Letter - Chaplain Marken to Hartle, 1944
HEADQUARTERS 4th INFANTRY DIVISION
Office of the Division Chaplain
APO-54 c/o PM, New York, N. Y.
1 January 1944
Maj. Gen. Russell P. Hartle
My dear General Hartle:
Two years ago today you gave me permission to attend the Sugar Bowl football game at New Orleans. It was appreciated very much under the circumstances. We were all in a stir about leaving, and I had four or five tickets that I wanted to dispose of and couldn't do it around Division Headquarters because no one could attend. When you heard about it, you gave me the green light to go ahead. A year ago today we were on the sea approaching the rock of Gibraltar, and today we find ourselves in Italy experiencing rain, wind, and snow, and plenty of mud. Yesterday Colonel Hendrickson and I were reminiscing concerning by-gone days, and we both decided that we would write you a letter. We often talk about you and the good old days. It doesn't seem right that you were taken away from this theater of operations when you blazed the trail for others to follow, but such is war. I trust the time will soon come when we can all return to our loved ones. If you ever get within gunshot of Des Moines remember the latchstring at the Marken home always hangs out for you and yours.
No doubt you have read in the press about the tough time we are encountering with the stubborn resistance of the enemy. He is entrenched so firmly in solid rock barricades that it requires the doughboy to literally go up and get them out, in many instances requiring hand-to-hand fighting. We have found gun emplacements and foxholes hewn out of the solid rock. The Germans force the Italians to do this labor for them. We have also found pillboxes with the apertures so narrow a hand grenade cannot be put through them. In addition to the rugged terrain we are living under miserable conditions due to the inclement weather. Our unit was in the lines for 76 days without any relief, but we got a break at Christmas time for a little over two weeks. This afforded us the opportunity to take some hot shower baths, to see some movies, and to sort of cheer ourselves up. No doubt you have heard that Ray Fountain was forced to give up his command because of his age. He went for a period of 74 hours with only two hours sleep. General Caffee left us last week as no longer fit for combat, because of his feet. Colonel Butler is now with us at Division Headquarters. We like General Byder very much and he is a real field soldier. Of course you may well know that Colonel Hendrickson is always on the job and in my estimation cannot be beat in the position that he occupies.
It will soon be two years since we landed on the Emerald Isle. Somehow I feel confident that we will succeed in drawing this thing to a close in this theater this year. We certainly are much farther advanced than we were a year ago at this time. For an old man, I seem to keep pretty well. Out of the original group of chaplains that we started with, there is only one left beside myself. It was with deep regret that we lost Chaplain Hoffman, whom you will remember. He had his foot blown off as a result of stepping on an S-mine. It was necessary to perform two amputations on his leg, and for a while we thought he was going to die, but he pulled through and soon will be on his way back to the States. The tragedy is all the greater in that the whole thing was caused by his picking up a dead German soldier. We have had one chaplain killed, and two others captured-
Here's hoping that this finds you and Mrs. Hartle well, and that our paths will meet again in the not too far distant future. Wishing for you the very best for the new year, I remain,
Most sincerely your friend,
Chaplain DeLoss Marken
Washington County Free Library
Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library
United States. Army, Biography; World War, 1939-1945, United States; Hartle, Russell P.