World War One Letters: Watson



A common element in many letters from soldiers in WWI is a dissatisfaction with the frequency of letters from home. Wendell E. Watson is no exception to this, often remarking that letters have arrived out of chronological sequence, and specifically asking that his family send more news from home.

For a homebody like Wendell, it is understandable that this factor is the source of so much frustration. His family, their neighbours, and their land are clearly very important to him. Most of the letters in this collection put a great deal of focus on these matters, and he gives his family regular updates regarding the "Grelton people" (acquaintances from back home) that he sees in camp. Wendell often asks questions about the state of the family's crops and livestock, and after arriving in France he notes many differences between farming practices there and those he has grown up with in Ohio.

When the letters aren't citing issues with the mail or discussing things back home, they are most likely to be concerned with food. In many cases, Wendell advises that he is quite content with the 'eats', but often he is found to be lamenting some particular comforts, most often candy.

In their candor and sincerity, these letters afford us a glimpse not only of life in the U.S. Army during WWI, but also of life in the agricultural midwest of the time.