June 6, 1945
Letters from Harold J. Dahl
June 6, 1945
Dear Mom & Lou,
Today we in the ETO are enjoying a holiday - I hope to go swimming in Birkenfeld this afternoon, it being a beautiful, sunny day.
You will notice that this letter is the first I could write with no unit censorship - the first, that is, after the one I wrote Nan [Woodell] last night. What a pleasure it was to be able to write her without having to think that one of our local officers would read the letter! Also we are now permitted to tell many more things than we were before. I can say that I am near the village of Oberstein, which is about 50 miles southeast of Trier, where I spent 5 lovely weeks and about which I wrote often, describing how lovely it is there. You probably gathered from my letters that I was in Luxembourg City for the V-E day parade. Unfortunately we were not invited to parade by 9th Air Force who control the city now - much to our regret and to that of the local populace who look upon us as their oldest friends among the Americans. We were not all present when 5th Armored liberated the city but a few days later we worked with them in making the thing stick. Then 5th moved north and we stayed on in the Seminary at Limpertsberg, on the very edge of the city. Nelly’s house is just across a little field from there. We operated out of there until 3rd Army had to take over all available space & we went to Verdun, later to Briey. Anyway the people of Luxembourg look upon us as their liberators, and remember that we were among the few that protected the city when it was threatened by the Bulge - Thanks to our old friends the 4th Division, we made no contact other than to help round up a few of the many stupid SS paratroopers in town. Incidentally, the day before the Nazi attack we were right in the path of their advance. Luck was with us that time!
I’m permitted to say now that we have worked with all the 12th Army Group Armies - with the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th Armored, the 4th, 9th, 30th, 35th, 65th, 75th, 79th, 80th, 90th, 94th, 95th & 102nd Infantry Divisions. You remember the Stars & Stripes I sent home with the piece in it about the 95th Army Rhine crossing when the 30th & 79th Divisions crossed with less than 350 deaths? Gen. Simpson sent us a commendation giving us major credit for the success of the crossing; We understand he also recommended us for a Presidential Citation. We are mighty proud of that little deal.
Lou, will you write a letter to Cpl. Otis Riggs, Jr., Gloucester, Mass. and tell him I hope to be in New York by July 4th or thereabouts. We lost ‘Oat’ at Saarlautern, along with a few others - none dead in our company, thank goodness. Crider & I were lucky - the Jerries bracketed our truck with shells but all we got was a few tires to fix later on. We had to go thru a spot they had 88’s zeroed in on - everyone got thru OK, but they caught part of the Company in a little village & plastered it. Crider & I had left 30 seconds before the excitement.
We saw a little in the way of V-1’s and used to watch the V2’s go up on their start to England. For a week or so the V1’s went overhead every 15 minutes or so - Then they sent some over Luxembourg but didn’t hit it. One day you may have read about the city being shelled - all they did was send in about 8 or 10 from a R.R. gun - did no damage to speak of. Then, after we left the city, they sent in some kind of shell or small rocket that did not more than knock a hole in the Cathedral steeple. All in all, the city has been most fortunate in spite of the lack of things to buy in the stores - and the lack of interesting food.
Lou, please see if you can get a copy of the April 28th issue of the New Yorker. It has in it a letter from Paris written about the time I was there.
Well, I did go swimming in Birkenfeld where there is a large concreted pool, reserved for G.I.’s. We had a good time - the sun was hot & the water cold.
By the way - anything I can say is just between us & no information about me is to be told to any newspaper. O.K.? Right now I’m just killing time waiting to be shipped home. That is pleasant to think about, but no fun to live thru a waiting period like this. The Army hates leisure and works hard to think of the most amazing things to keep a man busy.
The other day a package arrived with candles & maple syrup in it. Both were much appreciated - we are in squad tents now & have no electricity.
Capt. Raynor has left us for good - he came back from the hospital but his wound bothered him & they sent him to Rheims to work on some Engineer board. He is a grand guy and we all felt terrible when he left us. If you happen to think of it sometime, Lou, you might look him up in the Queens Village directory (Howard S. Raynor) & telephone Mrs. R. to tell her that all the guys in the Company practically wept when he left. I think she would appreciate it. When I get home I’ll run out to see her some day. Lt. Mason isn’t in the Company either, although he still is in 23rd Hq. and we see him now & then. We have 3 new officers - all 1st class jerks.
Too bad I haven’t enough points to get out of the Army - I’m getting to hate it more & more every day. I’ll tell you all about that when I see you. Anyway my 69 or so isn’t good enough. Poor Nan [Woodell] has about 90 odd, but nurses are essential so all we can hope for is a quick end to the Japs, damn them!
Another thing to do - please see that my B. Altman ties are cleaned so I can wear them. I don’t remember whether or not I have any low shoes anymore but I’ll probably wear boots most of the time anyway. Do you know where my slack suits are & if I still have a bathing suit around somewhere? Of course I’m hoping to get a good sized furlough when I get there.
We just had a terrible rainstorm - my letter got a bit wet. We had to hold the tent down, six of us. The hail came down like mad, so we caught a lot of it and, for the 1st time in the ETO, are going to have iced champagne tonight. “It’s and ill wind -”.
Another thing, Lou - would you call Jeannie, ask her if the car is still running, and tell her I expect a furlough soon & wonder if she can make other arrangements then so I’ll have transportation. I think it best to give her some advance notice, don’t you? On a short furlough I wouldn’t care, but if I get 21 or 30 days the car would help a lot. After a jeep it probably will feel very strange to drive a private car.
I’m inserting a letter to Lou from Mrs. Lippert in the hope that it will go through all right.
I’m looking forward to the fun of seeing how all my trophies look at home - should be interesting - also will be interested in the books you have bought on my order. Has Tony finished my jacket? You might tell him I’m coming & will be wanting it soon in case it isn’t ready yet. Look at my glen plaid trousers & see if they can be let out to 32 or 33 inch trouser waist measure. Tell Claire [Van Duyne] to purse her lips, she’s due for a big kiss for her constancy. Stock up on the ice cream mix.
That’s about all I can think of now -