Rudolph Marcy Bowman

Primary source Document

Letter to wife, Gertrude

File #180920

(This is in a German Envelope.)

France Sept 20th 18

My Darling Wife and Loved Ones:

Has it been ten years since I wrote? Ten years have passed for me. This letter will sound like I am drunk, but I'm not - just tired. This is the synopsis of a long long story.

On Sept 10th I was sent to a village Kilometre behind the front line, for final instructions in enemy observation. Our O.P. (observation post) was shelled that night because an amunition truck had gotten stuck near it. (Now, all thru this everything seemed natural and I thought nothing of it.) Shrapnel struck our building (the only one with a roof on it in town) but we got no direct hit. The next day we (three other observers & I) went up to the front line trench to take over an advance O.P. Rain-Rain-Rain-Mud-Mud-Mud- Wet to the skin. Well - two of us were on our post at 1:00 A.M. Thurs. Sept 12th when all our big guns broke loose at once.

I can't describe it - it was awful - and wonderful - glorious - hideous - hellish, to think what one shell will do - then to think what 6000 to 8000 guns will do all firing as fast as they can, all sizes - well we stayed on till 3:00 and our releif came - went back to dug out for a last rest, for we had decided to go "Over the Top" with the doughboys ("God Bless Them") on the big drive.

Well we went over in the second wave, its all confused to me - I saw many dead men (mostly Boche) many of our boys wounded, men fell all around us, we were shot at by snipers, machine guns, Boche avions, and went thru our own barrage twice - those guns kept up that fire till about 9:30, then the light artillery tried to move up with us but could not keep up, all I could shoot at was mach. gun nests (I can only hope I got one Boche for I got no fair shot) but I saw boys throw grenades in dugouts full of Huns, and was glad, - we advanced all day, first with one company & another, everybody was lost; late in the afternoon we reached our objective, but we could not find where we were to stay, we kept going till 4:30 A.M. Fri, then we came back to this village - and I dropped on the floor with my saddle pockets (I hung on to them) over my shoulder and slept - and my pal could not wake me to make me eat. We'd had no sleep since Sun. night, except an hour at a time.

So we established an O.P. about a Kilometre behind the present line, we can see all the action for six Kilometres, there's not much doing except artillery fire, constantly from both sides, I've been under shell fire almost constantly for ten days - the closest one came within twenty feet, I wouldn't tell this now, but I'm going to send a wire home as soon as we are relieved, which will be soon. I got enough souvinirs too. Expect to get a chance to go to Paris for a week now. I want to come home, but this will be over soon I think. I got six letters from you sweetheart and about six from home yesterday. I'll answer them all when I can. Phone Mother when you get this. I can only write one letter now. I'll have some tales to tell Dear, but the one I want to tell most is the story of my love for my wonderful little wife. You & Mother and the rest must not worry about me, I'll be releived long before you get this. Now I can come home satisfied to stay and love. Your Own Loving

Soldier Boy X X

R.M. Bowman

Hq. Troop, 89th Division

American E.F., A.P.O. 761

(I pray always before I sleep, for my wonderful Mother & Wife and the rest, and for our early reunion.)

Heard from Johnnie