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Archive for December, 2008

From 1st Lt. Dewain Silvester 0-1050923
BtrY.C. 778AAA AwBn(sP)
A.P.O. 655 c/o Postmaster
New York, New York

To: Mrs. Dewain Silvester
Box 11,
Parker, Idaho
U.S.A.

Luxembourg, 27 December 1944

My Darlings,

How are you tonight?  Do you know how many times a day I tell you I love you?  Must be in the dozens anyway.  You’re such a perfect, precious wife.  I hope and pray so hard that the baby is like you.

Are you pretty crowded?  Are t hings running smoothly?  Honey, knock me a kiss.  I love you.

Guess what!  Today I had a wonderful hot shower, washed my hair, and was even able to get my hair cut.  It’s really short, well not much shorter than when I was in the desert.  And all of this followed a belated but huge and delicious Christmas, turkey dinner with all the trimmings except the plum pudding.

Sweetheart, I must stop.  It’s getting late and I have been going pretty strong lately.  The boys are doing a swell job.  It makes me kind of proud at times.  Take good care of yourself and the baby.  Always be happy.  I love you so much.  Good night precious.

Your wandering husband, Dewain

I hope your Christmas joy was a great at Grandpa’s was this year.  Merry Christmas!  Enjoy your hot showers.

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Footprints in the E.T.O.

Footprints in the E.T.O.

Over Christmas, Dad let me see this map that was put together for a war reunion that Grandpa attended.  It highlighted where his unit has been and what they did.  I took lots of photographs, and was woefully aware of both my lack of excellent equipment (it’s a good little camera, but not amazing) and my lack of great skill with my camera.  I hope there are decent shots.  I’ve got them posted here so you can see where I tried to get better details with various flash and closeness settings.  Dad still has the original, so maybe we’ll get a better copy one of these days.

Here’s a link to a list of units involved in the Battle of the Bulge.  Grandpa’s group (778th A.A.A. Battalion was with the 76th Division – so you can scroll down and see it listed).  A.A. was anti-aircraft.  I’m not sure what the last A is for.  I suppose when all is said and done I will have expanded my WWII knowledge exponentially.  My last history class that would have covered this would have been sometime near about 20 years ago . . . sigh.

Ooh – here’s an excellent link that I’m just going to have to spend more time with.  It’s nearly bedtime, so it’ll have to wait.  This link is http://www.antiaircraft.org/778.htm which has the history of the 778th AAA Battalion.  I can’t believe I’m excited about military history!  The times – they’re a-changing!  I guess when it gets personal it makes all the difference.

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From 1st Lt. Dewain Silvester 0-1050923
BtrY.C.778AAAAwBn(sP)
A.P.O. 655 c/o Postmaster
New York, New York


To: Mrs. Dewain Silvester
Box 11,
Parker, Idaho
U.S.A.

Luxembourg, 26 December 1944

Precious Little Family,

This is letter number fifteen, I think.  Anyhow, darlings, please be well and happy right now and love me lots.  Was your Christmas nice?  Did it snow?  Did you get anything from your old man?  What did you get?  What did everyone get?  I was thinking of you so hard when you should have been eating Christmas dinner.  You could never imagine what I was doing.

As you see, your old man has been getting around a little.  No mail or word as yet.  It’s good I had too little time to worry.  Have you been getting a trickle of letters from me?  I surely hope so.  Darling, you ‘ll never know how terrifically much I love you.  You’re so doggone wonderful.

Have the folks been over recently?  How is everyone?  Are you kept pretty busy?  Be sure to take good care of yourself.  These letters must be a disappointment to you, sweetheart.  Can you forgive me.  As time permits, I will do better.  Never forget how terribly much you mean to me.

Yours, Dewain

There is so much unsaid in this short V-Mail.  I wonder where Grandpa was – in a tent or a Quonset hut, a proper building, or even outside somewhere.  It was winter, in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge, which I know little about in my dusty memory.  My dad (Happy Birthday – you’re born by now, even if Grandpa didn’t know it yet) gave me a book to read called “The Longest Winter” by Alex Kershaw.  It’s subtitled “The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II’s Most Decorated Platoon” (which isn’t Grandpa’s platoon – but they were out there, too).  I haven’t started it yet . . . but  hope to get some back story knowledge to supplement my letters here.

By December 26th, my Dad, baby Rick, was 4 days old . . . I wonder how grandma was feeling, and how much of Christmas dinner she was interested in, and how tired she was.  There’s so much left to imagination and my knowledge and personal experience.

Hope everybody had a warm and quiet Christmas, even as we remember Christmas 64 years ago.

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From 1st Lt. Dewain Silvester 0-1050923
BtrY.C.778AAAAwBn(sP)
A.P.O. 655 c/o Postmaster
New York, New York
To: Mrs. Dewain Silvester
Box 11,
Parker, Idaho
U.S.A.

England, Letter Number Twelve

My Darling Wife,

I hope and pray that you are well and happy.  If things went according to your schedule, the baby was born four days ago.  It is good that I simply have had no time to walk the floor and worry as other expectant fathers do because my wait is so much longer.  The most important message I await is that you are all right.  Then of course, as the the traditional proud father I want to know of our wonderful offspring.  You dominate all my thoughts.  I sincerely wish I could tell you how much I love you.  I hope so desperately that this war will soon end so that I can return to my beautiful family and be the kind of husband and father I want to be.  Know always of my desires and I love you so deeply.  I shall write again soon and try to do more justice to the feelings of my heart and mind.  I’ll say goodbye for now to the most beautifully perfect wife in the world.  Take care of yourself always.

Your wandering husband, Dewain.

This short letter is the first one in my binder, is written on a form that says “V ···—MAIL U.S. Government Printing Office: 1942 * 16-28143-4.”  Because the baby’s birth is pending, I’m dating this letter in December, 1944.

UPDATED NOTES on 12/21:

When I very started this project, 11/11/08, this was the first letter in my binder.  Since then, I rearranged the letters to be in chronological order.  This is one of the very few letters without a date, and one of the very few with a number on it.  Context lets me place it here . . .because I have letters from 12/5 and 12/26, 12/27 and then 1/6.  We’ll be out of England, going to Luxembourg and France.

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10:15 P.M. Tuesday
5, December, 1944

Hello Darling,

Are you happy tonight?  I hope you are.  I wish you had been with me tonight.  Excuse pencil, please, my pen went dry and I came away and forgot my ink.  Anyhow, the reason I missed you so much more tonight is that I went to a very funny show.  I can’t remember it’s exact name – it was The Ghost of Sir something or other with Charles Laughton, Robert  Young, and that cute little tiny gal actress.  I nearly died laughing.  The other feature was “The Gay Desperado” with Leo Carrillo, and Mischa Auer and some other guys.  I didn’t care for the last one much but we were kept entertained.  Lt. Toffenetto and I went together, and believe it or not, honey, your old man was flirted with tonight by a cute little usherette in the theatre.  Now don’t get ideas.  I did everything I could in a nice way to discourage it by telling her I was married, showing her my ring to prove it and even the pictures of you in my billfold.  Told her that I was going to be a pappa in about a week.  She flattered me by saying that I looked much younger than Toffy and he’s only twenty-two.  Had either Toffy or I been the long eared and pointed nose type we would have had ourselves a partner tonight.  But you know me – all I do is look and talk if I’m spoken to first and Toffy is the same.

The radio is playing a record of Bing singing Going My Way.  It’s beautiful and it reminds me so much of you, my sweetheart.

Zola, I love you so much.  I realize it more and more every day.  You’re the sweetest angel in the world and I’m so lucky to be your husband.

I hope this letter doesn’t depress or worry you.  While I was with Tommy I argued with him several times on to treat a wife.  Of course, he doesn’t do anything bad, but he persists that it’s better to keep a girl guessing a little on the what they don’t know won’t hurt them idea.  I can’t believe that.  It’s true that there are many girls who will take advantage of a man if he makes them absolutely sure of him, but if that

[. . . .page 5 is missing. . . .]

self.  You’ll be a glorious mother without even trying so don’t try to hard.  I need you well and happy more than anything else.  When I think of being a father I get a feeling like a stomach full of feathers.  It’s going to be so heavenly.  I’ll try so hard to be a good father.

I’ve got a great deal to do tomorrow so I must quit.  I’ll tell you tomorrow night as much as I can about the City I am in.  Don’t forget for a second how truly much you mean to me.  My heart and soul belong to you my darling, you are so very, very perfect.

Your adoring husband,

Dewain

The movie Grandpa referenced is “The Canterville Ghost” and the “tiny gal actress” is Margaret O’Brien.  It would be fun to have a 1944 night and watch the movies Grandpa watched and listen to the music he listened to.  I would love to have Grandma’s responses to these letters – especially this one about Grandpa’s experience with the usherette.

The next letter in the sequence is the very first one I typed – I’ll copy it into a new post and then my next letter is a  V-Mail from 12/26 in Luxembourg, the day after Christmas and 4 days after the baby’s birth (which we’re celebrating tomorrow!!!)

Happy Birthday Dad!  We love you!

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Officer’s Club
10:30 AM Thursday
30, November, 1944

My precious wife,

Thought it is only about two-thirty in the morning in Parker, it is Thanksgiving Day there.  I can see you now sleeping so peacefully.  Oh, how I wish I could be with you.  I’d hug you so tightly you could never sleep.  You’d probably get very mad at me, but, darling, I love you so terribly much.

I didn’t write to you last night.  I hope you are all right.  I know you must be.  God has been so very good to, He’d never let me down when I need Him so much.  Do you know who loves you with all his heart?  I do, of course, silly.

The reason I didn’t write last night is multi: First, I went to visit another very historical city yesterday afternoon.  I’ll have many tales to tell when I get home.  Perhaps not as many and as interesting as some you will hear, but they’ll be tales just the same.  When I returned from this City it was quite late and there was a show at one of the local theatres I wanted to see.  By the time I finally returned from the show there were an amazing number of officers and their girls here at the club, including Mu[???-cut off] and a new one of his and not wanting to be obknoxious – is that how you spell it by writing letters in their midstd presence.  I’ll be doggoned if I can spell anything.  Anyhow I didn’t write so I’m doing it this morning to make up.  I’ll write again tonight.

The show I saw was a double feature and of course it would have been hard it at all possible for you to remain seated.  It lasted three hours and a half.  The shows were “Johnny Apollo”, with Tyrone Power and Hedy Lamar,  and “Knickerbocker Holiday” with Nelson Eddy and some gal.  I missed having you by my side so much.  Darling if you only knew how much I miss you.

I’m listening now to a recording of Glen Miller’s band playing American Patrol.  And if you think that keeps me from being homesick for you, guess again.  In a way, I hope I get over being homesick when ever I see a show or listen to good music on the radio, but I doubt if I ever will.  Because all of the joy and beautiful things of my life are centered in you, my perfectly lovely wife.  No matter how much loneliness or hardship I do through in the future, it’ll all be blotted out by superb happiness of being with you again.

There’s a recording of Bob Crosby on now.  Remember when we went to the dance at Wandermere when he was there.  How I wish I had taken you more places.  You always enjoyed going out so much and I was always an old stay-at-home.  I hope I didn’t make you to unhappy.  You deserve such a far better husband than you got, only please don’t go looking for one on account maybe I can change and make up for it.

How’s the new addition to the family?  Surely by the time you receive this there will be one.  Perhaps you’ll be to busy to write though.  Darling, promise me that you’ll never work until you are tired.  Always quite before you get tired.  The most important thing in my mind and heart every minute is your safety, comfort, and happiness.  Know always that I love and adore you, worship you night and day.

Tell everyone hello, and that I miss them and wish they could enjoy with me the scenery of this beautiful island.  It must indeed be a garden spot in the summer because it’s so pretty in the winter.  I feel guilty taking advantage of this while so many are a few hundred miles away taking a beating in the mud.  Perhaps I’ll join them before too long.

I’m expecting my truck to be here in a few minutes to pick me up so I had better start stopping.  Please don’t forget that I am yours every cell of my body and every atom of my heart and soul.

The truck came before I was able to finish so here I am some time later on duty.  It’s seven-thirty there now.  Perhaps you are up or perhaps you are comfortably squirming and catching a few more winks.  How does it feel not to have to wake up when your old man wakes up with the roosters, and kisses you goodbye and goes off to work.  I shall never forget the last morning I kissed you goodbye.  It was outwardly very little, if any, different from the rest of the mornings.  Yet it meant so much to me to see you take it so well.  It probably was no credit to me but I figured I’d kinda trained you for that moment.  I wanted so much to cray myself, yet I knew you wouldn’t so I couldn’t.  I’ve always been so very proud of you because your emotions are so much more stable than those of any other girl I have ever known.  You’re wonderful in every respect, my sweet, the perfect wife for me.

I was happily welcomed  home today by three lovely letters from you.  Numbers twenty-five and twenty-seven and Vmail number thirty-three.  They were all really swell and I’ll answer them all tonight.

Seems that when I get started I find it so hard to stop writing to you.  I hope you don’t mind.  I talk so much and say so little.

Happy Thanksgiving for today, and I hope and pray with all my heart that when you receive this the baby will have been born and both of you progressing rapidly.  I hardly know what to say but I’d probably be even more flustered if I were there.  Don’t forget for a second how very much your safety, well-being and happiness mean to me.  God Bless and protect you both, each minute day and night.  I love you, sweetheart, so deeply and sincerely.

Your wandering husband, Dewain

I know it’s been over a week, but here we are.  I love this letter because of the memory of a dance and a concert they attended together.  I know Grandpa also played in big bands in his time . . .but I don’t know many details.  I know how much he would have appreciated hearing the familiar music and the memories that would have come from them.

I also laugh a bit at hearing Grandpa’s love and concern for Grandma, but having experienced the last month of pregnancy myself, I think Grandma’s sleeping reality at this time is a bit different from Grandpa’s peaceful imaginations.

I don’t know if many people are reading these letters, but I love having the privilege of posting them.  If I only knew who had the originals . . . I would love to see how many of the referenced letters have survived.

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25 November 1944
Saturday 7:00 PM

Darling,

I love you.  Do you know it?  I received two very nice letters tonight from my honey.  I seem to be getting them backwards thought.  Yesterday number thirty and tonight numbers twenty-eight and twenty-nine.  It confuses me but it’s swell to get them no matter what.  I’ve been sorting out your letters tonight.  I have one for almost everyday from September twenty-eighth to November third.   I guess there are about a half-dozen vacancies.

I’ve read them all several times of course, but some day when I have time on my hands, if ever, I’ll take them all out and read them again.

I suppose I have told you many times of how when I first came into the army, every day until I went to Officer’s Candidate School, before I’d write to you, I’d take take all the letters I had received from you and read them all over.  It thrilled me so much.  I’d do it now if I had time.

Things have certainly been in an uproar today.  Tommy and I have had to think right hard to keep ahead of them.  I think we’ve got ’em whipped now now.; we’ll know tomorrow if we can stay together and away from the others or not.

So you don’t have any lap? How come? What-cha-got there?  Darling, I’m so thrilled.  Just think, in perhaps a little over two weeks.  Please be careful darling.  This letter may even get there after it has happened.  Always know that I’ll be praying for you constantly and so much harder around that time.  You, my sweetheart, and that precious baby, are all I’m living for.  I’m so sorry this war has separated us so.  I’m sure that in peace time I could make and keep you so happy.  I’ll have a chance before long though, and honey, I’ve just got to be able to make you happy.

Speaking of cold, I’ve been trying to acclimate myself so that if and when I do hit the cold and wet of winter battle I can take it.  I’m doing pretty good but the wind gets kinda nippy at times and it rains quite a lot, almost pushing me into heavier or more clothes.

I too hope you have good diaper weather.  Usually it isn’t too bad around that time though.  If I remember Idaho after three winters away.

Yes, I remember Humphrey’s new house.  I was glad to hear that he was elected and very surprised to hear of his appointment as patriarch.  Congratulate him for both for me and give him my best wishes.

Sleep and chow have both been plentiful and good since I have been here.  To be sure the worst is yet to come, and except for the fact that I have too cockeyed much stuff to carry around, I’m ready for it.  (At least as ready as I’ll ever be.)  As you know, I adjust quite easily, though at times in a noisy manner, to things as they come.  The only exception to that is being away from you and I can never adjust to that.  I need you every second, darling.

I had just been wondering what was wrong tonight and then I realized it was the absence of your picture in front of me.  I  had packed it away this afternoon and hadn’t returned it to it’s proper place.  It’s there now so I can go on to tell you how darn beautiful you are.  Do know that in all of America and England that I have never yet seen a girl as beautiful as you are.  Honey, don’t think I’m kidding, I’m not.  I mean it with all my heart.  How I was ever lucky enough to get you for my wife I shall never know.  The snapshot I have of us taken in front of the drug store looks more like you than any picture I have and you’re so pretty and I love you, Zola, more than life itself or anything else in life.  You’re perfect.  I look around me and see these gjuys and the things they are doing now that they are over here and I realize how much more I have to live for than any of them.  Not one can say that his wife is as good in any way as you are.  So fine, so beautiful, so glorious in every respect.  I’m so proud of you, my darling.  That’s why it isn’t  hard for me to live as I should, as you would want me to, because I realizewhat an angel I have for a wife.

I’m glad you called Zelda when you got my letter.  I was so busy the first while I had a hard time finding time to write.

Thanks so much for the stamps.  It save me so much worry about being able to get them.  They make my letters a little faster I am sure.  Try to give me an idea of the comparative speed of the different means of postage.  The letter you wrote on the twelfth I receveid on the twenty-third which is pretty good time.

Honey, I must quit.  It seems so hard to stop when I get started writing to you.  Give my love to the baby.  Incidentally, I meant to tell you that in order for cables or wires to come through fast you must send them to my code cable address.  I will wire it to you as soon as I find it myself.

Good night precious.  Your loving husband, Dewain.

So it’s taken me a week to get another letter up.  I was hoping to finish November in November, but that’s okay.  We do what we can.  I know my dad has said that his dad was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge when he was born (12/22) so it’s interesting to realize in the tone of the letters what’s up and coming.  I have one more November letter, 11/30 – when it’s Thanksgiving day.

I think I’ve seen a copy of a cable with an address in it in the binder, but I can’t find it this morning.  When I do find it, I’ll take advantage of my scanner, and post it up.  I wish I had Grandma’s letters answering these . . . but I’ll take what I can get – and hope, someday, to see and share the rest of the existing letters, even if nobody but myself cares.  Hope you enjoyed your trip back in time.  Now, off to deal with the present!

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