Full Version: My letter to Frank - Stars and Stripes - Dec 25, 1944
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I'd like to share a letter I sent to my friend, Frank Timmer, 631st Engineer, earlier this morning.



Good morning Frank:


Thought of you on this cold January morning, while reading a copy of the Stars and Stripes you had included in your package. So here are my reflections in the pre-dawn hours.


Woke up early today and could not get back to sleep, even though it was only 4:30 AM. So stumbled out of bed, started the coffee brewing, and stepped into my office to find some reading material. Ah, I said, let's start perusing some of the stuff Frank sent my way. So grabbed a copy of Stars and Stripes, turned up the heat (it's set at 62 at night) and headed back to flannel sheets and a warm comforter.


On mornings like this, I even hate to have my arms exposed above the blankets to read, or to take a sip from my coffee cup. Ah, where is spring? So, I snuggle the best I can and let my eyes wander upon news from the front, when I notice the date, December 25, 1944. Oh dear, Christmas in the ETO - the Battle of the Bulge.The war is raging and it's one of the worst winters in decades. The snow is piled high and the temps are as frigid and they can be - mother nature has not been kind and she seems remiss in offering any kind of relief for our boys, whether German or American.


My eyes catch headlines such as, 'Christmas?' Asks Foxholer, - 'Must Have Missed a Day', and I look upon the smiling face of Pvt. Jack McDonald, of Chicago, who has decorated a Christmas tree (to the best of his abilities) outside his front-line home. However, his rifle stands ready, for he is in Belgium, and the war is right outside his temporary shelter.


The writer comments that no one in the platoon had gloves, and how the hands of the men were cracked and raw from the incessant cold. He lamented that they couldn't wash, even though a stream lay yards away, for it was frozen solid.


Sometimes they could slip back 20 yards, to where it was very comfortable. That was in a big foxhole that had a sort of roof over it and an old tin can in the corner. There was a fire in the can and red-headed Leland Jukes, the platoon guide, of Niles, O., referred to it as the "the stove". "It ain't so bad." Riley Bruner said. "It's better than we had for a while in the last few days."


As I continue to scan the pages, I am reminded just how cold and weary our soldiers were. They weren't praying for a new car this Christmas, but for the simple things they took for granted back home. Now they'd be happy just to have toasty gloves, or the ability to build a roaring fire outside their foxhole or pup tent, and the next article clearly brought that to light.


Diver Trades Boots With Obliging Major


T/Sgt Lemuel C. Goodrich, of San Pedro, Calif., got a pair of combat boots for helping an engineer unit hurry through a new bridge. Goodrich, with the 1055th Eng. Port Construction and Repair Gp, and other divers cleared debris at the site of a bridge blown up by the Germans. The major in command of the engineer unit commended the divers and asked if there was anything he could do for them in return.


Said Goodrich, "I'd sure like a pair of boots, like the ones you're wearing."


The major swapped footgear with the sergeant.


As I continued flipping through articles, I was struck by such headlines as, "Kiddies' Joy Rewards GIs For YuleFete", which talked about the generosity of the American soldiers, somewhere in Alsace, and how they did what they could to bring Christmas to wide-eyed boys and girls, who'd known nothing but hardship for the last several years. And, "Airborne Santa Greets French Tots", a staff sergeant who handed out presents, to grateful children.


Then my eyes fell upon "letters" to Santa and mom, from weary G.I.'s.


Dear Ole Santy:

All we need this year is a pipe and few cigarettes...a few flashlights extra blanket because it's getting awful cold here.

Another thing we need is wool liners for our boots. We aren't allowed to have any fire on guard duty and our feet get pretty cold. - Cpl. Earnest Marlow, and three others


Dear Santa Claus:

We have been good boys all this year and obey all the orders given to us by our officers and non-coms.

When you come down our chimney will you please bring us each an overcoat.

Thank you, Santa, and Merry Christmas to you. - Four Frigid Midgets


Dear Mom:

Just cancel that request of mine for some home-made candy and send me more shells for Christmas.

D-Ration chocolate will substitute for the candy, but nothing can take the place of more shells. - Lt B. W. Brink


​So, as I lay upon my comfy, cozy bed, eagerly awaiting for the room to reach a​​ balmy 68 degrees, I am once again reminded how wonderful life is, and how any one of those war-ravaged soldiers would have given the world just to be where I am, on this blustery, mid-winter day.


With love,


Already received a wonderful reply from Bob Kline, WWII.USMC. I decided to share my letter to Frank, with all my WWII vets, via email. I look forward to their responses, Many thanks for your email, Bob.



Hi Marion,


Just read your fine letter to Frank. Even in War, some people get breaks. As I look back at it, I was so lucky to be sent to the South Pacific. The jungles and swamps were a pain, but it was warm. I had been so cold on bivouac back in North Carolina so I really appreciated the warm weather. I think most would rather be too hot than too cold.

And Christmas away from home is bad enough but to go through the Holidays in the conditions Frank and his group did was terrible. I came across my home away from home the Christmas of '44. It was Guam, the Campaign was over, we were resting a bit. Hey, it wasn't very glamorous but it kept us dry.

It's fun to reminisce now, but back then it was all bitchin'. Nothing was nice, good, comfortable, pleasant in any way. The lucky ones came through it OK and can now fondly remember the few good times, and forget the crappy times.

Hope you're up and out from under those covers by now, and urge you to make it a good day.


Bob Kline, WWII/U.S. Marines


Hey, I had a Birthday SAT - 89 and still going, a little slower, but still going. I can remember sitting on my locker box at 4:30 on a cold FEB morn in 1942, thinking I would never get to be 18 years old, just didn't see how I could survive 17 weeks of Parris Island Boot Camp. I did, and am still going.


Another letter in reply:



Thanks for email; it took me back to my Dad. We can never be reminded too many times. My oldest daughter and husband came in from Colorado for Christmas; hadn't seen them for two years. Besides usual holiday activities they wanted to see my Dad's notebook memoirs, photos, personal items that I am putting together for each of my daughters.


So I'm reminded that they too will remember if given the opportunity.


On another note; I was privileged to assist chaparoning MOH convention held in Gettysburg, PA.


It was a lifetime event. I also found out my second daughter's school is a MOH sponsor and held a program that week for eight recipients. She spoke with me for a couple of hours as to how special this was to her school, students and herself. When she told me that she had introduced the program by asking her class to share memories and started with sharing memories of her grandfather and what the WWII soldiers sacrificed for us. I know that she will carry these memories long after I'm gone. My regret is that I haven't done enough to seek out surviving veterans from units that my Dad served with during WWII.


Once again, your email message was very much appreciated.


Keith Yorks


What a great letter!!! I love reading these types of letters!

Thanks for sharing this with me/us,

Philip Warren Lett

Thank you for sharing all this with us M1. We owe these guys so much and it is good to get their take on WWII.


Colin. :smwave:

You bet. It was a fun project for me, because it's something I think about a lot. It all tied in so perfectly this morning. It even inspired me to get going on Frank's memoirs page, and it will be up and running sometime later today. I will be sure and post the link.

Frank's page is NOW ACTIVE! I will be adding his photos to the Gallery, later this week.
Thanks Marion for sharing the letter from a fellow Eng. it was great to read . J.R. Priest 1277 Combat Bn C Company