Letters Home From WWI

Emmetsburg Democrat
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Jan 3, 1917

Wm. Muir Writes Interesting Letter to His Cousin, John McCoy

El Paso, Tex.
Dec. 16, 1916

Dear Cousin:
It has been quite a while, since I have heard from you, but nevertheless I
am going to tell you an interesting story of some of my experiences in army

Of course you know we were mobilized at the rifle range near Denver, Colo.
Well, we put in three months of preparatory drill before we received orders
to leave for the border. The order caused much excitement. It only took us
two days to pack and by Sept. 30 we were already except to load on our
horses. This took us all day and at 12 p.m. we were comfortably seated in
Pullmans. Our train was made up of eighteen horse and box cars and several
Pullmans including the baggage car, which we used for cooking purposes.

We came by way of Pueblo, Colo., and Albuquerque, New Mexico, on the Santa
Fe road. We arrived at Deming, New Mexico, Oct. 3 and were surprised at the
sight of so many soldiers who met us at the depot. But they were all doe
(infantry) boys and looked on with great delight as we unloaded our horses
and big guns. The people of Deming were also pleased for they knew that
their city would be protected while our guns were there.

Upon being shown the camp grounds we were again surprised at the sight of
the cactus and sand. All this had to be removed before we could pitch our
tents. Well, we got an early start and finished before dark. But very few of
us slept that night, as there were so many insects and tarantulas running in
and around the tent and some were even found in the cots. However, no one
was bitten that night.

The next morning we prepared to fix up a cook and mess hall. It was
completed in a few days. Then we started in to drill and found that we could
not use our  horses as the sand was so deep. Instead, we took hikes of one
day's duration, and on Oct 26 we took a three days' hike to Ft. Cummings, an
old deserted place which saw service in the Indian uprising of 1880-1884.
And, by the way, the fort and soldiers that were garrisoned there were
commanded by the father of the major now in command over us, Major F.W.

We arrived at the fort at 5:30 p.m., making 22 miles over the rougest road
we ever traveled. All that was left was the walls of a few adobe houses,
used for officers' quarters at that time. These abodes are houses which the
Mexicans built. They used mud bricks in making them.

The next morning we started back towards the mountains ten miles or so for
target practice with service ammunition. Returning that afternoon to the
fort, we had to double quick most of the way. It was the wildest ride anyone
ever had over such mountainous roads.

The next morning we broke camp and prepared for our return to Deming. We
took a different road and it beinglong, we did not reach camp until 6
o'clock that evening. We did not have a mishap, and covered 26 miles.
Awaiting our return was an order for us to move immediately to El Paso,

We were all up and at it, next morning at 5 o'clock and had our camp down
and ready to ship at 2 p.m. We shipped our tenatage and such things as we
could not carry on our gun carriages. We pulled out of Deming that evening,
making 9 miles before we pitched camp for the night. The next day we made 18
miles and Tuesday we made 25 miles, while every day it was getting worse and
the sand deeper, the sun hotter, and the water poorer. Wednesday we were
ordered to take all the water possible as we could not get any that day
until evening. We found a water hole about noon but the water wasn't fit for
the men. We watered our horses and moved on. That night at a ranch, we found
water but it wasn't very good. The next day we had 22 miles of the hardest
road to travel and we pulled into camp that night, with our horses in fair
shape. We stopped at the "Borderland Inn" on the Rio Grande river.

We swam our horses there nad we also had to swim ourselves. We, as well as
the horses, enjoyed it very much. The next day we had about 12 miles of nice
road to travel into El Paso. Our camp grounds were 8 miles on the other side
of El Paso, and we arrived at 2 p.m. We had finished a record-breaking hike
for artillery, having traveled 165 miles, in 9 days. The officers claim that
artillery has never done that before and be in as good condition as we were
after the trip, and I believe it.

We have been in El Paso long enough to build a cook house and a bath house,
with hot water and a place for our horses.

It has been cold here of late. There is considerable ice where there are
little pools of water. We have one drill every morning. As the other camps
we were in have been regimented with the famous Five Field Artillery of the
U.S. army, we were picked from all the other batteries here (about 25 in
number). As the Five Field Artillery is one of the best in the U.S. service,
it is a great compliment to us to be regimented, and it is a cinch that if
any troops go over into Mexico, the regulars will be sent first and we will
go with the Five Field. The Five Field use 4.7 inch and 6 inch guns and we
have a battery of 4.7 inch stationed on a mountain overlooking Juarez,
Mexico, across the river from El Paso. We have also firing data with the
distance of every bridge and important place in Juarez. These 4.7 inch guns
have a firing distance of 11,000 yards accurate firing. We have a position
marked out for us should we be called to guard the place. We use the three
inch guns with a range of 6, 500 yards. Our station is nearer Juarez than
the larger guns. They also have it arranged so that they can go into action
in 58 seconds and blow Juarez off the map.

Well, I will bring this to an end. I hope it has interested you and all. I
will tell you more about Uncle Sam's Army again some time.

I remain
Your cousin,
Wm. Muir,
1 Sep Bat. 1st F.A. Colo. Bat B
Fort Bliss, Texas.

Emmetsburg Democrat
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, August 7, 1918

Charles Joynt Is at Place Where Charles Mortel Defeated the Saracens in 732
in One of the Decisive Battles of the World.

Tours, France
June 26, 1918

Dear Sister:
How are all the folks at home? I am fine and dandy. I suppose you were
surprised when you found that I had started across. Did you receive the card
I mailed notifying you of the safe arrival of our ship? We had good weather
and a mild sea. I was not a bit sea sick.
This country is much different from the United States. It keeps one busy
looking around. The country is beautiful. We do not see large farms like
those in the United States. The land is divided into patches of perhaps an
acre and every inch of the patch is put to use.
The weather here is very fine. I hope it will continue so.
Do you know where Will Reinders was sent? We are still all together but I
think we shall soon be sent to different places.
I have not seen a frame building since I came to France. The houses and
other buildings here are of stone and cement stucco. The wagons and buggies
have only two wheels. They are drawn by one horse.
I wrote you a letter while on the boat. I hope you received it. Please tell
my friends to write to me. A word from the U.S.A. goes good over here.
I shall close now. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain,
Your loving brother,
Charles A Joynt
Second D.N. Co. F.
S.C. via New York
Care Chief Signal Officer.

Tours is one of the historic cities of France. It contains many
manufacturing establishments and a beautiful cathedral. It is the capital of
Indret-Loire, department of France. It was the site of Charles Mortel's
defeat of the Saracens on October 10, 732. It was the seat of the French
government when Paris was besieged in 1870.

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, October 2, 1918

Mrs. Anderson Hears from Her Husband.
                    Ft. Logan, Colo.
        U.S. Army Hosp, Ward 11
                        Sept. 27, 1918

Dear Wife:
    Belle Mable, how are you feeling by this time? I am feeling quite a bit better than I have been. Now as I have been laying around the Hospital for a month on account of my health I have got rested up and feel some better and expect to go back to my company in a few days. It sure is an awfully easy life when one is in the hospital and in other words it is sure an awfully lonesome life for one that is not used to it, but nevertheless we try and make the best of it. Each and every one of us should bear in mind that our nation is now at war and that we should all realize and do the best we can. We are all fighting for liberty and liberty we shall have. Germany can't take our country away from us. The Huns are commencing to realize what Uncle Sam's boys can do. I never thought that the Arkansans had such poor soil. The soil here is nothing but clay, sand and rocks. It sure is an awful country for rocks, nothing but rocks all over the country. Around camp here there are a number of fences built of rocks, but in other words this is one of the greatest mineral states there is. About a week before I came to the hospital I and Cousin Carl got a pass and we went to Little Rock and went to the State Capitol and we also made a visit in the agricultural room and saw lots of interesting things that have been found in the State of Arkansas. We have been having considerable rain here lately but they say in the fall of the year it does nothing but rain here all the time. I have talked with lots of fellows from their home state here and they tell me there is no place like Arkansas, but it's the good old Iowa for me. As it is getting near supper time I must close, so goodbye. Tell all the folks hello.
            Your husband,
            Clarence H. Anderson.

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, October 9, 1918

Lawrence Anderson Writes Interestingly

    Somewhere in France
            at the front
            September 4, 1918

Dear Mr. Foy:
    Have often thought of writing you a letter so will while the thought is in my mind. We are kept so busy that we do not have much time to think of home but if there is any spare time we all et busy and write letters home.
    [tear in paper] have been at the front now for [tear in paper] time where we see real battles [tear in paper] every day. This morning [tear in paper] an airoplane battle up in the air. It is very interesting to see a battle of this kind. The woods are so thick around here that the planes soon get out of our sight. We didn't see how the fight ended up but I am sure that Fritz got all that was coming to him. Last night the Germans shot us very heavy. Shrapnels falling all around us of course during the bombardment it kept us from getting our sleep. The gas alarm was also given last night. That is when us boys take special pains in getting our masks on in a hurry. We all hate to put them on but they have saved our lives many time for the Germans shoot over gas to us quite often and I have put my mask on in five seconds.
    Mr. Foy I must thank you for sending me the home paper. We have not been getting our mail for about three weeks today. We boys sure get cheered up when mail comes and we hear from home. I got one letter and your paper today. It makes me feel closer to home when I get the Free Press to read and those letters from the soldiers from home there letters being very interesting, but when the boys in camps in the states come over across they sure will have some real experiences to tell about. We boys sure have found out what this war is about after we reached the front. The more these dam Germans shoot at us the more we want to go over the top. We are sure tough nuts we don't care for anything, sleeping out on the ground, living on hard tack and corn beef is common every day.
    I am now working at battallion head quarters taking important messages from place to place. I like this job much better than what I have been doing. The boys that left Ruthven when I did are all in different camps now. My friend Guy Larson is in M company and Fred Clasing in the engineers. Have heard that Lloyd Wigdahl was in 357 infantry but am not sure, haven't been able to see Lloyd since we left Camp Dodge, Guy Larson and I can visit each other quite often. I was to see Guy yesterday and gave him the home paper. He doesn't get it so I always give him mine when I get through reading it. The last paper I got was dated June 8 but never the less how old they are we are sure glad to get it just because it is from home. I understand we are going to get mail  again tomorrow.
    France is beautiful in some places with its flowers and crops. We have to give them credit for their good roads and water all along the roads are trimmed trees and in many places fruit trees and hazel nuts, butter nuts and most every kind of nuts raised in this country.
    I haven't been able to find a house or barn in France that is made of wood. They are all built of rock and concrete. Some of these buildings I have been told are one hundred years old, there barns are not very often separated from the houses. It seems queer to see the oxen teams. I was surprised to see the big loads that they can hold.
    Well my letter is getting quite long so I will close.
    From a soldier at the front doing his bit for his country.
            Your friend,
    Co K 358 Infantry. A.E.F. Via N.Y.

Emmetsburg Democrat
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, October 23, 1918

William Reinders Writes His Parents from Somewhere in France.

Mr. and Mrs. W.P. Reinders have just received the following letter from
their son William, who is on duty on the battle front in France:

Somewhere in France
September, 1918

Dear Folks:-
It has been ten days since I wrote you last but I could not help it. We have
moved a lot since then. I am now in a dugout near the front line in
trenches. Am with several other fellows. We keep up telephone connections
from here. It is now 2:30 in the morning. The other boys are all asleep and
it is my turn to be on duty. I thought it a good time to write. Fritz is
quiet just now and if he stays that way awhile I can finish this letter.

I came in here on my birthday, so if you were wondering back home what I was
doing on that day, I am telling you now. I was anything but enjoying the
celebration that Fritz and Uncle Sam took pains to give me [rest of line
faded]. Fritz gets such a funny notion some times that he delights in seeing
how close he can come to our humble abode with all of the different caliber
guns he has over here.

We do not lack for amusement. Several of the boys had their shirts off today
reading the news from home. I wish I had mine off right now, as I feel one
walking up my back wearing hob nail shoes.

We are all well. We are feeling fine. We get plenty to eat. We eat with the
French, and you can't beat the French cooks. The French soldiers are the
best pals. I think they are the finest kind of fellows. I can "compre" a
whole lot of their lingo already.

Say, but how good some American candy would taste just now. I haven't had
any since leaving home and the French have none at present. I must light a
new candle soon. We are OK so long as we can get candles. I am surely glad I
brought lots of paper with me. It seems foolish always to be carrying such
stuff as paper around on my back from place to place but it comes in mighty
handy down here.

What is going on in the good old U.S.A. any way? Where is my brother now? Is
he still at Camp Dodge?

This is a great life and, as one fellow said, if I ever get out of this,
I'll sign a contract with anybody never to leave the U.S.A. again.

But you don't mind it when you get used to it. It's all a matter of course.
The Americans as a rule, take it quite cool on coming up to the fighting
lines. I was cool, I know, so cool I was shaky. To make matters worse,
"Heine" behaved very badly on the first night I came. I wish we could write
fully. A fellow could write a history down here while working his trick. It
is just like a railway telegraph job, so many on, so many off.

Well, I must close. I hope you are all well and happy. Remember me to all
and especially to J.P.R., Uncle John, Aunt Mamie, etc. Also Rev. J.J.N.
Write often. Love to all.

Your son,
Co. C, 6th Field Sig. B'n.
A.E.F. via New York

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, October 23, 1918

Chester Tripp Writes from Training Camp "Over there."

    Chester Tripp and the rest of the Ruthven boys in the 88th division in France are anxiously waiting for their first turn in the trenches. The following letter was received from Chester the first of the week:
        "Somewhere in France,"
              Sept. 22, 1918
Mr. J.J. Foy.
    Ruthven, Iowa.
Dear Friend:
    Have not written in some time but seeing that I don't find much time [illegible] I have never felt better or [illegible] in my life. Had a sick spell of a few days a short time ago but it did not stay with me long. I have some wonderful things to tell you about when I get back but must be careful what I write until the hen lays down. We are billeted in a small French village where we can study the customs and ways of the French people. The village is depleted of all young men, leaving the old men and women to carry on the work.
    We are training hard every day and waiting anxiously for our inning in the big game up front. Our boys look like regular veterans with their street helmets and skins tanned to a nut brown. And when we finally do land in the trenches I think we can make the Dutch think they are us against seasoned soldiers, for training has ceased to be a thing to be dreaded. When you get over here and view the wrecked villages, and destroyed homes, see thousands of children roaming about, orphans, who only a few years ago were the new babies of happy families, and in fact see nothing but ruin and destruction everywhere, the direct result of greed and brutality, you realize what it all means. You enter into the training with a new spirit. You no longer get tired or disgusted. You drill in heat, rain and mud and are always anxious for more, for each man that goes up front has a man sized job to perform, and in order to "get away with it" as we say in the states, a man must be perfect in every detail of the game.
    I received several letters from Ruthven yesterday, the first that I have received since landing here, and they surely were appreciated. I took a bath and washed my clothes in an Alpine mountain stream this morning and it was some cold, yes, it was colder than that. But more trifles like warm bath are things that we have only a kind of hazy recollection of. Suppose that things are moving along about the same in Ruthven. Corn husking will be on soon. I sure would like to help pick at Saint's Rest this fall but have more important work cut out for me. A U.S. farmer would starve to death in this country as he would have to go back to the pioneer way of farming. I don't see very much difference between the English and French as far as customs or habits, only that it is quite impossible to understand a word the French say. It sounds more to me like an old hen with twenty-two chicks trying to keep away a bunch of pups. We have gone two days without tobacco. Can get plenty of the English brand but it doesn't taste much like tobacco, but will have to content ourselves with it until we reach an American camp. We had a couple of American theatrical troupes in camp recently. They were showing under the management of the Y.M.C.A. and they were very good, every one an artist. We sat out in the open and enjoyed it greatly, forgot where we were for two hours just as completely as if we were at home taking in a good show.
    Have been appointed a corporal recently and must get busy and sew on my chevrons. Well, I can't think of anything else to write about now so will this good till next time. We are due up front most any time now so the next time you hear from me I will probably have been through the mill. Give my best to all my friends in Ruthven and write when you can find time.
    As ever your friend,
Address: Corp Chester A. Tripp
                351st Inft. Co C.
                American Ex. Forces
                A.P.O. No. 795.


Emmetsburg Democrat
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, Nov 23, 1918

Frank SULLIVAN, Brother of Editor J.J. SULLIVAN Writes from France
(Courtesy Graettinger Times)
Blois, France
November 24, 1918

Dear Father-
I guess you know that today all the A.E.F. are supposed to write a letter to
Dad and as you are the only dad that I ever had am writing to you.
"Well, Dad, I don't know where to commence, there is so much to write about.
I'll go back to last December when we left Camp Merriet. We loaded on the
Leviathan, formerly the Vaterhand, December 14th, and sailed the morning of
the 15th. We had fine sea all the way over. The Vaterland, as you know, is
the largest ship afloat. She doesn't rock like the smaller tubs. I didn't
get sea sick at all and the chow was great. We took a zig zag course all the
way over. We did not have any convoy, but the day before we landed twelve
torpedo destroyers and chasers came out to meet us. We were then along the
coast of Ireland. One of the destroyers kept ahead of us and threw a screen
of smoke on us for an hour or so. They must have sighted a submarine. We
pulled in the harbor of Liverpool December 24th. I didn't get to see
anything of Liverpool, only the harbor and railway station. We took a train
from there to Winchester, arriving at three a.m. Christmas morning. There is
where we commenced to realize there was a war. We hiked out to a camp hungry
and tired out. The English don't use coal or wood for fuel. We made our
bunks and certainly did sleep. Woke up about ten a.m. Christmas day. Had
horse meat for dinner but had turkey dinner the next day. We lived on
English rations except the turkey dinner and am sure that was Uncle's.
Everybody in England looked so down-hearted and discouraged everything
old-fashioned. We left Winchester December 26 and landed at South Hampton.
There we met English, Scotch Highlanders, irish, Ausses, Canadians and
others. We get along fine with the Ausses, Canucks, irish and Scotch but
cant' hitch with the English. We took a cattle boat from there across the
channel. We were packed like sardines. I didn't get sea sick and feed the
fish but some of the others have made up for me. We woke up in LeHavre,
France, and hiked out to another so-called English rest (work) camp. It was
getting rather chilly and of course "us Yanks" were issued tents, fourteen
men to a tent 2x4. Some more English rations-aeroplane stew and tea. We
stayed there for two days then loaded into side door Pullmans marked "Hommes
40, Chevaux 8". They  made another error and listed us as sardines. Well,
that sight seeing trip lasted three nights and two days. We unloaded at
LaCourtine on New Year's eve. We were the first Americans there so you can
imagine what a task it was to open up a new camp in a foreign country,
especially. We billeted in some old Napoleon barracks. We camped there a
week and then I was transferred to the 1st division. We enjoyed another box
car trip. When we hit the 16th infantry we started soldiering. We drew a
helmet and a couple of gas masks and the 15th of January we hiked for the
trenches. We had one sandwich for dinner. We rested ten minutes every hour.
We covered 32 kilometers the first day-that's equivalent to 20 American
miles. The next day we hiked until noon, stayed in the woods until dark,
then hiked up just behind the lines in an old town. We were then introduced
to dug-outs and all that goes with them. We rested there two days and then
went in the line and relieved the French. It was quiet there, only a shot
occasionally. The first casuality we had there was a k.p. (kitchen police) I
was on first relief the first night. A big fellow we called Swede Anderson
was always on post with me. I'll never forget that first night. I imagined I
saw Germans everywhere I looked. We were on a listening post. Every time a
rat jumped around me I had the old Springfield on him. We stayed in for
seven days and then went back on a seven day rest chopping wood. The second
time we went in things were a little livlier. After seven days in we went
back again for seven days wood chopping, then back in the line for seven
more-my last seven days in the trenches. We just got things started for the
fellows that relieved us. The day before we were relieved my old bunkie got
bumped off. We were patrolling. He was to the left and I was to the right.
We met a German compat patrol and he was one of the thirteen Americans that
got bumped off. Our artillery put over a barrage that night. It was the
first real barrage for me. The boches threw over a little gas but didn't
hurt anything except the chow. We had to throw that away. We got relieved in
March and came out for a rest (training). In the mean time I was transferred
to the Q.M. I was in the railway transportation service six months. Would be
there yet only the C.O. of the Q.M. wouldn't O.K. the transfer. I was
railroading when I met Cousin Pat and Bills' friend. Am at present in the
This burg has a population of about 25,000. There is an old chateau here and
a couple of cathedrals. I sent some post card views to you the other day. I
was to a Thanksgiving military mass last Sunday noon. There was a special
invitation to all Americans from the bishop of Blois. We have mass every
Sunday morning here in camp. We have a fine priest. His name is Father
Hammill. He is from Chicago.
Well, the big game is all over now. They are still celebrating over here.
The French certainly went wild and I don't blame them, either, after four
years of war.
Don't know how long we will be here but suppose it will be several months
before we start back. I have not had my furlough yet. Have been promised one
December 1st. If I get one I'll go to Nice. The climate there this time of
the year is similar to Florida. I would liekto go as I may never have the
opportunity again. I suppose the quartermaster corps will be the last ones
home, although it is said those who have been here one year will be the
first ones home. If that is true I will start for home next month. Hurrah,
homeward bound-I can't believe it.
I suppose you wonder how I got in the quartermaster corps. Perhaps I have
told you before, but anyway it's all over now so guess a fellow don't have
to be so careful what he says. Well ,there was a fellow from the 28th
infantry named Frank Sullivan to be transferred to the Q.M. and they sent
the order to the 16th infantry by mistake. Last March when we came out for a
rest the order was in so I was transferred. Of course the mistake was soon
noticed bu according to the blue book a transfer is a transfer so we were
both in the Q.M. Perhaps I would be pushing up daisies by this time if I had
not been transferred. One never knows what may happen in the trenches. There
is only one fellow alive from the squad I was in when in the trenches and he
is back in the states crippled for life. The First Division, of which the
16th Infantry is a part, has been on all the fronts, and always thrown in
first. They never had the press agents to give them as many write ups for
the reason the men are from all over the United States. I wonder if Leland
Laughlin is still alive? Have you heard anything about him? He was in the
I haven't heard from Bill lately. Had a bunch of mail from the states
yesterday. Hope that mother and all the rest are well. This is an unusually
long letter for me to write so had better close and get busy. Wishing you a
merry Christmas and a happy New Year, I am,
Your Loving son,
Cpl. Frank P. Sullivan.
Q.M.C., A.P.O. 726, A.E.F.

Emmetsburg Democrat
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, Jan 29, 1919


Thought His Time Had Come, But Germans Had Numbers of His Companions

Carl Berger has just received the following letter from Charles Higgins, son
of Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Higgins, which was written at Trier, Germany on January

Dear Cousin Carl:
Well, here I am in the poor house at last. There is some paper I secured at
the home for the destitute at Trier where we stayed for a few days. The
members of our company were billeted there. A few of us had rooms in a
private house. The people treated us fine. They invited us to supper
Christmas eve and dinner on Christmas day and coffee drinking, as they call
it, last night. There are four girls in the home ranging from 17 to 23 years
of age. They are fine cooks. They sang for us and they asked us to return
the compliment. As luck would have it, the other boys who are with me had
some talent in that line, so we got  out pretty well.
We have not received any letters for about three months. We get our mail in
bunches. My Christmas package has not yet arrived but a letter from home
states that it was sent.
I see by a copy of the Ayrshire Chronicle dated November 7, which came a few
days ago, that they had a big celebration at home. The article said, in the
large head lines, that the armistice was signed at 3 o'clock that day. My
companions kidded me about the item. Many of our company went down to death
after that date. We were bringing ammunition up to the batteries that
forenoon. I thought my time had come but the enemy had other soldiers'
numbers. One of the young men I came over with was killed on the truck ahead
of me and six others were wounded.
The second day I went to the front at Chateau Thierry we picked up a couple
of lads who had been hit by shells just in front of us. One had his leg shot
off above the knee. I took my belt and put it around the limb to keep him
from bleeding to death. When we reached the dressing station we carried him
in. As we were leaving, he requested us not to forget his helmet, but I
geuss the poor fellow did not live to wear it again. We had to move dead
horses to get through the lines. That was my first day's experience on the
Chateau Thierry front.
Reports say that we shall soon be going home as the second army is coming up
to relieve us. We are about twenty miles from Coblenz. We stayed there three
days. It is a place of 85,000.

Emmetsburg Democrat
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, 24 Dec 1918

Sends a Dad's Day Letter to His Father, Dr. Hession of Graettinger

T.J. Hession, son of Dr. and Mrs. P.J. Hession of this place, has been
promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. He received the honor October 23. He
is, we believe, the first captain for Palo Alto county, outside of the
medical corps. Joe attended the Officers' Training School at Fort Snelling a
year ago last summer and was made lieutenant. He was subsequently assigned
to duty at Camp Dodge. When the 88th went across he went over with them. The
Times congratulates him on the honor accorded him. Graettinger boys are
upholding the honor of the "old town" in the great world struggle. Below we
publish an interesting letter from Captain Hession to his parents.

France, Nov. 19, 1918
Dear Father and Mother:
Well, now that the war is practically over, I hope I will have more time to
write than I did before. Peace doesn't make much difference to us as far as
our work is concerned, only that our troops don't shift positions so often
and it is easier to keep them supplied. We have moved nearly one hundred
miles since I last wrote you. In coming where we are now we passed along the
place where Lufberry was killed. In coming here we passed through some
pretty country and saw a few fair sized towns. One or two of them were of
about 60 or 70 thousand population. I visited two of them since arriving

Several days ago, in fact two days after the Germans quit, I went over into
their lines. There wasn't much left only a lot of hand grenades and a lot of
dirty clothing. The place I was was in was shot up by our divisions the week
before and sure was a sorry sight. Practically every house was destroyed and
the household goods of the civilians was entirely destroyed. I was unable to
get you any souvenirs as our soldiers beat us there, so of course there was
nothing left that was worth sending back. I am going to send you a German
helmet as soon as I can get one.

A German plane dropped a balloon with some newspapers tied on it a few weeks
before the war ended. It fell about one hundred feet from Frazer and when we
first saw it we wre afraid it contained gas so I ordered all the men to have
their masks ready. I also ordered them to let it alone but when it lit
soldiers came out from every place and beat me to it by at least fifty feet.
Frazer said the American soldiers are the most curious of all of them. They
will grab anything they can place their hands on. The papers were printed in
French and contained a lot of propaganda telling the French they were
foolish to keep fighting the German people who were good and honest. They
might as well save their paper as it does them no good, especially when it
is picked up by Americans. There has also been a lot of them dropped that
were printed in English. If I can get hold of one I will send it to you.

The Germans have opened up their prisons and the prisoners are coming across
in droves. They are mostly English but a few have been Americans. The men
that were walking seem to be in pretty good condition but they all say that
there are plenty left that are unable to get back. The English are fairly
well dressed as their Red Cross sent them uniforms. They are made the same
as the others only they are dyed black.

I don't know when we are going back, but from all the rumors there are
around here it looks as though we are billed for a stay over here. I don't
think we will start back for at least six months, though.

I was promoted to the rank of captain October 23. It came as a surprise to
me as up till about that time promotions were pretty scarce around here. I
now have charge of the distribution of all supplies to the division with
exception of clothing.

I must close now and go to bed. I am quartered in an old priest's home. I
have a nice room with a large fire place an am as comfortable as one can be
outside of Paris.

The people of this town must be very rich as the streets are full of manure.
They say here a man with lots of manure is rich. Some of these villages are
sure a fright, there is so much dirt in them.

Must close now, so good-night. I am as ever.

Your son,
Capt. T.J. Hession
Q.M.C.A.P.O. 795.

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, Jan 8, 1919

Interesting Letters from the Boys in France.

Recollection of "Dad's Day" brings the following interesting letter from Harlan Wagner, who has been guiding the destinies of a motor truck in France, Belgium and elsewhere:

[Note: This letter is cut off on one side so some words may be missing.]

A.P.O., 745, Dec. 2, 1918

Dear Father:
     Got hold of a paper the other day and it said there was to be a Dad's day. When I went to figuring it up the day had come and gone a little over a week, so am writing now. Am hoping to tell you where we have been ever since we came over but no dates [] send it thru the base and see how much gets there.
     We started from Brest, where we landed, for Bordeaux to get our trucks a short time after landing. Our company had first, second and third class compartments. I was lucky and got a first, therefor having a very good trip but I sure did feel sorry for the boys that had to crowd up in the third class []. By the way I never had to ride in their box cars yet. There was quite a bit of nice country but none any better than you see if you travel over the states. The company staid in Bordeaux for some time. I spent most of the time in the hospital coming but just in time to get my truck and spend one afternoon in town. Quite a nice town and some wonderful old buildings in it.
     We traveled by truck train [] Packards' from there to Nevers, making from 70 to 133 kilos a day. Celebrated the French 4th there, but it was the 14th. Saw the nicest cathedral there I have seen in France. Took a load and ran on into Longres where we turned over the trucks.
     Left there by train for St. Die. Daly had a short run but our cars had to be transferred five times so it took us all day and half of a night to make it, and to cap it off had a long dirty, dusty ride by truck to finish up the trip.
    They had a provisional company at St. Die doing our work until we got there and believe me the trucks they handed us were something to see. It took me a week to get mine to working anywhere near right. I took everything from nuts to dead [] out of my gas tank and from [] of what came out of the motor they must have had a rich mixture for cooling. Our job there was to haul from the rail head to St. Die or to the different companies themselves.
     From here we went to Archeres. The division came out of the trenches and they kept us some busy keeping them in rations and helping move them at the same time. Only staid there a day or so when we started for Byron and the Toul front. Our stops to the Toul front were Bayon, Rosieres, Jallon [or Jailon] and Averon Ville. Averon Ville being our base while the troops were in this front. This was the front that I got my first real experience with shells. It was a hot one too I can tell you. This division took part in the St. Mihiel drive which I suppose you remember and we started for the Verdun front.
     On the Verdun front our headquarters were at Mixiville and we were stationed at Sivery le Perch. Stopped on the way from Averon Ville for a week in Vertuzy, the best week's rest we have had since we have been over. 
     On the Verdun front we had our hardest work. Hauled over roads that had been shelled for the last two or three years and a good deal under shell fire when we were driving. We were luck the only losing one man. When we got the Germans on the run we started to following our division as they went ahead. Stopped at Iviory a few days and went on to Milly. We were in Iviory when the shooting stopped or rather the company was, for I only ate one meal with them while they were there. Had us running day and night there. I met the company at Milly. Staid there a few days and I caught a trip to Lizon which kept me out a week and when I came in the company had moved. Found a Major who told me the company was at Longoyen so came here and found them. Here we leave tomorrow but for where I don't know. Have had two days' rest so don't care a great deal.
     Does this look like a book? If it does divide it up in chapters and take a week to read it. Bt it is the longest you ever got from me.
     Tell mother I get the Free Press quite regularly now and that I am sure glad to get it. Am expecting a letter from home soon now. No mail has come for quite a while so I am getting anxious to hear.
     Tell Hazel she has a letter following this pretty close so she won't be surprised.
     Tell Grandma when you write to her hello for me and the same to Grandpa and wish every one a Happy New Year. As ever,
                CPL. H.A. WAGNER
                Co. E. 5th Div, M.S.T.
                American Ex. F.

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, Jan 8, 1919


    Lawrence Anderson tell of conditions "over there" after the signing of the armistice.

            Somewhere in France.
            Nov. 27, 1918.
Dear Friends and Folks at Ruthven:
    Will this morning try and write you all a few lines, letting you all know I am well and that I came out of the scrap unhurt. I certainly consider myself a very lucky doughboy. Have been on many fronts since I've been over here. We sure had the Boche on the run almost at all times. We would meet stiff resistance at many places, but wouldn't be long before we would flank them, and get those out of commission. In one dugout I helped capture a Major and 40 of his men. Many places we would catch them like that after laying over a big barrage on them. After our barrage was lifted we would go "hell for election." Nothign could stopp us. The 90th Division never retreated. We won many records. Many received the distinguished Iron Cross for bravery. Now we have won the war. We got the Hune, so now we hope that we will soon be back home, back in good old U.S. again. I was one in our division that was on the Huns' heels clear up to the last day of fighting. We were on our way from a place to make a new attack. It was on the morning of the 11th when we were ordered to halt. The armistice had been signed and would be over at 11 o'clock that very morning. The big guns were still roaring from both sides. We waited. Course we had all our watches out, and when 11 o'clock came sure enough it all became quiet. It almost felt like we could hear a needle drop. Then all at once came loud shrills of whistles from everywhere all along the lines with shouts of joy, the war is over. It didn't seem real to us. We sure were some happy Yanks. Wasn't long before the talk all over the line was of home. How we wished that we could just tell our folks that we were well, and that we could tell them that we would soon be on our way home. I would like to tell in my letter of fronts and battles, of places that we have fought but it's useless. It wouldn't pass censor. I imagine that all church bells were ringing when they heard the good news that the war had come to an end. We are to go into Germany and do guard duty there for awhile, then I reckon we will go thru Belgium on our way home. If we do that, can almost lay claim to being all over the world since I've been in Uncle Sam's service. Since the armistice has been signed the Germans have been turning loose all her prisoners of war. They have been coming over our lines in both small and large numbers. They consist of most all kinds of soldiers, French, English, Italians and some Russians, yes and even Belgians. In fact they are all mixed that way. Quite a sight to see almost all of them has part of another's uniform on. There were but a few American prisoners. In many parts of this part of France has been camps, where the Germans had been keeping some of her prisoners of war. One camp had been a large French camp before the war. After the Germans had taken it in the early days of the war she had turned it into a large hospital, also used part of the camp for prisoners. I talked to one English prisoner that came over the lines that said he was held prisoner in there in that very camp for over two years, working from sunrise to sunset, with but very little to eat. French civilians are coming to their homes since the armistice has been signed. Many are old people carrying what they can on their backs. A few have a horse and wagon which then they carry quite a load. Some will find their homes yet in fairly good shape and some will find their homes in nothing but a heap of ruins. In parts of France where there had been hard battles fought, are town after town in nothing but a mass of ruins. I must close now for it's about my time to be on duty on my shift at Headquarters.
    With best of wishes to all my Ruthven friends. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas with ringing in a Happy New Year of Peace.
            Co. K, 358 Inf.,
            American Ex. Forces.

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, Jan 8, 1919


    Miss Hazel Stanton receives interesting letter from Ernest Bale who has probably seen as much action as any that are over there.

            Reisdorf, Luxemburg,
            Nov. 28, 1918

    Friend Hazel; I believe I have received a letter or two from you that I haven't answered, for it has been a month since I have been able to write.
    Now that the censorship lid is lifted, we have so much to write about that we hardly know what to write. As for me I think I will wait until I get home to tell about my experiences.
    I have been having a great trip lately. As you know we are following the Germans towards the Rhine. I happen to be with the leading unit that was following. We started at Pouilly on the Meuse and now we are about a mile from the Dutch border. We have been stationed here for four or five days but expect to move on at any time. You will have to practice up walking if you want to keep up with me. We have come about 75 or 100 miles now and I guess we have that much more. I hope when we finish the hike that they send us back to the States. We expect to be the first back just the same as a lot of other divisions. I happen to be in the 2nd and the chances look good to me, but I may be mistaken.
    Since June 1st we have been some busy. We spent 38 miserable days around Chateau Thierry and Belleau Woods. You have probably read considerable about them by this time. Every night that we were up there we put up barb wire entanglement or dug trenches and there were plenty of shells to make us hurry.
    After we left there we went to Soissons, St. Mihiel, Champaigne and Argonne where we took part in the last battle of the war.
    The night before the armistice is one that I will never forget, and the many more that were there. We built a raft bridge three or four days before and the night of the 10th came the order to cross the Meuse. About eight o'clock that night under cover of a dense fog and barrage we started to put the bridge across. We got along nicely until the bridge was about fifteen feet from the other bank and the lashing were cut by machine gun fire. We might have left it go at that but we couldn't spoil the good reputation of our regiment so we managed to get it back along our bank and lash it together again. We swung it across again and anchored it to the other side. That two or three hours that we worked on the bridge were sure some exciting for they sure poured the machine gun bullets at us. A fellow often wonders how they can come so close to him and yet never be touched. 
    There were sure some happy men the next morning at 11 o'clock when the white flags went up. 
    I have been through six or seven months of active work and I hope I never see any more of it.
    I haven't seen any of the boys yet and if we keep moving as rapidly as we have lately I guess there is no chance of seeing them. I haven't seen Irven since a few days before we put the bridges across. His company put one across too, but they had better luck than we, so I suppose he is O.K.
    They keep spreading rumors around here that we are going to parade in Washington on Xmas. I hope they are right and I won't have to write very many more letters from here.
    I guess I can answer any questions now concerning most anything that I have seen over here.
            Yours as ever,
            CPL. ERNEST L. BALE
            Co. B., 2nd Engrs.
            Am. E.F., France

Ruthven Free Press
Ruthven, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, Jan 8, 1919


    Fred Broadie writes from France that he is busy keeping the Huns busy. Thinks he will spend the winter keeping German prisoners on the job.
                St. Sulpice, France, Dec. 19, 1918.
    Dear Folks,
    How's everyone? I am still O.K. I have moved to another camp and am settled down for the winter now, only ten miles from Bordeaux.
    How is the weather back home? It hasn't frozen here. The grass is just as green as it is in June at home. The flowers are still in bloom in the gardens. It does nothing but rain here. If it wasn't for the rain we wouldn't have to wear any extra clothing. We don't dare to step out without a raincoat.
    I am the only Clay county boy left in my company. I don't know where the rest are. Now we are called the P.W.E. Co., which means prisoner of war escort. We guard the German prisoners at night and in the daytime they are taken out to work on the railroads, putting up buildings, and anything that is to be done. All we have to do is see that they do not escape, and you couldn't run them away. There are quite a number of young boys among them.
    I don't know anything about coming back, but expect to be there within six months. I hope it will be sooner. I haven't received any of the papers you sent. If I were you I would quit sending them. It is almost five weeks since I have received any letters.
    I hope you folks will all enjoy your Christmas. I am going to celebrate the best I can.
    How are the folks near Spencer? Remember me to all of them.
    What's the news back home? Have you heard anything about the rest of the boys that are in the army?
    How are C.J. Tripps? Tell them hello.
    I hope this will find you all well. 
                FRED W. BROADIE,
                P.W.E., 220 Co.
                A.P.O. 705, A.E.F.