One night it was rainy and foggy, and there were more than the usual number of German pockets. The Army said all movements that weren't absolutely necessary should be cancelled, but the Corps Rear didn't hear him, and the Adjutant General's Section led them on a 162 mile night march from Sourdeval to Acon.
We were really moving fast, and no one knew it better than Ordnance who had to pick out spots for Ammunition Supply Points well in advance. On September 2nd they picked one off the map, but by evening it was already 75 miles too far back. Major Heist had a solution. He told them to get 100 trucks on the road and rolling, and he'd go ahead and have an ASP ready to guide them into when they came up. He was the man the Artillery looked to to keep the Ammo rolling to their guns, and he never let them down. But he ran into a pocket, and the SS ambushed him and killed him, with Sergeant Zan Hassin, just southwest of Valenciennes. But the ammunition got to the troops.
The marches went by long stretches of road, littered with the debris of a fleeing army: dead horses (already partly butchered and the meat carried off by the thrifty Belgians), destroyed wagons, artillery pieces, trucks and supplies.
(Nobody knew about it when it was going on, but hardly had the Corps moved into Maastricht when young men of the Dutch Resistance were out in the street looking for the G-2. They had a telephone system, they said, which the Germans didn't know about, and we could call through to almost anywhere behind the German lines: Roermond, Venlo, and find out what we wanted to know. So they were installed in a room at Civil Affairs, with their telephone, and a few maps, and when G-2 wanted to know something particularly important, the Dutch boys would crank their phone and speak quietly for a few minutes, and usually they'd have the answer. It was quite simple and quite unbelievable. Finally, however, the Germans blew a bridge the wires ran across and it was all over. They sent three of the Resistance men up to find out what was on, and they never came back. Nobody knows what happened to them. But they can guess.)
(The Germans had some tricks still in their bag. On September 25th they chased out 30,000 people from Kerkrade, just in front of their lines, and drove them on the roads down toward our lines. They killed 15 of them by artillery fire on the way, and wounded fifty more. The G-5 Section went to work and by night all these refugees were sheltered and fed, and the roads were clear for the Army.)
The rest of September the Corps held along the border of Germany, and prepared its plans and supplies to smash through the Siegfried Line, while the British and American Airborne troops made their gallant attempt to turn the north flank of the German line at Arnheim. The weather began to worsen, and we realized with the beginning of October that, barring miracles, we were in for a winter war. The 29th Division came back to the Corps from its siege of Brest. The attack for the Siegfried Line was delayed until this veteran division could come up and guard the Corps exposed left flank. In the maze of waterways and swamp that marked the borders of Holland and Germany there to the north was a definite threat to the First Army, since the British were turning their attention north.
(For the big operations, and for the newspapers it was a rest, a pause before the storm, but the 113th Cavalry was holding and attacking alternately up around Sittard, and the 2nd TD Group under the tough, seasoned leadership of Col. George G. Elms, went up to take over and work with the Belgian Brigade on an attack northeast toward Roermond. And the AA outfits never rested; they fired their weapons in ground roles, and they had a rule that was unbreakable: never to fire on a plane unless it was definitely identified as enemy, even if it attacked them. The Corps Signal Officer, Colonel Cerwin was finding underground cables to use for our communications, and soon we didn't have much wire above ground any more. All the coal mines in the area had their own telephone systems. Colonel Platt, G-2, and the Signal Officer conducted a very successful joint campaign for the discovery and use of unsuspected communication lines extending into enemy territory.)
(Text: Captain Fredric E. Pamp Jr (Public Relations Officer XIX Corps 1945)
S/Sergent Wilbur C. Garner, 33377578
G-1 Section, Hq XIX Corps
APO 270, c/o Postmaster, N.Y.
Mary W. Garner, SK2c
U.S. Naval Air Station
"Somewhere in Belgium"
18 September 1944
How are you this morning Sis? I hope everything is OK with you. I haven't had time to write you in the last couple of days.
I'm now on my way back to the U.K. for 10 days so don't expect any letters for about a week or so. I received your package mailed on the 15th July a couple of days ago. The one with sardines, tuna, meat spread, and gum drops. Thanks a lot.
I also received one from Mother, same date. They were the first I've received for about one month. Boy they were really welcomed too.
So you are not to be transferred from Minneapolis. Well if that were me, like to see the West Coast and would be very dissapointed. I like to change scenes once in awhile.
This is just a short note to let you know I'm OK and don't expect to hear from me for about 10 days.
Lots of Love,
P.S. Just stopped a few minutes en route.