11th Infantry Regiment, APO 745 (5th Division): 11 July 1918. Envelope or Cover. This four-page letter is datelined “July – 11 – 1918” and enclosed in its mailing envelope which identifies Steiner as an officer in the 11th Infantry Regiment. It has somewhat blurred strike of an 11 July duplex postmark from APO 745, which served the 5th Division. In nice shape.
The 5th Division was one of the first combat units to arrive in France. There, it was assigned to work with the French army and entered the front line trenches on 14 June and received its first casualty the same day. For the next month, it repulsed repeated German assaults and launched numerous raids of its own. Steiner's engrossing letter (I wish there was room to provide an entire transcription) was written during a brief respite following his regiment’s capture of a German trench complex:
“Tings are rather quiet tonight outside [but] we have to stay up just the same. . .. I am at present in the ‘front line’, my headquarters are in a sumtuos dugout built by “Fritz’; but the climate got too warm, so he moved up the hill . . . and we occupied it ourselves, and do not find it a bit chilly, as he is very attentive in this sector trying his damndest to keep us amused, and at time he fairly well succeeds. . .. He had it all wired up very nicely, and moved out in such a hurry he left the wires in. . .. So at present I am sitting in a red plush chair, with an electric light over my head . . . doing my best to write you an interesting letter. I am sending you a communion card, which I grabbed in a dugout on a raid, I thought it was an officers commission, but did not have time to look as they dropped a barrage on us and we went back home, in a dam big hurry. . .. Also while ransacking a village which had been knocked to splinters by artillery I found an old hanging lamp, to be filled with tallow such as they used in the time of Christ. Will send it as soon as we get out of the line. While many found combat terrifying, not so Lt. Steiner. He was having the time of his life. “This is the best game ever played it has got football and bass-fishing knocked sideways for keeps, it never gets tiresome and you feel as if you are doing something: Fritzie is getting large doses of what is good from him and he appears to be getting plenty. . ..”. Very good. Item #009780
Later, the unit was in the attack that reduced the salient at St. Mihiel and then fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. After the war ended on November 11, 1918, the division served in the Army of Occupation, being based in Belgium and Luxembourg until it departed for home in July 1919.