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Merrick County

Merrick County News

 

Scrapbook of Mrs. C. J. (Elizabeth) Dittmer

SOLDIERS' LETTERS

Assumption - that all these were published in the Clark's Enterprise ...
or the newspaper of Shelby, IOWA
None of the articles bear a publication date or name of newspaper.

Scrapbook, page 9

JOHN ZIEGLER WRITES     
          FROM HAWAII

     They are starting a zoo at Kapiolani Park. They have lions,leopards, raccoons, kangaroos, monkeys, and 1 large elephant, also a number of different kinds of birds and a fine aquarium near the park with beautiful colored fish.
     Honolulu, the capital and principal city, is situated on the isle of Oahu, 2,020 miles from San Francisco. This city has 178 miles of paved streets, 20 miles of electric street railway, a railroad of 178 miles, 33 churches and a school house on almost every block of the city. The different nationalities that go to them are Hawaiians, Portugeese, Philipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Negroes and White people, and a few other races but I have been able to learn what they are. We also have the largest extinct volcano in the world on the island of Mani. It is called the Crater of Haleahlaa, which means the house of sun. The sunsets seen in the Crater are the most beautiful and wonderful I ever saw. The Silver Sword plant that grows in the Himalayas of India and can be found no place else except in the center of this crater is more wonderful at night than at day.
     We also have the active volcano here. It is a small lake of lava. It's nothing but a solid mass of fire. There are also many wonders to be seen at this volcano such as the Devil's picture frame, the lava rock tubes and rock formations. Our company go to see these sights once a year and we enjoy new sights and sounds each time.
     Now I will explain the climate. It is the best climate in the world, warm in day time and cool enough to enjoy a blanket the year round at night. It rains about 8 months out of a year but never does get cold.
     Well we also have fruit here such as bananas, papaia, almost like a mushmelon in looks, but has a strange taste, we had to learn to eat them, pineapples are plentiful, field after field. Also the Alligator pear, something I had never tasted until I landed here. Also wild goat and fish, which I am fond of. Their main products are sugar cane, pineapple and bananas.
     Now something about our everyday soldier life. 5:45 a.m. Stand Revelle. 5:00 a.m. Stand Infantry drill until 6:30, then eat breakfast. 7:15 we clean around quarters. 8:20 we stand battery drill until 11:00. We have charge of B-pit of 4 12 inch mortars, which are monsters. 12 m. we eat dinner, unless the company mounts guard at 11:20, then we eat at 11:30 a.m. When out on guard we drill but while not drilling we work until 4:20 p.m. Stand Retreat at 5:10 p.m. 5:20 eat then spend the evening either with your friend in the city or at the movies in the post hut. Aim to be in at 9:15 p.m., at call to quarters.
     Well since the lights are low I shall stop. Wishing all my friends good ...

(clipped off)

Harry Patterson
Writes Again

FORT Kamehameha, H. I.

Friends of Central City:
     Sixteen months ago I landed on this beautiful land called Hawaiian Territory and never once have I regretted it, but am hoping to be sent on to France soon, as we are trained for the firing line and think that orders will come soon. At least we hope so, because we have seen everything there is to be seen in Oahu and smelled each oriental scent.
     Well we have four different Artillery companies here on this island, also a good many other branches of service, such branches as follows: Aerial squadron, Signal Corps, Hospital Corps, Quartermaster's Corps, Engineers Corps, Ordinance Corps, and a good many troops of Infantry.
     I am at the post at Fort Kamehameha. Was in quarantine eight weeks the Fourth of July.
     We were sent to our companies, some to each post on the Island in Fort Kamehameha. Here are thirteen companies. This being the largest post on this island. See we were sent to our companies I was glad to find that I was not moved but stayed in the post, and assigned to the 1st company, Fort Kemehameba (sic). Some other boys were sent to Fort Ruges, which is ten miles east of here, a very beautiful place. It is at the foot of a large cliff called Diamond Head, six miles from Honolulu. Some other men were sent to For (sic) DeRussey. This post is near the wonderful beach Waikiki, the grandest beach in the west. Then the remainder went to Fort Armstrong, which is in the harbor at Honolulu. The fort where I am, Fort Kamehameba (sic) is 10 miles from Honolulu and is the largest.
   Honolulu is a beautiful place with a population of 75,000 without including the military and naval forces.
     There are more automobiles in this city than any other of its size.
    We have also a gret (sic) many fine hotels as this is a tourists' resort, where a good many spend their honeymoon. I think it a very ideal spot for same.
     One of the largest hotels is the Youngs, which is six stories high and has a beautiful flower garden on the roof. Another the Moana, which is situated on the beach of Waikiki,m also an ideal place.
     Upon this beach on Saturdays and Sundays one can see thousands of bathers. They also have ideal sport here such as Surf road (sic) riding riding in and out rigger canoes and many others.
     The famous Hawaiian band plays at the park at Waikiki every Sunday afternoon.

Allerey, France, Sept., 15, '18

Dearest Mother -- Will write a few lines again this evening to let you know how I am getting along. I am feeling just fine and hope you are the same.
How is Dad and the kids? It has been quite some time again since I received any mail from you, and I've been looking for some every day.

      I got a letter from Pearl Saturday. She said it was her fist attempt at type writing and she did real well, only one or two mistakes.

     What is Vera doing these days to keep out of mischief. It has been quite awhile since I wrote her. I haven't written anyone at all as paper is so scarce and awfully hard to get here. I am still in the hospital. My goodness I owe so many letters I don't think I'll ever get caught up again but because I don't write is no reason I don't think of you all the time. I am sure papa thinks I've forgotten him it has been so long since I wrote.

     I met a brother of the W. O. W. this afternoon and we had quite a long talk. I wish there was an order here that we might attend.

    How is C.O. Wayne and the Mrs. these days? Tell them hello for me and that I'll have about 'steen columns of the biggest war stories yet on record when I see them because I've been in and where I could see quite a of it and I can say I have seen some might brave deeds done by American boys.

     Had a very queer thing happen to me. I had gone to the rescue of a certain captain and I had carried him nearly two kilos toward a dressing station when I stopped to rest and found that he was dead. Believe me! it made me creepy all over for a little while. Some very queer thing I must say. Well mother news is scarce these days the war is fast drawing to a close I'm sure and I hope someday in the near future to see your death face once more. Write real often to your loving son,

Harry Patterson


Scrapbook, page 10

Somewhere in France
March 26, 1918

Dearest Mama and all:
     Haven't received any mail since that which I mentioned about getting quite awhile ago. I am still in good health and feeling fine. Don't worry about me for I will be back home o. k. some day. Maybe it won't be so long from now either. The great German offensive is now on. We have been expecting it for some time. You have seen all about it in the papers I suppose. I think this will be the decisive battle of the war. War may last fro some time after this battle is through but I think this will be the last great battle. Germany may think that she is going to go straight thru the lines but I think she is going to be out of luck. she has made slight gains at some points but that was expected. She sure is paying dear for every inch she gains. She is sending wave on wave of men over the top to be mowed down by the Allies machine guns and artillery. Germany is running up against an army which is in good shape and has been waiting for her to come. It is altogether different from the time she made her first drive into France for she was running into a country which was unprepared and even then she was stopped by masses, not armies, of men who were not trained or equipped but they did it only by sacrificing thousands of men. It is altogether different this time though for she can be stopped without such great sacrificing of men. By the time you get this letter you will know a lot more about this battle than I do at present for it has only begun.
     The weather is fine. Paris has been bombarded by a long range gun, but that hasn't damaged the Allies armies a bit. The Allies have the air supremacy so we are in good shape. It would cost Germany too much for shells to use that kind of a gun to any advantage and anyway it is only killing a few innocent people the same as she has been doing by dropping bombs from aero planes. I think she believes it will have a great moral effect on her enemies but it will scare them just about as much as her air raids do.

     Well I must close. I will leave the more interesting things for the future when I have my feet upon the hard coal burner.

Love to all. Harold

1st C. P. Harold Robertson
Co. F, 168 U. S. Inf.,
84th Brig., 42nd Div.
Am. Ex. Forces, France

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Harold Robertson Writes
-----------

Somewhere in France
Sept. 2, 1918

Dearest Mama and All: I have not received any mail for a few days. The last I got was a posaal (sic) card from Maie and a letter from Ethel dated along about the last of July. None of the fellows have been getting much mail here lately. We haven't been writing a great deal either on account of things not being very handy.
     I am not in Co. F any more although I still belong to that Company and am always near them. I eat with them and get my mail there. They called for some more volunteers to join the Scouts of our Battalion, so Ray Delph and I joined. The Scouts are a sort of Intelligence Corps, composed of scouts, observers, and snipers. We work ahead of our out fit at the front in order to obtain information and also to keep the enemy from taking out outfit by surprise. We are the night prowlers of no man's land. We go to see and hear without being seen or heard, if we can prevent it. Can you imagine me coming snake through the grass or no grass? I'll have to go out and stalk myself a Boche one of these nice evenings. Then I'll drag down on my forty-five and give him a piece of home made apple pie. ha! Well I had better drop this line. Now mama just because I am in the Scouts don't think I am in any more danger for I am not, as long as I tend to my business; don't you ever think that I won't. The only difference is that I will just have machine guns and snipers to contend with and very little

artillery where it is just opposite in my Company, they have artillery mainly to contend with and not nearly so much machine guns and snipers. We are hard fellows to find so are not shot at as much as the rest of the outfit although we are closer to the enemy than the rest when out on duty. Would sooner fight machine guns and snipers any day than artillery. I can get a whack at them with my thirty-thirty but the artillery isn't close enough for a doughboy to bother much.
   We most generally get better places to stay in than the rest of the outfit when behind the lines and we are a little more free; we are also excused from all extra detail and guard duty. You see we get a little better treatment than the general run.
     I am getting along fine, just out through, drinking two quarts of milk, ha! Had some bread and hard tack in part of it.
   I am fat and sassy these days haven't been able to have my picture taken yet. I will get all my mail addressed to Co. F, all right. Love to all  Harold

My address is:
1st C. P. Harold L. Robertson
   Amer. Ex. Forces,
2nd Batt. Scouts, 168 U. S. Inf.
      France

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

France, Aug. 21, 1918

Dearest Mama and All:
     Received two letters from you a while back dated July 15th and 22nd, but didn't have a chance to answer right away.
     We have been doing some tall scrapping this Summer but we are the boys that can do it. Those Prussian Guards took to the tall timber when we got on their trail. Most of them did anyway, those that didn't we left for the crows to work on, ha! ha! We are back taking a good rest now the first we have had for many months. We have been at the front so long that we had forgotten how to salute officers or do any of this dress parade soldiering. We are kind of brushing up along that line now.

(continued on next page)


Scrapbook, page 11

     You ought to see us in our fighting harness. A tin hat on top, gas mask hanging at alert, on my chest, two extra vandoliers (sic) (sic) of thirty-thirty ammunition hanging from my shoulders ammunition belt with bayonet, trench knife and forty -five colts automatics hangnig (sic) from it, and most generally I carry my pick in my left hand and rifle in my right. (That's when I smell Boche), and to end up with I have a sturdy hob-nailed foundation. ha! ha! You see I am traveling light then. Most generally in addition to that I have two canteens full of water, my reserve rations and my bed on my back, of course I always have my mess kit and cup, my barber shop and toilet articles. I would be afraid to step on a pair of scales when I am harnessed up. They might care in. Now if you don't think this army has improved me physically I don't know what you would think could. We don't think any thing of kiking (sic) from sixteen to twenty kilometers a day and sometimes we have made thirty two on forced hikes -- we don't have trucks hauling our baggage either. I keep up in better shape now than when I was home, for I get more exercise, eat anything I see and when I am not at the lines, sleep nights instead of bum, ha! I lost some weight awhile back chasing the Boche but I have picked it up again. You see us fellows lap up all these Frenchmen's cow and goats milk and follow hens around all day so we won't miss out on an egg. A French girl told me the other day that the American soldiers sure must like milk the way they hunted for it. I'm going to get a forty-eight hour pass soon as I get paid. (I have four months pay coming next pay-day.)
     The weather has been fine here lately and we are in fine barracks.
     Tell dad if the grasshoppers get any worse I'll buy him a few extra straw hats

while I'm in Paris, ha!
     I guess they are figuring on making me Co. Barber. Our Co. never has had a regular company barber. If that is the case I'll be excused from all fatigue or extra detail and will only have to drill half the time. I am going to buy me some more barber tools this afternoon. I lost most of my old ones in the fracus. Will try and have a picture taken while in Paris. Am feeling fine.    Love to all.

Harold

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

France, 10-2, '18

     Dearest Mama and all -- Received your letter of August 27 while at the front, went over on a raid into Fritz's lines the same night to get a little information. We got a few prisoners and left several good Dutchman. (You see these Boches are only good when they are put out of the way, ha!) Fritz's machine guns were playing ragtime music around us but we had him pretty excited and his aim was poor. We get him excited pretty often especially when we jump in and drive him back fifteen or twenty kilometers. He doesn't like to see much of the "Rainbow" for he knows when ever they jump in to hit a lick that they hit pretty hard. So far we have never given back one inch for his best troupes and we have also drove him back and gained our objective on every drive we started on. Old Bill knows when ever we show up that we will fight to the last man to gain our objective so naturally he would just as soon not see us. I don't mean to brag on our outfit and say that it is impossible for us to fail but we intend to try and hold our clean record and Fritz will have to just about clean up on all of us if he wants to break up our lines.

    Walter Heilig is back to the Company and Harry Patterson is all right and out of the Hospital but he must be in some casual camp for he hasn't got back yet. All the other Shelby fellows are all right except Vic Parker. I heard he was on his way back to the states. Anyone who needs over four months treatment in a hospital is sent back to the states for treatment.
     We have a fine Chaplain with our battalion. I've listed to his sermons under shell fire more than once.
     Capt. Casey hasn't been captain of F company since he came back from the hospital. He has been with our regiment staff. Lieut. Bradley has been commander of F company -- he is a fine fellow. Our Major has been Major Stanley, but I think he will soon be promoted to Lieut. Colonel of our Regiment. Maybe Capt. Casey will be our major, am no sure yet.
     Lieut. Wallace (Intelligent officer) and Lieut. Pigeon (Scout officer) are my officers now have been in the scouts. They are fine fellows.
     I am using my gas mask for a table and it isn't very smooth so my pencil skids around every direction. I am feeling fine and dandy and expect to eat Christmas or New Years dinner at home. You'll have to put out more than three or four flapjacks for breakfast next winter for me. That use to be my size rations but I've put a pretty keep edge on my appetite over here the last year so you had better enlarge the gridles, ha!
     Tell dad that he will have to do better than he use to if he beats me putting away grub when I get back.
     Well I must close, will write again soon. Will love to all

Harold Robertson


Scrapbook, page 12

SHELBY, IOWA
===========
Word from Harold Robertson
-----

France, Oct., 4, 1918

     Dear Sister -- Well we had our first frost over here the first of October. I know for I was up all night. You see I'm not particular when I sleep just so I get it, ha! I took a good bath today and changed my underwear. I sure do feel like a new fellow. It was the first chance I had to bathe for some time and I think I had soil from nearly every part of France on my back. We don't let much grass grow under our feet over here these days. We are making the Boches do the Foch's trot.
     I am sending you a post card of my best girl, ha! We don't get to see our girls very often tho. Just about as often as we get to go home. We are always on the move when we are back around places where people live. The rest of the time scenery is mostly battered down, shell torn villages and woods. I don't mind tho for whenever I get to see places that haven't been all shot up and where things are all fixed up nice and the people act as if they were really living, it reminds me to much of home. I might get homesick if I hung around. But back at the front there is nothing to remind me of home and of course we have our fun -- that is as much as circumstances permit, so I never get homesick. You don't want to think for a minute that we have a look on our face like a cemetery while at the front. The Frenchmen say they don't quite understand us, for they can't tell by our actions whether we are returning from a scrap or going into one. Most generally when shells come whining over and just about get a fellow he gets a grin on his face that would cover a city block and decides that there must be some Dutch around somewhere from the sound of things. Its afterwards when the shells aren't bursting around you that you begin to wonder how the -- you wasn't blown so high that it would take a detective to identify you.

     I am not wearing any wound strips yet and I've been thru as much as the next American I think. You see sometimes a wound keeps you out of some of the battles. What's more I'll be ferfectly (sic) satisfied if I never do wear a stripe on my right cuff. When I cam back to the outfit they just atarted to pull real fights so I didn't miss much.
     I am feeling fine and expect to be home in the near future.
     I got this paper in a Y where French, Italians, and Americans soldiers were as thick as bees sitting around tables writing home.

With love,
Your brother Harold

-----------

France, October 9, '18

Dearest Mama and all --
     Have received your letters dated August 3, Sep. 8 and 11. I get all your late mail o.k. We receive a little bunch of mail about every week and once in awhile an awful big bunch. I never expect to get any of those old packages but I am looking for the one that I made out an order for. I have been a little too busy of late to have my picture taken and then I haven't been anywhere where I could.
     If I stay over here much longer will let Laurel have an order so she can send the cigarettes, Ethel, too.
     I sure laughed when I received your letter telling about hearing that Frank Delph was a 2nd Lieut. He is about as much an officer as I am. I don't see how that got started. Brooks has been back to the outfit for some time, his eyes are all right now. Elden Kohl wasn't wounded. Mike Heilig is back as well as every only short one toe, ha! No, I haven't see Chupp's war orphan or Chupp either since last winter (and then not the orphan).
     Yes I get to see all the fellows from Avoca in Co. L and also all I know in all the

companies of our Reg. We are always together.
     The only cotton clothing we have ever worn over here is underwear. I have winter underwear on now just put aside the light cotton.
     My throat has never bothered me since I came from the hospital last spring. Oh, I am too tough for the wet, cold weather to bother me any more. I don't even catch cold when I sleep with my clothes soaking wet. This life makes you fit to stand most anything when you have to.
     Tell Maie, that each Regiment has a Colonel, in command and a Lieut. Colonel. There are 12 Inf. companies (A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M). One Machine Gun Co., One Headquarters Co., and one supply CO. in it. A Battalion is four Inf. Companies. There are three Bn. in a Regiment. The 2nd Bn. is composed of Cos. E-F-G-H. Major Stanley has always been in charge of the 2nd Bn. but he acting Lieut. Col. now and we have a Capt acting Major.
     The Regiment always stays together and the Scouts (that I am in) work with and for the 2nd Bn. I think this will pass censorship.
     Now if you had been in this man's army as long as I have been you wouldn't be asking such questions, ha! Whenever the "rainbow" is fighting you know the whole division is there. The Alabama Regiment and ours always go side by side. They are sure fine fellows. They say "Put Iowa on our right and No Heil". That shows what they think of us.
     I had to laugh when you spoke about the people going to Omaha to see a few aeroplanes put on some stunts. What would you think of seeing the air so full of planes that you couldn't look any direction without see (sic) them? And see them diving around pumping machine gun bullets into each other. I'm as used to seeing aeroplanes as you are automobiles.
     Well must close, am feeling fine. Love to all,

Harold


 

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