Director: Feel free to edit the letters read as you prefer.  If your favorite letter written by Alan is not included in this script, then you may, of course.  add it to the performance. On the other hand, you may omit some material if desired. You can taylor the information to what is appropriate in your community. Please credit both the book, ALAN’S LETTERS, and the author, NANCY RIAL, for your production, and let the author know how it all turned out!




SUMMARY:


TIME:  Summer and fall of 1944, D-Day took place June 6, on the northern coast of Normandy, France, Lt, Gen George S. Patton spent June and July near Calais, heading a “phantom” Army. Once the beachheads were secure, Patton was given the go-ahead to take his THIRD ARMY, across France. One of the soldiers to go with Patton was Private Alan Lowell, a typical infantry man, who had trained stateside, and was not reluctant to see action. He arrived in England after a lengthy 14 months training, expecting to be a jeep driver.


CHARACTERS:


Mother:

Ruth:

Alan:

Grandpa:


NARRATOR 1:

NARRATOR 2:

    or

NARRATORS:  A different student could read each narration. Simply have students use     a stationary narrator post (like a tall stool, or desk) and rotate the speakers.


SOLDIER 1:

SOLDIER 2:

SOLDIER 3: 

    Assign 3 or 6 soldiers, or rotate as many students as you have

AASOLDIER: Historically, these were positions  filled by African American soldiers; However, the director may cast any characters both racially and gender blind.


SETTING 1:  Modest 1940’s  American kitchen

    To be used for family members: Mother, Ruth (sister), and Grandpa

    Minimal pieces: 1940’s table, chairs, floor lamp, ironing board, apron 


SETTING 2:  Huge map of Europe, with Fance in center, showing path of 5th Infantry     Division.

           To be used for Narrators, Alan

    Minimal pieces: the huge map (use a bed sheet or projector);

    Could also use the KMZ Google Map from “ALAN’S LETTERS” website for     background. (If you have a technician, the path of the 5th Infantry Division could     follow the spoken ACT’s).


SETTING  ALAN: Army backpack for Alan to lean on. (Could start with pup tent for first reading, but discard for later readings.)




                    ACT ONE   HOME


TIME: December, 1944

SETTING:  Modest Kitchen. Mother ironing at standing ironing board; (wears sweater, even working; house is cold)


Distant doorbell rings; RUTH enters with mail. Gives her mother a letter.


RUTH: “There’s a letter from Alan in today’s mail”


MOTHER: (startled) How could there be?


RUTH: (softly) You know, he wrote it before...it takes so long for the mail to come.


MOTHER: No reply. (continues ironing)


RUTH: I’ll just leave it here for you to read later.  (puts it on the kitchen table)

                                                             

                                                             ******


MOTHER: Takes up letter from table; Reads aloud slowly, sadly:

      Letter from Nov 5:  First paragraph ONLY:


    Dear Mom,

         I guess I’ve kind of slipped up on my writing, Mom, but I’m still okay. (Pause)

     I haven’t gotten any mail for about a week and should be getting some soon. I’m also looking forward to any packages that might come my way...”




TRANSITION: Time:  JULY 1944

SETTING: same as above;  Change lighting to more upbeat mood.

MOTHER changes apron. (no sweater)


MOTHER:  (Reads eagerly, sits down to read)  Letter on page 27, from France.





                     ACT II     AUGUST 1944


NARRATOR 1: On the first of August, the 10th Infantry Regiment was at bivouac, resting and cleaning up from  their first battle at HILL 183, just south of the D-Day landings. The 10th Infantry Regiment made up one third of the 5th Infantry Division, which was now part of the newly re-created Third Army, led by Lt. Gen. George S. Patton. The soldiers started on an arc that would sweep below Paris, then east across the mainland to the border of Germany.


SOLDIER:  Some days we caught rides, even on a food truck; some days we     double-timed on foot to the next battle.


NARRATOR 2:  The 10th Regiment became the first Americans to get out of Normandy  and chip away at the German foothold in Brittany, by liberating the city of Avranches. On the 6th of August, these soldiers were the first to experience joyful French citizens.


SOLDIER: We especially liked the French ladies giving welcome to us yanks. Got us a     few gifts- some bottles, kisses, even a couple of eggs!



SETTING: Kitchen in warm weather

MOTHER: Reads Letter (page 31, August 6) to Grandpa


SETTING: Field; Alan is dirty; rests on backpack

ALAN: (Writes and reads letter (Wed, August 16, page 31) with energy

                        ...



                  


             ACT III   PROGRESS



NARRATOR: The last half of August  secured the reputation of “the 5th”, (as the Red Diamond’s Second, Tenth, & Eleventh Regiments were called,)  They were Patton’s fastest Infantry division; always showing up first- further and further west- driving the German’s back to their border. 700 miles were covered in 27 days of August.


NARRATOR: During this remarkably fast crossing, battles were fought each day, around each corner. Battles deemed too small to be put in the history books, but battles too deadly to forget.


AA SOLDIERS: We ran the Red Ball Express; the infantry relied on us to deliver!

AA SOLDIER: Over 12 tons of supplies a day

AA SOLDIER: GAS!

AA SOLDIER: Food!

AA SOLDIER: Supplies like boots

AA SOLDIER: And the soldiers best friend-MAIL!



SOLDIER: 1: Alan celebrated his 21st birthday in the “Foret (For-ray) de Fontainebleau.”     How swell was that being in a fancy park south of Pa-reee  for his big day?


SOLDIER 2: Yeah, how swell were those fancy K-rations we had for a picnic?


SOLDIER 3: Don’t forget the fireworks we saw when the artillery moved in to get us out of that trap we were ordered to march into at “Belle Sauve”. That sure was a  beautiful rescue.


SOLDIER 4 (or 1): That was nothin’ compared to the party games we played at  Montereau: seeing who could double time across the (Loing) River on a 12” wide     plank without falling in, or stumbling so the guys behind you don’t pile up.


SOLDIER 5 (or 2): Better walking that plank than getting in those overloaded boats and  drowning. After that happened, we still had to march 21 miles in the rain before     lightening struck 2 of our guys, and we finally found some shelter.


SOLDIER 6 (or 3): Was that the night we were bedding down, someone thought to look over the stone wall- and there were 28 Germans -all together, sleeping  with their ammo? (He makes machine gun noise).



SETTING: Kitchen

RUTH: Reads Letter ( pg. 34) to Mother, Grandpa, with humor




               

                  

                 ACT IV    SEPTEMBER 1944


NARRATOR 1: At the First of September, the exhausted men of the 5th Infantry Division were bivauced in Verdun, France, able to rest for the first time since they left the coast at Utah Beach. They camped at the famous World War I American monument and cemetery, where the ever constant rain alternated with German strafing runs.


NARRATOR 2: They were waiting for supplies- they had no gas for their trucks. Some soldiers liked the rest; some guys even got to take a hot shower-their first since hitting the French beaches last July!


NARRATOR 3: But some resented that the gas had been re-directed up north to another outfit. While the men stayed in place, the Germans had time to fall back and reinforce their own lines, which was going to make the upcoming months that much more brutal- and deadly- for the foot soldier.


NARRATOR  4: On September 7, gas was replenished and the Fifth Division was ordered to cross the swollen Moselle River in eastern France as a prelude to an assault on the fortress city of Metz. (Quiet voice) On moonrise of September 10, the soldiers quietly walked 20 miles through small villages to the riverbanks,


NARRATOR 5:  The plan was good; attack at night, and use a smokescreen.. They crossed the wide Moselle River is assault boats under camouflage of smoke, then went into the mountains on the far side of the river to fight for 6 days to keep the crossing open.


AA SOLDIER: I worked with the engineers.


AA SOLDIER: I set up the giant smoke screens that camouflaged the boats. This was the first we used them- and they worked!


AA SOLDIER: The Germans never saw us coming.


AA SOLDIER: I wanted to be a rifleman, but our turn was coming soon- Patton was behind us!


SOLDIER: There were more than 2,000 of us there, but it was absolutely silent walking through the village streets, down to the wide, wide river.

.

SOLDIER: It was so dark, I didn’t know where I was going. I just followed the man in front of me. (pause)


SOLDIER: It rained for three straight days; there was no air cover, no one to help.


SOLDIER: Gave us three days of rations; tasted like dog biscuits. That and a canteen were what we were living on.


SOLDIER: Tree bursts happened every four square feet. It was impossible to get dry; the foxholes were like a bowl of soup.


SOLDIER: The fog was so thick, we couldn’t see; we set up our front line within  150’ of the Germans; we could hear “Heil, Hitler” shouted after orders.


SOLDIER: Yeah, it was close. Don’t let anyone tell you that hand-to-hand combat didn’t happen in WWII. We used those bayonets.


NARRATOR: Despite almost 700 men being missing, wounded or killed, the 10th Infantry Regiment held onto the piece of river until a bridge was built, and trucks and heavy equipment could support the troops on the other side.


NARRATOR: After 6 days, a few men at a time were sent back from their foxholes for 24 hours of relief. In this safety zone, the soldier could expect to have a shower, receive a new uniform and equipment, and get a hot meal.


NARRATOR: If the soldier was lucky, he might be given some whiskey, or be able to see a movie. If he could get his nerves under control, he might  write a letter home.


ALAN: Reads letter page 41, dated Sept 19th..first two paragraphs.


RUTH: (Taking letter out of Mother’s hand, continues reading same letter) last two paragraphs.

               


               


                ACT V   POURNOY-LA-CHETIVE



NARRATOR: The month of September was long for the foot soldier. There was no rest for the weary men of E, F & G Company, 10th Regiment. The soldiers were given the orders to occupy the small village of Pournoy-la-Chetive, located east of the Moselle, and to cut the railroad lines going into Germany.


NARRATOR: The village was small; of little consequence. Only three rifle companies were sent in. They had backup from the 46th Artillery, who had fought side by side E Company since Normandy. They were given a fresh, new commander direct from school in the States. All seemed well.


NARRATOR 3: The new commanders had studied war at school. He ordered the men to walk across open farmland, at 11:00 am on a clear day. The 10th Infantry had a reputation for using “marching fire” against ground troops, but these soldiers were known to be surrounded on three sides by an enemy using heavy artillery and mortars.


ARTILLERY MAN: ” The fellows of E Co. covered us as we set up our artillery. Then we covered them as they walked at that steady pace into the town, swinging their guns from side to side, shooting from the hip.”


SOLDIER: “We were shelled only once. It started and did not stop for three days”.


SOLDIER: “I watched the battle from a nearby town; Pournoy looked like the Fourth of July”.


SOLDIER: Half of us were left when dawn broke the next morning;-then we were attacked by about the strength of a regiment”’


SOLDIER: This fight was tough. Close up and personal, Hand to hand combat.


SOLDIER: By the third day, the civilians trapped in their basements turned against us. The town had been destroyed. After the war, Michelin erased this village from their maps.


NARRATOR 4: The  commander sent a note to headquarters. It read, “I find it virtually impossible to keep the men awake, they have had no sleep or food for three days- some plan of relief is needed. Enemy is still active”.


NARRATOR 5: It was good for the commander that the action lasted three days. He needs to have three days of battlefield command in order to get any promotions back home later.


NARRATOR 6: “Out of the 800 men who walked in, only 350 walked out”.


ALAN: Reads letter on pg. 44;  Date, address, and first two paragraphs.


MOTHER: continues reading rest of letter


RUTH: It doesn’t say much, does it?. I wonder what he’s been doing.




               

                ACT VII     OCTOBER LULL


NARRATOR: The 5th Division patrolled on the west and south of Metz-a French city on the German border which was coveted by Patton for it’s railroad connections and the challenge of it’s impenetrable Fort Driant. Historically, it is said that October was a “lull”- because Patton could not keep moving his men forward. There was however, plenty of daily action.


NARRATOR: There was so much attrition, many soldiers moved up in the ranks: Alan was made a sergeant, and had his own squad of green recruits to train.


NARRATOR: The freshly arrived 95th Division replaced the experienced 5th Division, foxhole by foxhole so the tired veterans could move back into France a get their nerves settled.  Alan wrote the most letters to his family that month.


ALAN:  Dear Mom,...


MOTHER: I’m sorry my last letter wasn’t longer... First sentence, second paragraph, letter pg. 46


ALAN: Dear Grandpa...


GRANDPA; “I’m writing this inside of a bunker... 3rd and 4th paragraphs, pg 47


ALAN: Dear Mom...read first sentence about V mail (Oct 7 letter, pg 48)


MOTHER:   Read third paragraph of above letter.


ALAN: Dear Ruth, I sure wish I could get back to the States and get one of those 3 day  passes.. (second paragraph, letter Oct 3, pg. 48)


RUTH: Read paragraphs 1, and  3 of above letter


SOLDIER: Dear MOM...


SOLDIER: Maybe it won’t be a long time now when I can come home...


SOLDIER: I’ve been made a sergeant ...


SOLDIER: I sure hope I get some packages soon. All I want is something good to eat. It seems a fellow craves more sweets here for some reason.


SOLDIER: I’ve heard a good rumor today but until it is confirmed, I shan’t repeat it.


SOLDIER: I have been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, which is a 10 dollar raise a month.


SOLDIER: It’s been getting a little cold over here.


SOLDIER: I don’t need anything for Christmas. But I would like a box made up of cookies, fudge, and anything good to eat.



          


                     ACT VIII   BATTLE OF METZ


NARRATOR: On the first of November, the 5th Division was back on the front lines camping east of the Moselle River.


NARRATOR: They were camping again in the rain, in one of the coldest, wettest years of the century.


NARRATOR: The whole Metz area was tense as they awaited the signal to Patton’s new attack on Metz, a city which defied capture.


SOLDIER: We spent the rainy night of November 8 under light artillery fire, patrolling, and waiting.


SOLDIER: The new guys were getting their nerves tested-listening to the night noises, wondering how they’d react under fire for the first time,


SOLDIER: The brook we were supposed to cross was swollen to 200 ft; none of the engineer’s bridges could get us across.


SOLDIER: We were wet; we checked, and re-checked our equipment; would we get a chance to use it?


NARRATOR 5: Correspondence to Alan’s family described the next day like this: During the 9th and 10th of November, 1944, Co E, 10th Regiment crossed the Sielle River.  Sgt. Lowell, squad leader with his squad, composed a part of the forward     element in the advance on the far side of the river.


NARRATOR 6: The sergeant had just completed the mission of taking the high ground, and was digging in under heavy shelling, when he was struck by fragments from the shelling and killed.”


ALAN: Reads second and third paragraph, through “I keep pretty busy most of the time... (letter of Nov 5, pg 57)


MOTHER: Continues reading rest of above letter, staring with “I keep pretty busy.....


ALL SOLDIERS: One by one, join Mother, after reading  “I keep pretty busy...”. One new voice should begin with each new sentence., and continue as possible  (if reading is clear for audience to hear).


RUTH: I wonder if there’ll be another letter...


                                                             THE END