I found this old brown newspaper clipping, from a small stack on New York Times cut outs, going all the way up to 1932, when FDR was only “President-elect.”
Undated, but America didn’t join the fighting in France until May, 1918 and in 5 1/2 months 50,000 had died before the Armistice November 11.
NYT credited “Stars and Stripes” with the original story.
On the run, somewhere in France, Everywhere in France, All the time.
Dear Papa—-I am writing on der run as der brave and glorious soldiers under my command have not seen der Rhine for so long dat they dey started back that way…and of course, I am going mit them.
Oh, Papa, has been some offel dings happened here in France. First I started on my offensive, which was to crush der fool Americans, but dey know little about military tactics dat dey vill not be crushed just like I vane dem. I sent my men in der fight in big waves, and ven dey got to the Americans day all say “boo” as loud as dey could holler. Vell, according to vat you have always told me, the Americans should have turned and run like blazes. But vat do you tink? Dem fool Americans don’t know anything about war, and instead of running the odder way, they came right toward us. Some of them vas singing about “ve won’t come home till it’s over, over dere” or some odder foolish song, and some of dem were falling like fools. Dey are so ignorant. But dey are offel reckless mit their guns, and ven dey came towards us it vas dat my men took a notion dey vanted to go back to der dear old Rhine. Ve don’t like der little dirty Marne river, anyhow.
Oh, Papa, dem Americans use such offel language. Dey know nothing of kultur and say such offel dings right before us. And dey talk blasphemy too! Vat you dink dey say right in front of my face? One big husky from a place dey call Missouri, he said—oh, Papa, I hate to tell you vat an awful ting he said—but I can’t help it. He said, “To hell mit der kiaser!: Did you ever hear anyting so offel? I didn’t tink anybody vould say such an offel ting. It made me so mad I vouldn’t stand hear such an offel ting, so I turned me around and run mit de odder boys. Vas I right? Vat?
And oh, Papa, you know dem breastplates vot you sent us—can you send some to put on our backs? You know ve are going de odder vay now, and breast-plates are no good now, for ed cowardly Americans are shooting us right in der back. Some of de boys took off der breast-plates and put ‘m behind dem, but der fool Americans are playing “Der Star Spangled Banner” mit machine guns on dem plates. Can’t you help us? You remember in your speech you said nothing could stand before the brave German soldier.
Oh, Papa, I don’t believe these ignorant Americans ever read your speech, for dey run after us yust like we were rabbits. Vot you tink of dat? Can’t you send dem some of your speeches right away? Dey don’t know how terrible you are. Can’t you move my army back to Belgium vere we von all our glory? My men can vipe all der vimen and childrens vot dem Belgims can bring us. But dese Americans are so rough and ignorant. Ve can’t maek dem understand dat ve are de greatest soldiers on earth, and ven we try to sing “Deutschland Uber Alles” dey laugh like a lot of monkeys. But ve are getting de best of der Americans. We can outrun dem.
Papa, if ve are not the best fighters on earth, ve are surely de best runners. Nobody can keep up mit us ven ve dink of der dear old Rhine, and my army never did tink so much of dat other other olf rifer.
Let me know right away vot to do by return post office.
Crown Prince Willie