Barber County Index, October 23, 1918.
SOLDIERS LETTERSLetter from Chester Hagerman
Somewhere in France,
September 10, 1918.
My Dear Folks:
I received letters from you dated July 23rd, August 4th and July 29th, one from Sybil dated August 5th and two from Mary dated July 29th and August 8th. Now, believe me I was sure glad to get them, but why don't you hear from me I can't understand that. Now Mother do not worry about me for I guess I do enough myself and I'm cutting it out. Don't you worry about those German bullets and rats and lice and the rest of those things that you named. I am not bothered about any of them except those big shells. They sometimes or most all times make me flatten out on the ground which is the best protection if you have no shelter. The bullets don't hurt me because the boche can't shoot straight enough to hit me. He's tried with his machine guns before when we were up. As long as a person can hear a bullet sing he is safe enough, but when they go crack-zing, crack-zing then you had better bury your nose in the solid earth for there might be one that you'd never hear. But I should worry about Fritzie's bullets and other junk if he'll keep his big Bertha's shells and gas at home. I have had a few shots at the boche already but no great number of them. I believe they are getting scarce, anyhow we have found out they are afraid of the Yanks. They will never walk into a bunch of Yanks if they know it.
No, Mother, the weather is not hot at all here. I wore my overcoat a little bit in July, but of course it was most of mornings and evenings. It's handy all the time now.
Sept. 20th: Will add a little to the letter I wrote a week ago, Mother we have experienced some great things since that time as you have probably read about by this time. Our first time "over the top" was one grand display of bravery and skill on the part of our division and especially our regiment. It sure is no easy job to tackle what we did and go through it as lucky as we did. My Mamma, that one morning at 5:00 "over" was certainly creased in my mind so deep that it shall never be forgotten. When that old watch said 5:00 all hearts beat as one and we acted the same in the drive. I will tell you all about it if I live to get home, which I hope I will. I have not written to any one much because I couldn't., was in the front lines several days before coming "over the top" and the weather conditions were something awful. Paper is hard to get and all around in the condition we are in it's lucky you hear from me at all.
I lost everything I had going "over," so will be glad when they replace our torn and dirty clothing and give us the layout we had before the drive. No mater, I have not received the papers that you spoke of but there is some more mail come in today and maybe there are some papers down there now. You spoke of coming cross water. I sure wish you could, mamma and go back with us. It would be nice but expensive. Will send you this letter in a captured Dutch envelope, ha, ha. They sure leave lots of stuff behind them when they leave. Well mother, I must close, hoping to hear from you soon and if not be able to be back home before very long if God lets me.
Sept. 21st. Will drop you a few lines as I have a little time. Just took a good bath and got some clean underwear for the first time in six weeks, I believe. Gee I sure am tickled to get cleaned up once. One gets awful dirty after going "over the top," then we were in the front line trenches two weeks before we went over and nothing but mud knee deep and oh my you can imagine how nice it was to get bathed and cleaned up once. Mother I am sorry to say all your dear letters that you wrote to me along with Mary's and Sybil's and others were lost in the salvage. I left them in my blanket roof along with all my personal and private belongings and we just heard that they salvaged them all so we lost everything and I wanted, so bad to keep those letters that I got from home because I used to sit and read them over and over. I lost a dandy razor that I captured from a Dutchman and several other things, but they can have them all if it will win the war. I have many nice souvenirs but I had to turn them in and there's no way to get them home but wish I could though. The Germans seem to have lots of souvenirs.
I saw "Speck" today for the first time since the drive. He is O.K. and was glad to see me. He gave me some clippings that he clipped from papers sent to him. I do wish I could get my papers that you sent me. I cannot get them though and they don't seem to know anything about them. I sure do get lots of letters from home and wish I could get more, but I can't answer what I get. I have to write to you with pencil and paper from the Red Cross. I have no pen any more and haven't seen a Red Triangle for "Mike only knows when." I saw Oliver Parker the other day, he sure looks good. He asked about everyone. I guess poor
Shorty Nixonwas killed from all we can hear about him. I see Skaggs from Sharon almost every day. He is just across from my billet now. I wish Claude and the other people that I write to would write. I can't see why they don't. Can't help but think lots of our mail was lost. I wrote to Mary's mother and never heard from her. How is she getting along now from her broken shoulder? That was indeed too bad that she got hurt. Maybe it won't be so bad if we don't work too soon and will take good care of it. How is uncle Hugh and grandpa getting along. I wrote to them but have never heard from them. I hope they keep well. I suppose M. L. looks dreary and lonesome, doesn't it? Wait till we all come marching home. Whew! Won't that be grand? Every time I think of it I get plumb crazy. It sure is a trying job for most of us boys over here, especially those who are fighting. Some have been here over a year and have never been on the front lines.
Well mother I must close now and write again when I can. I will be a good soldier as I have been and trust to God to return me back home to the ones I love. Tell all hello and that I went over the top all O. K. the first time. Tell Sybil many thanks for the little card and also those other three pictures Mary sent me, they were real cute. I haven't lost any of them for they went "over the top" with me. Write soon,
Lovingly, I remain,
Pvt. CHESTER R. HAGERMAN.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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