Full transcription of text follows:
Waxweiler, Germany. Dec. 27th., 1918. My Dearest Mother:- This is the second day after Christmas and we have been settled here in this little town for about a week. It really looks as though we are going to remain here for the winter or in this vicinity. I certainly hope so for it is getting pretty cold and marching is rather difficult. I would not have missed this trip for anything in the world. I don’t know when I have enjoyed myself more. This is a most interesting country as well as the people. My duties now make it all the more interesting. My Colonel has made me Regimental Billeting Officer because of my knowledge of German which is growing daily. It keeps me very busy finding room and quarters for over three thousand men, a few hundred head of horses, trucks, etc., especially when we move so frequently. I generally have to take in two or three and sometimes four towns or villages to get everything in and located. It is not so hard here in Germany for we generally step in and take whatever we want. The Germans had much rather see us than the French. After four years of war and hundreds of their towns and homes destroyed, these French are turning every town they go into upside down, and, Mother, if you had seen what I have seen and been through some of the parts of France I have, you could hardly blame them. It is certainly a conquering feeling you get when you come into one of these little towns or villages, pick out the biggest hotel, go in and sit down in their most elaborately furnished room (you see everyone kind of ducking and sneaking behind counters and bookcases) and then you send for the mayor of the town - or Burgomaster as he is called - to come over at once. He generally comes over with his breath coming in short gasps, and as you slap your gloves on the table , you gently spring to him the news that there are a few thousand troops coming to this town and for him to get busy and help you find some billets. Being Billeting Officer, of course, I have always managed to fix myself up pretty well. I have really been in some wonderful homes and the families have never been able to do enough for me. I have met some very fine families and they have good common sense ideas. You would really never think they were Germans. I suppose they have acquired quite a bit of this common sense since the war, however. The more I see of Germany the more I blame the Kaiser and his military regime. His poor subjects, even though the finest families, were totally ignorant of what was going on until the last days of the war.
[page #2] We were in a very fine town last week but for some reason, had to move. It was a little town called Prum--not so very small either. There were fine places there which I had made arrangements for, in which we could have moving pictures, theatres, etc., and besides there was a big evacuation hospital there with fifty-four nurses who were very fond of dancing. We had one dance while we were there and it was fine. It was the first time, Mother, I have danced since I left the States. We are now in a little town about twelve kilometers southwest of there but it is on the railroad, and last night we had the nurses down here for another dance, which we all enjoyed very much. There were quite a few Officers who took leaves about a month ago but on account of the great amount of transportation needed to get this army into Germany, they were not able to get back and many of them are still away. I would not take the experience I have a had, however, for a thousand vacations. If we get settled down here long enough, I believe I will put in for one soon. I see Capt. Hugh Pinkerton every day now. We eat at the same mess. Everyone of us are feeling fine. The Christmas box arrived--just the day after Christmas which was pretty close connection. Did you know there was no shaving soap in Luxinburg or Germany? Believe me, I was glad, Mother, to get that, as well as all the other things. I got Christmas cards from Father, Aunt Clara, and cousin Ellen just the day before Christmas. I got some wonderful socks from Aunt Jessie a few days ago. Give my best love to all and lots to you, Mother dear, Father, I.O., and Junior. Yours, Burnie. P.S.- Those pipes I got on the St. Mihiel drive are on their way home now. I haven't been in any town where I had the time or was able to get any Christmas presents yet, but I hope you be able to soon.
From the service of James Kellogg Burnham Hockaday, First Lieutenant, 354th Infantry, 89th Division.
|Date||December 27, 1918|
|Year Range from||1918|
|Year Range to||1918|
Hockaday, James Kellogg Burnham
World War I