This collection contains 85 letters that Lieutenant Randal H. Crouse wrote to his mother, Lillie M. Crouse, while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. The collection also has 4 letters by other writers, 9 postcards, 4 documents, 15 photographs, and 29 newspaper clippings (including 7 duplicates) related to Crouse's time in the military.
The Correspondence series (89 items) comprises the bulk of the collection and consists mostly of the letters that Randal Crouse sent to his divorced mother, Lillie M. Crouse, from Camp Hancock, Georgia, and France between September 1917 and April 1919. At Camp Hancock, he discussed the reorganization of his Pennsylvania National Guard unit into the 112th Infantry Regiment and mentioned several specific training exercises, including some involving gas masks (January 27, 1918). He described other aspects of camp and military life and, upon his arrival in France around May 1918, provided his impressions of the scenery and people, as well as descriptions of his experiences at the front. Soon after his arrival, he reported hearing nearby artillery fire and shared his awe at the multicultural makeup of the allied forces, which included soldiers from a number of foreign countries (May 27, 1918). Though he remained optimistic about the war's imminent end, Crouse mentioned his participation in some difficult fighting, credited the Germans with putting up a strong resistance, and described airplane crashes he had witnessed (August 17, 1918). By October 30, 1918, he expressed his relief at being transferred to a safer area following weeks of hard fighting, and on November 3, 1918, he described a one-day visit to Paris.
Following the signing of the Armistice, Crouse revealed more details about military actions he had participated in, including movements near Metz, and expressed his surprise upon hearing of the large scale of the influenza epidemic, from which the war had distracted him. In his letter of December 4, 1918, he copied several pages from a captured German diary that described the advance on Paris in September 1914; the letter also encloses a printed map of a portion of the Western Front near the end of the war. Throughout the spring of 1919, Crouse continued to discuss his travels through France and his anticipation of a return to the United States.
The series has 4 letters by other correspondents, including 3 by Lillie M. Crouse, who wrote a letter to her son while he attended a summer camp (July 13, 1908), prematurely reported Germany's surrender (November 7, 1918), and expressed her wish for military volunteers to displace active service veterans (March 31, 1919). Jordy L. Stafer, a soldier, also wrote a letter to Lillie M. Crouse, whom he knew from York (October 9, 1918).
The Postcards and Greeting Card series (7 items) contains mail that Randal Crouse sent to his mother during the war. The postcards show scenery in Germany and in Glasgow, Scotland, and one is a photographic postcard of Crouse in uniform. The Christmas card has a drawing of an American soldier reading with a young girl.
Documents (4 items) include a memorandum by W. H. Hay commending the service of the 28th Division of the United States Army, as well as 2 items related to the allotment of Randal Crouse's pay to his mother. Also present is a photographic card identifying Crouse as a member of the American Expeditionary Forces.
The Photographs series (15 items) has 6 snapshots of soldiers, including 2 taken in front of a cannon; 2 larger formal portraits of Randal H. Crouse; and 7 small snapshots of a soldier smoking a cigar and an old European building.
Newspaper clippings (29 items) primarily concern the actions of the 28th Division of the United States Army, including several reprinted letters that Randal Crouse sent to his mother while serving overseas, taken from the Gazette and Daily (York, Pa.) and other papers. Seven of the items are duplicates.