July 1, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

July 1, 1945
Ellwangen, Germany
No. 40 (continued)

Dear Folksies,

          Had an interesting talk with General Wilson for a short while before supper and then again after supper.  I knew that he had known Lois’ father some years ago, but did not know that he had been at U.C. with him, that he had known Lois when she was a few years old and, in fact, had actually gone out with the present Mrs. McFarland before she became Mrs. McFarland.

          He is quite a different person than I expected to find.  His administration in Casablanca, and again in Algiers and Naples, did not come in for any favorable comments from the multitude — there were always things such as fines for buttons open, with officers spotted around town to pick up violators of small, stupid rules, etc..  It was largely because of some of that stuff that the Base-Sections were hated by the combat men, because they ran into such nonsense when on a couple of days leave from the front.  Anyway, Wilson may never have seen a lot of those orders — they may have been perpetrated by his staff without his full knowledge.  Anyway, that is the impression one gets talking to him, for he seems like a pretty straightforward and not a “spit & polish” sort of guy.

           Regarding Lois, his story was interesting in that he didn’t know much of the story until shortly before taking her home.  He had been given the impression by one of his staff that she had been transferred out of the 59th because she was in love with a Sgt. in the outfit, and it wasn’t until he reached Dijon that he learned she was married.  And then it was partly he who encouraged her to come to see us when we were at Epinal in November. There are always a lot of “ifs.”  He was angry with Lois for not having realized that he was her family’s friend when we were in Casablanca, for had she done so and had we met him, he says he would have really fixed us up there, as he actually did do for some others, apparently.  He had several apartments, in fact, he bought two that he still owns in Casablanca, and had we only known him then, he would have given us one of these, given us a car, etc., etc., ad infinitum.  Then things might have been different — but, there is the big “if,” as I said.

          We were talking about home-towns, etc. and I discovered that General Frederick was born on Nob Hill. He said that his father was Chief of Medicine at Stanford from 1916-1930.

           Had a scrumptious dinner consisting of fresh lettuce salad with excellent dressing, ham cooked perfectly, corn fritters with pineapple, and, to top it off, strawberry-shortcake made with strawberries from the garden in back of the house! Asked Frederick about his cook and found that said cook was a Chinese kid by the name of Quon – where from? San Francisco, of course! In fact Quon had been a cook in private places in S.F. before entering the Army.

          Wilson is a bosom friend of our new President, and, since he is supposed to have left today for the U.S., you will undoubtedly find that name added to Truman’s White House Staff in some capacity.

          Had, all in all, a most pleasant evening.  Frederick had asked me to stay overnight at his house, and later in the evening was extremely embarrassed by a phone call that the Foreign Minister to Switzerland (anyway some sort of Minister to Switzerland) was on the way, so he had to make arrangements for me to stay over at headquarters rather than his residence.

          Frederick’s Packard took me to the C.P. where I had a good sleep in a comfortable bed, and then the next morning Frederick sent me back here in a jeep.

                        Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for more of this letter
July 2, 1945


General Arthur R. Wilson (below) was a family friend of Lois McFarland (above), which evidently is why he invited René to dinner. Lois, a nurse in the 59th since its inception in spring 1942 was secretly married to René in fall 1942, before they left the U.S. for Casablanca. She broke up with him in Sicily in December 1943, and was subsequently transferred to another unit.



General Wilson was Commanding General, Services & Supply, Western Task Force, during Operation Torch, the English/American invasion of French North Africa in November 1942. By the beginning of January 1943, Wilson was appointed Commanding General, Atlantic & Mediterranean Base Sections, U.S. North African Theater of Operations. As such, he was responsible for the administration of supplies during the combat operations in those areas and held that command during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July-August 1943.

General Wilson was appointed Chief of Staff, Seventh Army, in November 1944. Wilson distinguished himself in this capacity and received an Army Distinguished Service Medal and Bronze Star Medal. He was also decorated with the Legion of Honour, Croix de Guerre with Palm by the Government of France and Order of the British Empire.




Robert T. Frederick became two-star Major General in December 1944 and was given command of the 45th Infantry Division.  Just 37 years old at the time, he was one of the two youngest division commanders in the U.S. Army during World War II.  The 45th, which he led until September 10, 1945,  saw heavy combat in French Alsace from December 1944 through to February 1945. In mid-March, it was assigned to pursue the final drive into Germany.

The division participated in heavy fighting in Aschaffenburg from March 28 to April 3 and then drove to Nuremberg, which was taken in heavy fighting from April 16–20. Moving south, the division crossed the Danube on April 26, and opened up the path for the U.S. 20th Armored Division to drive on Munich. Reaching Munich on April 29, the division shifted from combat to occupation.

The British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, declared that Robert Frederick was “the greatest fighting general of all time” and “if we had had a dozen more like him we would have smashed Hitler in 1942.”



July 3, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

July 3, 1945
Ellwangen, Germany
No. 40 (continued)

Dear Folksies,

            Some of the men – the high pointers – have already started home. Have had about 12 go already. Losing our key personnel rapidly! The boys that have left so far all had over 110 points.

            Some of the officers are in Paris, Rheims, and London – going to various schools. Those on regular Medical Services got the first crack. Treadwell is in London (x-ray), Kuzell, Hodgson, Long, and Baldwin are in Paris or Rheims, which, I know not. Schwartz is in Rheims at some Surgical course.

            Some of the gals have gotten to the Riviera on leave – what a deal they have there!!

            Across from our area – across the highway and a little stream – there is a rather famous German circus that is getting its equipment all set up to go on the road on the 5th. Haven’t been over there but understand it is quite a big show. Chuck Sateja, our “Stella from Fedala” etc., found that the members of one of the acts know his father and mother – from the time when the latter were over here with their circus troupe. Sateja’s whole family is a circus family. A number of the members of the circus are Poles (so is Sateja).

            As I said in my last letter, I was going with the bus to take the Paris-bound gang to Strasbourg. As Clint Green was one of those getting a leave in Paris, we recruited Roy Hangar as assistant driver. There were 10 men going, four officers – Ralph Cressman, Sewell Brown, Pete Joseph & Bill Newsom. Besides that there were two men who went along for the ride. We left here at 7:40 A.M. and pulled into the Station at Strasbourg at 1:30 P.M. on the nose. Thus made as good time as the 2-1/2 usually do!! Boy what a difference going there in a bus than in a 2-1/2. The whole gang arrived there fresh, and most important of all, still clean!! They told me they’d assassinate me if the bus didn’t call for them – it’s scheduled to do so tomorrow.

            Instead of turning around and coming right back, we decided to stay overnite, so left the Paris-bound boys’ luggage in the bus and I walked around town with Ralph and Sewell, seeing the cathedral and some of the other points of interest in the town until almost train time for them. Then went back to our old hide-out the “Hotel Mutzig” had dinner of K-rations supplemented by hot water for coffee for the boys and same for boullion for me. Walked around town after supper, almost went to a Laurel and Hardy movie – in French – “Fra Diablo”, but couldn’t get seats, so back to bed early.

            Next A.M. we took off at about 10:30 A.M. I drove some but Hangar drove most of the way, soon getting the hang of the bus. Actually it is a lot easier to drive than the 2-1/2, despite its length. You sit comfortably and do not shift as often, and it actually steers easily. Came back the mountainous way – thru the Black Forrest, thru Bad Freudenstadt and almost to Tubingen before turning north to Stuttgart.

       As we came thru Stuttgart, we saw the Col’s car coming toward us. Harry Sharp was driving and he recognized us.  We slowed down, but apparently the Col. didn’t realize he was passing us, or his mind was otherwise occupied, or I’m sure he would have stopped us for a minute.  Why?  Well, when we got home we found that at 10P.M. the nite before, the orders for the Col. to proceed to the U.S. came thru.  It was a tremendous surprise to all, tho’ apparently the Col. knew it was in the offing.  I was terribly sorry not to have seen him before he left.  Apparently his last meal, at noon that day, was the time when he took his leave from the gang — all the nurses kissed him good-bye and he shook hands with all of the officers and every one of the men.  He was close to tears when he left. He was going to see his son at Vittel first and then was to fly to the U.S., so undoubtedly by the time you get this he will be home. What is in the offing for him there, we know not.

            Gerbode is now C.O.!  Temporarily, at least.

            Yesterday afternoon the soft-ball team had scheduled a game some 70 km. from here, so I went with them and the bus. It was a long way to go for a baseball game, but it was a good game and we won. Also saw part of a circus that was being shown in the town we went to – Jagsten, I think it was.

                        Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for the conclusion of this letter
July 4, 1945


Enlisted Men’s Bar




German circus in Ellwangen.




René and Roy Hangar took turns driving the bus on their way back from Strasbourg.




René was on the road, so wasn’t able to say goodbye to Colonel Bolibaugh before he left the 59th on his way home to the U.S.



July 4, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

July 4, 1945
Ellwangen, Germany
No. 40 (conclusion)

Dear Folksies,

       Returned here to find another bomb-shell had dropped!  All members of the 59th, including officers and nurses, who have over 85 points are being transferred out to the 108th Evac. Hospital, and all personnel from that outfit who have under 85 points are being transferred to the 59th.  What a screwy deal!  Why it couldn’t have been vice-versa, so that the smaller number could be transferred out of here and the 59th remain the 59th, no one knows — but that is the Army!!  Unless they want to keep the name of the 59th, despite the fact that darn near all of the unit will be swept clean of the original gang.  Some 220 men leave, and all but five officers leave.  Cohn stays, as he is classified as “Chest Surgeon” and such specialists are “essential.”  Waugh likewise stays as he is an eye specialist.

       It is all a screwy deal and we don’t know what the score is, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the “59th” gets home long before we who will be in the 108th get there.  Of course, the 59th will then go to C.B.I. [China-Burma-India Theater] pretty pronto, but the 108th, gosh knows, will probably be sitting over here for another year.

       Frank is staying on as C.O. of the 59th until a new one arrives.  Whether the one from the 108th will come here or not we know not — it may be still another person and by the time things are straightened out here Frank may go to an entirely different outfit.  Everything, as you see, is up in the air right now.

       This new outfit is way the hell and gone in another part of Germany — up near Braunschweiss (near Hanover), so you see we have a long trek ahead of us in the next few days. We turn over all our equipment to the gang coming here and trade with them, as we understand it. Such is the way the Army works – here most of our equipment is unfit for more than a matter of months of operating over here – certainly not in condition for any China trip or work there – most of the things are well worn – too, we know what we have and how everything works, our vehicles, etc. and yet all that gets left behind. What we do with our overages – extras we have picked up in the past 3 years, we know not…confusion reigns and rains, and rains!!!!!

       Having a party here on the night of the 4th — invited the 51st over (the Sacramento gang) and it will probably be quite a party — the last for the 59th as a group!!

       Golly, we certainly hate to leave this place just to go somewhere else in Germany.  We won’t find a better place and better quarters than we have here, especially after two weeks of working like dogs to get this place in nice shape — figuring we’d be here anyway a few months or until we sailed for the U.S.  NUTS!!!

       Oh, yes, don’t think I told you that a couple of days before Mattie left, the Col. presented three medals – “Legion of Merit” to Mattie, Bronze Star to Eckie and one to Nelson Bell.

                        Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
July 10, 1945


With Colonel Bolibaugh on his way back to the States, Frank Gerbode is temporary Commanding Officer of the 59th…as it prepares to be split up.




Roy Cohn is staying with the 59th – one of the few officers not getting reassigned to the 108th Evac Hospital.




René, who will be relocating, is sorry to leave their current comfortable quarters in Ellwangen.




Before the Colonel left, he awarded Nelson Bell a bronze star.



July 9, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

Today we wish a Very Happy 104th Birthday to Louise Moon!!

On July 9, 1945, while in Ellwangen, Germany, as a nurse with the 59th Evacuation Hospital, First Lieutenant Louise Moon celebrated her 29th birthday.

Seventy-five years later, her daughter, Jody reports that she is celebrating her 104th birthday on July 9, 2020, in Skillman, New Jersey.

Email your birthday wishes to Louise to dearfolksies@gmail.com and we will forward them to her.

.

Watch for René’s next letter
July 10, 1945


Louise Moon at a party in Sicily in 1943.




Louise in France in 1944.




Louise with Al Maidens in France in 1944.




Louise in Germany in 1945.




Louise Moon Miller in 1980.



July 10, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

July 10, 1945
Wabern, Germany
No. 41

Dear Folksies,

       Time certainly flitted by again in a great big hurry and here I am writing now as a member of the 108th Evac. Hospital in the town of Wabern, Germany.   The closest big town is Kassel (about 30km north of here). Confusion is still raining!!! A.P.O is still the same, but the address is 108th Evac.

       On the afternoon of the 4th, Clint and I took the bus and went over to call for the band that was to play at the party that nite. We had to go to the 108th Div. Hdq. to get their band, some 45km away.

       The party turned out to be a pretty good one – the best feature of it as far as I was concerned, however, was the potato salad made by Vince Knotek. The party was held in the theater with the band on the stage, with an improvised bar in one corner and the buffet supper in another. There was quite a crowd there, for we had invited the 51st Evac. (the Sacramento boys) and also some of the 93rd, and, of course, some of the gang from the 7th Army Hdq., such as Skinny St. Claire, Tom Flynn, Bill Dunn, etc. Most of the gals invited boys from the 12th Armored Div. and a few from our old friends the 1st Div. and 1st Armored.

       The party got a little rough at one point when one of the outside officers got a bit rambunctious and had to be picked up and carried out. Otherwise it wasn’t bad. It was pretty late by the time I got to bed, as I went back with Clint to take the band home.

       On the 5th, a small group of the men came up to get acquainted with things at the 108th, in preparation for the shift. Men from the 108th also came down to our place that day, and the more we heard the sadder we got.

                        Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for more of this letter
July 11, 1945


René (standing in the middle) and Clint Green (in the bus) took the bus to go pick up the band to play at a party.




René says that the best feature of the party was the potato salad that Nurse Vince Knotek (above) made.



July 11, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

July 11, 1945
Wabern, Germany
No. 41 (continued)

Dear Folksies,

         On the nite of the 6th, when I was Receiving and Medical O.D. came the bombshell or bombshells!! I tried to get ahold of Bret Smart to see a case that was a possible appendicitis and instead I got ahold of Wally Greene on the phone, and he just didn’t make any sense at all. Why? Well, undoubtedly by the time you get this you will know the reason for his state of confusion and why, too, I took some time before believing the line he seemed to be handing out to me. It seems that just a few minutes before, the order had come in by phone for the following men to report to Thionville on the 9th to go by plane to the U.S. Yes, the lucky bums! The men were: Gerbode, Greene, Smart, Bell, Brown, Malone, Stratte, Hodgson, and Waugh.

        You can imagine what a mad-house the place was that nite.  All those going home were up in the office at some time during the nite trying to send wires to their respective wives to “stay at home.”

          Some of those going home had already loaded their equipment into the trucks or trailers that were heading for the 108th the following morning.  So they were scampering around trying to get their things out of the vehicles, and, of course, their stuff was always at the bottom of the pile. Then, too, Frank had to wire to Hodgson, who was at school in Paris, to come home immediately. Everyone was afraid that Marv would not make it at all, but it seems that the wire did reach him and he was able to fly down to a field near Ellwangen and was picked up the day before the gang took off for Thionville.

                        Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for more of this letter
July 12, 1945


René tells his parents about the latest bombshells – nine of his fellow doctors in the 59th are going home! One of them is Bret Smart – shown above (at right) with René and Helen Baker.




Wally Greene (at left above) is going home…but not Carroll Russell or René.




Marv Hodgson is also going to be on the plane back to the states.



July 12, 1945 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

July 12, 1945
Wabern, Germany
No. 41 (continued)

Dear Folksies,

          The morning of the 7th, all of us unfortunates who were heading for the 108th piled into various vehicles — the men into the trucks and the officers and nurses (9 officers and 11 nurses) piled into my bus.  Away we went!  That was really a pleasurable ride and I can well imagine what it would have been riding the same distance on the back of a 2-1/2. We had comfort-deluxe! Out of the ten trucks and one bus that left from Ellwangen, there was only one truck that beat us. We went some 265 miles in 9 hours and ten minutes, which included the 45 minutes we stopped for lunch just as we hit the autobahn outside of Mannheim. The old bus really travelled along sweetly without the least bit of trouble. We all arrived clean, comfortable, and hardly tired at all. The next day the gang that arrived via truck was quite a contrast – dirty, tired, etc.

            We were not a very happy bunch coming up here, but there was one thing that boosted our morale 100% as we traveled the last 30 or 40 miles. What was that?  Well, we began seeing those old familiar square signs with the blue and white diagonal stripes, and we knew that at least we would be close to some old friends — none other than our oldest friends and best-liked gang as far as divisions go — the good old 3rd Division!  In fact, as it turned out, we are in their occupational area and naturally there have been an abundance of blue and white patchers around here ever since we arrived.  We felt like putting up signs “108th Evac. Hospital, formerly the 59th Evac.”

            When we saw the place this hospital is set up in, we didn’t even want to get out of the bus — merely wanted to turn right around and go back to Ellwangen to our beautiful buildings that took us so long to get in good shape.  Here we saw nothing but tents in what appeared to be a wonderful potential mud-hole.  Whoever laid this hospital out was nuts — there is such a distance between the quarters and the rest of the hospital that if the ground were not so soft, we would be running our bus around the area on a regular schedule.  As it is, the motorcycles that various members have acquired do come in handy from time to time.

            The group that came up in the bus that day consisted of, as far as the officers were concerned: Chappie, Westdahl, Armanini, Joseph, Jobe, Chatley, Blasdel and Cy Johnson. As Chappie was the ranking officer and I was the only one who knew anything about the movement plans, about the supplies, the motor pool, etc., Chappie and I met the Col – Yarborough by name (“Yardbird”) – a regular Army man who, we found, was hoping to be transferred to the 59th to stay with the majority of his old outfit. Apparently that has fallen thru, however, for he was supposed to have found out if he would be going there by last nite and no word came thru at all. The Chief of Surgery was Lt. Col. Richard Weeks who, however, was on the same order as Gerbode, Greene, etc., and consequently pulled out the morning after we arrived, likewise heading for Thionville. Chief of Medicine, remaining here with 85 points is a very nice guy by the name of Burlinghof, a Lt. Col.

            Found that the ranking major of the 108th who is staying behind was a Major McKee and, unfortunately, he outranked Lou Huff (Lou being our ranking major since Greene was going homeward) so he is now Chief of Surgery.

            There are only 4 other officers remaining behind from the old 108th. There are only a few of their nurses left here – just those over 40 years of age and those who are married.

                        Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for more of this letter
July 13, 1945


René tells his parents that no one is happy about the set-up at the 108th Evac., where they have been transferred. They had to give up beautiful buildings at Ellwangen for tents situated in “a wonderful potential mud-hole.” Philip Westdahl, Liz Liss, Ed Blasdel and Knox Johnson pose in front of the tents at Wabern.




Chappie (Elmer Chappell) was the ranking officer among the group from the 59th when they arrived at the 108th.