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Letter From Joseph Goeddertz, Bird Island Union, 11-7-1918

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Letter From France: Joe Goeddertz Take Part in Great Drive Against Huns

From Kossuth Co. Advance, How a Kossuth county boy who only six months ago was peacefully farming in Minnesota, helped chase the Huns “somewhere in France” five months later is told in vivid letter received last week by Mr. John Goeddertz, of Algona, from their son Joe.

Joe lived four years near Bird Island, Minn., where his sister, Mrs. F. E. McCorkle, also resides, when he received his call to the colors last spring. On April 28 he was sent to Camp Dodge. After about 2 weeks there, he was transferred to Camp Travis, Texas, where he remained six weeks. In June he embarked for overseas, and spent the Fourth of July in England.

Father Escaped From Germany

It adds to the interest of Joe’s story to learn that his father was German born and served two years in the German Army. In fact, the elder Goedderts, with two companions left the army to come to the country. That was in 1866, and the thrilling story of the escape of the three comrades will bear telling sometime.

Joe’s letter, which was dated September 18, follows:

“Well, thank God, I’m still with the living and well. I have just got back from a five day drive and it sure was the awfulest thing I ever saw.

Drive Boches Five Miles

“We went to the front in a rain. Most of the night we marched in mud. At about five o’clock in the morning we went over the top. By that time we had become wet through to the skin and were so covered with mud that we looked like clay balls.

“We drove the Boches back five miles, killed many and took I don’t know how many prisoners, but a large number, for we went so fast they couldn’t get away from us. They left may guns and a great deal of ammunition behind them.

I have talked with some of the prisoners, and they said the American boys were the worst fighters they ever saw. Most of the prisoners are old men with beards or young boys. One of them told me the Germans were calling out boys only 14 year old and were even using women.

Women Fight Like Hell

“We captured women carrying machine gun ammunition, and also found some chained to their machine guns. Some fought like hell, but most of them gave up when we rushed them.

“The Germans are still going back, but I don’t know how far they went. It must be some distance, however, for we can no longer hear the guns. Just now are resting. How soon we shall go back into the fight none of us know.

“It is hell – more than hell – to take part in a drive; but I must say we haven’t lost as many men as might have been expected.

No Man’s Land Disappears

“The Germans we drove back had a good many concrete dugouts, with trenches in some places, and more barbed wire than one would think there could be in the world. But nothing stopped us and there isn’t any No Man’s Land any more.

“I think of you all when the bullets and shrapnel are flying out there ahead of us, but when we get into action we are too busy with what to do next to give a thought to anything else.” Joe is a member of the 359th U. S. Infantry Machine Gun Co.