After crossing the Atlantic and landing in Liverpool, England, Walter
traveled across the country to Dover, where they boarded the
'Onward' to cross the English Channel
over to Calais France. He will remain in France for the duration
of the war, traveling around by train or on foot.
Walter fought in several battles during the next 7 months, but two of
the most critical were the Battle of Chateau-Thierry (also known as
2nd Battle of Marne) and the 2nd Battle of Argonne. By July 1918, the
Germans had made their way to within 60 miles of Paris, occupying
France up to the
Marne River. The 2nd
Battle of Marne finally stopped the advance of the Germans, causing
them to lose ground in France. In the Battle of Argonne, the
Germans were steadily pushed back until the Armistice was signed.
In these letters home to his family,
Walter says very little of the actual battles since they were not to
disclose their location. When he was in battle, he would send
home a Field Card (view >>
back) which was a
pre-printed card that had several generic statements on it. The
soldier would cross out the ones that did not apply and sign the card
before mailing them so folks back home knew he was OK.
His letters contain amusing accounts of
soldiers in pink dresses (July 31) and of Walter going under German
fire to retrieve plums from a tree (September 1). In October he
is given a 10-day furlough and visits one of the most famous spas in
the world, Aix-les-Bains (view pamphlet >>
course there are serious moments as well. In October Walter
finds out that his best friend has been severely wounded. And in
a letter written just 2 days before the Armistice (November 9th)
Walter gives a very solemn account of the faces of the dead German
As the Allied forces pushed the Germans out of France, the Germans
realized that they were defeated, and rumors of peace negotiations
began to circulate. In early October the Germans announced that they
wished to discuss a treaty, which sends people into the streets to
celebrate. The armistice process began on November 8, 1918, and was
signed on November 11, 1918 at 5am.
It was to take affect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of
the eleventh month--
November 11, 1918 at 11am.
<< Please choose a month from the selection on the left to view
Click here to see a page from one of
the actual letters from this selection.