Although we call it Veteran’s Day now, in 1918, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month was the armistice for WWI. It was a day to celebrate peace. My great uncle Harry was in Belgium at the time serving with the American Expeditionary Forces, but he had been in France during the successful American offenses as well. On Dec 15, 1918, he sent this letter home to his folks. After armistice, the Army censors allowed places and dates to be named in the soldiers’ mail. As you can see, Harry had a great sense of humor.
On November 11, let us remember those who fought, but let us not forget that above all else, this is a day to celebrate peace.
Dec 15 1918
Dear Mother and Father,
I must write a few lines home tonight as I have nothing much to do. I have good health, for which I praise God. I got father’s letter a few days ago and this letter is to father also. Well, I and the rest of the boys are anxiously waiting for the day to come when we can go home to our dear loved ones. Oh but it will be a happy day! You say you have not heard from me for a long time. Some of the mail must have gone astray as I have written quite regular, but we have been on the move so much that it has been awful hard to write regular.
This division that I belong to is a shock division, and we have been on the move pretty near all the time since Sept the 21. We were in the great Verdun drive through the Argonne forest and from there we went to St Mihiel. From there we went into Belgium and hiked from Ypres to where we made two drives on the Germans. We were right in the thick of fun when this wonderful peace came. I hate to think what would have happened to our Battalion if peace had not come as the Germans had machine guns by the hundreds. And it would have been like going right out in our fields at home. They certainly had a clear sweep on us.
Well, here we are sleeping in a barn among the rats and cooties, both too numerous to mention. The rats have a great time sitting on our forehead and pulling our nose. And our dining room is swell also. It is a nice clean pig yard and with our mess pans on the ground and us on our knees, we feed our faces. Well one good thing, what we don’t want we hand over to the four legged kind and with a grunt of satisfaction they come closer and look for more, that’s when they get a hobnail shoe well planted between their eyes.
For supper we had all the beefsteak, gravy, potatoes, bread-pudding, syrup, bread and coffee we wanted, so I feel like a prince. We got paid today and I got 299.50 franks so I have lots of money, but it soon goes as everything is so high priced. It costs about 4 times as much as it does in the States so you see it does not last long. This post card that I am sending home cost 1 frank or about 21 cents so there you are. I have got some handkerchiefs and a pillow top but will carry them home I guess.
It is not cold at all here but it is very wet. It rains every two or three days so things are very muddy. Well don’t worry about me as I am all O.K.