October 7, 1945
San Francisco (Hooray!)
Dear M.L. [Marie-Louise, René’s sister, who is living in Puerto Rico with her husband and two children],
Have been wanting to write to you ever since arriving home, but you can well imagine how little actual time I have had to sit down at a typewriter without interruptions, and I know that both Mom and Dad wrote of my return.
Everything happened so rapidly at the end that it was difficult to predict from one moment to the next whether we were going to be going home quickly, or whether we would be home for Xmas, or whether we might not get back until next summer. The rumors AND orders came so fast and were always so contradictory that we never knew if we were on our head or our feet. When I wrote my last letter, I had a pretty good idea that we would be home sometime in November, if everything went O.K. with the unit, in the Assembly and Staging Areas, but I allowed a few weeks for unforeseen delays, so that is why I said that around the first of the year we should be arriving. Actually, the rest of the unit may not get home much more before that, what with recent delays caused by the typhoon in the Pacific, which meant a need to shift some ships that way, etc.
Well, came the 15th of September and the orders for the unit to move. The advance party was to leave on the 16th and the rest of the unit was to go on the 18th to be at the Assembly Area at Rheims, France on the 20th. At last we were on our way!! But, NO!! Came the 16th and orders were for the unit to continue as planned to Rheims on the afore-mentioned dates, but that only two Medical Officers would go with the unit, those two being the Commanding Officer and a Dispensary Officer. Yeeoww!!! And so we were stuck! We tho’t it might be another month or so, despite the fact that rumor had it that doctors were being sent home via a special route, and supposedly a faster route.
We were not the least bit happy for we figured that as long as the unit was on its way it was much better to go along with it and be on the way, than to be sitting around in Germany awaiting further orders that might not come for weeks and that would, in the long run, get us home after the unit!
What a stew we were in when we finally bid adieu to the unit and were officially then a part of the 91st Evac. Hospital, which was remaining behind for an indefinite period of time. That afternoon, however, I spent three hours on the phone trying to get thru to Frankfurt to a friend of Jack‘s and mine to find out if he knew what the further dope was on we medical officers. When at last I did get him, he told me to come down and get the orders — they were all ready and that we were flying from Frankfurt on September 20th. I had a devil of a time convincing the bloomin’ 91st that I should go down there and get the orders rather than await their arrival via usual channels (message-center). Finally went down late that night and picked up the orders and the whole gang was waiting up for me when I returned shortly after midnight. We read them through several times before we were really ready to believe that it meant we would be on our way in no time.
On the morning of the 20th, then, we went by truck to Frankfurt. We arrived at Frankfurt at noon and found that plans for our flight had already been made and all we had to do was await the special plane. We were all surprised and happy when Roy Cohn walked up to us, having gotten last minute orders relieving him of his job as C.O. of the 59th, so that he could join us on our flight home. We had all tho’t that he would be stuck over there for quite a while, as he was the C.O. of what we had left behind as the 59th.
Left Frankfurt at 1 P.M. and arrived in Paris at 3 P.M. We took a bus into Paris. At the Headquarters in Paris we found that some 1,500 doctors were being flown home before the last day in September, and at the moment there were about 900 doctors in that one building awaiting flights home. The building was the “Dufayel” — a former big department store in the Montmartre section. The place was like a bloomin’ medical convention! Right off the bat we met some of the boys in the Cal unit, the former 30th General Hospital, and we had quite a gab-fest.
Loads of love,
Watch for more of this letter
October 8, 1945