Letters from War – A meeting of Schuylkill County natives on the front lines in Europe, December 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


From the West Schuylkill Press-Herald, January 5, 1945:

Pine Grove and Tremont Soldiers Meet in Germany

A recent letter to the Press-Herald office from Cpl. Irvin R. Schwartz tells about the writer meeting other Pine Grove soldiers and a Tremont soldier in Germany.

Schwartz 1944 (1)
A 1944 photograph of Irvin Schwartz

Cpl. Schwartz, attached to an anti-Tank Company of the 26th Infantry, First Division, First Army, says, “I met the second from the Iris town [Pine Grove] since coming to Europe, he was Sgt. Landis Gibson, whom I met in a mess hall somewhere in Germany. Military plans forbid me to give any details. With him, at the time, was Cpl. Verdan Reed, of Friedensburg, and Gibson told me that my friend, Harvey Warner, of Rock, a former Press-Herald reporter, is a cook in his organization, but I did not succeed in seeing Warner.

Harvey Warner
Private Harvey Warner in 1943

Continuing, Schwartz writes as follows: “Later in the day I walked smack into a former fellow employee of the Fox-Knapp Company, Ambrose McDonald, of Tremont.

Ambrose McDonald
Private Ambrose McDonald

Cpl. Schwartz’s letter was dated December 15. He said he is “feeling fine and keeping his chin high.”

This letter was written one day before the battle that would change these men’s lives forever began. On December 16, 1944, German forces attacked up and down American lines in the Ardennes Forest, on the border of Germany and Belgium. Tanks and infantry swarmed through American lines in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and costliest battle in American history.

Each of the Schuylkill County men listed in this letter from December 1944 – Schwartz, Gibson, Reed, Warner, and McDonald – survived the Bulge and the Second World War. Private Harvey McDonald of Tremont later received the Bronze Star for courage, rescuing two wounded men from a minefield amid heavy combat on December 18, 1944.

As for this letter’s author, Corporal Schwartz, he, too, would face the horrors of the German onslaught during the Battle of the Bulge and be honored for his valor. Schwartz’s important role in the Battle of the Bulge will be the topic of future posts.


Featured Image: US Army soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge (National Archives) 

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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