World War 1 - Relics and Documents of The Great War
Powerful WW 1 Letter: Mentions "Gas", "Aeroplanes" and More
Item #: JMS-294
Powerful WW 1 Letter: Mentions Powerful WW 1 Letter: Mentions Powerful WW 1 Letter: Mentions Powerful WW 1 Letter: Mentions
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This letter is going to knock your socks off!
Letter is 4 pages, in period pencil, from Homer I. Starkey of Co. G, 103rd Infantry, AEF to friends "Jack and Maggie Leonard" in East Akron, Ohio. (Letter is addressed to Margaret Leonard, so "Jack" may have been a boyfriend or a husband.)
This letter is dated September 25th, 1918 from "Somewhere in France". This was written just a little over a month before the Armistice on 11-11-18.
The letter begins as so many; with newsy tidbits and reminiscences. On page 2, which is curiously on page 3 in terms of the paper, it gets really good. Starkey writes, "We have been in this woods for about 2 weeks now, ever since we went over the top. Suppose we'll be going over the top again before we go back to a town again. Will be glad when we get back far enough so I can't hear those old guns roar. The old Germans send a few shells over there every day and night and some of our guns are working too. Shoot at aeroplanes most of the time but they shoot quite a lot of big shells into other places too. Guess they sent over a lot of gas last night, but I didn't hear them. We were in a dugout playing cards till about 2 o'clock this a.m. and then 2 (now on page 3, which is physically on page 2) of us laid down in a trend and slept till 9 this morning. Gee. Won't it feel funny to get back into my old bed again and go into a restaurant and order what I want to eat? Wonder how soon that will be." (Then an army censor blacks out five lines of text in heavy pencil. Evidently, Starkey wrote some things the censors didn't want falling into German hands.) After the censoring, the letter continues...
"Lucille says she is thinking of being a nurse. Don't think she would stand it very long do you. I haven't seen any nurses since I landed in France. Guess they must be farther back from the lines. Have they started drafting the older men in Akron, yet?" Then, there's a little personal news and the letter jumps to page 4...the last. This Akron-born man seems interested in rubber, which makes perfect sense. Akron was, for nearly a hundred years, the rubber capital of the world. Starkey observes, "Have heard Germany was short of rubber but didn't believe it before. One of our fellows found a bicycle and it had iron tires on it with springs between the rim and the other tire and they got some trucks with the same kind of tires. Don't see how they run them over these roads."
There's a little more content and then Starkey signs the letter with full name and regiment wishing, "Love to all".
The letter is 4 pages and has a censors stamp on the YMCA cover. The entire letter is in pencil but is VERY legible. Starkey writes in run-on sentences but it's easy enough to discern. Interestingly, the cover is address in ink. I suppose ink was in short supply at the front, where Homer was. He saved it for the envelope to be sure it go to its destination.
This World War One letter is almost 100 years old now and all the old fellows are, sadly, gone. I'm not sure when your next opportunity will come to own an American doughboy's letter from the front mentioning artillery, "aeroplanes" and gas attacks. If you want just one letter in your collection representative of the Great War, this would be the one to get.


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