||Alfred A. Thelen was born in Oshkosh on January 6, 1891, the son of Stephen Thelen. He worked for the Witzel & Rossmeissl shoe store and became a partner in Thelen & Rossmeissl. He was drafted in April 1918 and did his basic training at Camp Grant, near Rockford, IL. Corporal Alfred A. Thelen became a member of Company F, 354th Infantry, 89th "Middle West" Division during World War I. The 89th Division was comprised of draftees from mid-western states and trained at Camp Funston, Kansas. They saw heavy action during World War I. Alfred died of pneumonia on November 24, 1918.
||World War I Small Collections
|Dates of Accumulation
||Letter from Alfred A. Thelen, Company F, 354th Infantry, 89th "Middle West" Division, to his sister.
Sunday, Sept. 1/18
Dear Sister Kathryn:
I will try and write you a few lines telling all the news from far away France.
The weather has been very nice, since we have been up to the front, so it has been quite pleasant in the trenches, except when "Jerry" throws over a barrage and comes near where we are stationed. I have been very fortunate and I must say our entire company has been, except one or 2 who were unlucky. I am feeling fine and so is everyone else in the outfit. We are now stationed in a village, which is all shot to pieces, not a house, barn or building which hasn't been hit, and destroyed at least partially. All the buildings of course are built of stone, and there once was a beautiful Catholic Church but now nothing but 2 walls or parts are left standing. It really seems a shame the way things are destroyed, but where war is, as Sherman once said, "[Hell]" he surely was right.
I had the good fortune of seeing some very large guns the last few days, and also some large tractor engines it seems marvelous what machines for killing have been invented.
This town is just full of plum trees and also ripe, so you can just imagine we have all the plums we care for and also apples. There are no civilians left excepting a couple dozen all told, so this fruit must be taken care of. But there is one thing still open and that's a couple of small rooms where we can buy wines and beer, I like the beer pretty well, but no more than one bottle at a time, because its not nearly as good as our beer at home.
We had payday again today "This is always a wonderful day in the army", and my pile was 911/2 Francs about $17.00 so I am well taken care of for some time to come.
Kathryn, the scenery surely is beautiful, you get on a hill and scan the country, you see a ruined village, and several villages at a distance of 1 to 3 miles apart, but of course these villages a (are) pretty only from the distance. I suppose if one could see Paris and some of the larger villages or cities, I would be more pleased with France, but really, give me the good old states and you can see all you care too be sure. The people wherever I have been or seen are surely far behind, in every way of course I realize the war has a whole lot to do with conditions.
We have been having very good meals, and I must say I am getting along just splendid with all the boys, and really enjoy certain things in army life, and would enjoy it more, were it not for leaving so much behind, and you especially (give me a quarter)
Oh say how does Ike like army life? I am writing this letter in a dugout with a candle for light, so you must overlook miss spelled words etc. How about Art? Is he still near Chicago, Ill. How were things at the store and how are they doing, tell me all you know and how about Harry & ____?. The only thing I believe its quite hard for her to attend to so many things.
How is Lona? Did she get over that spell of hers, around the 4th of July.
It's now nearly 9 P.M. but I have a nice electric light but the juice is not turned
on only for a couple of hours. I must hurry this along because I am on Gas Guard till 1 A.M. of course one private is at the post but a corp. must stay with him because lots of men are sleeping and we (must) be very careful, because Jerry might slip us a Gas pill and one or 2 good wiffs would be sufficient.
This letter is really getting longwinded so I will close very soon. Oh say I must tell you I am trying to grow a mustache I only wish I could have your camera, and I surely would take some wonderful pictures but I guess cameras are forbidden in France, for military reasons, but then I'll tell you about my mustache.
The war is all over France now, but here's hoping peace will soon reign again.
This all dear sister, give the folks my best & tell them I am feeling fine, and only you and everyone also is as well as I am. Good by and here's my love and best of luck to you from, your brother
Corp. Alfred A. Thelen
Co. F. 354 Inf.
American Exp. Forces
||World War I
||8: Communication Artifact
||Oshkosh Public Museum
||Thelen, Alfred A.
||World War I