLS AND BELLS AND BIRDS ETC ON SHIPPING TAGS, CUT OUT AROUND THEM AND HUNG ‘EM UP. AND IT REALLY LOOKS WONDERFUL. EVERYONE WHO COMES UPSTAIRS GAPES AND LAUGHS AND CONGRATULATES US. THE MORE I SEE OF GIS IN THE ROUGH AND WHAT THEY CAN DO WITH PRACTICALLY NOTHING, THE MORE RESPECT I HAVE FOR JUST ORDINARY GUYS OF AMERICA. END OF CHAMBER OF COMMERCE MEETING.
Dearest Mary, I realize you’re not going to be too happy to see the above address, darling, but from what I’ve seen so far it is just another Normandy. I returned today in quite a snowstorm. First thing to strike you up here is the blasted buildings again, and the scarcity of civilians, maybe one every three of four blocks. Houses look pretty shabby in comparison to Dutch, too. You see a great many houses in a row, like a real estate development, all exactly alike and painted in (of all things) pastelle colors – pink, blue, yellow etc. Also lots of the old barn-red painted bldgs. Maybe it’s my imagination (although it seems logical) but the character of towns seem cheap compared again to Dutch. Nights here will be extremely stay-at-home-indoors affairs, according to the boys, which is no change for me except I’ll miss the movies. Fellows at Army seemed genuinely sorry to see me go & the Capt said I’d done a good job & he’d try to get me a permanent job if he could, which made me feel good, anyway. Golly, but I love you, Mrs B! Be a good girl – kiss Karen for me – here’s a HUGE hug for you, my darling – Rollin