Somewhere in the Pas Fini Sector, 7/6/1918

 

Dear Em and the rest.

 

As usual I am at this writing, O.K. and although we are now in the thick of it, I am very confident that Ill be all right when things are settled. I try to send a letter from no matter where I happen to be, and at present Im writing this because I have the opportunity, and the inclination (for Im never minus this latter).

 

Ive answered the two letters you last sent and Im in hopes of getting some more mail soon. Of late Im always pleased, yes, and feel lucky beleive me, to be able to say Im as usual. Some time I hope to be able to relate to you some of the things Ive seen and experienced but at present they had better be left unsaid. Every thing is forgotten as soon as they happen and for this reason I think I would make a very bad story if I tried to explain what is and what has been going on.

 

I don’t know how you have been receiving my mail, but I hope the few I do write get to you in a reasonable length of time. I hope this mistle finds every one in the best of health and spirits. Rest assured that I will be unless that bunch on the other side of us here don’t spill the beans, and put into reality (for me) that song “I don’t want to get well.”

 

You say Em that by my letters you can tell how Im feeling and just what mood Im in. Well Em if you follow them very close latly you will see that Im in the mood to just let you know that they havent got me yet and that is all.

 

I am going to grab off a little chow now and am in hopes of getting a little pound tonight, and so Ill close as ever.

 

Sam

Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Happy Independence Day!

Somewhere near Meaux, 7/1/1918

"Cootie Remedy" from The Stars and Stripes

"The whole thing in a nut 'Shell'" - Sam

Dear Em,

 

Before we left the other sector I wrote and told you that I had received no mail for a month and that as we were soon leaving, my chances were pretty slim, both as to getting mail or sending any. But just before we left, two letters came from you, one dated June 2 and the other the seventh. Also a very nice letter from Bert. We have been traveling ever since and right now Im tired, but not knowing what’s going to happen next I thought Id sit right here, using this board as a desk and your kindness that will excuse the writing of which the extent of both I know.

 

Telling About It by Joseph Chase

We are many miles from the other (Some where) being now where the big doings are, and right where you folks have been hearing so much of latly. As I said before Im tired but not too much so to write and let you know the same old story. Im fine. It was very quiet the night we were relieved by the draft outfit. We walked from 10 P.M. until 5 A.M. when we boarded trains and got off these at 10 A.M. Boarded trains again at 1 A.M. next morning riding 24 hours. Got off these trains at 2 A.M. boarded trucks and rode 22 miles hitting this billet at 5 A.M. this morning. It sounds all very well, this riding in trains but in reality, Em, nothing doing. Empey has told you. Forty men in one of these dry goods boxes is fun now I tell you. Twenty five men in a truck is better than walking 22 miles after going 48 hours with practicly no sleep.

 

Any way, we are here and happy to say that we are all in the best of health and a little sleep will put us in the very best of spirits. We are here waiting for the Germans to start that drive that is expected, and probably by the time you get this it will be on. Ive had about five hours sleep in the last 4 days and as soon as I finish this letter and send it on its way Im just going to die thats all. Then Ill answer Bert’s letter.

 

On our trip we passed through some very pretty country and got a glimse of the suburbs of the capitol. We are about all set for real big doings now probably the beginning of the end. You see I can mail this letter now and that is why Im not delaying it one minute. I hope those pictures come out all right but whether all right or not, send some over. Im going to lay down now and I don’t expect to wake for dinner or supper. Give my regards to all

 

Sam

Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere near Raulecourt, 6/24/1918

Dear Em,

 

It has been at least three weeks now since Ive heard from you or any one else as far as that is conserned. I know this is not your fault for no one has received as much as a letter since taking over this sector. My letter in answer to your last one was written only recently and the reason for my writing so soon again is the fear that I may not hear from you nor be able to write for some time after mailing this.

 

We are expecting to move any hour now but dont know where or how long it will take to reach our destination. We do know that it will be no short trip, for every indication points this way. Unless the mail (and Im sure there is some on the way) reaches us before we leave here (which as I said may be any time) we will receive none until the place where we are going is reached. No one knows whether we are going back for a rest or to another front nor does any one Ive heard, seem to care much.

 

There is a draft outfit here now who are going to releave us, that is they are going to take over this part of the line under the tutorage of some French that are coming in with them. Just think Em the draft men are now on the line which shows that America is getting pretty well into this big game. Let them come, there is plenty of room for them, yes and work too. They are asking us all kinds of questions, and we answer and incourage them all we can. Experience is what will teach them tho- and nothing verbal. Of coarse only the vanguard is here now, and since they arrived things have been as quiet as it was last winter when we were miles behind the lines and couldn’t hear the sound of a gun. I will be thinking of them when they undergo their first barrage. But they are Americans and they will be there every minute Im sure.

 

They tell me that the 301st is here and I believe them for if any of them left as a unit surly Boston’s Own must have been among the first to leave. It would surprise you if I mentioned in this, the date they left the States, but this would not be wise. I will say that they’ve only been in France a very short time.

 

As is usually the case Im fine and I trust this will find you all the same. Will send some money to pay for my insurance soon so please keep it going. Give every one my kindest regards and I remain

 

Sam

 

Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

P.S. This, just to remind you that although we had a very lively little time a week ago Im as whole as ever, having learned a great deal and seen and experienced not a little. Will try and give an account of this later if nothing of more importance turns up to drive this from my memory. Im living the life and I havent weakened. Heads up.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Under Bombardment, 6/19/1918

On June 19 the 103rd Infantry suffered 172 more gas casualties during a bombardment of 2000 gas shells which began at 0315, directed at Seicheprey, Beaumont and Nandres in retaliation for a large American gas attack on German targets in the Bois de la Sonnard…

Somewhere near Raulecourt, 6/18/1918

Dear Em,

 

Here I am again and, how do you do. As for me, Im great (as if this was any news). Its better news than none though Em and as I havent received any mail from you since (the last letter I suppose) which was dated May 13, Im waiting for at least this much news of you folks. True, I havent written very often of late myself but this has not been altogether my fault. Since writing my last letter, Ive been on a two day leave spending the time in a town of pretty fair size situated near where we were at that time stationed. We are now at the front again, but I must say that I had a very good time on my few days leave.

 

The weather is fine now and beleive me we appreciate it, for were it otherwise it would be very uncomfortable. You have probably read (by this time) of the little affair we got into, and let me tell you Em they sure did get the worst of the argument, and then some. That was quite an item and picture of the new church, and I suppose it is quite a sight to watch the different peoples congragate. I thought it would be funny if Al didn’t get over to see it if he was any where near Boston. Dont forget those pictures will you Em? I tried to have some taken of myself but as usual I was last on the list and couldn’t be handled in the two only places in the town.

 

Has Harry left yet? Yesterday was the 17th bt I thought nothing of it until a little while ago. Of coarse I knew it was the 17 of June but as every day is the same here it ment nothing to me. Was glad to hear every body was well and I hope that things will continue on this train. Summer; I suppose it is in full swing now, and I hope you all enjoy a pleasant vacation.

 

This is about all I can scrape up to say this time, but will try and write soon again. Tell every one I was asking for them and send my best regards. Trusting this finds you all well I will bid you good night

 

Sam

 

Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

[Editor’s Note: June 17th is Bunker Hill Day, a legal holiday in the City of Boston and surrounding Suffolk County, Massachusetts which marks the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 at the beginning of the American Revolution. Bunker Hill itself and the Bunker Hill Monument are located in Sam’s home neighborhood on Bunker Hill Street in Charlestown. The town Sam refers to taking leave in is most probably Toul, France.]

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Battle of Xivray-et-Marvoisin, 6/16/1918

On the morning of June 16, the 103rd Infantry was attacked in force by German infantry while holding the sub-sector of Xivray-et-Marvoisin, Bouconville and Rambucourt very close to the enemy lines. The attack began with a concentrated artillery bombardment followed by infantry assaults on three sides (north, east and west). The 103rd repulsed the German attacks at a cost of 28 killed, 167 wounded and 47 gassed. The Germans withdrew leaving more than 60 dead, 10 prisoners and equipment including machine guns and flame throwers. Heavy German shelling continued throughout the sector for the next four days, eventually forcing evacuation of the 26th Division HQ from Boucq to Trondes a mile further to the rear…

Honoring Flag Day, June 14th

Somewhere near Royaumeix, 5/31/1918

 

Dear Em

 

I have stretched out around me now four letters from you and one from Lena, yours of April 29, May 4, 8, 11, Lena’s of May 11, and I tell you Em it is great. I suppose the first thing I should mention is that Im feeling just the same as ever. You say it is very warm there, and it is the same here and has been now for quite some time. Im never going to complain again though about this kind of weather for after the dampness, cold and all around hard winter we spent on our arrival in France, I want sun and plenty of it. France is the place for sun too and I don’t think it can be duplicated any where else on the globe.

 

With a continual buzz of Allied planes in the air and an occasional drum fire of our batteries up toward the lines we are beginning to class this little village as a very peaceful home. The regiment is resting now, and believe me Em it is rest. Plenty of eats, plenty of sleep, and very little drill constitutes the days activities. Don’t worry about getting any news from the 103rd, for news of an outfit nowadays means a long casualty list.

 

I want to give the 104th the credit for to date they have lost more men than any other regiment. Yesterday there was held a very impressive ceramony in a little grave yard just in the back of this town, where some of our dear fellows have been laid to rest. Old Glory was flown to the nice balmy breezes and it sure was a welcome sight sparkling in the sun. There was three bands present and a representation from as many regiments. It made me think of the Memorial Days gone by when we turned out for the G.A. of the R. only it was my own comrades now, with more to follow. It must have been quite a day back there.

 

In your letter of April 29, you open up by saying that in my letter of March 17 I wrote as though I was in high spirit. Yes Em Im still in high spirit as well as every one of the A.E.F. For it is going to win Em. Of coarse Ive been very fortunate for Ive felt tip top all the way, which is half any battle.

 

Glad to hear that the Morgie has got the services of Lena again and that she is back into that work for it is well. Ill bet that is some church and when I get around Boston way again Im going to give some of the ushers a chance to take me by hand. OH you Hotel. How’s a kid. Tell Lena to give her my regards, for you see I remember her motherly care very well. Bully for you Pa and for the Bond too. Tough though on the $10 per stuff, but just think of the boys “over here” when they get back “over there” there wont be any at any price. As the French say (Say le Guerre.) meaning (it’s the war.)

 

No Em I never did have much to say, but Id talk if I was sitting at the table with you this morning don’t forget it. Very pleased to hear you get so much dough on the start and no doubt there is more in it for you. If I was there Id probably kid you a little myself but Id never get off kidding you now. That’s it Em have a good time this summer and Im with you in every one of them. Say Em tell Batty Coyne that it is about time the 5th Pw were getting here will you. There is an awful lot of broken wires out in N.M. Land that neads fixing.

 

Id have wiped those dishes for you so you could have finish the letter had I been there what Em? You said that you would have the pleasure of getting dinner the next day. OO La La and maybe it wouldn’t be pleasure fo rme to see it all done and ! Good luck to Billie Rogers how about it Bert, was you as good as any man in the house or (well you know) “Steve ODonnell was a gentleman.” Look Em Im going to grab off some chow hoping that the check you get today will be enjoyed as much as I will enjoy this. See you after the mess.

 

Now that the dishes are put in the old kit bag where I keep all my troubles Ill continue. You see Em Im going to send as good a letter as I can for after receiving so many from I feel as though one is due you. Tell Katherine Id like to see her garden, for I bet it looks pretty classy at that. You ask if I am getting all your mail. I guess I must be Em, although Im far from bashful in this respect.

 

So Mikie is a petty officer. I wonder if he is always happy now. I never saw his wife so therefor cannot enjoy the full benefit of her sorrowful story in regards to Poor Connie. So there are a lot more left yet. Well Em I figure the war to last a while yet too, so there may be room for them yet. As for Lena ironing, makes me think that although I do every thing but iron this outfit on my back a little ironing with some wax in the seam (well why go into it). I don’t know how many times you’ve spoken of Batty getting a furlough, but every time you do it reminds me that I haven’t had more than twelve hours at a stretch that I could call my own since Westfield, and, it is well. Yes I guess he will find the fellows in the Old Eighth as fine as any of them.

 

If I hadnt stuck to Capt. Tobey and come “over here” I would be well off in this 5th P. now. But I agree with you. Id rather be a private in France than a commissioned officer in the states. Im not going to stay a private in France either. Im sorry he lost his ribbons for if he felt it the way I did it was sour apples.

 

That motion picture must be very interesting but give me an Elsie Janis with some real live stuff and “No Mans Land” will be like a ball field to us. Excuse you for not writing longer letters? Why say Em you’re writing one long continuous one where instead of waiting a month for news I get mail from you just as sure as there is mail for anybody in the regiment. You said that they say you’re getting fat, OH you kid, keep it up. It must be very pleasant out Jamaica Plain way and Im very glad you landed the berth.

 

Well Ive gone through all your letters up to May 11, and tried to answer all you asked and added a little cheap stuff here and there too I guess. Ive got to answer Lena’s and then get after the others. Every night since we hit this place American planes fly over and give the Boshe a belly full of the poison they have been handing the Allies, and they get away with it too. I don’t know any thing about the submarines but I do know that we have got the best of the air now.

 

We are not in the drive that is going on now although you never can tell what tomorrow brings. By the time you get this we may be miles from here and if so there sure will be some thing doing. News will begin to come in very fast soon now and when that starts why, Ill write as long and as often as I can. I thank the Hollands for their best wishes and send best regards in return. I havent heard much from Little Mary latly but I trust that both she and Mollie, also Mack are well. Thinking it over this ought to reach you just about the 17th. Good Luck to the Old Town.

 

Heres hoping that this letter finds you all well and that you will not find the hot weather that you must by this time be getting unindurable. Ill close

 

With love to all

Sam

 

Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces.

 

P.S. This is just to show you that I can write a letter without crouding to the very bottom of the sheet so that you cant read the last few sentences. Bon Jour.

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere near Royaumeix, 5/29/1918

Dear Em.

 

Your letter of April 30 just received and I must say that it sure does contain some encouragement. Although you say you have written others, this one of April 30 is the latest one since the 21st that Ive received to date. Im not going to go into any details as to my present status, but beleive me Em Im going to come back just as you say, Im going to.

 

We are still on the same front from which my other letters were written only a little farther along. Say Em this part of France is pretty, and right here I want to take back some of the harsh things Ive said about France and her climate. As usual Ive received quite a lot of mail this trip, and of coarse that means the most of my spare time taken up for the next two or three days.

 

To answer you in regard to Capt. Tobey. After an absense of seven weeks he is again with the regiment but not as yet in command of his company. No Em, again I will say it was no fault of mine that brought on the change. You probably will want to know just what I am doing now. Well Em our regiment just at present is not in the line but not far from it, nor will it be long before we are in again. We are enjoying the little rest very much though, and already feel that we can again take our place. Im as fat as ever and I bet I weigh between 60-70 lbs. can you O.O. me. I wish you could get a glimse at me now. Of coarse we dont know when we will go in but Im going to have some beef to lose.

 

Now Em Im going to give you some news. Last night we had the pleasure (and pleasure it was Em) to see a real American woman, hear real American singing, and some real American jokes, and from a real American actress Elsie Janis. Say Em it was great, and I don’t believe I ever appreciated a star as I did her the few minutes she had to spare. She told some jokes which were good, sang, danced, lead the band, and invited any private to get up on the platforme and dance the fox trot with her. (I was in the back row). She sang a song “Over Here” with the same tune to “Over There” you’ve probably heard it. “I dont want to get well.” Well any way she was the “darb” and her stunts over here will never be forgotten by the real trench dogs. She has pulled the string that sent one of our largest shells over to the Boshe and is having many narrow escapes in the work she is doing.

 

"Show at the YMCA" by C. Leroy Baldridge, 1918

Am sorry to hear they have stopped the $10. and we can thank politics for that. It was one of the inducements for the boys to inlist. I was glad though to hear that you are all well. Do you remember, of my speaking of getting a package from a sister to one of the boys at the shop. I just got a letter from her stating that she had already left for over here as a red cross nurse. Im not looking for a blighty but if this is the case that song may apply to me.

 

This is not much of a letter but it lets you know that Im still on my feet and feeling fine. I purchased a pretty good tooth brush at the Y.M.C.A. yesterday and now I am tip top again. Ive got to answer letters received from, two fellows at the shop that were “just globbed”, the shipper, Miss Freat the nurse and S.B. When this is all done Ill feel as though I did my bit of writing. In closing I want to assure you that Im the same Sam. Hoping to get your other letters

 

Love to all

Sam

 

Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. Am. Ex. Forces

 

 

© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.