To My Dearest Sister | Teen Ink

To My Dearest Sister

October 3, 2009
By Andrea Meyers SILVER, Essex Jct., Vermont
Andrea Meyers SILVER, Essex Jct., Vermont
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

September 9, 1914

To my dearest sister,

Regrettably I am unable to disclose much information regarding the war in this letter. Ever since the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand it would seem as though the Central Powers have dominated the first month of this scurrilous war. It is outrageous Britain took this long to provide aid, and of course our hardships did not concern them until the fear arose that their economy would be impacted by Germany’s hostile take over. Although, I must admit, attacking France through Belgium was quite genius. I have not heard from you since my departure, and I know that an evacuation of Paris for civilians was to be made as a precaution if the Germans do succeed, I do hope you made it out safely.

We believe that the Germans may have underestimated us. It is taking them longer to get through the lines then they thought. Trench warfare seems to be a useless strategy that causes more bloodshed than anything else. It is as if the human race cannot find anything better to do with our time then invent new ways to dominate and destroy one another. I know it’s been less than a month, but I cannot help but feel homesick for the comforts of a homemade meal and a warm, comfortable bed. It is always the little things that go under-appreciated and aren’t recognized with importance until after you no longer have them. We, the soldiers, trench through thick mud up to our knees, and sometimes our waists, all while carrying heavy sacks on our backs supplied with two days worth of food and military necessities. We stand in dug-out trenches all day long that permit us little space to do much but fire at those whom we are taught to be our enemies with machine guns. Perhaps, if we win this battle and stop Germany in their tracks we will be able to defeat them, and I can return home. I hope to hear from you soon.

Yours Truly,


April 6, 1917

To my dearest sister,

I enjoyed reading your last letter. It brings me comfort to know the family is doing well. I am very proud that you have gotten involved in the war efforts. It has been my opinion women have been underestimated for years. I remember you mentioning that you are now working several different jobs as are most women in factories, shops, and other unsuspected places of employment.
I agree that it is astounding that the Central Powers haven’t given in yet. I thought, I mean I hoped with every fiber of my being, that our victory at the Battle of the Marne would have been enough discouragement. However, I am not a very sophisticated fellow and my hopes were much too high. It was foolish to think I’d be home the following year. I am participating in my third year of warfare, and the sides have been pretty much balanced. Although, I am sure you’ve heard the United States declaration of war against Germany and how they’ve joined the Allies, I can only hope that they will tip the scale in our favor, and I may be able to feast my eyes upon the home that I’ve been away from much too long. Russia has pulled out from the Allies because of their own economic and governmental conflicts. I suppose it only makes sense that you must help yourself before you can help anyone else. After the Battle of Tannenberg the Russians must have been very discouraged with their disastrous defeat in Prussia with over 120,000 men either killed or taken prisoner. It definitely did not help with boosting the peoples’ morale.
The confidence of our company’s was, also, lowered. We thought trench warfare was bad at the beginning of the war, but we didn’t really use this technique until the Battle of Ypres. This took place in western Belgium, and as you are aware mustard and other poisonous gases were inflicted upon us. I would have never known the consequences of this harmful lung deteriorating substance if it hadn’t been that your husband, my best friend, was unjustly deprived of the rest of his life which had been taken by the soulless great design who decides who lives and who dies. Great sorrow filled my heart and welled in my throat as I held his hand when he took his last breaths. The only thoughts that run through my mind are the tormenting ideas that I should have been able to save him, or warn him. I had no idea what was coming. I’d been fighting all day and we were falling back for our break as his line came forward, but the moment they entered the trench it’d been gassed down by the enemy. This whole battle was a stalemate and everyone begins to wonder all these questions as to why we are fighting.
Another disappointment that could only make us feel worse about ourselves, and the situation that was occupying our everyday lives, was the Battle of Gallipoli. To think that we were so close to ending all of this... but we murdered the opportunity. Our failure is devastating. The battle took place right near Constantinople, and all we had to do was win this battle to take out the Turks and leave Germany to fend for herself. However, the Allies lost miserably with over 100,000 dead, and 250,000 wounded British soldiers. I smelt freedom, and I may have even tasted it. It was like being a dog and having your master torment you with invisible treats even if you had performed in the exact way you were being asked. You could almost imagine the treat sitting in his hand, and then feeling your heart drop into your stomach once he opens his hand and reveals nothing but air. I was for certain, at this point, that we were being teased by some higher power just as a dog is fooled by his master.
I am positive that you will not be surprised to hear that more bloodshed has occurred. In the Battles of Verdun and France Germany attempted to penetrate the French fortresses, and although they were not very successful the losses on our side are so numerous that the trenches, being littered with corpses, had the appearance of a mass grave rather than a fighting resource. Inventions such as tanks and airplanes have become more popular and noticeable on the battlefield. The British suffered the greatest loss of their time. Over 550,000 men were killed on the Allies side, but the Central Powers also lost many men.
Now perhaps you do not know the details of US becoming allied with us because not many do. After Germany declared that they were going to use unrestricted submarine warfare and killed 125 US citizens traveling on Lusitania, the US felt the need to find some involvement in the war. They had already been supplying the Allies and particularly Britain and France with war supplies and they made profit out of our pain. They feel close ties with England because they have similar heritage and culture, and they’d seen plenty of propaganda to inspire US citizens. The final straw, to my belief, was the telegram sent to Zimmerman that had been intercepted. Basically, this letter described that if Mexico would attack the US and distract them, Germany would in return help Mexico take back the land they had lost. The President felt over whelmed and pressured to do something in response to this telegram so they have finally joined our forces and should be sending over troops and supplies soon. It looks like this war has now become a power struggle, Democracy VS Aristocracy.
Well that is all I have time to write to you for awhile. I don’t know how much of this information you will actually receive after it is censored. I hope to hear from you again, and maybe next time I will even be able to return home.

Yours truly,

November 11, 1918
To my dearest sister,

Today is one I will continue to celebrate for the rest of my life. Today is Armistice Day and at 11am the fighting ceased to be. It was like being in a coma for four long, hard, cold years and then realizing everything was a dream. I will always have nightmares and remember all of my friends and family we have lost during this time, and although nothing is dream worthy, I am still in a daze of confusion and amazement. I simply cannot believe the “Great War” the “War to end all wars!” is finally over. I will arrive home within the next few weeks, and I’m afraid to say I am coming home not as I left. I lost a leg during an aerial attack; it was amputated on one of the last days of battle. I am coming back to you as a broken man in mind, body, and spirit. Somehow this just seems too good to be true. It feels almost too easy to be over…
It doesn’t ease my mind knowing that Germany is going to be stripped of all powers. They are going to be forced to pay for their debts with some obscure amount in the region of $60,000,000. Their army is going to be limited. They will be forced to leave their colonies and France will reclaim that territory, and they are also going to be forced out of Africa. Or at least those were the rumors I’d picked up on during the discussion from some of those attending the meeting where the Treaty of Versailles is to be made.
Well my dear sister, I am overjoyed to be returning home to a home cooked meal, a soft bed, and a bath tub. These luxuries I miss with the very soul of my heart. I don’t know what the future holds. I doubt that Germany will be happy with the new arrangements, but I guess I won’t worry about it, or at least not for another ten years…I think I’ve earned that rest. I can’t wait to see you! Au revoir!

Yours truly,

The author's comments:
The letters of a WWI French soldier describing the struggles of the time.

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