Major Robert F. Burns

90th Division, U.S. Army

 

War Letters from Europe

Normandy to Germany

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June 22, 1944
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January 9, 1945
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Letter from Belgium

February 7, 1945

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February 9, 1945
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Letters from Czechoslovakia

May 10, 1945
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May 19, 1945
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Letters from France

June 30, 1945
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Letters from Germany

July 14, 1945
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Letters from France

August 26, 1945
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Letters from Germany

September 9, 1945
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September 15, 1945
September 17, 1945
September 23, 1945
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October 1, 1945
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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

Cannes, France

June 30, 1945

Dear Mom,

This is by far the best spot I have ever been to. For awhile I didn't think we going to get here. Our truck broke down a couple of hours from Munich. After scouting around, however, we borrowed another from an anti-aircraft battery who also towed in our truck to a repair unit.

Munich was a disappointment. I don't quite know what I expected, but I didn't find it. Something grandiose, perhaps, or something picturesque since it is the art center of southern Germany. It is neither spectacular or interesting. We had to search around for a place to billet our men which gave me a chance to see the town.

It's a sprawling town. As you enter the outskirts, you are reminded of a western city. The houses are separate, rather dull, with the ever-present vegetable garden. Farther in, the buildings are crowded together. All of the important structures have been bombed out. Not devastatingly but rather thoroughly worked over. These were the places, I suspect, which gave Munich the grand manner I expected.

The surrounding countryside is level, uninteresting plain like our western prairies. The Alps begin farther south.

There is no beauty there and I was glad when we could leave the next day.

On our day down to Munich we crossed the Danube. Contrary to poem and story, it is not blue, at least not here. It's a soupy, pea green and at the place we crossed not more than 30-40 yards across.

Our plane was a C-47 and rather uncomfortable in that for seats it has a long bench along each side, like the "L", so that you sit and watch the people across from you get green and white. In order to see out you have to twist around in your seat to look out the tiny window. Right in the center is an air vent which hits you in the small of the back and blows against you if it is open. All in all it's quite uncomfortable.

The trip took longer than I expected - about five hours, which included a 45 minute stop for refueling. I was quite happy that it lasted no longer. It seems I am no better aviator than I am a sailor. I didn't actually get sick, but I sure didn't feel good and that mid way stop came just in time. We had three Red Cross girls aboard and one of them got quite sick. At the stop they went over to the mess hall and made us some peanut butter sandwiches which helped me no end but I don't think did much for some of the others. Three or four of the men got quite sick on the second half of the trip. The crew chief put a couple of buckets on the metal floor and we'd just slide them along to whoever showed signs of needing them. One man was a little worried by the fact that there were only two buckets. He thought we might all have to use them at once. However, we seemed to come out even.

I'd like to tell you of the scenery en route but I didn't see much of it. In my condition I wasn't too interested. I did look out once in a while, particularly when we flew over the Alps. Since we also were hitting the roughest air here I curtailed my inspection. After we landed one of the pilots said the air was so bumpy that he couldn't use his automatic pilot device.

It was a distinct relief to see the blue Mediterranean as we roared over it to circle for the landing. We were the second of two ships so we flew around several times while the first one landed. I couldn't even enjoy this view for I was literally "sweating it out." The whole trip was stifling hot which didn't help at all. I imagine I lost several pounds in sweat.

We landed at Nice right along the ocean. We rode over to Cannes in a big G.I. truck which is used for the bus service here. We were surprised to find Cannes so far from Nice. It's about 20 miles. The enlisted men go to Nice and the officers to Cannes which allows both groups to relax completely.

The road over follows generally along the sea. The scars of war are still evident in an occasional battered building, barbed wire and dragons teeth along some of the beach and signs warning of mines not yet cleared. But most apparent is the over growth of vegetation which is everywhere in careless abundance. Only now are the French beginning to trim and prune out the areas and restore their famed beauty.

On the way over we heard violent honking of a horn. We thought at first it was the inevitable Frenchman who cannot drive unless he can honk his horn for most of the trip. But it was a motor cycle with three civilians who gesticulated wildly and appeared to be waving us to the side of the road. They were followed by two gendarmes on one motorcycle who repeated the warning. This attracted our interest and we began to look around to see the reason for this fan fare. Two black sedans crammed with civilians (and with horns going full blast) were bearing down on us. Then he appeared - a lone Frenchman pedaling his bicycle. He wore a yellow-orange jersey and yellow orange trunks. RAY was sewn in huge letters on his shirt front and the seat of his pants. Hooray for Ray! He was in a bike race and was responsible for all this entourage. We looked at him with awe. The heat was stifling but he pedaled as if for dear life. We were going probably 30 miles an hour and he kept right up with us weaving in and out of traffic until finally a flag man waved him off onto a route to the right. It is not clear to us yet whether he was first or last. No other contestants were to be seen.

Love,

Bob

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