10. The Last Day of the War,
Christmas Greeting and a successful New Year to Father, Mother and the dear "Kid Sisters,"
My dear family,
A telegram which I got off to you the day of the armistice was signed is all that I had time to send concerning my welfare and the fact that I came through alright, alright. It has been a busy two weeks I have put in since that time although It was not quite so busy as the fortnight previous to that eventful and blessed day when the guns hushed their rumble and I had my last and most nearly hairbreadth escape.
At 1000 in the morning of the 11th of November we knew nothing of the armistice at all. We had been driving, driving, driving since the morning of Nov. 1st towards Sedan and the Meuse. My but it was -- terrific! Mud knee deep on the roads. Influenza sending our fittest back but we kept going and kept Heinie running until he at last bucked on the Meuse and blew up all the bridges so we had to wait a couple of days till our engineers could construct raft bridges and then we crept down to river in the darkness, the engineers swam the frozen water fastened the flimsy bridge to the other bank. Then Fritz's outposts worked their telephones and the waiting enemy Machine gunners and artillery through in a hail of steel and lead such as I have never seen in my experience before, but we got over or some of us did. The valley was full of gas, a heavy fog and the smoke of what seemed to be a million shells and I was glad when our commander ordered us to advance and hold as much as we could while it was dark and then consolidate just before dawn for a heavy attack. So we moved forward and we kept on advancing.
Next morning we found that our battalion was the only one across and so although it was an awful chance of being entirely cut off but we kept on going. At ten o'clock that morning the mist began to lift and guns were still pounding away at us. At 3 minutes to 11 a courier came to the major from our Gen. and the world knows the message! The poor boys, some of them, just dropped and cried. We counted up and found we had 213 men and 17 officers of the whole battalion that started on the grey dawn of Nov. 1st when they broke the last German line - the "Freya Kremhilde" that 2 divisions had tried to break and failed and which we at last overcame.!!
Well it's all over now and we are marching on the old river Rhine as you can see by the address. On the night of the 13th we were relieved from the front line and dropped back two or three miles to get clothes and equipment for the men for the "big hike." At about 700 on the 13th I was sent for by the Colonel of the Regiment and told to proceed immediately to the Rear and report to the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps in Paris with dispatches and cablegrams. There I was, unshaven, unkempt [with] dirty puttees all torn from the barbed wire, no chance to clean up, but I started. I had to walk about 10 miles to get to a mail motor truck road. Rode about 73 miles on trucks then I got the railhead got on an American shunt engine, rode the line to an Am. engineers camp and had a shave a little breakfast, then caught another engine down to St. Menehould where I caught a train for Chalons at 530 AM, got into Paris at 6 PM. I got my business done at Headquarters, sent off about 50 cablegrams for different officers and of the men of the Reg. Did a little shopping [and]visited some of the boys I knew at the Red Cross Hospital. Had a bath, a change of clothes and a midnight dinner at the Cafe de Paris with a couple of frat brothers in the Aviation service, then had a couple of hours sleep before I caught the morning train for the front. I got to Chalons and found I couldn't make connections in time by train so I went round to French headquarters and bummed a ride as far as Vouziers with a French Colonel in a Packard. There I caught a gasoline truck going to Sedan. I jumped off at the nearest point to my destination and caught an ambulance going to our divisional headquarters. I got there at 300 in the morning and went out to my battalion got there at 500 and they left at 600 for their great march.
Ever since I have been busy as a bee. I am the billeting officer of this Reg. and have to go ahead with the advance cavalry patrols and billet the officers, men and animals of the Battalion. Have to have a couple of interpreters. We were two days in Belgium and had a lovely time. You can Imagine the reception those poor people gave us. Now here we are on the border of Germany in the pretty little Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. These folks also are treating us very cordially. It all seems very much like a dream. Who would have thought it a month [ago]. Well tomorrow I'll be twenty. Haven't even started life yet, though lots of times I've thought it was the end. Its over now or we hope so. Had word from John about 2 days ago he's well and happy at the school. This is a wonderful trip but I'll be glad to get back to the States. I'll try to get a picture off pretty soon.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all.