|Top card from Dominic Rizzo,
Maint. Bn card from Jim MacClay, Web Staff.
Gen. Rose letter from Chris Brous, 3AD 1941-45.
The Christmas That Wasn't
(Thanks to a surprise from Herr Hitler)
See story below.
By September, 1944, the 3rd Armored Division was inside
Germany, and from October to December a kind of stalemate existed,
in terms of any advancement east of Stolberg. Sometime, probably
in November, someone got the idea to have custom Christmas cards
printed to send back home. And what would be more proper and,
yes, boastful, than to include "from Germany" in the
wording. Exactly where these cards were printed is now unknown,
but likely it was at one or more civilian print shops in eastern
Belgium and/or in Germany west of Stolberg. Time was of the essence,
because cards sent to the States had to clear the censor and
had to be in the mail at least 40 days prior to December 25.
And so off they went, thousands of Spearhead cards for the folks
back home. The most popular card is shown above at top. Inside,
it read "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year." Several
units had their own cards printed, such as the Division Maintenance
Battalion (see above), which depicted a disabled Sherman tank,
probably much to Gen. Rose's dismay.
On December 14, the stalemate was continuing, but Spearhead
top brass knew that it was only a matter of weeks before the
Division would begin a new offensive eastward and further into
Germany. Gen. Rose chose December 14 to send an early Christmas
message to his troops (see below). But on December 16, all was
to change, as Germany stunned the Allies with the start of a
westward counter-offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge.
The 3rd Armored Division would be jolted into furious activity,
as it was ordered to be on the road on December 18 to return
to eastern Belgium to assist in containing and beating back the
German advance. There would be no Christmas, no brief "holiday
season," in Germany after all. A cold, bitter, and wearisome
campaign lay ahead in Belgium, but ultimately the Germans would
be completely overwhelmed. The Division would not rumble back
into Germany until early February, 1945. Fierce and costly battles
lay ahead, but the Allied victory in Europe would come in May.
And Spearhead would be cheated out of still another Christmas
in Germany. Talk about misfortune.
Gen. Rose's Christmas Message to His Troops
December 14, 1944
See readable text further below.
(Letter contributed by Chris Brous, 3AD 1941-45.)
Gen. Rose's Christmas Message:
(We have underlined one particular sentence.)
HEADQUARTERS THIRD ARMORED DIVISION
Office of the Commanding General
14 December 1944.
TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE THIRD ARMORED (SPEARHEAD) DIVISION:
The members of my staff and I extend to each individual of
this Division and to their loved ones at home, our sincere good
wishes for a Merry Christinas and a very Happy New Year.
The successful operation of this Division from the beaches
of Normandy to ths banks of the Roer in Germany has been made
possible only by your devotion to duty, self sacrifice, and adherence
to the high ideals and standards that we have set for ourselves.
Please transmit to your loved ones at home my personal
good wishes for the coming holidays, and my sincere hope that
next Christmas will find all of us reunited with those we left
at home, when the achievements of the Spearhead Division will
be the subject of proud conversation rather than a basis for
future planning. It will then be with a feeling of satisfaction
that we will know that we have done our part to restore "peace
on earth and good will to men."
Major General, U.S. Arny,