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Letters Home From WWI

 

Claris D. Bailey

Camp Hancock, Georgia, May 28 -
     Have arrived in camp at last. Got in last night. It is sure hot down here, it was 115 yesterday, but the heat hasn't bothered me much as yet. We were five days and three hours on the road which was pretty tiresome trip.
     Well, there isn't much chance of coming home for harvest as I understand that we were to be sent to the coast within two weeks. I don't know where I will be by the 4th of July.
     Didn't get a chance to write before I left for I only knew that I was going about 15 minutes before we were ordered to roll our blankets and pack our bags. Even then the boys didn't know where they were going. Part went to Camp Kearney and  Camp Fremont, California, others went to Alabama and Florida, and some came to Georgia.
     The Red Cross in some of the places along the line treated us fine, giving us apples, doughnuts, cakes, etc., also post cards and stamps, but at some of the towns they sure soaked us. At North Platte, Neb., they charged us 50cents for a pie, 15 cents for an ice cream cone and 30ents for a package of cigarettes, but I concluded I did not want anything from that town.
     Now I will try and answer some of your questions. At Camp Lewis we slept in barracks with about 150 men on floor. Everything was kept neat and clean, clothes piled neatly on the shelves, windows washed, floors perfectly clean and everything spic and span. Here we sleep in tents, eight men to a tent. It is not quite as handy as a barracks, but guess it will be O.K. when we get used to it. The head and sand are the worse we have to put up with. We each have our own bed.
     The grub here is very good and we get plenty of it but on the train enroute we went hungry. I can't write much tonight, as I am too warm to be comfortable, and am of the opinion that the letters from here are censored, so will close.
     Forgot to tell you that I have been here only one day and have been put on the arsenal guard for tomorrow and tomorrow night. That's going some. Best regards to all. Address 2d Company, 6th, P.O.D. Bn. Camp Hancock, Ga.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday June 20, 1918

Edgar and Bert Barnes

     The two sons of Mrs. E.S. Barnes write from France, where both are in the army. Edgar sent home a very pretty souvenir, a pink silk hankerchief on which the American and French flags were embroidered, and the words, Avenue De President Wilson, the Paris boulevard christened after the American president. In his letter, Edgar wrote:
     I am well and making it fine. We are having some fine weather. The people are way behind the timer, they wear wooden shoes, that is lots of them do and they are not fixed like we are in the U.S.A. They have fine stock and pretty nice farms, but they are small, They raise quite a bit of different stuff.
     Bert Barnes arrived overseas after his brother had gone. He wrote:
      I stood the trip pretty good. We are drilling again now. This is a nice looking country but I can't talk to the French people. I sure do wish I could. They have funny ways, I am in a small village. There are two companies here and we are living in barns and empty houses.
     The French people treat us American boys fine and French girls are nice looking but we have a hard time talking to them.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 31, 1918

 Harry C. Beeson

      Harry C. Beeson, Co. G. 158th Inft. A.E.F., AP.O. 788, France, writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M.H. Beeson:
     Dear Folks: - I received your letter last night and believe me, I sure was glad to hear from home, tho it was an old letter, written July 3, it was news to me. This leaves me fine and dandy and enjoying life. I sure enjoyed my trip coming over fine. Have seen lots of country since I left home but none of it looked as good to me as old Wallowa. I suppose everybody is busy in the harvest fields now. The best crops I
saw from the Pacific to the Atlantic, was in Missouri.
      This is a pretty country and it sure comes up to its name of "Sunny France" for it was certainly hot today, but it is cool of evenings. They are about 100 years behind the times over here. I haven't seen a four-wheeled wagon since I landed-all are two-wheeled carts with just one horse worked to them. When they do work more than one horse, they put it in the lead and then walk ahead of them. Saw a man plowing and he had three horses strung out and a boy leading them. They use little burros or mules.  They
are about the size of a good-sized sheep. They haven't any wire fences, all hedge fences.
     Say, we fellows are just about eight hours ahead of Oregon, but I guess you already knew that. I would have liked to have been there and help clean up on that big feed. I am in the Y.M.C.A., writing. Our band is outside playing. We have good music and some pretty good times. There is a fine bunch of fellows in our company, happy-go-lucky fellows the kind that go into anything for all there is in it.
     Tell everybody that wants to write not to be bashful for it will seem good to get letters from home, for that is about all we look forward to, mail day. Don't worry about me, but write often.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 3, 1918

 

George B. Bell

     The following extracts from letters written by Burnett Bell, 362 Field Hospital Co. 316 Sanitary Train, A.E.F., to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Bell, from France, will interest many Enterprise friends:
     I arrived safely; had a wonderful trip; everything went on smoothly. We were (deleted) days and nights at sea. Most of the time the sea was very calm. We sang songs, danced and played cars for amusement on the way over. The villages over here are very old, built on the same plan as apartments; all brick or stone, with the roofs and very fine gardens in the back. We are in the rest camp now for a short while; will go on later. This is sure a pretty country so far; beautiful shade trees everywhere. The railroad
cars are so very peculiar, high wheels and look more like a wagon than a freight car. The locomotives look like a peanut thresher, It is comical to look at one.
     July 23.- We are now stationed in a very pretty section of this country. The scenery is very beautiful. I went for a little hike yesterday afternoon to a little village about three miles away, and they are all the same. It seems funny to see gates across the railroad tracks at each crossroads and they open and shut these gates every time a train comes along. The people over here do their shopping and marketing in a push cart drawn by a dog or burro, or else pushed by a woman, as the men, are all at the front.
     July 29. - We are now stationed at another camp several hundred miles from the British camp that we first landed into in France. This camp isn't nearly as pretty as the other one, but being an American camp is much better and it only takes on meal to distinguish between the two. There are three of the boys here in this camp whom I used to know in Portland before I enlisted. They came over in January and have been to the front and it is very interesting to hear them tell their experience. Wish I could tell you but it is impossible for me to do so. I am in the best of health and like it fine, considering that we are here for a just cause and must uphold the right that we are now at war for.
     The first automobile that we saw after landing in Europe was a Ford, no matter where you go the woods are full of them. All the trucks I have seen so far are American made; in fact, I have only seen one French car so far, and that one looked like Old Dock Yack's car. Ha, Ha!
     The people over here have a very old fashioned way of harvesting, as their machines are drawn by oxen and the women and children come along with scythes, bunch the grain together in a bundle and tie with straw. This is a beautiful country indeed, but the people's ways are too slow for me, so give me the good old U.S.A. every time for mine. It is interesting to enter a passenger coach. The compartment is four feet in the aisle with seats eight feet in length and a 2-foot aisle in the center of the coach.
     We all went swimming last night down to the beach in real salt water and we sure had a wonderful time as the water was quite warm. We are having some beautiful weather with very cool nights. I am getting so I can say a few things and suppose by the time I get home I can talk quite well. We are having very good eats now and plenty of them. Everybody in the company is in the best of health. We are the
only company who came thru on the boat without any sickness.
     August 3- I am in the best of health and we are getting just as good food, if not a little better, than we got at Camp Lewis, so you see we want for nothing and we sure must thank the United States for the way the government is looking after us boys over here. We sleep in barracks on a wooden bunk with a tick full of straw underneath us, so we are quite comfortable.
     Last night it rained all night: it reminded me of the good old days when we used to sleep upstairs at the ranch and hear the rain patter down, so you can imagine how I slept. Since we landed in France we have traveled several hundred miles, and I believe it is the most beautiful country I have ever been thru. The roads are wonderful with beautiful shade trees on each side, but there is one thing missing-the good old water that we have in the States. All the water we have has to be boiled before we can use it. I would love to tell you all of my experiences, but it is against military rules.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 29, 1918

Burnett Bell

     George B. Bell, writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Bell, from France, Sept. 28:
     The captain has kept his promise made while at Camp Lewis that I was to drive for him overseas. I have charge of a touring car for officers on inspection. Like it very much. See beautiful country in different parts of France every day, with one officer and again for or six. Night before last we were in parts where we could see the flash of artillery and hear the guns which was very interesting indeed. In case of work at night we drive without lights, which is very exciting at times. Wish you could see me
with my steel helmet and gas mask on. We wear them all the time now except when we sleep, then we leave them close to our heads in case they are needed, so we can get them on quickly.
     The weather has been perfect until last night, 'tis pouring rain at present. In traveling around I meet almost every day some one I knew in the States.
     Am writing at Y.M.C.A., our home for letter act.
     Oct. 6 - The weather here is perfect, beautiful days and very cold nights, makes me think of the fall in Wallowa county. Our field hospital company is doing some grand work. Am away from them most of the time. I like driving for the officers very much. This is Sunday. Things are too exciting in these parts to think of church. The quicker we get old Fritz the sooner we will be home.
     Oct. 8 - Am driving today for a Red Cross officer out doing Home Service work. While sitting here waiting for him will write you. We are about six miles from the front. All of a sudden the infantry band started to play that dear old song. "There's a long, long trail a winding into the land of my dreams, where the nightingales are singing and the white moonbeams. There's a long, long night a-waiting until my dreams all come true, till a day when I'll be coming back home to you." As they played it I sang for it
touched my hart. Never dreamed of hearing music out here on this old battle field. The aeroplanes seemed to enjoy it for they flew above our heads in vast numbers.
     Oct. 24-Today has been the most interesting, I have had while in France. Drove up to the front and found a German helmet and if the Government will allow me am going to send it to you. Things were certainly hot around there-exciting-oh, my! Wish I could tell you what happened. Met the church boy along the road; is doing M. R. work. I saw the dear old Salvation Army women back of the lines serving hot coffee and doughnuts to the boys. Think of those brave women over here doing their bit to win this war, so cheery, always a kind word, taking mother's place as near as possible. We appreciate what they are doing. We arrived back to the company in time for supper, 5:30; a fine meal, soup, fried steak, creamed carrots, "canned milk" of course, maccaroni, country gravy, bread, jam and coffee. Here's hoping we will all celebrate the 4th of July at home. Regards to friends.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, November 14, 1918

 

Clifford J. Bird

     Private Clifford J. Bird, Machine Gun Co., 158th Inft. A.E.F., A.P.O. 788, writes to his sister, Miss Carrie Bird, of Joseph.
     I am feeling dandy. Am in France at last and I like army life just fine. There has been fine weather here; rained quite hard some few days ago and looks like rain this afternoon. No frost as yet.
     You ask me if the machine gun men were picked. Yes. They are supposed to be some of the best men in the army. And they are if they make good. I have never fallen down on anything I tried to do yet, and guess I won't fall here.
     I haven't seen Sam Huffman yet and I sure would like to see him, as we were called to be examined the same day and were called to the service the same day and were together until we reached Kearney, then I was transferred to the machine gun company.
     We are living near a small town and have quite a bit of liberty. We can go to town every night if we like, but after one has once seen the town it's surroundings are not very interesting. They also have lots of wine.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, November 7, 1918

 

Leonard Boswell

     Leonard Boswell writes to his mother, Mrs. Ellen Boswell, from Camp Meade, Maryland. Landed here I. K. The east looked good to me. It was a long tiresome trip. I like a soldier's life so far. I have not been sick for a day since I left home.
     Mother, I don't want you to worry about me. I am as safe here as I would be at home. I don't know how I will feel if ever I come up against the Hun. I may have to hold myself to keep from running. I don't think we will stay here long. Don't know where we will go, May go across. I would like to go and see all there is to see while I am on the job. Quite a number of the boys of my acquaintance are here.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 3, 1918

 

Cecil E. Browning

     From a southern camp, where influenza has been very prevalent, Cecil E. Browning writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Browning. He is charge of three bands. There have been a number of deaths from influenza at camp, and he writes:
     When that Spanish influenza gets after a fellow, It pretty near gets his goat. It is nothing in the world but lagrippe but it's running into pneumonia that kills the men. I have seven men out of my three bands who have it and are in the hospital now, and as soon as I finish this letter I am going to take another up to the infirmary.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 17, 1918

 

Henry H. Bruce

     In a short letter to his father, J. F. Bruce, Henry H. Bruce writes that he is in France, resting in a camp for the purpose. He has seen many strange sights for an American boy. Apparently he went thru England for he sends home a facsimile of a letter from King George to every soldier from the United States as follows:
     Windsor Castle: Soldiers of the United States, the people of the British Isles welcome you on your way to take your stand beside the armies of the many nations now fighting in the old world the great battle for human freedom.
     The allies will gain new heart and spirit in your company. I wish that I could shake
the hand of each one of you and bid you God speed on your mission.

George, R.I.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 12, 1918

 

Melvin N. Bue

     In his station in France, Melvin Bue always thinks of his home. He is in camp Hospital No. 31, A.P.O. 779, A.E.F. Writing to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.K. Bue, he says:
     After reading the Paris edition of the New York Herald I felt so good that I took a notion to write a few letters. The news is sure promising in the papers now, and if things keep on like this, I sure will be back home in a short time. I go to bed every night thinking of home and dream every night of it. Don't think from that that I am homesick like any kid who hasn't been from home very much; because I am thinking that the longer I am away from home the better it will seem to be home again. I haven't had any mail yet, but I still have hopes of getting some in the next few weeks. I am feeling fine and am quite safe.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 24, 1918

 

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