My Dear Parents:-
Everbody: - Your letters reached me today. Two from home and one from
Florence. They were the ones telling about how you celebrated the news of
how Kiser Bill accepted the peace terms. At that time I think, I told you
about being in a small town and staying at the home of an old lady. It was
Sunday and we were eating a big dinner she had cooked for us. We had only
been off the lines two days and were sure enjoying that meal. Suddenly we
heard loud cheering in the streets and just then she came in with a paper
and she was crying, laughing & talking all at once. All she could say was
"Finis-le Guerre" ! "Finis-le-Guerre” (The war is over.) We were just out
of the lines as I have said and from what we had seen up in the Argonne it
didn't look like war would end for years. Therefore we were skeptical. It
takes a good deal to excite us veterans of the Marne and the Argonne you
see. It was sad tho to see this old woman. She waited until we were busy
eating and talking and then she went to a drawer in an old stand and took
out two pictures. One of her husband and one of her son. (Both dead at the
Hun's hand two years ago.) She sat there in the corner looking at them and
crying softly to herself. We have seen lots of that sort of thing and for
that reason we want the terms of peace to be right or let us go on and get
But now, and what I am about to set down, I can hardly believe myself. The
night that news came out we moved back to the lines so you see our
celebration was short lived just as yours was. When we reached the front
again, I was sent on furlough and then returned here and am still here.
Such a day as this has been! It started at three this A.M. I was on watch
& our guns were sure handing it to them. The phone rang & when I answered
it our Capt. was speaking & said "Tell the boy’s the Armistice was signed
this A.M." They were all asleep and I didn't want to waken them. So
I said; "Is anyone in this lousy hole awake?" all of them said "yes”. Then
I told them that the German representatives had signed the armistice. One
said "Bull" ! and the other said “it sounds like it outside"! I told them
that for three hours our fire had not been answered from the German lines.
They grunted and went back to sleep. I went back up the tree. Our guns
were roaring all along the line and the vibration they caused was even
rocking the big tree I was in and bringing the dead leaves down in
showers. I forgot about the armistice. Then at six the phone rang again
and our Capt was again speaking. He said "Roll your packs, we're going to
move." I said "which way sir, may I ask?" He answered one way 'Up" ! "What
of the armistice'', I said. "It‘s signed", he replied "but hostilities
have not ceased." I went down in the dugout with the glad news that they
should crawl out of their snug quarters and prepare to go forward and
engage the enemy. You should have heard their "moan" .We started to "roll
up" & while we were doing this said a few choice things about the peace
conference, the Kaiser and his family and mankind in general.
When we were ready to go the phone rang again. This time the orders were
"hold your position there & await orders ." "Yes. sir" ! So we sat
us down in the cold morning fog to smoke and talk things over. One Sgt.
said. "well, we got a can of flour there and move or no move, war or no
war I suggest we have some flapjacks". I'm the cook here so I threw of
(sic) my pack & began to mix the batter they made a fire. All this time
our guns were making the day hideous and in the distance we could hear
machine gun fire. We were in a fine humor and I was mixing the batter and
was stirring myself in with it. I looked like "dough the baker." We
then proceeded to bust up camp. We smashed the boxes we had for cupboards
& used them for firewood & then proceeded to "rough house" the place. An
Artillery man came along and said "Well, brothers, the end’s about here" !
We ans. “Where do you gather that stuff"? "We know its about here for some
of us." He said "No kiddin" ! “We’ll be through at eleven o'clock".
All I said was “take him back, warden! “and we kept on flapping jacks.
Well we lay around and when the sun came out and we still hadn’t moved our
spirits began to come back, & we began to talk it over again, our
sentences being so punctuated by gunfire that we had to yell at the top of
our voices. It sounded like anything but peace! Still no answering fire
from the Huns and I remarked upon this. Sgt. Meredith said “Don’t let that
worry you, wait till we start across that open field." So the morning wore
away. Ten thirty and still the hellish noise kept up! Quarter to eleven!
Still they were firing and harder than ever. Five minutes to eleven and no
let up. Muman (sp) said, “There's your old armistice, a hundred francs to
ten hostilities don't cease." One minute to the hour and every gun on our
side was working & they kept it up. We all had our watches out and were
acting the fool counting the seconds. Only three of us here you know.
Exactly on the hour everything became quiet and I thot I had gone deaf
from the noise of the morning. Suddenly, a great cheering started on all
sides of us. We looked at each other for at least thirty seconds then of
one accord started to yell. We didn't know why but we yelled anyway, we
took our pistols out and "whooped her up” in true cowboy fashion & in the
midst of this our runner from Hdq. showed up and joined in. There was no
need of his telling us, we could read it on his face.
When our wind and ammunition was exhausted he read us the order stating
that hostilities were to cease & that we were not to advance. Also, he had
your letters, papers, a carton of cigarettes and all afternoon we had
stump speeches, sang, etc. Then this evening another guy came along with
two cartons of chocolate and I’m filled up. Also the news that Bill had
quit and his son didn't want the job. Some day!
Tonight in the woods where last night you didn't dare light a match,
bon-fires are burning, boys who had to be quiet for weeks are singing &
from the German lines all manner of rockets of all colors are going up.
The same flares that last night would have meant “we are falling back, “
or "We are advancing" tonight mean that the war is over and that Fritz is
as happy as we are and had reason to be more so. Talk about the fourth of
July fireworks you should see this display. As far as you can see along
the front they are sending them up in clusters and the whole landscape is
You can see fellows squatting in bunches talking. All at once some one of
them can't stand his thots any longer and he will jump into the air and
then do a war dance until his gun & legs both play out .
Surely is wonderful and its true too, its got to be. We win! Their (sic)
whipped! Their everlastingly and forever whipped! I can imagine what a
celebration is on at home tonight. As soon as I could realize that the
rumour was at last authentic my thots turned to home and have been there
ever since. I can see your dear faces light up and more than that I know
just what millions of mothers, sisters, wifes (sic), and sweethearts will
do that few of us thot of doing. Go down on their knees and give thanks to
Him who has used us as a weapon to cleanse the world of "The Beast in Gray." I’ll answer your letters tomorrow. All we have to do now is write
and make faces at the Huns until things are finally settled. My fullest
love to you all in this great hour.