November 3, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have had three letters from you since I wrote last so I must write again. Two of these letters came yesterday and one the day before. They were dated October 2, 6 and 9 and they were all dandy letters -- just the kind I like from the dearest of all little girls. I know you understand what letters like these mean to us for you are waiting and hoping as much as we. The only difference is we are away from our homes and in a strange country even if it is a nation that is doing all it can to make us feel at ease. We are different from the French and it surely is a wonderful feeling to have those letters to cheer us along. I will endeavor to write you as good a letter once in awhile. We fellows get so tied up with our duties here that I am afraid that my letters sound rather commonplace at times. But I know that my love for you has grown more strong every day. It seems at times that I can hardly control my longing to be with you again but I just say how much sweeter it will be to be with you when it is all over and I know that I stuck it out until the whole unpleasant business is finished. So until then my own dearest little girl, we will just be patient and trust in God to bring us together again never again to be parted.
We have been having some very pretty days here lately. Some that remind me of the fall days at home. The woods here have the wonderful colors of our own woods. There are more cedars and pines mixed in to give the colors a fine variation. A couple of days ago I took a ride of about fifteen kilometers and even if it was in the rear end of a big motor truck, I enjoyed it wonderfully, I could almost imagine I was in a big touring car out for a joy ride. The roads here are so good that it is like riding on a boulevard. I am certainly an advocate of good roads in the U.S.A. and I believe that there are a lot of fellows that will feel the same about it.
We had another concert here last night. We had three colored gentlemen of the U.S. Army as entertainers. Not the same ones as we had before, but very good musicians at that. The fellows around gather in and it is quite a lively crowd. The lady that owns this place came in today and from what I could get of her palaver, she is going to move it out soon. We are leaving here soon so I guess we have had our little fun with a real piano.
Well, the war is coming along fine about these times and I believe that things will have a far better aspect by the time you read this. "It can't be long now" is the favorite expression of one of the fellows in the office. Well, here's hoping. I will send you the last issue of the Stars and Stripes. There is nothing special in it but just its customary measure of vim and pep. It surely is a great paper and in great demand. The printing office can't get enough paper to fill nearly all the orders. We have a field man with us in the office now who is taking care of this Division's demand.
Quite a little while ago you asked me of the Salvation Army's work here. Well, they are doing a great work. In my opinion, second only to the Red Cross. Every fellow that I ever heard speak of it has the highest respect for that organization now. I know I have a much better opinion of them than I ever had before and when I get back to the U.S.A., I will never hesitate to help them along at any time.
Well, I must close and write a letter to Mother yet tonight, so I will say goodnight for this time. How I wish I could say goodnight the way we did not so long ago. So, bonsoir to the dearest best little girl in the U.S.A.
With sincerest truest love, Your own Lloyd
October 12, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Well, I have not written for a long time now. Anyway it seems like a good while. We have been on the move again. Moved twice in just a few days and have been pretty busy these moving days.
I have not had any mail for quite a long time now but a new shipment is about due -- have been looking for it for several days but as yet it has not arrived.
Well, I guess the time that everyone has been looking for has come. Anyway it seems like it must be here from the action of the French. They are certainly a happy lot of people and they surely have the right to be. I have had just a little better than six months service here now and not anywhere nearly as hard a time as a lot of fellows have had and I know I am glad to know that I am alive and able to walk on two feet. So I can begin to realize what it must mean to a people who have been in it for more than four years.
I don't know and suppose no one does yet just what is the standing of the AEF from now on. I suppose we have another job on our hands now. At least until we know for certain that things are going as they should be. When we first came across I would have told anyone he was insane if he should have argued that the war would be over by the eleventh of November and indeed it was rather discouraging at that time. The English wouldn't listen to anything less than two years. We told them then that we did not intend to put in any two years at war. And I surely believe that America turned the tide in the right direction and hastened the ending about the two years the English talked of. Well, if something unforseen does not turn up, our fondest dreams will be realized before many months.
I can hardly realize that the bloomin thing is at last done and we can at least think of other things than war. I believe the Americans in general were that way for when they did learn officially that the armistice was on, they took it in a quiet "what do you know about that" sort of way. Well, one of these fine days we are coming back to good old U.S.A. and I am coming back to you. That will surely be the glorious day and we can look into the future and plan and plan and then carry out our fondest dreams.
We are now in a town that was not long ago occupied by the Germans and it is pretty well torn up in places. We have a very good place but it is cold as all outdoors. There isn't a window in the whole place. It was once a hotel or some similar place. There is a fireplace in every room and it surely is a good thing there is, too.
I have been looking over some of the trenches held by the Germans for three years or more and I can say they had them fixed for a prolonged stay. Deep dugouts of concrete and walled trenches and, well, everything they could have there. I can tell about it when I get back for there isn't the chance in the world of ever forgetting a single thing. Our money order man has been working all evening trying to get a pair of German wire cutters in working order. He picked them up in a dugout. He thinks he has some souvenir.
Well, I must close as it is getting late and also some cool. With deepest love to my own sweetheart. I will soon come sailing back to the only little girl in the world.
November 16, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have received my long expected mail in the past few days. I know you understand how I feel when I say there were four letters from you in the list. These bore the dates of October 13, 16, 20 and 25 and they came one a day until tonight when I received two. They were indeed fine letters -- just the right kind to bolster a fellow up and make him feel that the folks at home are backing him. For, even if hostilities are off, there is going to be quite a while before we can come home and this, after all, is a critical period in the world conflict. I see by tonight's paper that the Allies are still in doubt as to the status of the Kaiser and his actual connection with the German government. One thing the nations have learned and that is you can't trust Germany and they certainly have a reason to go as carefully as possible now.
You should hear the rumors around here now. One hour we are going home, the next we are going as part of the troops of occupation, and then another time we are waiting to relieve some other division of occupation. If there ever was a place for wild tales, the Army is that place. Every time anyone makes a remark around the office now in the way of keeping afloat some rumor, we immediately start "hooraying" him until he stops. We sure have some lively gabfests around this place.
We are having quite a bit of work now and I don't suppose it will let up any as Christmas packages will be coming before very long. You spoke of having a letter from Doug T. and his writing of his hospital work. I am pretty familiar with his hospital myself through the mail as that is my work at present -- the handling of mail redirected to hospitals. That is one reason we have so much work. We must handle the mail two or three times to reach the person to whom it is directed, but that is our business at present and I believe that our office does as good a job at it as any of them, judging from others I have seen.
Well, one grand and glorious feeling to know that it is all over and that, before long, we can actually begin to consider going back to U.S.A. There won't be many happy times when we all get back again, will there? I guess it will be the one real happy occasion of a lifetime. This Thanksgiving should be a real Thanksgiving and I, for one, am thankful that I am alive. I never thought of it before in that light, but it is a whole lot, after all.
By the way, I am almost afraid to come back and meet your friend (and also my friend, for all your friends are mine, also) Louise. For I am afraid it will be impossible to come up to her expectations. But nevertheless I am rather anxious to meet her. My, it does seem queer to be able to think of meeting folks and getting into the old swing of affairs. Do you think I will ever be any good after I get out of this army? Analyze my case, won't you, and let's see how I stand.
Say, where was Robert when the big affair was called off? And what is his status and prospects? I have not heard from Doug W. for so long I don't know where to write him. I will have to make a search I guess and see how all my old friends over here are standing.
Well, it is getting rather late and there is plenty of work in the store for the morrow. So I suspect I'd better look around for my bed. It isn't anywhere near as late as we used to stay up
and not near as late as we will some day not far off. My! How I long to hold you in my arms and feel your head against my breast and then give you the goodnight kiss.
So, goodnight dearest for a little time.
With all the love in the world, Your own Lloyd
St. Mihiel, France November 23, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I received a letter from you last night dated October 23 and it was one of those dandy letters of yours that I always like to get and a good letter is the real thing over here.
I am sorry that our mail does not get around a little more regular but I believe as you do that it is a lot better to get them all at once. Anticipation is a whole lot, you know, but sometimes it runs into worry if these letters don't get around in a certain time.
Well, according to the Stars and Stripes, we may tell the names of towns we have been in and are now in so as a start I will tell you some of my travels tonight.
We are in a very good place now and have been here two weeks. We are in the town of St. Mihiel and, as you probably remember, the Americans pulled a little drive here early last September. We as a division were not in that little stunt but were lying back in the woods just waiting as we spend most of our time. We moved from a little town near Verdun to this place. I have been in Verdun and I must say it is a wonderful place. One of the most wonderful places I have ever seen.
I have been from the coast almost to Switzerland and I will say that the best place I have been in France was the Vosges. There was less indications of war down there and it was more like a pleasure trip minus a great many of the accommodations expected on such trips. It is wonderful what changes have taken place in this war business since we landed in France. There was a great German drive on then and I surely remember how near we came to getting into that one night. We were not far away from the town of Abbeville when it was raided by the German airplanes. It was a spectacle. I will never forget the scene if I should live to be a thousand years old. And the rumble of the guns was something terrific. The British are certainly the little boys when it comes to the artillery.
Soon after, we moved to the Vosges sector and the German menace was over for that time. We were in Alsace on the Fourth of July in the little town of Wesserling. I suppose you remember what a pretty place I said it was. In fact, there are few that can beat it anywhere in France. That was where that little Kodak picture was taken that I sent you. Just the other day I saw a picture of the same place in the pictorial section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
St. Mihiel is a rather badly ruined town. In fact, some parts of it are nothing but piles of rocks and pieces of stone walls. But it is not as bad as places up in the British sector where the fighting was so much more intense all through the war. There are no permanent bridges across the river Meuse here yet, and we are across the river from our regulating station from which we get our mail. We drive to Bar-le-Duc every day for mail or the mail truck does. I have not been down yet but intend to go tomorrow. That is quite a town, I guess, and it has especially livened up since the armistice has been on.
To tell the truth, none of these towns take my eye. They are all so old, the streets so narrow and crooked. They run every which way and back again. There is one place I would like to see and that is Paris, but I am afraid the chances are very poor right now. I won't kick at all, though, if they want to take me home before I do get a chance to see the "gay Paris." No!
By the way, I saw Leod B. And Shoemaker several days ago for the first time in a couple of months. They are both O.K. and anxious to get to U.S.A.
Well, it is getting late and I am afraid I have written a rather loose, disjointed letter already. So goodnight for this time, dearest. Hope to see you before many months now.
With all the love in the world, From your own Lloyd
November 28, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have had two letters from you since I wrote last. These were dated November 1 and 4. One was the little Thanksgiving card and the other was the one containing the picture of you at your desk. It was a splendid picture and I am very proud of it. One of these times, if I have an opportunity, I intend to have my picture taken. The fellows here that have tried to get pictures have had so much trouble, I have not had the courage to start out. Maybe now that the war is over, things will loosen up over here.
Am still at St. Mihiel and am sure I don't know which way we are going to move next. There are rumors of going to Germany and still others of going towards the coast. I am anxious to see Hunland, myself, even if we aren't the first troops of occupation.
I was off duty all day today. We are taking our Thanksgiving vacation by turns, one half the force today and the other half next Sunday.
I did not have much to amuse myself at but I did enjoy a good clean up. Spent part of the afternoon taking a walk. One of the boys and I were out to see the old Artillery Garrison where about ten thousand French soldiers were stationed before the war. There isn't much left of the barracks but the walls. The buildings that can be used at all are harboring Boche prisoners now. I can't see how the Boche tore this place up with artillery and leave it in the condition it is now. I think they ruined the place for pure cussedness.
The civilians are coming into the town now until the place is looking more like a place. It will take a lot of work to clean the place up. It is raining almost every day and these little old narrow streets and rough uneven sidewalks are covered with slush.
Well, I suppose before many months now we will again be in U.S.A. I see there are some units that were in England have already left for home. It seems almost too good to be true to believe that I can think of home and being near you once more. Don't you know, dearest, our golden 'someday' is not so far away now. This is indeed a day of Thanksgiving. Never before in my experience over here have I realized how much we have to be thankful for that ordinarily we scarcely give a thought. I surely am thankful that I have such a wonderful country. I have often thought, what am I that I should be given the privilege of calling this wonderful country my country. And, dearest, you symbolize all that a country is to me. For without women such as you, there could be no nation. So, soon I am coming back to you and for you, my own little girl. Goodnight for a little time.
With truest love, Your own Lloyd
St. Mihiel, Meuse December 2, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have not written for several days now and, as I have received two letters from you in those days. I must try and keep up with my writing. I certainly am more than delighted to get so many letters from you for they are always an inspiration to me. I only hope my letters are half as welcome to you.
These letters bore the dates of October 8 and 11. The last named was written at the time the armistice news had reached you. I could tell how very happy you were and all the rest of the city, too, over the news. I expect you would have been much surprised to see how the A.E.F. received the news. At least from my observation it was in a different manner altogether.
I am still in the same place as the ending of hostilities found us and I am rather anxious to be on the move somewhere. A move over here has to furnish the excitement and change that can be gotten in less troublesome methods at home. I would like very much to get into Germany as part of the troops of occupation but prospects aren't very good for anything right now. We need a little move to slow up our work, anyway. The boys write so many letters that we are kept going all the time. But that is our business. The folks at home need the letters so let them write. We will take care of the letters when they get to us.
Well, I guess a few of the boys are getting to start for home but, as yet, there have been very few combat troops sent towards U.S.A. Everybody almost is very anxious to get back and I have no doubt there are a lot of folks at home who are anxious to see them again. What do you say about it? I want to get back, but I don't want to raise false hopes as there are numerous things to be done here and peace isn't signed yet by any means. But one of these days I am going to come drifting in and, oh boy, that is going to be some day. And then, little girl, we are going to look a little more deeply into the future. There are many, many things to talk of, aren't there, dearest? But those will be the real times. Just you and I. Well, I must close for this time with all the love in the world to my own little girl.
With truest love, Lloyd
P.S. Will enclose two German postcards that may be of interest.
Commercy, Meuse December 10, 1918
My Dearest Mary
I have been rather slack again about writing but, as we have been moving again, opportunities have been few.
I have had three letters from you since I wrote last. These letters were dated November 14, 17 and 19. Three of your usual good letters and I was surely glad to get them.
I have had two letters from Mother and two from Aunt Jess, also, so you can see I have been getting my share. Probably more than I should get from the infrequency of any correspondence.
We are now in Commercy, not far from St. Mihiel. It is a very good town as far as French towns of its caliber go. They actually have some very good window displays in several stores. The French are quite adept at making attractive displays, even in some of the little shops.
There is a picture show here that shows once in the afternoon and once in the evening. I have not attended said show yet, but the fellows say it is a pretty good place. There is also a Y.M. here that does a big business as everyone does.
This town is not torn up any either, which is quite a novelty to us. The place was not even raided by airplanes. I don't see why, as it isn't so very far from the place where there was considerable fighting.
I was just talking with Bill Showen, remember Bill? He is about the same old Bill, still has a dislike for anything that looks like work. He is an orderly for a captain in the Division Surgeons office, and it seems to correspond more nearly with his idea of life in the army.
Mother sent a picture of the little niece. She said it was too late to get into my Xmas box, but it beat the box here, alright. The Xmas boxes have not begun to arrive in much force yet. Only a few now and then.
Well, we are still on our toes as to what we are going to do over here until they get things arranged satisfactorily. I wish that we could go into Germany if we are to stay for a while. Anyway, two service stripes are my ambition, yes! The Stars and Stripes representative of our Division just put on his third one yesterday. Eight months is a long while to spend in this country the way the A.E.F. has to live. Things are some better now as the fellows don't have so much moving around and they have a chance to make things a little comfortable.
Well, I have run out of talk for this time, it seems. But one of these fine days there is going to be a lot of things for us to talk about, isn't there? So, goodnight, dearest.
With all the love in the world, Your own Lloyd
Commercy, Meuse December 16, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Two more letters have reached here since I wrote you last. These both landed the same day along with a letter from Mother and one from Grandmother. These bore the dates of November 21 and 24 and one of them contained a bar of Hershey which I must say was a rare treat, you bet!
The Christmas boxes have begun to come in force now. We are kept pretty busy with the rush but I don't think there is a one of us who doesn't enjoy it and wish there were more to handle. Mine has not shown up yet and I am not in any hurry, just so it makes it by Xmas.
I went to the picture show last night with Orvie S. who was in town. It was a very good show, the best I have seen in France. At the ticket window you can buy firsts, seconds, or thirds in way of seats. Firsts in the balcony, seconds below the balcony, and for thirds, I guess they stand up for I couldn't see any seats on that side.
The first reel was a Pathé pictorial, the second was a play in five reels -- French, of course. Then a reel of stale comedy. An American presided at the piano and he made it sound like old times for only an American can play for American. The French play well enough, but they can't make an impression at a show.
Not far from the picture show is a large building used for municipal meetings where the Division show troupe puts on their shows. I went to a band concert there Saturday evening. So you see, now that the business of fighting is over, the fellows are being entertained. The Y.M. also has a building where they often have entertainments.
I have seen several old Ottawa fellows lately. Bill Showen calls around every day. Bruce A., Ralph Weaver, and Bill Gormley are here with their band. The K Co. is not far away and some of the fellows are in most every night.
Yesterday was the first day in a long while that the sun has shone for any length of time and I can assure you it was welcome. This old sloppy, drizzly weather gets rather tiresome. But we can't complain for it hasn't been very cold, in fact, scarcely below freezing at any time.
The moon shone bright and nice last night, too, and I can tell where my thoughts were as I strolled out a little while after seeing Orvie started for his camp. I remember so many such nights you and I have spent together in a fairer country than this. Maybe when the winds are blowing soft and warm from the south again we can spend more such nights together only they will be far more wonderful to us now, won't they, dearest.
I try not to get impatient about getting back, for I know we have to stay for a time yet but there are times when it seems like I just can't stay away from you much longer. Every day brings the time closer now and the days soon count into months so it's just be patient for a little longer. I know there is a little girl back there who loves me and is waiting for me to come home and just that thought is enough now. But one of these days, well, it's just a grand and glorious feeling to know we can soon be together, that's all!
We have surely done much corresponding since we have known each other these five years. It seems that the fates have decreed that we should not be very near each other in those times.
But, after all, we learned much and found a deeper love that we could not have found otherwise. It surely has been worthwhile, hasn't it, dear, and I know that we will be much happier in the future for what we have undergone.
I must say goodnight now, dearest, again in this penman's way, but just you wait until the day of our reunion and see.
With truest love, Lloyd
P.S. The Xmas box came this morning and in good shape. I am going to try to keep it until Christmas before opening but I don't know. It's quite a temptation. Will write later about it.
Commercy, Meuse December 21, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Two more dandy letters from you have come since I wrote last, also the Xmas card. These letters were dated November 27 and 29.
We are right in the midst of our Xmas rush now. The nine-by-four's are coming in carload lots now. We have had three cars, I think, and expect more will come before we are through. Of course, these are French cars and there is quite a difference in capacity between our cars and the French.
I have not opened my box yet as I think I want that pleasure on Xmas day. Another boy in the office is doing the same way. I know there is no real reason why I should wait, but then I rather want my Xmas surprise on the day itself. So many of the fellows are not situated so they can wait and the folks at home want the fellows to enjoy the gifts in their own way. So, on Christmas day I will write to you and tell all about how my Xmas was spent.
The Y.M. gave us a little treat tonight. Each man received two bars of chocolate, one cigar, three packs of cigarettes and a can of tobacco. You can see that tobacco still holds a prominent place in the life of a soldier. Well, I still smoke, but not in excess. After all, it is a rather useless amusement. What do you think of it? Think I had better cut it out altogether?
Well, we are still here and it looks like we were doomed to stay until things are definitely settled and that is what I really want to do. I feel like it is the place to stay and stay till it all settles. But do \not/ worry about my wanting to stay over here after that. (Very near leaving out the important word!) There is too much waiting for me in U.S.A. and you are the main reason. I want to get back to you and I hope it will never be necessary for us to be so long and so far apart again. I believe that we understand what it really is worth to have freedom for this war has shown me how much I really had that someone else had made possible for me. I hope that I have done a little in earning a place in our own grand country for myself and my posterity. I believe that I have found what a home means to a country and we, you and I, are going to have a real home one of these days. I know that we have both had some of the same ideas regarding a home and believe me, dearest, I am guarding my ideals more closely than I would a fortune for I have surely seen what no ideals at all can do for a person and eventually a whole nation or the world itself. I never thought very seriously of what I used to hear in school about the home being the foundation of the nation, but lately it has been so forcibly brought before me that I have doubly taken myself to account. So I hope to come back and I will come back a better man than the one that left you over a year ago. And, after I get home, you and I will set out to make plans for our home and, by God's help, it will be one worthy of the name for love will be there.
How are the soldiers in the States coming on? Are they at home coming home or just sticking in the camp as before? I have often wondered what is being done but have not heard much. I suppose it is rather soon for much news along that line yet.
By the way, have you ever had any word of Doug W.? I have lost him altogether and he seems to have lost me also, and James, too. You see, I am thinking along the lines of old friendships tonight. But those two boys were the best boy friends I ever had at any time in my life and I would like to know about them. James and May, I presume, are the same as ever. I hope so. We have rather mutual interests, we four, haven't we? This is a queer old world after all. Well, there are many, many more happy days waiting for us and we can surely make the best of them, can't we?
I sent you a few postcard pictures of the town here and also of Verdun. I hope they arrive O.K. I will try and send some along now and then as they make good souvenirs. I wish I had some of Alsace, but at that time we could not send picture cards. Also, there is a hammered brass shell of one of the famous French seventy-fives on the way but you may get that before you receive this letter.
I must close now. So, goodnight, dearest. May the time be short until we can say goodnight as of old.
With sincere love, Lloyd
Commercy, Meuse December 25, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Christmas of 1918 will soon be a thing of the past and, as this is a time when one always has thoughts of home, a letter is the nearest I can come to that tonight.
After all I did very well for a Xmas in France. We did not work today so that was something. Slept real late, in fact did not have breakfast until nine o'clock and you know that is late for the army. Spent most of the morning just fooling around doing little things that often get neglected in the usual routine. Dinner was at three o'clock and we had a good one. This is what it sounds like: roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, turnips, olives, pie, coffee, and bread. There was eats in plenty. Of course it was out of an army mess kit and often, as in this case, room was not in abundance. We have had plenty of good candy, too, thanks to the energy and efficiency of our mess sergeant. He is certainly a rustler. It is good old U.S.A. chocolate, too.
Well, I opened my treasure box last evening and I must say that it holds considerable after all. The best thing of all was the folder with your picture and Mother's. I am certainly proud of it as I am sure any of the boys here can testify. It is the best ever, that's all, and it was certainly great of you to send it. I only wish I were with you tonight to give you a kiss of appreciation. The toothpaste and talcum powder came all O.K. and those Hersheys, oh my! It's like old times.
Mother sent a little book of French, English and German that I have not yet investigated thoroughly. One handkerchief that I am not sure who was the donor. Dad put in some gum and a pair of shoestrings. I use leather ones in my 'hobs,' guess I will have to rustle a pair of russets now. Then Ellis sent a trench mirror that was indeed a welcome gift. With that hung on a nail and some of Ruth's shaving cream on my face, I will indeed shave in luxury. Those little boxes sure carried a lot of Christmas cheer to the fellows over here. You should see what pleasure it gives to open one of the little nine-by-fours. Most of them came through in good shape but a few were badly mushed up. We always fix the smashed ones up the best we can so the fellows will at least get all that is coming to them.
One of the happiest fellows today was one of the boys just added to our office force. He has been wounded twice and consequently has been back and forth from the hospital. Today he received three letters, the first in about three months and one of them contained a picture of his little boy whom he has never seen. He has been flourishing that picture all day and who can blame him.
The Division show has been playing for the amusement of the crowd for the past two nights. I have not attended yet. Somehow the fellows get rather boisterous when in a crowd and you know I am never much at home in a bunch of that sort. Oh well, it's the army so why worry. We will be where we can see real shows soon and we shall attend them whenever we wish, won't we dearest. And the next Christmas we will surely be able to celebrate in the good old way and among those that we love. So it's a Merry Christmas to you, the dearest and sweetest of America's fair daughters. There is none their equal the world over and you are to me the dearest of all.
With truest love, Lloyd
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