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War Stories 

Letters home 

Soldiers at Camp Mills, Mineola, L. I., N. Y., writing letters to their friends

National Archives photo, Indiana War Memorial

 

 

 

Letter from unnamed soldier in Indiana Archives: "Would like to tell you we are in London, but they won't let me."

Indiana women were interviewed for Indiana Women in the War, published 1936 by the American Legion Auxiliary Dept. of Indiana.  A few commented on their experiences and are listed on various pages of this website.  These are more of their stories:

Mary P. Kappes, Marion County, Indiana  American Red Cross  "My impression of war during and after is of its utter futility and stupid uselessness. When I was at the Children's Bureau in Leon I was told to start a diary, which I did with the help of very able Quakers. Several months later the head of the Bureau took me to task: 'I see you have the sale of a calf indicated on your report. Who authorize you to buy a calf?'  I could only answer, 'The Lord provided'."

Margaret G. Kelly, Clinton County, Indiana  Veterans Administration, "Enjoyed work very much, but it made me realize the horror of war. the races of the wheelchair patients down the hilly runways or corridors, which might've ended seriously, but didn't. The best thing to do was to step out of their way, for they didn't stop until they reached their wards. Some had arms or legs and Cass; summer without legs or arms that never stopped them."

 

Jesse Marlette, Dubois County, Indiana  American Red Cross  "The willingness of sacrifice that within each and every heart."

 

Mabel Charlotte McCartney, Lake County, Indiana, Army Nurse Corps  " Sherman was right."

 

Lucinda Margaret Newton, Dubois County, Indiana, Navy Nurse Corps  "Armistice Day, and the joy it brought in a moment to millions of hearts.  the untiring efforts to continue to meet and overcome impossibilities"

 

Mabel Lenora Orner, Jay County, Indiana, Army Nurse Corps  "I am glad for the experience I had in the service. I made some lasting friendships. But I sincerely hope we do not have another war.

 

Etta M. Owens, Warrick County, Indiana  Army Nurse Corps  "Very interesting. Nerve-racking."

 

Alice S. Knight, American Red Cross Nurse, Allen County, Indiana  "My roommate and I appropriated a can of petrol from the ambulance company and really laundered our hair.  We appeared with Marcel's next day in spite of the muddy, bloody Marne.  (Marcel is a Veronica Lake wavy hairdo)  as a result I was made hairdresser to our head nurse, but sworn to secrecy. 'The Spite Attack' & 'Behind the Lines', by Elizabeth Fraser, in the Saturday Evening Post, written about our hospital. Our head nurse, Linda Myers, was one of the few awarded the Florence Nightingale medal. Unless one finds a group of kindred souls can still remember the funny things, in spite of the poor, and is not offended by the crudeness of the jokes, they are better kept in one's memory until one of those rare reunions."


Myrtle M Parker Richardson, Lawrence County, Indiana  Army Nurse Corps  Served as a nurse at Meuse-Argonne.  "My impression of the war wasn't a very happy when, as no war would be. But the preparing us in New York for overseas duty was a great help in a lot of ways.  the commander of the ship on which we went from Liverpool to France, a major in the British Army, gave us a talk before we landed. He said their boys had been in so long and had such a hard service they have lost heart, but they were revived when he saw the Spirit of the Americans.

    In camp in France, a tent hospital, we had to keep every bit of light covered because of air raids. We had two young German prisoners 18 or 19 years of age. They worked as hard as we did to keep light covered, for they didn't want any more air rates either. I was in a pneumonia ward, many of the patients wounded too. We had to keep them for nine days or two weeks. They were put on hospital trains as soon as possible and sent to the base.  One day two patients were laughing heartily and I asked about what the answer was: "Germany is fighting for control of the world, Britain control of the seas, France to protect her beautiful country, and America for souvenirs! I got a big laugh out of that, for every German prisoner that came in was stripped of his buttons, decorations, etc., anything that could be kept for a souvenir."


Evelyn Potter, Parke County, Indiana  Army Nurse Corps  "Ghastly"


Catherine Agnes Schilling, Newton County, Indiana  Army Nurse Corps  "This hospital was a beautiful hotel belonging to Mrs. Vanderbilt, and her estate was close by. She turned this over to our boys returning from overseas, and the small cottages housed hundreds of our nurses. I served as a night nurse for a while on the officers Board. We had the youngest captain in the Army, just 21. Almost all of the commissioned officers were very young."


Mary Alice Shoemaker, Lake County, Indiana   Army Nurse Corps  "Consider myself very fortunate in being a nurse in being able to be of service during the war. The work was its own reward."

Gertrude Elizabeth Sims, Wayne County, Indiana   American Red Cross Relief Worker  " In Paris, I formed a number of close and lasting friendships with young French women, still in correspondence with most of them.  They were all lovable and hospitable, and in fundamentals, exactly like Americans.  My time over there deepened my convictions that all war is wrong and futile".


Belle Catherine Smith, St. Joseph County, Indiana  American Red Cross Nurse  "One amusing thing connected with my service record is that in the recorder's office of St. Joseph County, Indiana, where I had a permanent record of my service and discharge papers filed, I shall go down in posterity as 'Reverse nurse' instead of Reserve Nurse!  As the papers were lengthy and I did not read them over carefully for some time afterwards, the error was not discovered until too late to be rectified."


Alice Thompson, Benton County Indiana   Army Nurse Corps  "war is unadulterated hell. Nurses were held in high esteem by their associates in the Army. I always felt that every one of the thousands of men at Fort Riley was my bodyguard."


Wilma Wallace, Marion County, Indiana  Army Nurse Corps  "My greatest impression was the appreciation the boy showed for everything that was done for them."


Lillian Neale Welker, Posey County, Indiana 
Army Nurse Corps  "Readiness of soldiers to obey orders was wonderful! I hope our good old USA will never have need of such things as trenches again."


Lucinda Margaret Newton, DuBois County, Indiana Navy Nurse Corps  "Armistice Day and the joy it brought in a moment to millions of hearts. And the untiring effort to continue to meet and overcome the possibilities."

 

Stories from the Indiana Book of Merit (A listing of Indiana Veterans who received medals or citations in WW1)

George Rittenhouse Nixon, Marion County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  "Near Domevre-en-Haye, France, August 28, 1918, Lieutenant Nixon was locating active enemy batteries from his balloon and was attacked several times by enemy planes, but refused to descend until one had set fire to the balloon.  On September 28, while he was on a reglage mission, five enemy planes fired at him.  He remained in the basket until the balloon was a mass of flames, and one of the enemy aviators followed him to the ground, firing at him. Despite his narrow escape he immediately re-ascended."

 

Ernest Frederick Kusener, Lake County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  Near Ronssoy, France: "After his tank had been put out of action and set on fire by a direct hit which killed four of his crew, Lieutenant Kusener, utterly disregarding his own personal danger, entered the blazing tank which was still being fired on, and dragged the remainder of the crew to safety.  Displaying exceptional coolness and bravery, he then carried two members of the crew, who had been seriously wounded to a dressing station, the two trips being made over ground swept by heavy machine-gun fire."

 

Owen Eugene Newlon , Lake County, Indiana  Silver Star: "Sergeant Newlon, learning the battery had been ordered into position near Mouzay, took his rolling kitchen, water cart and ration cart into Mouzay with the first line of the Infantry, over a road exposed to machine-gun and shell fire.  Sergeant Newlon, being unable to get communication with the battery and knowing that the men were in dire straits for rations, kept his outfit in this town until he learned the location of the battery position, in spite of a warning from the Infantry commander that it was very dangerous, and succeeded in getting food to the firing battery."

 

Ben H. Menges, Elkhart County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross  "After having crawled out alone across a clearing swept by machine-gun fire, armed only with his rifle and bayonet, he succeeded in killing four of the enemy who resisted him, and after having cleaned out several dugouts in the woods, brought in eight prisoners and reported information which permitted breaking up an enemy counter attack."

 

Bernard Thomas Kelly, Marion County, Indiana  Silver Star: "...displayed exceptional bravery during the successful construction of pontoon bridges over the Meuse River and canal east of the river.  In the face of heavy and direct machine-gun and artillery fire they constructed their bridges, and by reason of their coolness, determination and utter disregard for personal safety, the Infantry were able to cross the river and canal and capture the important heights east of the Meuse."

 

Forest L. Martz, Tipton County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross: "October 6, 1918, Private Martz learned that two wounded men were lying in a field some distance in advance of the front line.  These men were in an exceptionally exposed position and had been without assistance for two days.  After dark Private Martz, with another man, made two trips into the area between the lines bringing a man back each time.  This was performed under enemy machine-gun fire and in the illumination of enemy flares."

 

Leslie Albert McPike, Lawrence County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  Bois-de-Foret, France: "Having been sent with his section to defend a difficult position, Sergeant McPike succeeded in breaking up a hostile counterattack, though his ammunition was exhausted in so doing.  Shortly afterwards, when another counterattack was made against him, he and his men held off the enemy with their pistols, though at one time the Germans had closed in from three sides.  Their courageous stand checked the enemy until fresh ammunition could be brought up, whereupon the hostile attack was completely repulsed."  Nestes, France: ...Sergeant McPike maneuvered his guns so successfully that he lost neither man or guns, though his original positions and the surrounding fortifications were completely destroyed..."

 

Kenneth Henri Holden, LaPorte County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  "While on an Infantry contact mission he and his observer were attacked by four enemy planes and driven back, but realizing the importance of their mission, deliberately returned and attacked the four planes, sending one to the earth and driving the others away.  Unmindful of the damaged condition of their plane and of their own danger, they flew for an hour within one hundred meters of the ground, through a continuous heavy machine-gun fire, until they had accurately located our front-line position."

 

Edward William McAndrews, Knox County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  Bois de Ogons, France: "Exposing himself fearlessly to enfilading machine-gun fire from the enemy, Sergeant McAndrews directed the placing of the guns in his section in such positions as to protect the advance of the Infantry and in so doing was fatally wounded.  Despite the fact that one-half of his body was paralyzed as a result of his injury, he insisted upon remaining in command of his section until the action was over.  He died in a field hospital shortly after being evacuated."

 

Glenn Carlton Hiatt, Delaware County, Indiana  Commendation, US Navy: "...for your gallantry in jumping overboard from the Maine about 9:15 PM, October 29, 1917, and rescuing from drowning, William J. Savageau, Fireman, 3rd class.  Your commanding officer reports that the night was cool and the sea rough enough to make swimming difficult and that by your prompt action you contributed greatly toward the saving of Savageau who would have otherwise have no doubt been drowned as he was unconscious when picked up."

 

William Ellsworth Kepner, Howard County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  "While in command of a battalion, Captain Kepner personally led one company of his command in an attack on a woods occupied by a company of German machine gunners.  He was the first man to enter the woods, and later when part of the attacking company was held up by flanking machine-gun fire, he, with a patrol of three men, encircled this machine gun, and after a hard hand-to-hand fight, put the gun out of action."

 

Merritte Weber Ireland, Whitley County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  "As chief surgeon of the American Expeditionary Forces he supervised and perfected the organization of the medical department in France; and to his excellent judgment, untiring efforts, and high professional attainments are largely due to the splendid efficiency with which the sick and wounded of the American Army have been cared for."

 

John Wiley Jordan, Marion County, Indiana  Distinguished Service Cross:  "Under the protection of three pursuit planes, each carrying a pilot and observer, Lieutenants Bernsheimer and Jordan, in charge of a photo plane, carried out successfully a hazardous photographic mission over the enemy's lines to the River Aisne.  The four American ships were attacked by twelve enemy battle planes.  Lieutenant Jordan, by accurate operation of his machine gun, in spite of wounds in his shoulder and leg, aided materially in the victory which came to the American ship and returned safely with thirty-six valuable photographs."

 

William Klamm, Lake County, Indiana  Silver Star: "...though wounded and with a practically disabled automatic rifle, continued to keep his piece in action and refused the aid of his comrades in order that he might fulfill his duty."

Indiana War Memorials