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Letter from Lawrence Schafer, Olivia Times, 12-26-1918

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Lawrence (Laurence) Schafer
November 25, 1895 – March 16, 1969

Somewhere in France

November 23, 1918

Dear Folks at home:

Just a line to tell you the war is over which you undoubtly already know, and I was in the last big battle with the famous 5th Division went over the top and did not even receive a scratch. Was in the trenches from the 26 of October to November the 11th.

Have marched day and night so much that I landed in the hospital a few days ago on account of my feet.

The 5th Division got a great write up from Gen. Pershing for capturing 20 towns.

I have experienced some hard knocks since I began active fighting. Hiked two days and night on one box of hard tack and slept in a water hole, on my canteen. Great life if one does not weaken.

I was transferred from the 5th Division to the 2nd Division but the day the 2nd Division left for Germany to do patrol duty, it was impossible to get my shoes on, so had to stay and go to the hospital.

Wish I could get a change of socks and other clothing as I have wore these since I started active fighting. We stopped firing on the 11th month, 11th day and 11th hour.

I have had about 500 narrow escapes, many of my comrades were killed, a few of our old Company C. men too, were in the casualty list.

Most of the patients in this hospital have been gassed and been here about two months.

A Red Cross nurse comes thru here almost every day, other wise a couple of young lads in overalls take the place of nurses in each ward.

The Government issues smoking tobacco to us and about all we do is sit around near the stove, and tell what we used to eat at home and what we will eat when we get back, and the most of us wish for pan cakes. We get better eats here than at the front and more regular. I have no trouble eating all I get and I am not on light diet either. We get white bread here and it tastes like angel food cake to me. The morning I left for the hospital my Division left on a 5 day hike for the Rhine. I could not hike much now even if they did equip me again with rifle, pack, shoes, and so forth as my toes are numb like and give me considerable pain. I do not know what my address is now, but it does no good to send one home, as I have had so many, that’s why I have received no mail over here. I take it for granted every one back home is well. They will classify the men here, and send some home, others to their Division. There are lots of rumors about when we will get home but I think it will not be before spring by the looks of the papers. Well there is no more dodging whizz bangs or going over the top and facing machine guns which helps a lot.

Its cold clear fall weather here now, no snow yet, it rained almost every day, until the armistice was signed then stopped – queer is it not?

Now that the huns are properly whipped I would like to get a discharge, and help on the farm again.

Well good by, from your very much alive son, Lawrence Schafer