Celebrating History-June 1, 1918

Action at the war front “over there” was brought home in the form of a letter published in a Kalispell newspaper and reprinted in the June 1, 1918 issue of The Havre Plaindealer. Former Havre resident Lieutenant L. N. Fournier wrote to Howard Jones of Belton, and he wrote in part:

“Yours of January 28 was received by me one week ago when I was a student at a certain staff school in France…Completed my course March 23, took up a special course in trench warfare and an infantry tactical course. The “school” is the last thing in modern war and one month of hard work there has made me fitted for the job I came over here to handle to kill the hun. That’s the way we will end the war.
“…The fighting on the front is now on a big scale. The boche are making a big attack along the whole front-of course they have made gains in places, but in most instances counter attacks have driven them back from their gains and where they actually gained ground and held it, they sure paid for it. All we need to win the war is three months of German attack, if they keep coming they will sure run out of men.
“…I have talked with German prisoners, some whom were captured as long ago as two years, and a few who were taken in recent raids-they are all the same, cannot see anything but victory for German arms, but don’t know why…A German does not seem to consider the fact that Austria is a power on his side; it is all Germany with him and he seems to think that France and England are his only opponents.
“…Some German soldiers were taken prisoners by the Americans in France. When the Germans were told that they had been captured by Americans, one German said: “No, English soldiers dressed up like Americans,’ that it was a lie; there wasn’t an American soldier in France.
“One American doughboy, who happened to wear a couple of service bars on his chest for war services in Cuba and China and the Philippines, took issue with the boche. The German told him he was a liar, there were no Americans in the front line, and then something happened that is contrary to military law, a prisoner in the hands of his captors got a punch in the nose-he knows now there there is at least one American in France on the front.”

Lieutenant Fournier also stated he witnessed an air fight when he was at the front and estimates about 100 planes in the air.

The words “hun” and “boche” are slurs for Germans, especially German soldiers. The word “hun” was in reference to Atilla the Hun and used by German Emperor Wilhelm II to address his soldiers who were going to China to put down the Boxer Uprising and instructed his troops to be ruthless and take no prisoners, telling them “Just as 1,000 years ago, the Huns made a name for themselves, so shall you establish the name of Germans in China for 1,000 years, in such a way that a Chinese will never again dare to look askance at a German.” “Boche” comes from the Parisian slang word “caboche”, meaning a big, thick head. It was first used in the 1870s during the Franco-Prussian war.

Stateside, the Montana Division of the U. S. Food Administration issued a “Wheatless June”. An article outlining what that meant accompanied by a large advertisement were found on the Plaindealer’s front page:

“Food Administration Issues a Statement

“As a forerunner in the educational work needed to prepare the people for a “wheatless June” in Montana, E. C. Carruth, county food administrator, has received a letter from the state food administrator that points out the plans of the program, the need for it and the facts the people ought to know about it to make them willing to co-operate in the plan. The letter makes a simple straightforward statement of facts and is as follows:
“’To county administrators, F. R. E. committees and other workers:
“’Dear friend-Montana will try the greatest food experiment in her history with a wheatless June.
“’The northwest division of which Montana is a part, is thousands of barrels behind in its flour shipments to the army. This must be made up. Montana must make “wheatless June” a success. Montana has never yet failed to meet an urgent need of the United States or allied army.
“’To make this campaign for a wheatless June a complete success, we must have the co-operation of food administration workers. A wheatless June must not be forced upon the people, it must be a “wheatless” June because the people wish it so.
“’Hence our campaign of education must be thorough and rapid.
“’The program is to be simply this: ‘No wheat products in any form to be used in Montana for food during the month of June, 1918, with the exception that bakers may still manufacture and sell Victory bread.’
“’We are putting out campaign poster stamps at cost-about one dollar per thousand. We want you to help us get these in general circulation in your county and town. Samples will reach you in a day or so.
“’Please give us suggestions for newspaper stories, posters, bulletins, lecture and exhibits. We plan upon suggestions to help us win the day for a wheatless June in Montana. Faithfully yours,

Locally, fundraisers for the war effort were continuing, as described in the Society column, along with another war-related story:

“Edgar Runkel Honor Guest.
“On Monday evening the Riverside club gave one of the most varied social diversions ever held by this popular organization of young men. The affair was held in honor of Edgar Runkel, who was formerly a member of the club, who is in the city on a furlough from Camp Lewis, where he has been recalled recently.
“Added to the other fine social entertainment of the occasion, was the unusual musical program rendered by the club’s own orchestra.

“Red Cross Tea.
“Mrs. Rudie Erler acted as hostess on Monday evening at her home on Third avenue. Knitting and conversation occupied the hours and the proceeds were given to the Red Cross.

“Silver Tea.
“On Monday afternoon, Mrs. Will Spooner gave a silver tea to a few intimate friends. The ladies busied themselves with Red Cross work and light refreshments were served.”
And in the “Of Local Interest” social pages, we find:

“Dr. D. S. McKenzie returned Thursday from Helena, where he was successful in passing the examination for service in the U. S. medical corps and will undoubtedly see service in France in the near future.

“The ladies of the Laredo Red Cross gave a dance last evening in Barth’s hall at that place. The attendance was very good and a neat sum was secured for the organization.

“The city carriers of the Havre post office will have with them a supply of thrift stamps for sale to patrons of their routes hereafter, thus making it possible to purchase them at any time from one of the carriers instead of having to obtain them at the post office.”

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