Letter #1 of 2
Letter from Cpt. Ralph Hubbard
Appeared in the Day Spring
(Editors Note: A letter from Captain Ralph Hubbard, serving with the
infantry in Italy, was received this week by his parents, Mr. and Mrs.
Ralph Hubbard, Hartford. The Hartford serviceman describes the
entrance of American troops into Rome, the retreat of the German armies,
and the subsequent four-day pass, which he spent in Rome)
Hartford Soldier Writes of Entrance into Rome
"After having such rotten mail service for weeks–ever since we
drove out of the beachhead, we got a bag full today, and I really fared
swell–so morale is sky high. Will answer your letters first, then
tell you about my four-day pass in Rome. Got a big kick out of your
letter of the 6th–who knows, maybe you are in Rome tonight–you’ll never
make another guess any closer, believe me.
was the former beachhead troops that poured into Rome and then hot on the
‘krauts’ heels. The French have received a lot of publicity, and the
British take a lot of credit, but oh, man, when the Americans turned it on
in the big push here, the Germans in Italy regretted, I am sure, ever
tangling with the Yanks.
an American divisions who drove up the coast to contact the beachhead
forces, and it was Americans who sat and waited, taking a pounding day and
night in the beachhead, and then suddenly let ‘er go–and, plainly
speaking, knocked hell out of them until we got them well north of
Rome–when the well-earned rest came our way. It gives one great
satisfaction after such a long period of inactivity and defensive
such a devastating, crushing drive, that hundreds of dead Germans–really
thousands I guess-littered the roadsides and the gulleys and gun positions
they had defended–so rapidly was it necessary for those still alive to
leave they could neither evacuate or bury their dead. Hundreds and
thousands of trucks littered the road on both sides–shot up and
burned–the most of them caught on the roads by the air corps in their
attempt to pull out. The air corps did a marvelous job.
"It was a
wonderful satisfaction too, to see the many, many guns deserted by their
cannoneers in haste to get out–the same guns that put us thru hell in
Anzio. None of our artillery ever fired a round into Rome–for the
simple reason the Jerries had to withdraw so fast they could not stop to
put up a fight–except a few snipers, etc. So you heard the Germans
blew up the electric and water plants in Rome–well perhaps. They
did disable them temporarily, but in just a few days they had running
water and electricity–there are practically no signs of war in the city.
The only reminders (besides all the soldiers there) are the freight yards
in the outskirts, where bombers accurately knocked the devil out of the
yards–you get a 100 yards away from there and you’d never know anything
had ever happened. It is a wonderful tribute to our air forces.
a beautiful city–it’s impossible to compare dirty, backward Naples with
the beauty of Rome. It’s hard to believe you are not in a city in
the states–wide streets–just as clean as can be–modern buildings (but
no Tribune tower or Empire State building)–and it’s just as complicated
to get around in for me as Detroit always was. The city is full of
prazzar–circles with statutes in the middle and streets running every which
way in wagon-wheel fashion–no system to it–doubt if there are two
streets running parallel. I still get lost in the place. I
hardly dared go a block from the hotel for fear of never finding my way
"It was a
wonderful four days and nights I spend in Rome. Stayed in the Excelsior
Hotel, which has been taken over by the fifth army as a rest center for
officers. The meals were wonderful. . . . . even had steak.
French fries, ice cream, green vegetables–all that and heaven, too. .
.The high spot of the stay, tho, was seeing "This is the Army’–it was
rushed to Rome–after it had been taken–the show put on in the king’s
opera house–a very beautiful place, just like the opera houses you see in
the movies–sort of horseshoe affair with five tiers of boxes
running completely around the building. The boxes were reserved for
officers–so a guy felt real important sitting in a box–meant for dukes
or counts or something. The show was wonderful. Of course, all
the cast is of the original that started in New York a couple of years ago
. . . .To top even that off, had dinner with Irving Berlin the day the
show opened. I had just happened to meet his public relations
officer, who, with Berlin-stayed at our hotel . . . .
St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Vatican–walked all the way up in the
cupola–the dome on top the cathedral–it’s a wonderful sight–saw the
Coliseum and many other antiquated spots and ruins–and many statues and
monuments. It was really an experience. . . . .
really have gotten a swell rest–and in wonderful places."
Letter #2 of 2
Letter from Cpt. Ralph Hubbard
Appeared in the Day Spring (?)
March 30, 1945
bright, spring like afternoon finds me with a brief interval which I’m
devoting to a little letter-writing. Many times in the past months
I’ve thought about sitting down and trying to do justice to a letter to
you, especially after reading much correspondence from Greg Cummings,
the Kelleys’, Bob Conolly, Larry Olds, Paul Richter, and many others of
the old gang serving overseas through the medium of your column. I’ve
appreciated so much word of my old friends in clippings from the paper
which come from home.
You’ve heard about India, China, Ireland,
England, and the Sough Seas, so will give you a picture of us here at
the beachhead. Southern Italy has been a big disappointment to us,
because of the antiquity and backwardness of the way of life of these
people, so we got the surprise of our army careers when we landed up
here and rolled through Anzio and Nettuno, finding them modernized to
the Nth degree and practically untouched by the war’s progress. In
recent months, though, the effects of the battle can really be seen in
the resort towns.
However, as you drive out of the towns once
again, you are whisked back several hundred years in civilization,
finding the farming populace living in thatched huts (this very
different from only stone buildings in the more southern sector) and using
crude instruments in their farming and home tasks. Electricity,
running water, and sanitary elements can only be dreamed of by these
Even over here the radio is one of the biggest
morale factors for us. We have a portable in our C.P. An AEF
station in Naples daily re-broadcasts all the favorite programs we
remember so well. So in between missions, the men get a chance to
hear Harry James, Bob Hope or some of the others. You have to be
away from the states for many months to realize how much you can appreciate
a little real American music.
We also have a ‘vic’ with some well worn
records which we air at times. We have an ample supply of athletic
equipment, so we get out and play catch or kick a football around during
lulls in our firing. Many a time a visit from enemy bombers has
broken up a recreation period.
Of course, even with all this, there is a war
going on over here and how well we know it; nor will we forget it very
soon. It’s too bad that there still seems to be too many back there that
aren’t fully conscious of what’s going on over here. Might serve
to end this much sooner and prevent a recurrence. Well, thanks for
staying through this tirade with me.
As ever, Ralph Hubbard