Courtesy Center for American War Letters Archives, Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University, CA
This army mechanic regularly kept in touch with his Nebraska home. Sergeant Clyde Eoff mixed humor and horror in honest letters to his sister. He took a light tone about deadly poisonous gas. The military had to develop defensive masks for chemical weaponry introduced in 1915. The masks were uncomfortable and unreliable. Eoff survived the chemical attacks and artillery shelling during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. It was the AEF’s largest offensive, lasting six weeks and culminating in victory for the Allies.
Oct – 26 1918
Dear Sister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Sept 18. I had just concluded that you were going to write again some time next year and am certainly glad you did not wait that long. The pictures you sent were fine, you are getting better looking every day. That was also good of Ivy. I had a letter from Scott a short time ago, but I suppose he is over here by this time. I also heard from Al and he is rather peeved because he has’nt got away.
[p. 2] I am glad you are getting my letters now. I have all of yours up to this one. Yes I realise that it has been over a year since I left the villiage and I hope I am back before another year. You want to know what I am doing! Well, I will tell you the best I can without disclosing any military information. It is hard to decide just what is considered passable. As I write this I am in a solid concrete pill box which was built by the germans, and abandoned in the last drive on this front. It is built in an old building in a villiage which is
[p. 3] now a mass of ruins. In fact very little is left of any of the towns after the Hun leaves. These little exciting times here cant be told on paper. You would have to be here to experience the real thrill when these shells light in this vicinity. I am located at an advance station ahead of the company, and only about a mile and a half from the front. It is a very interesting place to be, not to say exciting. Our concrete home affords good protection from shells, so we get in here and laugh at them when they toss over a few. Lately they have given us desert with our meals. Last
[p. 4] night just at supper time they threw some gas shells in the town and interupted our meal. Again this morning while we were eating breakfast we had another session and we had to put on our masks. Of course we cant eat with a mask on so breakfast had to wait. I wish they would pick some other time besides meal time, for I dont like to have my meal interupted. I am getting used to the shells for it was the same story the last place I was at. They used to shell that town almost every night,
[p. 5] They better do their shelling while the shelling is good for they are getting more than they send. Yes Pershing’s birthday was celebrated over here and of course the papers told how the celebration came out. I guess the germans wish he had not had a birthday about that time. Have you heard from Bob lately. I suppose he has written since he got in the hospital. I haven’t heard how he is getting along but I hope he pulls through. That gas is some bad medicine if you don’t keep on the alert. I did’nt get to see him before he was
[p. 6] sent back. I got the bag and the watch again. If it had waited till it got here to stop running I would think it was so frightened It had to stop. But it has’nt kept time since I had it. I will just keep it as it might get lost if I try to send it back.
So you cant decide wheather to go to california or buy a car! As soon as I get back I will help you solve the problem.
I am surprised that father did’nt take that proposition in Virginia. If the offer was as you stated I think he did wrong
[p.7] in not accepting it. The last I heard he was in Wyoming and I did’nt know he had returned. He must have stayed a very short time. I haven’t received any papers from Adeline yet, but probably will later. I have some business that must be attended to so will have to close, and get this on the way. This leaves me well and everything is fine. Dont wait so long between letters, and I will try and do better.
Love from your brother Sgt Clyde Eoff - 314 M.O.R.S. A.P.O. #761 France
I am enclosing a sketch I made a short time ago at a little town I was in.
Lt. Calonney [censor’s signature]