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York County World War I Soldier Writes Home with Humor

Flag Day, marks York County Heritage Trust’s opening of Front Porch to Front Lines. Admission will be free for the June 14 opening with activities all day and evening, starting at 10 a.m.
In the meantime, below is another letter written by a World War I soldier and published in the October, 1918 American Chain Co. (ACCO) Connecting Links newsletter/magazine for servicemen and employees. It is written with humor but also with a sense of the serious business they were about.

“Mr. W. L. Brown,
York, Pa.
Dear Mr. Brown:
I received the copy of “Connecting Links” and must say that I sure think it is a fine idea. I don’t believe I have every read anything that gave me as much pleasure as reading that copy, and in looking through the book I was some faces that I never expected to see in a uniform of Uncle Sam, especially Jim Butler. Now who would have thought that old ‘spick and span’ Jimmie would ever be a soldier. But then, anything seems possible nowadays.
Well, Mr. Brown, I have been “over here” only three months but I have learned to fall flat on my face when one of the big boys whistle overhead as well as any of the boys who have been over here a year. I have this much to say–I sure agree with old man Sherman. I always had a desire to cross the ocean and believe me, I still have that desire.
There is one thing I like about machine gunning and that is trying to shoot down an aeroplane. It’s just like going fishing, you may get one or you may not, more ‘may not’ chances than any, but we at least have the privilege of saying that we scared him away. It’s the hardest target in the world.
I’ve learned to be some sleeper since I am on this side of the pond. We sleep in anything from a hole in the ground to a dog-house and they can put me right next to one of these big guns and I’ll sleep while she’s putting on a barrage; but the minute someone yells ‘Mess’ I’m up and on the alert. Here’s a little fact: one night I slept on an axe and never knew it was there until the next morning. Can you beat that?
Sometimes we go two days with only one meal, but we can’t complain as long as we keep driving them. Oh, it is sure one grand life if you don’t weaken.
I have seen quite a number of German prisoners and one little joke about them I recall in particular. There was a German being questioned somewhat on the war and finally they asked him if he knew what the Allies were fighting for and he said he thought he did: ‘The Italians were fighting to lick the Austrians; the English were fighting for control of the seas; the French for their country; and the Americans for souvenirs.’
Well, they have started to collect the mail so I will have to bring this to a close. Give my regards to the office force and the rest, and tell them they’ll see me by Christmas, because our new saying is ‘Heaven, Hell or Hoboken by Christmas’
Fritzie is sending over some shell now for the iodine. Write me if you get the time.
Very sincerely,
Walter D. Patrick,
Co. ‘A,’ 109th U.S. Mach. Gun Batt., A.E.F.
N.B.–Mr. Patrick was formerly connected with our Electric Welding Plant at York, Pa.”

[Hoboken, N.J. was the main port through which World War I service members left and returned during World War I.]
Click here for more on Connecting Links.
Another letter from Connecting Links.
More on W.D. Patrick.
World War II’s Safe Combination newsletter/magazine.