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Letters Home From WWI

 

Clifford Jewell

     In a letter to his mother, Mrs. Sarah Jewell, Clifford Jewell writes from Camp Lewis:
     I am still in the remount. Guess I will leave about tomorrow. Have been expecting to go every day since I took the examination, but for some reason they couldn't get the release papers, but the Sergeant told us to be ready to leave, so I guess we will go this time. I sure will be glad when I get to work in a company. I have got about all the remount I want for one time. It is about the best place in camp, but it is getting old now and I am ready for another move. They put in a call for twenty horseshoers, but they wanted them out of the remount men. They were going to Florida and then on to France, I expect. I saw the sergeant about getting in with them, but he said the only way would be to get transferred into the quarter masters' corps, so I guess I will let that drop. I am afraid I would just get my transfer started and they would go and leave me and I would be in remount until the war was over. The sergeant said there wasn't twenty horseshoers in the remount division, if they took all the instructors out of the shop, so we depot brigade men may get to go yet if they don't get enough here. I guess there isn't any danger but what I will get a job shoeing. They will need lots of horseshoers when the 13th division leaves and that will be about the first of November, I guess. That is the same as everything else here. We can't tell much about it. The only time you can tell you are going is when you get the order to go. Before then it is all guess work.
     I see the Bruce boy is in France. He came here the same time I did, so if I had stayed with my company I would have been across too. But I know more about shoeing horses than I would if I hadn't come down here. We sure learn a horse's foot here. I know every part of the horse's foot, from the fetlock down and every disease and how to cure them if they can be cured, and how to shoe a horse to make him travel right. Well, I guess I had better go to dinner. I just looked at my watch and I am five minutes late and I will have to hurry or miss my dinner and that will never do, as I can't afford to miss anything to eat.
     Well, I had my dinner and will write some more. We had chicken for dinner today. The only trouble with the chickens we get here is they are most too old to eat. They can't bring them here until they are of draft age, but I think they missed this one and let him run over draft age a few years. Most of them we get a person can eat if they gave him time enough, but the one today we couldn't have eaten if we had all the time there is - he sure was a tough old bird.
     I see by the Chieftain where W. S. Burleigh gave the boys who are going to war some pretty good advice. The only trouble I found with it is, I don't know what he wants with sheets. He said for each boy to bring one or two sheets with him. That might be all right for a man who likes to sleep between sheets, but I would just as leave sleep between blankets. I don't believe they would let us use sheets if we had them. I never saw it tried though.
     They made the boys get rid of their civilian clothes. When that order came I had just sent my shoes home, so I didn't have any to get rid of, but lots of the boys did.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 3, 1918

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Clifford Jewell

     Clifford Jewell is in Co. F. 13th Am. Train, Camp Lewis, where he is learning the ways of the army. In a letter to his mother, Mrs. Sarah Jewell of the Buttes, he writes:
     I surely have been a busy kid since I got up here. They gave me a rifle that came packed in some kind of grease and I have been cleaning on it all the week. It was a dandy and I have got most of the grease off of it now. Tomorrow is inspection day and I don't know whether it will pass or not.
     We have been taking gas tests for three days. That is the worst thing I have found since I have been in the army. You have to take your mask out of the satchel and put it on in six seconds when it is on your chest, and in seven seconds, when it is on your hip, and you have got to move. I made it easy from off my hip and just missed it about half a second from my chest. You have got to hold your breath while you are putting the mask on. There is a rubber tube goes in your mouth and a cramp fits over your nose and you breath thru your mouth and when you get out on a march with it on, it is no joke. They tell me I have got to learn to shoe a horse with one on, and I am willing to try once anyway. It will be just the same as shoeing a horse with threshing machine glasses on and your nose shut up and breathing thru your mouth.
     This company got its horses today and I suppose I will go to shoeing about Tuesday, I hope so. I saw Earl Fort up by the gas house today. It was the first time I have seen him and I couldn't say anything to him as I was marching in the ranks. There are so many soldiers here that if you don't run right into anyone, you might pass him a hundred times and never notice him.
     There is an entertainment tonight and they are making so much noise I can't write and can't think how to spell anything. Somebody gets up and speaks a piece or sings a song, and when he gets thru they all clap their hands and holler. There are about 100 men here and they sure can make some noise and every time they yell I misspell a word.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday, October 24, 1918

Leonard Jordan

     Leonard Jordan writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. L.E. Jordan on the stationery of the National Defenders club, Presidio, Cal. He is in the first company reserve officers training camp. His letter follows:
     Another Sunday has almost passed. Arnold and I have been at the Defenders club all day. There are a fine bunch of motherly old ladies here who sit around knitting and talking to the soldiers. It is sure a fine place and such a fine spirit.
     Well we drew our clothes which consisted of the following: 1 blouse, 2 pairs of trousers, 3 pair of socks, 2 suits of underclothes, 2 shirts, 1 pair of russett dress shoes, 1 pair of nailed trench shoes, 1 service hat, 1 pair of leggings.
     No one knows whether we will be allowed to keep them or not, but they are poor stuff except the shoes. They don't fit at all and no one has two articles of the same shade. It is humorous, the way they fit you out. The customary line is formed and the supply sergeant takes one look at you and begins to bark out unintelligible words and numbers. Immediately various articles of wearing apparel come floating at you from every angle. You come to, with your arms filled so high you can't see over the top and a guy poking you in the ribs and shouting: "Sign here and move on brother, we're not serving refreshments today."
     So you sign up and move on not knowing whether it is a meal ticket or an oath of allegiance to Germany.
     The tail of my coat stuck out like an awning and my pants measured about 44 around the waist. I could turn around in my shoes and the leggings would have been too small for a jay bird. I have traded around now until I have a good outfit, comparatively speaking.
     There has only been about 60 fellows here this week as all the rest are on furlough. Consequently I have been first lieutenant once and K.P. once. We all get a chance and by receiving my honorable discharge from this last camp, I was automatically placed in the advanced course which gives me a chance at drilling a company. A "basic" can only be a corporal, but a corporal here must know about ten times as much as a captain in the Home guard.
     We have been drilling in close and extended order a little, but most of it has been physical and bayonet work, with considerable study too, on the nomenclature of the automatic rifle and machine gun. We have had no firing practice with them, only assembling and tearing them down. In fact we get off easy until the 18th. We only get up at 6:30 now and stand retreat at 5 p.m. Taps not until 11. Of course we don't waste much time during the day but I am hardened now until a hard bayonet workout doesn't bother me.
     A peculiar incident the other day. We were having bayonet duels at long range but one fellow got in too close and got a jab in the thigh. The fellow who made the jab was so terrorized that he dropped the butt instead of making a clean withdrawal, which of course made a jagged wound which bled freely but healed in a week at the hospital. Accidents are very few, however.
     We have a rigid inspection of bunks, equipment and guns at 9 in the morning. There is some army regulation covering every detain, e.g. "Hat cords will be stitched to the hat in 3 places" - not 4 or 5 but THREE.
     If one wishes to see the company commander he will proceed to the orderly room, knock, remove the hat when entering, walk straight across the room to the first sergeant and ask of him permission to speak to the C.O. All this time the C.O. will probably be scrutinizing you closely. When permission is granted you will execute "about face," face the C.O. and say, "Sir does Captain --- wish that blouses be worn at the next formation" or whatever you wish. Upon receiving the answer you will salute, face the door and step out smartly, being careful not to slam the door or shift your eyes from those of your superior during the conversation. Such things may seem useless and trivial, but it takes just that to make an officer. No detail is too small to be overlooked.
     I can feel that it is doing me a world of good already. I have learned that pockets are not to put hands in and that there is but one way to stand when not at attention and that is: Feet apart, hands clasped behind the back, squaring the shoulders. (Thought I had more paper, but haven't so will have to quit.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thursday July 18, 1918

Morris C. Knapp

     Stationed at Camp Porter, Goat Island, has written to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E.B. Knapp:
     Had shore leave a few days ago, so shall try and tell you a little about San Francisco. It is a wonderful city and the traffic on Market street is simply amazing. We went out to the Golden Gate and a few of us went thru Chinatown. While in the city we made our headquarters at the Defenders Club. It is a beautiful place and they surely treat one swell. Bowling, dancing and everything free for the enlisted men. Great big, soft chairs around a lovely fireplace; piano and everything very cozy and home like.
     A bunch of us went up to the Palace hotel about 9 o'clock to a party given for the enlisted men. Well, talk about your swell places. It was just like a palace, marble floors and everything so beautiful I can't begin to describe it.
     This morning we had inspection by some "big gun" with about 17 stripes of gold on his sleeve. Believe me, whenever we see one of those "gold braids" coming we stand at attention and salute as far as we can see them. A good many of the fellows have colds and are crabbing around thinking it is such a hard life, but so far I like the regular hours, military discipline and training. A good deal depends on the spirit that one goes into the thing.
     Our company have been on mess duty and you have no idea of the immense amount of food consumed in this camp alone. The food is cooked in great, large vats. Today for dinner we ate 450 gallons of ice cream. The K.P. or mess duty is not half bad. I did not mind it at all.
     There are aeroplanes flying about all the time. It is a great sight to see them dipping and going thru all kinds of flap-flaps. Yesterday we marched to the other side of the island to see a camouflaged destroyer. You can see San Francisco, quite plainly from the island about one mile away. Oakland about two miles. Goat island is situated between the two.
     Letters from home are received with great pleasure, also home papers. The Chieftain means a whole lot to me now.

Enterprise Record Chieftain
September 19, 1918

 

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