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WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.

Article about: This letter was written by a Nevin W. Moyer. He was born in 1876 in Pennsylvania. During WW1 he would serve with the 108th Field Artillery within the 28th Infantry Division. He wrote the let

  1. #1

    Default WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.

    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.
    This letter was written by a Nevin W. Moyer. He was born in 1876 in Pennsylvania. During WW1 he would serve with the 108th Field Artillery within the 28th Infantry Division. He wrote the letter while he was in a Trench in France. It is full of interesting details about trench life and warfare. The letter reads:

    “ With the Colors, At the Front in France

    France, Sunday September 1st 1918

    My dear sister, -

    It is raining by spells today, making it very unpleasant to soldier, to live down in a trench, to battle, and when wet, hard to keep warm.

    My trench mate,- was taken to the base hospital, leaving me alone down in my grave shaped dugout. In day time I would bring my blanket out to dry and get rid of the musty smell but this I thought could be made more healthy. This mate had been hurt, and I was helping him along, so now I went to my old tent mates, where we did some planning for a deeper, and better dugout. We started out after our plans, and had a hard time digging our dugout hidden in a grove while the cannons were…

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    roaring, shells bursting and being disturbed by Jerry (German) soaring over us- the eye from his air ship, we do not welcome, for when they drop bombs they are not welcomed. These bombs when burst, they blow up the earth for more than 25 diameter and 15 deep. Such a hole happens to be only a stone throw away from our present dugout. Many others worse. Well we found some German picks and shovels and began our digging. It was some digging. We first passed through a hard hard clay like soil, there through a strata of lime stone, flint, chalk and earth, then tough damp blue clay. Did we take our time to it? No, we wanted to get below the earth level as soon as possible on account the bursting of shell and flying around of shrapnel which might come our way. We found some wood, laid it across the top, this old tin, and that we covered with earth, and camouflage (brush). Now it is out of sight, and…

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    the only thing that can get us is, a direct shell hit, gas, and water. Well that is enough. When we get a chance to sleep, we are disturbed very much by those things. Things, yes things, that have picked off some of my best friends, caused others to get on their knees and pray as they never prayed before, when these shells filled the air. I heard one good fellow say, who got into a shell fire, and did not know which way to move for safety, that he started to pray, and it seemed as if all the bad things he ever did came up before him then. Well let me tell you, the boys that live this through are going to come out better men than they went into it. We have lost many, and they that are left have seen and learned.

    For four years the German have been advancing towards Paris, and it seemed as if this advance could not be checked by the French or English soldiers.

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    But it took the First, Second, Third and Fourth Division of regulars and 26th, 28th our division, 32nd and the 42nd Division, National Guard Volunteers, 3rd Army corps to cause the German to aboutface , toward Berlin, and we have them going ever since, and we are going to keep them going to the end- Gen. Pershing had a fine write up of praise for the brave and heroic work done by these two army corps. We have made the turning point of the war. It is rumored that we are going to be decorated by France and the US for this good work. But the work is not nearly complete, and many lives will yet be lost before Berlin is reached or peace secured.

    Well enough of that, now a little sunshine. I told you before, that some boys lost all and many lost parts.

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    I lost my overcoat, blanket and some small books, one containing all my friends addresses. Some had only what they had on their back. Some got lost in the dark or battle from their organization. Now you might wonder where do these boys eat. Listen, the Salvation Army has what they call a stragglers kitchen, where the lost or starving boy can get potatoes, salad, slaw, sandwich, coffee, now that means a lot to a lost, and wayward fellow that is crippled, gassed, or lost.

    Near to us was a chocolate factory, but now all blown to pieces. The YMCA, Red Cross, and commissary department have taken charge of it, and are making use of all the usable parts. When it is safe we can go there by batteries, or companies, and get a warm shower bath, throw our dirty underwear on a pile, and our outfits clothing are steamed to kill the germs. By the time we have our bath, we go and get new underwear, stockings, and dry steamed clothing. Then we go into the YMCA, and get three small…

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    pieces of chocolate, four cigarettes, and a small piece of chewing tobacco. Then there is a bit of reading material, a sheet of writing paper and envelope and from there we went into a moving picture show. But that was very, very faint, but it was merely O.K. Outside was a “Y” man taking boys money to send it home. That happened with only a few. Not with our Artillery for we have not been paid yet for July, and August, but a kind unknown lady to us from middletown, sent us a nice sized Go. Money order for four of us boys, which we changed here and bought some chocolate, salted peanuts and cakes.

    After this we went back to camp, passing a war graveyard, in which are buried in separate divisions, many German, French, and two American Soldiers. All their graves are marked well with wooden crosses. In some cases the helmet is on the grave with bullet and shrapnel holes in it.

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    Now our meals. This was Sunday, for breakfast we had two pieces of bacon, two hardtacks and coffee. For dinner we had two spoon of baked beans, three pieces of bread and coffee. This P.M. some boys went out and picked blackberries. So for supper we had blackberry pudding, corn beef, bread and coffee. No seconds, and I am sure we could have eaten much more on firsts. But all right, some day I expect to get home and have good meat, fruit, bread, etc.

    I have told you before that for the past four years, all these old farms have been laid to waste for thousands of acres, for miles in all directions. All the building implements, fences, farms, furniture etc is recked. All the owners, and inhabitants are refugees, somewhere. But today an odd thing happened, while Beny Garnesky was policing (cleaning up) he found a nest of black and white spotted kittens, in hay, that did not have their eyes open. He fixed up their bed better, to make them happy. They were living without any knowledge of what great excitement surrounded there, but their poor mother was not in sight, who very…

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    likely suffering and living under great stress.

    Now a word of praise to the 109, 110, 111, 112 US inf, 108-109-110-111, machine gun, and the 107-108-109 Field Artillery, which is part of the 3rd Army corps. The men that are left, can shake hands with themselves so far and when they get back they are deserving of many pats on their backs for standing the hardest blunt in this turning point. You will read more about it in the future than now, of the wonderful work that was done by these boys.

    When we were yet in the states, many remarks were made about “pushing up daisies” in France. Now some of our good friends are doing this. Where others are in hospitals suffering from wounds, gas, etc. But I am very thankful, I am living and doing well. This section here is very much like our home weather and climate, but we are all hoping to finish this great task before the winter arrives. Two winters with our shelter in the coldest of weather, so enough for us. But if we are needed, we are ready to do our bit and more. I know when you read this, we will be much nearer to Berlin. Your Yankee Brother.

    You need not send anymore press to Lottee M Squelch. Don’t need to put my name to this, “with the colors in France” is enough.”

    Nevin would survive the war and would pass away in 1950.
    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.
    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.
    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.
    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.
    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.
    WW1 Era Letter Written in a Rainy Trench by a U.S. Serviceman in France. Lots of content about Trench Warfare.

  2. #2

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    Amazing read, thank you for posting this.
    I greatly enjoy wartime letters/diaries that provide insight into the conditions. I love how you can see his sunny disposition getting the better of him while refering to the showers, chocolate, cigarettes, and the litter of kittens his friend found.
    Intellectual moments in war can be a hard thing to spot in such moments of madness.
    One of my favorite is Wilhelm Hoffmans diary of the 267th infantry regiment, 94th infantry division, of the German 6th Army in Stalingrad during WW2.
    Last edited by Mordecai; 09-13-2023 at 02:42 AM. Reason: Corrections, typos.

  3. #3
    MAP
    MAP is offline
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    Great letter. At first I was wondering about his age given that he over 40 years old. But then saw he was a career military many since 1902.
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  4. #4

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    Another very interesting letter, Nevin must have appeared almost a Father figure given his age among younger comrades. He saw much across the years of his life.

  5. #5

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    No problem! Glad you enjoyed the read.

  6. #6

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    A fantastic primary historical source! Thanks for sharing. Jim G.

  7. #7

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    No problem!

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