THE SOLDIERS' MAILBAG
WALTER BLIVEN WRITES
Vladivostok, Russia, August 19, 1918
Dear Folks at Home:
Well I have arrived in far away Russia at last. We sure had a nice trip
over here, although it was quite crowded on the boat. We arrived here
about 8 p.m. Friday and we are still on the boat. Owing to the great
disturbance in Russia we are hindered considerable as to disembarking
and transportation to our quarters, or to the field wherever we are
supposed to go. Most of the troops that have arrived are unloaded from
the ship to the train which takes them right out to the field or
trenches where they are carrying on real warfare. The fighting is
taking place just a few miles from here; and we can see the Russians
marching prisoners through the streets everyday. The American troops
are coming thick and fast; but it will probably be some time before
things will be straightened out here.
We engineers will be quartered in town for a while I guess. There
are only eighteen of us with the captain, so we can fare a little
better than we could if the whole company was here. I don't know how it
happened that I was picked to come with this bunch, but I guess it was
The trip over here was great with smooth water, good weather and
beautiful scenery. We were allowed six hours' shore leave at Nagasaki,
Japan. Nagasaki is a very interesting place to visit. The Japs were
very good to us, and tried to show us a round as much as possible. They
charged 15c an hour for a rickshaw and two of us boys hired one apiece
for two hours. They are some vehicle and have the caramets beat a mile.
Well, I will try and finish this letter. I was interrupted yesterday
and have been busy ever since until now. I was taken over to another
boat to get an inoculation and I run across Egbert Thompson while
there. He arrived here just a few hours before I did on another boat.
He came up after me last evening and we took a walk. We had a good
visit and a good time. They took his company out of town this morning
so I do not know whether I will get to see him any more or not. He is
corporal now and sure makes a good-looking soldier.
I have been nearly all over this town today, sketching. The natives
seem to think we are quite a curiosity. Every time we stop, they gather
around us until we can hardly do anything. It almost takes an extra
guard to keep them away. We take an interpreter with us. These
interpreters are soldiers in the U.S. Army that can read and speak
Russian. The American forces that are here gave a large parade on the
streets of the city yesterday.
It is hard to get stamps or anything you want because you can't make
anybody understand you. Money is all in paper and it sure is hard to
keep straight, but I suppose we will learn after we are here long
enough. I will send a few bills in this letter just for curiosity. They
are not worth much, so it won't burst my bank.
Well, I will close for this time. Hoping this finds you all well.
PRIVATE WALTER M. BLIVEN,