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.
Armistice Day 1944 [November 11, 1944]
Gute Abend Frauline Bashore:
(Good Evening Miss Bashore):
Holiday greetings from the Allied forces in Germany.
Again I will be observing Christmas Day and New Year’s on foreign soil, having spent last year’s holiday season in England, and beyond any doubt, the coming one in “Der Vaterland.” A quotation from a letter to you exactly one year ago will readily show why we’re still on the other side of the Atlantic.
In my 1943 letter from England you read, “We came across the waters of the vast Atlantic to lick Germany on its home soil.” Well, that’s exactly what is in the processing as present.
Last year this time I wrote a detailed letter on how Old England would probably spend Christmas Day, 1943, and the letter appeared in your Christmas Day “Press-Herald” edition. Despite its length, that letter, if I can remember correctly, was written in less than one hour’s time, chiefly because there was much to write about. This year I can write very little about how the country I am in will observe this annual holy season. But I can make a long story short when I say that the country of Germany will have very few, if any, Tenenbaums, this Christmas Day. This year there Is no Christmas to describe, regarding its means of observance.
However, it will again be a Christmas observed on combat flights through the skies all over the globe, on the high seas, and in muddy foxholes in Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and throughout the islands of the Pacific. I hope this will receive a thought on the part of the folks back in America on this great day. Many will observe this day below the surface of the soil and not in foxholes. I hope my friends and relatives back home will remember these departed in their prayers on this year’s Christmas Day.
As for this coming holy season, I would love being with all of you back home, exchanging thoughts of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year.” Furthermore, I would feel at least some consolation should I have the necessary time to drop each and every one of my friends and relatives in America a card or letter saying “A Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year.” But neither of these is possible and I shall therefore ask all to accept my greetings via this general means of correspondence.
To you I say, I have already received your greetings by the numerous West Schuylkill Press and Pine Grove Herald copies received in Scotland, England, France, Belgium, and Germany, and for them I wish to say thank you, and a Merry, Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. I also send greetings to Miss Hellen Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Horace Reber, and everyone else on the Press-Herald staff.
I send holiday greetings to my parents and brothers, Donald and Curtis, at home, and to my beloved grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles G. Moyer in Pleasant Valley. Also to my aunts, uncles, and cousins, all spread over a wide area.
To Mr. and Mrs. Paul H. Moyer and daughter Nancy and son LaMar of Schuylkill Haven, (I received my first 1944 holiday greetings from them today); Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Felty and son Rob of Oak Grove; Mrs. Lester L. Moyer, over in Cressona, and Mr. and Mrs. Abner K. Moyer in Schuylkill Haven; to Mr. and Mrs. William Moyer and family up in the Panther Valley; to Mr. and Mrs. Harry W. Rhein and daughter Pearl in Pine Grove; and Mr. and Mrs. Milton Krammes and daughter June in Pleasant Valley.
I say “Merry Christmas” to my aunt, Mrs. Wilson Stump in Pine Grove, and to Wilson Stump in Washington D.C.; to Mr. and Mrs. George Schwartz of Pine Grove, and to Mr. and Mrs. Willis Strouphauer and son Eugene in Paradise Valley; to Uncle Clarence in Pine Grove and Uncle Albert and friend down in Reading; to Aunt Verna in Miami, Florida, and to Aunt Annie up in Pottsville; to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Schwartz and daughter Gladys in Roedersville; and Aunt Anna at Pearl River, New York. To each and every one of these aunts, uncles, and cousins, I send Christmas greetings from across the Atlantic.
To my friend, Miss Reba Lehman, and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Lehman, and her brothers, Teddy and Billy at Oak Grove, and to her brother-in-law and sister, Private and Mrs. Willard Knapp, and daughter Salley of Pine Grove, I say “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.”
I send greetings to all soldiers, sailors, and Marines from Pine Grove, Pleasant Valley and vicinity, wherever on this huge globe they may be. And to the soldiers-in-arms right here with me. Regardless of the state or country from which they hail.
To the employers and employees of Fox Knapp, I say “I wish you a Merry, Merry Christmas.” I say the same to my uncle, Lester L. Moyer and cousins, Earl, Carl and Marlin Moyer, all serving our country today.
To Rev. C.A. Steigerwalt of Schuylkill Haven, and to all the members of Friedensburg’s St. John’s to Rev. Lester M. Utz and the people of St. John’s Lutheran Church of Pine Grove, many Holiday Greeting.
To Prof. Harold O. Speidel and the faculty and students of Pine Grove High School, and to the entire P.G. H.S. Alumni, including the Class of ’42 – “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” I send best wishes to Coach Carmine Pepe and Director of Athletics G. Bruce Henninger and their 1944-45 basketball teams.
To my Pleasant Valley grade school teacher of 14 years ago – the former Miss Gertrude O. Haley – who still holds the same position today, I say “A Merry 1944 Christmas and a Happy 1945 New Year for the pupils of this term, and you.”
To my Pleasant Valley neighbors and to my friends, wherever this war may have taken them – A Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
This European war doesn’t allow me to take time to drop each of you a personal greeting. So all I can do for another holy season is hereby wish you holiday joy, and as last year, “hope and pray that by next year we can exchange Christmas greetings and at the same time shake our hands.”
Miss Bashore, a few days ago we had not a drop of water and no rainfall, but at the same time enjoyed hot coffee and cocoa, which all goes to show that we did have now, and that Christmas, probably “A White Christmas” is well on the way.
From far across the Atlantic, from the battlefields of Europe – “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.”
Irvin R. Schwartz,
Featured Image: A US Army convoy in December 1944 in war-time Europe.
Letter from the December 8, 1944 edition of the West Schuylkill Press-Herald