Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1918

By the President of the United States : A Proclamation

“It has long been our custom to turn, in the autumn of the year, in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for his many blessing and mercies to us as a nation. This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has, in His good pleasure, given us peace. It has not came as a mere cessation of arms, a mere relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right. Complete victory has brought us, not peace alone, but the confident promise of a new day, as well, in which justice shall replace force and jealous intrigue among the nations.

Our gallant armies have participated in a triumph which is not marred or stained by any purpose of selfish aggression. In a righteous cause they have won immortal glory, and have nobly served their nation in serving mankind. God has indeed been gracious. We have cause for such rejoicing as revives and strengthens in us all the best traditions of our national history. A new day shines about us, in which our hearts take new courage and look forward with new hope to new and greater duties.

While we render thanks for these things, let us not forget to seek the divine guidance in the performance of those duties, and divine mercy and forgiveness for all errors of act or purpose, and pray that in all that we do we shall strengthen the ties of friendship and mutual respect upon which we must assist to build the new structure of peace and goodwill among the nations.

Wherefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-eighth day of November next, as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and invite the people throughout the land to cease upon that day from their ordinary occupations, and in their several homes and places of worship to render thanks to God, the ruler of nations.”

Woodrow Wilson, President

Chauffort, France 11/24/1918

Dear Em,

 

Just as I sat down to write this, your letter of Nov. 5 was handed to me in which was inclosed the Last Will and Testement of Gott, and I must say its pretty good and shows that you folks knew this thing was going to end long before we did. I havent written since Nov. 12, in which letter I spoke of the end and how we felt towards it. Must say that we have been very buisy ever since having completed a hike lasting ten days and covering a distance of about 150 miles.

 

About a month before the end we were put on the Verdun Front where there was plenty doing until the last second beleive me. Our unit started an attack two or three days before the 11th and were driving at the eleventh minute, (then Peace). We held the lines for two days and were releaved by a new division. Then the hike started. We were a days hike beyond Verdun and now we are ten days hike this side of it. Some walk.

 

Im feeling fine as are the rest of the boys and we are all wondering now when they will send us home. We are in a small town outside of Langres, but only expect to stay here long enough to get cleaned up, some new cloths and kind of reorganized. Then I hope it is home for us. Expect to spend Thanksgiving here in this little town and take it from me we have got a lot to be thankful for. My hopes are high for a Christmas Dinner at home this year and say, won’t that be great? As soon as I get a bath, and change of cloths Ill be joly and I hope its not far off.

 

Well Em, trusting this finds you all well and hoping to see you Christmas Ill close remaining

 

Sam

S. E. Avery #69762, Hdq Co. 103rd Inf.

 

 

Dear Pa,

 

This letter will be somewhat of a surprise to you I know, but I guess I have kept Em pretty well posted when ever it was posible and these letters were of coarse as much for you as the rest. The idea of this being received by you on Christmas day has prompted me to scratch you a few lines.

 

Of coarse you know it is all over. The next thing is Homeward Bound. It sure will be a beautiful, beautiful sound to us all right. I have just finished a few lines to Em, and Im wondering if these two letters will both get there the same time.

 

After a long hike (we have been on the go for the last ten days) we are now resting in this small French Town. Im feeling O.K. and hope to see you soon in this condition. Id even like to beat this letter home.

 

Well Pa I knew when I started that I wouldn’t say much but it is something for you on this Daddy’s Day from one that went through this jam without a scratch. Ive been very lucky and will sure remember you folks Thanksgiving Day.

 

Hoping you enjoy this day I remain your

 

Sam

S. E. Avery #69762, Hdq Co. 103rd Inf.

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

[Unfortunately Sam’s letter of Nov. 12th regarding the end of hostilities and how the men felt has been lost to history and never was received at home.]

Requiem and another Long March, 11/13/1918

 

Just before dusk on November 12, one officer and 10 men of the 103rd Infantry who had fallen on the 10th were buried in one large common grave at the edge of Bois de Ville. This marked the most forward position of the 103rd Infantry’s final advance in the Great War. The Regiment was relieved on the nights of November 12-13, and the next day began a march of 185 kilometers towards a well-earned rest.

When it finally left the lines on November 14, the 103rd Infantry had been reduced to only 25-30% of its original strength…

AEF General Order No. 203, France 11/12/1918

Dedicated to the American Fighting Man

“The enemy has capitulated. It is fitting that I address myself in thanks directly to the officers and soldiers of the American Expeditionary Forces who by their heroic efforts have made possible this glorious result. Our armies, hurriedly raised and hastily trained, met a veteran enemy, and by courage, discipline and skill always defeated him. Without complaint you have endured incessant toil, privation and danger. You have seen many of your comrades make the supreme sacrifice that freedom may live. I thank you for the patience and courage with which you have endured. I congratulate you upon the splendid fruits of victory which your heroism and the blood of our gallant dead are now presenting to our nation. Your deeds will live forever on the most glorious pages of American history.”

John J. Pershing, General, Commander in Chief American Expeditionary Forces

President Wilson's Armistice Announcement, 11/11/18

The White House

“My fellow countrymen, the Armistice was signed this morning. Everything for which America fought has been accomplished. It will now be our fortunate duty to assist by example, by sober friendly course and by material aid in the establishment of just democracy throughout the world.”

Woodrow Wilson, President

 

Armistice Day, 11/11/1918

"Armistice Day" by C. LeRoy Baldridge, 1918

By Robert A. Anderson, 1985 (U.S. Postal Service Collection)

The Final Advance, 11/8-11/1918

On November 7, the entire 26th Division front was bombarded by 3,000 gas and 6,000 high explosive shells as the Germans prepared to withdraw. On November 8,  responding to evidence of a German withdrawal across the front, the 103rd Infantry pushed into the German front line positions in their sub-sector and occupied them. New orders on November 9 changed the direction of advance to the southeast with the objective of the hills called the “Ornes Twins” and the village of Azannes. After being held in check by German machine guns during the remainder of the day, on November 10 the 103rd Infantry captured Town Wood. At 2100 hours on November 10, despite rumors that an armistice would be signed on November 11, orders were published directing a new attack on Les Jumelles d’Ornes, Hill #265 and Maucourt the next day.

On November 11 at 0545 hours, a radio message from Marshal Foch was received that stated hostilities would cease along the entire front at 1100 hours French time, but the order for the 26th Division to attack commencing at 0930 hours remained unchanged. The 103rd Infantry made its final advance in line with the other regiments in pursuit of the retreating Germans, reaching the road south of Ville-devant-Chaumont before coming to a final halt at 1100 hours.  The men of the 103rd were occupied with clearing machine gun nests until the very last moment…

Somewhere in the lines near Mamelle Trench, 11/5/1918

[Along the captured Kriemhilde Line]

Dear Em,

 

This is just to let you know that I am still O.K. and enjoying the latest news fully as much as you folks. Isn’t it great what? Of coarse more and much better news has been received there by the time you read this, for things seem to be developing very fast now, and the end is only a matter of time. The latest news that we have received is that Austria has signed the Allied terms, and England has spanked a few more of their “Kamarads” and releaved them of a few of their destructive toys, or cannon.

 

What seems to worry us boys over here the most is the epidemic that is raging over there, for in letters every one gets this is mentioned and Ive seen more than one poor chap that has lost either a mother, sister or wife. It was only today that one of the boys in the company received a letter stating that his mother and youngest sister had both died the same day from this same disease. Beleive me this is tough news for the fellows, and what makes it worse is the fact that there are others in all there families that are subject to the same thing, and this fact plays on the boy’s mind. As in another case in the company this chap hadn’t received a word from home for quite a while and he was afraid some thing was up. His brother who is in the Navy happened to be home and it was him that sent the sad news.

 

Write often and say that you are all O.K. for although I feel pretty confident that you folks will escape this seige, you never can tell you know. I think of Madge and the Coynes and the rest when I hear of these cases and I do hope every one will come out all right. There are very very few cases here and up until now there has only been one man in the company (and it is no small company) that has been sent to the hospital with it. He has since returned in the best of health. This shows that it is at home that our worries centre. So much for the flue, may they soon master it.

 

As for me, why its just the same thing day after day, waiting for the end. The outfit is still in the lines and I am still where I sent my last letter from. I hear that the old outfit is handy by but I can’t seem to find either of the Coynes. Will probably run into them soon. Id like to be with you and help eat that Thanksgiving Dinner this year but never mind there are more coming. I don’t get any news from Henry and his family latly and I trust that they are all well.

 

As usual this is all Ive got to say, but if I get as good news from you from now on (if nothing else) Ill be very easy. Is all the paper hung yet. I can picture Lena and her sleeves rolled up while this is going on. Also Bert moving that piano. How far is the stove from the ash barrell Pa? Feeling that I am beginning to get wise I guess Ill close.

 

Regards to all

 

Sam.

Samuel E. Avery #69762, Hdq Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in the lines near Mamelle Trench, 11/1/1918

[Along the captured Kriemhilde Line]

Dear Em,

 

Received your letter of Oct 8, not more than an hour ago and now that I have put away my mess kit, (for it was handed to me just before going to supper) I will answer it. To begin with I will say that this letter made very good time, but not as good as one I got from Lil the other day. It was mailed Oct 14, and it was handed to me the 28th day of the same month. Going some what? You sure used the right stuff in this letter in your mention of Germany’s plea for peace and our fight for Victory, which is peace. Yes we want to get home all right, but “When its over over here.”

 

You say you are not getting much mail but Im writing as often as I can and can’t see why my mail is not regularly received. Glad to here that you are not or have not come in contact with this new epidemic. One fellow here just received a letter that his mother has just died from this sickness. Gee but its tough on him and he feels it and shows that it hurts him. He said that he hadn’t been getting any mail from home and felt that something must be wrong.

 

Hope you get your coal soon, for it must be getting cold there now. You sure will be all dressed up when all that paper is hung. Hope to get a look at it. Yes the picture of the kitten is with all the others in my very much worn pocket book and if I lose it every thing or about every thing I prize the most will go with it. The watch keeps very good time and although the chain is getting very much worn and then it is still on the job, and I expect it will last until the finish of the big job.

 

Of coarse my letters would not be complete without mentioning the weather which is at present very good for France. It says cloudy and sprinkles now and then which is a great deal better than continual rains. It is getting kind of chilly but I think we will stand up under it better this year than we did last, if we are at the front. Im never liking putting this winter in at the front, but Im afraid its got to be. Here is hoping it will be the last. Its consolation to know that the Boshe will suffer more than we will the way things are going for them now, so we will just smile and bear it.

 

We are eating good, which is half the battle while in the trenches. When I say trenches, of coarse I mean the front, for there is no such thing nowadays. Only shell holes or holes that each individual doughboy digs himself. The Boshe have been driven from their trenches and holes and is given no time to resume his old tactics.

 

Well Ill have to close now Em promising to write again soon. We feel lucky if we get a paper that is a day or two old so you can see how much news we get unless it is from our imediate sector. Hoping this finds you all in the same good health and that Ill hear from you soon I remain

 

Sam.

Samuel Ed. Avery #69762, Hdq Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

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