Letters from War – Checking in with the staff of the Press-Herald from Belgium, September 1944

This is part of our “Letters from War” series documenting the World War II letters of Irvin Schwartz of Pine Grove, PA. The letters were all published in the West Schuylkill Press-Herald between 1943 and 1945. 

Read the previous letter here

Pfc. Irvin Schwartz penned a quick letter to Horace Reber and his wife while moving toward the front lines in Belgium in September 1944. Reber served as Pine Grove representative for the West Schuylkill Press-Herald and served as a mentor to the young 19-year-old Schwartz when he briefly worked as a correspondent for the newspaper that served communities in western Schuylkill County. 

Schwartz 1944 (1)
A 1944 photograph of Irvin Schwartz

The letter was published in November 1944, after a backlog of mail from the First Division in Europe arrived suddenly at the Press-Herald that fall. 


September 24 [1944]

Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Reber:

Just a personal letter to say that I am well and I hope and pray that this little message finds you likewise.

I can imagine both of you sitting in your living room listening to the latest news. It is approximately 10 a.m. in Pine Grove now.

This is a rainy Sunday, but this a.m. I had a rare opportunity to attend services so I took advantage of the chance, even though I was soaked to the skin before we had sung the first verse of the first hymn. But, such is our life these days.

Mr. Reber, you can tell my friends that I have left France and at this writing I am in Belgium. Very soon I’ll be in Germany itself. The Belgian flag of black, yellow, and red flies beside the Stars and Stripes all over Belgium. The people speak French.

As ever,

Pfc. Irvin R. Schwartz

Schwartz wasn’t the only one writing quick updates from the same place in Belgium. Dennis Hesser, mentioned in Schwartz’s previous letter to his family, also wrote to the Press-Herald and noted that he had continued having meals with Schwartz after they forward to Belgium. Two Schuylkill County men in the US Army serving thousands of miles from home had become close comrades. 

Somewhere in Belgium

Sept. 24, 1944

Dear Mr. Reber:

This is to notify you of a change of address. So far I haven’t received one issue of the paper since leaving the states about three months ago. I hope the new A.P.O. remedies this.

I am now in Belgium after being in France for a few weeks. France is a very beautiful country, although some of it is damaged badly. I have seen quite a few war-torn cities and they aren’t very beautiful to see. Some day I hope to get to Paris. I can’t tell you much about Belgium, because so far I haven’t seen much of it.

I see Irvin Schwartz about two or three times a week. He is the first person from home I have seen since I am overseas. He hasn’t been receiving his paper either for a few weeks. We often eat in the same chow line, so I’m hoping to see more of him.

Thank you again for the “Letter from Home.”


Dennis H. Hesser

Featured Image: Irvin Schwartz in 1944 and an excerpt from the November 17, 1944 edition of the West Schuylkill Press-Herald.

This is part of a series titled: “Letters from War.” Read more of the letters written by Irvin Schwartz during World War II

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