In his November 17th letter to his father, Dad finally gives me a clue as to where he is: the 9th Army Headquarters! Some quick research online yielded an amazing historic post which is quite lengthy, but could be interesting eventually in figuring out how my Dad and his comrades were fitting into the overall thrust of the war at this point in time. I will post a short excerpt from this site after the letters, along with the link to the much longer scholarly essay.
15 NOV 1944 V=MAIL
GOOD EVENING, MY DARLING, FINALLY GOT YOUR LETTER OF NOV 2, BUT THERE WERE EVIDENTLY OTHER ONES INTERVENING, BECAUSE I NEVER GOT YOUR REACTIONS TO THE TWO BOXES FROM ME, OR WHAT GOES WITH THE LEMONTS, WHICH I AM ANXIOUS ABOUT BOTH. IN CASE I DON’T WRITE YOU THAT I’VE HEARD IN A FEW DAYS, WOULD YOU PLEASE REITERATE? YOU KNOW A FUNNY THING? JUST A FEW DAYS AGO, I WAS THINKING ABOUT KAREN AND SAYING PRAYERS AND HOW CUTE SHE WOULD BE DOING SAME, AND MEANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT IT. I THINK ITS A FINE IDEA, AND GOLLY HOW I’D LOVE TO BE THERE AND HEAR HER. TELL MERCEDES I’M EXCEEDINGLY PLEASED WITH HER. AND RUSH THE PICTURE DEAL ALONG, AS I’D LOVE TO HAVE SOME MORE OF BOTH OF YOU GUYS. THIS IS THE LAST TIME I’M GOING TO AK YOU WHATNELL HAPPENED TO THE PITTSBURGH PICS? I KNOW IT’S TOUGH TO GET FILM, BUT ANY PICS THAT YOU CAN GET WOULD BE A LERVELY LIFT FOR ME. WE HAVEN’T SEEN THE SUN HERE FOR A HELL OF A LONG TIME. IT RAINS ABOUT LIKE IT DOES IN SEATTLE. NOT HARD, BUT DRIZZLEY MOST OF THE TIME. WAS TALKING TO A VERY INTERESTING OLD CHARACTER ON ONE OF MY TRIPS OUT TODAY. SHE STRODE UP VERY ENERGETICALLY AND BEGAN A CONVERSATION IN ENGLISH AS WE WALKED ALONG. SHE’S IRISH, 68, AND WAS IN AMERICA FIFTY YEARS AGO. SAYS THEY DON’T HAVE MUCH SNOW IN THIS PART OF COUNTRY (ABOUT LIKE SEATTLE, I GATHERED) BUT SOMETIMES GETS PRETTY COLD FOR A FEW DAYS. LEFT IN A FLOURISH WITH A SALUTE OF HER CANE. HAVEN’T SEEN MICHEN FOR A FEW DAYS, BUT PLENTY OF OTHER KIDS TO KEEP ME COMPANY. (I WONDER IF THE FACT THAT I PASS OUT LIFE SAVERS OCCASIONALLY HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT?) I LOVE YOU,
DEAR DAD, A FEW WEEKS AGO I RECEIVED YOUR JUNE LETTERS, AND TODAY I GOT YOUR LTR OF OCT 30TH. SOME DIFFERENCE, HMM? I’M VERY GLAD THAT YOU SEND HAROLDS LETTERS ALONG AS I’M ALWAYS ANXIOUS TO KNOW HOW HE’S MAKING OUT, AND IF YOU SEND MY LETTERS ON TO HIM IT WILL SAVE US BOTH WRITING TIME. I’M STILL HERE AT NINTH ARMY HEADQUARTERS AND LIKE IT FINE. I BUMPED INTO A KID FROM SEATTLE WHO I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH. HE PLAYED THE PIANO FOR THE QUARTET. THERE ARE ALSO A LOT OF OTHR BOYS FROM THE WEST COAST HERE. SEEMS THAT MOST OF THIS OUTFIT CAME FROM THE CAMPS OUT THERE. WEATHER HERE REMINDS ME A GREAT DEAL OF SEATTLE, TOO. ONLY SEATTLE WEATHER AT ITS WORST: COLD, CLOUDY AND RAINING MOST OF THE TIME. WE HAD A QUITE A HEAVY SNOWFALL A WEEK OR SO AGO, BUT IT MELTED AS FAST AS IT HIT THE GROUND. YESTERDAY WAS THE FIRST REALLY NICE DAY IN A LONG TIME, AND I IMAGINE YOU READ ABOUT HOW THE NINTH ARMY FINALLY GOT BACK INTO ACTION AGAIN. FIRST TIME IT HAS BEEN MENTIONED SINCE WE JOINED IT A MONTH OR SO AGO. I WORK EVERY OTHER NIGHT, ALTERNATING WITH ANOTHER FELLOW. IT WORKS OUT FINE, BECAUSE THE MOVIES PLAY TWO NIGHTS, SO WE NEITHER MISS ANYTHING. TOMORROW NIGHT I’LL SEE A G.I. VARIETY SHOW, WHICH THE BOYS SAID WAS VERY GOOD TONIGHT. SOME OF THE GUYS GO OUT ON PASSES HERE AT NIGHT AND DRINK BEER AND STUFF, BUT I HAVEN’T MUCH INCLINATION, SO I HAVEN’T EVEN LEFT THE AREA, HAVE PLAYED POKER WITH THE BOYS A FEW NIGHTS. WON A COUPLE OF TIMES AND LOST IT ALL BACK THE LAST TIME, BUT IT PASSES THE TIME, AND ALL I’M REALLY INTERESTED IN IS GETTING HOME. VERY BEST TO YOU, DAD
Ninth Army Ordnance
“Unlike the noisy and bumptious Third and the temperamental First, the Ninth remained uncommonly normal,” according to General Bradley.1 One reason for the normality of Ninth Army was its youth. Though it resented being called a new army, because its headquarters had worked together for two years, first in the United States and later in England, in terms of the European campaign it was young, and in a sense it was like a family’s youngest child that arrives when father is coming up in the world. Not until mid-November did Ninth Army have the responsibility for supporting a full-scale offensive. By then, the worst of the period of hard times in supply was over, and the opening of Antwerp a few weeks later heralded the beginning of the era of plenty.
Arriving on the Continent at the end of August, the Ninth’s headquarters on 5 September assumed command of one corps, the VIII, with the mission of reducing the Brittany peninsula and protecting the south flank of 12th Army Group along the Loire. At that time VIII Corps was operating as an independent corps with direct access to Communications Zone, an arrangement that continued until the reduction of Brest on 18 September. After Brest and the mass surrender of the German forces along the Loire following dragoon, Ninth Army was sent with VIII Corps to a quiet sector in southern Belgium and Luxembourg between First and Third Armies, with a defensive mission only; it remained there for most of October, a small army indeed, for VIII Corps had only two divisions. Then the Ninth was ordered to take over a small portion of the 12th Army Group zone north of Aachen to build up for a drive to the Rhine in conjunction with First Army. Relinquishing VIII Corps to First Army, Ninth on 22 October moved its command post to Maastricht, in the Dutch panhandle, taking over XIX Corps, which was already in position near Aachen with two infantry divisions, the 30th and 29th, and one armored, the 2d. On 8 November, a second corps was added, the XIII. Ninth was still a small army compared with First and Third, and was to be concentrated on a very much narrower front than either.”