Letters from World War I

Alfred Robinson (16th Infantry Regiment), to his mother, November 14, 1918

Refer to caption
French woman searching the remains of her destroyed house, 1919
Courtesy National Archives, Washington, DC


Courtesy Center for American War Letters Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, CA

This letter in faint pencil is strong in its sentiments. Three days after the Armistice, Alfred Robinson reflected on the war. He described for his mother how France lay in ruins. The people were left “homeless, orphaned, penniless.” The combatants had “lost the flower of their youth.” Robinson’s tone is in stark contrast to his assured attitude toward the war in his letter from training camp just a year prior.

one page of a hand-written letter on Red Cross letterhead


Alfred Robinson, Hq. Co. 16th Inf., A.P.O. 727, Amer. E. F. France.

November 14, 1918 Base Hospital 114, Bordeaux, France.

Dearest Mother:

I will take the pleasure of writing you a short letter this morning; being still in the Hospital and unable to get out. I am perfectly well except a little cough and I certainly would like to be back with the outfit They were one of the division to enter Sedan in the great recent advance. How good it must be now, the war over, to be able to build camp fires at will, without fear from above safe from the many dangers of night at the front.

Yes the war is over, at last [page break] the Allies are the victors, and the world is a garden of joy, but what has been the cost. Besides the towns that are merely injured a thousand of them in France and Belgium are in desolation and ruins, some of them merely the cornerstones standing, worse than any ancient ruins in existence. Thousand and thousands homeless, orphaned, penniless. Many and many a time as I have passed through these places I have said to myself Poor, poor France, may her day of victory be Near. I hope that after this war no man will dare to call [page break] himself a German with pride.

England, France, Belgium, Italy, the Central powers, America, and many others have lost the flower of their youth, for what?

The Argonne will always live in the memory of our boys, there many a poor sammie lies mouldering away. I have heard that American dead are to be taken home in the course of time. I hope it’s true.

I will close, and say, From your loving Son Alfred

My Fellow Soldiers