This letter was written and mailed by my grandfather, J. Emery Porter, to his sister, Lois Bayley. Forty or so of Emery’s WWI letters to Lois have survived (read more about these letters here). On the back of the envelope (shown above), he included a return address: “Pvt. Emery Porter, 646 Aero Squadron, American Expeditionary Forces, via New York.” I never met my grandfather, but I heard he was a life-long French speaker and unabashed Francophile, primarily due to the experiences he had while stationed in France.
“Nowhere in France”
March 24, 1918
I was the happy recipient of your letter today. It is the second I have received from home folks. I received one from Mother two weeks ago this morning but nothing since. Evidently you have written others which I may yet receive. This one was dated March 2nd or 3rd. Emily K. has written six but I have received two so far so you can judge why I don’t respond often.
Our conversation began with this astonishing claim: “My father was friends with Marcel Heuzé.”
(Cue the sound of a needle scratching across a record.)
Let me back up. Two weeks ago, I picked up my office phone to hear a 90-year-old woman with a crisp French accent state her name — Nelly Trocmé Hewett — followed by the astonishing claim her father had been friends with Marcel.READ MORE
Somewhere in France
My Dearest Wife:
Well Christmas is here an gone. It didn’t even seem like Christmas just like another day. Christmas Eve we didn’t get in till about six. After we ate I washed and shaved. Was [illegible due to paper damage] to a little party they were having over in his Co. Then we were going to go to midnight services. READ MORE
October 13, 1944
I’m enclosing a few lines to let you know that I’m still in the best of health & also pray to hear the same from you, my [loved] one. Today I’m going to answer a few of your letters dated Sept. 19th, 20th & 26th. Before I start, I want you to know it is really cold out here where I am & I understand it is also cold back home. Oh well, I guess there isn’t anything I could do about it.
In one of the letters Marcel mailed from Berlin, he mentioned having to show his papers to the German police. My guess is that he showed them his arbeitskarte (worker card) which likely included his photo and listed basic biographic information. The arbeitskarte might have also been inked with his fingerprints.READ MORE
Vienna April 4, 1944
My very dear parents,
I come for a moment to give you some news from me which are very good for now. I am still in good health. I hope it is the same for you.
February 15, 1945
My dear young men:
A card to you from not too gay Paree. But it is a beautiful city filled with beautiful women, beautiful buildings, beautiful stores, everything beautiful, no Frenchmen, and a lot of G.I. soldiers. I wish you both could be here to enjoy it. I wish I could enjoy it, too, but I am too busy with my work. Some other day, maybe
I was surprised, but delighted, that my translator could read this writing. To me, it almost looks like shorthand! But, she continues to work miracles.
Typically I’m interested in handwritten letters, but this typed letter portrayed such a touching moment I had to buy it. The brothers’ reunion actually made me a little teary-eyed. I hope you enjoy reading it!READ MORE
This nostalgia-filled letter tugged at my heartstrings. You can feel the connection this soldier is yearning for as he asks about old friends and recalls carefree moments before the war. READ MORE