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Oliver Alcide Charpie

Submitted by: Karen Fyock {Charpie was the husband of a distant relative}

oliver Charpie image

Oliver Alcide Charpie born around July 21, 1893. Oliver Charpie served in World War 1 with the U.S. Army Graves Registration Service (GRS). The enlistment was in 1918 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service


These items and letters were found published in the local papers of Clay Center, Kansas when I was researching our family history.

"Thursday morning of last week 49 more Clay county boys went to Camp Funston, to join the draft army. The band assembled at the court house at 10 o'clock, marched down to the Union Pacific depot, playing patriotic pieces, and there played a number of pieces while waiting for the train. A big crowd was also present to see the boys off and bid the God-speed. It was the largest single contingent to ever leave Clay county. Among those who left was Oliver Charpie."

-- The Times - Clay Center, Kansas - July 4, 1918

Newfchateau, France, April 27, 1919
Dear Folks at Home: This is Sunday afternoon and it has been a funny day here. Had about three snow storms and an April shower, and now the sun is shining brightly. I went to church service at the Y. M. C. A. this morning. So after traveling for four months, I got back to where I can visit the Y once in a while. Don't know how long I get to stay here, but maybe for some time. I am anxious to know if I get a furlough to go to London and visit father's folks. I am planning on getting it in a few days.

I am back at the carpenter trade again. What we D. G. R. S. men don't get to do, isn't much, for we get a little of all things to do. I have helped in fencing all these cemeteries, paint the gates, cut posts, make crosses, paint the fences and crosses; make six pointed stars to put of the Jews' graves. Last week I had my hardest job, to my notion. I had to identify six bodies that had been buried for several months. You can imagine what kind of a job it would be to go down into a grave and open one of these boxes, knowing it was a dead man in there. One wouldn't need to see it, either, to know it was there. I had to take one body out of the box and search his pockets; found tow letters in one picket, one was written to his mother, the other to his friend in the states, they were written before he went into battle. I wish you could have read them. After reading them I was convinced that this poor fellow who wrote them was a mighty fine character; at least, his letters read that way. In the other jacket I found his identification tag.

I am sending you a German helmet. It is not a real nice one. Those are hard to get. I picked it up on the battlefield. The other one is a German service helmet. You can make a hen's nest of it. I don't know what is the matter with the mail service lately; I don't hear from you very often. I hope this finds you all in the best of health. I am feeling fine at present only anxious to reach home soon. Love to all. From your son and brother, Oliver.

London, England, May 9, 1919
My Dear Mother; I'm now in London on my way to father's folks. I came across the channel last night. Didn't get seasick; some of the boys did. I was not feeling well at noon today, but am O.K. now. I guess I was hungry. I felt better as soon as I got through eating dinner at the Red Cross. It never cost me a cent, either. Believe me, I never will fail to contribute what I can to the Red Cross and Y. M. C. A.; they sure serve the boys over here, "don't you know?" When I was on the ship I wished I was going home. Never since I have been in France have I wanted to go home quite as badly as I did then. I see by the papers the Germans do not like the peace terms. Well, we could expect they would object and try to make a few bluffs. But I feel like they will surely sign it. I feel sure - what else could they do? One of the delegates says, "America can go to hell." But that only shows how foolish he is. I hope it is all settled without further trouble.

If you could be here with me and see the English people, you would then know that dada is an Englishman right. They all look somewhat alike and dada looks like them - good looking people they are, better looking than the French, I believe. I'm sending you some cards. Hope you got what I have sent. I hope to be home in August. Will try and stay with the folks till the 19th. I want to stop in Paris on my way back. I stayed there over night on my way here. Hope you are all well. Don't work too hard. Greet all the children and dada. With lots of love. Your son, Oliver.

London, England, May 11, 1919
I will write to you now as it is Mother's Day. This has been a busy day for me. This morning I went down through "Petticoat Lane," that is claimed to be one of the dirtiest places in the world, and I believe it. This afternoon I went out to "Ken Garden." That is the most beautiful place I have seen since I have been in Europe. There are flowers of all kinds. This evening I listened to a musical program and a fine sermon; tomorrow I leave for father's folks.

Well mother, I am having all the good time, but why? Because I have a mother who taught me to be a man, and now I have been trusted to leave my company and come over to England for a visit. Nothing in the world better than a good mother. I am about 5000 miles from you, but because I am far from home, does not mean that I have forgotten you, for I think of you every day and almost every hour, and I long to be back with you soon. But don't worry, dear mother, as I'm coming back, though it may not be very soon.

I went to church this morning. By next Sunday I expect to hear Uncle William preach. I've surely seen and heard lots of interesting things while here in London. I was sightseeing yesterday. I saw Madame Tussand's wax figures. She had statues of many different persons, and they sure looked real. You would think they were real people instead of wax figures. I also went through "London Town." There they have all the weapons used in war since about the 14th century, and there were the crown jewels; the most beautiful jewel, I thought, was Queen Mary's crown - it was lovely. King Charles' "wine fountain" is very nice. I was also in St. John's chapel. Went through the House of Commons; saw the king's and queen's chairs. I went to the Westminster Abbey this morning. The Y men act as our guides, showing us boys through these great places.

Did you ever get the cards I've sent you? I sent you almost a hundred at a time. Hope you received them, as they were sights I seen each day. I will leave here tomorrow if all goes well. Hope to reach father's folks about 5:30 o'clock. Then by the time I find them it will be supper time, so I can start right in by eating (c). Don't forget to write often as my letters will be waiting for me when I get back in camp. I suppose you're all going to church this fine morning, but maybe it isn't fine back there.
I'll close, wishing you the best of health and hope to be with you before long. God bless you all. Your son and brother, Oliver Alcid Charpie, Unit D G. R. S., Headquarters Adv. Sec., A. M. C., A. E. F., France.

"There seems to have been enough said about why we G. R. S. men who are not a part of the army of occupation still remain in France. We are here because the responsibilities of our service have made is impossible to complete our work and return to our homes as soon as those organizations of the A. E. F. whose tasks have been accomplished. The G. R. S. and labor battalions and engineer troops attached thereto are straining every nerve to clear away the aftermath of a great campaign and comfort the kindred of our heroic dead. Each week sees thousands of troops homeward bound but we willingly remain here to do our duty to those comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice.

"Therefore it may be remembered that the men of the G. R. S. are men of unblemished records and the organization to which we belong in no way resembles those created for penal purposes. There will be real American soldiers in France as long as we are here and when we return to our homes we will have the right to demand the honor and respect of every true American. -- Pvt. Oliver A. Charpie, Unit D G. R. S., Hdqrs. Adv. Sec., A. E. F., France."

--The Times - Clay Center, Kansas - August 14, 1919