Soldier’s Mail for August, 1916-1918

August, 1916: South on the Border

In August, 1916 Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the Massachusetts Brigade continued to secure the Border from their base at Camp Cotton (the “City of Tents”) outside of El Paso, Texas. The troops received word they would not be needed  to invade Mexico after all, which resulted in a loss of morale made worse by a lack of promised financial aid from the State for troops with hardships.

Read the page South on the Border to learn more about the events of the Mexican Revolution that made American military action necessary. Read the page August, 1916 to learn more about the living conditions of the Massachusetts troops at Camp Cotton during the Texas rainy season. Read Sam’s correspondence with Em for August as he relates his experiences of camp life and the dangers of patrolling along the border.

August, 1917: Watchful Waiting

Following the formal entry of the United States into the Great War, in August 1917 1st Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the 8th Mass. Infantry were mobilized for federal service. The encampments used by the men of the 8th Infantry for training and reorganization were at Lynnfield and Westfield. Read Sam’s diary notes and letters about life in the encampments and being reorganized into the 103rd U.S. Infantry.

August, 1918: Recovery in the Hospitals

In August, 1918 following the Aisne-Marne Offensive, Sam Avery was hospitalized due to the effects of severe gas poisoning. Read about recovery in the AEF base hospital system here. Also, read the August correspondence of Sam and his sister Em which reveals a rare and fascinating dialogue across the miles in wartime. Em’s letters were “Returned to Sender” as Sam moved through a series of hospitals over two months,  and thus are preserved for us to better understand life on the Home Front during the Great War.

The Soldier’s Mail correspondence is published here according to the sequence in which it was written. Therefore, letters are organized in “reverse order” with the most recent at the top. To read them chronologically, readers should start at the bottom and work upwards.

Happy Independence Day!

UncleSam4th

Soldier’s Mail for July, 1916 and 1918

July, 1916: South on the Border

In July, 1916 Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the Massachusetts Brigade were stationed at Camp Cotton (the “City of Tents”) outside of El Paso, Texas. In addition to adjusting to the high desert climate, the troops found themselves under fire and in a state of war with Mexican forces along the Border.

Read the page South on the Border to learn more about the events of the Mexican Revolution that made American military action necessary. Read Sam’s compelling account of his journey South from New England to the “North Shore of Hell”. Read the page July, 1916 to learn more about the mission of the Massachusetts National Guard as some of the first troops to defend American soil from foreign invasion since the War of 1812. Read Sam’s correspondence for July as he battles homesickness and the elements along with the enemy.

July, 1918: Champagne-Marne Defensive and Aisne-Marne Offensive

During the first half of July, 1918 Sam Avery found himself under heavy fire with the 103rd Infantry in Belleau Wood which the 26th Division took over from the Marine Brigade. Read about the Champagne-Marne Defensive here. On July 18, the Second Battle of the Marne (Aisne-Marne Offensive) commenced with the 103rd Infantry attacking in line with other Allied units. In a week of fighting, the 26th Division captured 17 kilometers of ground in the first real advance made by an American division as a unit, but at the cost of 20% casualties including Sam who was severely gassed.

Read the page Aisne-Marne Offensive to learn more about the action in late July, 1918. Also, read Sam’s correspondence for July and learn more about the experiences of the 103rd Infantry during grueling combat conditions.

The Soldier’s Mail correspondence is published here according to the sequence in which it was written. Therefore, letters are organized in “reverse order” with the most recent at the top. To read them chronologically, readers should start at the bottom and work upwards.

Original Portrait of Sgt. Sam Avery by Jack Skinner

1st Sgt. Samuel Avery, Hdq. Co., 103rd Inf., 26th “Yankee” Division

It has long been my desire to have an original painted portrait of my great-uncle Sam to accompany the book project which is a companion to this website. I turned to my colleague, friend and skilled New England artist Jack Skinner to assist in this endeavor. Over nearly two years, Jack rendered this astonishing work in acrylic paint based on some old photos and painstaking historical research.

This work pictures 1st Sgt. Sam Avery seated in front of the door to a French farmhouse in the Vosges region of France, his Springfield 1903 rifle propped behind him. On the front of Sam’s uniform blouse can be seen ribbons for the World War I Victory Medal with 5 Campaign Stars and the Mexican Border Campaign. Below the ribbons is the Sharpshooter’s Medal. On the left sleeve is found the 26th Division’s “YD” shoulder patch, 1st Sergeant’s chevrons, and Overseas Service Stripes (1 for every 6 months overseas) along with a “Sammy Star”  indicating Sam’s arrival among the first 100,000 AEF troops in France. In Sam’s lap is shown his M1917 helmet bearing the 103rd Infantry helmet mark.

Click here to discover other captivating original artwork by Jack Skinner available at FineArtAmerica.com.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 49,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 11 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The YD’s Birthplace: Apremont Park, Westfield Mass.

The 26th “Yankee” Division was formed in August, 1917 at Camp Bartlett in Westfield, Mass (Read about the 26th Division here). In Westfield today, Apremont Park memorializes the sacrifice of the 104th Infantry Regiment during the Great War.

Following is a collection of photos courtesy of reader Donna (Anderson) Blews that show the beauty and detail of this memorial park.

Apremont Park Dedication (Donna Anderson Blews)

Apremont Park Memorial Walkway (Donna Anderson Blews)

Approach to Apremont Memorial (Donna Anderson Blews)

Detail of Apremont Memorial (Donna Anderson Blews)

Close-up of Apremont Memorial (Donna Anderson Blews)

Detail of Apremont Memorial WWI Flag Staff (Donna Anderson Blews)

Close-up of the Apremont Memorial WWI Flag Staff (Donna Anderson Blews)

From Priscilla to Madaline, 11/18/1918

Kings Park, N.Y.

Nov. 18, 1918

My dear friend-

I received your letter Saturday evening and I really cannot express in words how shocked and grieved I was to hear of Joe’s death.  It seemed to come so suddenly that I can hardly realize it to be true.  I feel that there must have been a mistake made and that we will hear that he is still alive.  As you say, there is some consolation in knowing that he died a hero and that will help us to bear our sorrows as bravely as he gave his life.

I have always written to Joe regularly and especially since he has been “Over there” and have had a letter, sometimes two or three every week until Sept 14th which was the last I received and in which he enclosed a very pretty little handkerchief.

I sent him a photo of myself Nov. 3rd because he had been asking for one so often and I thought it reach him by Christmas.

If you should learn any details as to Joe’s death, I should deeply appreciate hearing from you.

With sincere sympathy, believe me to be

Very sincerely yours,

Priscilla

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Telegram Notice of Death, 11/14/1918

MausTelegram

 

From Priscilla, 11/10/1918

Kings Park, N.Y.

Nov. 10. 1918

My dearest Joe-

Well how are you?  I have been watching every mail for a letter from you.  I do wish you could drop me a few lines, so I shall be convinced that you are well and safe.  Goodness, New York just went crazy last Tuesday, when the papers announced “Germany Quits”.  Every factory and shop closed at 12 o’clock, peopled paraded for hours.  Then next day that papers contradicted it.  Isn’t it just wonderful if its really true, I am so anxious for it to end.  Aren’t you?  Joe dear, have you received my letters, and I sent you a picture of myself last week?  Only the picture makes me look so much older than twenty.  Nevertheless you will be able to see some likeness anyway.

How are you making out with French?  Can you speak any yet?  Don’t forget, I want to take lessons from you when you come home.

The “Spanish Flu” seems to be getting hold of every one in K.P. there are nearly two hundred cases it seems to be increasing rather than decreasing.  Lets hope you boys wont contract it over there.

I was going over to see your sister the other day, but didn’t get a chance to do it.  I suppose you get many letters from her.  But I bet she can’t be any more anxious to see her big brother come home that I am and I surely hope it will be soon.

Joe dear, I don’t know what else I can write you as things are very much the same as ever.  No news only excitement over the Kaiser quitting.

Although I cannot get time to write you as often as I would my thoughts are ever of you.  I am always wondering if you are well and safe.  The 27th Div. is royally praised for its good work.  Every time I see anything about the 27th or 105-6-7 Infs I always wonder what part you took in the victory.

Well Joe, I must close as I am so sleepy, please dear boy, write me when you can.  Goodnight and God bless and keep you safe.

Yours with lots and lots of love.

Perce

[Editor's Note: This letter was "Returned To Sender" and never received by Joe.  The back of the envelope is marked with “Deceased.  Verified Casualty Section. Central Records Office”.  There is a handwritten date on the front – 4/28/19. Priscilla kept the letter as a memento of her love.]

© Copyright 2011 by Lanny & Patti Brown, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Epilogue: Corporal Joseph Maus

The Somme Offensive was launched on September 24, 1918 with the objective of breaking the Hindenburg Line. As part of this operation on September 27, the 105th Infantry moved forward in attack and made initial gains near Quennemont Ferme, Guillemont Ferme, and fortified heights called “The Knoll”, before being driven back by German counter-attack. On September 29th, the 105th Infantry attacked “The Knoll” again but was checked with heavy casualties. It was during this attack that Corporal Joseph Maus was killed in action, one of 1,609 casualties in the ranks of the 105th Infantry during the war.

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