Neufchateau, France 12/26/1917

Same place in France


Dear Em.


The day after Xmas. And all is well; yes Em very well. I enjoyed yesterday very well considering the same thing as Ive considered right along. Then again Em, there is no use considering this so Ive sumed it all up and call it a very good Yule Tide. Now aint I some considerer. Well Em, we’ve got to say some thing and considerating will coincide with us about as well as any thing.


Now. Yesterday as Ive said above was Christmas and Santa Claus paid me as welcome a visit as I ever experienced. Yes even considering the days when we were kids (and when I think of them days now they were some pleasant.) And Em, you did more towards this than I could ever tell you. Four letters from you. Well Em it was the darb, thats all. Two cartons of Lucky Strikes and a letter from Red the Shipper, in which he said, that he had heard from three of the boys in France, and that the rest of them were sent South. Also got a package of tobacco from Bill, (my side kick at the shop,) a letter from a sister of one of the boys at the shop (stating that she was sending a package, and a letter from a party in S.B. All this on Christmas day.


We had a very good dinner consisting of Turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, nuts, apples, pie, bread, and coffee. It snowed all day, and there is an inch of this (what does Pa call it?) on the ground now. I can remember when I used to like to see it snow. Im cured Pa, fully cured. Walk, drill, and do nothing but come in contact with snow all day and any one will be cured.


We had quite a reunion Christmas, in that a crowd of old K. Co. boys came over and visited us. Christmas Eve was very jovially spent, and as Ive said above all’s well and we’ve got down to hard work again. Its very cold and snowing most of the time, but we bundle up warm (in the woolen goods that the Red Cross was so kind to supply us with) and go out, dig trenches, work guns, fight dummies with the bayonet and practise the throwing of bombs.

Grenade Training Diagram, 1917

You’ve got to work hard to keep warm, and hard work and cold weather makes a healthy man hungry. The best part of it all is we get enough to eat, at present anyway. Of coarse this won’t always be but, Im not worrying about some thing thats coming. That will take care of itself. There is a noncomps meeting at 7.45 tonight and Ill have to break in on this letter to attend this but Ill be back as soon as I can and tell you more about myself. Myself understand; nothing in regards to where we are, how we got here or when we will leave. Im taking no chances in crabbing the game. Well Em its twenty five minutes of eight now and I guess Ill gather my trusty disciples, and hike them over to the hut until about nine oclock, when Im planning on being missing to get back here and write as much as I can tonight.

Well Em it was a lecture on sniping. Here I am back again at ten oclock. It was too interesting to leave. It was given by an officer who has been “at it.” It’s a fine moon light night, one that when you walk on the snow, every step is a song. Skweek. Meat for air raids and I wish I could tell you something on this. But Im going to follow the orders, for one word will probably keep this letter from reaching you.


By the way Em Im wrong again one of those letters was from Sadie and it will be the next one I answer. Your letters were dated Nov. 26 and 29th and Dec. 2nd. You open up your letter of the 26th by saying it was awful cold there. I can sympathize with you for it is very cold here. Its funny it was too cold for Henry to get over though Id like to get the chance. So you read the book “Over The Top.” I could explain a lot of this book to you if I was there. Im not in the intelligent squad now though Em. Ive got to be intelligent enough to handle this crew. Im sorry Pa couldnt get Thanksgiving off, but he’s one of those chaps that never seem to weaken. That service pin business is a new stunt to me. If it was in style over here, every one (woman) would have one, some four or five. Im glad Mollie likes her new home and also that she is better.


Your letter of the 29th states that you sent a package for Thanksgiving. I got one, and do not know whether this one is the one you mean or not. Ive only received one anyway, so I hope thats all you sent. Im glad Henry showed up for dinner. Tell Nora that I was asking for her and that Im in hopes to hear that she is better in your next letter.


Yes I thought Pa would laugh on hearing of my new extra duties, and I bet Id get some “Hello Sam” if I was to pass in review. He would get a nod too beleive me. Yes. Bingville Band or the Maine Hayshakers is a very fitting name, but at that there isn’t a better band organized than this same 103rd Inf. It seems good to hear that they all received my mail, for I have so little time to write all I do that Id hate to have them get lost. Im glad to hear Tom is well and that he sends a line home once in a while. I want to say that a mine scrapper isnt the safest job on the water either, but don’t tell Madge this.

We get all the sugar nessessary for our coffee, so this is where Ive got it on you. So the “Old Eighth” has “Gone South.” Do you know that over here when you speak of any body going south it means he is a goner. So the “Old Eighth” might have gone South but there are a lot of us over here that will never forget the deal it got. Steam heat for the National Army what. I wish you could see the way these fellows are putting up for the winter.

I forgot to tell you that I moved. General Cole has moved his Brigade Headquarters into the house we were in so we had to move. As luck would have it we got a house right across the street. The Supply Sgt. is in with us now. Let me tell you about this house. Four rooms. Two up stairs where the Supply Sgt. has all his supplies. Down stairs there is two rooms, the front room is a kitchen where we have our office and do all the company work. In back of this is a bed room in which (now get it) there are two beds built in the wall. OH Em its the darb of a home. In the kitchen we have two stoves and we also got one in the said “chamber.”

Im awfully grateful to Lena for paying my insurance, and if I ever do get a hold of an allotment blank I will make out some thing to her. I remember this Trainor. He is now in one of the letter companies over in the 104th.

Give the Holland’s my very best and tell them Ill write again if I get caught up with what mail Ive got. If I can’t balance the baton on the end of this nose, I think you will agree with me that its not because the baton is too big. Well Em this paper has at least two flags on it, and they are the only thing Ive got to boast of in this letter.

I just went down and got my pictures.

I just went down and got my pictures. I had some taken with out hat or overcoat on, which are not finished yet. Will forward one as soon as they are ready. In the mean time Ill send this note along hoping to here from you, by the next mail. When you look at this picture you will agree with me that Im not the worst treated old dog in the world. Will send some of these pictures to Aunt Madge and Mollie, and every one if they will go around. You see I want to prove to them that what Ive been saying right along that Im not kidding. Ill call you again later Em. So long. Tell Leonard I was asking for him.

Love to all,


© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Happy Holidays To All!

Remember OUR brave Volunteer troops who do their bit to preserve our freedom

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow…

Neufchateau, France 12/22/1917

[Continuation of letter started 12/21/17…]

Dec. 22, 1917


Another dark dismal snowy day. Inspection this morning with packs, and drill this after noon with full pack helmits and gass masks. Tomorrow, Sun a lecture at 10 oclock. This drilling Saturday and lectures Sunday is something new in the American Army, but then every thing is new now. Its work Em hard work from the time you get up in the morning until you hit the cootie nest at night, and then its work to sleep. I just drew two more siuts of under wear an O.D. uniform, two pairs of #11 trench shoes and another blanket this morning.


Gear Inspection from Military Instructor's Manual, 1917


In this pack that I carry around at drill is 1 shelter half (or half a tent), 1 tent pole, 5 metal pins, two heavy blankets, a siut of heavy underwear, two very heavy pairs of socks, one towel, 1 cake of soap, 1 tooth brush, and paste. 1 bacon can filled with bull durham makings, a condiment can filled with matches and perfections (thanks to you folks at home), a can of shaving soap and three O.D. hankercheifs. Add a gass mask bag one on each hip, slung from the shoulder, a round about, canteen first aid pouch cartridge clip carrier, and pistol, and beleive me Em I must be a picture of war days proper.


I had my picture taken as Ive told you, and the (Frog) asked me if I wanted my whole picture taken. For fear that the rest of me would be hidden by two #11 trench shoes I said no, half of me is plenty, the rest of me is too much. Im going to wear two probably three pairs of heavy socks inside these #11 when we go up aways, so you see it was partly to be well prepared that I drew these Bunker Hill Shoes. Fill the leather of said #11-EEs with oil (we grease them every day) and they are some heavy load to carry around with you. But then Im not so heavy yet but that a slight breeze might bowl me over and see the job Ill have getting up with all this truck on me. Of coarse Ive still got the two pair of barrack shoes and two pair of those nice clean canvas leggings that I keep clean and which I wear every night when I lead my bunch of musicians about the town at Retreat.


Ive got to wear this steel hat and gass helmits though, besides a suit of heavy under wear, an o.d. shirt, an o.d. uniform, a pair of heavy socks, a pair of #11 well soked hob nailed trench boots, a Red Cross sweter, an over coat cut to within two inches of the knees and a belt around it, a pair of wristers, a pair of heavy gloves, a round about first aid packet and pouch a canteen filled with water (poison the French call it) pistol, an indentifycation tag around the left wrist (with name, rank company and regiment on it), one around my neck, with the same history on it, a baton and a gun. I guess it’s the same grin, unless one of the kids get in my way and then its my usual scowl.


Well Em it won’t be long before Ill be getting to the end of this letter so I might as well start closing now. Ive got a half hour before afternoon drill, and Im thinking of going out. Its funny to see the pioneers marching out to drill with a shovel or pick (each man carries one or the other except the corporals or sergeants) besides their packs, masks and other parifanalier (excuse mispelling please). The pioneers are the fellows that dig the trenches and make the dug outs. Then the Bombers & Sappers who carry their own trench mortars. One fellow carries the barrell, another carries the tripod, another carries the base plate, the others carry amunition. I wish you could see the American Army as it is in France today. We look like a bunch of foreigners. The signal Platoon has its wireless, and telegraphic implements and is getting along pretty well with it.


I saw Emma’s husband the other day and he said he had heard from her. Get Little Mary to send us a line. Did she get my post card? A Line from Henry would be welcomly received. I haven’t heard that Bert or Lena have lost their right arms either. Tell Pa to give my regards to Old Bill, Bert, and all the boys at the shop. Tell the Studley’s I was asking for them? How is the gang up Winter Hill ways these cold days. The Home Gaurd, Boy Scouts. Say whats going on back there any way. How is Pa’s bacon holding out? Has Uncle Al been around latly? Well Em I guess Ill throw my over coat and pack on now and join the crowd.





© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Neufchateau, France 12/21/1917

Same place in France


Dear Em.


Now Ive got to apologize for what I said last night, and when I tell you that I received three letters from you today dated the 14th 20th and 23rd you will know what Im apologizing about.


If you havent received my letter dated Dec. 20, Ill tell you that I think I was disapointed when I failed to hear from you yesterday. Im not going to try and tell you how much I appreciate your Christmas present, (and that is just what these three letters are) for I don’t want to fill this letter up with some thing you already know. Im going to tell you that youve got quite a scheme, addressing your letters with bleueing.


Em, you speak of receiving my letters; what letters, for you see Em it is so long between letters that I wish you would state the date so that I will know how my mail is getting along. Parlez vous. Your letter of the 13th of Nov. said that I spoke of being short of tobacco. I not only got your package, but I also got one from the boss and one from an old member of Co. K 8th Mass. V.M. A sister of one of the fellows at the shop wrote and said she was sending me a package. The boys of 85 South St are sending a large package, so the shipper writes, and Im not being forgotten by Lil. So you see Im pretty well healed if I am away over in France. Now Ill appreciate all you send (but) don’t go to too much bother (all you folks) by sending a lot of packages, for they may get lost after all. You speak of getting another box ready and I hope it reaches the party it is intended for.


You also speak of getting some news through the papers but Em, don’t take too much stock in this news. I hear that one Boston Paper had a piece stating that the 103rd Reg. was already in the trenches. We are as safe now, as we would be were we home among the slackers (yes I think more so.) Tell Bert I thank him very much for what he is doing toward supplying me with fags and quid and also Pa for his help.


So the Ayer boys are going South. Well Em give them all the luck and sympathy you can, for their never getting any from the Sammies. Im glad to hear that Henry and Leonard are getting sociable, and I hope they will continue to be so. Give him my very best regards and tell him I wish him the very best of luck. It is funny that sugar is so scarce over there when we get it in our coffee, although we see very very little milk. OH you condensed milk.


As for taking a bath, say Em Ive got all through worrying. Im going to be frank and say Ive had just two of these since landing in France and we hit here which was just two months tomorrow. And Im feeling great. You will be able to use the toilet all the time when I get back at this rate what? Its tough to think Ill be dirtier before the job is done though.


Em as you state in your letter of the 13th of Nov. Do you notice how I pick your letters to pieces and just eat them up. You say you’re with me what ever I do and where ever I go and I realize it Em. Im glad to hear that all is well with every body and remember me to the Hollands individually please. Did they get my letter yet? In your letter dated the 20th you start by saying you received a letter from me Friday. Id like to know what date it had on it so I would know how many of my letters are in route. You said you worked all day Saturday which must have been the 17th. I suppose this working over time is a thing of the past now, and I don’t know of any better use you could put your over time to now than write to A.E.F. I hope Pa enjoyed the day off he had and also his visit to Madge. I bet you think your some kid in your darby coat. More speed to you.


I sent Aunt Mollie and Little Mary some mail c/o of you for I couldn’t for the life of me think of her address, and it is just as well that I did Im thinking for you say she is moving. How’s Mc. Im sorry to hear she isnt feeling any to well and hope that by the time this reaches you she will have fully recovered. You spoke of yesterday being a good day, but this is not the case here, the only good day we get here is Bon Jour from the natives. Every day is snow rain windy or damp and cold. But Im feeling great. Did Henry stick to his promise by spending Thanksgiving with you. How was the stuffing, squash, say tell us about it will you?


Im a Y.M.C.A. crank from now on. Yes they are doing splendid work, and I know beleive me. Ever since leaving the shores of A. we have been helped wonderfully by this organization. No matter where the U.S. troops go the Y.M. is there ahead of them with their huts and good advice. The next draft you say is in Feb. Well Em I may be a veteran in this game by that time, soft peddle, but a lot of music. March is the spring remember. Nuf Ced.


I can see Pa sitting there in that rocking chair as plain as you could the night you wrote this letter. Does he use the lamp Henry put in? OH you comforts of home. You say Bert and Lena have gone out, I bet Len looked pretty clever, she’s there (but don’t tell her I said so.) OH you Theresa at the piano. Im all alone here tonight and I can hear her tickling the keys as I have when every one at home was out and me sitting at that kitchen table reading or wondering whether Id go out or not. You said you had the door open so you could hear her, just as I would if I was there all alone tonight. You start now and Ill sing tenor. Don’t you remember the cat yowls we used to have. You spoke of my letter which stated Im not receiving any mail. I guess Ill have to take this all back now.


Washing, say Em Im ashamed to mention this part of this trip so nuf ced. Lets talk of pleasant things, even if we are not at the table. I havent spent an unpleasant day yet since leaving Westfield as far a my health was conserned, and if Sam has any thing to do with it I will come sailing into Boston Harbor or some other welcoming seaport of Uncle Sam and American flag.


Your letter of Nov. 23-17 is the darb. It states that you received my letter of the 31st of Oct. Now I know that you’ve got a lot of mail coming to you. And if there is a letter for me for every one that is on the way to you, Ive got some coming to me. You said it was longer. Im glad of that, for I must have had some thing to write about. Tell Sadie Im waiting for a letter from her now that she said she would write. Tell her not to put off til tomorrow what ought to be done today. Tell her Im sorry for that leg she hurt and tell me if it is better. OH I went and read the letter wrong it was her arm she hurt. Well she can tell me about that too.


Lena is Hoverizing on food stuffs, and I guess Im doing some of this econimy stuff with this paper. Getting down to my old speed now I guess. You said Lena was making all kinds of bread. We get this (so called bread) once a day. You could make me hungry by mentioning any thing that Lena cooks. You spoke of a service flag outside the shop on which was nine stars. It is the first I heard about this flag, and I could name every one they represent. I think I would too if it was not for the fact that Id be putting draft men where they did not belong as did the firm.


Im glad to hear in your letter of the 22nd of Nov. that Mr. Holland is now up and well and tell him to cut out this being sick buisiness. It isnt good for a body. (Im not through yet) Also Mollie. Tell her I dont want to hear of her being sick again. You see us fellows over here have no time to be sick. A sick man is almost as bad as a (Bosh). You say you havent been to any dances. Whats the matter, are your legs petrified or are you feeling like sixty. Put me inside of Roughan’s tonight and I wouldn’t care if this old war lasted forever. Im in my right mind too Em.


OH before I forget it tell Bert if he wants to read a book, a real book tell him to get “Over The Top” written by Arthur Guy Empey. It discribes to the letter the recriut and rookie in this war. I cant mention where we’ve been, the conditions under which we traveled and lived. I read the first part of it and it seemed as though I was relating my own personal experience. Well Em Ive written two letters besides this tonight equally as long and as taps has blown a half hour ago I think Ill call this quits for tonight and finish and send it on its long journey tomorrow. Bon niut…


© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Neufchateau, France 12/20/1917

Some where in France


Dear Em.


Another big batch of mail and still no news from you. Two from Lil. Now see how I feel. In her letter she states that every thing at home there is all right, that Pa, you Lena and the rest was O.K. which information she gained through you in a conversation you two had on the phone. Im glad she is in touch with you for it was through her letters that I feel assured that you are all well. It seems as though I just stopped writing to you when here I am at it again. I wrote a short letter last night and it has only been gone from this office an hour. Well Im at it again.


There is one way to beat this mail system. It is, flood the clerks with letters and take a chance that a few will get through. You will here from me all right (if it is possible) even if I don’t here a word from you. It must be that your letters get lost strayed or stolen for Im sure I don’t get any wheres near the number you’re sending. Im afraid it will be another two to three weeks before I hear from you for the next lot won’t be due until then. What would you say or think if you hadn’t heard from me for five weeks. Here’s hoping (cheerfully) that one of your letters will be amongest those that are coming.


It is a dark dismal day here and I think we will get some snow. What snow we did get about three or four days ago is still with us not having melted a particle. Real wintery here now, and I suppose you’re getting the same kind of weather yourselves. Good luck to you all. (Im very lucky so don’t get peeved!) Very lucky considering curcumstance (or whatever you call it.)


Had my photo taken today but they won’t be ready before Friday Dec. 28-1917. You will hear from me again (that is I will write before then) for there isnt two days at most between my letters. As soon as said pictures are ready off to the U.S. they go. I know (and I havent seen them myself yet) that you will note a difference if you put this picture up against any of the others that I had taken while at Lynnfield.


We have got our gas masks now for both crying and chloride gases. We will soon be going through this test. We are also practising the art of throwing bombs, which is done far different from the throwing of a base ball or snow ball. The art of digging regular first-line trenches is being gone through by the pioneers, the signal platoon has their equipment to work with, the one pound gun platoon has its guns, the bombers and sappers their stokes mortars, and real work is in order now. Drill all day and school and lectures at night then nothing to do till the morning.


The Volunteers won’t weaken though and we will be their when our time comes. This is the spirit of this the 26th Div. which comprises N.E. Militia men. Give my regards and best wishes to all and don’t forget to drown me with same in letters from you. Bon nuit.





© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Neufchateau, France 12/19/1917

Some where in France


Dear Em.


There was a batch of mail in yesterday and also the day before but I was a niggar on both occasions. I can’t begin to explain how a fellow feels when this kind of a dissapointment is experienced by him although I believe I have spoken of it in my very numerous letters home. It must be the mail, although I don’t see why they should keep me in exile as long as this.


Outside of this Im feeling fine. The weather is very cold here now. About an inch of snow on the ground and it hasen’t thawed a particle in the last two days. With these hob nailed shoes on and the roads and streets a mass of ice (for continual traffic by auto, motor cycle, and men over such make this so) it is very hard to walk along with out paying a lot of pains and keep from falling down.


The hardest kind of drill, with long hours of such, keep the men in very good condition. This company has the least number of men on the sick book every morning (4 yesterday, seven today) and it has forty four more men in it than any other company. A letter company is composed of 250 and Hdq. Co. has 294. I get out to drill when I can, and believe me you’ve got to keep moving or freeze thats all. Right now Im reminded of that kitchen there, for Im sitting next to a warm stove and the window that the room condains looks out onto a street as bleak and winterish as the Mistic with a real N.E. by E. raging.


Well Em I hope there is some mail on the way. I want to tell you right here that I saw this piece of paper on the desk and thought Id like to send it home. Here it is, now you send a receipt for it, and I will go you one better by acknowledging same. I never felt better in my life send us the same news will you.




© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Postcard from Neufchateau, France 12/18/1917



Dear Em.


Isn’t she pretty? What about some mail? Is Little Mary getting her mail? Tell Lena that this is the way I picture her. The 26th Div.’s motto is Smile, Smile, Smile. Ive still got that grin.




© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Neufchateau, France 12/16/1917

Same Place.


Dear Folks,


Just a few lines tonight to keep you informed that Im still O.K. or in other words every thing is as usual. There is a hitch in the mail somewhere for I havent got a word from you for about three weeks. I hope they will get some mail to us by Christmas anyway, and thats giving them nine days.


We are getting down to real hard work now, and before long I expect I won’t look quite as chunky as I do at the present time. I had all good intensions last night of getting my picture took today, but as usual I forgot it or didn’t have time.


We had a grand opening of the new Y.M.C.A. building here this afternoon. Brig. General Cole, and Maj. General Edwards were present and were among the speekers. They got a warm reception from all the officers and men. The band played the company to the building and of coarse that was a job for your’s truly.


This Y.M. is a large building in which a thousand people can be seated. Y.M.C.A. again for you and say this organization deserves all the backing and praise you folks back home there can give it. It is wonderful, the work they are doing. Personally, Ive come in contact with their help, ever since we left America.


Tonight being Sunday, I was studying one of the many books we have to study, when my mind drifted back home, and I wondered how everything was. The only way to find out is write and see, so, (the letter). The watch, every time I look at it (and it is some often now I tell you) I wonder how things are at home. Before leaving the U.S. I was thinking of leaving this watch at home there and byeing a cheaper wrist watch. Now, I realize that I would have regreted it very much for it is one thing I prize. These pictures in my pocket also keep me in close touch with you, and they will also be on my person when I step on good old American soil some time in the future. A year or so anyway, but that isnt long, considering some of these poor chaps that have been at it now for over three.


Did my letters reach Madge, Mollie, Little Mary, Mrs. Holland and Lil yet. Im hoping to hear from somebody pretty soon. I realy believe I deserve a letter for Ive surly written enough latly to warrent one. It is now 9.30 and call to quarters has blown, Taps in 15 minutes and then the lights go out. We’ve just got enough time to make our bed and craul in.


My one hope is that I will continue in the good health and nature that Ive enjoyed since the 25th day of July –17. Hoping you folks are as well off (at least as I am) I remain and will stay the same




P.S. Love to all. How’s Pa?


© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Neufchateau, France 12/10/1917

Somewhere in France.


Dear Em,


Say Im feeling great. That’s my letter, so if you read all the junk I all ways fill my letters with Im thinking you’ve got nothing to do. Went out to drill both morning and afternoon and the first part of my letter is the result. Gee its great to get up in the morning for reveille at six fifteen, when you can’t see your hand three inches before you, pile out and get the report of the company and listen to the chorus of coughing, and stamping of cold feet, (for the billetts that the men are quartered in are colder than outside.) Well it takes about ten or fifteen minutes to get the details for the day picked and off, and then I double time back to #10 (for this is the number of the house Im in.) We scratched up enough wood to make it comfortable and tomorrow is another day. After that double time stunt back to #10 I wash (that is if I have time) grab my mess kit and hike about a half mile for some bacon, potatoe, bread and coffee.


Has Pa been over to Gray’s latly to get his mornings, or is there enough of Squire’s Best still on hand to save him a bargain hunt for a while. Tell Pa this would be an ideal life for him, especially the morning meal, if it was bacon we got, and not half cooked salt fat pork. Well after mess we hike that half mile back again, shave, make up the days reports and by that time, first call for drill is sounded and I assemble the company for drill.


Hike about a mile, morning exercise, (in which we have adopted the English method by combining work with play and do a lot of running, hopping etc. Then bayonet drill, where the men are taut all the art of trickery, savagry and go-get-emry. We used to think we knew pretty near all that was to be known about handling the rifle and bayonet, but we sure are learning something now. Give any of these men that have had this bayonet training a rifle and bayonet, and put him up against any body with any kind of a weapon and he’ll win. After this bayonet work we drill in the new French formation. It wouldnt interest you if I did explain how much different this method is from our own so I won’t go into detail.


Then we have a little Good Old U.S.A. close order drill, and shoot back to the town and our quarters. Although the weather is sharp, we are sweating when we hit our billetts. All we have to do then is, hike for our dinner (which is hamburg steak potatoes bread and coffee) and hike back and get ready for drill at 1.20. We go to the same field in the afternoon as in the morning and do the same thing with the exception of the exercise. We start back at three so as to be in time for Retreat at four.


At Retreat I lead the band to Hdq. where it plays the Star Spangled Banner and the Marsellis. We then have a parade (me and the band) around the main streets and back to our quarters. Mess is at five (which is stew bread and coffee). Then we get into this room (and it is some crowd too) and talk until call to quarters. When the (I guess Im nuts tonight) crowd goes home the three of us start to write home. This is 9.30 P.M.


Now I hope you can find a little reading in this letter any way. All I can find is a lot of writing in it. Ive sent every body a line now (through you for I forget addresses very easy) except Sat. nights when Im home there. Im starting to make a laundry check out of this letter so I guess Id better stop. Will write soon.






P.S. If there is any one that I haven’t written to that you think should get a letter (address please Address). Mrs Holland will be the next on my list and in the mean time tell them Sam is Sam for all of that.



© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Neufchateau, France 12/5/1917

Same place.


Dear Em,


This was Christmas day in this town, especially for me, for I received five letters today. Three from you, one from a fellow at the shop, and one from S.B. The three I got from you was dated Oct. 27th, 31st, and Nov. 5. You see the last was just a month getting here, and say Em they did look good. I sent you a letter last night although there was nothing in it. In all three you spoke of how short all my letters are and how little about myself is in them. Be that as it may Em I send quite a lot of mail, which is doing very good considering the fact that there is absolutly nothing to write about but myself and I say enough about this bloke, don’t worry. The one (letter) from Lil was dated Oct. 30, so you see there is some more mail due me yet. What gets me is this. The letter from Hatch (the fellow at the shop) was dated Nov. 18, and this is only the 5th day of Dec. But you know the Bristol Pat. Lea. Co. has always done a lot of foreign shipping and they follow up the ships leaving port pretty close.


I got some mighty good advice in this letter, and it sure does seem good to have a fellow work mate hand out the goods contained in his letter. Im not sorry for any thing Ive done yet since leaving the U.S. and don’t indent to so you folks back home won’t have to worry on that score. We had a lecture this afternoon and another this evening and I think it was very good stuff. Im feeling tip top, great, grand, and excellent and then some. Put this all together and I want it to mean that Im in the very best of health and spirit.


Im thinking very seriously of having a photo of my self taken and when I do you are to get a grand surprise when I send you the result. These old legs of mine never will get any meat on them anyway, although even these same legs are getting to be normal. Im not a razor face now and I have an awful job to hook my coat collar every night at retreat when I have to get out and swing the old baton in front of the best band in the U.S. Army. This is the only time I wear this coat and it is often enough to put on corsets. Ill have to get a new blowse that’s all. I might just as well have said this in the first place and I wouldn’t have used so much time and paper. But you wanted to have me say some thing about myself, and I guess Im doing it to-night.


Im not doing any drilling yet for we’ve been pretty buisy on paper work ever since we hit here. But when we get our officers who are to train us we will be hard at it and I will probably drop some of this flesh. We are beginning to get our Christmas mail now, and it makes me feel some what home sick to think of spending this day so far away from home. The old boy has some consolation in the saying though there are others.


I just glanced at your letter of the 27th of Oct. which also said Sat. and it makes me think of getting home from work at about one oclock (you know most Saturdays) taking a nap, and then start about four or five oclock preparing for the St. James, Roughan’s or Odd Fellows. It was a great life, I didn’t weaken, and that’s why Im here I guess. Its tough not to have as much sugar as you want but its part of the game you folks have to play. Im glad your over-time work is over, for it will give you a better time to enjoy your self.


I want to thank Pa for the tobacco and pipe, Bert for the nails and you and Lena for the candy cake and other things the package contained. Say give me a smell of those beans you speak of watering that Sat. will you (mm). You said it was kind of warm there, well let me say that it is real cold here. It snowed about an inch the other night and the sun hasnt made any impression on this inch yet. I can see how long an inch of snow would last after a day’s sun back there.


Your letter of the 31st of Oct. starts of with saying your surprised at the short letters Im writing. So am I surprised that I even write, there is so little to say or allowed to say. Ive sent a lot of short ones though and I guess by this time you will have received some of them. Sadie must be getting old from what I gather in your letter. I see your reading books again. Well we all have our bad habits. Dont get lost in that book now when Lena wants you to put that broom in the right corner (Dont get sore now Lena). How is Pa and the ashes. I bet you have some pretty early morning revilles now with Pa on the stove detail. Does he use the gas lamp? Are the kids coasting yet? How’s Magee Napolean and old John. I suppose the grand child (the little darling) is getting to big for the baby carrage now. (Aint it funny?) How is the refinery coming along? Has or is the river frozen over yet? Another sheet.


Your letter of the 3rd of Nov. It was in answer to my letter of the 15th of Oct. We were in [England – Reference cut out by Censor] then and it was imposible for me to say much. Tell that sister of ours to cut out getting those colds, and if she does get them to shake them as soon as possible. Some of the boys over here have got colds and it was only the other day that I had to take the band over to another town to play a dirg to a double funeral. Two fellows from the Machine Gun Co. this Regiment died of neumonia. It was some job I tell you to lead a band to funeral time for about two miles. It was a very impresive cerimony and one that I will not soon forget. To think these two fellows and there are more just like them every day, who died off before they even see the trenches. Same old story, take care of ones-self.


Im glad you receive the state money regularly for I know that it will come in very handy. I am glad to feel well asured that you will continue my insurance policy and I think Ive written of this matter before. I got a letter from Lil today stating that you invited her over but she stated that she had a previous engagement. Im glad to hear that Madge and the rest are feeling good. Im sorry Tom dosent write and on the strength of your plea for a letter to Madge she is going to get another one.


You talk about sugar being scarce. Let me impart some thing to you. No matter how much money your worth here, you can’t bye a loaf of bread, a spoon full of milk, an egg, any meat or any thing of this sort. You turn 26 thousand troops loose in a town and they soon eat the population out of house and home. Be that as it may we are getting plenty to eat and it isn’t so bad either. You say it took my last letter three weeks and two days to get here. I think that’s doing very well for I havent got a letter from you yet that hasnt taken at least a month to get here from the date it was mailed. Although we get a little sugar in our coffee we get very little milk, so it must be that we are getting more sugar than you folks at home. Thus endeth the answer to your three letters. Lets hope that there a dozen more to answer the next mail day, (Christmas in other words)


Well here Ive still got two more pages to fill and Im pretty near done, but this old pen is in such good condition and I so kiddish after getting so much mail that I just going to show you how much I appreciate it. And we sure do appreciate news from home. Look Em if you could see the faces on these boys when after the mail has all been gone through, they find none for them. You would think a letter ment a million francs to them. Ive experienced it more than once, but it was the fault of the mail man and no one else. I guess now that you folks back home there know that Im getting your love and mail I will have no trouble in getting letters very regularly from you.


One of the boys from Old K of the dear old Eight, who was discharged the last minute for disability sent me a package in which was some Bull Durham tobacco, tooth paste and brush and some Baker’s Chocolats. Im eating this candy now as I write to you and between the good news that Im sending home for Im sure you will enjoy this letter (if it reaches you) and this real Am. chocolate, Im spending a very pleasant evening.


I want to say right here that the way you are addressing these letters are O.K. Make the 103rd and Infantry very plain and I cant miss them. I see your letters carry three cent stamp, and that reminds me of a piece I saw in an ancient paper stating that this would be the case after Nov. 1st. That is something else we’ve got on you. Our stamp is Soldiers Mail.


When I get this letter written (and it seems I can write forever tonight) Ive got to answer two others. Yes I can honestly say that yours are the first I consider and answer, for I guess Im a Home Gaurd yet. How about it? In the letter I got from the shop the fellow says they have taken up a collection in the shop and, some where between 85 South St and the (Same place) there is a package that will keep me in smokes for a long while to come.


So you see Em although we are here we are finding out who are there. In this kitchen that we make our office and home there is a stone sink only about two inches deep and about three feet square. (It would be worth some dough back there in the states.) Well anyway, what Im getting to is this, where the waist water runs down is near the window and we had a freeze up this morning. We had paper burning, axes flying hot water, and pokers. After a while it started to run. But, on the floor. Nuf ced. Bum plumbers. Don’t misunderstand me now it wasn’t a running water pipe for we have to lug all our water from the fountain. We will have to carry it out now. Will write very soon.






P.S. Im afraid if I write any more the censor will can the whole buisiness as a tough job but I promise to write again tomorrow night, and that should finish this letter. Give my best regards to all and tell Madge to expect a few lines from me. Say Em lets quit. All right done.


© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.