[This is 11th in a series of letters written by Private A.L. Gooch to his family in Duncan Arizona, while he served in France during WWI. This letter was written 28 Nov 1918, two weeks after Armistice—the end of the war. Up until this time, Nig (as he was known) could not disclose details about his unit’s activities and whereabouts, and letters were all screened by an Army censor. In this letter he finally gets to share more fully what he has been going through as he describes his participation in the final decisive battle of World War I, and we get a sense of the magnitude of his experience. Holding this letter in my hands I was moved by this first-person account of one of the most significant events in modern history.
Original letters are in possession of Dayna Gooch Jacobs, King City, California. Envelope missing. Transcribed by Dayna Jacobs. Slashes in the transcription indicate line breaks. Links to other letters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10]
Dear Sis and Bob,
Well kids I have/ gotton about a dozen Letters/ from you since I written/ you, but I havent/ written any one. As I/ was [in] the big Verdun drive/ that helped to finish/ the war. And believe/ me we didnt have/ time to do any writing/ with twelve inch/ shell bursting all/ around me day and/ night. And besides/
[p2] I was on my motorcycle/ twenty five hours each/ day. You cant amagine/ and never can begin/ to amagine what we/ boys went through during/ that drive up untill the/ armistace was signed./ All opprations seased/ the eleventh month the/ eleventh day and the eleventh/ hour and we was almost/ as proud to have the/ guns stop fireing as/ we were of pay day./ It seams so funny to/ sleep all night without/ the bosh aireoplains/ paying/
[p3] us a visit./ But the first of my short/ story which must be/ brief. I will say I/ with the 89th Division/ went to the St. Mahil/ front shortly after/ Landing in france/ and taken our position/ in the front sectar./ Where the air was filled/ with gas and shrapnelle/ was contently falling/ together with the bosh/ aireoplain bombs and/ machine gun fire. I’ll admitt it was/ a little scary at first/
[p4] and cant say I ever/ got to where I liked/ it. But did get a little/ more use to it. My job/ was to paint signs/ take my motor [cycle] and put/ them up from about four miles from the front lines. Clear up/ to where the dough (infantry) boys/ were. And to where the/ snipers would spot me, / and they would throw one/ pound shell’s at me. But/ they allways hit behind/ me. No traffic goes that/ far up but annbulances / and amunition wagons/
[p5] at night now and then/ a airoplain would duck/ down then I would/ desert my motor and/ take to a truck untill/ he left.
I would like to go into/ details and tell you lots/ but would take to long./ Will wait untill I get home./ That drive was near Toul/ (find these on map)/ On the drive towards, Mitze, / in which we capturd/ Mount Veet, we was/ relieved there after severl/ weeks of h__ . From / there went straight to/
[p6] the Verdun front. Went/ right into action and/ chased the huns from/
Gre Recicourt to Stena,/ on the Muse river. There/ we stoped when the armistace/ was signed. We was going/ so fast it taken us three/ days to stop. ha-ha./ Well we were picked as/ a part of the army/ of occupation to move/ to Germany, Which is a/ great honor, We are/ now on our way. And/ taking a rest in Belgem/ Guess we will go through/ Luxingburg. Will wash/
[p7] my feet in the rhyne/ and take a bath if I / need it may put it/ off untill I get home./ This is the prettiest/ country I have been / except Ireland, and/ these Belgam people/ are so kind and/ accomitating, But they/ have a right to be/ Dont you think?/ We are all feeling fine/ and got new/ socks, have to comb our hair/ and shave. I removed my mustache. You aught/ to have seen it.
[p8] Poor old Bob. I was/ afraid he was too late,/ But I sure am glad/ for his own [?]/ as well as yours . Also/ glad there is no more/ into it than there is./ Had better close will write/ the next chance and will/ see you before long/ Today is Thanksgiving. Sure/ [___? ___?] Will dream of turkey tonight as well/ as something else. We had/ pie for dinner.
With Lots of Love to All, Your Boy
Censored by Pvt A.L. Gooch
89th Military Police Co
1st Leut [?] American E.F.