Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sergeant Robert Gober Burton’s letter home from Germany Dec. 26, 1918

 Edited by Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard.

 

A composite image of a Soldier of the Georgia National Guard’s 151st Machine Gun Battalion in Bad Bodendorf Germany in 1918
and the same street in 2018. Photo by Daniel Nichols.

Kripp Germany[1]

December 26, 1918

My own dear mother,

Well, it is the day after Xmas, and all is quiet along the Rhine tonight. I spent a very nice Xmas and enjoyed myself lots better than I did last year.

Our mess (the Sgts) had quite a nice dinner. We had light wine as an appetizer, soup, chicken, chicken soup, dressing, fried rabbit, potatoes, apple sauce, tapioca pudding, coffee and cigars. I think that considering everything it was quite a nice dinner. We have our mess in a pretty villa overlooking the Rhine. We have plates, cups, saucers, silver knives forks and spoons that the lady that owns the house kindly lent to us. We do not sleep here but down the street in another villa that is just as pretty as the one in which we have our mess.

The man that lives where I am staying is certainly nice to us. Last night he and his wife brought us in an Xmas tree all lighted up with candles and decorated up with the things that go on a Xmas tree. There are no children here so he must have fixed just for us. There are eight of us that sleep here. In former days he was an artist, and his sketches are on the walls. They are good too. Some of his paintings of the Rhine in winter are great. He and his wife can’t seem to do enough for us.

Post card sent home by Robert Gober Burton from Kripp Germany Dec 21, 1918. Georgia National Guard archives.


I suppose that you had a big celebration this year. If not, why not? The war is over, and the world has been made safe for the democrats. I wasn’t killed and Frank[2] wasn’t called up, there is lots to be thankful for.

I reckon that by now you have gotten some of my letters written since the armistice was signed. If you haven’t, you should have for I have written you lots of them. Lots more than I have received.

Tell Frank that I haven’t forgotten about that car he was going to send up for us to use. I think that I will spend all of my money in buying gasoline. I sho do mean to have a big time.

There is a rumor out here that we start for home on Jan 10 and that the Rainbow parades in Washington Feb 22. [3] I don’t hold out any false hopes, however. That is rumor, but I don’t think that we will be over here so very much longer. So little mother be patient and your war-boy will be home before long a very peace-loving citizen of the United States of America.

The Y gave us an Xmas tree yesterday and each of us got some smoking tobacco, chocolate and cookies. They were certainly appreciated. Our Christmas boxes haven’t come in yet, but we are expecting them every day. I had about as soon have a letter from home as the box. When I have received the box, I will write Miss Griffin again and thank her for this candy. I certainly do appreciate her sending it.

I have written all the children a card wishing them the merriest of Xmas and the most prosperous of New Years.

Have you received the souvenirs I sent home? I will have quite a collection. Save the letters and I will explain them all when I get home. There are lots of things interesting that I can’t write but can tell you all about.

I am looking for a long, long letter. My love to Ida and Toombs.[4]

Your ever devoted Son,

Gober

 


[1] On November 17, 1918, the 151st Machine Gun Battalion, part of the 42nd Division, was designated to take part in the American Army of Occupation. Taking up the march November 20, the 151st reached Luxembourg November 23 and entered Germany on December 3. The 151st arrived in Kripp Germany December 20 and assumed occupation of Kripp and nearby Bad Bodendorf.

[2] Franklin Fletcher Burton, Robert’s older brother was born in 1881 and was idolized by his younger brother for his flashy car and employment as a wholesale peanut buyer. Unbeknownst to Robert, Frank died of Spanish Influenza Dec, 19, 1918 and they news had not yet reached him when Robert composed this letter.

 [3] Ultimately, the 151st did not return to the United States until April 26, 1919 arriving in Hoboken, N.J. aboard the U.S.S. Minnesota. By May 15, all of the Soldiers of the 151st had been discharged at Camp Gordon, Ga. and were on the final leg of their journey home.

[4] Burton’s sister Ida was married to Robert Toombs. They lived in Atlanta until 1920 when they moved in with the Burton family in Monroe, Ga. Ida outlived all the Burton siblings and died in 1962, three years after Robert Gober Burton.

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