Letter from Reinhold Jakobitz, Olivia Times, 12-26-1918
October 5th, 1918
Buffalo Lake News, Buffalo Lake, Minn.
I have been in France for some time. Most of the boys on our transport had a touch of seasickness, but I happened to be one of the lucky ones that didn’t get sick, although it had me guessing for the first couple of days. I never did sleep as much in my life as I did on board of ship. We had to go to bed early and get up at 6:30 in the morning. We had our signal corps band with us and they played twice a day, that is, when the sea wasn’t too rough. We also had a number of boxing matches and different stunts pulled off for the past time going over. Boat drill was our real excitement, we had it about every other day. We finally sighted land, and say, you could notice the change it made on the men. The sick got well in about five minutes. After we left the boat we went to a rest camp for 24 hours, then boarded a train and rode for two days. I myself don’t like to railroad system here. The 1-2-3-class stuff gets my goat. I rode in 2nd class and that wasn’t anything to brag about, it was too crowed for long rides. Four of the coaches here are about the size of one of the C. M. & St. coaches.
We went through some very pretty country. The farmers believe in hard work here, they cut grain with a scythe and hoe the corn and potatoes. They use one horse to do the hauling and oxen for the heavy work.
We were quartered in a small village and there were a number of vacant houses which we could occupy. We did some hard training for a couple of days, then we had to instruct dough boys. We sure did some hiking here or anywhere else was 41 miles in 21 hours. The men were rather sore footed for a week, including myself, but little things like that couldn’t be stopped for. Every place or town we get to here is full of American soldiers. I should think they would be rather scarce back there. Going from one town to another we find the people very much the same. Once in a while I s=would see a frenchman home on a furlough, but very few. I wish I could speak as well of the roads in the United States as I can of these. They are all paved with rock and are about a road and a half wide. Even the roads that are not used much are paved. It sure is great for automobiles and motorcycles. Every move we made we got closer to the front. We don’t bother as much about our clothes pressing as we did at Levenworth. Our next move was by truck train to a pretty good sized town (Vignal). We were there a short time then moved to where I am now at the front. I operate a telephone switchboard and am in a dugout all the time. At night I have electric lights and in the day time use candles. A bunch of us had a little excitement the other day. When shells are falling we all go and hunt a hole. One of our boys got a little excited and not seeing a bunch ahead of him, fell over one of the others in his haste, then he wouldn’t take time to get up and run but made it to the dugout on his hands and knees. We have some funny things like this pull off here about every day. The cook says we don’t get breakfast if we won’t furnish the wood. Well we won’t be chopping wood in France very much longer. Well I must say goodbye. From the man that is looking across “no man’s land.” I am, Sincerely yours,
Private Reinhold H. Jakobitz, 6th Fld. Sig. Corps. 6th Div. A.E.F.