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Feb 02

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 15)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944 and by the end of that year he was in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He had been assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, known as the Railsplitters.

Herbert M. Miller, WWII.

My dad wrote quite a few letters home during the time he served our country in Europe during WWII and I am grateful that his family saved most of them. During the first two months of 1945 he did not write many letters home, very likely because he was an infantryman fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. In March of 1945 he found the time to write about 10 letters home to his parents and a couple to his sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack.”

After the Bulge my dad said that he spent 5 days in Holland and then went into Germany. Below are two photos that he took that look like they were taken at the same time and place. However, one is labeled Holland and the other is labeled Belgium.

57mm anti-tank gun, 84th Division, 333rd, labeled Holland.

57mm anti-tank gun, 84th Division, 333rd, labeled Belgium.

The letters I am posting today were written in March 1945, from somewhere in Germany. He was not allowed to say exactly where exactly where in Germany. All of these letters are from Pfc. Herbert Miller (35845400), Co. L, 333rd Infantry, A.P.O. 84, c/o Postmaster, New York, NY, written to his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR #1, Willshire, Ohio.

The people he refers to in the letters: Em, Helen, Kate, Vernie, Kenny, and Annie were his siblings. Norval was Em’s husband. Johnnie and Clara were his uncle and aunt. Homer Carr and his wife attended church at Zion Chatt with my dad. Kenneth Ellenberger was my dad’s cousin. Dot was the woman from St. Marys that he was dating at the time.

Envelope postmarked [?] March 1945. Passed by 38658 US Army Examiner [stamped], signed [?] J Bennett [?]. Letter stamped Berne, Ind, 7 Apr 1945.

84th Division, the Railsplitters, Hanover, Germany.

12 March, 1945
Somewhere in Germany

Dear Mom & All,

It’s about 7:15 and I have time for a letter before I go to bed.

I received the box of candy Kate sent, sure was glad to get it. Thanks a lot. That was the only box I received from youins. I received one from EM and Jack, one from Homer Carrs, and one from Johnnie and Clara.

My mail is coming through good and I hear from Dot regular.

I received a letter from Kenneth Ellenberger today and answered it tonight. I also received the V-mail Vernie sent. He sure can write a good letter. A lot better one than I can. What is the matter with Kenny? You don’t mention much about him and he doesn’t ever write much. I’ll bet he is tickled to death to be able to work and make money.

I had to laugh about Vernie and Kenny shooting that rabbit then shooting him again.

I’m going to send home some old German money as a souvenir to Kenny, Vernie, and Annie. They aren’t worth anything but the littlest one and the newest one is good. It is worth 10 cents.

Just heard Jack Benny over the radio. It was a good program.

Guess I’d better close for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Love,
Herbie

P.S Please send me a package of cookies, cake, and popcorn. (We can pop the corn over here.)

Back of Sherman Tank, Germany.

[Note by kmb: Seems that my dad was a rather hard on his little brother Kenny for not writing. I had to laugh at that sentence. Kenny would have been about 11 years old at the time and, like most young men, probably had other things to do beside writing letters.]

Envelope postmarked 18 March 1945. Passed by US Army Examiner 38658 [stamped], signed Peter C. Agaisse, 1st Lt.

16 March 1945
Somewhere in Germany

Dear Mom & All,

It’s Friday afternoon and thought I’d drop youins a couple of lines. Have they started the farm work yet? Boy this winter sure did go fast. It won’t be long until spring is over with.

How are the kids coming along with school? Just a couple of months anymore and school will be over with. I’ll bet they will be glad.

I received the V-mail that Helen sent. Thanks a lot. The mail hasn’t come in yet today. I’ve been waiting for a couple of hours.

I imagine you wonder how Germany looks around here. The towns and city are very close together, not more than 2-6 miles from the next one. Then there are farm houses between the cities. Some of the small towns don’t even have a house torn down. The civilians in these towns would hang out white flags and their houses would be saved. Some of the towns, especially the larger ones, are really torn up.

We took shots today. I guess we never will get away from taking them.

Can’t think of much more to write so am going to close. I’m feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Love,
Herbie

84th Division Soldier with carbine, Belgium.

Postmarked 22 March 1945. Passed by US Army Examiner 33658 [stamped], signed Peter C Agaisse, 1st Lt.

20 March 1945
Somewhere in Germany

Dear Mom & All,

Received three letters from youins today. Sure was glad to get them.

It just got dark so am writing this by the electric lights we have in this town. We even have running water here.

The civilians are working in the fields and gardens around here. It sure has warmed up.

I was sitting on the steps watching the civilians plow. That ground worked up that way made me think of the farm. They do most of their work by oxen and horses. They have some of the biggest oxen I ever saw, about like elephants. They use two-wheeled carts, about half as long as our hay wagons and about the same height.

You have probably heard of the Cologne plain. It is just as flat as a board. If it wouldn’t be for the towns and trees you could see for miles. From the Ruhr to the Rhine we walked about 60 miles in about 5 days.

The buildings here aren’t like the wood houses at home. They are made of stone, brick, or cement from 1-2 feet thick. The house and barn are usually joined and surrounded by a high stone wall. About all of the farmers had some slave labor. And it tickles me to death to see them do their own work and being told what to do.

All of the German houses seemed to be pretty well supplied in meat, potatoes, and fruit. The fruit probably isn’t there anymore. Once in a while a bottle of wine or cognac is found.

On a lot of German prisoners you find American pistols and watches. I imagine they came off of our prisoners.

Can’t think of much more to write so I’d better close. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Lots of love,
Herbie

P.S. I’m going to send home my paratroopers’ knife I have, when I can.

WWII German Paratrooper Knife sent home by Herb.

WWII German Paratrooper Knife sent home by Herb.

One page of a letter that has no envelope with it:

24 March 1945
Germany

[stamped] Berne Ind, 12 Apr 1945

Dear Mom & All,

It is evening and I have decided to write one or two letters and then go to bed.

You say you haven’t received the wrist watch yet. I had it insured and am sending the receipt in this letter. It is insured for $25 and the camp I sent it from is a secret P.O.E. in Massachusetts. I’m also sending a little French and some Belgium money home. You will also find a German postage stamp.

I haven’t heard from Dorothy for a couple of weeks. I don’t know…

[Note by kmb: Unfortunately, there are no more pages of this letter.]

Letter & envelope all in one, folded. Postmarked [?] March 1945. Passed by US Army Examiner 33658 [stamped], signed Peter C Agaisse, 1st Lt.

28 March 1945
Germany

Dear Mom & All,

I received your letter tonight. Sure was glad to receive it. I really was surprised today. I received two boxes of Hershey’s candy today. Em & Norval had them sent. I also got the Standard today.

I’ve received about 4 or 5 letters from Kenneth Ellenberger but I got 4 of them in 1 day about a week ago and 1 today. I answered the others and am going to answer it tonight.

I went to a show tonight, the first one I’ve seen since December. I went to a USO show the other day but it turned out to be the Division’s band. It is really a good band.

I’ll bet the kids are glad that school will be out soon. Well, Willshire didn’t do so bad this year. I would have liked to see them go farther.

Must close for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Love,
Herbie

P.S. Please send me a box of cookies and peanuts.

[Note by kmb: Those home-baked items must have really been a treat and watching them farm in Germany in the spring surely made him long to be farming back in Mercer County. He always liked to farm and work outdoors.]

More WWII letters next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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