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December 1, 1918 Chantemelle, Belgium. My Dear Dad : - We have been on the move quite a bit lately. As you may know, orders have been changed and we are part of the Army of Occupation and don’t stop until we hit the Rhine. We are moving in that direction now, following up the German retreat. We are now passing through the south western tip of Belgium and I am at present not far from the town of Anon, which is of some size and you might find it on the map. These Belgian people are certainly glad to see us. All the flags are hanging out as we go through the towns and they have lined their main streets with little pine trees, all decorated. You have to look twice, several times, before you recognize the Stars & Stripes, which are nearly always “home made.” We are not expecting as warm a welcome in Luxembourg. By the time this reaches you, I suppose I will be
resting easy on the banks of that grand old river we have heard so much about. I am at last back with my regiment and was never so glad to get back in my life. Liaison work is all right; it is very important work but you are all alone in it. I liked it, however, for a change and it was very interesting, but if given my choice I would take it with the men everytime. The Colonel has me working at Regimental Headquarters for the time being, but I expect to get back to my company soon. The Regiment is very short on for officers, but we are gradually getting filled up by replacements. I am sorry but my chances for a captaincy are gone now as there was an order stating that no more promotions would be made. There are a lot of officers hanging around from these late training camps and several have been shipped over who have not had actual experience or very much of it in the line. The sooner I get out of the army how, however, the happier I will be. I don’t expect to be back home, however until the middle of next Summer.
Although this Division has not been over as long as some of the others, there is no other that has had any harder fighting. I have read pages in the newspapers from home about the wonderful works of the 35th Mo. N.G. Division. They deserve credit for what they have done as everyone does, but they did not have their noses in when it came to picking the five “fighting” divisions to form a corp for America’s part in the final smash. The 89th was right in the center and the first on its objective. The nine best divisions have been chosen for this Army of Occupation. Six will go all the way to the Rhine. Three are in reserve. I suppose Barnett told you where we were when we first went into the line. In the St. Mihiel drive we went right forward from here to the little village of Beney, Xammes, & [Thiaucourt]. We remained there a few weeks, where we received quite a bit of artillery fire and gave considerable in return. We were then ordered to the Verdun front, a little north of Verdun, where the heaviest fighting in the war was going on. We went into the
Bois de Bantheville (“Bois” meaning “woods”) which is a little north east of the Foret d’Argonne. We were here for several weeks and then went forward from here in the final smash. We wound up at the town of Stenay on the River Meuse. I saw & heard President Poincare address the returning civilians in this town. This was where the Crown Prince stayed for so long. From this town we have been marching to the Rhine. I saw one paper which said we had a twelve day rest, but I never knew it. The day can’t come too fast when we will all be back. It’ll be a grand old day when we all swing down Fifth Ave. & entrain for Kansas City. I hope this gets to you O.K. The day for “Dad’s Christmas Letter” was last week but we were on the move. Give my love to Mother, I.O. & Jr. I got a nice letter from Uncle Frank which I am going to answer as soon as possible. Remember me to everyone. Love Burnham. 354th Inf
From the service of James Kellogg Burnham Hockaday, First Lieutenant, 354th Infantry, 89th Division.
|Date||December 1, 1918|
|Year Range from||1918|
|Year Range to||1918|
Hockaday, James Kellogg Burnham
World War I