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Letter from James Sherin, Olivia Times, 12-26-1918

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November 25, 1918

Dear Father:

Understand that we may write a letter today. Known as “Dads Letter” in which censorship rules are cast aside and we are allowed to mention the place we are now located in and also tell of the places we have been in as well as some of our experiences.

We are now on a trip across country, southwest of Verdun, and tonight are at a small town named Waly, in the department of Meuse.

About the first of September we took over a sector in Alsace. Known also as the Vosges pm account of being in the Vosges mountains. We were there for 40 days and got our first taste of real war. It was called a quiet sector but it was quite noisy according to my notion. We were shelled nearly every day by the enemy by large caliber guns. We were situated in the central part of Alsace near the town of Munster, which town was behind the enemy’s lines.

From there we went farther north, to the Argonne sector, where the American troops were driving the “Jerries” back at a rapid pace. We were to relieve a division there but they had the Germans running so fast they could not catch them and we were in chase for six days thru the muds and devastated country. The chase was thru the Argonne forest, the towns captured enroute being Briquenuy, Grand Pre, Authe, Chateu Therry. Apoemont, St. Pierremont, Cernay, Stonne and several others.

Our division assisted in the capture of Stonne and another town beyond there. We were ordered to the Verdun sector, as there were plenty of men there to keep the German going.

While on the way to Verdun, the armistice went into effect and hostilities ceased. We continued to Verdun however and got a chance to see that wonderfully fortified town. It is a great sight to see; the town is practically ruined, due to shelling and bombing from airplanes but never was captured. There is a town large enough to keep a large army in, under Verdun proper.

We were out to see the battlefields north and east of Verfun, where so many hard fought battles were fought in 1914 and later. The ground and everything is ruined by shellfire, even the trees being all shot down. It is a very desolate looking stretch of country, the only thing in sight being old shell holes, lines of trenches and barb wire entanglements. We left there 3 days ago and are now bound southward where we are bound for or what we are to do is merely a matter of conjecture.

Between the Argonne Sector and the Verdun sector we spent one day at the former Village of Montaucant, which is now in ruins. It is claimed that it was there that the English Nurse Edith Cavell was executed and buried. This was verified by our interpreter who is quite reliable in giving us information. In this town is also the Crown Prince’s palace, in the tower of which he witnessed the great battle of Verdun. About all that is left of the palace are the walls and a concrete and steel lined shaft that stands in the middle and goes to a heighth of 60 feet. The walls of this shaft are several feet in thickness and in here he stood and witnessed the battle thru field glasses.

Many incidents of interest happened in these trips that I will relate when I get back, which I hope may be soon. The way it looks now and by reading the newspapers. I think we will soon be started back across.

Have not seen anyone I know lately. Am feeling fine and hope all you folks are well also. I remain, Your Son, Jim

Editor’s Note: We do not have a photograph of James Sherin