Francis Aloysius Bloom

Home Birth, childhood, and adolescence Army basic training Now a paratrooper To Italy Southern France Belgium After death

Belgium

Dec. 5, 1944 Ė packed ready to leave for No. France.

Dec. 6, 1944 Ė boarded box cars 40+8.  Pass thru Marseilles at midnight.

Dec. 7, enroute north.  Cooking own chow.

Dec.8 Ė enroute.

Dec. 9, 1944 Ė arrive Soissons.  56 mi. north east of Paris. Garrisoned in French barracks.

14 Dec. 44                   Received Feb. 6 Ė 45.

Dearest Mom & Dad:

            Received a letter from you today dated Nov 7th.  It was a long time coming but maybe because it was straight mail.  Your air mail stamps were included for which I thank you ever so much.

            Iíve been unable to write of late but now I should have more time and will write oftener and until Iím Ďinteruptedí for a period of time.

            There is very little I can say just now Ė when my letters start coming telling you of life day by day maybe then you will be able to tell where I am and what Iím doing.

            Right now Iím probably in the worst mood I can get and not go beserk. 

            As you know Iíve tried to get out of the parachute troops in 511, and in Sicily.  Well Iíve never relaxed in that effort and Iím continuing so in this outfit.  Iíll use every possible trick in the trade to get out of their outfit and airbourne altogether  so if sometime I should write with a different return address donít be surprised.  Although I will because itís hard to get out of the parachute troops.

            Iím still in good health, have a warm place to sleep and three squares a day so I canít complain too much.

            We have a new APO number which is 109 Ė your old mail will still reach me.

            Iím enclosing a little money order for Bunk as a Christmas present. I wish I could have sent it sooner but Itís been hard to get anything done lately. Yes the beard is gone long ago.  By now you know I heard from Frank OíHern and have written him  he is stationed in Paris.

            Pretty hard to answer your questions. Iíd say half of it.

            Had a letter from Johnny Drew Ė was very surprised but glad to hear from him.  Iíll answer him first chance.  Had a letter from Anna recently.  I wrote a letter to Alberta about two weeks ago and still have it because I canít remember her address.  Iíll have to wait Ďtil I hear from her.

            I hope this reaches you by Christmas.  I havenít sent any cards nor will there be any telegrams. You know my every thought will be with you on Christmas. I want you to know, as far as I can see in the future, Iíll have a good place to spend my Christmas.  Iíll write you Christmas day and try & tell you how I spent it.

            For now, Iíll close. If you see Pauline ask her when sheís last heard from Mike Ė

            Love                 Frankie

Dec. 18.  alerted to move.  German break thru in Belgium.

December 18, 1944     Received Dec. 28, 1944

Dearest Mom & Dad,

            Your letter of the 27th Nov. came in Friday.  It was telling your Thanksgiving which you say was very quiet.  For mine it was just another GI special day.  That was the 4th Thanksgiving Iíve spent in the Army.  I wouldnít bet a nickel that I wonít spend anymore. This will be my 4th Christmas in the Army too.  The first was spent in Tennessee, the 2nd in Georgia, the third in Louisiana, and now here I am in the 4th in France.  Where will the next one be if Iím so fortunate to be around for the next one.  The chaplain is saying midnight mass in a large and beautiful cathedral near us.  I will attend and go to communion.  Of course, my prayers and best wishes will be with you.  I am fortunate in that I will not spending Christmas in a foxhole.  My sympathy, if that means anything, is with those poor fellows on that day. You know that of the 4,000 men overseas, there probably isnít 20% spending their days & nights like that.

            I just got over a cold and now I have another one.  Riding in an open truck to Reims was the cause of it.  I have a wisdom tooth thatís giving me trouble.  Had it x-rayed to see if it need be extracted.

            I didnít get to see Frank OíHern but may see him next week.  Have you talked to Pauline lately?

            I hope by now youíve heard from Tommy.  Has he been in action yet?  I hope not.  I saw in the stars & stripes where the Navy believes the war with Japan will last into 1949.  Wouldnít it be an old army man if I saw it thru Ďtil then.

            Thanks for telling me about Alberta.  Iím much relieved to hear the good news.  Had a letter from Anna some day yours came in telling me also.  Friday I hit the jackpot in mail. 10 letters. Six were from this gal in Texas so thatís what made it big.  I sent her a bottle of perfume for Christmas. Mr. Bolbi, of Nice, gave it to me. He was in Paris last month and he knew I wanted some rare and good perfume. We can write to French civilians now and Iíve written them a couple of letters.

            I canít imagine what makes you think the war will be over here by Christmas.  If itís over by June Iíll be happy.

            Glad to hear the news that Chris is still o.k.  As Millie W.   What his address is?  Maybe I can write to him Ė after all Iím not very many hundred miles from him.  Do they know what prison he is in?  If and when I land in Germany Iíd sure travel miles to see him.

            Two films from you arrived last week.  Also six or eight from Alberta.  Havenít taken any pictures lately Ė itís rain and light snow almost every day.

            If you need a request to send anything, chocolate bars or candy are very much desired Ė received PX rations.  It consisted of 3 chocolate bars 4 packs cigs ad a little misc. Stuff.  Cigs are scarce around here too but Iím not hurting.  When I canít get them, Iíll quit as I have done before.  This ration was the first in well over three weeks.

            Iím very discontented here and if possible, I would transfer out to any outfit, were it on the front or not.  They are pulling a lot of petty stuff saying theyíre striving for discipline.  In the end, theyíll probably make more good boys bad than bad boys good.  An order is an order but when itís given in a snarling manner it makes a fellow want to do just the opposite.  Iíd better get off the subject or Iíll write page after page on it.

            Iím running out of chatter so will end this.  Hope this finds mom & dad in the best of health. 

            Tell me when you get the money orders also if Bunk got his in time for Christmas.  I wish I could have gotten it to him sooner.  Iím not sending any dough home this month Ė guess I should have.  Didnít sign payroll this moth so itíll be end of January before any more comes in. Should be 2 or 300. 

            Best of Love                             Frankie

New APO  No 109    No Observer for 6 weeks now.

Dec. 19, 1944 Ė still alerted.

Dec. 20, 1944 Ė into Reims on dental car.

Dec. 21, 1944 Ė moving out by truck at 5pm pass thru Reims.

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Dec. 22, 1944 Ė Into Belgium. In Liege, into Namur.  Detruck at 5pm.  24 hours on truck. Move 100 yds + come under machine gun fire + shell fire.  Stopped on bald hill.  8pm.  Two shells land among us. 10 men hurt.  Bitterly cold. Advance thru Soy Ė pinned down by machine gun + automatic fire.  Huddle all nite in shell hole.  Very cold Ė no blankets. Lt. Cannon hit, Cray hit.

Dec. 23, 1944 Ė Comes Dawn + automatic fire from both flanks. 8am  Mortars shells dropping on us now.  Many wounded.  Withdraw under shell fire.  Lt. Thompson hit.  Reform back by Soy. Move out 10am behind tanks.  Intense shell fire hitting us.  Many fall wounded.  Tanks ahead of us firing continuously.  I quit hitting the ground shells are coming so fast. We continue advance.  Mitchell killed on my right. Tank on my left hit Ė is on fire.  Two more tanks hit + knocked out.  We reach wooded area.  Two more tanks hit. Pace killed.  Push on- Biowie, Haney + I are head of column pushing thru dense under brush.  Biddle shoots 4 Jerries, I ruin 2 while going thru underbrush.  Fletcher killed.  Automatic fire from left flank. Hancy + I crawl on our bellies 40 yds throwing grendades. Jerry eludes us.  Finally reach edge of underground.  The 3 of us work our way 500 yds to edge of road.  Jerry vehicles motorcycles go by. Some go by on foot.  I decided to take one back to main column with me.  I yelled or a German officer to halt. He whirls + fires. I fired back but he dives in ditch. Biddle takes off, Haney takes off, so I take off.  Jerry Officer fires several shots misses.  Back to column now. Turn back now.  Sleep in woods. Bitter cold. Move back now.  11:30pm. 1st platoon leading now.  Encounter opposition.  Heavy fire fight now.  Rivers killed, Lt. Ellingham killed.  Several wounded.  Jerries flee leaving 10 dead.  Quiet now 5am  Very cold. No blankets.

Dec. 24, 1944 Ė Move out behind tank again in underbrush. Biddle + I in lead again. Biddle shoots 3 more.  Tank ahead of us knocks out 2 German tanks. We pull Germans out of fox holes.  Theyíre young punks.  Push on into Hutton. Many dead Germans strewn along road. Pull back out of Hutton when report of heavy German tank concentrations.  My squad on LP. No food since we started fighting Christmas eve.  We get our blankets.  Shells landing around us but none do any damage. Very cold feet seem frozen.

Dec. 25, 1944 Ė Christmas day.  A.H of Co attacking hill 2pm. B Co. in reserve.  Had cup of hot coffee + can ďCĒ rations for dinner.  First food in 3 days.  Still on LP

Dec. 26 Ė Move back to Soy. The ground is littered with wrecked German + American tanks, armored cars, planes, dead Germans, etc.

Dec. 27. Ė Move to Hamoir Ė sleep in Pvt. Homes.

Dec. 28. Ė move to

Dec 28, 44

Dearest Mom & Dad:

            Your Christmas card arrived yesterday as well as a letter dated Nov. 17th & one Dec 9th.  Your Christmas card was probably the most appreciative.  I honestly believe it helped me through Christmas more than youíll ever know.

            Received 8 letters yesterday. One from Tommy, Frank OíHern, Mrs. Balbi in Ncie and two from you and the rest from the gal. Yes I wish I could have gotten to see Mike. I was stationed only a few miles from him for awhile.

            Write Alberta and tell her the 4th letter I sent her has been returned because I had the wrong address.  I put 415 Eggert Rd. Ann Arbor.  Also some pictures Iíd enclosed they were also returned so I tried to send them again and now they say we canít send pictures home unless theyíre developed by the Army Exchange Service which takes 3 or 4 months. So, Iíll save all I take and bring them home with me. 

            I believe I have all your boxes and I understand theyíre limited to sibs.  Thanks ever so much.  Chocolate candy of any kind is welcome at any time.  Your air mail stamps were in your last letter. Thanks again.

            Iíll be glad to hear how you spent your Christmas.  I thought of you every minute.  Some time Iíll tell you how mine was spent.

            The boxes all arrived in good shape and I believe they were given priority over letters.

            Havenít received an Observer sometime now.  Tom says he read one of my letters in the Observer.  I havenít seen any except the one I wrote you about visiting the Pope and Rome.

            Cigarettes, I have plenty so guess Iím lucky.

            Mom, can you tell me what else was in the box I sent you with the piece of parachute I had lots of other things in there which didnít say anything about.

            You say the church is about finished.  Iíll be anxious to see it and to kneel down and sincerely thank Our Lord for deliverance.

            How long was Tommy home?  Lucky cuss!

            I had the nicest letter from Balbiís of Nice.  I may send it to you and then again I believe Iíll save it.  They are very loose with potent words and one has to know them to understand their letters.  They were good people and I shall always remember France by them.

            I find Belgium much different than France, Italy and Sicily.  The people seem so kind and are so much better off than any of the people Iíve come in contact with in Europe.

            All for now, Iíll write again first chance with more news if possible.  Thanks again for the nice Christmas card.

            Love,                                        Frankie                                                APO 109

Diary ends.  Francis A. Bloom died January 3, 1945 and is buried in Belgium.

Duff Mattson describes Frank's Death (The Devil's Bodyguard, p. 112)
    On January 3, 1945, Frank Bloom, one of the closest friends I ever had, as killed. He was shot by one of our own men, a raw replacement who had just joined the fighting and was on his first day up on the lines. As Frank walked around the corner of a building, he was blown away with a Browning Automatic Rifle.

    We didn't have a supply of his type blood and he died. It was a great loss for me and a tragedy for his friends and family. They moved the kid responsible away from the area out of fear that I might kill him. I think I probably would have, as crazy as things were in those days.

    Frank had talked me into going to church with hi on Easter Sunday in Italy. He told me then that he would not survive the war.

    Few things during the entire war hit me as hard as his death. It would have been hard enough to accept it as a result of combat, but for our own men to gun him down was almost too much to take.

    Some weeks later, when I was finally able to accept his death, I wrote a poem dedicated to Frank, entitled,

'A Rendezvous'

After this is over,
and spring comes back again,
I have a rendezvous to keep,
I must come back to see my friend,
He never saw the springtime,
in the land he died to save,
For they buried him this winter,
in a lonely Belgium grave,
I can't describe his laughter,
or the way he used to walk,
Or his trust in God and nature,
and his cheerfulness of talk,
This is not sung to honor him,
for it comes but from the heart,
Because I loved him like life itself,,
because we are apart.

 

 

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Birth, childhood, and adolescence Army basic training Now a paratrooper To Italy Southern France Belgium After death