Somewhere in France, 11/18/1918

ymcalogo

November 18, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

This has been about the strangest week that we have put in here in France. There is almost nothing to do, especially in surgery and very few sick cases. We get one or two surgical cases a day and they are mostly cases where they have been celebrating with guns, rockets or grenades and got hurt. One negro came in who had been shot in a fight. He died the following day.

At present we are loafing around more or less and doing a little packing up again, we hope for the last time. We are expecting to have to move soon but we don’t know where and I doubt whether those higher up have made up their minds as to what they will do with us. It is only a week since the rumpus ended and we can’t expect them to know just what they are going to do with every one of the thousands of different organizations that there are over here. Events in Germany, which at present do not seem to be very reassuring will have a great deal to do with the sending home of troops. I don’t look for any large number of troops to go home until after peace is signed and that may be several months yet. I hope we may be among the early ones to go when they do get started. We deserve to go if any hospital does. We have handled more patients than any other evacuation hospital over here and we are the only one that has had a citation from Gen. Pershing. I don’t know whether all that will count towards getting us home soon or not but I hope it does.

In some ways I would like to go to Germany, in some ways I would like to stay in France but in most ways I want to go home. I would like to be home in the Spring so I could get some work to do by Fall. I don’t feel like wasting much more time. If we stay over here we will not be working so hard as we were and we will have some liberties I suppose. Our seven day passes have been due for over two months but we have not had any yet.

Today the two nurses and two of us men on our team took a little trip around the country. Everything is shot up. For miles around there are large and small shell holes every few feet so that it would seem impossible for anybody or anything to have lived through it. There are guns, ammunition and all kinds of equipment scattered everywhere. Men are being sent along gathering up the stuff and piling it up. There are small cemeteries with fifty to a hundred graves in them every little ways. Bodies are still being found around here in out of the way places. Our YMCA man went out the other day with a few other men and buried nine. The troops moved forward so fast that the thousands of bodies had to be left as they were to be taken care of later.

We are right on a railroad and the material that is being gathered is being brought here and dumped and there are mountains of shells, grenades, cartridges, bayonets and all kinds of equipment.

I had two letters from Mother this week. I am sure that you are not getting all of my letters. I have not missed a week in three months, I know. Perhaps you will get them all now and regularly. They ought to make the trip in a week less than they did. The last letter from Mother was mailed on the 28th of October and got here on the 16th. That is 19 days and up to now they have been taking from four to five weeks. Your letters are coming in order so I am sure that I am getting them all. There is more mail in tonight so I may have another letter or two in the morning.

It is late and I am pretty tired from our hike so I think I shall go to my little rabbit hole of a dugout and turn into my bunk.

This is letter number eleven since I began numbering them again. I haven’t been chalking them down in my book but I think I have the number right in my head.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 11/12/1918

ymcalogo

Tuesday, November 12, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Well, the unbelievable has happened. In spite of the fact that we have been looking anxiously for it for so long we can’t realize that it is all over. We are dazed but feel as though a great load had been lifted from our shoulders. Most of us went to bed early Sunday night because it was cold and dark and we were tired after working all day. A little after eight o’clock we heard a lot of yelling from one of the camps near us. In a couple of minutes another camp took it up and then another until everybody was out parading around and yelling and shooting pistols. Rockets and signal flares were going up everywhere. It was like a wild Fourth of July celebration. We had never been allowed to have lights showing at night on account of air raids but that night we built bonfires everywhere. The automobiles and trucks which for four years have been creeping along in total darkness threw on their lights and sped along the roads with their horns and claxons honking. Everybody expressed his joy by making as much noise as he could. During all this the cannon kept up their firing and the fighting did not stop until the time the armistice called for which was 11 o’clock yesterday morning.

We are still receiving cases. Many are sick but some are wounded. Most of those were wounded a few days ago but were unable to be brought back to a hospital, but some are accidental. The celebrations have cost many men their hands and fingers and the general recklessness has brought us many cases.

Naturally the big question is – When are we going home? That is impossible to answer now. We may be sent into Germany with the Army of Occupation or we may stay in France or Belgium. At any rate it is not likely that any troops will be sent home before Christmastime and perhaps not until later. It will take some time to get all these men home after they do get started. We have hopes of going home among the early ones but there is no telling what may happen. I think it is too early for any definite plans to have been formed.

I received five letters yesterday. One from Mother, Miss Hartley, Alice Atkinson, Miss Phipps and Anita Blank. Alice is in a hospital in Dunkirk, Belgium now. I have heard no more from the YMCA so I suppose that is all over.

No doubt there were big celebrations in Chicago and other cities when the great news came. There will be millions of happy people all over the world but there will be many sad ones, too. We can give honor to those who have given their lives and be glad that it is all over now. We will not have such tragic things to deal with all day long in our work, and it will not be long before there will be almost no work for us as the men will be living in garrisons instead of trenches and sickness will be cut down a great deal.

We have nothing but good things to lood forward to now.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 11/10/1918

ymcalogo

November 10, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

This is Sunday the 10th, Mother’s birthday. I sent a card some time ago which should have reached you by now. I shall send my greeting today by “wireless.”

Wonderful things have happened again this week. Events are rolling around so fast that we can only be amazed at the developments which are almost beyond belief. Tomorrow will tell the tale as to whether the day that the world has looked for for over four years has come or not. The papers tell us that the German envoys have arrived on this side of the lines and that their answer will be given by tomorrow morning. We are almost holding our breaths waiting for the news to come and hoping that it will bring an end to all of this waste of lives and limbs. Meanwhile the war goes on, the guns are barking as savagely as ever, the wounded are coming back and there is nothing at the front to indicate that peace is even a remote possibility. Some think that the Germans will accept the terms of the armistice and some of us are more skeptical. I am not committing myself one way or another. I am just waiting.

In my last letter I told you that we were about to move. A large part of the last week has been taken up in transferring us and our hospital to our present location. Five days before we began moving in, this place was occupied by the Germans. The ground has been plowed up by shells, the few buildings are shattered and on the hills around us the dead Americans and Germans are lying unburied. Our own little locality has been cleared off.

There are shell holes every few feet and quite a few shells that have fallen but haven’t exploded. The greatest danger around here is from hand grenades. There are hundreds of them lying around everywhere and one is liable to run onto them and kick them and find himself minus one foot. The Germans build a railroad through here and where we are seems to have been a depot but it is burned down. There were a couple of buildings around but none of them are at all usable. The men are living in “pup” tents, just big enough for two to crawl in. I have found myself a dugout which makes me a pretty comfortable home. It is dome shaped and has a stairway running down into it. Inside there is a cement floor and the walls are of heavy planks. It was probably used by the officers as a protection from shells and air raids.

We have worked very hard getting the hospital set up. We have so much equipment and after we got our tents put up it had to be hauled and stored away. We are nearly through and have a pretty good outfit set up. The town near here is all shot up and in ruins. The civilians must have retreated with the German army.

We haven’t established any mail connections yet so I don’t know when this will get away or when I will get any more mail. I will write again later. I hope the night or tomorrow morning will bring us wonderful news.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 11/3/1918

ymcalogo

November 3, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

This is Sunday again. The weeks seem to go around so fast. On the 9th it will be six months since we left the States. It dosen’t seem that long ago. The time has gone quickly because there has been so much that is new to us that we have never gotten tired of our place or work. We have been here now close to three months, and as far as the location is concerned it is the least interesting that we have been at. However, we are so comfortable that we are perfectly willing to stay here a while. We dread the job of packing up, moving and unpacking an outfit like this.

I had a letter from Mother this week, also one from Miss Phipps. I am glad that my letters are reaching you more often and regularly. It is discouraging to both parties to write letters and not have them delivered. I know you look anxiously for my letters and I don’t like to have you disappointed.

This has been a big week for everybody, with Turkey and Austria quitting. There will be millions of happy people in Bulgaria, Austria and Turkey this Christmas with their men back from the wars. It looks as though it would all have to be over soon but I expect Germany will hang on all alone for a while yet. All our men feel that the end is in sight. I shall not be disappointed if we have to stay here a few months yet. It seems almost impossible that such a change could come about in so short a time. When we came over the Germans were driving on to Paris, pushing everybody out of their way and there seemed to be no stopping them and the situation looked darker than it ever did before. Now Germany stands alone with her armies defeated and driven back. There will be a new order of things in Germany before long. Already the Germans themselves are demanding it. It will have to come sooner or later and the war could be over tomorrow if it could be brought about.

It is a couple of days since I began this letter. I was unable to finish it then. We have had orders to move and are now all ready packed up and expect to leave tomorrow morning. I understand that we are going to a desolate place where there are no barracks or buildings. It is in the territory that has been reconquered during the last couple of weeks and the little village has been nearly totally destroyed. We don’t feel very happy about leaving this place or the prospects that are before us. However, it will be the first time that we have been situated in once-occupied territory and we are rather pleased over that.

A few days ago I sent you a couple of the papers that we get here. There will be nothing interesting in them in the way of news but they will give you an idea of what little news we get. I received Mrs. Dyke’s book of cartoons last week. I don’t know when they were sent but you mention them in your letter as having been sent some time ago. I have enjoyed them and passed them on to the others who have had some laughs at them, too. The Red Cross gets magazines from the States pretty frequently. They are usually a month or two old but we like to get them just the same.

We had a big fire near here a few days ago. There is a camp near the town and one of the barracks caught fire. The barracks are covered with tar-paper and the fire spread quickly so that ten barracks were burned before it was put out. These French barracks are not so good in some ways as those we had at Ft. Riley. They are built right on the ground and the rats have fine homes under the floor. At night they come out and run around and get into our mess kits and other things. Those we had at Ft. Riley were built up off the ground so that there was no place for the rats to hide.

There has been a lot of influenza over here, too, as there has been at home. I don’t know whether we have had as many cases in proportion to the number of men or not but we have had a lot of them go through the hospital. None of our company men have been laid up, except for perhaps a day or so. We haven’t had any serious sickness amongst our own men.

Mother asks about the American boys marrying French girls. I don’t know any such cases. Where the soldiers are located in or near towns where there are young people there probably are some instances but where they are situated as we have been for the last three months and probably will be for the rest of the war there isn’t much likelihood of anything like that happening. The French are all Catholics. There are no other churches in the towns. Paris has some Protestant churches but they’re either English or American.

Our chaplain has a service every Sunday. We have a very nice chapel but I don’t kow what we will do after we move. The chaplain of the other hospital that works with us was called home on account of the death of his child. He was due to go home the 1st of December. They give their service for one year.

The other hospital stays here. They are lucky for this is very comfortable and we haven’t any comfort to look forward to. We have had a week or more of pretty good weather. It has rained only once or twice and hasn’t been really cold. We must expect winter now most any time. Will write again as soon as we are located.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 10/28/1918

October 28, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Our YMCA is temporarily out of paper so I am using some which I brought from the States with me. I had a little mail this week, letter number 25 from Mother, the British American Herald and picnic program from Father and a note from Miss Phipps. I am sorry you didn’t get the card I sent from Paris. I have a little collection of them here and will send the whole lot. I bought cards of only the things that I saw but at that I have quite a few.

There is a lot of influenza here too. A lot of our men are coming back from the front with it. There is great danger of its developing into pneumonia. We have lost a lot of boys that way, but so far we have had no serious illness of any of our own company men.

For a few days now we have had pretty nice weather, a sort of Indian Summer. It has been clear and dry but not warm. It is almost the 1st of November now and we can’t expect many more warm days. I don’t know how much longer the rain is to keep up but we are glad for a few days to let things dry up a little.

Inside AEF Hospital Train, 1918

I had a surprise last night. One of the boys I had teaching in Section Seven at Ft. Riley came in to see me. He is working on a hospital train and his train was here to get a load of patients to take back to the base. Our hospital trains are fine things. They have sixteen bit steel coaches, twelve of them are like hospital wards. The beds run lengthwise, like Pullmans but there are three tiers of them instead of two. The other cars are for the dispensary, kitchen and quarters for the train men. The cars are simply and well arranged, light and easy to keep clean. A man is just as comfortable and well taken care of as at a hospital. There are doctors and nurses on the train. I imagine hospital train work is pretty nice. They travel all over the country to the various base hospitals and usually have a few hours off at the end of the trip.

We have two million men over here now. That is quite a lot. By the time they all get hardened and used to the climate and fighting conditions they will make a big addition to the Allied armies.

I am getting a little time now to practice. When we first came here I managed to get from two to four hours a day for two or three weeks and I began to feel something like my old self again. Then we began to get real busy and my practice had to be dropped. Right now we are not so busy and the other hospital company and us divide up the work. They receive the patients one day and we receive them the next. We had a few lively days. Our team has set what we think is a record for cases. Night before last we did 123 cases between 7 PM and 6:30 AM. Nearly all of those were real operations requiring an anesthetic. The other four teams who were on duty on the same shift didn’t do near so many. Twelve hours straight of that kind of work is pretty hard and we are about all in when it is time to quit.

We were off this afternoon so I took a walk over to the aviation field near here. There are machines going up and coming down all the time. While we were there a big French machine landed and then flew away again. It had three motos and was twice as big as any American plane I had ever seen. Some German planes have been flying over dropping little hand bills inviting the American soldiers to desert and surrender to the Germans. They say that it is foolish for the Americans to risk their lives when they can come over to the Germans, give themselves up and live in Germany “in comfort” until the end of the war. I don’t think that many will take advantage of the invitations.

The report we have today is that Austria has surrendered. We get lots of reports on various things and it is a couple of days before we find out whether they are true or not. More often they are not true but I hope this one is. With Austria and Bulgaria out of it and Turkey helpless, Germany can’t stand many months or even weeks and with the present indications of dissatisfaction and change of government I look for them to give up soon. If Austria holds on the war may drag on a while yet.

I am glad to have Louis Schmidt’s address. I will see him if I get the chance. A few weeks ago I made out an allotment of ten dollars a month to Mother. That is for lodge dues and anything else that may come up, the rest can be put in the bank. All the Masonic lodges that I know of are not asking their soldiers to pay dues while away so I gave my Masonic dues no thought. I made the allotment in September before I drew my August pay so the money is due from August 1. I have about a hundred dollars that I saved. It may come in handy sometime before I get home again, whenever that may be.

Are you getting my letters regularly now? Since the middle of August I have written every week on Sunday or Monday. I haven’t missed a week so you ought to be getting my letters that often. It will probably be about Thanksgiving when you get this. I hope you will eat or have eaten a good dinner for me. I suppose we will have something extra on that day. We have pretty good meals and are comfortable in every way so we are contented.

I hope you can get coal enough to keep warm this winter. Coal is scarce here but so far we have not had to suffer any. The coal used here is mostly coal dust pressed into bricks. They burn pretty well.

Mrs. Davis’ address is Box 1836 Denver, Colo. I had a little note from her not very long ago in which she didn’t say what she was doing or how she was getting along. You should get the pictures from Loomis soon. If there is much delay you might write them and ask if they got the money. I don’t know how many pictures they will send you but I would like to have one sent to the following people for Christmas: Dykes, Danes, Beechams, Aunt Lizzie, Aunt Louise, Miss Phipps and Miss Davis and of course yourselves. If there are not enough to go around or if you want more Loomis will print them I think and you can pay them and let me know what it is.

Well, this is a pretty long letter as I had better quit.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 10/20/1918

ymcalogo

October 20, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I am having an afternoon off and making use of it to write a few letters. I have just written a rather long one to the Walkers in Cedar Rapids. I have owed them a letter since before I left the States.

I don’t know whether I told you that a couple of weeks ago, Captain Harvey, whose team I was on was called away to another hospital so I am now on Major Babcock’s team. He has been laid up for a couple of days with an infected finger. Nearly all the wounds that come to us are infected and we who handle the wounds and dressings are liable to infection if we have any little cuts or scratches on our hands.

We are not receiving many patients right now. I don’t know what the reason is unless things have slowed down on this front. We are glad that we are still continuing to make big gains especially in Belgium and the north of France. Every little gain brings the day of our homecoming a little nearer.

I haven’t had any mail this week. The company has had a few letters almost every day but none of it has been for me. I sent you the picture during the week. I sent it on a board and wrapped in heavy paper so it ought to reach you in good shape.

Nothing has happened here this week to write about. It has rained continually except for one day and that was as fine a day as you could wish for. It has rained all day today. I went to the church service this morning and this afternoon we are supposed to be on duty but there isn’t anything doing so we are sitting around the operating room writing letters.

It begins to feel as though winter were coming on soon. This miserable, damp chill makes it impossible to keep warm. For my part I would rather have it freeze up and be hard than wade around in this mud all the time. They say that there is a lot of snow and slush here during the winter so perhaps we son’t be any better off then.

We haven’t heard any more about our leaves of absence. We are supposed to have one every four months. Ours was due a month ago and we were told we could have them after this drive was over. We are allowed seven days and the time taken in travelling and all expenses are paid. There are only certain places we can go to and they are in the southern part of France.

Have had no word from the YMCA yet. Things have been pretty dull around here of late. We have had a little spare time but there is no place to go or anything to do so time hangs heavily on our hands. Sgt. Hill and I play cribbage once in a while and I usually manage to beat him.

Well, as usual give my regards to everybody.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 10/14/1918

ymcalogo

October 14, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Having just a little time to spare today I have done a little house cleaning and put my trunk in order. I have a big stack of letters which have accumulated since I came over here and many of them have not been answered. Most of them are from Mother and as I have been writing home regularly I guess I can consider those as answered and dispose of them.

We get mail practically every day now and two or three times a week there is a little for me. I have had two from Mother, two from Gladys, one from Father and one from Miss Phipps. They do not come in the order in which they were written and mailed. The letter I received from Gladys today was written a week earlier than the one I received last week. I think some come direct to France while others go by way of England.

You seem to be having a lot of pleasure out of Betsy II. I am wondering when Betsy I is going to have a little run again. It is not costing much to keep the car and I guess I will take a chance on keeping it instead of selling. I would like to know what Fords are worth now, both new and used. After the war they will be cheaper than during the war as most of the Ford plant is turning out war necessities. There are thousands of little Fords over here. The French use a lot of them as well as the Americans.

I think I told you some time ago that Mr. Woodard is now the concert master of the Minneapolis Orchestra. Ezerwonky, their former first violin is now teaching at the Bush Conservatory. Van Vliet their eccentric first cellist is also among the missing but I don’t know who is filling that place. Has Gunn’s American Symphony done anything this year? No doubt the war has taken away most of his men as nearly all of them were eligible.

We have been so busy of late that I haven’t been able to do any practicing. I have needed nearly all the time I have had off for sleep. The night men sleep days and the day men sleep nights so it is impossible to practice in the barracks at any time. I had planned to use the theatre once in a while but on account of the rush of patients we are using that as a ward now.

We get soldiers from all the Allied Nations through our hospital. Of course they are very rare but we get them once in a while. The other night we had a French negro from the island of Martinique. The French have colonies all over the world and they have all sent their men here to help the mother country. There are Mongolians from Indo-China, negroes from Africa and small islands, Arabs from Algeria and Morocco. We have seen much less of the English and their colonials. Before we moved here we used to get English often because there was a British aviation field near where we were.

I saw something the other day that surpassed anything I have ever seen or may see again. [Censored] aeroplanes went over in one fleet. They were in battle formation and made an imposing sight. I understand that nearer the lines they met others, all together [Censored] going over. I’ll bet the Germans couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw them coming.

The good work at the front still continues. Every day the line moves eastward until now it is almost unbelievable that the powerful German army has been beaten back so far in three months. Germany has just sent their second note to Wilson saying that they accept his terms. A lot of people are excited and think the war is over. I haven’t heard Wilson’s reply but I don’t look for much to come of it. Wilson has said “No peace with the Hohenzollerns” and I think the German people will realize soon that they can have peace when we can deal with a responsible government.

The turning point of the war has come but there probably is a long hard pull ahead of us yet but the end will come. I suppose that right now you at home are eagerly waiting for each paper that comes out for peace news. Our papers are a day old when we get them so you know the news before we do.

I am sending you a coupon for a Red Cross package. The package will be small and I know it will be a question as to what to send. I would like a couple of packages of Gen razor blades. We are not near any commissary and can’t get things like that. We have a YMCA canteen but we can only get tobacco and cookies there.

I can’t understand why you should have been two months without a letter. I may have missed a week when we were so very busy but I don’t see why you had to wait so long. Gladys didn’t have one for three months and I wrote three or four in that time. I hope everybody will get my letters regularly now so no one will think that I am neglecting them or that I am unappreciative of their writing to me.

This ought to arrive about Mother’s birthday. I send a little card which is all we can get around here.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 10/8/1918

ymcalogo

October 8, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I have received three letters from home this week, two from Mother and one from Father. I think I have received all the letters that have been sent to me now. The letters come irregularly and not always in the order in which they were written. Since beginning this letter I have received another from Mother, number 23. The last one I had before that was 21. This last letter didn’t take long to get here. It was mailed on Sept. 7 and got here on the 8th [of October].

It dosen’t seem that you have been getting all of my letters. You should have had more than five up to that time. For some time I have been trying to write every Sunday but the way my hours in the operating room are arranged I can’t always do it. When I miss Sunday I make up for it on Monday.

There has been little of interest that has occurred here during the last week. The early part of the week we were kept busy. The drive [Censored] kept us going [Censored]. Our men are quite happy over the German request for a peace discussion. I haven’t much hope of anything coming of it. We haven’t heard yet how the Allies have received it but I do not expect it to receive much attention.

We are having the most miserable weather I ever saw. Today we have had five or six hail storms. It is really cold and the constant rain makes it miserable. However, we can’t complain. We have nice warm clothes and beds and pretty good things to eat. The boys at the front are the ones that suffer. No word from the YMCA yet. I am still expecting to hear every day.

Let me know the addresses of any of our friends that came over. A few days ago a young lieutenant came in to see me. He was a student at Coe and happened to be passing by. Occasionally we meet someone we knew at Ft. Riley and who have come over since we did. Our men are coming over pretty fast now and their presence is bringing results at the front. All the Allies are having success and big gains and a lot of it is due to the help of the Americans and the renewed courage that the enthusiastic Americans have given them.

I haven’t been outside of camp for a month [Censored]. For some reason or other the German planes don’t seem to be so active around here as they were a while ago. We have not seen one for a long while and we used to see them quite often. Once in awhile when we have a little time in the evening Sgt. Hill and I play a few games of cribbage. When I was in Emporia they gave me a little cribbage board and I have used it to good advantage. He has been recommended to be made a lieutenant. He is a very good office man and a good deal of the success of our hospital is due to the efficiency of the office. He deserves it and I hope he gets it.

I wrote a letter the other day to the Loomises in Emporia. I enclosed five dollars and asked them to make some pictures and send them to you, I don’t know how many I will get but I think there will be enough to send to a few friends at Christmas. I still have these they sent me and I will send these on to you. I have the little camera with me but I haven’t any film. We came away from Ft. Riley so suddenly that I wasn’t able to get any and in New York we were told that we couldn’t get those things.

The package of cartoons came a couple of days ago. They are very good and enjoyable. You can’t really appreciate them until you have been through these experiences like we have. The Red Cross has a little reading room with a few magazines in it and I think I will put the cartoons over there. The Red Cross has a little canteen here where they serve [Censored]. The YMCA has a little store where we can buy cookies and tobacco. They have very little and it isn’t very cheap but we buy things there once in a while for a change.

We had an exceptionally good supper tonight. Fried steak, boiled potatoes and gravy, boiled onions, two very good biscuits and cocoa. When we first came here we got nothing but canned corned beef and beans for every meal for nearly three weeks. Corned “willy” that often is pretty tiresome. When we work all night, which I do every other night, we have a very good meal at midnight. We can’t complain about our food now and men are generally [Censored] …had it but we get lots of them from the front and a great many of them don’t get through it.

I owe several letters yet and once in awhile get one written. I can’t write regularly to everybody and I don’t think they expect it. We have been here long enough now to have seven day passes due us. Things are too busy now to let us off so we may get them later. We are allowed seven days to visit the place we go to and the travelling time besides. I would like to go to the southern part of France if I get to go.

My regards to everybody and lots of love for yourself

From

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 9/29/1918

ymcalogo

September 29, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

We have passed a very busy week since I wrote you last. The big French and American drive north and west of [censored] opened up a couple of days ago and is keeping all of us almost constantly on the go. We hear reports of large gains in territory and prisoners. We feel confident of its success.

This has been a great week for the Allies with the big victories in Palestine, Serbia and Bulgaria, Verdun and around St. Quentin. It begins to look certain now that there can be only one outcome to the war, the only question is when.

The papers we get here do not tell us of any German gains nor is there ever anything the least unfavorable to our side. Some of us are not blind enough to think that everything is so rosy all the time. If you can I wish you would send me the Sunday Tribune. We can get Tribunes here but there isn’t anything to them. They are only a half a sheet and there is no Chicago news in it.

There is a German prison camp near here and of late it has constantly been in use. The prisoners are kept here only a short time and then sent back somewhere. I don’t know whether any have gone to the States yet, I think not. When Alice was here there was a train load going out. They were willing to trade almost anything for tobacco. We are issued tobacco now, so having some on hand I traded it off to them for a couple of poor rings, a cigarette holder and a few little buttons and things. It is hard to send these things home now.

I understand that the Red Cross has small boxes that can be filled and sent to us at Christmas. I saw a little article in the paper to that effect. I know that all the boys will be glad to get a little something from home, no matter what it is. We are not really suffering from want of anything but anything that comes from home makes us feel better than anything that we get over here.

I have one pupil now. A young fellow from a wireless station nearby comes over a couple of times a week. He isn’t exactly an advanced pupil but he plays fairly well. He just came in and gave me a melon and some tomatoes that he managed from someplace. They will be welcome additions to my supper.

The weather is miserable lately. It is quite cold and very damp. We have already had a number of pneumonia patients. A Red Cross man attached to our hospital died of it this morning.

I am still awaiting news from the YMCA. It is hardly time yet for word to get back from Paris. I hope to hear this week, though. I wish I knew where some of my musician friends are as I might be able to get some of them to to, too. I know there are several in the service somewhere. I think I shall try to find out where Carl Hakes is. I don’t know whether he has been called or not. The newspaper talk about Steindel and other orchestra men looks rather foolish. I am sure a lot of them were pro-German before the U.S. got into it, but one would expect that as nearly the whole organization is German. Haven’t all the unnaturalized Germans been interned?

We have a number of prisoners at the hospital. Some are sick and some we are using to carry litters, dig graves and other work. They seem happy enough to do their little work. I enclose a German medical card. I don’t know whether it is attached to the men when they are found on the field or after they are in the hospital.

In addressing me it might be well to include “France” as there are Americans in Russia and possibly Italy and a letter might go the wrong route and have to go all around the world to get to me. It took sixteen days for a letter to come 150 miles so I don’t know how long it would take from Siberia. If it hadn’t been for that delay in the letter from Paris I would have been out with the concert troupe a month ago. I need some strings and I understand that it is almost impossible to get them in Paris. I think they could be sent from home alright as there are envelopes for them so they would not come under the head of packages. I would like two G’s and 6 A’s and 6 E’s. I have had one wire E on for a year and a half now. What I need more than anything is to have my bow rehaired.

If I leave here I will arrange to have my mail forwarded. I think I will write to Loomis in Emporia and have him make up a few of the pictures he took when I was there last April. I will send him some money and have him send the pictures to you. Give my regards to all.

Much Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 9/23/1918

ymcalogo

September 23, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I have been very fortunate this week as far as receiving mail is concerned. I have had three from Mother and one from Father, three from Gladys, a couple from Miss Phipps and one from Mrs. Davis. Some of them were due here a long time ago but seem to have been stalled on the way. We have had promises that our mail will be delivered more frequently and regularly and we all hope it will be. The cablegram which Mother sent on the 2nd of August reached me on the 18th of September. It was cabled to London and sent as a letter from there. It arrived in London on the 5th of August. Although it arrived late I appreciate the sending of it just the same. I wonder if my letters have been reaching you regularly. In a letter from Gladys written about the middle of August she says she had only one letter from me and I know I have written here on an averageof one letter every two weeks. I have written you about one letter every week. A while ago I had track of the numbers of my letters so I will begin again and call this number one.

I have received permission to do the YMCA work so whenever they want me I am free to go. They sent a letter on the 2nd asking me to report in time to start a trip on the 9th. The letter arrived here on the 18th. I don’t know what they thought when I wasn’t in Paris on the 9th to begin the trip. The colonel sent a letter explaining the situation and saying that I could go whenever they got word to us in time. During the couple of weeks that I was able to do some practicing I learned five new solo pieces which I can use.

Last night our company put on a minstrel show. We have a Red Cross man here who used to do vaudeville work and he coaches the men. It was a very good show and I think everybody who attended enjoyed it. Sgt. Fontaine and I were the “orchestra” and also played a couple of solos on the program before the minstrels began. A couple of the nurses made a big chocolate cake for the “actors” so we had a little feed after the show. We had canned corned beef three times a day for two weeks straight and such a luxury as cake was almost too good to be true.

Our hospital is feeling pretty proud these days. I have told you of the hard work that we did during the drive between Toissone and Rheims. We have received a letter from General Pershing commending the company on the work done. In a way the letter corresponds to the awards that are made to individuals for distinguished service. Each of us is to receive two copies of the letter so I will send you one when I get it.

Letter

In honor of the occasion we were given a half day holiday. Most of us went to a town about thirty miles away. It is a pretty good sized town, about a hundred thousand in peace times I guess. There wasn’t anything to do down there but it was a little change from the monotony of camp.

I told you in my last letter that Alice Atkinson was here. She stayed here about four days. I had almost nothing to do during that time so we visited a good deal. Their company is just a few miles from here. She and some of the nurses came in this morning to attend church service. We have a very nice little church here. Both Evacuation Hospitals No. 6 and No. 7 have chaplains and they hold services Sunday mornings. They are both Episcopal ministers and the services follow the Episcopal service very closely. The music consists of a little collapsible organ which dosen’t amount to much.

Life here has been very dull. We have had very little work to do. We have had quite a number of patients but they have been sent back from the front lines with influenza, fever, bronchitis or something of that sort. There has been almost no surgery at all. In two weeks I gave six anesthetics. We expect our busy time to commence very soon now.

I am rather surprised to hear of Sarah Roberts getting married. I suppose there are lots of the girls in the States that are hurriedly getting married before their men go away to the war.

What is Gordon’s address? I would like to know what organizations my friends are with so I may be near them some time and want to see them. I suppose that the censor will think this is a pretty long letter. I don’t envy him his job of reading all the letters we write.

There is no telling where I will be by the time this reaches you. I expect, though, that by then I will be trotting around the country playing my fiddle by then. Everything is arranged so I can go with the YMCA when they want me.

Give my regards to everybody.

Love from

Joe

P.S. We are not allowed to put our rank and organizations on the outside of the letters anymore. Wehn you write me address the letters as you have always done them.

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 387 other followers