Lyman County, South Dakota  Genealogy

 Military Letters, WWI

As found in old newsletters.
Transcribed by barbara stallman-speck

            Updated    Friday, March 05, 2010   

       WWII letters

Iseminger, Gordon       Somewhere in England    June 29 1918

Dear Brother and Sister,

Well I have been here almost two days now and sure have been doing some writing. Say, that was some trip over here. Almost 17 days on water and I was sick about half of that. Two real days of it. I really don't care for any more of it. I only want one more trip and you can guess that one.

England sure has some funny ideas about buildings and railroads but I suppose your folks have told you that. We are on some real historic ground. Can't name it, but will tell you all about it later. Say, of all the countries for daylight, this one has them all going south. At 9 p.m. the sun isn't down yet and I've never been up early enough to see it come up.

How is everyone at home? I hope you are enjoying good health.

You must all realize I can't say much because of the censor.

Give my best regards to all and have a good time on the Fourth.

Love to you all,
Your brother, G.G. Iseminger
341 MG Bn  Med. Det.   AEF


Iseminger, Gordon      Somewhere in France   July 27, 1918

Dear Little Ken,

Well old Buddy, I was looking at a calendar today and discovered that tomorrow is your birthday, but I don't know how old you are. Get busy on that scratch tablet with your pencil and drop me a line. I'm a real hog fish for letters from home. I can't find anything to send you, but am going to try to send a small French bank note. Will be a souvenir at least. It will look like a tobacco coupon, but the French call it money.

How is everything at home? Are you folks all well and are you enjoying your vacation? Only a few more days and it starts again, what? September first, isn't it?

Suppose you are busy making hay and threshing. I'd sure like to be on an engine again, but don't think I'll do so after the war. Did the papers tell all about our gains? In saying "our" I mean the A.E.F. It looks like I might not be able to get on the line. It looks like the boys may finish the job before we can get there. If I don't, I'll have to invent some stories and believe me, I can. I used to be a pretty capable liar and guess I haven't lost any of that talent yet only I meet just as good or better that I can't honestly rate myself.

My pal and I went off to another town the other day on a tour of our own invention and failed to return in time. The M.P. got our names so consequently we are deprived of our liberty after retreat at night for one week. (Ha ha!) We saw a few things anyway.

There are lots of hogs in France. The previous time I just spoke of we were about to enter a pool hall and thirst parlor when suddenly a very vicious looking wild boar loomed up in front of us. I was quite taken back for a minute but soon mustered up enough courage to advance and get him. Finally succeeded before leaving by getting him mad by jerking the hair on his back the wrong way. They are funny lookers - long noses and striped like a skunk only all over. They sleep with the snout of their nose flat on the ground and feet sticking out front and rear, lying flat on their stomachs.

The French drive with their horses strung out single-file and I'm sure you wouldn't like to milk over here for they milk three times a day. The cows look to be a combination of Jersey and Holstein and the lobe of their neck is big and hangs way down. Even on the calves. They are always saying, "Ata" to them. I guess that means "hurry up" in French cow language. Milk is "lala" so when you "lala" old Jersey just remember there is some old Pierrenot over here going you one better with his old Jersey.

Well Ken, guess I'd better get this mailed. Waited for mail today but no word from you folks. If some of you don't write I'm not coming home. I'll go right on through town, see?

Now Buddy, write me a long letter. I'll look for it in 20 days. Give my love to all. Am feeling fine.

Your brother


      Somewhere in France             Aug 17, 1918

Dear Mother,

I'm a little bit closer to the front but in no danger; only from gas and not much of that. The alarm sounded three times yesterday but no gas came.

We are in dugouts. Two of us in this one. It is a daisy, too, with two bunks, tables, chairs and electric lights. The first lights I've seen since leaving the U.S.. I mean for our own use.

How's the harvest coming? Suppose Father is quite busy with haying and threshing. I'm anxious to hear from you, sure. This is a fine country for the climate, but I'll take good old South Dakota for mine anytime.

Strolled up to the front last night, but nothing of interest there. I found a little kitten up there and brought it back.

One can go over into the German lines. They will show you around and let you come back so you can see how much danger there is here. The artillery is what makes you think there is a war.

I'm feeling fine so don't worry.

Your son,


                                                  Aug. 12, 1918

Dera Mother,

Don't you get tired of reading "Somewhere in France"? Reminds me of a joke I read recently. A teacher asked a student to name a large city in France. The student replied, "Somewhere."

I've almost run myself down going back and forth to headquarters looking for mail from home. The last letter I received from you was dated July 1st. Our mail is awfully slow for some reason.

Had a good scare the evening. I was just passing an autoaircraft gun as it started action. Five Boche planes were coming over and the fire was so hot for them that they bunched and turned directly above us, then starting dropping a few guns. I happened to be without my tin hat and there was no trench to go into so I ran into the gun pit. The old Mouser would recoil eight feet each time she shot. So, between the shrapnel and the gun, I got a scare. We have Bosche air visitors almost every night, but so far they have been harmless.

Seen Cad Holmes the other night. Sure was good to see an Oacoma paper from him. Haven't seen Pete Gammon for a couple of weeks. He is driving the company kitchen. Cad takes supplies to the trenches. A rather exciting job. He has a four-horse team, but can wear overalls. Don't have to wear tight trousers and leggins. I envy him just that much.

Have a chance to send this so I must close.

Your son,

                                France          Sept. 9, 1918

Dear brother and sister,

Another day of sunshine and rain. Awful gloomy around here now. They say the rainy season is just starting.

Your letter of Aug. 7 came Sunday, Sept. 8. Mail is slow coming across. Pete Gammon, Cad Holmes of Oacoma and Ted Nelson of Iona were here yesterday and Cad had a copy of the Argus Leader so Sunday passed quite pleasantly. I do enjoy reading the news from home. I also received 18 letters Sunday.

Say, wasn't it rumored around there that Manhalter of Presho was killed? Well if all of our casualties are like that, look for all of us to be back. He was the liveliest corpse I ever saw. He was here all day yesterday.

Well, I had a little trial of the front. Not so bad as it is sometimes pictured. You say good war news is received. Well, look for better. I believe the war will be over by spring if not before.

The Salvation Army women are frying doughnuts. Gee! They sure smell good. Say, the organization don't get a fair shake. They are the first to meet us when we're coming from  the front. and are always cheerful and happy. One can't stay blue around them. They are the highest respect around here and get the least recognition in the United States. Their time is coming though when the soldiers get home.

Well folks, I must get back on duty and start on an inspection tour. Good luck.

Love to all,

Sept. 28, 1918

Dear folks,

Your letters and the note from little Dale came a few days ago, but you see by the papers that we started to pay Fritz a little visit and as our coming was not welcome, he departed "toot swee", as the French say, and we Yanks, bring very desirous  of playing with them, we compelled to join the cross country run. Well at that, we succeeded in persuading some of them to make us a visit for the duration of the war. It wasn't the most pleasant night I ever saw, but it was great sport at that. Must say it is hard to let them peacefully march back as prisoners. One feels like starting a knock-down drag-out minus the latter, but they are such willing little bearers and some are mere children that on closer inspection, you pity them.

Now I'm not trying to describe this as a picture, it's far from it. There is another side that I shall not try to picture, but Sheldon, I'll say this much with all fun forgot - stay in the United States as long as this is going on over here.

As they say, it's a great life if you don't weaken and the guy that weakens is in a poor way. The most beautiful part of all is to see the artillery in action. Ours, I mean. Don't misunderstand me. Ha ha. Of course, at a distance, the Bosche shells look pretty, but I'm always desirous that the distance is there.

The nearest I've been to a casualty was a little gas but was nothing much worse than a scare.

Mabel, I'll remember about the cake and ice cream as I'm still real strong on feeds. Have been on Corned Beef Willie for some time.

One morning a bunch of us got separated from our field kitchen and started up one that Heinie had left and enjoyed a little Charlie horse and barley coffee. Don't be shocked for after 24 hours of fasting one can eat almost anything.

Write again.

Your brother
Gordon G. Iseminger
Med. Dept.  A.E.F.

Iseminger, W.E.  (?)               France           Oct. 20, 1918

Dear Mother,

Your letter of the ... of September came and I surely was glad to hear from you. At the time you wrote I was recuperating from the drive where we were at. No, you were mistaken in our being at St. Quentin, but wouldn't mind if I had been. There was more fun and excitement than I would think.

 You talk about high price of butter and milk - I bought some butter a week ago that cost in francs the equal to $3 a pound; 40 cts for a bar of chocolate; 45 cts for an ordinary can of condensed milk; 40 cts for a small can of sardines. How do you like those prices?

Now Mother, do not let anyone make you think war will last several years. For me, I don't think it will run into next year and it might possibly be a year before we get home, but hostility  can't continue very long.

My duties are usually first aid to the platoon I'm with and see that they get taken back to a dressing station. I carry a Colt 45 and if i get a chance, I let her out, but the chance isn't frequent. In fact, it never has been. You see, the machine guns are not the first to go over the top. The doughboys get all of the fun.

Well, have to close this talk. Seems we are in for a trip of moving. Am feeling fine, only a trifle muddy, awful rainy weather here.

Saw Cad Holmes and Pete Gammon yesterday for the first time since Sept. 8th. Good luck and health to all.

Your own boy,

Still in France
                                                   Oct. 25, 1918

Dear Mother and all,

I haven't written for some time but it was not because I was where writing was impossible. I'm writing this on suspicion that it will get by. You said to tell you all. I'll try to do so, but first, excuse my writing paper because all I had is somewhere inside the German lines. I was forced to desert my pack as I had to get a wounded man out. I'm fortunate to have this as I had to beg it off one of the boys. Our advance is so rapid that writing material is scarce. We were relieved and i jumped a man for some paper.

Now, as to what we were doing. It is everything to save ourselves and still put the run on the Fritz, out where we are the resistance  is most severe. The luck I have always had is still with me. It has stood the test.

One of our officers that recently joined us was at Chateau Thierry and Soissons and said it was nothing beside this. On one occasion I was under bombardment from artillery for about five hours and only received a small cut on one arm. Nothing to speak of. You see, I'm telling you everything as you asked.

By the time I get back to the lines they will be driven from the woods and we will have a clean sweep at them to the German frontier. Expect to be there before I write again.

Don't worry about me, I'm immune from German bullets or I would have been picked off at any time in the past five days.

Just though with supper and it's almost too dark. Getting too dark to write so must close with love to you all.

Hoping the war soon ends.
Yours lovingly
Gordon G. Iseminger
Med. Corp.  Det. 341  M.G. B'n

Still in France                    Nov. 12, 1918

Dearest Mother,

I suppose, Mother, that you are glad that this war is stopped. Glad is putting it mildly for me. I'm very anxious for the time to come when I can be home again. How often lately that I have longed for home. I dreamed last night that I was there, feeding on that good bread you make, and chokecherry jam while I was telling you the points on Corned Willie. By gosh, for all I've seen for over two weeks, I hardly ever go to the kitchen anymore. I'd give anything for some hot noodles and biscuits.

Although anxious to get home, I will wait patiently as long as the shells don't burst and fly. It was something fierce. I've been on two fronts and over the top four times - all the experiences I want for mine. Believe me, I am ready to settle down for good when I get home.

Suppose King Winter is about to settle in at home. Well it's none too warm here. Has been really chilly and rainy up to the last few days, but today was just grand. Hope it continues.

I heard that one division, the 89th, was decorated for bravery. I guess they deserve it. I know my part was no picnic. Tom was a lucky guy to have missed  it. Was is all it's reputed to be.

What did you think of my last letter? They are far apart I know, but we have been very busy and I had no stationary. Begged this paper off one of the boys, Seems like corned beef is all that keeps up with us. Ha ha.

Well dear mother, I must close. I am anxious to see you all; think I will by next April.

Love to all,

Your own boy,
Gordon G. Iseminger
89th Division of A.E.F.



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