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Oliver Reiley Letter Home

from Lorraine, France

sent by my Oliver Reiley (father of Bill Reiley) to his parents and printed in the "The Sun", Red Oak, Iowa in 26 April 1918


~ contributed by Bill Reiley <wsr@majornet.com>





Hawkins and Hoke are Decorated says Corporal Oliver

Reiley in an Interesting Letter from France to His

Parents—Fife Writes an Appropriate

Verse—Several Good Letters.




    This week The Sun has several good letters from the boys "Over There." In the following letters friends of the company will see many of the things about which they have been wondering. That two other Red Oak boys, Owen C. Hawkins and Arnold Hoke have been decorated for distinguished service is some of the news included in a dandy letter from Oliver Reiley, and that the boys had been over the top twice is one of the things mentioned by Chas. Sanks. Then there is some news from Capt. Ross and a newspaper story about the Iowa boys being heroes written by the United Press correspondent at the front.


Oliver Reiley's letter.

Somewhere in France
March 25, 1918


Dear Folks and Kids:—
    Received your letters of Feb 2, 8, and 16. Thanks for the bill and check. It sure comes in very handy as we haven't been paid for two months and I might possibly get a furlough in about a month. That is if the Boche don’t gain too much and in that case we will have to go back to the trenches probably. You probably know by now that we spent some time in them and I am sory to say that Hank Fall was killed. Of course there were a few others killed and quite a few wounded, but I don't believe you know them. It was a false report that Percy Breese was wounded. Captains Ross and Casey, Owen Hawkins and Hoke received the Croix de Guerrie for distinguished service. The captain left yesterday as acting major of the 1st battalion and Lieut. Ericsson is in command now. I forgot to say I spent my birthday at the front. I received two boxes with underwear, gloves, sox and candy and they sure were fine. As yet I have not received your cablegram of $10 and as near as I can check up on your letters two of them with $5 in each are missing yet. Thank grandma for her money order too. If I ever get the time I will write her.
    At present we are in a small town back of the lines and if we could live this way all the time it would be great. Phil Brooks, Joe Cardio, Carl Clement and I have rented a room here and we have two large feather beds and nice stove, table, chairs—a very good room and this was our supper: French fried potatoes, three fried eggs, steak, hot chocolate and bread and butter. Of course we are in a very good part of Lorraine, a clean little village, and with what money you have you can get about what you want.
    I see in the Red Oak paper about all the drafted fellows, all the service flags and the like, but nothing about Co. M.
   Tell "Runt" Woods, Mac and all the other fellows hello (let them read this if you wish). Tell them that Ben Morris and I expect to take our vacations together.
    How is Max Brown, Russ Schaeffer and Russell Loomis. I saw their advertisement of the "Big County Fair" and I bet that was great if it was anything like the ones we used to have.
    I expect the Ford and Studebaker are in good condition now that I am not there to break them up and keep the tires worn out. When I get back I sure am going to drive them though because I have been walking too much lately.
    I went to a French picture show the other night with Ben Morris. It was fairly good if it was a French picture.
    Lately, (and I imagine it will be this way from now on) the weather has been  great. Plenty of sunshine, you know, but I thought for a while last winter somebody had lied about this being a "Sunny France." Don't send any more underwear or sugar for a while because I have plenty now and it's hard to carry very much extra. The gloves and sox were the best yet, but I have enough for now, I think and the candy was great. I took some to the trenches and it sure was the stuff for there because it was hard to feed us and very little at that.
    Here is Orville Fife's opinion of  "no man's land" after our visit there:
       "Those still, bare trunks stand somber,
       Alone in the pale moonlight,
       And there's nothing more silent or lonely or still
       Than "no man's land" at night.
       Oh! Those tall, white trees have a story,
       And if their tale they'd tell,
       T’would be of horor, bloodshed and sorrow,
       Of shrapnel and bursting shell."

     Pretty good, isn’t it, and true too.

    We have a long hike ahead of us now and then a rest so if nothing happens we won’t be in the trenches again for about six weeks.
    Of course we can't get much war dope here but they think Germany is preparing for their last big Spring drive, which will determine the war. I hope so as I have had all the sightseeing I want.
    I get the Saturday Evening Post alright, but the papers fail to arrive except a few old ones. But they get bunches of them for the company so I get to read them that way.
    I will try to send you a box tomorrow and I'll write more often.

Love to all, your son,