Dec. 19, 1918

Niederbieber Germany                

Dear Mother, Dad & Sis:- 
     By the heading you will see that we have moved again. We are in a little place near Bendorf. All these places are connected, by a streetcar line, with the big city in this vicinity, Coblenz. We are in a nice clean little town which is more than I can say for any village in France. The Dutch are mighty clean people. Clarence [Greer] & I with six other fellows sleep in the attic of one of the private homes. It is nice & clean and a whole lot better than a barn which is the best we ever had in France. The people treat us fine. We spend our spare time by the fire in their living rooms. There are two families. One on each floor. The man on the second floor was in the German artillery all through the war. Was on all fronts. His sister lives on the lower floor. Her husband was killed in the war. She has two awful cute little girls. Four and seven years of age. The other family has a boy about 7 and a girl about 9 or 10.

German children © Harry Faris 2010

     It seems strange to be on such friendly terms with people with whom we were fighting only a short time ago. The first night we were here (Monday) the man came up and invited [us] down by the fire. He said, “Es ist kalt hier. Sie können hier schlafen und auf dem Ofen sitzen.” [1]    One of the boys in the bunch can speak German. The rest of us are getting so we can speak & understand a good bit of it. German is a lot easier than French. The French people never seemed to care to talk to us any how.
     I guess we will be here as long as we are in Germany which may be until peace is signed this spring. We are in the second division and in the recently organized third army composed of the best divisions in France and made the army of occupation. The other two famous divisions are the 1st and 42nd. The 42nd is the rainbow division.
[2]   Both were fine fighting divisions. Our division has the 5 & 6th regiments of Marines and the 9 & 23rd infantry. It has the 12, 15, & 17th regiments of artillery. Then there is the 2nd Engineers, 2nd Trench Mortar Btry, 2nd Amm Tr, the Ambulance Corps, supply train etc. The first big thing the second division pulled off was at Cheauteau Thiery when they stopped the Germans drive to Paris early last July. Next they went to Swissons and were in the drive there while I was coming across. Clarence & I joined the Company at Pompey, near Nancy, on Aug 21. We went to the front on Sept 1 where we had our initiation on the firing line in the St. Mihiel drive. In October we were on the Champaign front where the Germans were driven about forty or fifty kilometers. Then came the final drive and we were on the Aragone Forest sector and crossed the Meuse river before it was over. Since then we have been following the Germans to the Vaterland and here we are & glad that this much is over and rarein’ to come home. We hope to be relieved and sent home but I don’t know how much chance there is.
     I guess you know about when we sailed. We left Camp Merritt about daybreak on Sunday morning and hiked five miles to the Hudson river where we boarded ferry boats and went to 23rd st landing N. York where we boarded the U.S. Transport Harrisburg.
[3] We stayed on board all day & night and sailed about 9 am Monday morning with 13 other transports. All landed safely in Liverpool on Sat Aug. 3. We did not go ashore until Sunday morning Aug 4 and we marched strait to the railroad station and had a nice ride through the heart of England that day reaching a camp at Romsey late that evening. On Wednesday we hiked five miles to South Hampton where we boarded ship and crossed the Channel landing at La Harve, France the next morning. After a couple of days there we were shipped down to a replacement camp near Bordeaux and after about three days there were sent to the front and the second division. Thus briefly you can get an idea of where I have been all the time. When I get home I will tell you in detail about everything.
     A week from yesterday is Christmas. A Merry Xmas to you all. My second Xmas away from home. How I wish I could be there. Little did I dream a year ago, when I was in Roswell, that I would be in Germany, across the Rhine, this Xmas. A lot better than being in France with the war still going isn’t it? I hope my Xmas box comes. You had not received the coupon the last letter. I sent it the day I got it. Don’t bother about getting anything else for me. It will be Xmas present enough for me when I get home. Gee but that will be some day. I’ll wire you when to meet me and if Sis is at school I’ll wire her so she can ditch her classes and get on the train at Emporia and come home with me. If Dad is home that evening we will all be home.
     I guess that I have written about all there is to write. Be sure & keep on writting often as I may be here a long time.
Oceans of love to all, Harry

[1] “It is cold here. You may sleep here and sit at the oven."
[2]  The 42nd Division was made up of men from twenty-six different states and the District of Columbia. One of its officers, Douglas MacArthur, suggested it be named the ‘Rainbow Division. “It will stretch across the nation like a rainbow,” he proudly noted. Zachary Kent. World War I - The War to End Wars. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1994.
[3]  During the war Harrisburg made four voyages to Europe, two to Liverpool and two to Brest, with troops and supplies.

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