Page 3 12/10/44
And Dan, old wielder of the facile pan, again came through with a letter written on some interesting paper – German paper which he found in an abandoned pillbox. On one side of the poor quality sheet is a long, printed list of German officers, Oberleutnant Bernhardt, von Bitter, Bronsart von Schellendorff, etc., and signed by DER FUHRER. He says: “We are leading a rather strange existence here in one of the most heavily bombed areas of the war. Today, for example, I am writing this letter on a piece of Jerry paper, in an abandoned block house. The weather is stormy. Only the fretful wind gusts playing strange Aeolian cords on the bits of wreckage and camouflage outside, break the macabre silence of desolate abandon. The floor is littered with debris – – a sort dishevelement, left, perhaps in part, by Jerry’s precipitate departure, in part by ransacking French civilians. Books, soiled paper, empty bottles, bits of wood, all safely protected from the violence of unceasing wind by 3 feet of solid reinforced concrete walls and ceilings. Through a doorway, past the heavy steel door hanging ajar, disjointed, I can see the neighboring hill. Its profile is broken by the outlines of huge guns which a short while past reared angry defiance and hate and now lie in mute and hopeless resignation, pointing, impotent, toward England! Mars has swirled his puppets far to the east but he has written an ugly story on the ground that only temporal patience can woo to forgetfulness.
We are leading a cloistered existence, too, if you can call “cloistered” a life so close to the brutality of truth. No danger threatens now but the soil is so steeped in the fearful gash of danger’s corpse that the effect is more depressing than the real danger we experienced back in London. However, by “cloistered” I mean we are out of touch with the rest of the world – – even the war! For the first time in a week we heard last night the French army had broken through the Belfort Gap! Once again we dared to hope that the war might end this year – – perhaps by Christmas. My hope of becoming a true “Parisien” are as faded as a prewar French franc note. Those four brief days down in Paris, however, included an Armistice Day party in a French home, during which I discovered for the first time why French champagne is so celebrated the world over – – particularly when supplemented by good white wine and cognac! Out here we drink only beer which has an alcoholic content somewhat less than one tenth of 1%. We’ve been overseas more than 10 months! I don’t know just what significance such a statistic carries, but it sure then hell fills in the remaining space on this page, leaving just enough room, IF I WRITE IN LARGE LETTERS, TO SAY – LOVE TO ALL. DAN
And as the curtain comes down on the Little Theater of Broadway, all the actors having spoken their parts (excepting of course, my Dickie boy who is so shy in writing to his Dad), the applause has subsided, and the producer now briefly steps in front of the curtain to thank you for your interest and to bid you a pleasant good night.
Tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll be posting more Special Pictures.
On Monday, I’ll begin a week of letters written in 1941. Dick is preparing to deliver a car to Dan and Ced in Alaska and Lad is still working in Venezuela.
If you find this peek into various viewpoints of the war, why not share this site with a friend or two? They may really appreciate it.