From Lana Lease Johnston.
“Out of the Trenches” and “Letters from the Trenches” are books based on the WWI Diary/Letters of Daniel R. Warvel, Purple Heart Recipient – Born in Beamsville, Ohio 2-29-1892 transcribed by his granddaughter, Lana Lease-Johnston.
Photos are also from Lana Lease-Johnston collection.
Daniel’s family and Daniel was recently recognized at Arcanum’s Purple Heart Ceremony in September, 2022, for his service to his country.
My grandfather’s letter home to Ohio from 104 years ago from somewhere in France. He writes how after being shot and in the hospital a few weeks, he is now back on the front line. It has been raining continuously so mud is filling up their trenches. The trenches were muddy, cold with miserable conditions. Many soldiers died from simply being exposed to the cold, as the temperature was often below zero within the trenches in winter. Soldiers would sometimes lose fingers and toes due to exposure to extreme cold. The rain often filled the trenches; sometimes, the trenches would fill with water up to the soldiers’ waists. “Trench Foot” was a terrible fungal infection that was caused by the submersion. The leg that was affected by this disease often needed to be amputated. He writes that he wished for some straw to sleep on. Lastly, he also writes how the little towns and villages are blown apart when they go through them.
October 17, 1918
Dear Bro and Wife: I will try to answer a couple of letters which I received today. One is September 12 and the other is September 8. I just got back to my company yesterday. I had three letters, two of them from you and the other one from Ira Cole. I did not get any from the folks at all. What little mail I did get was wet.
When I got back to my company, they were on the front line and we are still there. In the front line, you have no shelter. The mail bag lays in the rain. It has been raining here the last three days and mud clear up. I would be happy if I could find as good a place as your hogs to have sleep. We have no straw to sleep on. If we had straw, we would be Jake. You know how disagreeable it is to be wet and then have to hide and then try to sleep.
You mentioned the auto’s tail light in one of your letters. I have not received that letter yet, but I would like to get that one. Getting letters here is like stories continued. You also said you sent me four pictures. I have not received them yet. I would sure like to as I enjoy looking at pictures that come from the states. You also said Ira sent you a picture from over here. I have not had any taken here yet, for I am not at the same place long enough to wait for them.
Ira has a little different job to what I have. The doughboys sure catch hell over here.
I see in the papers it says it looks like peace, but where I am, it sure doesn’t. There will be many a bloody battles fought yet. I just wish you could see some of these battlefields after we get over them, especially the towns.
Well, I have to close as news is scarce and I don’t have the elbow room in this darn little hole to write. It is kinda disagreeable and you have to keep down. This is a bad place to write a letter, but I thought I would try to answer while I had the opportunity. I will close for now. Sending my best wishes.
From your loving Brother,
Co M. 128th Infantry
American E. F.
P.S. If I ever get back to the states, I can tell some wonderful tales that I can’t write through letters, for I sure do get to see them.
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