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Private Walter Bliven

Letter Home

from Vladivostok, Russia




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 just luck.

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.

Tuesday evening.
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.

As ever,
Engineering Detachment,
A.E.F., Vladivostok.

-Submitted by Marilyn Holmes,  Poweshiek Assistant County Coordinator  http://iagenweb.org/poweshiek