9/22/2014

Letters Home from the Greatest Generation - Part IV

 

 

Beginning of the End for Germany

To find out what this series is all about, please click HERE. This will put you at the first part of this series. All the information you need is there.

It has been three months since I published Part III. There are several reasons for that. First, the letters have deteriorated quite a bit over the decades since WWII ended. Combine that with the horrible penmanship of my late uncle and perhaps you can understand the arduous process I am going through in translating these letters to this site. If not for the help of a gentleman from a local university (a handwriting expert often employed by local law enforcement), I am not confident I would be able to understand what is being said in my late uncle's letters. Secondly, some of the letters are deeply personal and very graphic. My Uncle John was quite adept at describing everything he saw and did during WWII. Some things he says are contradictory. In some sections he feared going into Germany to finish off the Nazis. In other parts of letters, he talks about how much he looks forward to getting into Germany to kill as many Nazis as possible. I noticed that in most of his letters, he did not distinguish Nazis from the ordinary infantry German soldier. They were all Nazis to him.

Some of the letters are somewhat troubling to me. It will appear difficult to understand how 18-22 year old young men can be so violent, so vicious until you understand what they have all gone through since D-Day. Some of the things my uncle has described could be considered war crimes in today's world. In the letter below, you will read one such example. Please understand that a lot of what happened in the march toward Paris was considered acceptable. In this case, "The ends justified the means" in every sense of the word. It is certainly not on the level of what the Nazis were doing to their prisoners. But, I get the sense, from reading these letters, that some of our troops were out of control. This appeared to be with the implicit approval of the American commanders. But, regardless of how it was done, Hitler had to be stopped. There was quite simply no other choice.

In this letter below, you will see a different Uncle John from the one in Part I. He is becoming deeply suspicious of his sweetheart, Alice, and he is becoming much more cynical toward the war itself. Initially, Uncle John appeared patriotic, and prepared to see the war to the end. Now, he shows signs of the war wearing thin on his nerves. I find that understandable. You never know from one moment to the next if you are taking your last breath on earth in a war zone. Fighting has been hard all the way from the beach landing. It is taking it's toll on the troops. Little progress is taking place not quite a month after D-Day. The Germans are not ready to accept defeat in France.

As I stated in Part II, I am not going to make note of my uncle's spelling or grammar any longer. I tend to think that is a bit of an insult to a man who I consider the greatest hero in our family. He was a bitter, sarcastic, mean-spirited man after the war. But, I always remember what my grandmother told me, "This is not the Johnny I knew as my youngest son. This is someone else." With that thought in mind, I present to you the fourth installment of Letters Home from the Greatest Generation.

Cpl John S. Wxxxx
IV Division, Third Infantry, U.S. Army
Somewhere in France
July 01, 1944

Alice,
sorry for so long a time I have not wrote you. I have been busy as you may have read in the newspaper here in France. Remember Mike Phillips that I told you about. He had his right arm blowed off in a village we have been fighting the nazis called Beleui or something of that nature. We lost 7 men in the fight to take this worthless dam village. The germans are not going to leave France peacefully, Alice. We found a family, a father, mother, 2 little girls and 1 baby boy about 3 months old that had been bayonetted by the germans. I hate the bastard germans. I wish we could just kill that entire country. This is the second time this censury that they have caused the entire world to get in a war. When they leave a village they try to kill every one in that dam village. Beleui had almost everyone kilt by the german nazi bastards. 

We have been fighting in this country for almost a month. but, we are only about 10 miles from the beach in which we landed. If this kind of fighting keeps on we may be here until 1950 or later. Our dam army air corp was suppose to be our hope. They have done nothing to help us. They even attacked there own troops about 5 miles from where I am writing this letter to you now. This whole thing is fubar. I do not think you know what that means. My mama told me you been going to the saturday night dances with Billy Fielder. I am over here fighting for you, my mama, my family and my country. This is how you remain fathful to me Alice? I wake up every day not knowing if it is my last day and you do this shit to me? Billy is a chicken and a war doger. He can not even pass the exam to get in the Army. His daddy is rich and got him out of this dam war. I am here getting my ass shot at every day I am here. You do me like this Alice? I want you to tell me what you are thinking. How can you do this? Mama ask me not to say any thang to you. But, I am mad! I may not rite you again. 

I am sick of this dam war. Let Hitler have this dam country. He can have it. I want to come home. I will even work on the farm again and never say a word about it to my daddy again. I am sick of this fighting every day. And now my girlfriend is betray me. This is my life. I hope I do get shot. Maybe you will feel bad about betray me, Alice. I do not care about myself now. I do not care about any one or any thing. Why am I even here if people that I think love me do me this way. The next dam nazi I kill I will spit in his face and tell him this is from Alice. How does that make you feel Alice? May be it makes you laugh. I am tired. I am tired of watching men get there head blown off and there brains blowed in my face. I sleep maybe 1 hour a day and then we go to fight nazi germans again. That is my life Alice. I wish I can die so I can just get it over wtih now. We fight and fight and we get no where. I can almost see the beech where so many boys are died from the landing. We have to get to Paris. But, I may not see it happen. I am so unhappy right now Alice. I think the lucky boys are now dead. They do not have to suffer like us. If this is what my life be like I want it to end. If we do not make it to Paris, we will have to go back to the ships. but, I am told we have no choice but to take paris.

Something I must say now. We had german preisoners of war. Some of our boys were sticking them with there bayonets and laughing at them. I told them to stop. But, the sargent told me to shut my dam mouth. He took off there wrist ties and told them they could leave. The germans boys were scared. But, they started walking off. And then they shot them. I throwed up Alice. This was wrong. Most of the boys were laughing, but some were crying about this. This is my life. This is what I see every day I am here. Be sure and tell Billy I said he is a coward. He should be here to. I might just shoot him if I make it home to Alabama. Have a good day Alice. I never have a good day.

Johnny

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