December 17, 1944

On December 17, 1944 the 101st Airborne Division was stationed in Mourmelon France for rest and recuperation.  Many men had been given passes to go on short leaves for the holiday.  Progress in the war seemed optimistic and many of the commanding Generals were planning Christmas celebrations not expecting to head back to the front until January.

The day prior, December 16, three armies from the Third Reich launched a massive offensive attack through the Ardennes Forest in Luxembourg and Eastern Belgium.  The Allied forces in that region, mainly the First US Army, were completely surprised and overwhelmed immediately.  It was Hitler’s last attempt to race towards Antwerp and cut off Allied operations.

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Mission Coming Up

Dec. 17th – 1944

Sent $150 bucks to George [1] for the bank and Xmas.

Things are really getting hot today sounds like there’s “beaucoup”[2] trouble northeast of here.[3] Got us out of bed at 4:30 A.M. Geiger[4] and my name were on the bunch to leave

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first today, Berry[5] and Lt Johnson[6] are going to Army for “Soc’s”[7] and “crystals.”[8]  Lt. Woldt[9] will head out with us.

Ole Drahoo[10] and his boys are staying behind on this one.  Really pissed off about that too.  Those swell bunch of guys, lots more

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Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Georgia Hale, wife of William
  2. “beaucoup” means abundant or large quantity
  3. The 101st Airborne Division was quartered in the village of Mourmelon in France for recuperation near the Reims
  4. Sgt. Thomas G. Geiger, 101st Airborne Signal Company
  5. St. Sgt. David C. Berry, 101st Airborne Signal Company
  6. Lt. William J. Johnson, commander of the 101st Airborne Signal Company
  7. Soc’s might refer to “system-on-a-chip” which can integrate radio frequencies on a single circuit device
  8. Crystal Radio – During the war the Germans used radio detecting equipment which assisted in locating Allied troops.  To avoid detection, the Allies relied on simple crystal radios using crystalline minerals and powered by radio waves and a long antenna.  The device could be made out of salvaged wires and razor blades. Since crystal radios lacked an oscillator they were not detectable by Germans and ideal for use in the foxholes.
  9. Lt. George Woldt, commander of the 101st Airborne Signal Company
  10. Individual unidentified

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