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Gerald R. Rees Papers: Transcripts - MS 1007

Gerald ReesĀ Correspondence - April 1945

April 6, 1945

[V-mail]
Germany, April 6, 1945

Dear Mom,

This is a hard letter to start because so many things have happened, some worth telling about and some not. If I write as soon as something happens it's easy, but we've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to write. Wanted to write on Easter Sunday, but didn't get much chance. We spoiled a "good" German family's Sunday by taking their home, and it was a beauty. I wish you could see some of the art pieces, the antique furniture and china ware that the well-to-do family here has in its house. Now that we take over whole houses instead of single rooms as in France, the domestic abilities in some of our men are coming to the surface. I have had some home-cooked meals here that almost rival yours. Sunday night ten of us gathered in the kitchen and had delicious fried potatoes, eggs, sausage, onions and coffee-in fancy china plates and cups. All these homes have supplies of potatoes, carrots and onions in their cellars. Before we ate, to my surprise and gratification, there was a sudden pause and one of the boys offered a very effective evening prayer. Yesterday while we were out working one of the boys shot a deer, and this noon I had my first taste of venison steak. It was tender and very good-not unlike beefsteak. Tonight we're having venison stew with potatoes and carrots, and chocolate pudding donated by the battery kitchen. They know we are cooking some of our own meals, and give us some of the necessary raw materials.

Yesterday in the course of my work I was in one of the most beautiful spots in all Germany, I believe. it was a resort on the top of a high hill with a very imposing view of the countryside-a river winding through the hills and woods, and a fairly good-sized city below. While there I also saw a display of American artillery fire that made me mighty thankful to be on the right side of the war.

Most of your V-mails have come in good time; the one of Mar. 23 in nine days. Am very glad the dictionary is on its way, and the calcium. Any rush packages I order in the future will go much quicker if they're registered.

T's all I have time for now.

Love,
Ger

April 9, 1945

[V-mail]
Germany, April 9, 1945

Dear Mom,

We've been putting in long hours these days; it stays light in these high latitudes till late so we usually don't get supper till nine or ten o'clock. But there is a compensation for that too-we leave one or two of the boys who stay behind, get food from the kitchen and have it cooked and waiting for us whenever we come. Yesterday during the course of our surveying we shot three (yes, three!) deer and had delicious venison steaks tonight, along with mashed potatoes, carrots, onions, coffee and custard pudding. The regular cooks like the arrangement because they don't have to wait up late for us. Recently we ran survey over an airfield and saw some beautifully smashed German planes that they destroyed when they saw the Yanks coming. I came closer to a German plane the other day than I ever hope to again. We were in a little valley, standing by the truck, when someone yelled "hit the dirt!" Just as I had my nose nicely buried in the ground there was a whoosh and a roar, and a Nazi plane had passed directly over our heads only a few feet above us. He had been hedge-hopping across the fields to avoid ack-ack and was probably as surprised to see us as we were him. Anyhow, he didn't pull the trigger, which is the main thing.

This is the first chance I've had to tell you that another package postmarked Feb. 9th came two days ago. The handkerchiefs were most welcome since I was just about out. Sorry you had trouble finding them and had to get such expensive ones. I have a good reserve of heatabs now and will let you know when I run low. Cookies were still very good, thanks to your packing. Heard from two long-lost souls recently-Burt Frost, still in Italy, and Jim Moon, just married and new address unknown.

Love,
Ger

April 12, 1945

[V-mail]
Germany, April 12, 1945

Dear Mom,

I'd like you to find out an address for me if you can. Jim Moon was married while on leave, to a girl from Defiance-Norma Myers. I'd like very much to write to both of them, but he didn't tell me her street address in Defiance and I don't know his new address either. So will you phone his grandfather (also named Moon) who is a preacher in Toledo, and ask for their addresses? He performed the marriage so will certainly know where she lives. That's a marriage that should prove a happy one; they were together most of the time when we were at B.G.

We are still busy surveying and all safe and happy. You can follow our travels in the daily papers. We're seeing a lot of country and I think it's really beautiful. These Germans really have a fine-looking country to live in-it's a shame they don't stay there.

Last pay we had was in Reichsmarks and pfennigs, so if nothing else this war will familiarize us with the European currency.

With Love,
Ger

April 19, 1945

Germany, April 19, 1945

Dear Mom,

There seem to have been quite a few of these worthless German marks left from this month's pay, so perhaps you can use their equivalent in good American dollars. There was a slight hint in one of your letters of an unwillingness to look after your health just because of the expense. Nothing that I could hear from home would make me feel any worse than that; in fact I would consider it a very great personal favor to me if you would take whatever you need from my bank account and have a complete and thorough check-up at a hospital, and take whatever treatments that may be necessary. You can certainly spare the time now that only you and Pop are home.

The calcium arrived last night; of course I won't have any actual way to tell how effective they are, but our diet certainly is not balanced and they will help that, I'm sure. Any time that it's convenient after you receive this, you can start another box of them on the way. I wish for that dictionary many times every day, but will just have to bide my time.

Very sorry that I haven't been writing more letters, but there hasn't been very much time. When we aren't actually working there are a dozen things that need doing, and I find it hard to get in the right mood for letters. There are lots of things happening that would make good material, but it takes time to compose it in words that are acceptable to our mutual friend, the censor. I have a V-mail letter in my truck now that has been three days finishing-But have patience.

Love,
Ger

April 23, 1945

[V-mail - Original form]
Germany, April 23, 1945

Dear Mom,

Mail is once more catching up in spite of the fact that we seldom spend more than one or two nights in the same town. In all respect to my native land, this is the most beautiful and picturesque part of the world I've seen yet. You've probably seen pictures of old walled cities with towers and turrets visible for miles-red tile roofs, trees coming out in bloom. Parts of these towns have been leveled by bombing and artillery but there's enough left to appreciate their beauty. One of the most badly mauled towns I've seen, including its famous cathedral, was Worms-did you ever notice the pun I made about Martin Luther's diet at the time we went through there? Another very beautiful city which will not soon forget American artillery is Wurzburg, on a bend of the Main River. The river is a little disappoint, not as large as the Maumee. The clippings dated March 25th and April 3rd came last night. I was glad you included the article about the fog-machine built by DeVilbis. I saw a sample of its work and it is darn effective. In fact, too effective; I had little chance to sight-see along the river we've heard so much about. Your Air-mail V's seem to come in the same time the regulars do so perhaps it's not worth while. Thanks to Peggy Weber for the Thistle; it was very good to get one. Thanks also to Aunts Minnie & Ella for help in the hdk. situation. And congratulations or consolations whichever she needs, to Aunt Sadie on her new son-in-law.

Love,
Ger

April 23, 1945

[V-mail]
Germany, April 23, 1945

Dear Mom,

Your letters of April 8th and Pops of April 2nd came a couple of nights ago. I was especially glad to get Jim Moon's and Anita's addresses. Jim is very lucky to get into the Navy school of music, especially from overseas. He'll get training equivalent to a college course in music-shows that he rates at the top as a clarinetist. I'll be curious to see how you solve the Goodale house problem; if you decide to stay on Putnam, take some money out of my savings to help make up the loss in rent. I just found out that the time I spent in A.S.T.P. will not be subtracted from my length of service to be applied to the schooling I get under the G.I. Bill of Rights, which means a gain of over $500 in hard cash I hadn't expected. The other day I broke my glasses and wrote to Uhlman for new ones so you will soon be getting a bill from them. I'll send a money order to cover it.

The first few weeks that we began to see some action, my letters probably gave you the impression that we had a fair amount of free time. But as you can tell by the scarcity of my letters lately, that's no longer true. I'm very glad that people still write to me even though I don't answer half the letters I receive. We don't even stay in one place long enough to remember the name of the town unless we jot it down somewhere. Clean clothes are more and more of a problem. Most outfits make provisions for laundry-either by hiring stray refugees that come along or contracting with Germans. We can't as individuals have any dealings with Germans, and our officers can't be bothered with such trivia as clean clothes-they think. These stray refugees that I mentioned are certainly pathetic sights. There must be millions of them in Germany, wandering along the roads with their belongings bundled up on their back or on a "liberated" horse and wagon. Most of them are Polish and Russian, waiting for the Americans and Russian troops to link up so they can get back home-if they have a home left. We have some Polish boys who have a great time talking to these walking reminders of what kind of people these Nazis are. Almost all large cultivated fields have little watch-towers at their corners, where guards have forced these people to do their labor for them. The fields in Germany are beautifully kept and require a lot of primitive and back-breaking work to make a living from it.

Time to move again, I suppose. More later.

With Love,
Ger

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