Joe joined the Army April 27th, 1918 and went to Camp Custer. From there he went to Camp Mills,
near New York, then sailed out of harbor on the Mauretania on July 30th. After a brief stay in
England, he went on to France. He noted all the towns he and his Company passed through on his mess kit.
He served as the Wagoner of Supply Company 330, Field Artillery Regiment. He and his buddies didn't return until after
"it was over, over there."
Joe wrote often in his war diary of letters sent to his Darling or Sweetheart, Sadie Trombly. He got to see
the country of Sadie's Tremblay and Rivard ancestors, who emigrated from France to Canada, and then to Detroit.
I had to mop up the deck. It was some job. We could not go wherever we wanted on the boat. The officers had the
best part of the boat. We sailed for six days and only passed a convoy of boats loaded with soldiers.
We landed in Liverpool. Some place. We hiked five miles to a camp.
Our first sight of an English train. It looked like our Chene street cars. We rode all day and got into Southampton.
We hiked four miles to a camp called the Commons.
We left Camp Commons and hiked to the pier and waited for the boat. We sailed all night and at five a.m. on Aug 11
we landed at Cherbourg, France. We hiked four miles to an English camp and then were put 14 in a little tent.
We pulled up our tents and hiked 8 miles to Pipriac. We were the first soldiers in that town. And we sure had some fun.
We were billeted in an attic above a saloon with ten others.
(at camp in France, named Labate, soldiers realized they had lice)
All the boys had the itch at that time. The fight started, spraying and cleaning, but nothing stopped them.
Bill Stein and I went to church at a little town called Rockford. In this town we got acquainted with a Priest who could
speak English and he showed us the fort that was built by Caesar. He said it was fourteen hundred years old. His church
was as old.
Stein and I went to visit the old Priest and we had some of his wine. He gave us some flowers. They were Helianthrope.
I sent them to my Sweetheart.
(They visited Paris on a pass)
We sure had some fun. We stayed overnight at a YMCA. In the morning we went to church at the Madelieu.
It sure is some place. We hired a taxi and saw the whole town. At seven we got the train back to camp.
Made a Wagoner today. I sewed on my chevrons a few minutes ago. (His duties included getting supplies and maintaining the wagons.)
Got up at four o'clock and packed up to move. At nine o'clock we were on the train. We rode all day and all night and such a rough ride.
We were packed seventeen in a box-car.
It is Sunday and no church for me.
Best news came today. Turkey laid down and Austria begs for peace.
Went to church and then I had to get a load of wood. This evening we sang a few songs.
Went to church again. This church is over eight hundred years old and it looks good enough to stand eight hundred more.
Went on bread detail. We got over seven hundred loaves of bread. The news - Austrian Armistice was signed.
On fire guard last night. I prayed the rosary five times.
Ha Ha. It's my birthday and I am on the wood detail and got through at noon and then shoveled cinders till night.
I bought souvenirs for Mr. Trombly & (his two oldest sons) Wilfred & Eugene.
The greatest day of our lives has come. The war is over.
In town of Domremy we visited the home of Jeanne d'Arc and I bought rosaries for Mother and
Thanksgiving Day. Went to high Mass. After church we played football till dinner.
It was two o'clock till we got dinner, but it was some dinner.
(They had dinner and a party at a nearby chateau)
I had a few dances (with some nurses who were there),but I could not enjoy myself. The right party was not there.
Got up early and drove to Toul. Had dinner with the Chaplain and Lt. O'Hara. We got our load and I bought a bead
handbag for 52 francs for Mother. Got home at 9 p.m. and got some pills for my cold.
Slept till 9 and the tap sergeant chased me out of bed. Well I sat by the stove till noon. After dinner I packed
up the water pump on the truck. I saw a train wreck and twenty-four boys got killed. These fellows were on their
way to the coast and a French train ran into them.
After supper Frank Trombly came over and talked awhile.
Hauled meat, bread and laundry. After dinner went to Neufchateau and got some Red Cross stuff. I got a nice sweater
and a knitted hat. Got back here about seven.
After dinner I wanted to shave, but some A.P.A. put tobacco in my shaving water. Well I put some more water on the
stove and they put salt in it. And how did that burn when I tried to make lather. Well I put in for a pass to Le Mans
to see Frank (his brother).
Had inspection and then fixed up my truck and made a run to the commissary for the Officers' Mess. Tonight I'm
going to church. So Amen.
Got up at five o'clock and at six thirty was on my way to Toul. Some trip. It sure was cold. Loaded up and got back
here at 7 p.m. And just in time for our farewell banquet.
(on the way to the Le Mans area)
I am standing on a bridge over the Seine River in a town called Chatillon. We drove on till we landed in a Godforsaken
berg. It's so small I can't see the name. We got a place to sleep and had a cold bean supper. Some life. Goodnight.
Made a trip to the rail head and on my way back I met my brother Frank. It sure was a happy greeting. And I felt fine
the rest of the day.
We moved to the Belgium Camp. It's some place and some mud. I got stuck in the mud in my truck every fifteen minutes.
I had to go to Le Mans to get some old shoes. I went over and visited with Frank (his brother) for an hour.
This is the happiest day of our Army lives. We oiled up our guns and turned them in. And they are gone for good.
Got up early this morning about five and then got on a truck and went to the pier. We got on a little French boat
and rode an hour to a little island. There we found an Armenian ammunitions dump. Nobody here but us boys. The first
thing we did was take a little railroad handcar up a steep hill and got on and let her coast. Well I was on the brakes
and they would not stop so we could not get off. I jumped and four of the other fellows hit a switch and the thing upset
and I thought they got killed. Only two got skinned knees. Well we had to load a boat with ammunition. Right now I am
sitting in the bottom of a big flat bottom boat writing this. The boat is on the ground and the tide is coming in fast.
In the morning of the 31st, after loading the boats, we loaded our own boat and got out in the bay to the big boat.
We sure had some job. Some of our boys just escaped being killed. At present we are on our way out into the deep
blue sea. And rough I can hardly stand on my feet.
Still on this Godforsaken ship, it's on the verge of sinking any time, they have eight pumps working all the time.
She sure does leak.
We are anchored in the harbor now. Just along side the Statue of Liberty. She sure does look fine all lit up.
From the barracks we went to a little aviation field and tried to get a ride. But we had to wait till the next morning.
We sure did see some fine planes.
Went to church and communion and then to the post exchange. Went to New York City after dinner. Got a bus to see the town.
We got to see the big Naval fleet in the harbor. Went to the end of the bus line. A nice man gave us a ride in a Cadillac
car back to town.
After dinner took several pictures of planes. After supper went to K. C. to Stations of the Cross.
Went over to Hempstead and got some film then took several pictures.
Got on the train at noon. We had a bum coach and it delayed us four hours. Got to sleep in the upper birth at ten.
In Buffalo early and saw the Horse Shoe Falls.
(In 1945 Joe & Sadie's daughter, Rosemarie, would go on a trip to Buffalo with Hannah and Marion Boelte.
Rosemarie's future husband's aunt and cousin then lived across the street from the Schulte family in Detroit.)
We crossed the river and went through Canada. Went through the tunnel to Detroit at four (in the afternoon).
Called my Sweetheart, then pulled for camp and at nine unloaded the baggage. And now it's almost eleven.
Decades into the future, a book would be written, "Dear Miss Kopp" by Amy Stewart, (2020) of letters written during WWI by American sisters,
involved with the war effort both in the U.S. and in France, that offers insight to letter writing during that time of war.