Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Wallace, Fred, 1900-1957; Truman, Mary Jane, 1889-1978; Uncles, John Francis, 1898-1967

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, October 11, 1918. Family, Business, and Personal Affairs Papers - Family Correspondence File.

Somewhere in France October 11, 1918

Dear Bess:

Your good letter dated September 9 and numbered 19 came this morning. You undoubtedly are right in giving me the dickens for not writing oftener but my duties have been so strenuous and my work so hard in the last two months that I have hardly had a minute to call my own. If I'd written you every time I have thought of doing it, you'd get several every day.

Since I have been at this rest cantonment I have written every day. But when we go back in, which will be shortly it will probably be another 30 days before I can write with any sense or regularity.

I am awfully sorry Fred is dissatisfied with the University and I hope that when he gets settled in the classes he will like it better. I sent one of my bright kids out of the battery to West Point yesterday. If he makes the grade on the examinations he'll get in all right. I think he'll make it because he's a very bright boy. His name is John Uncles.

I am very glad you found the Saturday Evening Post showing the inspection at our training camp. My battery is a 75 battery and the shooting ability of it is only equaled by some other 75 batteries. Our regiment has quite a reputation as a firing regiment and the little argument we just came out of didn't dampen our reputation any. You have probably heard of a city named Verdun and a forest named Argonne. They are both familiar to me because I did some shooting into one (the forest) and I hope it was effective. Our Division had a very hard nut to crack but succeeded in gaining more than was expected of it.

I wish I could have gone to Lone Jack with you on your hunt for a chicken dinner. I'd have taken you back through Lee's Summit and about eight miles west, where I know there are chickens—and a good old mother who can cook them—and we'd have had a real chicken dinner without any expense whatever although from what Mary tells me it is necessary for each one to carry his own sugar. When we go anywhere to dine out over here we carry both bread and sugar. Sometimes we forget it and then it is necessary to use all our arts and wiles to persuade the proprietor of the place to let us have some. If it happens that the proprietor is feminine, there is normally a chance of success by an added compensation of some francs. These people love francs better than their country and they are extracting just as many of them from us as they possibly can. There are parts of their country that are very beautiful and worth fighting for, but most of it would be a punishment to inflict on the Germans to make them take it. I suppose Germany though is the same kind of country only with a different brand of smells. You can always tell a French village by day or night, even if you can't see anything. They are very beautiful to stand off and look at, nestling down in pretty little valleys, as they always do, with red roofs and a church spire. But when you arrive there are narrow dirty streets and a malodorous atmosphere that makes you want to go back to the hill and take out your visit in scenery.

Please keep on writing even if I am delinquent and shouldn't be. Your letters put pep into me and make me want to finish the job and get to New York as fast as possible. I have come to the conclusion that the Statue of Liberty is going to have to turn around if she ever sees me again after I land in U.S.A. once more.

I'll never cease to think of you.

Always, Harry

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