China had entered World War I on the side of the Allied Triple Entente in 1917 on the condiion that all German spheres of influence such as Shandong, would be returned to china. The Versailles Treaty of April 1919 awarded German rights in Shandong Province to Japan. US Forces protected Americans and American interests in China during this time.
Following is a letter written by Charles Venus of Lawrence county to his mother on April 28, 1919.
As I have not written you for some time I will now do so. There’s not much to say at this time as I am expecting to sail for the States any time now. We heard there were about 800 men coming over here to relieve us. If that’s so, I may be there most any old time, and to tell the truth I’ve sure got myself full of China.
We are on the target range now and will be here for three months and then back to Tientsin we go until the boat comes. Well, I guess you saw in the papers about the fight we had with the Japanese. There was a small fight but it didn’t amount to much, and about all I see in the papers from the States, is a lot of hot air and no truth to it.
Well, how did Frank like the army while he was in it or was he there long enough to find out anything about it? Well, you wrote me in your last letter that you had written to the War Department about me. When they lost track of me was, while I was in the Philippines.
Well, how are all the people round there now that the war is over, I suppose there are lots of men out of work. Well, it is not much better here. There are about 15 or 20 funerals here a day. The Japanese are looking for a scrap by the way they are acting around here. The Chinese have boycotted every Japanese store in China. Whenever they catch any of their people in a Japanese store there is always a fight. This is not the poorer class but the student and better class of Chinese. Well, Japan has been looking for trouble for some time, and if she keeps on I guess she will get all she wants and then some.
Well, I hardy know what to write except that I’m still in the army and getting along all right. I don’t think I’ll ever leave the Machine Gun Co., it’s a good company to be in. I will close for this time and try to write more next time.
Machine Gun Co. 15th Inf
(Are there any WWI history lovers out there who might be interested in helping us transcribe some letters written home by other Lawrence county residents stationed in France during this time? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.)