we had turkey, a lot of turkey, I ate and ate and did enjoy all of
it I wanted for once. We had cranberries, potatoes, peas, bread, butter
and hard candy. It was all grand.
dinner the daughter of the French home I was in gave me some French
lessons, and her ten year old sister helped some. The first girl I
mentioned said her husband has been a German prisoner for four years,
and that she is used to being alone. I will never get used to it,
so don't you ever feel that way toward me. I don't think they should
have kept him prisoner after the French had surrendered, and she was
living in occupied Germany.
Air mail is going just a little faster than V letters but I write
V mail because it is simpler for me to get the material. No matter
where I am it is nearly always possible to borrow a V blank which
most every one will have, than it is to get to my Air Mail stationery.
it might be interesting to tell you something about how my personal
stuff is handled. Baggage allowance exist, but they are not too strictly
complied with the real limitation in how much will the trailer haul.
To begin with there are three trailers, one of which is officially
the Officers’ luggage trailer, and the other two are intended
for other purposes and catch the overflow from the Officers’
trailer. Only the Officers’ trailer is parked in the vicinity
of the Officer's area, and the other two are parked naturally in their
own area, consequently they are not exactly accessible. We carry in
the Officers’ trailer that stuff which we are presumably going
to need every night, or at least frequently, and in the other trailers
long time items, such as summer clothing in the winter, and winter
clothing for the summer time, your glad rags which you have too much
money tied up in to throw away, and still seldom need, but hope like
hell that you will need.
first trailer is a bedroom, canvas, G. I., waterproof, inside that
I have my own sleeping bag and two government issued blankets. The
bedroom has pockets for small things that can bend, or won't break,
and then we store shoes, tent poles, tents, undies, towels and the
briefest essentials in them. Then we all carry a canvas musette bag
on us all the time, of small essentials.
to all the above, things are suppose to be so arranged that one Orderly
can roll and load on the trailer all the equipment of 12 officers
in about an hour, but those times I am usually some other place and
don't help if its a rush job. My tin suitcase rusted to pieces and
I have two small tin boxes for the inaccessible trailers, and seldom
can get to them.
edible Christmas presents, by common agreement are put in a common
box, known as the grab box, or pantry. It rides on the accessible
trailer and is used to provide midnight snacks.
passed through an area where they used to manufacture Rayon, and it
was possible to buy these big handkerchiefs for a girl’s head.
I went into the store intending to buy you one, but the clerk said
$20.00 for the one that I picked out for you so I didn't get it, but
it was really pretty. If it had been real silk I would have gotten
it anyway, but not rayon.
are going about the same as always here. I caught the night shift
again, but will get some sleep after awhile.
1st I was promoted to Major; it came much sooner than I expected.
We will celebrate these promotions when I arrive home and hope its
sooner than I think now.
that we are eating much better, we get fresh meat real often. Had
beefsteak and chicken both last week, and usually get fresh meat at
least once a week.
you see anything in the Glendale papers about our Unit getting decorated?
It was released to the press, and most of the other boys have gotten
clippings back from their local papers, but if you want to write to
the Glendale paper and ask for the clipping, if it was there, you
MIGHT find out something.
upon a time during the second world war, when the Germans were finally
driven out of the area formerly known as France. There were among
the victorious Liberating forces some American soldiers, one of them
our hero. He was very interested in the people and the country through
which he moved. He had been studying French in order to converse with
the natives, being a friendly fellow. When to his surprise he spoke
to a native in his best French, and she did not reply. Then he said
in English "Please Madam, will you do my laundry; see I have
soap, money, and chocolates, all for you if you will just wash my
clothes." A vague stare, and again the incomprehensible reply.
This was too much, was it possible that we had sneaked into Germany
while I was asleep in the truck. Quickly our hero fled to the intelligence
department to check on the situation, the map, and the name of the
village. No we were in France. I get our best interpreter who speaks
both French, German, and English and try again. Success at last -
they speak German. The day is saved, and the clothes are washed, but
I won't learn German; that is the last straw.
like it would be a good idea to start an investigation to see why
the people are that way. Some school children were tried next, usually
children understand a foreigner quicker than older folk. I bribed
them with candies and they were willing to stand around, but they
could not understand, and would speak only German. I found out for
over four years it has been forbidden to speak French in this area.
The native language is neither French nor German, but some outlandish
dialect of their own which is a sort of low German with a few French
words thrown in. The official language was French before the war,
then German during the war. Now take your boy of ten, its easy to
make them forget their own language, especially when French was forbidden.
Now that we are here the German language is forbidden, and they have
to change their school systems again. I saw a Doctor changing the
sign on his office door. He had two beautiful metal signs, one in
German and the other in French, probably had both been made exactly
alike except for language.
interest was stirred up by a quartet of female laborers who are working
around the village. They are doing common labor on the roads and streets
like you would find the county prisoners doing back home. Since they
are young, good-looking and female they draw quite an audience around
the construction. Any construction job draws a crowd, but over here
it takes girls to bring out the on-lookers. Naturally we were curious
to know what it is about, and the foreman, or guard spoke French so
enquiries were made. It seems that when the Germans were here they
conscripted a labor battalion of women, so now they have made them
into a four girl labor battalion to rebuild the streets of the town.
One of the boys tried to get pictures of them working but they would
not let him take the picture.
occasion to look over the official records of a local engineer office,
and I was rather amused to note that business had gone on as usual
right through the war with the simple change in language twice, once
when the German's came and once when they were out. It is a strange
war, I am often puzzled myself to know what it is all about, and only
hope that I can soon come home where things are simple.
noticed where you were worried about my suffering from cold and other
discomforts, frankly for me I have not been, nor do I expect to be
subjected to any greater personal discomfort this winter than if I
were home. Quit your worrying. Of course things are a lot different,
I'm lucky to get a bath a month, and those personal things, but we
have plenty of warm clothing and food, and usually have warm dry quarters.
That was not the case last winter, nor the winter before. It is not
the case for a lot of troops this winter, but I expect it to continue
to be the case for this unit. For one thing we have learned a lot
about how to take care of ourselves, for another we are working with
the French, and to a certain extent they regard us as guests, and
give us the best.
don't expect to be home during this school year, but I feel and think
we can hope that I will come home next summer; of course none of us
has another mascot, a little dog that we call Private Snops. We call
him Snops because we want him to be absolutely cosmopolitan. You see
Snops is the name of a German beverage which is quite the favorite
with the boys. I don't think the Germans spell it that way, but that
is the way it sounds as near as I can guess it. He is a rather cute
little black puppy with white markings. His Mother is an Arab dog
which we brought from North Africa, and his father is unknown, but
believed to be an Italian.
Snops was born in France along with three sisters during a little
affair that we were having with the Germans. So Private Snops, born
in France, with an Arab mother, and Italian father, is mascot for
an American Battalion and a very cosmopolitan dog he is, with his
Snops is about 6 inches long, about 3 inches high, and has a head
about the size of two fingers doubled up. He can curl up comfortably
in the palm of my hand and go to sleep as nice as you please. When
we are traveling he usually rides in somebodies shirt pocket, with
his head sticking out between the two top buttons of your jacket,
just as warm and snug as can be.
built him a little red house which is much too big for him, but he
will grow into it. It is a nice little house that looks just like
the dog houses that you see back home. Private Snops had always been
in the habit of sleeping with the First Sergeant, and it took day
and night to get him used to his new home, and we seldom let him out
in the wide, wide world, but it became essential that he have the
equivalent of a doggie tree. We made a tiny box and filled with sand
for him, and he started using that right away. In fact we are quite
proud of his intelligence, and are thinking of seriously of making
him Private First Class.
that you would fall in love with Private Snops if you could see him.
All the girls go crazy over him. That may be why all the boys like
to carry him around in their pocket. I had him in my pocket one day
when an old lady happened to spy his head sticking out, and she talked
to him for quite a while in German. I don't think he understands German,
only French and English. Of course that is hard to say because he
seldom does anything you tell him, not even come when you call.
game is jumping on some sleeping shoulder and biting their nose and
ears, he also likes to be treated rough himself. He will race by you
for hours if you will just knock his feet out from under him as he
comes by so he will roll over. He seems to think it is some game like
skipping rope or something.
have to close this story for the present on a sad note, Private Snops
got fed twice by mistake, and the meal was salty ham, and drank a
lot of water, so is not feeling so good now. We all hope he will be
feeling better soon.
to tell you how I spent the holidays, first I have been a busy man.
Of course we got a turkey ration, Uncle Sam sees to that as he takes
pretty good care of his fighting troops. We have a mess hall, and
kitchen combined in an old theater, in this set up here. On Christmas
Eve Ann, who I believe I mentioned once before, came around to call
on us. In case you have forgotten Ann is one of the few Red Cross
girls who actually comes up front. She is a singer who specialized
in cute little torch songs, and called for supper then sang to us
for a couple hours.
the usual pre-Christmas spirits but I was not feeling well so did
not indulge. I went to bed quite late after some games and a evening
of watching others celebrate and slept till noon the next day.
turkey, dressing and cranberries besides all the usual lovely things
that go with a Christmas dinner, and parties that night. I did not
leave Officers’ quarters all day and had a wonderful time.
like it here in France and as contented as I could possibly
be anywhere away from home, and I hope to stay here until I
Snop is sick. He has a cold. He has been gaining and now weighs almost
shocking in a way to think of the poor country children there not
having their candy this Christmas. Especially since I feel sure there
is plenty over the country. The boys in my section put up a Christmas
tree for the kids in the house where they are billeted. They scoured
the country for some little trinkets and toys to put under the tree,
but were not able to find anything, so they filled three small stockings
with G.I. candy. The kids were very pleased, and it was all the Christmas
they had. The children are learning to speak French again very well,
but some of the older folks have lots of trouble changing from one
language to another.
it is wrong to send a soldier something that he does not specifically
request, and some times its wrong to send it even then. One of our
G. I's., heard a rumor that we were not going to be issued overshoes.
He wrote to his Dad to send him a pair, and he sent the boy his only
overshoes because he was unable to buy them. In the meantime the Army
issued such as Shoe Packs, which is a new device that is much more
suitable than overshoes. Now the boy is sending the overshoes back
and probably next spring his Dad will get them, and in the mean time
what will his Dad do, catch cold and so on. It all goes to show Uncle
Sam gives us what we should have, and they should not have anything
today officially that I am entitled to wear the "Croix de Guerre"
with the Gold Star, because of decoration of the entire Battalion
by the French Army when we were in Italy.
now is certainly no boon to health either there or here, but frankly
you are having more snow than we are, but I hope it is not as cold
exaggerate until you can get no true picture. When they say things
are good, just think they probably are not too good, and when they
say things are bad they are not too bad. Actually I don't notice any
great difference, total casualties are about the same either way.
thinking of things that happen, little inconsequential things. One
time in Italy I was billeted in a house, along with part of my section.
The family that lived in the house were right nice people, I believe
I told you something about them before. Anyhow they had invited us
up to their part of the house for a sort of a party. There were strict
orders out that every man had to wear his helmet, and naturally I
was enforcing the order, so a lot of German planes came over, and
everybody went out on the porch to watch. They started strafing and
bombing, and I noticed that some of my men did not have their helmets,
neither did I, nor the Colonel. I went and got the Colonels and mine,
and told the men to go get their helmets. Lena, one of the older girls
hearing me tell the men to wear their helmets, and seeing me put mine
on said "What about me?" Well what about it, I had not given
her a thought. I could not provide her with a helmet, and why should
I. The men are my responsibility, they had helmets and civilians just
have to take it. But I felt kind of ungallant. What would you have
Year has started well, I spent the New Years day, by first taking
the best bath I could get with the facilities available. Next I called
on some Doctor friend who had received a quart of whiskey from home.
It was shipped to him by a friend in a hospital who had put it in
a medicine bottle, and marked it medicine. We topped off the day with
a big turkey dinner. You see I faired pretty good.
be having a very severe winter back home. It is cold here too. The
snow never melts, and the temperature is holding around 10 above zero,
but I have a nice warm billet.
watch is a genuine Swiss movement, built in Switzerland and I bought
it direct from the factory, I'll have to wait to give details on that
after I get home, naturally I can not give them now.
have been so dull lately that I can hardly think of anything worth
while to write about. I have a slight head cold I tried to sleep off,
but guess it isn't too bad after all. I think it is the weather more
than anything else. I hate the long dark evenings. By the time you
get this it will be starting to stay light a little longer, and that
will be a big help. Maybe we will be able to come home to a beautiful
spring. Let us not raise false hopes.
you will find the citation, mentioned in my correspondence which you
asked me to send you. What I am sending is actually the first sheet
of the mimeographed copy that was released to the press. The succeeding
sheets carried the roster of the battalion at the time covered by
the citation. I understand that the Office of Awards and Citations,
(America) has ruled that this citation entitles all members of the
battalion to wear the Croix de Guerre, after the citation has been
passed by Congress. Of course as you know all foreign citations must
be approved by congress.
of the Citation - The 1st Field Artillery Observation Battalion received
the following citation from the French Expeditionary Corps: July 22,
1944, Corps Expeditionnaire France, General Juin, Commandant of the
Corps Expeditionnaire Francais cites: By Order of the Army Corps,
The 1st Field Artillery Observation Battalion, U. S. Army. Outstanding
Unit of Observation and Ranging. Under the command of Colonel G. D.
Ellerson, F. A. for relentless pursuing of the enemy through the winter
campaign on heights covered with snow and rain at Monna Casale and
Monna Acquafondata; their sound and flash posts furnished throughout
the day and night, the essential information for counterbattery work.
the 11th May 1944, they have furnished to the Artillery of the Corps
Expeditionnaire Francais an exact topography, locations by sound and
flash of numerous enemy material and movements, with an admirable
spirit and much hard work, in spite of losses of personnel and equipment.
Citation bestows the privilege of the Croix de Guerre with Gold Star.
you will find a press release which was given to each of us by our
commander for mailing to our local papers. I filled in my name in
the blank space. It actually is not news, at least not recent news,
it appeared originally in a Burlington, Ala., newspaper.
ARTILLERY IS KNOCKED OUT BY ACCURATE OBSERVATION, SIXTH ARMY GROUP,
France--Special to the Press--David M. Whipp, Major is a member of
the First Field Artillery Observation Battalion in this area, an outfit
that has proven its efficiency in battles.
barrage preparations that opened the French First Army's drive along
the Swiss border to the Rhine smashed and neutralized enemy artillery
and fortifications in the Belfort Gap region.
that directed that barrage and the location of the German guns that
were smashed before they could hinder the drive was just a part of
the day's work for the battalion, which is working with the French
First Army in France.
"sound and flash" methods, the soldiers of this battalion
located enemy batteries accurately and quickly. When it was time for
the drive to start, American and French artillerymen, working side-by-side,
quickly smashed the enemy's big guns.
story of how effective our location was is that an enemy battery fired
a couple of rounds to show an inspecting German staff how good they
were," Major Ewel J. Morris, Jr., Sylacauga, Ala., battalion
commander, explained, "but no sooner did they fire than we replied.
Our location had been perfect and the Yank shells landed right on
the target and wiped out the battery and the visitors."
commander went on to explain that their job is to "gather information
to neutralize enemy artillery activity during the critical phase of
operations, and to supply survey for artillery."
has been in the line continuously, except for periods of moving to
new positions, since December 1942, reportedly longer than any other
American unit since 1865.
night we had baked ham for supper. For some reason they don't seem
to ever bake the ham long enough, and it was very tough. However I
guess I should not complain, we understand that civilians can't ever
get ham, tough or otherwise. I hope that things are not as bad for
you as we are led to believe, however I do know that you are short
of cigarettes, I wonder why?
in our unit now went to school with Jim Easton; give me the news of
him so I can tell the dentist here as he has asked so many questions
one should not be jealous, but it seems to me that the Air Corps has
its nerve, only asking its men to fly a certain specified number of
missions. As though one could measure the amount that his share of
the war effort amounted to. The ground forces are expected to fight
until its over, why not the Air Force? And where in H--- do they expect
to get their replacements from, with the man power situation the way
it is. Of course if I was in the Air Corps I might see it differently,
but certainly it seems strange to us here.
here is very changeable, it drops down to zero with a foot or more
of snow, and then the temperature comes up again, and it all melts.
Either way we cuss and blame the weather. I only hope that it starts
warming until the snow all melts, and the ground drys out. I dread
to think what a freeze and fresh snow would do.
are all getting in their second childhood. We quarrel like kids over
nothing at all, and all of us vow we will not quarrel again. At least
we are all efficient in our jobs, and have the best outfit overseas.
We do need a separation from each other, but that will come eventually
I guess. Seven days together gets very tiring.
the pictures that you liked so well around Christmas taken at Montbellard.
of sheets, I bet they feel funny. I hear some people are still using
them, I hope to come home and find they are still in use, I never
did like blankets instead of sheets.
your letter including the correct annual statement, and it is surprising
how much expenditures have increased over the year before. Of course
things are higher, and Patricia is getting larger and her things cost
more, but it’s a lot higher.
not see Bob Hope in Sicily. He did play near our outfit and a lot
of people went, but I had to work that day. The boys in general I
talked to did not like him. I was in a hotel in a rear area, as a
courier when the armistice with Italy was announced and Al Jolson
was there, and he sang a song, but that is the only big name I have
seen over seas, and that was not a scheduled performance.
to write Daddy a letter, and when I realized it I had started a letter
off to you instead. I wonder when I get back to the states if I will
find myself shaking hands with my mother-in-law, winding up the cat,
throwing the clock out of the window, thanking you for the beer you
bought me up town, and telling Papa Bean he baked a delicious cake,
then proceeding to dig a fox hole in the garden and plan to sleep
night I had a rather amusing time with the Dentist. We had taken over
a house, which of course was strange to him; that was evidently the
European idea of modernistic. Any how it was equipped with the latest
thing in up to date black out curtains that have a remote control
on the inside. In other words you can raise or lower the outside shutter
from the inside without opening the window and locks against a straight
upward pull, but can easily be pulled straight out to obtain slack
to lower the curtains while I light the lights, the first one he struggled
and worked, and finally pulled side ways and hard sideways jerk and
the strap and all came out of the wall. Finally he got them all lowered
and I could not get the lights on, so we went to bed in the dark.
The Tooth Mechanic is a simple soul, who was not familiar with modern
conveniences nor very mechanically inclined and I was rather amused
at his efforts so allowed him to struggle with them for a while.
Alsacean costume is rather pretty. It reminds me of something that
I have seen in history books. They don't wear them except to church,
but you never see a woman go to church in anything else. I don't know
whether I can describe them to you in a way that will make you see
them or not. They wear black head gear, I would not call them hats,
which looks something like a combination shawl and nurses hat, such
as they wear in the Catholic hospitals. These head ornaments have
stiff wings that project on either side, about a foot beyond their
head. The dress itself is basically black with rectangular red areas,
but the whole thing will be decorated with bright colors of orange
or most any other color so long as it is bright. They are very attractive,
especially on the young girls. The men do seem to have a special costume,
but then I am used to seeing civilians in rags and tatters.
knows how long it will be. But this we know it won’t be forever,
and every day brings us closer together. It will be easier to wait
knowing it can't be as long as it has been. Personally I cannot see
the end yet; but at least we can hope that it will be soon. We have
reached the inner core, and every step is harder than the last, but
we will eventually get there.
in today’s paper, where a chappie who had been over seas 4 years,
and got married in England when he first came over, had been separated
from his wife 2 1/2 years, and finally got his furlough approved.
Then they sent him to the states, so that he did not even get to see
his wife on his furlough. Tough break, and plenty of people dying
to get that furlough, if I couldn't get anything better. But I sure
would hate to leave again. At times I'm afraid that I would not be
able to leave, at the end of 30 days.
very much surprised yesterday when the Major walked up and called
me to attention, and started reading to me, and low and behold I have
been awarded the Legion of Merit medal. That is the most coveted medal
in the army in my opinion. (copy of the Citations are on the next
page, between 57 & 58).
back I had a few days at a rest camp, I can not tell you when, or
where, or for how long I was there, but frankly I was little disappointed.
It was new rest camp, and there was very little established yet in
the way of entertainment for the Officers, or the men. In the end
I had a fairly good time, although the stay was entirely to short.
We were the first allotment for this particular rest camp. Everybody
spoke French, waiters at the hotel, clerks in the stores, girls at
the American Red Cross Club and the ones running the Officers club,
and the ones running the Post Exchange could speak no English. At
each place there were G. I., interpreters to be used at the business
part of our being there. My French has improved immensely, and several
officers went with me so that I could do their interpreting for them.
of the soldiers at camps like these don't want rest, they want excitement,
and entertainment. Dates were made for the officers at their club
dances. While at the club I met a French social worker with the rank
of Major, she was a motherly old soul and had charge of all the French
girls in the sector who work at the hospitals. We sat and talked most
of the evening.
where we stayed had civilian help except for the interpreters, but
all the guests were American Officers. The table service was luscious,
table cloths, real dishes and silverware, but the food was the same
old G. I. chow. All the waitresses were girls dressed in blue dresses,
white aprons and each one was compelled to wear stockings.
hot water mornings for bath at 6, then breakfast at 7, and I got up
every morning to enjoy that hot bath, that is my favorite luxury.
I was located near the top floor with the General and other high rank,
and when some one couldn't work the self operating elevator we had
to walk up and down.
March 9, 1945
a trellis for hop vines the other day, and it was the first time that
I knew what they were. They are peculiarly constructed things, built
by using about 20 foot poles for supports and stringing wire from
the top of the poles in kind of a new [editor’s note: ?]. There
are no vines on the trellis now, and I don't know what they look like
but they must be rapid-growing like beans. And now I remember when
we were in England it was quite a chore getting people from the city
to come out into the country to gather the hops.
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