Under Bombardment, 5/10/1918

On May 10, at 0115 hours in a heavy fog, the Germans detonated 1,141 gas projector bombs containing over 20 tons of phosgene on the south slope of Hill #322, Bois de Apremont, St. Agnant and the surrounding trenchworks which were occupied by the 103rd Infantry. Additional incoming gas, trench mortar and high explosive fire was taken by the 103rd at 0525. A total of 33 men were killed, 12 wounded and 162 hospitalized due to gas from the night’s work…

Somewhere near Gironville, 5/9/1918

Dear Em,


After about four days of sunshine and extra fine weather it has again dampened up and I suppose we are in for another spell of usual rain and mud. (Sey la Guerre.) Your letter of April 7th was very interesting and altho Ive received one bearing a much later date the one of the seventh contained news that was new to me. That must have been some parade alright, but there is going to be one better. “The Victory Day.” “One where we all join in.” Of coarse Ive got no idea as to when this will be. You can never always sometimes tell you know. White Plains. The mothers and wives section of that parade sure was some impressive Ill bet.

"Reading Their Shirts" by Baldridge, 1918


I am very well and tho we are still where we were there is absolutly nothing doing of any note. It is just one of those long days when every thing is quiet and the clouds hang very low. A day when our very close friends make themselves the centre of attraction and start us in our reading lessons. Speaking of the flag is a reminder, that the other day while at one of these readings I in some way stepped on the watch getting out of it very lucky with only a broken crystal. There was an old watch kicking around from which I took the crystal casing and all, taped same to the watch and it is as good as ever until I can get some place where I can get the right thing. As for the chain, Ive discontinued using it in this place and it is with the rest of my sole belongings Left hand shirt pocket. I wish there was some thing I could write that I thought would interest you, but you see there is nothing.


Your discription of what you and the rest happen to be doing as you write your letters, presents a picture as plain as if it was in front of me, and pleases me very much. May you and the “Bunch” enjoy many a pleasant trip to the Beach this summer. Hope Aunt Madge is lucky in her new move, for from what you say it would be a good one. How is the piano and the ice chest? I suppose Katherine has got something planted in the yard by this time. Tell her I wish her the best of luck. Best regards to all



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



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

[Editor’s Note: The “reading lessons” with close friends refers to cootie hunts or “shirt hunts” which became a form of warm-weather recreation for troops while at rest, involving the close scrutiny of garments for lice in order to pick them off by hand. “Left hand shirt pocket” refers to the common location where troops kept their personal effects for recovery in the event they were killed or seriously wounded.]

Somewhere near Gironville, 5/5/1918

Dear Em.


Received your letter of April 11, last night and was very glad to hear that every thing is O.K. there with you folks. Im just the same as usual and will go farther by saying that we are at (present) enjoying perfect, sunny weather. It sure is great hear when the sun is shining and it is appreciated more so for the reason that we’ve seen so little of it latly. Although we occupy a sector of the front yet, the trees here are now in full bloom and the feilds are very pretty. Birds fly back and forth singing and twittering as tho there was no such thing as conflict and strife right in the very air they fly through.


Yes we are enjoying Spring just as you folks must be enjoying it now, and I know you will agree with me when I say “Its Great.” It has been very quiet here for the last two or three days, and today you would think that peace had been declared or that they had ceased hostilities for the Sabbath.


OH joy Em! Cant you see why my mind turns to Spring, birds, green fields, apple blossoms, sun shine and bumble bees tee hee. I suppose the children are having their May Parties and enjoying themselves now. Any way, rest assured that Im enjoying life “over here” and we haven’t had as much as one days leave since hitting France either. We’ve been at the front or on the road ever since Feb. 5 and I guess it is about as good a place as any – (in France).


That drive for the Liberty Loan must be making things very interesting, especially the Tank you speak of, and the airships. From all accounts every one is taking hold in the real American Spirit, which is very incouraging to us. Altho we get white bread with every meal, I would like to get ahold of some of Lena’s several varieties.


Glad to know you are getting along so well at Plant’s, and that you like it so well. When you speak of Pa and his pipe, it reminds me that I have many a pleasant smoke from the first one you sent which I think was around Christmas. I suppose the Beach will soon be in full swing, and that you Zella Sadie and the rest will soon be enjoying what there is down there to enjoy this Summer. As for me Em, well I think I will have a steady job over hear.


Well Em I know you will be disappointed in this letter as to its length and the news that it contains, but it is the best I can do. Saw Emma’s husband the other day and he is looking good. He said he hadn’t heard from home for quite a while and was surprized when I told him the date of my last letter. It took your last letter just 23 days to reach me which is going some considering where I am. Keep it up, also give my regards to all.





Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf, A.E.F.



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

Somewhere near Gironville, 4/30/1918

Dear Em


Got your letter of April 1, yesterday (the one in which you mentioned receiving the Stars & Stripes) and I guess it was about time you got it. A carton of Perfections was very welcomly received by me also and beleive me they didnt last long for a ready made cigarette to us right here is a gold mine. You bet your life we should be satisfied with first class mail and I wont mind it until they start to cut down on this.


Glad to hear you say that you will continue to write regardless of how much you hear from me. I am very well, and was glad to know that you are all about the same back there. I suppose you’re getting used to that hour change by this time, and make very good use of it.


We are still where we was after leaving the last place and where we will be until we leave for the next. You see the responsible information we are intrusted with keeps us from getting a head ack. It continues dark and rainy but it is much warmer. The latest news in the papers does not effect us. Liable to hear from us soon. In closing I want to assure you that where ever I am I will remain the same




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



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

Somewhere near Gironville, 4/22/1918

Dear Em


I suppose you will say, “About time.” Or will I blame you very much, for it has been quite a few days since Ive sent you a letter, and that one, if I remember right, was very short. To start with I am very well and have been ever since my last letter. Received quite a few letters in the last three days among which was your four letters dated Mar. 16, 20, 24, and 26, and one from Lena. I have answered Lena’s and it seems as though all I do latly is write. Seventeen letters to answer keeps a fellow pretty well occupied in his spare moments beleive me.


I am going to answer your four letters in this one hoping that this will be agreeable to you. I got a letter off to Madge last night, and addressed it to 103 Rutherford Ave, which is doing pretty well for me, how about it? Was very glad to hear of your good luck in getting into Plants, for Ive heard that the help out there is given every consideration for accomadation and amusments.


Who are the chosen few, pray, that the letters are turned over to. Say Em you’re there when it comes to composing letters. You may think you have an idea how interesting they are getting to me, but I don’t think you will ever realize fully how much I am appreciating them of late. Of coarse you know that we are up here again where you wake up with a roar, get your mess with a roar, and where we are roared to sleep, and, as the French men say “It is noising.” When really it is nothing. This is Monday the 22nd and Im writing so don’t get me mixed up in the news that was printed Sunday. Get me.


Did you enjoy your dance at Hibernian Hall that you said you was going to. You also mention in the same letter, of rain you was getting, and I want to say that all we have been getting latly is rain. Yes Em Miss Gorey was right when she said I was a tall thin boy. I wonder what she would say if she saw me now. One safe bet is that she wouldn’t know me, but I’d know her all right. More speed to where Daddy goes when he goes out.


Lipsett has not returned to us yet. As for the draft men, they are arriving over here every day. Some of them are being used to fill up this very regiment. I agree with you Em, they will be there when their time comes, for they are Americans and will be shown every consideration, even if we are only volunteers.


I had no idea that I had written so much, but it only goes to show how many I must have received from you. That day light saving idea is an old one in France and our time changed Easter, also. OH you new kitchen! I remember when Pa said, “Aint it the dirtiest green you ever saw,” (Haw Haw). Instead of, I wonder how the table looks at home, its the kitchen wall now.


I received that last package you sent O.K. and it came in very handy. Ive got the face and shaving soap with me now. I hope Berts mother is settled in her new home now, and also feeling well. I hope Aunt Madge gets a letter from Tom about the same time mine arrives and Im sure she will enjoy it better. I suppose Mary and yourself have some great old talks riding to and from work? I wish you could send some of that sunshine you spoke of in your letter of Mar. 23 over here.


Talking of Easter and your new coat, makes me think. I dressed up a little that day myself. Said day happened along while we were on a four day hike from the last front. I attended church that day, and dressed for the occasion, which consisted of scraping the mud off my shoes and puttees, washing my face and hands and combing my hair. I thought of you folks at home that day and thought Id like to see the usual parade again this year.


That item in the paper about Bob Melvin is quite a get up, but he is a good fellow and deserves all that is coming to him. As for that vacation you speak of, I hope you all enjoy the one you take. Mine will come when the world gets hers. Here is hoping I don’t get one until then for a blighty as far as I can make out won’t taste good, and Id rather be in it with a whole freight and a few worries, than out of it as a convalescant and nothing on my mind but the clock.


There couldn’t have been any mail consigned to me on the ship you speak of for I think I drew all that I was intitled to. Hoping this finds you all well Ill close.


My best regards to all



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


[Editor’s Note: Easter Sunday occurred on March 31, 1918. It appears that Sam’s unit celebrated Easter worship in advance during their march to Reynel. This was likely due to the limited number of Chaplains that had to widely circulate among many units. It was enough to simply recognize the Feast at all, never mind on the actual day.]


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

Somewhere near Menil-la-Tour, 4/13/1918

Dear Em.


I thought it about time I dropped you a line and informed you that Im still well and enjoying life as well as could be expected. Ive received no mail now for about a month which means, I suppose, that there is an awful batch of it “somewhere”. There is really nothing to say, for nothing of note has happened since my last letter. There is one thing that can be always spoken of though and that is the weather. We’ve been very fortunate in this respect of late for it is just “graund”.


Ran into a fellow who was in the Hospital Corp of the Old Eighth and we had quite a chat about old times. Have read papers dated March 2nd that spoke of the New England Regiments and thought that the news was exagerated very much. What must they be doing now?


Lost my tooth brush yesterday so you see Im in an awful imbarrassing position now. There is a barbor here and I get my hair cut once in a while just for old times sake. How are all the girls at the shop? The boys are all well and in good spirits. Those lines at the top of the front page of the Post are real jolly don’t you think?


Everybody over here seems to think Germany won’t last much longer, and I suppose that is the ruling thought over there. This drive will decide it I hope. If not it means a long winter in France for the A.E.F. and those that are not yet A.E.F. How many (less) days have you folks got now. There is one I bet you will be just as well satisfied with, Winterless.


Well Em, look out for showers and don’t forget to give Napolean a smile. My best regards to all and knowing you will excuse pencil Ill close



Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf A.E.F.


P.S. Had a bath yesterday, and parted with some very close friends. Big hearted chaps at that. Easy enough to get some more though.



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

Engagement at Apremont, 4/12/1918

On April 12, men of the 103rd Infantry were sent into the left side of the line at Bois Brule near Apremont and St. Agnant to reinforce the 104th Infantry. Throughout the afternoon and evening the 103rd was engaged in small unit close combat with German infantry in a tangle of earthworks, wire and underbrush. The enemy was finally driven back from the American positions…

Somewhere near Menil-la-Tour, 4/9/1918

Dear Em


A little time to spare and as it is dark and rainy outside I have hiked over here to the Y.M to write, you being the first on the list. Got a letter from you yesterday dated Feb. 21 also one from Mary and although Ive received mail from you written since then, I enjoyed it very much. That was funny about the screw driver wasn’t it? It has come in very handy more than once. I was glad to hear that they are laying off the less on heat now, but then, I suppose the weather is such that you don’t use much coal anyway.


I suppose Pa is held up every night on account of the shortage of cars, and has quite a story about it too. I am glad to hear every one is well and hope that Theresa and her chum enjoyed their trip. As for that State money Em, didn’t they make a ruling that all volunteers who went to France was to get it (passed Feb. 28/18). If not let me know in your next.


No, all the sergeants that poem speaks of are not with us now. Two of them have gone to school and one of them was wounded so bad that he will never come back. Captain Tobey as I told you before is no longer with us so you see a lot of changes are taking place. I am feeling fine as usual and intend to continue so. Don’t let the papers worry you too much about the news they print in regards to the awful battles we are in. Ive seen some of the Boston Papers that speak of this division. We have taken no part in the big drive yet, although we are here behind the lines ready to go in when neaded (you see Ive still got the pen).


Im glad you got the package for I thought it was about time it reached you. Oh you Morning Glories! So they had a jam as usual? It must have been a great success, and I sure would like to have been there. Tell Mary I will answer her letter as soon as I can find time, for it is getting crowded in this Y.M. now and writing is getting to be almost imposible. I know you will call this a very short letter but I will write again soon and try to make up for it.


Best regards to all



Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf A.E.F.



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

Somewhere near Menil-la-Tour, 4/6/1918

Dear Em.


It sure is about time I wrote to you and it is going to be somewhat bad news that this letter will contain. I am a private and the reason I will give is that it was through no fault of my own. Captain Tobey is no longer in command of this company.


I am very well though Em, and doing my best as a soldier. Of coarse the loss of my rating stung me quite hard, but then, it is only part of this game. As it is bad policy to say much in this line, I will ring off and we will all have to consider it a common occurance.


We have been on the move of late and are now in a little town behind the lines. We are getting some wet weather now and, as usual when this is the case, every one is feeling muddy. Ive received all your mail up to March 8 and there must be some more pretty handy. This is the first time Ive had a chance to write you and now that I have got time I feel that Ive said enough in informing you of my come down. I used to think I liked this game and Ive far from changed my mind in this respect yet, but it does seem an awful long climb to get up of late. I havent weakened one bit, don’t you worry, for there is a lesson in every defeat you know.


My reduction came about a week ago, and after this letter is sent the most worry some thing on my mind will be over. Mind you, I havent delayed writing because of this, for I feel confident that Sam is there and will show it before this war is over. I know you folks will be disappointed in this news but you cant be any more so than I have been. Have been understand for it is a thing of the past now, and there is no such thing as disappointment ahead for me. If there is, it must be far beyond the sky line for my head is up and my eyes are dead ahead and I can see nothing but advantages. Cases like mine are happening every day over here, although this fact made it far from being easier to swallow.


I hope that this letter finds you all well and enjoying some pleasant weather now. Give my regards to all and tell them that although I am minus my ribbons, Ive got the same health and an even more determination to get back what Ive lost and then some.


Your loving brother



Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf A.E.F.


P.S. This letter reminds me of that old song “Just break the news to Mother.” Tee hee.



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

Into the Toul Sector, 3/30/1918

Dear Folks.


We have just arrived  back to our training base but we are off again to some place up front there. It is a very hurried movement but I have grabbed off this much time to write so that you will know that I came out of the other mixe O.K. and Im as well as ever.


Saw some of the Boston Papers and will say that the 26th division is there. Tell them all you have heard from me for this is the only letter Ive got time to write or will have time to write for the Lord only knows when. There is a lot to tell about but that dosent mean that there is a lot to write about. After this second trip up we will probably have a little time to spend. The weather is getting very bad now, but then it seems every time we move any where this is the case.


Got your letters dated Mar. 2 and 5 yesterday which was the day we arrived. I am sorry I have no time to answer them for we are off again after just coming out. Will write the first chance I get. Now Ive got to get on the jump, so good bye.


With love best wishes and regards to all



Sgt. S.E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf A.E.F.



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