Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fast forward 30 years and once again allied forces faced the Germans in Belgium on Christmas Eve

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December 24, 1944.  Only this time I have a bit of personal connection.  My father was a WWII vet.  He never talked about the war when I was growing up, but in later years he opened up a bit about his experiences.  I sensed he did not want people to forget.  He told me that twice during the war he was convinced he would not live through an upcoming battle.  Being a good son, both times he wrote letters to his mother to be delivered if he did not make it and gave those letters to the chaplain.  The first time was June 5, 1944.  The day before D-Day.  Thankfully, he lived through the landing and fought his way to the edge of Germany.  Every one thought the war was all but over.  Berlin by Christmas and home for New Years.  The troops that had done all the heavy lifting from the first landing on the Continent were told to pull back as they were replaced with newer forces.  My Dad gave up his gun, ammo and even outer wear to the replacements.  He was told to go back to Calais and wait his turn to go back to England and presumably home thereafter.  Then word came down that the Germans had broken through the line.  He was given a rifle that barely worked along with literally just a couple of rounds and was sent right back to the front.  No winter gear and very few rations.  The Battle of the Bulge had ruined any thoughts of a quick trip home.  On his way to the front, he wrote the second good bye letter to my grandmother.  He got there just in time for an unofficial truce on Christmas Eve.  When he recounted the story, his eyes were shining with a little admiration for how well the German soldiers across the line sang the Christmas Carols acapella.  The line held and Germans literally ran out of fuel.  And, obviously, my Dad eventually made it home.  Time Life has some great photos of the battle.  Makes me thankful and a little proud.


Duke said...

We owe a lot to the WWII troops.
Writing a letter like that is hard. Our unit in Iraq was asked to write a letter like that to our next of kin which was in turn kept by the Chaplin in case we were KIA. They were returned to us upon returning stateside.

2cents said...

Thanks for your service and I am glad you got yours back.

Old NFO said...

They were the greatest generation, and sadly, we are losing them at the rate of almost 2000/day. Thanks too for your service!