to learn more French in the last few days have been through some lessons
from a Baron's daughter. She is a funny little girl.
August 24, 1944
been pretty busy, but I hope that it means the war is nearing a close.
I am a little pessimistic about an early finish, although I don't
see where Germany can think she has a chance, and believe she will
quit, but not this year.
France is a beautiful country. The mountains remind me considerably
of West Virginia. You can drive for miles in a canyon very similar
to Mechanicsburg Gap. The forest is composed of pines, corks and chestnut.
There are of course other types in small quantities. The cork trees
are very interesting, they grow to be about 500 years old and they
cut the cork off of them every ten years. The cork is fairly expensive,
and the estates make fairly good living from the sale of cork. The
chestnut that is the fruits are not as good as we have there at home,
they are larger and can't be eaten raw. The people here are much cleaner
than the Italian people, but the French Officers say they are not
as nice as the people further north, because they have so much Italian
blood in them. They hate the Germans and some of the things that I
have seen them do to the Germans would make your hair crawl.
so hot here that it is impossible to sleep at nights. I try not to
complain about the heat though, because it is so unpleasant in the
I got a hair cut in a barber shop, and while I was waiting my turn
a little girl, which I learned later was his child, came in. I gave
her a stick of chewing gum, she took it and left right away, all the
girls are like that, give them anything and they won't stay and talk,
right home they go.
having hot bread tonight that a French woman baked for us, and it
sure looks good.
impossible to buy eggs in France like we did in Africa and Italy.
The people do not look to be as bad off as I expected, but they don't
seem to have too much. I hope that we take care of the civilian supply
better here than we did in Italy. Of course the operation of the Army
comes first, and must, but it is difficult to get along with a starving
home front will only put out their share of the work and materials
of all kind, we are sure to handle the rest over here.
been having a wonderful time celebrating the fall of Marseille. Last
night we attended parties at three different houses, and today again
we have several invitations. The honeymoon will soon be over and we
will have to go back to work, but in the meantime we are enjoying
Frances says Bill Mauldin cartoons appear in one of her daily papers.
I think he is the best cartoonist of the war, of course I know him
may be the reason.
a man the other day that you may know; the name was Raymond, and he
writes articles for the Saturday Evening Post. He was trying to hitch-hike
into Toulon. I took him as far as our C.P., and fed him, but the Colonel
said it would be impossible for me to take him all the way. He said
that we were the most forward element of American soldiers, and that
he would mention us in his article. He took our pictures and addresses,
in fact he took so many it would fill a book and I know he won't publish
all of them.
days later I had a rather interesting experience. Four of us Officers
and eleven men from our outfit were wandering around in the mountains
north of Toulon, trying to get observation, when two of the Officers,
and nine of the men came onto a company of German infantry rather
suddenly. They had been hiding in the woods and watching us and wondering
how many there were. Our unit took all of them prisoner, and we marched
them back to prison camp.
rather interesting the way the argument was, the German Colonel was
holding his gun on our Lt., and our Lt. was holding his gun on the
German Colonel, each saying you are out- numbered and surrounded,
put down your gun and I won't hurt you. But our Lt. outstared the
German Colonel and we, the other Captain and myself were a little
ways off, and did not know anything about it, but we were called on
to help march the prisoners back to camp. It was really a collection
of rank we took, and they also had some of our American prisoners
that they had taken earlier in the day, one of them wounded. When
we marched them through the town the civilians wanted to tear them
apart. They offered the guards wine and the girls wanted to hang on
our necks, but they would not even give the Germans a drink of water.
I thought the Germans acted very human, but I was damn glad I was
guarding them instead of them guarding me.
seem mighty glad to see us, but frankly say that we have been slow
in starting; however, they seem to think we are going like a house
to have fairly good luck at meeting important people. Today I met
a French Count, who was a member of the French Parliament before this
war. He was also a Captain in the infantry during the last war. He
has turned his castle into a refugee camp for his friends and relatives
in Marseille and he invited some of us to have a drink of wine and
conversation; he speaks American, but some of his refugees speak only
a wonderful time, but sure wish it was over and we were headed home.
has been moving along nicely, and I have not been working nearly so
hard as I had before. I don't think that we can quite coast to the
finish, but the rest of it is going to be more pleasant. For one thing
the civilians now are definitely friendly, and you don't have to wonder
if they are just licking your boots because you are top dog. The French
civilians who were friendly with the Germans while the men are not
marked so definitely, they are shunned by the other civilians, and
you get told quickly if you speak with one.
shavings are quite an affair, usually executed unofficially by French
soldiers in the public square, and attended by the entire population.
The finished product is the most peculiar looking thing you ever saw.
trip through the mountains of France today, and the scenery as I have
said before is simply beautiful. It reminded me of the mountains of
California, in the section I drove today. It was more wooded and a
little more dense than those of West Virginia. The road looked in
places as though it had been hewn from solid rocks.
the pleasure of meeting some more important people today and extremely
friendly. He was head of the establishment and is ex-senator of the
French Government. He has as refugees in his castle a family who is
or was the representative for the Cooks tours. The man was an infantry
Captain in the last war, and his sister married an American. Their
address I have and is in Hollywood, California. He asked me if I would
get in touch with his family and let them know that he was all right
and find out how they were as there has been no civilian correspondence
for two years.
there are no peanuts or word for them in French; the Count did not
know what they were even when I showed him some.
sending you some perfume which was given me be a Frenchman who claims
to be the leading perfume manufacturer in France. He has store in
Marseille that extends from street to street, and is several floors
high and devoted entirely to the retail sale of perfume. He says he
has 17 factories in France and many others in the Orient.
is a red-headed woman of possibly 35, and who is very attractive.
We were quartered near them for one day some time ago and they invited
the Officers of the battalion to their house for a party, and all
enjoyed it very much. They served quite a few drinks, food is scarce
and served very little of that. The drinks that they served were the
best that could be obtained in all of France. There have been a lot
of parties lately, we even gave one, and really we over did it inviting
people so there would be enough to dance with. Everybody invited some
one else and we had more than we could get in the dance hall at a
time, but the refreshments held out all right and there was plenty
for all. However the fun must end some time, and I fear we will soon
be back to work, that thug Hitler doesn't know when he is licked so
guess we will have to show him.
stuck at every turn by the beauty of France, and her tragedy; it is
a country of love and beauty, that knows how to enjoy life, surrounded
by people who are jealous of her joy, and not knowing how to enjoy
life seem bent on preventing France from enjoying life by the frequent
attempts to take from her the little that she has.
night I went to town, and had a steak dinner. It was delicious. The
first course was soup, the next fried mushrooms and steak, and then
we had cheese. The cheese was grand, and fruits. The wine selection
was superb, and right now we are passing through the heart of the
best wine country in France.
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