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Letters Home From WWI

 

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Clark Akins

     Clark Akins is in Supply Co., 37th Regt. Field Artillery, Camp Lewis and has sent  his father F. R. Akins, a photograph of himself and his bunkie seated on a large army wagon, drawn by four mules. He wrote: We have 24 mule teams in our company now. There were six of us promoted to wagoners today, so we will get $6 extra a month. An the rest of the skinners will get the same after they have been tried out and made good. It is some different working here from what it is in civilian life. It was
pretty hard for me at first, but I am getting used to it now.
     The lieutenant told us we would either go to __ or ___ the first of November, for target practice. There is no range here for the big guns, so we can't get much training here. I'll tell you we have some big guns. The muzzle of one looks as big as a barrel to me. I imagine when the whole artillery gets in action it will make some noise. It takes six horses to a gun in the light artillery and the heavy artillery is
all handed by trucks and traction engines.
     My bunkie and I went to Olympia last Saturday. We went to a big dance that night and Sunday we were invited to spend the day at a picnic out about 20 miles from Olympia at Offut lake. We had a fine time but the lake does not begin to compare with Wallowa lake.
     Nearly all the boys who go to town Sundays are invited out with some family to spend the day. The people up around here are sure good to us.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 19, 1918

James R. Anderson

James R. Anderson, S. P. Bat. French Arty. Center A.P.O. 903 A.E.F., writes to his sister, Mrs. H. L. Simms, of upper Prairie creek. He lives in Wallowa county before enlisting last December, and has been overseas six months.
His letter is dated from France:
     Tell Bud he can have all these French girls and France too, the American girls and the old U.S.A. is good enough for me. Well, it is colder now and it rains most of the time.
     I think when I get back I will have had enough rambling around for a while. I was going to South America but have changed my mind, and I guess I have seen enough of this world as it is, and as soon as Uncle Sam tells me I am thru playing with these shooting irons and to beat it, I'll fade away in a hurry-but not till he is thru with me.
     I am not feeling very well this morning. I did not eat my supper last night. I gave it to a hungry little French boy. He looked to be about 10 years old, and when I held out my mess kit full of grub his eyes got as big as dollars, but he wouldn't take it until I told him in French I was sick and couldn't eat it. He ate it all and then went in and washed my mess kit. He came back and put his arms around my neck and kissed me and said American soldier good comrade. He played around awhile and then went away down the road. Poor little fellow; said he would be back again to see his American soldier.
     Well, sis, don't worry about me, for I am all right and I hope Orville is. I have everything I want here. I have all the eats and as good a place to sleep as a man would want, and I have clothes a plenty, good warm ones.
     I think I will be home next summer for I don't look for the war to last thru the winter. You should hear our big guns pounding all the time day and night, and every drive ends in victory for the Americans. The Germans put up a strong resistance in one place and the Americans stop and the next thing they know they hit some other place. The winds blow from west to east five days out of the
week, which makes the gas using in our favor.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, November 14, 1918

William B. Ault

Will Ault, who is now in the U.S. Naval academy at Annapolis, Md. Writes as follows to his parents, Dr. and Mrs. C.A. Ault, under date of July 13:

     Today is Saturday and we get the afternoon off for recreation, so as I did not send a very good letter before I am going to write at this time. I received papa's letter and the paper. Both of them were treasures, since we get nothing from the outside only news and letters. I noted with interest the letters of all the home fellows that were in the paper. I certainly am proud to be able to call these fellows my friends. They are all making their marks and I know from experience nothing is gotten that you don't earn, especially if you go into the common service first. I was doubly glad to hear of Blaine Stubblefield's success. It means he is of the best, to be in the active flying corps, besides one of the bravest and most honored. We have had a number of noted men in several walks of life killed, Purroy Mitchel and Vernon Castle, for instance.
     I haven't a great deal to say about my experience so far. It is very nearly like my recruiting days of the navy all over again. They have every thing better regulated tho and you move much faster and get your supplies of clothing, et. much quicker.
     They lined us all up yesterday and sent us to be vaccinated and typhus serum shot. So when it came my turn I told him I had had it all just a year ago in the service. Since you are expected to get it only once in three years he took my name and said he would look it up. They are all running around with sore arms today, some sick enough to go to the hospital. How different in the navy proper; the
hospital was so crowded those sick just had to bear it. Besides it is summer here, and not cold like it was when we all left for the service. So I found another means thru which I could make my previous experience stand me in good stead.
     Nearly all your instructions are given to you on printed pamphlets, including outlines
for work and drills.
     They certainly remind us that we have to doing three years what others did in four and consequently we must be on the go all the time or we are going to get behind and have to fall out because of inaptitude. Everything is on a war basis and pushed accordingly.
     I am highly pleased with the food and treatment. Everything is Mr. and Sir if oral and Midshipman if written. But behind the politeness you can see the iron hand of Uncle Sam directing you and there is very little hanging back. Once in a while a man gets it wrong and thru the gentle language is dropped and he is told in proper navy language where to head in and what to do. Navy traditions and standards are your watchword. I am commencing to feel like Dewey and Farragut were real relatives of mine.
     I don't hesitate to say that if we cover all we are supposed to in this summer we will get seven times as much as one would after four years in the navy. In the ordinary service the good men went up in time and as some poor men had to do the hard dirty work there was room for all. Here everyone is going to reach a certain mark or he is not needed. It is needless to inform you that I am going after all they have. They have the teachers and the educational facilities and the individual ahs to learn it as he never had it crammed before.
     Did I tell you I was rooming with another Oregon boy from Portland, Chapman, by name.
     I am learning so much here and will continue to learn so many new and deeper things I cannot help but be satisfied. By next year the regulations will be second nature to me, but they are big barriers to all of us now. It is pretty funny to know what will be your actions for several days in advance.
     Disregarding all the drill and work, now we get several hours in the week for visiting and resting. They call this the Plebe heaven before the upper classmen get back for then you are collared at every turn, besides all the new work of the academic year starting. Then the days of your friends short calls, meeting new men from all parts of the country are things of the past. So the real academy life is yet to start.
     At present we are looking forward to our first liberty day two months away, which is Labor day. Then we only get the afternoon off. This gives you the idea of the summer course here. The only thing that can possibly reconcile you to such work and confinement is the fact that nothing gets old. New things keep the monotony entirely out of it and if you work you can never find time to kick. Be sure to
write to me and send the paper.
     The day is divided into five periods, including the evening period until bed time. This is divided for study and lectures. But the day periods are all work and  practical demonstration. Nearly every period requires a change of uniform and we just have time to make it and not any loitering. Besides we have English and history reading that can only be done on recreational time. Collateral reading has to be done in engineering lectures and all boat and infantry work. I would send you the week's schedule but it would take too much time and room, but today's is a good example with only slight variation.
     I have eaten more and really enjoyed my meals for the first time since coming east. I go to bed and fall into a slumber unbroken by mosquitoes and noise, both of which we have plenty, due to the new construction and water around us.
We went to bed at 10 p.m., reveille at 6:20, allowing eight hours and 20 minutes sleep. Twenty minutes are allowed to get shoes shined and toilet made: 6:40 breakfast formation: 7:15 breakfast ends and we have until 7:50 to get our rooms cleaned and uniforms shifted for first period. Today it was infantry two hours drill. Then shift of uniform for seamanship and a chance to row in the hot sun for two hours and a half. Then your well earned dinner or lunch. Change of uniform for marine engineering and naval construction work, on the whole the most interesting of our classes. Tho this is just preliminary and actual study does not commence until our second year.
      Next comes a change for gymnasium and special muscle exercise so you won't miss any. You now have one half hour to yourself and 15 minutes more to get in dinner or supper formation dress. This is 6:40 to 7:15 p.m. Another half hour is yours and then comes study or lectures. On the whole it is a busy day. They figure the education costs $20,000 because of the immense equipment and large amount or number of boats, etc. to keep going. They certainly have things on a scientific basis and I am looking forward to the start of the  academic year, even tho that brings the trials of study and
upper class bigotry and hazing.
     Tomorrow I go on duty for a week as midshipman in charge of second deck. It excuses
me from class and drill but necessitates one hour les of sleep, as we do not turn in until 11.
     Words will not express things accurately here. It is very fine for everything like eating and living matters, but the regulations are too many to enumerate. The common navy wits a mere joke to this. Every minute is laid aside and you have to hustle to make connections. When you walk from one building to another they allot exact time for it, each building varying. Your room has to be cleaned and uniform shifted in 20 minutes. At present we are right opposite where the new construction work is going on and dust is our hoodoo. An officer inspecting comes around in white gloves and if he can find a place to soil them in your room he does so and then tries to take out the change for laundry bill by his select vocabulary applied to you.
     At present we have Stevens "The Story of the Navy" and Southey's "Life of Nelson" to read. So I am not wanting for something to do. Besides they are very strict in all drills. My navy training has kept me out of embarrassment but it is not by any means thoro enough to say I know anything here. They teach it all, present, past and future and you get it or later get out.
     When you get caught up thru ignorance or neglect you go on the "Pap" list, as it is called, and get from 1 to 50 demerits. Luckily I don't need to get disciplined here for foolishness. All my trouble will be thru hard luck or accident. From the time we  entered the navy we were made to realize that kid stunts were not in place and after training station was left and the Orient reached my experiences began. I feel at least two  years my senior and if it is not all out of place here, for they tell you that all actions  and  thoughts should be such as are becoming a gentleman and an officer in the United States navy.

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