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Up William H. Howe

Sgt William H. Howe - Supply NCO

Sgt. To Wed Garonne Sweetheart

I met my wife soon after the 508th arrived on Their-Du-Mont Ridge, Belgium on 20th December, 1944.
     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 Belgium resistance.
     On Christmas Eve the 508th withdrew to a new defensive position.
     After the 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 liberated again.
     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
out what 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 Miss Winkin. 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
(PDF version)

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