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Do not interfere with an army that is returning home. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

-- Sun Tzu

War Stories: World War I

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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World War I Sun Nov 8th 1914 , Blantyre St.,Bishopmill Dear Annie, Just a few lines to let you know that I am always in the land of living & keeping well hoping this will find you all the same at home I got up here friday & going back Tuesday not much time but better than nothing.
Note: letters by James Kay, Regimental Sergeant-Major, No 4 Company of the 16th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force, 3rd Brigade, First Canadian Division.   6222 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I In April 1918 I volunteered to go to France in response to the urgent call for more surgeons. For twenty years I had been in general practice in a suburb, and did a fair amount of surgery among patients and at the local hospitals. I had also had some war experience as one of the surgeons at the British Red Cross Hospital, Netley, in the first six months of the War, but I had no experience of cases fresh from the battlefield, and the surgical technique which had recently been adopted in dealing with them.
Note: by Captain John A. Hayward  12984 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I June 27, 1917 I have decided to keep a diary myself as I hear rumored today that all the letters that I spent so much time writing on the boat have gone down on the Lorraine. If it is so, I'm sure disgusted at myself for wasting so much time writing them as the people at home will never know how much I tried to write to them.
Note: by Thomas Edward Shirley  8748 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I July 18th 1918 Dear Mother, Well there has been great activity in the line of warfare since my last letter. I never realized before that destruction of material things as well as human life could possibly occur in a few hours. Just a few days ago we witnessed the greatest artillery fire, and also its effect, since the war began.
Note: letter by Corp. Roy Bainbridge, 117 Am. Train Co C.  5923 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I We had a new man at the periscope, on this afternoon in question; I was sitting on the fire step, cleaning my rifle, when he called out to me: 'There's a sort of greenish, yellow cloud rolling along the ground out in front, it's coming ---
Note: By Arthur Empey, an American enlisted in the British Army.
First introduced by the Germans, gas warfare was soon embraced by all the combatants. By the end of the war, one in four of the artillery shells fired on the Western Front contained gas.
  6977 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Jan. 26, 1917 My Dear Friends: Am taking the first opportunity of thanking you for the parcel you were so thoughtful to send me. It arrived in good condition about a week ago, having had the misfortune to be delayed in the mail, as have been a lot of the Xmas goods, but whether received on time or a month late, are always appreciated. I had several surprises in the way of parcels about Xmas time, as you know, folks in Canada as a rule have so many relatives to send things to, that it keeps them busy, and all I figured on was a couple from home, and instead of a couple, I got seven all told and had quite a busy time getting through them. Luckily they arrived when things were and I was thus able to do justice, and you know when eats are concerned, I certainly like to see justice done. Pleasant memories. The socks just hit me at the right time, as the next day I got in with wet feet and had to have a change, so you see your work was well rewarded as I didn't have to look around to get a dry pair. I suppose the winter has been fairly quiet as far as pleasure is concerned, owing to the cold weather, as I read in the papers that they were serving out the real thing in the weather line at times here, it felt like real winter. I remember about 3 weeks ago when out on a little trip we started home facing a blinding snow storm, and after facing about a mile in the open we all looked like snow men. The snow was very wet and stuck with us. I know it took sometime to get it off and dried out again. But the weather now is fine and excepting for the mud, not too bad for getting around. Well, news is scarce, (In the permissable zone) so of necessity can't say much, as I don't wish to look for trouble. I am doing a little correspondence tonight as it will likely be sometime before I can tear off much in the letter line; until then, whiz-bangs or "not dead yet" cards will be the style. If you have the time, would be pleased to hear from you with all the news. Give my best regards to all I used to know. Will have to close up now & get ready for the hay (minus hay). Yours Pte.R.P
  2473 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I January 21, 1917: Dear Sister: Just a few lines in answer to your letter of Dec. 5th which I received a short time ago & was glad to hear from you & that you are all well. I was in hospital & rest camp here from December 28th to January 7th with a touch of Grippe but am feeling fine again now, that is as well as can be expected under the circumstances. The weather is a little bad on the front where we are, quite a bit of snow & rain so it makes the trenches bad. But I guess we must expect that this time of year. I was lucky last Tuesday, they sent me away on a machine gun course & expect to be away till a week from tomorrow, so I will miss a trip into the trenches. It is fine here at the school. We have a Y.M. & a church Hut, both fine places. Also a good canteen where we can buy anything we want. We sleep in tents but have plenty of blankets & sleep close together so we are quite comfortable. Of course the weather is not so very cold here. It freezes at nights but is not too bad in the days. Do you know a man in Stratford, Mr. Lowe. I think he used to run a drug store. He is a Lieut. in the 46th--was in command of the Co. that I am in. He is certainly a fine man & all the boys think a lot of him. He is away from us now, though. He was operated on for appendicitis, & I think went back to England. I may have his name spelled wrong, but it is something like that. I had a letter from Selina a short time ago. Things seem about the same as ever in Brantford. I hear from Herb & Lottie regular. Also from Cranstons whom I used to live with in Edmonton. I expect a bunch of mail when I get back to the battalion after this course. How is Wayman getting along, still punching the dough? I would like to be back there for a few weeks to help him. It would be a rest for me, but I don't think it will be so very long before we will be able to beat it back. Only a few months I think, but we are liable to have some hard work before the finish. Well, I must close, be sure & write soon & I will try to drop you a letter or field card often. It is sometimes hard for us to get mail written especially when we are in the line. So long. Alex #437536 I Co 46 Can. BEF Army PO London.
  2351 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I The visit of an English squadron for the Kiel Week in June, 1914, seemed to indicate a desire to give visible expression to the fact that the political situation had eased. Although we could not suppress a certain feeling of doubt as to the sincerity of their intentions, everyone on our side displayed the greatest readiness to receive the foreign guests with hospitality and comradeship.
Note: by Admiral Reinhard Scheer  9862 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I September, 18, 1916 Dear Mother:- I suppose you have received my card by now saying I was wounded, I just got a piece of shrapnel in the chest, am doing fine. Expect to be out of the Hospital soon. We were all in the reserve trench when a shell burst and hit ten of us. There was only one badly hurt and he will be in the Hospital for a couple of months. I will send the piece that hit me home so as you can see it. Well Mother, this is all for now so will close. With love to all I remain Your Loving son, Bill
  2198 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I 20. 1. 1916
Troopship Runic embarked at 6.15 a.m. put out into mid-stream at 9 a.m. had dinner was paid one pound and afterwards went on deck. Mother and Rose with Doris was out in the launch to see me weigh anchor at 20 min to 4 o’clock. Cleared the heads at 4 p.m. Last of dear old Manly for a while. All’s well everything O.K.
Note: No. 3769, 19th Battalion, AIF  6313 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Excuse me if this letter is badly written as I am writing sitting on some straw with a box as a desk: besides, my pencil is just about two inches long. However, though writing under difficulties, I will try to write a long letter as I have much to speak of to you.
Note: by Private Clarence Joseph, Letter from France to Marjorie Christienin British Columbia 1915  5993 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I Friday, January 1 1915
Old Drill dispensed with in place of platoon drill, adopted by the Imperial Army. Mail arrives from Australia dated 4.11.1914. Troops presented with chocolates and cigarettes from the Aust. War Contingent, London.
Note: Sam Weingott, born 1892, died on active service 5th June 1915.   11991 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I September 20, 1916 Dear Friend:- I sincerely hope these few lines find Mrs. Stanley and yourself in the best of health. I am feeling fine and fit at present. Since arriving in England I have been taken from the band and sent to school, taking machine gun and rifle courses as an Armourer. I have succeeded in passing the examinations on both. (This is a list; Savage Lewis; Colt and Maxim machine guns; Ross and Lee Enfield Rifles; Colt Automatic Pistol; Webley and Smith & Wesson Revolvers.) So you see it has taken a great deal of my time in studying, that's why I haven't written very many letters to anyone. I am at present working in Greenwich quite close to Woolwich Arsenal. We are reparing rifles and machine guns which have been sent back from France. I haven't been across yet, but don't know any day but what I may be sent. Most of our Batt. have been in action and we have lost several officers and men. I had the pleasure of seeing that Zepp. destroyed. It was a beautiful sight to see it falling in flames. It fell 20 miles from here, but you could have read the small print in The Journal 25 or 30 miles away, because of the light it cast. I am sending you an actual photograph, taken while it was falling and almost at the moment Lieut. Robinson signalled to the Aircraft guns to cease firing. I shall be able to tell you more about it when I come back to St. Mary's, which I hope won't be very long now. I have given you address of my home in South Wales as I don't know where I am likely to be a month from now. Mrs. Palmer arrived quite safely, but was a long time on the water. She is staying at my home at present. The weather here is very damp and cold. (In London only.) I shiver with my overcoat on. In other parts of England and Wales they have beautiful weather. Our workshop is situated alongside the river Thames, which is quite a sight at all times of the day and night now, to see the enormous amount of shipping which is going on. One thing more before I close. We used to read in the newspapers that the people of London were quite used to the Zepps. I didn't seem to be disturbed by them but I can assure you, Mr. Stanley, that it's a horrible feeling that comes over anyone, as we are helpless. Sometimes they reach a height of 3 miles and the humming of the propellor is like the sound of a big mosquito. They are expected anytime now as the weather is suitable for them and the reptile murderer in Berlin has made a threat that he will destroy London before the end of October. Now I must draw to a close this time. With kindest regards to Mrs. Stanley and yourself, from Yours Sincerely, CORP. A. E. Palmer No. 124444, P. S. Please remember me to all the boys of St. James' and St. Marys Lodge, also the Oddfellows when you see them, Mr. Stanley. 25 Hirvain St., Barry Dock, Nr. Cardiff, South Wales September 20, 1916
  2686 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I We are stubbornly trying to force the Turks up out of the ground, but they stick in well. Once we get them on the run, they seem to think we will progress quickly. The only thing I wish is that I was able to say I was in the landing at Gaba Tepe on April 25th.
Note: A letter by Corporal Alf. Birkhill, who is now at Anzac, pays warm tribute after seeing the heroic Australians who scaled the heights at Gaba Tepo.   5851 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War I The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all decks, from which gleamed the shining black and brown backs of horses.
Note: by Adolf K.G.E. von Spiegel  7107 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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