A few weeks ago we received a small collection of letters from the descendants of a World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces surgeon. I've been scanning them so we can give digital and printed copies back to the family. Today I came across one that I've transcribed to post here. The surgeon is Luther B. Otken. He served in France and in the US. I realize this isn't as good as the handwritten letter, but it was multiple pages. I will post a scan of a page here and there so you can get a feel for the real thing, but in the meantime, here's one letter home.
"Bordeaux Sunday Sept 22 1918
I didn’t get my letter from home this week –however I got a bundle of papers from Sister.
Everything running along in its usual manner now. Work going very smoothly. We got in a lot of new patients this week, among them a lot of wounded German prisoners – all came from the St. Mihiel fight a rather stolid ignorant looking lot, some old, some mere boys, one a Lieut, looks to be about nineteen years old. About half of them came in on litters, badly wounded, our boys had certainly worked on them with hand grenades. All my boys are getting along nicely – all getting well. One of the nurses in BH114, the unit next to us, died Friday from pneumonia – don’t know what part of the States she came from.
Our boys won a great victory at St. Mihiel + today we got word that Metz is just about to fall – I think the morale of the German army is fast weakening.
I operated a second time on my face case this week and completed the job, think I am going to get a fine result.
On some of the field cards that came in on the wounded in this last convoy, I noticed where Maj. Ney was the operator in Evacuation Hospital #4 so guess he is over here now.
We have been having a quite a lot of rain and it has turned much cooler – the nights are cold. The days feel like our fall days. Makes me want to be back there again out in the pine hills once more.
We have been in France three months now – the 19th , in one way it seems a long time in another it seems that we got here but yesterday.
I don’t hardly think we will win this war before Xmas but I don’t think it will even last another year, the Allies are hitting them at all points and are giving them no rest so that the German reserves are just about used up.
Hope I get some mail from you next week, we are about due some more mail from the States.
Hope all at home keep in their usual good health. Give my best to Dr’s. Inirs[?] + Reahew.
Love to all at home
Capt LB Otken M.C.
US Base Hospital 22"