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"Hezzie" Goes to War: World War I through the Eyes of a Mid-Missourian

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Western Front Experience

Letter No. 86

Wednesday, October 9, 1918
(no location)

. . .
It has been decided at General Headquarters that they are in need of me at the front, with one of the armies. Now don't let this announcement frighten you in the least. I will be in more danger, that is, I will be in some danger rather, as so far I have been none. However, being at a headquarters means several miles ordinarily from the actual danger and the only danger I will have will be from air raids and long distance guns, neither of which are very dangerous any longer. A large number of our men of the 29th have already gone and I will have about as many friends up there as I have here. The head of the school told me he did everything in his power to keep me here as I have been doing exceptional good work. The man who will take my place is a Lieutenant under whom I took the course so I presume I have done well, otherwise they would send him. He is a married man with a boy so it is better that I should go.


(no letter # or location)

Monday, Oct. 28, '18

Dear Mother and Dad,
This is just a note to let you know I have arrived safely at my destination and gotten an idea of my work.

There isn't much I can say about it as yet, except that there is going to be a great deal of it and it is the actual, real thing you can bet. I will tell you about it at degrees as it develops and as I feel at liberty to write.

Last night for the first time in my life fell asleep with the cannons booming - not low enough to be of any real danger however. Neither did they keep be awake long for I was too tired from the long ride up. . . .

[links below open in new windows]

University of Nancy
University of Nancy
after air raid
1918

bombed building
Nancy, France
after air raid
1918

(no letter # or location)

November '18

. . .
We have been bombed once, but it didn't amount to much. We had several alerts last week but only once did they get over. It was a great sight to see them get after one Hun machine. The anti-aircraft guns were firing on him and the schrapnel was bursting on all sides of him, but he got away. The air is full of our machines when the weather is at all favorable and I expect very few raids here, they are too busy saving their hides from capture. With Turkey and Austria out of it, it may finish before so very long, although I do not expect it to come this year.


Letter No. 91

France, November 12, 1918

Dear Mother and Dad:
Well, I believe there is more to write than any time recently.
It seems the War is over at last. However, I was one of those whom did not think the Germans would accept such severe terms as imposed by the armistice. However everyone takes it for granted that the jig is up with them. I shall be fully convinced only when we get actually control of their cannons, battle ships and the rest. Yet, if conditions are as reported they are in Germany, she is done for some time to come at least, so I presume the War is really over. . . .

dugout
direct hit on dugout

machine gun emplacement
machine gun emplacement

field
field with barbed wire

uboat wreck
wreck of submarine

dinner
dinner

Letter No. 92

12 November, 1918
(no location)

. . .
Now for a recital of recent events. Sunday I witnessed the closing chapter, I hope, of the war as far as conflicts are concerned. Another Lieutenant and I were walking about when we heard the antiaircraft guns firing so soon made out the German machine making for our direction - a mere speck. The shells were bursting behind him and we had about given up hope of their getting him when one went right into him. The machine began to fall like a wounded bird. It must have fallen several thousand feet before the observer finally got his parachute in working order and he came down safely. The pilot, however, came with the machine and was simply a part of the mess when the machine lit.


Letter No. 95

2nd Lt. J. H. Pattrick, Engrs.
G-2-C, Hdqtrs, 2nd Army
American E.F., France
21 November 1918

Before I had finished my letter on Sunday, there was a call from me to go with an auto to take some maps to our army as they procede into Germany. . . . It took me through our front lines, as they were when fighting ceased last week and also into the German lines as they left them last Monday. I took some photos and visited some dugouts and trenches of various kinds. . . . Some of the more interesting things I saw was a dugout visited or perhaps the Headquarters of the Crown Prince. It was built of concrete, electric lit, had push buttons to call orderlies, and had a large Iron Cross on the outside. It must have required considerable time to do such building. The places I visited were Montsec. The town itself was a mere heap of powdered dust. They are reconstructing the roads as quickly as possible. . . .

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A Joint Exhibit
of the
University of Missouri
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia
and the University of Missouri-Columbia
Museum of Anthropology

Acknowledgments and World War I Links