1918 letter from American soldier 15th Infantry, based in Tientsin China

$110.00 CAD

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Letter from American soldier in Tientsin back to his family in Wisconsin. He is in the 15th Infantry Band, and talks of everyday life in garrison, Chinese executions...


15th U.S. Inf. Band
Tientsin China
March 16, 1918
Dear Helen.
Your good letter of Jan 27 was received today and I was certainly glad to hear from you. One does not get letters very often way over in this God forsaken country and we all look forward to the arrival of the mail boats.
I am enjoying the band work immensely. Have a pretty good band here and manage to keep us busy. We have rehearsal every morning from eight to nine, parade from 9:30 till 10:30 and then individual practice till noon. Every evening we play at Retreat and Saturday evenings we play an hours concert at the British Skating Rink  //
During the summer we play two concerts a week at Victoria Park in the English Concession, besides this we play for ball games, guard mount etc.so you see altogether we are kept busy. Time goes very slowly though as there are so few places we can go.
I just got out of the hospital yesterday after a two weeks siege of neuralgia, and fever and am a little weak and nervous yet. Lost all of my surplus weight and am nothing more than a shadow now but expect to begin to pick up again.
One sees lots of interesting and curious sights over here but it soon gets monotonous. One has only the men in the regiment to associate with and there are no amusements to speak of except a movie but most of the fellows are of English or French make and we do not enjoy them. About the only excitement we have is when the Chinese have their executions. Tientsin is a place with a population greater than that of New York but such a town. We are anticipating a flood here shortly and from present indications it seems as though it will be worse than the one they had when I first landed here. Imagine there will be a terrible amount of sickness here this spring, but at the best the health conditions are very bad. The Black Plague has broken out again further //
North but it does not seem possible that it will spread this far.
The regiment here will probably go into camp this summer and will have a lively time.
The next trip I make to Wisc. I will surely stop off and see you folks. Am getting an excellent collection of photographs and cards from China. They will be interesting to the folks at home. Tell Uncle Will I have never forgotten that trip we made to the summit ? of Mt Baldy. That was some trip.
Next time you write just ask all the questions you want and I will answer them as best I can.
Give my love to all the folks,
As Ever


Front of envelope:

Miss Helen J. Lipke
Scottsville Kansas
United States of America
Mitchell County


On back of envelope:

Kenneth Lipke
15th Infantry Band
c/o China Expedition U.S. Army
Tientsin China


Envelope has ChInese stamp and postmarked 'TIENTSIN 4.3.18 I.J.P.O'. On back. label that letter opened by censor.

Horizontal fold letter. zEnvelope has some tears where opened.


Who was Kenneth Lipke?

He was born in 1898 in Wisconsin. Enlisted as a musician on 16th July 1917 at  Fort McDowell, Calif. Discharged 14th May 1919 at the same place.  He was admitted with active tuberculosis to the U. S. National Home for Volunteer Soldiers, Milwaukee, WI. At this time, his age was 28, height 6'2"; complexion fair, eyes blue, hair dark, can read and write, religion, Protestant. His occupation was listed as clerk. He was single.

Sadly he died 2nd Dec.1926 of tuberculosis.


Who were the 15th Infantry Regiment?

The 15th US Infantry first came to China during the Boxer Rebellion. The Regiment embarked from San Francisco 16 July 1900 and arrived off the Taku Bar on 16 Aug 1900.  Since they arrived too late to take part in the relief of Peking they were relegated to service around Tientsin.  From that location they, along with their allies, took part in daily expeditions against remaining Boxer forces still in the area.  In addition, they acted as escorts aboard supply junks up the Pei Tao Ho River toward Peking.  By December of that same year, with their mission complete the Regiment left China for the Philippines.

Their next China duty occurred on 18 January 1912 when the First Battalion and the Machine Gun Platoon arrived at Chinwangtao.  At time the Chinese Revolution was in full swing and there were concerns the rail lines could be cut between the coast and the Peking.  Therefore the 15th was given the task of garrisoning a number of rail stops and bridges between Chinwangtao and the capital.  This would remain their primary mission for the next twenty-six years.  On 20 August 1916 the 2nd Battalion was reorganized in Tientsin from the 1st and 3rd battalions. They would remain in China until relieved by the Marines in March of 1938.