July 28, 1918 – Letter from Robert to his mother:
My dear Mother.
I should have written to you before but it is so inconvenient most of the time. We have moved about so much and sometimes we are camped in an orchard or anyplace. Just now I am on the very top of a mountain. There is no snow here now but it is much cooler than down below in the valleys where we have been. We are enveloped in clouds most of the time and of course it is wet nearly all the time, and they say that in the winter they measure the snow by yards instead of by inches. I hope I will not be here when that time comes. Altho I can stand it much better than most of the boys in this regiment as they are from the south.
We get the Chicago Tribune up here. It is printed in Paris and gives very late war news. I have been reading about the big drive that the Amexes are making up north and it just makes me long to be there too instead of here, where it is so much quieter. But I fear that we will have to stay here and be satisfied with a few Boche shells. They shot a dozen at us yesterday but they did no harm and did not even scare any one.
Bess + Jane both wrote that Gilbert had been made a Sargeant. He certainly was fortunate to get into something besides the Infantry. It makes me wish that I had enlisted instead of waiting for the draft, as you wished, but I can do my bit this way I feel sure.
We have a new captain now, and I know that he and I will get along alright.
Ruth tells me that you have not been well. I am sorry to hear it, and hope that you are better now.
I dreamed last night that I was in America and selling shoes. I had just received a big order from the Golden Rule when I woke up. If dreams come true you shall have a lot of nice sample shoes. Isn’t that a queer dream for one who should be thinking about soldiering?
Just now we are about 5 miles from the front line and I do not know when we will go up. We think that we are going to be able to use our bayonets every time we move but no chance. I have no fear at all and feel absolutely sure that I will return without a scratch. Nice way to feel and I hope I don’t change.
There is a French canteen here which sells wine and champaign. I do not drink it at all but last night a great many of the boys got too much. Tonight I am in the “Y” and the boys are playing the piano and singing. The Am. Red Cross will sell candy gum and hot chocolate. The Red Cross is a wonderful organization and do more good than all other organizations together.
When you get this it will be nearly apple time and I can see you making apple pie. What would I give for some. It is so long since I tasted anything good that I hardly remember.
Hoping that you are better and with lots of love to you and the girls I am your obedient son.
Pvt. R.D. West
Co. B 140 Inf.
A.P.O. 743 Amer. E.F.
Robert’s tone is so different when writing to his mother compared to his father or sisters. Very formal. The family lore says that Robert’s parents, John and Jane, were quite strict and were never especially accepting of Robert’s rushed marriage and new family. It couldn’t have helped matters that Robert’s sister Jane had just given John and Jane their first grandchild a few months earlier. I’m guessing this overshadowed the impending birth of Robert Jr.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.