Soldier’s letter recalls armistice of 100 years ago

‘I was on the Verdun front when the Armistice was signed and the last guns ceased firing at eleven.’

LEWISTOWN — Tom Morningstar, of Lewistown, has found and preserved correspondence received 100 years ago by his grandfather, Charles Morningstar, that provides a personal glimpse into significant historic events.

Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the armistice signed by the Allied nations and the Germans in France that ended hostilities that would become known as World War I. The armistice took effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11– “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” The day is now a public holiday known as Veterans Day, designated to thank all veterans for their service.

Letters and postcards were written by James Entrekin, of Saltillo, Huntingdon County, a friend of Charles,’ who lived in Saltillo and Three Springs in Huntingdon County.

“I don’t know anything about his friendship with James Entrekin, but they were obviously good friends since he had these letters,” Thomas said.

Charles was not in the service, but clearly maintained a friendship with Entrekin, who sent the letters while serving.

Thomas found the letters and postcards in the attic of his mother’s home a number of years ago. His grandfather, Charles, had purchased the house in Huntingdon in 1919. His parents later purchased the house from his grandparents and he lived there. Thomas’s grandfather died before he was born, so there was no way to ask him about the letters.

“Even though I didn’t know him, we lived in his house and so many of his things were there. He was an avid reader and had a lot of books,” Thomas said, adding that he read some of the books.

Entrekin’s letters prompted Thomas to do some research after seeing references to Raymond Brumbaugh, of Saltillo. Thomas learned that Brumbaugh had died in the war. “There’s a soldier’s monument to him in a cemetery in Saltillo,” he said.

When Thomas realized that one of the letters mentioned the famous day the war ended, he thought it was fitting to share his discovery with others interested in history.

“My interest in history; that’s why I preserved the letters,” Thomas said.

The letters and postcards from James Entrekin to Charles Morningstar are reprinted here:

Postcard: Postmarked Petersburg, Virginia; dated Feb. 9, 1918:

Hello Chas. Still in camp. Expect to leave soon. Don’t know where we are going. We have all our equipment ready to leave. We have no snow down here at the present time it is like spring now. Write Corporal Jas E CoB1Prov Camp Lee, VA

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Letter: From Camp Merritt, New Jersey; dated Feb. 23, 1918 :

Dear friend Chas:

Your most welcome letter rc’d after coming to this camp. It was forwarded from Camp Lee here. We left Camp Lee on the 15th of Feb., landed here the following day. Like it much better in the camp. It is more like home and this climate is about the same as Penna. When we left Camp Lee it was awful hot. The road was dusty although we had some very cold weather down there before Christmas. It was down to zero but it is awful cold down there through the night.

They have better accommodation in Camp Lee than they have here. We can go to New York City from Camp here in half an hour, only costs 15 cents. I was in the City last Wednesday night, had a real good time, was at the Palace theatre on Broadway. The people up here surely show a soldier a good time every place you go. Chas, was you ever in New York City, it surely is some fine city.

Well Chas, don’t suppose we will be here very long as we are fully equipped. You should see us with our packs, look like real soldiers. We have a new type of rifle called the Endfield. I think they are used by the English. I made a real good record while on the range. They shoot through 26 inches of pine. I like them much better than the Springfield. They are better balanced and neater.

Chas, some of the boys have got yellow since they found out they were going across and have left, or they call it AWOL in the Army. They have left since they came up here. I am going across and am going to get some of them Dutch and see some of the excitement and I am coming back. The War situation looks pretty bad at the present time. If there was anything to Russia it would have been over before long but just wait until Uncle Sam gets some his boys over there. They will find out they are not following with Russia. WE get a whole lot of bayonet practice. They say that is the way most of the fighting is done. The English and French officers that were at Camp Lee said the Germans couldn’t stand the cold steel and that was their weak point.

Chas, there is a boy by the name of Raymond Brumbaugh from Saltillo in the same company I am. Suppose you know him.

Well Chas, want to get this in the evening’s mail. Will close. Give my best to all. I remain as ever. Jas Entriken

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Letter: From Montigney, France; dated Dec. 3, 1918 :

Dear friend Charles:

I rec’d your letter a few days ago and very sorry to hear of the death toll the Flu is causing. It seem to kill more of the younger set than the old.

I am living with an old Frenchman and his wife. Two of us have hired a room here and they ae both sick in bed. I think they have the flue.

Well Chas, I was on the Verdun front when the Armistice was signed and the last guns ceased firing at eleven. It sure seemed strange when every was silent and you could go out without a mask or helmet and have a fire at night. We hiked from the Verdun front to this place it taking us eight days and we hiked it with full packs.

Well, I don’t know when I will be home by is rumored that we will be home in a month or two. Gee, I sure would like to have spent a couple of days hunting this season, but will have to call it off until next yer. I sure feel sorry for Brumbaugh as he was a fine boy and one of my pals. I read one bunch of papers. Which were very interesting to me. Wish to extend my thanks for the good old home news. Will close wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

Your friend as ever,

Jas Entrekin

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