October 15, 1944
In a field hospital
After all that has been going on in the past few days I suppose you have been wondering if I was OK. Well, I am. However, they temporarily have me back at a little field hospital. Day before yesterday a big German shell came sailing in over my head and lit about 20 feet behind me, and knocked me down. Kind of sprained my back, but nothing serious, and I’ll be back in a day or two.
(Note: He had just been badly wounded but didn’t know the extent of his internal injuries at this point. He ended up spending about five months in hospitals in
before being sent back to the front lines in March 1945.) England
October 19, 1944
(letter written on American Red Cross stationery)
Now don’t get excited, I ain’t hurt. They got tired of having me at one hospital, and shipped me back to this one, so you can quit worrying about me for a while... All that is the matter is that my back hurts, and they taped me up and won’t let me walk around... It has been released and published in the papers, so I can tell you I was in the Battle of Mortain in France August 4-10... That was really quite a fight. I have been in so many others since that it would take a book to tell about them. Now that I am back where it’s safe, I don’t see how my luck ever held out.
The way I got it the other day, my platoon was shelled... I thought they had finished, and went out of my hole to see if anyone was hurt... Then s-s-s-s-s-s I heard it coming, and thought I could make it to a hole just in front of me. I took 2 steps and Blam the thing lit about 20 feet behind me and exploded and blew a hole in the ground 8 feet across and 5 feet deep. It sent me rolling, and I thought I was killed, but the concussion just hit my back. Darn inconsiderate not to give me a little piece of shrapnel for a souvenir.
I have a belt buckle I’m going to send home. When I do, save it, as I got in a personal fight with a Jerry sgt. at about 10 paces range and shot him 6 times and cut off his belt buckle and insignia. Here is the insignia.
France, from a hospital
You read about Mortain, the Limey air force set fire to 167 big tanks with rockets. We had those tanks covered by small arms, so they had their choice of staying in their tanks and burning up, or trying to get out and getting shot. We were mad at them because they had been shooting at us with 88’s, and were testing out their flamethrowers at us... Not one got away, and as fast as they came out of their burning tanks we would pick them off... The outfit, which I have not been able to tell you before, was the “1st S.S. Panzer-Grenadier Division” also known as the “Adolf Hitler Division...” But my unit stopped them cold... The fight lasted 5 days, and I didn’t get a wink of sleep for 4 nights. I was getting a little weary when it was over, but we darn near liquidated one division of SS men.
About your cattle, Dad, since you asked, I’d not sell them before spring, unless the market goes up...
To read all nine parts from the beginning, click here.