10 November 1918 Letter from Albert




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

Some letters are more entertaining than others. This one is a gem. Albert Harold Phillips was serving in the army, stationed at San Antonio, Texas. He wrote to his brother Floyd who was still in France. Albert predicted that the war would be over very soon and figured he would not get a change to get over to Europe. His letter probably brought a smile to his brother’s face. Parts of the letter are faded and hard to read – it was written 101-years ago, after all – so the transcription might not be perfect, but I think you will enjoy reading it just the same.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Nov 10 1918

Dear Floyd:

A heavy bank of clouds are sinking into the East, the sun breaking thru their lines sending its crimson shafts to a waking world beyond. Here and there a firery rear guard is fly in the wake of its fellows.

For five days it has rained and fretted for five days Camp Wise has laid in a state of higher native among fog and mud. Never the less it is all in army life.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Albert continued to be “discouraged” that he had ended up in Texas rather than in France. He and Floyd had plans of seeing France together and returning home together, but that was not to be.

I am and have been for some time quite discouraged with the prospect of ever getting to France. At first there had been a heavy demand for panoramic men and believe me! The demand was more than satisfied! I believe however it is much too late now to ask for a transfer of any description as in my opinion the Great War will come to an end in the very near future. I have a very good chance to go to an officers training school but I rather feel my self because the war as I have said is nearly over (I think). I have held back in the hope that I would be sent across but evidently now there is no hope. How I anticipated meeting you “over there” and coming back together. To say the least I am disappointed that the oppertunity did not present itself or conditions could have been otherwise that would have given me that one chance of my life. Just imagine that rare privilege of going over the old battle-fields of France or into conquered Germany, even tho we would have to police her up, a bit I would be satisfied. I am as I know you too are keenly disappointed.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.
Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Then think of coming home across the Old Atlantic passt Liberty and into NY to get here. Then of our journey home! Disappointment? I wish to say this, yet I realize it is even a waste of effort and almost sacrilegious to even entertain the thot for an instant that I could wish the war might not close until I had arrived overseas, nor do you think I think so!

Conditions tho certainly have been different than you & I had hoped haven’t they? Never mind “Foe” we both entered this World War taking what fate met out to us. I am going to send you a telegram or rather a cable-gram, just for fun eh, what!

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

This letter demonstrates that Albert could spin a good yarn. His encounter with a beautiful stranger was probably something he wrote to his brother, but not to his girlfriend.

I think I must write of an incident that certainly had its “merits,” and was quite out of the ordinary, for me at least & the rest of the participants.

Last Thurs., a week ago, about 8 P.M. I was lying on my bunk in the barracks when in walked the corporal of the guards and the Co. serg. calling my name. I knew them both and anyway I joined them hoping I had been transferred to an outgoing company, but learned from the corp. that a young lady was waiting to see me at the Y.M.C.A. lobby. Surprised! I knew no one in San. An, and upon asking him where she was from & what she looked like I became quite excited when I learned she was from somewhere in Illinois and rather tall and dark. I had a bad case of nerve itise. I beat it to my Old R.E. kit and dolled up a bit and went with them to the “hostess room.” I’m perfectly frank to admit I felt some what as if I had unwittingly swallowed a cistern & I sure had Ed Todd doing the statue act, my controller surely wasn’t to be found as I took the knob & opened the door. The lights had been turned out and all was dark save for a faint twilight finding its way thru the two windows of the small reception room. A ray of light from the outer office sifted past me into the room and for an instant, revealed the girl who was so anxiously waiting. An instant and again all was dark, yet I had had a glimpse of her. She was a stranger!

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.
Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.
Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

She couldn’t have seen my face, or the following scene would not have followed. First, because I was not the desired one and again because see whose face it is!

The door closed, she may have done it I couldn’t say, but rather believe so because even today Old Ranises would have looked like a contortionist. I was rather petrified.

Things happened!!!!!!! Even yet it all seems so unreal and I believe it was some crazy dream, anyway I had had a glimpse of her and it wasn’t so bad at that. She must have played the role of dream, she was good to look upon.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

I came back from the skies to find two loving, tender arms about my neck pulling my face down to hers! Immediately I started up and I sure reached Heaven that time. “You tell em Foe.” Well we circled about those unknown regions a bit perfectly contented and all the time we were doing the Peace at any price and my heart felt as if a woodpecker had gotten in side and was doing double time to get out. We must have been going some because out of wind.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Say I had old Champion running backwards, the only thing I feared was that the “header” might jam. I was feeding her right heavy but I didn’t have nothing on her believe me. I began to feel as if something was about to slip. And sure enough! We hadn’t been engaged very long when we took to things more earthly. I began to wish a bomb would land somewhere near or a fire would happen just something to justify our peril of ____ (?). No wonder they write about “The only thing that worries me etc” or “I wonder who’s kissing her now”?

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

She gently disengaged her self and laid her head upon my shoulder and whispered “are you surprised, Jessie”. ‘Things’ had happened and had happened in much less time than I could tell you. But what’s a fellow going to do when a pretty girl puts her arms around a soldier’s neck who hasn’t seen nothing but “Spix” for months and kisses him and all alone in the dark too! But then she hadn’t given me time to explain (if I had chosen) and I wasn’t thinking about explaining until I heard her repeat “are you surprised.”

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

___ after that is pretty much crazy as to the “getaway”

Jesse! Then in a flash the whole complicated affair cleared. In our company is a fellow by the name of Jessie Pheleps. The guard who knew me but not Pheleps had misunderstood the name of Pvt Pheleps for Phillips. I had taken the thing in Ck. because “she” had come from Ill. & was tall & dark. Of course it must be Rose. On entering the room the lights had been turned out, the lite from the outer office had fallen upon my back & as she had not as yet seem my face now had she seen Pheleps in uniform & our sizes are very much alike she took me without credential.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

But to go back. I can dimly remember making this reply, “I’ll say “he’s” surprised” She had drawn slightly away and was looking at me in a surprised puzzled way as she had every right to do. She fully realized now I was not “he” and asked me who I was. I told her I wasn’t sure but would go get Pheleps as I knew him, and left the room. I half believe she was crying.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Well I found Pheleps told him the young lady was waiting for him. I told him to be prepared to receive a knock out. I left a puzzled young Yank and beat it for my bunk.

The next day was Fri and I happened to be on K.P. at noon I was transferred to another part of the camp about 3 miles away. I haven’t seen nor heard of them since but feel he his big enough man that he will take the “joke” as he should. So much for that, but I’m telling the world war is not all tragedy.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Switching gears, Albert gave Floyd a glimpse of his work in the hospital ward.

For a while (3 wk. & 1 da.) I had charge of one of the wards at night. I have seen the flu in most all its stages and forms, but I shall leave that ‘till I see you. But believe me I have had a few experiences that not quite to my choosing.

Piano Sheet Music, “I Don’t Want to Get Well.” (from the Coralee Krueger collection)

The Red Cross nurses surely deserve a place in this war and what’s more they are going to get it.

One morning one of the nurses thot she would help me take temperatures etc I thot I could kill 2 birds with one stone, and in making the rounds decided to ask them concerning their physical condition especially of the new patients.

Coming to one of them I asked him if the salts had had any effect. The nurse was standing just back of me with the salts in a large bottle in case to give any. He didn’t seem to “get” me & I tried again, but failed. In cases like that “we” always make sure because it is very important. The nurse stept foreward & he spied the bottle and believe me he sure “tumbled” I did too pretty near it. He certainly was crude in his remark as he said “O you mean cupe B—yes, I’ve cuped 6 time & I’ve got to cupe again, don’t give me anymore or I’ll have the cupes for the rest of my life!”

Note: Epsom salts were used to keep the bowels moving during the treatment of Spanish Influenza.

This is only one of many some of them are worse than that but must be reserved until later. Such is the variety of Army Life.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.

Albert returns his thoughts to the war and its end.

Last Thurs it came out thru the “Extras” that German had surrendered, of course, we were to be disappointed yet we had another issue today stating the condition in Berlin that the Kaiser had abdicated which if true will mean a speedy end to this Great World War.

I am anxious to get back but not half as much as you, & think of those who have been there since the war started! So then this old world of ours travels onward dropping us here & there.

Wasn’t it a shame that Herb Klink was taken & of all persons Ernest Eggerbroad! If I am still in uniform when you arrive in U.S. I am sure coming as far as the coast & come home with you. We’ll have that much of our “war” together.

Well dear Foe, I’m glad ur well I weigh 176 & feel fine. What about that auto dad said he was looking in the papers for. Anyway “Old Ford eh Foe.” So here’s hoping. I am lovingly ur bro. Your last letter got here in 16 days. 21-6.

Albert H.C. – 40 Co. Cp. J.W. San An. Tex.

Albert Phillips letter to Floyd, 10 November 1918.


Armistice Day

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] (San Antonio, Texas) to “Floyd” [Floyd Boyce Phillips], letter, 10 November 1918; privately held by Denise Krueger, Rochester, MN, 2019.

“1918 Influenza: A Winnebago County, Wisconsin Perspective,” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2801698/ : accessed 12 Jun 2019).

The Phillips Family

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