Major Robert F. Burns

90th Division, U.S. Army

 

War Letters from Europe

Normandy to Germany

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Letters from France

June 22, 1944
June 29, 1944
June 29, 1944 (2nd)
July 6, 1944
July 17, 1944
August 10, 1944
August 14, 1944
August 25, 1944
September 1, 1944
September 2, 1944
September 3, 1944
September 3, 1944 (2nd)
September 14, 1944
September 16, 1944
September 16, 1944 (2nd)
September 17, 1944
September 28, 1944
October 2, 1944
October 14, 1944
October 22, 1944
November 2, 1944
November 12, 1944
November 24, 1944
December 2, 1944
December 27, 1944

Letters from Luxembourg

January 9, 1945
January 16, 1945
January 20, 1945

Letter from Belgium

February 7, 1945

Letters from Germany

February 9, 1945
February 21, 1945
February 23, 1945
February 26, 1945
April 5, 1945
May 5, 1945

Letters from Czechoslovakia

May 10, 1945
May 16, 1945

Letters from Germany

May 19, 1945
May 20, 1945
May 24, 1945
June 3, 1945
June 22, 1945

Letters from France

June 30, 1945
July 3, 1945

Letters from Germany

July 14, 1945
July 27, 1945
July 30, 1945
August 3, 1945
August 14, 1945

Letters from France

August 26, 1945
August 28, 1945
August 29, 1945

Letters from Germany

September 9, 1945
September 11, 1945
September 13, 1945
September 15, 1945
September 17, 1945
September 23, 1945
September 27, 1945
October 1, 1945
October 9, 1945

Letters from France

October 13, 1945
October 15, 1945
October 22, 1945
November 5, 1945
November 17, 1945
November 17, 1945 (2nd)
November 23, 1945
November 30, 1945
December 17, 1945
December 17, 1945 (2nd)
December 18, 1945
December 26, 1945
January 2, 1946

Letters from Belgium

January 14, 1946
January 15, 1946
January 17, 1946
January 17, 1946 (2nd)

Letters from France

January 21, 1946
January 24, 1946

France

September 17, 1944

Dear Marnie,

It's about that time of month when you'll be having yourself another birthday. So I send my congratulations and suggest you buy yourself a present out of my account and keep it down.

Just came back from church a short time ago. This is the first one I've been in which had no pillars to block the view. It is a fairly large church, and the wooden ceiling is just slightly arched. The tan boards appear to run the full length of the church. The usual heavy beams or stone pillars are not in evidence anywhere.

The sanctuary is deep-set with a fine marble altar in front of three stained glass windows. There are two small rooms full of seats behind the two side altars which are well forward of the main altar. At left is the general plan. Some of the rear windows are clear, but those toward the front are a beautiful stained glass.

There is a balcony at the rear with an organ. The churches now are beginning to have large Stations of the Cross like ours at home. These are dark and heavy against the light walls.

Some of the villagers attended, mostly choir, to sing for us. The bulk of the town went to Mass before and after our service.

I imagine if any of the townspeople understand English they were thoroughly confused by the chaplain's sermon. As I told you, he is from Brooklyn and speaks a great deal of slang. The men love it and he is really a powerful speaker. He's quite a rugged character. I learn that he's been through the African and Sicilian campaigns with an armored unit. Quite a boy.

Now I must tell you of the strong box, for it is a remarkable item. We thought at first it held records of the NSDAP (a Nazi Brown Shirt Workers Group, judging from the paraphernalia left behind), but it appears to have belonged to the original owner of this house, which was NSDAP headquarters.

The box is a sturdy affair of steel, about 5 x 9 x 14. Its top is marbled with rust as if only it has been exposed to the elements. The sides are still clear and are decorated with whorls of a high speed drill. The tumbler system is quite intricate, for unless you raise the lid just at the right time as you turn the key you cannot get it open, and having opened it, once you close the lid it immediately locks again. The interior is painted a bright red.

I speak of it at length for this small box contains a 100 year history of a tumultuous people - a political football. It is nothing but legal papers - deeds, notes, bills of sale, assignment of property, licenses, insurance policies, but they encompass a span of great significance. The earliest document I can find a date on is from 1835 during the time of the Napoleons. Then they progress to the beginnings of the Republic with a switch from French to German after 1870, and another transition back after 1918.

A notary in those days earned his money for nearly all the documents are hand written, usually embellished along the way with many flourishes like Pop's birds. There is a piece of parchment (genuine) which I am certain is the oldest item of the lot, but unfortunately it contains no date.

Being unable to read the documents I can only guess at what they contain. But it is easy to visualize the parade of marriages, transfers, and deaths which produced the century-span of one family.

There is a license to sell tobacco dated 1859 and granted by the Emperor. It is one of the few printed documents of the time until the recent typewritten policies. But there is nothing about the town to indicate the tobacco shop still exists. Perhaps it is record of a venture which failed. Who knows?

Love,

Bob

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