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August 30, 1944

No letter from René today. Here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl about what the 59th was up to in Carpentras around August 30, 1944.       My most interesting case was a shell fragment wound in a German, which perforated the left chest and diaphragm and the large bowel at the splenic […]

August 28, 1944

No letter from René today. Here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl about what the 59th was up to in Carpentras around August 28, 1944.       We arrived at our destination near Carpentras late at night and the following morning all pitched in to set up the hospital. By late afternoon we […]

August 27, 1944

August 27, 1944Southern France No. 47 Dear Folksies,             We’re still loafing and enjoying the countryside at the moment, and keeping out of the range of the 59th, which is somewhere around.  We’ve seen some of our boxes, but no men.  And, as we know they are not as yet working, we’re going to let […]

August 26, 1944

No letter from René today. Here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl about his arrival (and that of the rest of the 59th Evac. Unit) to the South of France on August 25 and their move to Carpentras on August 26, 1944.     On Friday morning August 25, we sighted the southern […]

August 25, 1944

August 25, 1944Southern France No. 46 Dear Folksies,             Lazy day – loafed around the whole time, sleeping and reading. Weather comfortable instead of scorching as yesterday, so it was possible to sleep without too much difficulty.             Paul and Chuck just returned from an unsuccessful hunt for grouse, rabbits, boar or whatever […]

August 24, 1944

August 24, 1944Southern France No. 45 Dear Folksies,          Last night, under “Cohn‘s whip,” we again turned out the work, doing practically as much work at our one table as was done in the whole neighboring operating room of three tables and three teams.  Actually, we were working so fast and the other team in […]

August 23, 1944

August 23, 1944Southern France No. 44 Dear Folksies,             Am sitting on a little rise in ground slightly above the new location for the hospital. As yet, no business, though our team was complimented by being the only outside team to be in the forward echelon.              Had a nice ride through the countryside in […]

August 22, 1944

While René, Paul Stratte, Roy Cohn and Chuck Schwartz landed on French soil on August 15, as part of Operation Dragoon, the rest of the 59th didn’t board ships in the Naples harbor until August 19 — with their convoy sailing on the evening of August 22, 1944. Here’s an excerpt from the journal of […]

August 21, 1944

August 21, 1944Southern France No. 43 Dear Folksies,         We continued very un-busy yesterday – Roy and Chuck went foraging in the nearby country-side, while Paul and I hitched a ride and went to a town some miles away to see if we could find George Davis and maybe bum a vehicle off of him. […]

August 20, 1944

August 20, 1944Southern France No. 42 Dear Folksies,             ‘Tis Sunday and looks as if it is going to be a day of rest alright for us – which means that in a very short while we will probably start out for a hike around the country-side or perhaps find George Davis, who we understand […]

August 19, 1944

No letter from René on August 19, 1944 – the day the Liberation of Paris begins – but here’s a heart-breaking excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl.          On August 18, I had one of the greatest shocks of my life. Arriving back in the staging area, I saw a letter lying on […]

August 18, 1944

August 18, 1944Southern France No. 41 (conclusion) Dear Folksies,           I’m sitting in our tent in a dustless field, between two small vineyards containing rather luscious red and green grapes. The owner of our present area, and very happy to have us here, is a French physician who has been enjoying himself making rounds in […]

August 15, 1944

August 15, 1944Near St. Tropez, France No. 41 Dear Folksies,           Our landing here turned out to be, instead of a grim and determined ordeal, a tiring but swell experience.  In fact, on looking back it was really lots of fun.  (Perhaps that’s a bad viewpoint to take for, one could, and probably will, use […]

August 13, 1944

August 13, 1944“Somewhere” No. 40 Dear Folksies,             I head this letter as “somewhere” because that is actually just about what describes our situation — we know not where we are, though we have been officially told tonight that we can write saying that we are “Somewhere In Southern France.”  Of course, by the time […]

August 12, 1944

August 12, 1944Somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea No. 39 (conclusion) Dear Folksies,           It’s hotterin ‘ell and “bloody” sticky.  As I write, the sweat is pouring off me and the paper is rapidly beginning to curl.  Don’t let anybody ever tell you that a Mediterranean cruise is a pleasant thing, at least at this time […]

August 11, 1944

August 11, 1944Somewehere on the Mediterranean Sea No. 39 Dear Folksies,           Shortly after I wrote my last letter I was kept sort of busy assisting Jones and Fadley in Supply, and then even went to the city [Rome] with Bergie (Medical Supply Sgt.) on business for two days. We took a few of the […]

August 7, 1944

No letter from René on August 7, 1944, so here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl. He writes about his brother, as well as what René and some of the other doctors are up to.         It was early in August when I learned that my brother Dick had been wounded […]

August 3, 1944

August 3, 1944 was a fateful day for Jean-Guy Bernard (the husband of René’s second cousin  Yvette Baumann Bernard). Unbeknownst to René, on July 31, 1944, Jean-Guy was “deported” from Drancy Prison in northeastern France aboard Convoy No. 77. Destination: Auschwitz, Poland. Passionate for aviation, Jean-Guy had enlisted as an aviation fighter in 1939. He […]

August 1, 1944

August 1, 1944Battapaglia, Italy No. 38 Dear Folksies,        I sent my two watches home to you yesterday. How these two got broke I know not, but they had both been busted in Sicily and fixed there, but they went haywire soon after without dropping or anything else.        Perhaps you will think me extravagant, […]