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.
The following letter appeared in the West Schuylkill Press-Herald on March 2, 1945. This letter appears to have been delayed in its delivery, as several letters written after this letter were published previously. In this letter, Sergeant Irvin Schwartz discusses letters he’d received from the home front in Schuylkill County, his unit’s appearance in a dispatch from an Associated Press war correspondent, and how much he enjoyed letters written to him from servicemembers serving across the world.
January 10, 1945
I am taking several minutes rest from the wars saying that I am receiving the “Press-Herald” quite regularly. For me, the “Letter” continues to hold deep interest concerning the everyday affairs of our Schuylkill County neighboring communities, and your contribution to the great armed forces of America continues to accomplish its designated mission, as it has for me while at New Cumberland, Pa.; Camp Shelby, Miss.; Fort Meade, Md.; Camp Shanks, N.Y., and in Scotland, England, France, Belgium and Germany.
With your fine work and prayers, mixed with our untiring efforts, we’ll make 1945 a grand and victorious one, despite the great battles yet to take place before Germany capitulates.
During the past three days a greater majority of my incoming letters spoke of the great German breakthrough into Belgium. Many friends and relatives spoke of the immense German offensive, and numerous persons asked me for my own opinion of the enemy’s successes. In addition, each letter contained many questions of importance, all of which I could answer fully, but all of which are against censorship regulations.
However, I will state that the “Krauts” tried to pull a fast one on us. But today, Von Runstedt is more than sorry he tried and is a guy with more headaches than only one. Time will prove my statement.
During the Germans’ all-out effort for a desperate breakthrough, I think I made the Associated Press for the first time. In one particular battle covered by one of the A.P.’s best known correspondents on the entire Western Front, I participated and was mentioned in the correspondent’s front line story of the action. You at home have probably read all about this by today, and if so, you know more about the article than I do, at this writing. But I do feel proud to have my name reported from General Ike’s forces to practically every newspaper in the U.S.A.
Mail is arriving regularly, and recently I enjoyed letters from a number of Pine Grove and vicinity men and women in the service. Some of my more recent letters came from Lt. E. Polly Reiner, a nurse at a U.S. General Hospital in England; Cpl. Lewis Hein in Germany; Pfc. William Kimmel in France; Cpl. Charles Hein in Germany; Pfc. Warren Zimmerman in the Pacific; Pfc. Lester Moyer in the Pacific; and Sgt. Sterling Schaeffer with the A.A.F. [Army Air Force] in Italy.
I hope their type of letters are examples of letters from all our local men and women in the service. According to the contents of the letters from these individuals, the attitude toward the war situation is good and morale is high. And the latter part in the drive toward a final victory here on European soil.
The sun of January 10, 1945 has just ceased glistening on the surface of a fifteen-inch snow here on the Belgium front. It’s starting to become dark which to me means back to the wars again. However, I cannot close without saying – to us, a great victory is in sight, but to register its scores requires all the possible help from home. I am not begging anyone to buy more bonds, to work harder, to work longer, or to give generously to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Blood Bank, or the U.S.O. Just the “law of averages” tells that from here on in, to the end, it will call for more ammunition, guns, tanks, planes, ships, jeeps, trucks, and everything else down to the GI’s own mess kit, knife, spoon, and fork.
You will send it, I know, and even against a fierce enemy, all those things will some day in ’45 bring Victory in Europe.
Irvin R. Schwartz
While we haven’t yet been able to find an AP article that mentions Sergeant Schwartz by name (as he suggests in this letter,) we did locate this story by Wes Gallagher in the last days of December 1944. In it, Gallagher described the Battle of Dom Bütgenbach and explicitly mentions the action in which Schwartz and his comrades turned back several German panzers on December 21, 1944.
Featured Image: American soldiers in their foxholes in Belgium in January 1945 (National Archives)