S/SGT. BILL BALLARD WRITES OF BUSY DAYS BACK UP ON THE FRONT LINE OF BATTLE

from the Birmingham (MI) Eccentric

February 14, 1945 Somewhere in Germany

Dear Dad and Mom,

As usual there's no news so this will be brief. The news broadcast last night stated that Budapest has fallen at a big loss to the Germans.

Well, Dad, I've been doing a little patrolling in "no man's land". Boy, when you go walking around where you don't think you belong, it sure gives you the willies. It reminds me of the first time I climbed in the ring, I got the same feeling. You feel like you'd just as soon climb back out again, but you just keep on going. It really hasn't been bad. Can you imagine the feeling a man gets when he walks in a town with only six men, and you expect to see rifles and Krauts' heads come popping out of every window?

As you walk along you wonder how many of the boys you have with you will stick if you run into something, so you look back at their faces and your eyes drop to their trigger fingers and you can tell by the tautness of their hands on their rifles they're ready, they'll stick.

When you enter the town, the silence scares hell out of you. You think to yourself if there's nothing here, why go in an make sure? Your start to tiptoe in, in broad daylight. You're now in town and you can feel that there's a thousand pairs of eyes watching you from a hundred different directions, but nothing happens; so you tiptoe further in; it's still deathly silent; all of a sudden, bang! You stop dead in your tracks and try to listen and figure what that noise was, but your heart is beating so hard you can't hear what you're listening for.

You look back at those boys you were so worried about; they're still with you, they've got a grimmer look on their faces and your eyes drop to their trigger fingers again; you wonder why those rifles don't start barking, they're holding them so tight now.

You knew that noise you heard wasn't a rifle shot, you've heard enough of them by now that you can't be fooled on that, but you do know you heard something.

Now you hear someone walking up behind you and give a sharp glance back; one of your boys walking up says, "that was just a shutter blown shut by the wind."

You continue on and pick up all the information you can . Finally you've completed your mission and start back just as tense and cautious as you came. After you get back to your own lines and report to your C.O., you take another look at your boys and they're looking at you and your eyes meet and you smile a little silly grin at one another.

The C.O. says, "You did a good job men." This makes you feel a little better than if he hadn't said it, but you know you've done a good job, becuase you've got your information and you're back. I guess that's enough for now.

Lots of love, I'm your devoted son, Bill