I met my wife soon
after the 508th arrived on Their-Du-Mont Ridge, Belgium on 20th
I ordered my
assistant John McLean to find a place where we can send a few men at a
time to get warm and have a hot cup of coffee. After a short time, John
McLean returned and reported to me that he has found a nice warm farm
house which had the two prettiest girls in the whole area. I retorted that
"we have a war to fight, so hands off those girls."
The next day I
visited the farm house, and there stood my future wife Gabrielle Winkin.
To make conversation I asked Gabrielle about the two women drinking
coffee. Gabrielle explained that the two women were Jewish and were
fleeing St Vith, and that her brother, Maurice was an active member of the
On Christmas Eve
the 508th withdrew to a new defensive position.
withdrawal the Germans controlled [the] Winkin Farm and the surrounding
area. This lasted until January 7th, 1945, when the 508th
re-took Their-Du-Mont Ridge.
The farm house was
badly damaged, but the Winkin family rejoiced that their home and area was
When I proposed to
Gabrielle, it caused a few problems with the locals. I was a Protestant and
Gabrielle was a Catholic. The village priest and the whole village of
Goronne were horrified at the idea of Gabrielle marrying a Protestant.
The village turned
on Gabrielle with a vengeance and she gave in to pressure and wrote a
letter to me renouncing our engagement.
I was not going to
let the prize slip through my hands, so off to Belgium I went. This time I
won the approval of the Winkin family and village.
The parish priest
was not allowed to marry a Protestant to a Catholic. A newly ordained
priest performed the parish duties in the village priestís absence, and
without any questions he performed the briefest of ceremonies.
The community of
Goronne gave their full blessing to bride and groom.
Who would have ever thought that S/Sgt. William
W. Howe of 3rd Battalion S-4 would meet his bride-to-be when his
outfit moved into the little village or Garonne, Belgium during
the bitter Battle of the Bulge, but that's the way cupid works.
It all happened when Howe's Battalion set up it's C. P. in the
house where Miss Gaby Winkin
lived. The Sergeant and Miss Winkin
who speaks very good English, didn't get to do very much
talking, because the troopers were still pretty busy giving the
Jerries a hard time. In fact, it wasn't until the fourth day
when the family was preparing a big Christmas celebration, complete with a tree and all the
trimmings for the boys, that he found
her name was. But leave it to the Krouts [sic] to spoil
everything and the Red Devils had to move out.
Before they moved out, Miss Winkin
came up to Sgt. Howe and asked him to take her brother with
them, because he was a Maquis and the Nazis already had him on
their list. Howe agreed, knowing what would happen to the boy if
the Germans got him, and besides, how could he refuse such a
lovely girl? Five days later the Red Devils again took the
village and in a few days love was blooming for Sgt. Howe and
Duty called once more and the troopers had to move on, but since
then, Howe has been
spending all of his leave
time in Garonne.
On his last visit there in August he popped the question to the lovely
Miss, and the couple will be married on October 27 by the
Burgomeister of the village.
Sgt. Howe will get a seven day furlough for the occasion, and will
be accompanied by Don Walton who will act as best man.
When time permits the couple will make that happy voyage to the
States and live in Springfield, Mass., Howe's home town.
The Red Devils wish you all the luck in the world Sgt. Howe, and
know you and your bride will be very happy together.
Source: DIABLO, 1945