12 October 1918 Albert to Floyd




Many thanks to Coralee for providing me with artifacts throughout the years and especially for the stack of WWI-era letters that were delivered to me on 31 May 2019. They have provided countless hours of family history entertainment.

– Denise

Albert Phillips wrote a long overdue but very lengthy letter to his brother Floyd, who he referred to as Foe. Albert was in the army, at Camp John Wise, in San Antonio, Texas. Floyd was overseas, serving in France. Communications weren’t flowing very quickly between the family so Albert gave Floyd a lot of information about his army life and shared a few tidbits from home in case Floyd hadn’t yet received the news. Hopes were beginning to surface that the war would soon end.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

Camp John Wise

Oct. 12, 1918.

Dear Floyd:

And they say that the Kaiser has accepted Wilson’s “Peace Terms.” That is what an extra brot to us at 9. P.M. to night although it was quoted as unofficial.

Well how’s Foe. I am sure I don’t know at least I haven’t heard since an age it seems as if the only medium is thru Mother. I wrote you a letter some two weeks ago. I don’t know if I got the right address but time will prove that.

This is some Camp I am now in. For two weeks I have had charge of Ward No. 3 (30 patients) at night. It was pretty hard at first but I am becoming used to it, but last of all I am still as well as any man could be. I have seen a good many too that have been very sick. I hope tho that all will soon end.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

Albert first when to army school to learn about autos.

It’s a funny thing this army life. While I was at Ratris Army School I got a good deal out of autos and their troubles constructive etc. I did everything from adjusting engine trouble to constructing them. I was even ask to take a job as teaching in a certain department but I didn’t want it. I could get so much more out of it as a student. I guess I told you that my average for 14 government examinations was 98 5/14. I thot that was pretty fair and I was one of 16 classed as expert from 400 who left Kansas City for San Antonio Texas. Of course when I arrived I expected to get into an auto department of some kind. I took the trade test and got in as a chauffeur of Heavy Trucks. I hardly liked the job so went to my commanding officer and appealed for a transfer.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

Then Albert found himself in the balloon service, learning to draw maps.

I waited a few days and got it (in the neck) of all things they have put me into ____ drawing connected with the balloon service. I thot it was at least one man waisted also the time money and labor it cost the government to put me thru the Auto School. I again appealed to the Commanding Officer but as I had had one transfer he would not grant me another. I told him he couldn’t make nothing but a goose out of a gosling, but nothing seemed to work so I went to it. I tried hard and as I got on with my work learned that there was a good thing in drawing war maps after all. It was rather hard as I was quite rusty on geometry and had had no trigonometry.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

I gave up a good deal of my recreation to accomplish my work. There were about 45 of us in the class at Camp Wise. Three of us were inexperienced while the others had had more or ___ in the line of drawing. One fellow in the bunch had worked for the Beacon for several years. Another from St. Charles (you remember Pike who used to play on U.A. football team in 12 or 13 it was his brother)

Finally there came a day of elimination. Of course I fully expected to be ruled out, but I wasn’t. I was one of 13 to stay. Pike went but the fellow from the Beacon stayed. I worked hard but it became interesting as I progressed and I finished high as expert.

The drill also in the field stood me well and I was put in as act’g Corporal. After I had finished my course maybe a week or so I was waiting developments, to be put into a Co. or somewhere, (fatigue duty my mainstay).

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

Albert was then teased with being sent to Officer Training school.

The C.O. came to me and said Phillips, I have been watching you. You’re a D—n good man in the field and you have a big rating in your schooling, you can handle men so I am going to recommend you to the Officers Training School for Flying Observer. He left me. I don’t remember whether I saluted or not. I surely was surprised and dum founded. I felt as if I had swallowed a cistern. I have sent in my application but that is as far as it has gone. I haven’t told the folks nor am I going to. If I can make it I will be commissioned a Lieutenancy and Senior Lieut. When I go across. I wrote to Meyers of Sugar Grove to recommend me as finishing high school.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

To Wynn Mighell to recommend me as a business man and to Eygabroad and           of S. Lake St. recommending my character. I am able now to go ahead if I can get away from here but at present that cannot be done. And if the war is really over it won’t be necessary. I will be quite disappointed as far as not being able to get at it but say Foe if this war has in earnest come to a close I would sacrifice all the offices in the world I could get.

As far as ball season had gone with me it sure has been a back number. I just simply have had too much to do. I really felt that I was as good as any pitch that Pahr Army School or Camp John Wise had, but time, and when I found out that I had a chance to become a Lieut I gave all up.

I have some pretty nice fellows here also some who were not.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

There is one by the name of Simpson who certainly is a dandy. Good clean morals and habits, and very bright. In fact I cannot complain. Isn’t it funny how you and I have been separated when we tried so hard to get into the service together. Here you have been in France for two months and you left only 14 or 16 days before I did. You went to a tractor school, I to an auto school. Now see where we are. A man came to me to day getting my name and address. I don’t know what it will mean. I may be transferred. I don’t know at present. I don’t know if our company (40th) will leave. I think it is a distributing company for instance there are 6 or 8 ____ drawing nun unit and only 2 to a company are required but as I said before it maybe that I will be transferred and maybe I will get across at that.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

But as he wrote this letter, Albert was doing night shift fatigue duty, responsible for running a ward at the hospital. He was sad about the Spanish Flu death of his girlfriend’s brother Herb.

They surely are getting this disease squelched, we have had but 2 moralities out of 1000 cases. One in the ward next to mine.

Obituary of Herbert Gottleib Klink, The Times (Munster, Indiana), 2 Oct 1918.

In speaking of influenza wasn’t it too bad about Herb Klink’s death. Rose said it was awful hard on her father. He, Herb, was in his 3rd year at University and was what you might say working his way thru. Stood second or third in his class.

I got a heavy sweater Rose knit for me about a month ago. But after Herb had died they sent me a sweater and 2 pairs of heavy socks that were to be his. It rather touched me.

Nurse Steve penned a few lines of the letter.

I think I can make this more interesting that Albert so I’m taking this away from him. I’m sure I could if I would tell you just what branch of the service he is in right now and the actual duties of that particular branch. If he has not told you just let me know and I will.

I hoped to see you over there but today’s paper makes us think we will be so fortunate as you. Here’s hoping that you are home for Xmas dinner. And they say he’s Irish – Miss D. B. Steve, R+N – A.N.C.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

I’m at it again. The nurse has been raising the dickens with me so that I couldn’t write. She says it isn’t she but the guys I gave pills to that are raising the dickens. Say boy, I bet I cold win from the chauffeur quart player I’ve had enough practice juggling bed pans etc. When a fellow comes down with influenza they give him about 4 lbs salts. Result? I’ll leave it up to you.

I have graduated from that part of nursing however. Some men I have here have been quite sick but all have recovered. For nearly two weeks now I have had charge of this ward. I have help me a young german who has been shoveling the submarine question (be ____) I haven’t caught it as yet and it really does look as if I would bet by without it. I’m willing however.

12 October 1918, Albert Phillips letter to Floyd.

Though away in the army, the family farming business was still on Albert’s mind. He made sure that Floyd was up to date with the latest business news from Canada.

When did you hear from father etc last. We have had pretty good luck up north again this year. Father wrote me we had 4200 bu of which he said nothing as to oats or barley.

There ought to be mighty good money in baling this fall. Father said Fred Magnus shipped a car of hay to Winnipeg of ___ very good stuff ___ and got 26$ for ___. The boys have got some pretty good feed put up for this winter and next spring. We surely should make good in that country after the war is over.

I suppose by the this time you have seen some actual fighting. But I want to say this: tho Uncle Sam sure has helped spell defeat for Germany and it really looks as if it were not so very far off either.

Well Floyd I think I have done fairly well for this time all except a good original excuse for not writing so often. I have at least written 10 or 12 letters but I have never heard from them and I suppose you have done the same thing too. I have only gotten one from you and that was the one telling of your ball game. Will Close for now.

With love Albert. Have learned the signal wig wag.


Letter from Grandma Phillips

Who is Who?

Guy and Gertrude Phillips Family

Floyd was the middle of the five sons of Gertrude Lovin Boyce and Guy Allison Phillips.

Family group sheet, Guy Allison Phillips and Gertrude Lovin Boyce.


“Albert” [Albert Harold Phillips] (Camp John Wise , San Antonio, Texas) to “Floyd” [Floyd Boyce Phillips], letter, 12 October 1918; privately held by Denise Krueger, Rochester, MN, 2019.

“Former Gary Boy Dies At The Great Lakes,” 02 Oct 1918, page 2 (https://www.newspapers.com/image/308949330/ : accessed 9 Jun 2019), The Times, Munster, Indiana, online images (www.newspapers.com).

WWI Interactive Timeline, The National WWI Museum and Memorial ( https://www.theworldwar.org/explore/interactive-wwi-timeline : accessed 3 Jun 2019)

The Phillips Family

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