December 26, 1944
Well, folks, another Xmas has gone by and here I am still in Italy. We had a good Xmas dinner though, plenty of turkey, oranges and nuts and plum pudding. As a Sergeant, I get a twenty-six-ounce bottle of whiskey per month. I drew my last one two weeks before Xmas and managed to save it. From our canteen, we drew seven pint bottles of beer per man so you can see there was plenty of good cheer floating around. My troop was out of action from two o’clock Xmas Eve until the same hour on Xmas Day. So taking all in all, we fared very well. Since starting this letter I have had to break off twice to fire, but should get it finished before morning.
These long gun guards at night drag terribly. I came on duty at 6 p.m. and will be finished at 8 a.m. tomorrow. I suppose we will move up again tomorrow as we are nearing extreme range from our present position. The moon is very nearly full tonight and, in every respect, is like a November night at home. The ground freezes hard every night now, which is a big help as far as our tanks are concerned. Well, Mom, we’ve been in action over a month now so perhaps we will be taken out for a rest soon. ------
Did you get word of my decoration before Xmas? Kay got word because I received a telegram of congratulations from her yesterday. Kay was very pleased, as I knew she would be. Old Fritz is upstairs again tonight but so far has done nothing more hostile than drop a few flares. Sneaking around at night is about all he dares try with his moth-eaten old air force these days. Our air force chaps really do their utmost to make Gerry’s life in Italy unbearable. They gave him a bit of a rest over Xmas, but I expect tomorrow, weather permitting, they will resume their offensive. It’s really quite a sight to watch the fighters go in for the kill. They usually form a circle of about six fighters. They just circle around like a flock of buzzards looking for a target. When they see a target, they peel off and go into a vertical dive. When they get down to a few hundred feet of the ground they open up with everything they’ve got, and believe me, it’s plenty judging from the sound of things.
Most of our firing is directed from a flying O.P. This machine is a little high-winged monoplane with a top speed of about 100 per. We call these artillery spotters “Fearless Fosdicks,” after the funny-paper hero. Old Gerry seems loathe to fire on them because, if he does, it usually brings an artillery concentration down on his neck. You have probably read of the handicaps our boys are having to overcome here in Italy. Our present area is full of rivers and irrigation canals. An assault landing has to be made over each stream in turn, and the bridgehead must be held against counter attack until such time as bridges can be thrown across to bring up the tanks and guns. I really have to take my hat off to those “Gravel Crushers,” they really go through Hell.
Well, Mom, enough of this shop talk. I had a nice letter from Liulf the other day. He tells me he is a civvy again. I hope he is able to get settled soon in a steady job. It seems strange to see his address as just plain “Mr.” I wonder how long before people will call me “Mr.” -----