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 3, 1944

Dear Mom,

Just returned from mass at the village church and am waiting for a steak dinner we're supposed to have at 2 o'clock. Everybody chipped in and bought the meat and vegetables for the company to supplement our ration.

Mass was a solemn high affair, whether for our benefit or a regular thing I cannot say. The French seem rather indifferent to time. The service was scheduled for 11 o'clock. The French people started arriving about 11:15. They rang the bells at 11:20. The priest arrived at 11:25, and Mass finally started at 11:30 or so.

They had a good organist and a small but excellent mixed choir. They sang all the usual Latin and at the end several hymns in French. Also, during what ordinarily are announcements, they rang in the Angelus or vespers or something in French for all the congregation took part. I don't know whether he read the Gospel or not for everyone sat down until the priest finished and went back to the altar. Then something very unusual. Instead of sitting down while the Credo was sung, the priest came down and took up the collection himself, followed by a choir girl who must have been collecting seat money. He probably hit a gold mine today for few of us had very many small bills and his little red velvet basket was crammed full.

On the door of the church an announcement said there would be exposition of the Blessed Sacrament from 12 to 3. At the end of Mass, the priest began what I thought was Benediction. The choirs sang "O Salutaris". Then, instead of "Tantum Ergo" and the rest he put the Host on display and tore off to the sacristy to change from green to black robes while the choir sang in French. On his return he led a procession out of the church to the town square where some sort of memorial service was held, including the singing of the "Marseilles" in front of a war monument.

French money is easy to handle but somewhat bewildering in its makeup. The franc is the basis and it is now worth about two cents. Only a small amount of coins are used - one or two franc pieces. For the most part everything - even small sums like 2 francs or 5 francs - is in paper. That would be all right if there were some standard size, but the bills vary in size not only with the amount but within the same denomination. I have at the moment three different size 100 franc notes. I also have a 50 franc note that was larger than a 500 franc note and a 20 franc note that was larger than a 200 franc note. None of them fit conveniently even the larger size wallet I bought in England to hold their over-size pound notes. All of the old notes are beautifully and nobly designed, as witness the enclosed 100 franc bill (worth about $2.00).

The steak was very good. I had a tenderloin. We also had fresh carrots, fresh, red ripe tomatoes, green onions, mashed potatoes, dark French bread and jelly and coffee.

Love,

Bob

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