To Miss Mary Yakesh
Post Marked :
Dear Sister :-
One of our men deserted yesterday at Continental O. They caught him just before we left and left him in the city jail. Heís going to be punished by death. Any soldier deserting in time of war is hung or shot now. They are changing us to a different line at every division.
A Chippewa Boy Writes His Friend Frank Dolan-No War News Permitted. (Late June, or early July 1917)
Dear Cousin Frank: - I received your letter and was very glad to get it. I am in France and the American army received a very cordial welcome from the French people. They cheer us everywhere we go and our national flag is floating everywhere. The crops here are getting along fine, the farmers have finished pulling up their hay and the harvest will soon begin. I suppose you are going to celebrate the Fourth, wish I could be with you. Can not write you anything about war conditions so you cannot expect war news. Are many of our Chippewa boys enlisting? Write to me often. A letter from home is always appreciated.
Bugler J. Yakesh,
Co. H, 16 Infantry.
Care of Adj. Gen., Washington, D.C.
To Mr. John Yakesh
Bloomer, Route #2
Post Marked : August 6, 1917
(Missing first part of the letter)
Ö correct address. Be sure and write soon. Your son,
Pvt. John Yakesh,
Co. H 16th Infantry
A.E.F. via New York
P.S. I was made a gunner for a machine gun last week. We had a pistol target range and I got 47 out of 50 the best in the company. The machine gun will be way back of the trenches so you donít have to be scarred of me.
I just received the razor blades and the two pair of gloves today. I received the package containing the woolen socks and gloves Wednesday. I thank you very much for them. We are pretty well supplied with clothing but still home-made gloves and socks are much better than those issued us. I won't need any more except the rubber boots. You may send them if you wish. I heard that we were all going to get the high top waist boots, but I'm not certain about it.
I'm getting along fine. It isn't very cold here yet. We had the first and only frost about three weeks ago. We didn't have snow so far.
We were in the front line of trenches sometime ago for a few days. It was quite an adventure to be under fire. I didn't mind the shrapnel and bullets very much but I didn't like the life in the trenches.
I'm glad that father subscribed for the Advance for me. I think I will like it better than the Eau Claire Leader. The Leader always comes too thick in bunches; times I get as many as fifteen at a time. The worst of it is some are dated in Sept. and some maybe in last of Oct. all together. We are going to have turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I bought four liberty bonds last month. Almost every soldier bought several bonds.
Felix wanted to know how we are quartered and what we wear. Most of us live in barns and vacated houses. Some of the boys live in French army billets and some in our army tents. We have a stove in every quarter we occupy. We have the army cots to sleep on, and a bed sack that we fill with straw. Each soldier has three blankets, a poncho, and a shelter-half. The regular clothing allowance is cut out now, for the duration of the war. Our clothes are issued to us; all we have to do is to turn in any worn out article and we get a new one for it. I have three pair of shoes, two suits of uniform, sweater, overcoat, three shirts, four suits of underwear, a pair of leather and woolen gloves, hat, three pair of leggins, about a dozen pair of socks, helmet, two gas masks (French and English) and an identification tag. Our full field pack consists of the following articles: a shelter-half (two of these make a sleeping tent for two soldiers whenever we're out away from our Company,) a blanket; poncho; tent pole, rope, and pins; one suit of underwear; two pair of socks; one pair of shoe strings; towel; soap; comb; toothbrush; four boxes of hard tack; bacon; a combination box containing salt and pepper, sugar, coffee, and a mess kit with knife, fork and spoon. On our belt we carry a pistol, bolu, first aid pack, canteen and cup, and pistol ammunition. In addition to this we have to carry two gas masks, a pair of shoes and sometimes another blanket. When we get out on a 20 or 30 kilometer hike our packs get quite heavy.
We have all kinds of machine gun drills and maneuvers; pistol target practice and even grenade drills. My love to all, I am as ever, Your loving son,
July 6th 1918
Dear Mother :-
Iím getting along fine. The weather is fine here. The fourth was celebrated on a large scale over here. France adapted the Independence Day as her national holiday and England has celebrated in a most suitable manner. The Americans in France are making a great progress in every way. Write soon. Love to all. Your son. John Yakesh
FROM JOHN YAKESH
Somewhere in France, October 9, 1918
I am in the hospital again. I was wounded in my right side by a fragment of a shell and also burned on the upper part of my body quite badly by the gas. This was about a week ago and I feel a little better today. So don't worry as I'll probably be able to walk again in a week or two.
I am again in the 16th Band. The bandleader has been after my captain several times to let me transfer to the band and finally he did let me go. The reason he did not want to let me go was that I have been leading a squad for the last five months or so as acting corporal. He told me he would have promoted me to "non-com." if I had stayed. Now you always wanted me to transfer to the band so I have transferred just for that. I'll get $40.80 a month instead of $36.69 which I drew as a 1st class private. Be sure and have my address changed by all whom you may see. It should be as it appears at the close of this letter. Be sure and write it exactly this way because lots of mail goes wrong because improperly addressed. The A. in A. E. F. should always be spelled out "American" so that our mail will not get confused with the Australian E. F. You had better send my mail in care of the band as we never know how long we will be in the hospital.
Do not worry about me as my wounds are not serious. My love to all.
(Printed in the Bloomer Advance Thursday November 7, 1918 Edition)
John died, unbeknownst to his family and friends, 3 days after this
letter was published in the Bloomer Advance.