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Byron Armbruster World War II Papers: Transcripts - MS 984

Byron ArmbrusterĀ Correspondence to Parents, July 1945

July 4, 1945

Lofer, Austria
4 July '45

Dear Folks -

To day is certainly a hellish 4th of July. It certainly isn't very comfortable. It has been raining continually for over a week and it certainly is cold. I guess it is snowing up in the mountains. I have on my summer underwear with my winter top part over that, plus my fatigue Jacket and Combat Jacket. On top of that I'm still cold. I hate to think what is would be like in the winter time. I guess this is unusual as two weeks ago, it was hot during the day that it was uncomfortable.

Now I'll answer your questions, mom, Yes, I received the package you sent containing the pop corn and I wrote back and told you. Maybe you never received the letter. Thanks a million. Concerning Joe's fruit cake, I also wrote her. She means the one she sent for Christmas, doesn't she? My Christmas was so exciting, I don't remember who sent me what. I was just living from minute to minute, trying to keep alive. Thank God I was the only one from our family that had that experience. This war was certainly something, whenever one is in his gravest danger, his thoughts always revert back home. Just wondering what the folks would say if they only knew.

Tell Pop that I have located one german rifle and have sent it home yesterday. I understand it takes ages for them to go through. This type weapon were destroyed by the thousands. Ive seen soldiers disarm heinie soldiers and lay the rifles up against the curb, and drive 2 1/2 ton trucks over them, to destroy them. We couldn't carry them along. We are still hiding in the mountains and some are living as civilians, here in Lofer. Yesterday we picked up one next door. Reminds me to tell you about this murderer when I return. No one would have taken him to be an S.S. trooper.

Things remain so, so and I'm not working very hard.

Love,
Byron

July 8, 1945

Schwarzach, Austria
8 July '45

Dear Folks -

Notice the change in my location? We moved yesterday, about 30 miles southwest of Lofer. It isn't quite as pretty a place as Lofer. It also is surrounded by mountains. My office and store rooms are located in the railway station. I'm temporarily living in a rooming house, but expect to move into a hotel to-morrow.

Last nite, I received a letter from the Gerkens, thanking me for the pin I sent them. It was an airborne pin like I sent you and Eloise. Did you both receive them?

We are getting a lot of fellows to replace the one that had over 85 points and have left the organization. Some of the new fellows are very nice. They are being sent from the 17th Airborne. We originally furnished the cadre for the 17th. They haven't seen near as much action as we have, so naturally are low on points. Some of the fellows being transferred to us are old buddies of mine that took basic training with me. They feel rather blue that they came in the same time I did and have to stay in so much longer.

It was raining this morning, so I stayed in bed until 10:00 o'clock being it was Sunday I could do that. It then cleared up and it was a beautiful day. I set up the office in the new location, in the afternoon and took a stroll around town this evening. One of the new fellows, a Sgt. transferred in from the 17th, home in Minnesota, is with Sgt. Hodel and Myself most all the time.

The civilians here have been told that we are the American S.S. Troops and they are afraid of us. I guess they know what S.S. Troops are alright.

Sgt. Ryan and Sgt. Hodel are in bed reading, and I'm sitting by a table at the foot of their bed writing this and listening to the radio.

I'm planning on being home by Christmas. I hope my plans aren't spoiled.

Love to All,
Byron

July 15, 1945

Schwarzach, Austria
15 July '45

Dear Folks -

Just a note to-nite. This afternoon Sgt. Hodel, Sgt. Ryan and myself chartered a Jeep and drove to Bad Ruickhall Germany, to see our buddies that have been transferred out of our Battalion (85 point or more) and are awaiting travel orders to the States. They are stationed about sixty miles from here. Who should I run into but Red Titus. I didn't even know he was in the E.T.O.

I received letters from F.M. and Fredia. Fredia sent me Howard Parks address, so I dropped him a line. I have no idea as to where he may be stationed.

16 July '45

Mother, today I received your letter stamped 9th July. We got good service from the States but it must be poor service to the States. So you like the tumblers. Were any of them broken? I took them from a Wehrmacht Headquarters, where I set up office, just a few days after they had fled, in a hurry the gun and sword belong to Steve Franek but some one can put it together and clean it up, if they like. I sent Dad one later on.

Love,
Byron

Enclosed is the list of names and addresses of the fellows that were in our company on D-day plus a lot of replacements.

They are compiled according to rank, Shutt-M/Sgt; Antolene, 1st Sgt; Calhoun, 1st Sgt. (Replacement); Ulrich, T/Sgt; the fellow I was best man for; Way. T/Sgt; Armbruster, S/Sgt, not bad, 6th place out of 140 or so. I perhaps could have been higher if I was more military minded. They want you to act superior to the other grades and that's something I just won't do. To me everyone is equal and that's why I haven't an enemy in the company, but officers don't like noncoms to be like that. A goodly number say they expect to visit Napoleon sooner or later. Please put this list in my little box up stairs, please don't lose it.

Love,
Byron

P.S. I guess your little boy didn't do so bad in the Army after all, even if he was quite about the entire affair until it was all over. I couldn't have gone through with it, if it wasn't for the scheduled letters I looked forward to, from Mother Brinkman, Emma, Eloise, sisters, especially Frieda, plus all the frequent letters from other friends and last but not least, from you mom. You were wonderful for taking so much of your time in writing to me. I hope to repay you when I return, so until then, please take it easy and stay well. Please don't neglect writing to Dwight, Bert and Kenny. Especially those in foreign lands. I for one, knows what a letter from home can do.

July 21, 1945

Schwarzach, Austria
21 July '45

Dear Folks -

To-day is a beautiful day. This morning we had a Battalion Review and this afternoon I just loafed around. Tonite we are going for a walk.

Thursday nite we had a little excitement. We have two hospitals in our town which had a goodly number of german soldiers in them. Many of the soldiers were well now and were ready to be released. These are all S.S. troopers. They were to be questioned by the C.I.C. Friday morning. Of course nearly all the S.S. troops are getting twenty years, as they are the one s that did nearly all the unbelievable things during the war. Many S.S.er's are still hidding in the mountains. Instead of taking a chance of spending twenty years, they made contact with some troopers in the mountains and planned to make a break during the nite, with weapons furnished by the troops hidding in the hills. Of course these hospitals have been under guard but very light guard. One of the german nurses overheard they were going to stage the break and reported it to us. SO we turned the tables and really treated them rough. We double timed them (run them) five mile with full field pack (nearly fifty in all) they fell down like flies and we would shout to scare them.

We made them carry all the furniture from one of the homes and put them all in one room, making them stand at attention. A Col. was in the lot and we said super man huh? and he said nix superman. The double crossers. I hope they shoot them all. They were so weak they could hardly stand at attention, but they knew they better or else. The next morning they were again double timed, to the train and were made to stand at attention in the box car. I guess they were scheduled to appear in front of the CIC Friday morning and they were there alright, escorted by the 101st. Yes, the 326th Engrs. The civilians walk chalk pretty well. They were told we were the American SS troops berfore we moved in and I guess after that demonstration they perhaps think we are. Our paratroopers can really get rough if they have to. God bless'em. Every day brings something new.

We expect to move to France within the next few weeks. Move, move, move. However I think its step, by step getting nearer the States. I don't think I'll ever have to go to Japan. Whenever I hit the States I expect to be discharged.

I received a letter from Marcille and she wondered if I was still in the seventh Army. No, I have been in the third for quite some time and I suppose when we move to France we will change again.

Love to All,
Byron

P.S. When I get home, I'm just going to rest for a couple of months. I do hope I'm home by Christmas.

July 22, 1945

Schwarzach, Austria
22 July '45

Dear Folks -

This shall be a short but interesting letter. First, have you ever received the Bronze Star Medal I sent home? Today I was awarded another medal, the Purple Heart Medal, but don't let it scare you, because it is for wounds received in Normandy. At the time I wouldn't accept it, as I felt my wounds were to trifle but after I found out that it was good for five points, I ask for it and it came through today. So I now have eighty-eight (88) points. That's pretty swell, isn't it. I'm still a 405 and they are classed as essential but I'll wiggle out of it somehow, I hope. I may be leaving this unit in a week or so and join the pool that is headed for the States. I may not be able to join the group that has already left the unit, as they will be on the move the first of the week, for a P.O.E. However its pretty certain that I'll be home before the first of the year. So don't look for me until I get home as I don't know when. Anyway I have 88 points and that's all thats necessary. Only time will tell now.

Love,
Byron

P.S. I'm sending my purple heart medal home this week. Let me know as soon as you receive it.

July 29, 1945

Bad Reichenhall, Germany
29 July '45

Dear Folks -

I have just read in the Star and Stripes where the 82nd Fighter control squadron is scheduled to leave for the States soon. I think that is the outfit Doris is with, isn't it? If so, he perhaps will beat me home. Dwight should have enough points by now. Have you heard weather or not he is coming home soon?

We have been awarded another decoration. It is from the Belgium government and is a rope affair, that will be worn over our left shoulder.

30 July '45

This afternoon we rode a train from Bad Reichenhall to Berchtergarden, to hear an address by Gen. Taylor. He bid we 85'ers a good-bye. Our post office is closed now, so I'll not be able to mail this until we arrive in another country. We are not longer with the 101st but in a few days we are moving to France and then in about a month or so, head for the States with the 17th Airborne Division. The 17th Airborne is being made up of high point men from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Division plus a couple of other units.

4 Aug. '45

We have finally arrived here at Bar-Le-Duc, France after riding in box cars for two days and two nites. We are now quartered in hospital buildings. We are attached to the 17th Airborne Division and perhaps will return to our nearest re-deployment station, to be discharged or put to work in the States.

Nothing is very definite, but I can taste that good old fried Springer right now.

I expect to be processed at Atterbury, so please send me Stans address. I only have his home address.

I can't wait until I get home, I expect you'll think I'm a lazy fellow when I get home, but I don't expect to do anything but eat, sleep and rest. The food situation here is quite critical. I'm pretty nervous, so I'll just rest a month or two and then I'll be O.K.

We expect to leave from Le Havre, France which is about 250 mile from here. All we are doing now is about one hours training a day plus pulling guard. The rest of the time we "shoot the bull."

My Love to You All,
Byron.

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