January 4, 1945
Epinal, France

No. 1 (conclusion)

Dear Folksies,       

         Had a nice cold ride in an open jeep a couple of days ago. Carroll and I went with Klemperer and Byers in their jeep while the other officers went, warm, in the closed babies that have heaters. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our ride greatly. We felt sorry for the poor boys in their cold fox-holes and understood full well how “Trench Foot” can occur in a mighty short time. The bloomin’ jeep had no side curtains on it at all, but we were well wrapped up with sweaters, field-jackets and trench-coats, besides our heavy underwear and socks. I made good use of the woolen gloves you folks sent me last year and also the woolen head-hood Mom made for me 3 years ago.

           We stopped to thaw out at our friends’ place—the boys from Sacramento–and they gave us lunch. The roads were mighty icy, it having snowed a good deal during the night before – and, of course, the little towns nestled against the mountains were picturesquely covered with snow. As the road was icy, Walt drove pretty slowly and we had no trouble at all.

           However, we came upon one spot where a French Army truck had skidded off the side of the road and gone head-on into a tree, which had saved him from going down a steep slope directly in the valley beneath. That accident had apparently occurred a short while before we came along, but just before we got to that spot two more French trucks, each going in the opposite direction, decided to have a little argument with each other right in the middle of the road. They didn’t do too much damage to each other, at least each vehicle was able to move under its own power. However, the Frenchies were doing nothing about getting the vehicles out of the middle of the road – they were just standing around talking things over.

           You see, when we arrived there were more vehicles on both sides of the wrecks, part of a French bunch and coming the other way there was other vehicles. Carroll and I got out of the jeep and went to the center of things to investigate. We started throwing our French around and soon got the truck drivers to get their vehicles off to the sides of the road, and we were directing traffic until Walt approached our position with the jeep. As he was having trouble keeping traction with the jeep and trailer on the hill, he didn’t slow down when he came up to us, but just yelled for us to quit the policemen job an jump into the jeep on the run. So, off we were again…

                         Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter
January 5, 1945

René (middle) took “cold ride in an open jeep” with Wolf Klemperer (at left), Walt Byers (at right) and Carroll Russell (in the middle, below).

(Left to right) Wolf Klemperer, Carroll Russell and Walt Byers.