Letters from a Kaiser in the Great War

Glenn Kaiser, 1917-1919, in his Army uniform.

In celebration of my 50th blog post, and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, I have a very special announcement! In a previous post, I introduced my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser, who served in the American Army during World War I. During 1918-1919, he was stationed in France and Germany along the front lines. Like many soldiers at the front, he sent frequent letters home to his family. I am currently scanning and transcribing some of the surviving letters that he sent home during his time abroad. I’ll be sharing these letters on a special section on my blog, starting today! The first batch of letters include some of his letters from training before he was sent overseas.

As a special preview of the project, here’s a letter from Glenn Kaiser to his mother, Jennie Holbrook, written 100 years ago today. When Glenn was drafted in September 1917, he had been working at his father’s tinning shop in DeKalb. He was drafted into the 127th Infantry, 32nd Division of the Army. When this letter was written, his division had just been back from the front, and had retreated to safety in somewhere in France. This letter expresses his relief at being away from the front, and seems optimistic about the course of the war. He responds to the news that his brother Floyd is thinking of joining the military. He encourages Floyd to join the Navy instead of the Army, because he feels that the conditions of the soldiers are better. He also mentions his sisters Kate and Anna. This letter is also the only letter in our collection that was censored by the military before it was delivered to the states. I’m guessing he mentioned a specific division of the Army, and their location was not common knowledge yet, so it was cut out of the letter. The full transcription is below the images of the letter. Enjoy!

[Note: I have transcribed the letters exactly as written, including spelling and grammar mistakes. I will only add corrections, punctuation, or explanations in brackets if necessary for easy reading.]

Letter dated September 12, 1918 from Glenn Kaiser to his mother

[page 1]

On active service with the American Expeditionary Force

Sept 12, 1918

JW France

Dear Mother

As I am back from the Front lines I will let you kwon [know] that I am feeling fine and hope that you are the same.

I got a letter from Kate the same day the I got youres and Floyd. she said that she got the boxes I send her and Anna and how did pa like hes lither [letter] and them big cents. Well I am glad that Harry Ammlet is in the navy and tell Floyd if he has to go, join the navy becawes there is no hiking and he allway has a bed to sleep in and they sure do eat. I was on the bot [boat] for 21 days and we had some eats. and as for geting up to the Front to fith [fight] there is all kind of thing they can do back

[page 2]

of the lines and as far as a man geting killd, he will die when hes time cames and not befor. there is no one know as well as I do so tell him for me to join the navy if it is the last thing he does but if I know any thing about this war he will not have to came over here but if he want to come let him because the more we have the marry it is. If you have been loking [looking] at the paper you will see what the [LINE CENSORED] been doing to the german. the germanes will not figth [fight] they are all in down and out so you can see it will not last long. Well this will be all for this time. hop you all are well.

Pvt Glen Kaiser

Hdq. Co. 127 Inf.

Amec. E.F.

A P O #734

Click here to see the other letters that Glenn sent during WWI! More letters will be added in the next few months!


  • Kaiser family photos, original; Kaiser Family papers, privately held by Emily (Drake) Weil, Kingston, Ill.
  • Kaiser, Glenn, letters, originals, 1918-1919; Kaiser Family papers, privately held by Emily (Drake) Weil, Kingston, Ill.

10 thoughts on “Letters from a Kaiser in the Great War

  1. I absolutely love this. These provide so much insight and detail about what they went through and sacrificed. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m sharing letters as well, one collection from my gr, gr grandfather written in 1889. We–you and I–are so lucky to have them. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You are so fortunate to have these letters at your disposal! It’s even better that you are willing to share them, mistakes and all (the mistakes add so much character).. I have some from my grandmother’s family in Austria, but they are all in German. I thought I could translate them, but it turns out that I have to learn to decipher German manuscript first. Bummer. One step at a time, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

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