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.
August 16, 1945
Here is a copy of an article in this week’s “The American Traveler,” official First Infantry Division newspaper published at Ansbech, Germany. You may want to use it.
T/Sgt. Irvin R. Schwartz
26th Infantry Officers and Enlisted Men Admire Riviera
(By Bill McDermott)
Officer and enlisted men of the 26th Regiment, just back from a seven-day furlough to the Riviera Recreation Area in Southern France, term the setup there as “excellent.”
The opinions of First Lts. Robert Leggett, Co. K, and Billy Wesson, Headquarters Company, are symbolic of all officers who have enjoyed well-earned furloughs in Cannes – one of the most aristocratic resorts for American officers on the French Mediterranean coast. Cannes with its beautiful harbor and white sandy beach is one of the oldest of all Riviera cities and for over a century has been stamping ground for Europe’s wealthiest vacationists.
It’s history can be traced back as far as 400 B.C., when it was known as Aigitna, the capital of the Oxhibians. The real “discoverer” was Lord Brougham of England, who on his way to Nice was refused permission to cross the frontier because of an attack of cholera. Waiting in Cannes, he soon fell in love with its natural beauty, built a villa for himself, and began to publicize the spot to the English aristocracy.
To the eyes of Lt. Leggett, Cannes’ Promenade de la Corisette was “the most picturesque thing I have seen in Europe.” Rivalled only by the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice, this seashore is lined beautifully with tropical palms and luxury hotels reserved for American nurses and officers.
Lt. Wesson, after visiting the church of Notre Dame de Esperance, whose gates bear the inscription 1521, expressed his feelings by stating, “It is the most outstanding architecture I have seen since coming overseas.” Inside this church are some wood sculptures dating back as far as the 15th century.
In addition to its historical and natural beauties, Cannes provides all the luxuries necessary to make a furlough there a very memorable one.
Technical Sergeant Irvin R. Schwartz, Anti-Tank Company, one of the division’s few remaining D-Day veterans and holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, reflects the enlisted men’s opinions regarding Nice – the home of enlisted men in the Riviera. He calls the capital city of the Riviera “the most beautiful city I have visited in all of Europe.” And the anti-tanker has been in large cities spread over a wide area including Scotland, England, France, Luxembourg, and Belgium.
After arriving at a Ninth Air Force base, after a flight here from the Luxembourg airport, Schwartz described his experiences to other members of his unit. Visiting the hotels, Ruhl, Negresco, and Continental, the three largest night clubs in Nice, he remarked, “Boy, I’ve been in the best hotels in London and Paris, but these got ‘em all beat.”
He devoted much time on sightseeing, pedal-boat riding, deep sea fishing, roller-skating, and swimming, and when the final day arrived and he boarded a train for the trip back to Germany, he took one final look at “nice Nice” and remarked, “Darn, I hate to leave now. This is a darn good setup for recreation and this Army is strictly on the ball. You can’t call it a ‘rest,’ but I’d stay for another seven days.”
Featured Image: The coastline of the French Riviera near Nice, 1945 (National WW2 Museum)