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Letters Home From WWI


Orien R. Hainline

    Orien R. Hainline is overseas in France. His address is Co. G, 158 Inf., A.E.F, via New York. In a recent letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.N. Hainline of Trout creek, he wrote:
     We are in France. We sure have been traveling to beat the band, and no telling where we will go next. We were on the water seven days and we were a glad bunch when we saw land and got to camp. We were in camp one day and then were put in cars, packed in like sardines, and were sent somewhere and got off and marched about 8 or 10 miles. I guess I will be here for a while, and it doesn't make any difference where I go then, just so we can win the war.
     We are in a French village and it is surely funny. All the houses are made of rock of some kind and the shingles are of slate or clay, and the houses are bunched together, several families living in each. It is pretty hard to get used to things. The money and language are hard to understand, but I am getting on to how to count the money. I have 50 francs left out of my last pay and that is the same as $10 and we will have another pay day pretty soon.
     I wish I could get some of that fried chicken of yours. We don't get anything like that, no cakes or puddings like mother makes. I have been in the army two months and have had one bad cold. When I do get a little sick I surely will go to a doctor and get something for it. I won't do like some of them, wait until they get in bed and then want a doctor.
     You can tell the neighbors, that I am feeling fine and am getting to be a better soldier every day and am anxious to see a German and get at him.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 17, 1918

Shelva R. Hale

     Sergt. Shelva R. Hale is in Co., K. 41 Inft., Camp Funston, Kan. He sends greetings to his friends in Wallowa county in the following letter.
     Hello, you good people of Wallowa county: How is everything around Enterprise? I guess you will be surprised to hear from me and to learn I am still in the States. Why I am here is a question I have long been trying to figure out. They only answer I can find is that Uncle Sam isn't ready for me to go.
     This is one of those days that make a fellow think of all the good times he has had in life and when he thinks of the future days there seems nothing in front of him but disappointments and a lot of hard luck. There is no sky to be seen and over the camp hangs a solid sheet of low, dark clouds, which are settling the dust, to our delight.
     We had our full packs rolled and ready to go out on our daily drill, when the first sergeant gave orders that there would be no drill today. For five minutes any one not knowing the bunch would have thought they were insane, or that the kaiser had been killed, for the way they cheered and yelled. Anyone not knowing the hardships and weariness in a soldier's life these days no doubt would wonder at the boys being so well pleased to get a day off. But an old and experienced soldier knows what it means to get a day's rest. For 17 months I have been doing "squads right," squads left," or "as you were," and this morning was the third time in the 17 months that I have heard the order, no drill today.
     Rain or shine we have kept the good work going till we have grown from 300 raw recruits June 1, 1917 to a division of matured and well trained soldiers, numbering from 28,000 to 33,000 men, July 1, 1918. This is no record breaker, but I must say there is not a noncommissioned officer in the division but has had all he could do.
     We drill recruits from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., getting one half hour off at noon to smoke a self-rolled cigaret or a cheap cigar. After the day's work is done they must go to a lecture from 7 to 8 p.m. and hear the captain or some lieutenant tell them their mistakes, what they must and must not do. They can go to noncom school after they get their orders from their superiors. But we can't kick at our officers, for we are surely blessed with good officers thruout the division.
     We get a little peevish at times, but when it comes to carrying out orders, the officers and enlisted men cooperate just like two lawyers working on the same case and drawing money from both parties.
     Little does the outside world realize what we are doing every day in the army camps. It is easy for a person to sit back in a cushioned chair and read how the good work is carried on, and how quick the boys grow to be soldiers and perfect soldiers. They boys come into camp with civilian clothes on and begin to talk about getting a furlough before they receive their uniforms. But the sergeant, assisted by some hard boiled corporal, as we often cal them, soon takes that out of them, when they get lined up.
     They count off the commands, and they run the number up to 15 or 20 before the sergeant can make them understand what the command "as you were" means. The their troubles start. Six weeks of "squads right" squads left," as you were", "wake up down there or I will make you wish you had never seen a soldier." And at the same time using language which would frighten an old sheep dog.
     But troubles vanish away when we get orders that we have got to go out to the trenches for about 10 or 15 days. That is where we get our real taste of warfare.
     We won a sham battle of the trenches and took 300 prisoners out of 800 men. The battle was judged by French and English and other foreign officers and they passed on it as the best they had seen. Our colonel said it was fine, soldiers such as that are driving the beast back over there.
     Such a life as that we have been leading for some time, and I must say I certainly enjoy it. There are lots of hardships attached to it, but that is what teaches us to guard against them when we get over there. I don't know when we will go: we are waiting orders now and have been for some time. We are ready to withstand anything the enemy may have to bring against us. All we ask is take us over and give us a chance. We can't say we like this camp well enough to want to stay here another day if we could get away.
     I will ring off now with my best wishes and regards to everybody I hope some day in the future to walk up the streets of Enterprise and see the same faces there that I saw in 1916. If you want to write a letter to some soldier who would appreciate one from an old friend, don't forget the brown eyed boy who used to roam around Wallowa county, often spoken of as "Old Kentuck." Good bye, good luck, and God bless you all.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 17, 1918

Harold Hambelton.

     Vancouver Barracks, May 8: Record Chieftain: As it is impossible for me to write to all my friends, I am writing you so you can publish it and in that way they can all hear from me. I am now in the U.S. regular army, altho I haven't been assigned to a company as yet. I enlisted as an electrician in the engineers, took the oath and got shot in the arm this morning. It is all very interesting, especially the shot, as my arm is still very sore and one can't forget it very easily. I am very much enthused with army life and think I'm going to have a very good life, altho it isn't all play.
     Uncle Sam surely feeds his men well: nothing fancy, just plain, wholesome food that puts the vigor into the men. I hope to hear from all my friends as soon as I can send a permanent address.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, May 16, 1918

Harold E. Hambelton

     Camp A. A. Humphrey, Accotink, Va., 5th Co. 2nd Engineers, Reg. Detach.
     To My Friends at Home-
    As I am a long way from home naturally my thots tavel back there often, which they seem inclined to do today. Perhaps this is an opportune time to write to the people at home as I have plenty of time for I am just getting over the measles and don't have to work. Took them last Friday and didn't know I had them till the lieutenant sent me to the hospital. It happens that I am the only one in camp who has them, so I guess I'm lucky as the fellows here say.
     Perhaps it may interest some of you to know that some of us fellows visited Mount Vernon and actually saw Washington's old home. Two months ago I didn't realize that I would have such an opportunity. We saw the tomb where he and his family are buried. It makes one feel more like a soldier, when he stands before the tomb of Washington.
     The place is kept up in exactly the same way as when owned and lived on by Washington. All the old buildings are kept up and are to my own belief the most interesting of anything found in the United States. The immese lawn which surrounds the house is probably the prettiest found anywhere. The front of the mansion (for it is a mansion) faces the river which gives from there a splendid view of the country. He surely knew how to build a house.
     Another very interesting thing was the old barn. It is made of brick and despite the time it has stood it shows a very good appearance and we were told that it had no repairing except a few places on the roof. Inside stands Washington's own personal carriage. I cannot describe these things in words so that you people can see what they are but I hope to soon send some pictures that we took, showing the interesting things at Mount Vernon.
     One more thing that I noticed and which was explained to us: All ships when passing toil the ship's bell, or if there happens to be a buglar aboard, they blow taps. This custom was started in1814 by a British commander on the fleet that was coming up the river to burn Washington D.C. Seems funny that a commander of the British fleet would show respect for General Washington in that way at the time when his country was at war with the United States.
     Altho they have some mighty fine places here in the east, I would never care about living here. One thing, it is too hot. Has passed the 100 degree mark several times, in the shade. That's too warm for me. Nothing unusual to see a fellow tumble over; getting used to that now- seemed funny at first. I haven't had the hard luck to do it yet, but have come pretty near it two or three times.
     This camp is to be the largest camp in the United States when completed. Will hold 85,000 now. There are not near that number here now, but there will be by August 1. All drafted men will be shipped here. They'll enjoy (?) it, especially if they are from the north.
    Two of the fellows form home were sent in here the day before we came - Aubrey Haney and James Patten. I was at mess next morning when I happened to look around and they were sitting alongside of me. Some surprise for us all, but it was a good one at that. Don't wish any of the fellows any hard luck, but I would like to see some more of them from home. Hoping I will hear from some of you at home. I remain, truly yours, Harold E. Hambelton.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday June 13, 1918

Harold E. Hambelton

     Washington Barracks, D.C. Co., D., 60th Eng., August 9. -
     Dear Friends, at Home: As this is perhaps my last chance to write to you, I take the opportunity to do so. Perhaps some of you know that I have been here in Washington Barracks for some time and perhaps you don't. I was transferred here from Camp Humphreys about a month ago. Seems funny for me to be in the capitol city of the United States. In the month that I have been here I have become fairly well acquainted with the city. Of course it is a very pretty place, but as for the people in it. I can't say that they have the same quality that those have who live in the west. Not near as sociable. Some day when I get back there I'll never want to come east again.
     Perhaps the most interesting thing to me here is Washington Monument. It is 555 feet high. I climbed up instead of taking the elevator, and believe me, 500 feet is some little distance to climb up stairs. But is worth the climb, as there are many interesting things on the walls. Each state is represented by huge stones and on each one is the state seal. The stairs run in flights of twelve feet. Every twelve feet is a stone of one state, and I am not sure but I think each stone comes from its respective state. There are also many from lodges and foreign countries also. All these are very interesting: also the many other monuments erected thruout the city.
     I never realized until lately, but from my own personal experience I would say that a soldier has a great opportunity, for this reason in traveling over the country he learns for facts what he merely read in history in school. Also he learns conditions and meets different classes of people, which taken all together I would say is worth two years of college education. For mine I think this has done me more good than if I was in college this year.
     All thru the east here I have run into some things that have opened my eyes, and made me see things in a light that no one could understand until they have seen the same things. If there is anything that will make a man know what it is to have pity for a fellow being it is some of the conditions that exist in the large eastern cities. For instance while at Baltimore last week end, I was eating breakfast in a restaurant. Two men came in and sat down at my table. They were both blind. Both ordered steaks and when they were brought the waiter gathered up some things left on the table by others and gave them to eat, and then had the hardness to charge them 80 cents apiece. And to think that same thing exists in lots and lots of our large cities. These things don't seem so hard until you see them really enacted before your eyes. Then they are real good eye-openers.
     I would like to tell you exactly when I am leaving, but that is impossible. I will say that by the time you receive this. I will be well on my way. I am in a crack regiment. The company I am in is a searchlight company. We have to be able to operate the electric search light, also run the big Mack truck that it is on, and besides that we have to be better than the best drilled infantry in the manual of arms. I am now a first class private of the engineers and hope soon to become a master engineer. I think I'll be that soon for I changed a little of my equipment today. Turned my rifle in for a revolver, so it must mean something. When we cave here we will carry full packs, which by the way are about 80pounds. Nice weight to carry all day on a march. Glad my rifle is gone for that means about nine pounds of my load. The most essential thing is my "little tin hat" (steel helmet). They weight about four pounds and also are bullet proof as well as water proof. If necessary we can use them for a wash basin as well as a hat, or even for a plat at mess. Very interesting.
     Now I wish you all the best of luck and hope to come home, some time within the next two years. Will try and write again when I get across.
(This letter has been edited by me - if you would like the whole letter, please contact me. - Janine)

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 23, 1918

Aubrey L. Haney

     Aubrey L. Haney has entirely recovered from the long illness from which he suffered after going to one of the engineers' regiments, and wrote from Camp A .A. Humphreys, Va., to his mother, July 22, as follows:
     I will try and write you a letter and tell you how our camp has been built up since you came out here. The first time you came we had 10,000 men and now we have nearly 47,000.
     We have got the new 300,000 gallon water tank finished, but no water in it yet, but expect to have soon. Our railroad is almost finished and brought a load of drafted men in day before yesterday. I am not sure when it will be so that we can go in to Washington D.C. on it, but I think will be pretty soon.
     Lots of cement roads are being built in camp, wherever we have heavy traffic, and I'll say the traffic is thick and heavy. It is worse to drive here than in San Francisco. We have about 300 heavy trucks of three to five tons capacity; 400 motorcycles and aldecars; 300 to 500 teams; 30 enormously large sprinklers, 15 gas tanks, and more than 40,000 men, and when they all get on the move in a space two miles long and one mile wide, I'll say we have to use both hands and both feet when driving a big motor truck with 4,000 feet of green lumber on it. That was the last load I pulled in today and that before consisted of 47 bales of hay, and Sunday, I drove in a convoy of 30 trucks, taking a load of negroes to Alexandria. I took the lead and the rest of them followed me at a distance of 10 yards. We created quite a bit of excitement when we came thru the main part of town. All traffic has to stop for our trucks, for when they are loaded with troops they have the exclusive right of way.
     For my friends in the old home town, I want to say that Camp Humphreys is in thick timber and on rather swampy ground. We have to ride 14 miles to Alexandria where we can get a street car for Washington, D.C. We fellows from the west think, and by this time we should know, after almost five months in this country, that we like the army fine, but I don't like the country nor the people.
     You can't get acquainted with them at all; they are so far behind the west they are really ancient. "No Kidding," either. The towns are old and dirty. Give me the west where the pure air comes rushing down off of the old snow caps.
     I'm getting stronger every day and my back is getting better. My right leg is usable and that is all I can say but it does not hurt me at all. I am at present driving the honor truck of the camp as an expert driver. I am proud to tell it for we are sure put thru some test over all kinds of roads and all kinds of machines.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 8, 1918

Clyde Harsin

     Writing from Camp Lewis, August 1, Clyde Harsin said;
     I am in Camp Lewis at Present, but don't know how long they will keep me here, as they have not given us our second examination yet. After that we will be assigned to some permanent company. We are kept in quarantine for 21 days, which means we cannot go out of a prescribed area. Most of the boys like it fine but we will soon be transferred to different divisions and will be separated and that may make a difference.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 8, 1918


Clyde Harsin

     To the folks at home: I am in Exceptional Medical Replacement Unit No. 45, which was organized at Camp Lewis on special orders from Washington. We left Camp Lewis Aug. 31 and arrived here Sept. 5. It was a very nice trip across the continent and we viewed some of the most beautiful scenery in the U.S. Coming from Seattle on the Great Northern railroad, then to Chicago and Port Huron, Mich., where we crossed over into Canada and crossed back to the U.S. at Niagara Falls.
     A very cheerful personal note at the bottom of the letter states that Mr. Harsin is in a unit which is the best part of the army. He does not know where or when he is going, but feels he is on his way to get the kaiser and he is in the best of spirits and health.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 12, 1918

Guy Hillman

     Writing to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ford Hillman, Private Guy Hillman, Company E., Section 2 U.S. Marine Corps, Mare Island, Cal., says:
     I am getting along fine; getting plenty of training which gives me a good appetite. We have to run a mile before breakfast which works a hardship on some of the boys, but I don't mind it. I am trying to do all they ask of me. That is the way to get the good will of Uncle Sam. They gave me a gun as big as I am. In two weeks we will begin sharp shooting.
     I have seen a great many interesting things already. We expect to go from here in about six weeks. I don't know where, probably east. I am glad I enlisted in the marines. It sure takes a strong man to get in here. I am the runt of the company.Uncle Sam feeds us good, but I wish you would send me some good old home-made candy.
     Some of the boys refused to take their hike before breakfast and of course they got a calling down. Don't worry about me for I have made friends with the boys and officers. I have never had to be called down yet, so you see I am as good as I always was. Ha, Ha! The marines are a big bunch. There are 800 men eat at one time.
     The teach us everything-even to sing, and you know, mamma, what a good voice I have for singing. I said I never wanted to see another horse, as horses were the cause of our trouble, but I would like to see my little horse. I haven't seen but two horses since I came to the island.
     I am sending you one of my pictures so you can see how your boy looks as a soldier. Tell all my old friends where I am and that a letter or a post card from them would be appreciated.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 26, 1918

Capt. C.T. Hockett

     Dr. C.T. Hockett, now a captain in the medical relief corps, at Camp Lewis, writes to lodge friends as follows:
     When I came to this infirmary we were very short of help, there being only three of us medical officers and we now have nine, which makes the work quite different. Then after I had been here a few days I received a telegram calling me to Portland and account of the very serious illness of my mother.
     The boys who came here the latter part of last month are most all leaving for Camp Kearney, California, and this camp will be very short of men until the new draft begins to come in about the 23rd of this month, when we will have the biggest bunch of recruits that have ever come into this cantonment at any one time, and then we will all be so very busy that we will not have time for anything.
     I haven't been out of camp since I came here except when I went to Portland and have not seen a Wallowa county man since I came here. I have treated a good many Oregon men, but mostly from western Oregon, and none from Wallowa county. My infirmary takes care of two battalions of about 1,000 men each.
     Tell any of the men you see from there coming here, to look me up at infirmary No. 6, as I will surely be glad to see any one who looks as if he came from God's country. There is a strong rumor of organizing another division here and if they do it, it will be more of a permanent thing for the boys here and they will stay until they are sufficiently trained to go across the pond, and if they do I probably will go with the next division that leaves here, which I suppose would be about three months.
     The weather here is ideal and I consider myself lucky to be assigned to this camp during the hot weather, and I have a fine bunch of doctors to work with. We have very good eats and each has a small sleeping room to himself. The worst thing abut the army work is the paper work and red tape, which of course is very essential in handling so many men.
     Tell all my friends to write me at infirmary No. 6, 166 D.B. Camp Lewis, Wash.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday July 18, 1918


     Capt. Hockett, as his title in the army runs, wrote an Enterprise friend the first of the week telling of his duties at Camp Lewis, from which the following is taken:
     When I reported here I was assigned to Infirmary - No. 6 and feel that I was very fortunate in my assignment as I was placed with a very fine bunch of medical men and with plenty of work to do.
     The Infirmary is what you might call an emergency hospital and every case of sickness or injury occurring in the command the Infirmary serves reports to and is cared for and diagnosed by the Infirmary and then those cases which are serious enough to be in bed any length of time are transferred to the base hospital for further care and treatment but no case can go to the base hospital without first going thru the infirmary.
     The last draft from Wallowa county were assigned to the fifth battalion which is or was just in front of our Infirmary. Guy Skaggs and A.C. Garland in Co. 17 and the rest of the boys in Co. 18. These companies have now been moved to other quarters in order to make room for the new 75th Infantry which will be a part of the new 13th Division. Of course we al are hoping and praying that we will be assigned to duty with the 13th Division because we feel that if we are fortunate enough to get in we will probably be in France in a few months at least and those who do not get into this division may be here all winter.
     Since the 22nd of July I have been on temporary duty with the tuberculosis board examining the drafted men for tuberculosis. There are about twenty of us on this one board and I have myself found five cases of active tuberculosis of both lungs and there were probably one hundred cases rejected during the last two weeks on account of tuberculosis. These figures of course are not official and are only estimates.
     The largest percentage of these come from California and we can always tell the difference the minute we start to work on men from the northwest without looking at their papers. They are far better men both physically and mentally on an average.
     The percentage of rejections for the last two months has run very high on account of the change in rules governing physical examination. Beginning tomorrow we will examine about twelve hundred colored troops after which I will probably be on duty at the Infirmary again. The Enterprise boys here all seem to be looking fine and enjoying their work.
     Dr. and Mrs. Poley were here and had dinner with me last Sunday and it seemed good to see some one from home. Charles Bilyeu was here yesterday but I was away and failed to see him but expect to see him tomorrow.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, August 8, 1918


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