Harry Bruce Faris was born August 19, 1897 in Salina, Kansas. He spent most of his life in Hutchinson.

When the United States entered World War One in 1917, Harry didn’t want to wait until he was old enough to be drafted, so he and a high school buddy, Clarence Greer, enlisted in the Army in May, 1918. They were sent to Camp Jackson, near Columbia, South Carolina, for two months of training. They were sent overseas as Field Artillery Replacements with the American Expeditionary Force. When they landed in England in August of 1918, they were sent directly to the front in France as part of the 2nd Regular Army Division of the First Army under General John J. Pershing. Although Harry had trained as a Field Artillery Replacement, he wound up with the 2nd Ammunition Train, hauling ammunition to the artillery units. Harry participated in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Operations. After the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, their division followed the German Army through Belgium, Luxembourg and was stationed near Coblenz, Germany. Harry’s division was chosen to be part of the Third Army (Army of Occupation), and he served as a payroll clerk with them until August of 1919 when he was shipped home.

Harry was a diligent letter writer. As he noted many times, he tried to write at least once a week. Sometimes, due to troop movements, or availability of paper, this was not possible. There is a gap of three months at the beginning of 1919. He doesn’t explain this, and we have not been able to discover a reason for it. There are a few sentences here and there in the letters that just don’t seem to make sense. This could be because of some knowledge we lack that was in a missing letter; some colloquial meaning that is unknown to us now, or it could just be a mistake on Harry’s part. Both the paper and the ink are deteriorating. At the time we are putting this book together, the letters are 90 years old. There are 39 letters. Some are quite difficult to read, and in a few places they are illegible, as we have noted. Misspellings and other grammatical errors were left in the original hand of the twenty to twenty-one year-old Harry. What follow are the highlights of these letters.

Somewhere on Atlantic Ocean [No date, late July, 1918]

Dear Mother:
            I’ll start my first letter to you since I left America. We have been on the sea for about a week now and hope to see land before many more days go by. This sure is some experience. Outside of the first two or three days we have had rough stormy weather all along. Clarence [Greer] and I have been lucky as neither of us have been sea sick. Very few of the fellows have been due, I think, to the fact that we were all in good condition when we started. I have only missed one meal. That was the third night out when the guy next to me vomited in his plate just as I started to eat. Like a fool I let the little incident kid me out of eating my supper. A little thing like that does not bother me now. I was counting up with Clarence the other night the number of states I had been in the past year. I have been in twenty one states, the district of Columbia, and am now crossing the ocean. A little bit of bumming for a kid not yet 21. Clarence and I sure are lucky to be together.
            The other night we went on guard together. Guard house was in open on windy side of ship. Clarence and I bunked together by sitting up with a blanket wrapped around our heads. The waves slapped clear up on the deck where we were and gave us a salt water bath now and then. I sure will be glad to get a fresh water bath. I don’t crave this darn salt water it seems so sticky.
            I mailed you one of those Red Cross cards when I came on board ship and that is the first mail you will get. It will let you know I am across if we get across. No sub has got us yet[1]. We had a little excitment one night but we are still here. It seems funny to think that it will be so long before this reaches you and before I hear from you. I am beginning to realize that we are in the war. Is “brother Pete”[2] still in Ft. Omaha? Poor boy he sure is out of luck to be stuck there so long. “Out of luck” is a common expression in the army and one that about everyone uses about twenty times a day. Will close for this time and write again soon as I can. Hope you got my pictures.
                                                                        Love to all, Harry
Write often

[1] "The convoy system…will reduce the losses…and this will mean that the submarine campaign will be defeated." - Rear Admiral Sims.  And so it was. The institution of a systematic Anglo-American convoy system dramatically reduced the allies' shipping losses to U-boats, while the number of U-boats sunk increased steadily. "By mid-1918," concludes the historian Elmer B. Potter, "the U-boat had ceased to be a serious menace except to the vessels that continued to sail independently." It was the elimination of the U-boat threat that permitted the American Expeditionary Force to cross the Atlantic. As Paolo E. Coletta has noted, "during the summer of 1918 the United States was landing seven soldiers and their equipment in Europe every minute of every day and night." Of a total of 450 transports used by the United States during the war, only eight were lost to enemy action.
[2] Brother Pete was Harry’s brother-in-law, Clarence Peterson.

August 4, 1918

Dear Mother:-

            This letter was handed to us shortly after we landed somewhere in England. We had a fine voyage with no mishaps. Clarence [Greer] and I both are feeling fine. So is everyone else, I just asked an officer if we could tell where we are & he said we could.
            We are in Liverpool at present. It is very much like an American City. Somethings look odd but it looks mighty good to us. People here seem to be fine.
                                                                        With love to all
[The R.I. stands for Rex Imperator.   Rex is Latin for king, Imperator is Latin for emperor.]