September 7th, 1918
Dear Pa and all;
It has been some time since it has been very convenient for me to write for most generally during the past month of so we have moved almost daily and we could never tell where we would be at night when we awoke in the morning. However we are most comfortably located in a very beautiful country “Somewhere in France” and the wather is just fine and the climate very similar to Minnesota where we nearly all long to be before another year. Yesterday was the anniversary on my entry in the army and sometimes I wonder if it really has been a year and then again it has seemed long enough and almost ages since I left that beautiful September afternoon from home.
But during the past year I have also had the privilege of seeing and experiencing a great many things that hardly would have come my way had I not the opportunity of getting into the army. And is especially is this true since you last heard from me. We had a very quiet trip across the ocean, the sea was calm most of the time and not very many of the men were seasick. But the trip across soon became monotonous for the reason that for days and days we could see nothing but water and when the first view of land was in sight it was a pleasant sensation to again realize that soon we could step out and put our feet on dry land again. We had a most interesting and educational trip across the Kingdom but I was very much disappointed with the character and standard of the people of England. This was even more noticeable when we landed in France and were given a hearty welcome by a people that seemed to appreciate our help and with whom I could not help but sympathize. And in fact the day we landed the sun seemed to shine just a little brighter and the day seemed fairer than it had since we left the good old U.S.A. And I could not help but think that France was all that tradition had painted her for “Sunny France” she was indeed. But a certain feeling of restraint seemed to come over us which we could sense but hardly locate. All the men seemed to be gone and the ladies invariably were dressed in black and in deep mourning. The children were in great many cases dressed in rags and begging.
And now that we have been here a few days and have enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and the fair September days it really seems a pity indeed that such a thing as war should come to a people that must have lived as happy as the character of the people seems to express. The people in France seem to be very sociable and kind and it is too bad that we are not able to talk their language any better for most always we have to talk the sign language and that is a very slow and tiresome process.
We are located in a most extraordinary beautiful spot and are billeted out amongst the people of the town. We have exceptionally good sleeping quarters under the circumstances and our food while not very fancy in good and substantial. So with plenty of good sleep and plenty to eat why should we not be happy. And according to the reports as we have been able to get them the war is progressing most favorably so why should we worry.
A very interesting study and valuable information for me has been the values of the English and French money. I am getting so well acquainted that I can spend money in French almost as well as in America. Although the one Franc bills do not seem to be money for when I hear the word bill I always think of more money than twenty cents. But of course they have the larger denominations also so that accounts for the bigger amounts.
It has been a long time since I have received any mail and news from home and we are all waiting patiently for the mail to arrive but it is hard to tell just when we can expect some. But believe me it never has seemed so lonesome without mail, for here we get no news whatsoever of what is happening back home. Not even the papers are available here with the exception of one paper which is Paris edition of one of the New York papers and we all eat that one up and chew it over again.
I am just filled with interesting expressions of the country and other things but owing to the fact that we must limit ourselves to certain things I shall reserve my linguistic resources and tell you all about my experiences when I come home. While of course the date in uncertain yet however chances are becoming better every day and when that glorious dawn breaks into the day when peace in once more declared and we shall return safe to America there will be many happy reunions and rejoicings and after all this waiting and sacrifice we will at last realize a day of real joy and happiness to be home again.
We have a very nice office established and are quite as comfortable and busy as we were back in the States. Although there seems to be quite a contrast between my work now and the work Joe and I had at the good old Citizens Bank, I have often imagined myself back there and on a busy Saturday afternoon how we hurried to get through and finally after a long time checking closed up with cash O. K. Ad just a little over a year ago at the County Fair when the receipts check up all OK wha a state of satisfaction there seemed to be and a good hard week’s work. I suppose the County Fair this year is over with and presume that it has been as big a success as ever. Well by next year I will be there to help boost and make it a bigger and better Fair than ever. If need by we will put on one of the great battles of this present war with the original cast.
It has seemed strange to me that it took us such a long time to get broke loose from our old Camp but when we finally got started we sure did go some. I think we broke all records without a doubt. And of course we can sure uphold that reputation.
Well I think I shall close this for time with the expectations of writing sooner next time. Since our mail facilities are not yet a reality I will expect this letter to serve the purpose of a great many and the news to go to all so that all can write and help break the monotony for one who is alone and lonesome in France.
Well hoping that God will continue to protect me and trusting that all is well at home I will say “Goodbye”.
Your loving son and brother, Helmuth
Helmuth R. Kurth, Sgt-Major 313th Engineer, American Expeditionary Forces.