This is a continuation of my post Mail Call 1942 and Mail Call 1943. I would advise you to start reading in Mail Call 1942 to get the complete story. I purchased about 200 letters at an auction and discovered that the letters told a great story. It was about a family, a time, a way of life, of sacrifices that were made for future generations, and perhaps most of all about love.
We were forced to start in 1945 as I have only one letter in 1944. A few weeks ago I noticed more letters from this family were being offered at auction. I went to try and purchase them. However when the bidding went to $50.00 I had to drop out. A decision I regret very much now. But more about that later. I talked to the lady who bought them and she is an antique dealer. She plans to sell them off in her shop. She was not sure if as singles or as a package. I believe many of the letters from 1944 were in that group.
The first letter in 1945 is from George Endres to his father Baptist Endres. It is dated 13, January, 1944 but, in fact, it is 1945. The confusion of the date is understandable considering the event of the previous weeks. We find that George has taken part in perhaps the American army’s greatest battle, The Battle of the Bulge. He has taken part in the defense of St. Vith. A nasty blood bath that was a part of this great battle. The result a badly out numbered and out gunned group of American soldiers held off at least two German armies for about five days. George in his letter writes the following.
Somewhere in Belgium
Dear Pa, … Now that censorship has been lifted I can tell you about the battle we were in all by our lonesome at St. Vith. I guess I aged about five years in a few days. We were called all the way from Germany & drove into the town to try and check that whole German drive. The Germans threw a couple of armies against us but we held like a stone-wall for five days. The German drive was split in half. We went out of one end of town with our aid-station & the Germans came in the other. That night the town was all ablaze. For a time I didn’t think we would make it. The German radio said that the 7th Panzer U.S. Division was cut to pieces but we’ll be around to give them many a jolt in days to come…. Well, Pa I am well & so far so good. Take care of yourself & someday I hope to see you again. Your son George.
George’s next letter is once more to his father. If you read between the lines of these letters you can see that the carnage of war and his own mortality is now a horrible and constant part of his life. It is dated 15, January, 1945.
Dear Pa, Just the usual few lines to let you know I am O.K.. Things are about the same here. Life as usual is pretty rough & winter is very much in evidence….Am cold most always….Had a few spare moments today so thought I would write. A fellow never can depend too much on the future & I do want to write to you as often as possible. …Lola writes every day, but the service is poor due probably to the weather & the greater need for other things. The war picture does look good & the Germans are being driven back pretty steadily. Even in the Pacific the news is real good. …I may not be able to write so often all the while but don’t you worry. I’ll try to keep in touch with you. Maybe with a little luck I’ll be home Christmas. I do hope so. Be good. As ever your son George.
February finds George a little better off. In a letter dated the 24th, George writes to his father the following.
Dear Pa, … It still seems much like Spring here. The snow has been gone for a couple of weeks now. Received a letter from Eddie dated February 7th. He just got back from a furlough to Naples. Ed said he didn’t have a very good time….Things will never seem like home over here regardless of where you go. My mail has been coming along a lot better. Lola’s latest letter was dated February 12th. I also received 22 newspapers from home & that gave me a chance to catch up on local news in my spare time….I go through them from one end to the other & I don’t miss very much…. Got two bottles of Coke yesterday. Pretty good. Your son George.
In March and April a hope for victory is vibrating through George’s letters. In a letter headed, Somewhere in Germany, 2 April, 1945 he writes the following.
Dear Pa, How are you these days? Hope you are well. I am fine….I doubt very much if the war will last more than a couple of months now. It really does look very good with our troops and the Russians deep in Germany. there probably will be some battles to come but the Germans can no longer win. Guess they shot their wad when they invaded Belgium last December…. Take good care of yourself. Hope by this time next year I’ll be able to see you again. Bye. Your son, George.
Somewhere in Germany, 8, April, 1945. Dear Pa, Just a few line to let you know I am O.K. so far…. Haven’t heard any real late war news. It all seems good though. I hope to see it end by Fall. We still are having rough times and there are bound to be more ahead. Germany’s battle is a losing one and I’d like to see it end soon…. Well Pa I’ll say goodbye once more. Hope to be able to write again soon. Take care of yourself. Your son, George.
Once the peace was won in Europe, George had a new worry.
Eilenbug, Germany, 2, June 1945. Dear Pa, how are you getting along these days? Hope you are well…. Have no idea what will happen to me. Eventually, I’ll probably be going to the Pacific. Looks like we shall be here for a while yet anyhow. Perhaps a couple of months or longer. I’m hoping to get home on a furlough first. Most of the combat outfits are going that way…. Your son, George.
We are at the last of the letters. Eddie is home or on his way by now. George never had to fight in the Pacific, to his relief and to the relief of all the collective servicemen in the armed forces. The best information I can find shows that George’s unit was inactivated in Virginia on October 9, 1945. So it does look like he made it home to his family and into the arms of his wife Lola for Christmas. So it looks like Lola finally got her wish that she expressed to George in a letter dated May 7, 1943.
I love you and miss you so, that’s old news to you now. Take care of yourself, Hon. If you only were here so we could talk together. I’ll be so glad when I can see you again. Goodnight Hon. All my love, kisses your loving wife.
When I first bought these letters I did what most of us do in our own family genealogy. With the help of my granddaughter, we read each letter wrote down the names given and tried to see how they were all related. Then I checked Ancestory.com to see if anyone was researching this family line. Also, we were able to get many family records from ancestory.com. We obtain United States census records for the family. I also got a copy of the passenger list for Baptist and his family when they left Germany in 1900 to come to America. I have also Baptist’s passport application that shows he became a U.S. citizen in 1906. World War Two army enlistment papers for George and Edward also were found. I also found the Social Security Death Index for members of the family. A Google search also turned up where many members of the family were buried. I was unable to find very much information in newspapers that were digitized in the area. I could not find any detailed obituaries and for most of the family none at all.
So Nicole my granddaughter and myself went to Herkimer the Endre’s hometown to see if we could discover any new items for our research. Our first stop was at the public library, which proved to be a great help. The staff was so helpful and seemed to care that we find what we were looking for. For anyone doing genealogy research, I always advise to make a trip to the local library of the area you are researching. If a trip is out of the question then use the phone and tell them what you are looking for. Herkimer’s library had a small room that they keep their genealogy records in. As a result, we were able to obtain full and detailed obituaries for most of the family. Everyone should make an effort to support their local libraries as much as possible.
We learn that Lola and George were married for 49 years before the were separated by George’s death in 1991. They had two daughters. George continued to teach and was very active in school events. He also worked with the Boy Scouts and taught hunter training classes. Lola passed away in 1999.
Edward married Beatrice in June 1945. They must have gotten married as soon as Eddie was out of the army. Bea was to work as a surrogate’s clerk at the Herkimer County Court until 1976 when she retired. Eddie was to work at Remington Arms for 37 years, retiring in 1978. He was an avid fisherman and member of the Ilion Fish and Game club.
However, the best news was that through my efforts in contacting people who were researching this family I was contacted by a cousin. He put me in touch with Lola and George’s daughters. They had no idea about the letters, and it all was a surprise to them. They wrote to me in part.
My dad was a teacher, first teaching in a 1 room school house north of Utica, then over 30 years at Owen D. Young School , in Van Hornesville. During the summers he loved to fish along the creek behind our house, walk up the hills surrounding the town and pick wild strawberries, wild raspberries, and wild black berries and share them with the neighbors. He was a boy scout leader and so appreciated by the community and his students. My mom was kind and gentle, raising my sister and I with love and caring… Again, finding these letter after 70 years is extraordinary! Wish we could write a book, to let people know that surprises can happen when you least expect it……and can bring happiness, in learning more about the lives of their parents through letters lost until now.
We are to meet soon, and the letters will be returned. They will reimburse me my cost in buying the letters. I now wish that I had bid until I won that auction for that second lot of letters. However, in my defense I had no way of knowing what a happy ending this would be.