No letter from René on December 31, 1944. Here’s an excerpt from the journal of Dr. Philip Westdahl, about the unit’s return to Epinal on New Year’s Eve.
On Christmas night, we received word to stop receiving patients and to start packing our equipment. The news took us somewhat by surprise, and as usual speculation ran high as to our next destination. It was not long before we learned that we were to return to Epinal, much to our disappointment. During our entire two years overseas, this was the first time we had to retrace our steps in the midst of a campaign. None of us was sure of the significance behind the move, whether it constituted a retreat because of the possibility of a sudden German breakthrough, or perhaps a withdrawl for regrouping, preparatory to a new drive elsewhere. At this writing, that still remains to be seen.
We returned to Epinal on the last day of 1944, and except for a blanket of snow, we found it much as we had left it.We didn’t return to our same hospital area, but rather to a former German barracks immediately adjoining the old hospital. We shared this with the 236th General Hospital, which had arrived from the States just a few days before. On the night of our arrival, we celebrated our third New Year’s Eve overseas with a highly successful party – everyone entering into the spirit of the occasion.