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This photo shows the front page of the Minot Daily News on Feb. 1, 1918, when people were anticipating the end of World War I.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I, this is part three of a three part series with letters written by World War I military members from Ward County and other area counties.

Letters from The Great War is a project conducted by students of Joseph T. Stuart, associate professor of history at the University of Mary in Bismarck. Students researched archives at the North Dakota Heritage Center to provide transcripts for use by the North Dakota Newspaper Association and the North Dakota World War I Centennial Committee.

Editor Note: The following letter was written by Roy Grinnell, who was stationed in Germany, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell. Roy has been in most of the big scraps across the pond, being a member of the division that held the first American sector which was near Toul. It was published in the Tolley Journal on Feb. 13, 1918.

Dear Folks: Well I am heartily ashamed of myself for not writing sooner. It must be more than a month now since I wrote. But we were on the march up from Verdun to our present position about 30 kilometers north east of Coblenz, in Rhineish Prussia; so there is some excuse for not writing before.

I got a few letters from home last night, the latest of which was dated Nov. 25th. I have been getting magazines and newspapers quite regularily [sic] of late. In fact I believe that the last two weeks I have got at least 25 magazines. They surely were very welcome.

I am surprised to notice from your letter of the 17th of Nov. that you were seemingly worrying for fear I had got back to the front again before peace had been signed and possibly been hurt again as you hadn heard from me for some few weeks. I didn get back to my outfit until the 16th of November just in time to start forward with my outfit in the hike to the Rhine. I was in a replacement camp at LeMans near Tours in France when the armistice was signed.

Winter has set in here now to stay, I guess. We had about half an inch of snow Christmas and it stayed with us. It is fairly cold here now and I think it will snow again tonight by the looks of the sky. We are comfortably housed however so the cold mean nothing to us. We are billeted in an unused cafe and have a good stove and plenty of firewood so we do very well. I am feeling wonderfully well now days too.

We had a pretty fair Christmas for being so far from home. We went out in the woods and cut a small pine tree and decorated it with odds and ends we picked up around the billets, such as tin foil, bright colored paper etc. Then we borrowed a piano, mandolin and a violin and had lots of music and songs. In the evening we got a couple of sacks of mail which took the place of Christmas presents. Last Christmas was surely a lonesome one in Winchester, England. Next will be the best of all as I will be home again.

You say you never received the coupon for my Christmas package. I was in the hospital at Bordeaux then and for some reason or other they didn issue them there. I believe you can get them from the local Red Cross chapter by swearing that you have not as yet received them from Jack and me.

I have surely seen a lot of country on foot the last month and a half. Just look at map of Europe and locate Verdun in France, then trace a route thru the corner of German Lorraine, thru the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, by way of the capital city, to the part of the Luxembourg boundary that is formed by the Moselle River. There we crossed the river into Germany and followed the course of the Moselle to where it joined the Rhine at Coblenz. There we crossed the Rhine, on the 13th of the present month it was, and proceeded north east about 20 miles to the little town where we are now located. We were from the 17th of November to the 15th of December on the march, except for a week or so that we stopped along the Moselle on the Luxembourg border.

I wonder if I ever told you what division I am in. It is the 1st Division, composed of the 16th, 18th, 26th and 28th Infantry the 5th, 6th and 7th Field Artillery, the 1st Amm. Train, 1st supply Train etc. Our division was the first to go to the trenches as you may know. They went into the trenches in late October, 1917 near Nancy where they stayed about a month. That was a training sector only. They occupied the first American Sector on the 19th of Jan. 1918 near Toul. That was shortly after I joined them so it was my first experience in the trenches.

It was the 28th Infantry of our division that took Cantiguy [sic] on May 28th. Our division fought at Soissons from July 18th to 22nd in which we had some very tough fighting with the Prussian Guards who put up a stiff resistance. We also fought at St. Mihiel, the Argonne Front and in the last drive of the war that took them to Sedan. I was unfortunate enough to miss the Sedan scrap as I was in the hospital as you know with the scratch I got in the Argonne.

However perhaps I was fortunate because if I hadn been slightly wounded I might have got bumped off in the later scraps.

I hope Clyde don move to Minneapolis as he intends. I am sure he wouldn like it very well.

Well I guess this is the longest letter I have ever written and am tired so will close for this time.

Friends: Have considered writing a letter to my home town newspaper quite a long while but have never been able to wind up enough courage to start. We have nothing to do except eat, sleep, and get up in the morning; the latter is by far the hardest job I have because I surely do like my bunk when reveille is heard. The last two mornings, however, have been without reveille as our trumpeter has taken sick with the and sent to the hospital. Several others have gone also so that he is not alone in his suffering. The company has been quarantined and relieved of guard duty and that accounts for us not having anything to do except sit around the fire and tell stories and lies and what not.

When we first came to this camp things were not in as good a shape as might be wished for. I have reference to our bunks in our barracks. They were bunks all right, but our idea of a bunk did not quite compare with the fellow who built them. During the day we had seen huge piles of lumber in the camp and so our commander asked the army quartermaster for some lumber. The request was refused. right, thought we, will soon be evening. Evening came and we organized a lumber detail. In an hour time we had all the lumber we wanted. No one came to take it away either. Stove wood details have also been organized and marched off after dark to return with a week supply of wood. Leave it to the Marines. They help themselves if there is no one who wants to give them any thing [sic]. The seem to have gotten our number lately. They call us the 11th Regiment of thieves. How near correct they are only a marine in the 11th., [sic] Regiment knows. The Americans in France have rather rough traveling at times. Especially in regard to prices of articles they want to buy. The French have three prices on their stuff: one price to the French, which is very low and reasonable, another, a little higher, to the British soldiers, and still a third price for the Americans which is three times what they ask for it from the French. I know of instance to prove what they say. When I first came here I was short of writing paper and the first time I was in town I bought a box of stationery for six francs, ($1.20). A box full of stationey [sic] did not last long as other used paper from the same box and so the next time I went to town I decided to buy another box. Loafing on the streets of Chateauroux for a while before making our purchase. I met a French soldier who could speak English fluently. We had a nice conversation and incidently [sic] told him what we wanted to buy. He told us we had paid too much for it and at the same time offered to go in and buy one for me while we remained outside. He came back in about five minutes later with the same kind of a box of stationery as I had bought before for six francs. The soldier paid two and a half francs for the stationery.

Wines and beers have the same difference in prices to Americans and French. It is often to the regret of the vender to charge too much for his wines because it very often happens when a gang comes to buy, one or two others will slip around and get into the cellar and carry away as much as their pockets will hold. Every farm house in the country is a wine shop and wine can be bought at any time. In many places the boys can buy whiskey and beer. The French don drink water and laugh at an American for taking a dring [sic] of water. A French soldier fills his canteen with wine instead of water as the Americans do.

There are many customs that seem very queer to us. Especially the way they do their farm work. Time is no object to the French farmer. There is a day coming tomorrow for him that contains just as many hours as today and what is the use of hurrying too much, he thinks. They can do all the work now. That have sons growing who take up their father business as soon as they reach the age of discretion. Young folks marry early in life, the parents having a great deal to say as to who their children shall be married to. The Frenchman, as far as I have seen him is industrious, but not ambitious. They are contented and satisfied with their lot because their grandparents got along nicely and were well contented.

France has some very beautiful architecture in their man cathedrals and churches. Every little village has a church of its own and usually all inhabitants of the town belong to that one church. Larger cities have cathedrals built with great care and precision.

It lacks only a few days of me having been in France four months. At the end of every four months in France, a fellow is entitled to a seven day leave including traveling time. Perhaps I shall have an opportunity to see a little more of the country we have heard so much about lately.

My resources have been exhausted and my stomach is empty. The boys are waiting for the mess call. It is a sign that I have to quit and get my own mess gear. Can afford to lose out on chow.

With all good wishes from a buck private in the Marine Corps. Marine Corps, A. E. F. A. P. O. No. 788.

Renville County letters researched and transcribed by University of Mary history student Collin Hilzendeger

Editor Note: This letter was written by Hildor Elison from Luxembourg to his brother Otto on Nov. 29, 1918. It was published on Dec. 26, 1918, in the Ward County Independent.

Dear Brother: How is everything with you these happy days? I am very much alive these days and am on my way to the Rhine to keep Fritz from pulling any rough stuff. We have been right on his heels and as soon as he pulls out of a village we move in and take billets and set out a few of our guns on outpost duty, always on the alert for anything that comes up.

I am acting Top Sergeant on this wonderful trip thru Belgium, Luxemburg [sic], and to the Rhine and I do my hiking on horseback, pretty soft, but it is the first soft billet I have had since I came to France, thirteen months ago.
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