Saturday, March 05, 2005

"Deeply regret to inform you..."

Click on the picture for an enlargement.

This is a telegram my great-grandfather James Kostal received in late November 1918. My grandfather Ed Kostal was wounded in action in the Argonne Forest in late September 1918. The telegram states that he was wounded on the 30th, but we always understood that it was the 29th.

My grandfather was severely wounded in the leg and arm and left for dead on the battlefield for several hours. He eventually required several months of hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Because of limitations in the way information flowed back to the States in 1918 (no Internet, no satellite links, no cell phones, no embedded journalists!), my great-grandfather received this message nearly two months after his son was wounded. We have letters from my grandfather to his sister dated after September 30th and before November 26th (the date on the telegram). We don't know if these letters made it home before the telegram reached the family.

Ironically, the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 (ending the war in Europe) so the telegram was received after the war ended.

My mother found this telegram in late February with some old family papers. Thank God she's a pack rat!