The letters presented here are out of sequential order as
written, but in order of the events as they unfolded.
THE FIRST letter in Part 2 of Edward Hardin’s “A Soldier’s
Story” contains a detailed description of the start of the battle
of the Hindenburg Line. Part 1 of the story can be found in
the November 2019 issue of Wrightsville Beach Magazine.
OCT. 3, 1918
This five-page letter was written on plain white paper to Edward’s father.
THE HUNDRED DAYS OFFENSIVE
You all will have to pardon my silence of several day’s duration for I’ve been just about the busiest young man in France for the past
week or so. I wish I could tell you all where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing, but possibly you have read in the papers of the breaking
through of a hitherto impregnable portion of the Hindenburg line recently — well! I was right there — in fact the whole company was
“there with bells” and what we did to poor old Fritz was a plenty. My Soul! It was wonderful, but at the same time it was the most horri-ble
sight I’ve ever seen. The attack started at daybreak and lasted well into the afternoon and if ever anyone wishes for a taste of Hell, I
can heartily recommend an attack as a good sample. But it was an entire success and we have been the recipients of many congratulation
— the whole Division did marvelously well. But it’s the aftermath that makes one wonder if it is “worth the candle.” When the casualty
lists are published, I’m quite sure that the war will come closer home than ever to the people of Wilmington and North Carolina. We are
out of the lines for a well-earned rest, now and are billeted in a ruined city. There is not one building left standing in the town which I
judge was originally about the size of Raleigh or Durham. We are all living in the cellars which all French houses have, and while it is
not exactly palatial, imagine the relief it must be to get away from being continually shot at and shelled at.
Below, left: An explosion near trenches on the grounds of Fort de la Pompelle, near Reims, France. Below, right: A view of the entrance
to the Riqueval Tunnel, under the cities of Riquelval and Bellicourt, France.
SAN DIEGO AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM
DAVID MCLELLAN/IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM