Pvt HENRY A. KEEL USMC
Pvt. Henry A. Keel USMC, #87931. Trained at Mare Island, California, and at Galveston, Texas. Sailed to France during May 1918 on the USS Leviathan. Joined 81st Company, 6th Machine Gun Battalion, 2nd Division, AEF, on July 4, 1918. Saw action at Soissons, Blanc Mont and in the Argonne, and was with his battalion on the March to the Rhine and as part of the Army of Occupation in Neuweid, Germany.
The following letter by Pvt Keel appeared in The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Washington, on February 23, 1919:
from Soldiers to the Folks at Home
HENRY A. KEEL
Henry A. Keel, sixth machine gun battalion, marine corps, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Keel, E317 Pacific Avenue. He enlisted in June, 1917. Writing from the headquarters of the second supply train at Neuwied, Germany, he says:
We are billeted in German houses and we have a good room, with a real bed at last, and it sure feels good after sleeping on the floor or ground for over six months. We have been in this place several days and I like it here fine. It is quite a large place, lots of stores and such, and I expect that we will get ready to go home, and, of course, we are all hoping that will be soon. But I guess that the only thing to do is be patient for a while and the time is sure to come.
We are on the east side of the Rhine river, a short way from Coblenz, the largest city near here. This town looks the nearest to an American town I have seen since I left the U.S.A. Yesterday I was downtown and had a fine shower bath, the first real bath I have had since I left the states, lots of hot water, and it sure was a treat.
I have not seen a great lot of the Rhine yet, but hope to before leaving as it is sure beautiful. We crossed it at night and ran along it for quite a way, but as I was driving the truck I did not see a great lot of it, but what I did see reminded me of the Columbia river. The people here are very friendly and seem to like us very much, so we get along fine. They are sure glad that the war is over, and that the kaiser is no more. I like my job as the roads over here are fine; have not had much driving to do yet.
We were at Soissons when the big drive started July 18, and they were days I will never forget. I sure thought I was a goner those days, but I was lucky. From there we went to Ponta Mousain (Pont-a-Mousson), near Toul, and were in the front line trenches for nine days. Then we went to the St. Michiel (St Mihiel) sector for the big American drive that started September 12.
After that we went to the Champagne sector, where we took Mont Blanc (Blanc Mont) and drove the Germans back a long way. Then we went to the Argonne, where the last big drive was. We went over on November 1 and were still fighting when all guns ceased firing November 11 at 11 o’clock. I was so tired of it all that I did not think I could last much longer. I had the satisfaction of firing 20,000 rounds of ammunition myself on the last drive. So you see the Second division saw a lot of hard fighting, more than any other division in France, I think, and, of course, I am proud to have been a member of it, for it was considered the best in France