My Fellow Soldiers

Letters from World War I

Refer to caption

Private Raeburn Van Buren to his mother, August 1918
Image credit: Stephen L. Harris

Front Line

Front line personnel and civilians at home exchanged over 51 million letters in the first year after entering the war. For security reasons, the military censored outgoing mail from all service members deployed overseas.

Mrs. Betty Boadway, to her husband Lieutenant Walter Boadway, September 10, 1918

"Probably the inclement weather and shortage of planes would be excuse enough to keep you idle . . ."

Mrs. Betty Boadway, to her husband Lieutenant Walter Boadway, September 27, 1918

"Dear Husband of mine, it is two A.M. and that's an unheard of hour for a staid and settled matron to be writing."

Lieutenant Walter Boadway, to his wife Betty, October 20, 1918

"I went out with a Red Cross Lieut. named Hemingway . . . He has been here in the hospital 4 months."

Lieutenant Walter Boadway, to his wife Betty, August 10, 1918

"I really enjoy night flying. It's a good thing I guess because I'll probably have plenty of it soon."

Sergeant Clyde Eoff, to his sister Josephine Eoff, October 26, 1918

"Just at supper time they threw some gas shells in the town and interrupted our meal."

Private Dwight Fee, to his parents, July 21, 1918

"The Jerrys hid, then a half hour later rushed our trench, throwing bombs."

Mrs. Lucille Fee, to her husband Private Dwight Fee, July 25, 1918

"Already this war has made me a much better person and I have profited so much by it, except that I am a great deal older."

Maurice Hess, to his father , October 6, 1918

"We must stand true to the best light that God has given to us in our endeavor to see and do the right."

Mr. Conrad Hoffmann Jr. (International YMCA), to his wife Louise, July 23, 1918

"I shall remain gladly for I realize that thereby I can be of real help to our countrymen who become prisoners of war here."

Mrs. Louise Hoffmann, to her husband Conrad, September 9, 1918

"There is no country like ours and I am so glad you are strong enough to hold out under pressure, and stay American."

Ship's Cook Third Class Hugh Alexander Leslie, to his parents, June 16, 1918

"Our ship, looked as if she knew she was sinking."

Miss Anna V.S. Mitchell (Red Cross), to her sister Caroline Phelps Stokes, April 1, 1918

"The flames . . . our extra supply of provisions! They were gone."

Chaplain Arthur W. Moulton, to Mrs. R. Goldklang, September 3, 1918

"The cemetery is a beautiful one and your boy lies by the side of other American boys who have made the supreme sacrifice."

Colonel George S. Patton, to his father, October 28, 1918

"You know I have always feared I was a coward at heart but I am beginning to doubt it."

Miss Clarine Payne, to her uncle Private James Edgar Thornton, August 30, 1918

"I [must hurry] up and get to the mail box it is all most mail time."

Ms. Audrey Jane Radcliffe (Stenographer, US Army), to her father, October 27, 1918

"Your dear little girl is at least in France. . . . Be good dear dad & write your little girl."

Private Dean Robertson, to his family, June 11, 1918

"We are in the field—not the trenches. You must have read of what the Americans are doing and of the open fighting."

Private Dean Robertson, to his family, June 21, 1918

"The Huns were on 3 sides & fired on us continually. It was 2 days of Hell."

Mrs. Alice Stevanus, to her son US Army Cook Harry Stevanus, August 24, 1918

"Those that are mamed and wonded oho my dear child may god have mersy and heal them strong and well fore I know it was for a good cause and will never be forgotten."

Mrs. Verna Stevanus, to her mother-in-law Alice , August 19, 1918

"We know it is hard to see him coming back a cripple but still that is better than not at all."

Chief Nurse Julia Stimson, to her parents , October 13-18, 1918

"I'm going to see if I can't put the job of Chief Nurse of the AEF on the map."

Chief Nurse Julia Stimson, to her family , July 25, 1917

"We have been receiving patients that have been gassed, and burned in a most mysterious way."

Chief Nurse Julia Stimson, to her family , November 25, 1917

"It is a fearful thing to have the responsibility of one hundred women so far away from home."

Mrs. Sarah Thornton, to her husband Private James Edgar Thornton, August 20, 1918

"Bell and Jack are well and [send] love. Yes I am still getting my money but I [haven't] got my July check yet."

Private Raeburn Van Buren, to his mother, September 15, [1918]

"I loathe these 'swivel chair' soldiers who are doing their fighting with a pencil in some comfortable little room in Paris or Washington."

Private Raeburn Van Buren, to his mother, August 28, 1918

"These little pup tents we use are poor shelter from a downpour of rain unless much time is spent in entrenching works."

Private Raeburn Van Buren, to his grandparents, October 8, 1918

"Must Go Now!"

Yeoman First Class Charles Edmond Worth, to his mother, July 16, 1918

"Cease to be a horrified victim and become a proud victor."