Wayne’s journal remains without entry.In Belgium, Bonnie’s brother, Ernest McDowell Gibbons, dies of wounds received on January 3. When he was wounded, he was serving in Company G, 41st Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division.1
Wayne and Verne’s youngest brother, Pvt. Harry N. Gray, is also engaged in combat in the Battle of the Bulge. He arrived from the U.S. in early January and was quickly thrust into combat.
In England, Verne wrote in his diary . . .
Kept busy today washing. Had clothing check on our flying clothes. Wrote long letter to Aileen. Took a bath tonight.2 Sure has been cold these past few days. Has been snowing quite hard but it really does look swell. Time sure does drag along while not flying. We weren’t on the flight payroll today but on checking up they promised to make up a special for us and we will be paid during the next couple of days. Sure be glad when this mess is over and I can get home to Aileen, Allen and the new addition coming.
Notes & Commentary
1 Bonnie’s brother, Ernest McDowell Gibbons died in Belgium on 10 January 1945 of wounds suffered in combat. He served as a private in the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Armored Division during the Battle of the Bulge. During the Battle of the Bulge, 2nd Armored Division, nicknamed “Hell On Wheels”, fought in eastern Belgium, blunting the German Fifth Panzer Army’s penetration of American lines. The Division, part of Patton’s Third Army, helped reduce the Bulge in January, fighting in the Ardennes forest in deep snow and freezing winter conditions.
In December 1944, the German Army launched a powerful counterattack in the Ardennes through Belgium and created a ”bulge” in the American lines. 2nd Armored Division moved rapidly to reach the area of the furthest German advance. Here, near Celles, Belgium the 41st Infantry led the attack as 2nd Armored Division broke the nose of the entire German offensive. No German forces advanced westward. 2nd Armored Division then shifted to the east and attacked with the 41st leading the way. The 41st Infantry entered Houffalize, Belgium on 16 January 1945 and linked up with the elements of Patton’s Third Army.”
2 Bathing and washing facilities were located in buildings at some distance from their quarters.