Note: This is the last of the letters for the time period requested. While at this time Roman may feel The 131st has Jerry by the "tale", The 131st has a very long, hard road to travel to reach the Armistice, and will soon learn that there is little quit in Jerry. From the The 131st Infantry in the world war
upon learning that the a battalion of The 131st would occupy Metz after the Armistice: "the regiment was combed from end to end to furnish enough presentable uniforms to equip it. We finally succeeded in a getting a fairly good lot of uniforms together, but it was no small task and not to be wondered at when it is to be considered that the men of the regiment had been for almost two months marching, sleeping and living in their clothes in rain, mud and trenches, with hardly a day they could call their own."
The following is a compilation letter:
Having some time today so I thought I would write you And let you know how I am getting along. Received your long letter And was very glad to hear from you. Your two letters are the first I received in two weeks so it was a long wait for mail.
Taking life easy now only cleaning up the town And as soon as we move will have another town to clean (Note: The 131st picked up the nickname "The Illinois Improvement Association"). The germans held this town four years And they smashed everything when they had to leave.
You ought to see some of these towns. They are smashed so bad that they can only use the bricks for repaving roads And in some of the real bad ones we see one wall standing up and that is how we could tell it was a town once upon a time.
Was very glad to hear that you and your people in your small town were celebrating the Armistice And having a real picnic. Thats one thing we did not do over here because the big guns were roaring same as before.
The 11th of November we were notified to seize firing at 11 oclock in the morning And believe everything did seize on the minute. Only one thing we did do is celebrate that the war was over because we were tickled to death to leave the Huns for a change And get out of the lines.
We were in until the last minute And were relieved at five oclock for a little rest because we were froze from the rain And cold. It was a glorious day for us here. The French certainly made a day of it.
Now that everything is over we can at least steady our nerves And don't have to worry about the flying shells anymore And machine gun bullets whistling by our ears. Believe me there will be a lot of girls disappointed when we return because this was a terrible war And made a person to weaken.
Some of the boys shook like leafs on a tree in the fall And I was shook once myself And that is nothing to be bashful of. On October 10th I gave up hope already but when I got hit on the helmet with a whole shell casing then my nerve regain back again And I made up my mind that the germans could not kill me anymore.
The way things look now we wont be home for some time but all the same we are tickled that the war is over And I dont have to go to the tenches anymore And stand in mud up to our knees And freeze And hear the big shells whistle over our heads And praying it would not drop close where we are at And cover us up with dirt And kill some of the boys that were close to where it dropped.
Half the time I get so disgusted that we cant go home that I dont even care anymore And guess you would be the same if you were in my place after such hard fighting as we done.
I dont know if there are many more regiments that done anymore than we did . We never failed on anything And the only thing the general says now is that we are the best regiment in France but that honor wont bring us back to see our sweethearts any sooner. Everyone of us might be dead now but we don't care because we can liven it up in a hurry.
Things certainly are different now than they were before. Everybody seems to be happy instead of being sad when so many lives were being lost. Flags hanging wherever we go Our Old Glory was flying on the top and the Yanks are getting cheered wherever they go for being such good fighters. The Doughboys are the ones getting the most cheers.
We are having a cabaret now only one thing is missing beer And wine. We have souvenired a piano from one of the small towns we were billeted in for a couple of days And moving it with us for our pass time.
Having plenty of cigarettes And cigars to smoke And keep the fire burning. The days are getting awful short And have no light to write in the evening because we cant buy any candles as we have no stores here.
This is all I got now so I will close. Having some of the finest weather only a little cold but we dont mind it at all because its better than rain. I am feeling fine and in the best of health. Hoping your are the same.
I Remain Yours with the best of luck for a happy return
Pvt Roman Paterka
Co C 131st US Army