March 9, 1956
New York City, New York:
Hello, Wesley [Wesley G. Green],
Hearing from you was just like a good drink of whiskey. I was tickled
pink, to say the least, When I last saw you, eleven years ago, right
after you were hit, I thought sure that you would be crippled for life.
And then finding out that you are all right, happily married, with a
little child cleared away all the wondering and thinking.
Life has been very good to me. I am not in the Army, but back here
at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where I was before I went into the service,
They offered me my Commission twice, once during the Bulge and then
again during occupation in Germany.
But you were right about my having a son at that time. As a matter
of fact, he was born in Aug., 1944, during the time you and I shared
a tent in Wollaton Park, Nottingham so I had but one thought in my mind.
Get out of the Anny and get home.
I have a little house out in Long Island. Identical with yours in
this respect. Three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and the necessary
bathroom. But we like it, small as it is. Oh, I almost forgot. We now
have three children, our first, a boy. Then a girl, and another little
I would love to be able to invite you and your family to visit us,
But the room just is not there. But I can always find room for you and
I do wish that you will visit with me soon. Thank you for your invitation
and perhaps I will drop in on you some weekend. We shall discuss that
later. Akers, a former member of our Platoon once came down for a weekend.
He lives in Rhode Island. And Pete Reynolds visited with me a few times.
He lives in N.Y.C.. He was smashed up in the Bulge. As a result, after
the war he went to the Bulova Watch School and learned that business.
So he has his own little business now,
You mention that you wrote to Shields and that he does not see to
be much of a letter writer. Let me tell you a little incident that happened
to me a while back.
One Saturday, about three years ago I suddenly made up my mind to
visit Shields, I remembered his mentioning that he lived near Camp Shanks,
So into the car I jumped and off 1 went to Shanks, a distance of eighty
miles from my house. •ell, when I arrived there I found out that he
had moved, Eventually, by checking Post Offices, and asking strange
people if they knew Shields, 1 located him in Nanuet, N.Y. I arrived
at his house and was happy to see him. But, strangely enough, he didn't
seem too happy to see me. As a matter of fact, he didnít even offer
me a cup of coffee. I didn't stay too long and since I left their house,
I have never communicated with him. But then again, he always was a strange
sort of fellow.
Nice things happen once in a while, I had left the 82nd in October
of 1945. In May of 1946, the 82nd retimed home. New York City gave the
Div. a terrific welcome. And a big parade was prepared for them. Gen.
Gavin stayed at my hotel during the time. Somehow or other he found
out that I was down at the Men's Bar. And nothing must do but that he
must come down and visit me. Well, Wes, we had a real good bull session.
Then about five of the boys in the Platoon carne over from Shanks, where
the Div. was staying, to visit me, Off went my apron, out the door I
went with them, and what a time was had by all. I am pretty well known
in this part of town and I took them to all the nightclubs, introduced
them to various people I knew, and raised all kinds of hell airbome
style. At 4 A.M. I poured them on the bus and sent them back to camp.
The day of the parade, a lot of the boys, including myself, who
are now ex-paratroopers, put on our uniforms and went down to see the
Div. marching. Wes, I wish that you had been there, When we heard that airbome song and the saw Gen. Gavin leading our Div. down Fifth Avenue
it was a thrill never to be forgotten. We all had lumps in our throat
Someday when we get together I will try to fill you in on some of
the boys and what happened to them after you caught your ticket home.
Meanwhile, sit back and relax, for now I will do my best to give you
some of the details of our action after you left.
They really moved you back to the rear fast. The day after you were
hit, I went to the rear looking for you. But you were gone. Lt. Ramsey,
our Communication O insisted that your radio be brought in. So Klitz
and I went out that night and picked it up, The enemy must have heard
us searching for it and they opened up with a lot of their stuff. But,
fortunately nobody was hurt, just scared. Incidentally, during the Bulge,
Ramsey was relieved for inefficiency. We didn't stay in Holland too
long. It was a very static position and not too much action took place.
The enemy shelled us every night, but good, and we suffered casualties
from that, In the beginning of Nov. they pulled us out and sent us to
our new base camp. After Nottingham, this new camp was murder. It was
located at a place called Sissons [sic], about 90 miles north of Paris, and
it had nothing, but nothing to offer in the way of amusement.
Some of the fellows managed to get to Paris for a weekend, but other
than that, there was nothing but gambling on Post and boredom galore.
So we were going crazy training new replacements and grumbling when
the Bulge hit. This happened on a Sunday afternoon, Dec. 17th, 1945.
THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Wes, for one reason you can be thankful that you were hit. Because
this was the worst campaign of all, they alerted us on a Sun evening
and at 6 A.M. we were rolling in trucks, open ones at that, up to
and the Ardennes, completely unequipped for winter warfare, without
the proper arms for fighting, without enough maps to tell us where we
were. we rode all day Monday without many stops and sometime the next
morning we were dumped off some place in Belgium. It was zero weather,
Wes, and we were freezing with the cold. And this was our mission. The
109th Div. and the 2?th Div. had been cut off by the Germans and our
job was to get them out. We came up on their rear, such as it was, and
started to establish our lines. When these boys of the 109th and the
27th saw us a lot of them started to cry, They were shot up, Wes, and
they moved back through our positions for the next two days. Wes, you
can believe me when I say that they lost Regts. to the enemy.
Finally, after we got as many of them out as we could, our fight
began with the enemy. For six days they kept pounding away at our positions.
And for six days we held them. The enemy threw their tanks, their pansers
their top troops at us but we held. And all this time we were freezing.
Our rifles would freeze up on us and we would have to thaw them out
with body heat. To dig a foxhole was impossible as the ground was frozen
solid. So many of our guys had frozen feet and hands, which had to be
amputated later on. But to get back to the battle. On Xmas evening the
orders came down to withdraw to a new position 11 miles back. The Germans
had circled around us and we only had this one road open. So we pulled
back 11 miles with the enemy after us hot and heavy, Xmas day we dug
in to our new position and from then on we didn't move back an inch.
But we suffered for it. We had a lot of casualties. What the Germans
didn't do to us. the weather did.
On Jan. 3rd, we started our counter attack and pushed the Germans
Wes, this attack was like something you see in the movies. We attacked
across open fields, with a blizzard coming down in great big flakes
of snow. And this helped us tremendously for the enemy couldn't see
us too clearly, But still and all this attack cost us plenty of men.
Miller, who you remember as the Captains orderly for awhile was killed
and mazy others. Somerville, Mortar Platoon, had his arm blown off.
Incidentally, lst Sgt. Funk, Co. C, made the Congressional Medal of
Honor on this one.
To make a long story short, we kept pushing the enemy back and finally
we found ourselves going through the Siegfreid [sic] line. That was
something to see, the massive pill boxes and these concrete spikes
sticking up out of the ground. We moved to the Ruhr valley, meeting resistance
all the way and then stopped our advance just short of the Ruhr valley,
We holed up there for awhile, picked up new rosy cheeked replacements,
then in a week or so, we were relieved.
They sent us back to the same post in France. And believe it or not,
they started giving out ten day furloughs to England. This was a great
deal for us and I and Wilkinson went to England together. Naturally,
we went to Nottingham. And for about seven glorious days we raised all
kinds of hell in that town. They sent us across to England in these
beautiful channel steamers.
But sure enough, for this pleasure we started to pay about March,
They suddenly alerted us and shipped us to an airport at Chartres,
south of Paris. Up went the barbed wire around the field and we started
to load planes.
We found out that this jump was going to be something we would be
pretty glad to do. By this time Patton and his tanks were going after
the enemy like mad, not meeting too much resistance.
But our brass were worried about the American soldiers who were in
prisoner of war camps. And we were going to jump, Bn. strength, in and
around these camps. Our mission was to try and keep our prisoners from
being annihilated by the Germans. So all our plane loading was in double
strength for we were going to arm our American prisoners and in this
way they would fight with us if the going got rough.
Well, Wes, we loaded and unloaded planes right up to the day that
we finished the war in Europe. But we never jumped, Patton moved so
fast that before we could get going he was at the gates of Berlin. And
he needed so much gas and oil that they used our C-47's for the supply
run. So we loaded, then we unloaded, then we loaded, etc. We really
sweated this one out. But scme of the boys managed to get to Paris.
After the Germans called it a day, the Div. was split. The 508th
went into Frankfurt as SCHAEF [sic] bodyguard. This was a good deal. We kicked
the Germans out of their lovely homes and we moved in. Civilian
nice civilian beds, three men to a large apartment. This we liked, The
duty was easy, the country was very nice, with the exception of a sniper
once in a while.
As a matter of fact, we were not allowed to leave our area without
sidearms or a rifle. Somebody was always shooting away at us. I stayed
on there until Oct., then on my way home. It was pretty sad leaving
the gang. A lot of the old faces were gone and a lot of new ones were
there, But it was a good outfit, Well, Wes, I hope this brings you up
to date on some of the things that happened after you left. Write to
me soon and let nĽ know when we are going to get together.
Please pardon the lousy typing, but I could never have written all
this by hand.
Enclosed you will find some films of the children and myself. I have
a lot less hair and a lot more weight. But, Wes, I could still make
the big jump out of a C-47.
If you want to get in touch with me by phone, I am usually home at
night. Anytime after seven thirty p.m., telephone No, is Levittown 9-4070.
So a phone eall does not cost much at night.
Donít mind the Legion envelope. I was Commander of the Post here
and it is the only envelope I have.
/s/ Ray Pateracki