George Gustav “Dutch” Auler was born on December 21, 1899. When the US entered the Great War in early 1917, he was only 17 years of age. The war in Europe was the dominant subject of conversation, and Grandpa decided to enlist in the army even before the US formally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Grandpa enlisted on March 3rd, lying about his age to get in. He was 17 years, two months, and thirteen days old.
At the time the US Army had only 127,151 soldiers in uniform. Compare that with the German army’s 11 million. The US needed lots more bodies in uniform fast. So since not nearly enough people were enlisting fast enough, a new draft was enacted into law on May 18, 1917.
The draft had a shady history in the US. There had last been conscription in the Civil War, but it had loopholes that allowed rich people to pay somebody to take their place. That’s how my great Grandmother’s brother, Lewis G. Butzow, newly immigrated from Germany, joined the civil war. He wasn’t even a citizen yet. But a kick-start in this new country in the form of $250 cash from some rich man seemed like it was too good for him to pass up. He served honorably. But let’s get back to the current story.
The US was ramping up its war infrastructure at a frantic pace, opening and expanding boot camps around the country. Grandpa Dutch was called into the army in one of the first waves of call-ups, on June 20th, 1917, and after a short stop at Camp Douglas in Wisconsin he was sent to boot camp at Camp McArthur in Waco, TX. Here, in his own handwriting, is an autobiographical sketch of the events:
if possible. Would also like to have some news from some of my relatives.
Knew about Harry Barnes some time ago. Many things are happening over here and I also see many things but I cannot tell you about. Some of the happenings that I have to hold back would may (make) the people at home very happy and the others would make them very sad.
Everything is the same with me. We have changed fronts again and this one makes the 5th one we were at. 4 of them
near. Don’t forget to write often and send some pictures.
Best regards from
George G. Auler
“Batt A” 121st F.A
A.E.F A.P.O 734
Capt. B.O. Reynolds
March 30, 1919
I received your letter of many questions today. I will answer it immediately or rather the questions.
We shall sail for America the early part of May and I expect to be home by May 25.
I sent beaucoupe postals from the place I spent my 7 day furlough. I expect to go on another leave soon. I also sent a Battery picture and Book of A.E.F. cartoons. Let me no (know) when you get them.
We, the 57 Brigade, which is the 119th, 120th, 121st, and 147th F.A. has not been in Germany and