WWI Letter from Sergt. Arnold J Hagedom 12th Service Co. Signal Corps
I purchased this WWI letter from a dealer selling it on Facebook. The price was low, so I wanted to add it here. The content of this letter is compelling and just what you would expect from a man writing home from the front on Christmas day.
Almost a week as elapsed since I wrote to you and it seems to me to be a very appropriate day to be thinking of home. I would have written to you before but have been on the move ever since a week ago today. As I told you in my last letter I had been transferred from the 422nd to the 2nd Replacement Bat. I have since been transferred to the 12th Service Co and am now attached to the 2nd Army Corps. Well to come back to my trip we left Chiverney(?) last Wed for Chaumont. As the frog(?) trains are always late we found upon arrival in Chaumont that we had missed our train by about 10 minutes. We were supposed to have arrived at Chaumont 10.00 A.M. Thursday morning and was nearly on time arriving there at 4.35 P.M. The next train out of Chaumont for Neuf Chateau was 9:18 the next morning so we thought we would take in the town. There were 18 of us in the party which was in charge of Sergt. Toote(?) a native of San Diego Cal. He was a very fine chap and had been in Paris until the Armistice was signed imputing radio outfits. He took us up to the Y.M.C.A where we bought supper, hot chocolate, sandwiches and cookies. He then dismissed us until 9:30 at which time we were to be back to the Y to get an issue of cots and blankets. After promised(?) about the town for an hour after supper I cam back to the Y and wrote a letter to Genevieve T. I gave her an address and also told her to give it to you but my addresses don’t hold good for more than 10 minutes. The last letter I rep’d from home was dated Nov. 14th and that was over two weeks ago but can’t expect mail to keep up with me as I am moving every other day. Well to go on with my trys(?) we left Chaumont about 10 am Friday and arrived at Neuf Chateau about 1:30 P.M. Sat. we went before a classification board and I with 3 other men were picked for service at Toul. Monday I rep’d orders to go to Soul so proceed had to report to the post signal officer and he tells me part of us is to go to Essey and the rest to remain here. I hope it is m good fortune to go there but can’t Rick(?) on Tour. Talk about M.P. there are sure some here or as you say in French beaucoup meaning lots of or many. I think regardless of whether I go to Easy or stay here this will be my P.O card am certain my mail will be forwarded from this office. This town is some interesting place and during the entire war there were but few bright days but when it was bombed. The day before the armistice was signed they brought down a german plane here with antiaircraft guns. He landed a short distance outside the city making the drop in a parachute. The Yanks soon covered him with thin guns and would take no chances with him. There has been some hard fighting about this vicinity and it is a great sight too go up through the devastated areas and see what the big shells can do. There is no doubt but what our boys were there with the wallop and they sure deserve all kinds of credit. It is wonderful to go through some of the German trenches and see how they had things arranged. They were were well built and must have had the idea that it was impossible to even think of driving them out. But the Yanks sure made them change their minds. In some of the officers dugouts there were baby grand piano’s, billiard tables, electric lights beautifully carved furniture in fact all the luxuries of home. In some of the privates dug outs you would find to your surprise many feet below the surface of the ground bright sunlight. They accomplished this by diging a slanting tunnel the earths surface and it would be surprising how warm and dry it would be in one of these. I could write a book about some of the things I have seen but guess I had better save the paper and have something to talk about when I get home. Well how did you put in Christmas day. The Red Cross and the 12th service Co and the K.C. were certainly good to me. Christmas eve the 12th Service sent the boys 2 pkgs of cigarettes, 1 pkg of gum, 1 cigar, and 2 cans of condensed milk. Believe me the milk sure improves your coffee wonderfully. Christmas morning the Red Cross and K.C. sent up a tin each of us in the Tel. Office a can of 100 (?) Cubes, a pkg of 50 cigarettes, a lb can of lemon drops, 2 pkgs of sugar cookies, and a box of saltey matches(?) so you see I did fare so bad. As for dinner I am sending you our menu card so you can judge for yourself. I have sent home many letters filled with postal cards, have you rec’d any of them. I would have enjoyed droping in Christmas morning and seeing the kids and their tree or didn’t you have one this year. It sure seems good to get organized again and hope before long to receive my mail regular as I did when with my old outfit. Is Clesson back home yet? Genevieve said Eddie was terribly put out to think that he didn’t get to camp and was going to have the whole draft system rearranged to suit him. I imagine by the time you receive this letter that the 422nd will be in the states and you will undoubtedly receive several letters from some of my pals. In fact the Heacock fellow who lives in the Linden Bldg. said that he would call on you personally. As for my coming home don’t expect to reach U.S. before the first of June although you can ever tell how things are going to turn out. The Germans continue to live up to the Armitise as they have done so far the boys will be home before they know it. It seems strange if they don’t begin to send most of the men home before long as they certainly have got the Huns(?) where they want them now. The truck drivers returning from the Army of Occupation state that the german people are more than hospitable to the American soldiers. One particular tale I remember is where a Yankee boy changed his underwear one day and when he came to look for it it was gone but the next day it lay in his bunk all washed and ironed. The colored boys are sure doing wonderful work in the line of salvage along this front and to pass a place today and then a couple of days later you would not think it was the same place. By the way if any one asks you about about the Red Cross, the Salvation Army or the K.C. tell them for all the A.E.F. that they are doing wonderfull work and to help them all they can. If it were not for these institutions life for the boys would be miserable. Many of the Salvation Army girls have won medals for bravery and the Red Cross is always there with a hand out from good hot food to all sorts of clean warm clothing; Remember me to the kids and ask them what they want their Uncle Far to bring home for them. Hope they received their cards in time for Christmas and would have sent something else but can’t trust the mails. Give the best of my friends my adress and tell them some day I will write them a letter but it is hard to get time to write as much as you desire.
I would very much like to see the folks once again for a little visit but suppose I must not think of that until our work is finished over here. It is strange to think of Christmas without snow. It snowed for about an hour Christmas eve but it melts as soon as it hits the ground. I suppose you are have quite severe weather home now. How is the coal situation this winter? What do you think of chrysanthemums in bloom here yet? If it didn’t rain every day it sure would be fine. I think had have close for this time wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year with best wishes and lost of love to the kids as ever far.
Sergy. Arnold J. Hagedom
12th Service Co. Signal Corps.