Neufchateau, France 1/28/1918

Some where in France

 

Dear Em

 

"The Pipe" by Baldridge, 1918

I just penned you a letter last night, but on getting the Christmas package you folks sent, Im just going to try and thank you all (if this is possible). That Bull is sure going to come in handy the next month or so, and I hope I will have the pleasure of enjoying it all. Ive still got the pipe so, that Dills will also come in handy (the other package being gone). The cake did take the cake. It is the darb. Razor blades, great. And tooth brush paste, screw driver yes so every thing was greatly appreciated. Here I am thanking you when I really dont know how. The shaving soap was just what I wanted, for it is very scarce here.

 

Was glad to here that you are all well and servived the cold snap all right. Those cards you sent made me very home sick, and it was more the cause for this letter going tome tonight than any other. I am well as usual. Ive got to answer Madges and Berts letter yet but I hope they wont be disappointed if this is put off some time yet. Also the package from the boss. Gee but its great to have some friends when your not in your Home town.

 

I just insured my self for 10,000 so if any thing happens you will be able to buy some sugar. As for the rest of my pay Em, Im not throwing it away dont worry. Im saving more than you can imagine, and again if any thing happens you will all get the benifit of it. If you folk really nead some let me know and you will get it toot sweet. As I have said before Im glad to know you area all well and hope you remain so. I know Im do for a call for this letter but if you knew the conditions at present you would excuse me.

 

Regards to all

 

Sam.

 

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

Neufchateau, France 1/23/1918

France

 

Dear Em

 

Three letters received from you today dated Dec. 14, 18, 22 also one from Henry dated Dec. 22 and must say that they were very much welcomed by me. We are to have another gas drill tonight at seven oclock but I will try and write as much as posible before said drill. It is raining as usual and the mud even in the main street is like the S.B. flats. They never had this part of France in their minds when they sprung that one “Sunny France.” Im feeling very well as usual and hope you folks are all the same. As usual there is absolutly nothing I can say so I hope you’ll excuse me for not saying anything.

 

Male Quartet by Joseph Chase

There is a French family here that we are very much liked by and some nights we sit and talk, thereby getting so we can parlez each other pretty well. We give them a little harmony once in a while which they think is very bon or Trai bon. Had the band out playing tonight (although it was raining) for the first time in a month.

 

I can see 297 Bunker Hill St now with that Red Cross and service flag flying from the window. Has Harry been called yet? But before I start asking you questions, I want to say that Im afraid you will not hear from me very often from now on. While writing this, three more letters came in from you dated, Dec. 26, 28, 31, showing that you sure are doing your share in the writing game. Also one from Mrs. Holland, Catherine, and Lil, and a package of smokes from the boss. I dont know whether I will be able to answer these as I should or not for things are going to happen right away, and as I want to answer all of them you see the little time and excitement that is my luck just now will not give me a chance to do the letters justice.

 

Gee its great to read your letters that state the enjoyment you folks are getting from Leonard. Yes I would like to be there now trying to get your goat. Im all excited but Im going to finish this letter tonight. I wish I could answer your letters right, but as Ive said before you will have to be content with a card at times for a while. Im fit in every way so dont worry until you hear from me otherwise. If I get a chance I will drop a line to Zella, and by the way Em tell her I was asking for her.

 

I hope you folks will get over the cold snap you all speak of, in first class condition. It is very far from cold here now but it continues to stay wet. Tell Madge I received her letter and it pleased me very much to get a letter from her. I will try to write again to her. Give my very best regards to all Em and tell them I will write if I can. Look back through the letter and you will see the (arrow) that was when all the orders started and you can see that the rest of the letter is mostly in Chinese. Glad to hear Pa is well as usual, also Mr. Holland and the rest.

 

Please call it a letter Em and excuse me for calling it one. In your later letters you spoke of my letters as being so good. Im afraid I havent time to keep up my reputation. Keep up the writing Em for Ill nead it and I remain

 

Sam.

 

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

Neufchateau, France 1/18/1918

 

Picture of 1st Sgt. Sam Avery taken at Neufchateau, France and sent home as a postcard around January 18, 1918. The correspondence written on the back is now unreadable after the card was glued into a family scrapbook for many years.

 

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

Neufchateau, France 1/15/1918

Same Place.

 

Dear Em.

 

Being a very dull day in these parts I thought Id break up as much of it as I could by sending a few lines to you. I realize of coarse that you wont get any of these last few letters that I have written to you unless they are all in a bunch, but I know that another little one wont do you any harm. I also realize that you must have more time to write than I have so don’t let me get ahead of you: Get me? Haven’t received any mail from any one now for at least two weeks, so you see Im looking forward to big things.

 

Gee but it does rain here today and with what snow there is on the ground makes it very hard for one to hold his feet (to the ground I mean) with these hob nailed shoes. It is one glare of ice (in the words of a Charlestowner). Ive got this stove going pretty good now and although Ive been out in the rain and my feet are wet Im getting pretty comfortable now. Of coarse I can not say how long this comfortable buisiness will last and there is no use wishing for the best, for Im not kicking either way. Work and drill goes on the same as usual, except for today, there being only two platoons out on account of the torrents of rain that is pouring down today. Im a member of the “In” crowd today, and if you was here you wouldnt blame me.

 

Had quite a sing at the Y.M.C.A. last night. This was only the second time Ive been there since hitting this town. To much can not be said for the good work the Y.M. is doing. It is simply wonderful how they reach the men and make life pleasant for them. As for me Im just the same as ever, Great. Most of the boys are feeling great also, and as most of the winter is over now I guess their health will improve if anything.

 

The watch keeps good time, and it is up to me to run the time for calls for the company and this Waltham is always on the job. The chain does very good work by holding the watch somewhere in the vicinity of the pants when I take them off at night, and especially when I grab them quick in the morning with only about three seconds to spare. I hope to carry this watch and chain right back to the Dear Old U.S. with me. Its not going to be my fault if this doesn’t happen anyway.

 

Well Em this is all. I just thought Id drop you a line any way, never intending when I started to write much. So over the pond goes this letter, and hoping for many in return. My regards to all

 

Sam.

 

 

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

Neufchateau, France 1/12/1918

Same Place

 

Dear Em.

 

Although not a member of the British Expeditionary Forces we are in a way with them on one big job. That is why I can take the liberty to use this paper. This paper proposition is a tough one and we’ve got to use what ever paper we can get our hands on. Just think of using this kind of paper (letter paper) for company work; and this is the case. Have had a slight cold due to wet feet, and out side of a cough that at times makes it very disagreeable Im feeling O.K. now.

 

It looks very much like more snow for a change. It has only rained and snow steadily now for at least a week. Out side of this (weather) as Bert says there is very little to talk about. I just had a little time this afternoon and thought Id use it up along with this paper. Im looking for a letter from you any day now and it is only a question when the boat gets in when your mail (and Im sure there is some on the way) gets here.

 

As a whole all the boys are in very good condition with the exception of coughs and colds which amounts to practically nothing, considering the kind of weather we are having and the life this is. I suppose you are all well at home there, hope so any way. How the days weeks, yes even months are rolling by. Of coarse this is a very small percentage of the time we are to stay here in France, and are making up our minds to Pray for the Best and Prepare for the Test. My regards to all

 

Sam.

 

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

Neufchateau, France 1/8/1918

Same Place

 

Dear Em and the rest.

 

Just a line to let you know that I continue to enjoy perfect health and expect to hear the same of you very soon. Received that package that I spoke of that was sent by a sister of one of the boys at the shop. It contained Lucky Strikes, Perfections and some very choice chocolate all of which was very acceptable, not only by my self but by the rest of the crew. I sent a letter thanking her for sending it in answer to her letter stating it was on the way. Now I got to write another, saying I got the package, not that Im crazy to write, (for I sure get enough of this) but I want to show my appreciation for all that is done for us thereby making it posible, probably, to get a package to some one else, who is not quite as fortunate as I in getting packages and letters from home.

 

I hope Lena, Bert, Henry, and your self have by this time received my answer to the letters sent by those named, and I hope that they (letters) will please them at least one one hundreth as much as I enjoyed theirs. In my previous letters I think I spoke of a great thaw that was making things very disagreeable here but yesterday it blew up cold again and this morning on piling out for reville I was met with an inch of snow which I will have to admit made surroundings more pleasant to the eye but with a realization that conditions even more disagreeable in the future would be the result.

 

Took a bath today Em, Yes and changed every stitch on me even to a waist belt and hankerchief. But! I didn’t take as much time doing it as I would in “In Door Sports.” Never mind Em Im clean, and this is some thing I couldn’t boast of in a great deal of my other letters. You all ways used to say “Talk of good things.” Well Em this is what I surtainly am doing now. There are a lot of good things in the world, and Im telling you right now, a wash is pretty handy to the top of the list.

 

There are three of us here at this little table, writing by the aid of this poor little lantern, all with one thing on our minds which is, “I wonder how the old folks are at home.” I forgot to tell you that where we are now we have no electric lights as we did in our other shack, but then there is no place like home. It is snowing again and I suppose by morning there will be two or three more inches added to the three or four that is now on the ground. I dont know as it makes much difference any way for if it isnt snow its just as much mud. Gee it is going to be great here in the spring.

 

Have you heard from Tom latly. The last time you mentioned him you spoke of there being a posibility of him getting a furlough round Christmas. I hope he got it but in the same breath I envy him if he did. Tell Madge and the whole bunch that although letters from me are not as numerous as they should be, that if Sam had the time he sure would put it to good advantage and send them all at least a line. At the Border this was far from the case, but now we are in an altogether different buisiness than letter writing, there for keeping our minds from drifting to better things.

 

After finishing this letter we’ve got to scout up some wood for morning. Not go down the cellar to chop it mind you but scout it. Well Em I hope this finds every body well, and as I said in the beginning, to hear soon that this is the case. Give my regards to Sadie and the rest with the assurance that I do send my regards and best wishes. How is Lillian Studley, Little Mary, Old George, Napolean, the cop across the street, Magie, the Kids and Roughan’s; Answer these questions and I remain

 

Sam.

 

P.S. I suppose you think Im pretty fussy by addressing my letters on the typewriter. Now the typewriter is here and it makes said address plain so you can get it. Has the basket of cloths gone down yet? Im lonesome for my job. Do you think I need a hair cut. Good night.

 

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

Neufchateau, France 1/4/1918

Same Place

 

Dear Em.

 

Six letters received today and beleive me it is going to be some job to answer them all in due time, and, as they should be answered, for with the very limited time we are getting now (and the limited time is sure getting to be the limit) there is very little time to think of home let alone write. Now Im not going to say any more about the time for there is so little time to talk about that Id use it all up and I wouldn’t have any more of it to use on what I have to say (Time).

 

Well Em lets go. Got two letters from you dated Dec. 5 and Dec. 10, two from Southy dated Dec. 5 and Dec. 10 one from Henry (which I will answer next) dated Dec. 10, and one from the Boss dated Dec. 10. How is that for time. You can imagine what a day this was for me, and then you will not realize how much I appreciate this mail. Its like the old saying “When my ship comes in,” and all we want off that ship is what mail is consigned to us. Its a great life after all when you get a letter from home, and answer it by saying “Im feeling great.”

 

In your letter of Dec. 5th you said it was just a week since you heard from me, but that you new it was not my fault. Im writing all the time Em (that is when I get a chance). I don’t mind waiting for mail at all, for we’ve got to wait until the mail gets in any way. But when the mail gets in and I find no letter from you; Well Im wanting the war to stop right there thats all. Yes Em mail day is a Christmas day here and thats one good thing about France. We get a Christmas about once every three weeks.

 

So Al was asking for me. Tell him the next time he happens to drop in (of coarse Im liable to see him myself first who knows) that Im wishing him many more long enjoyable trips. I never will fully express the pleasure experienced by my reading the letter Henry wrote me, for, (well it was great thats all). You spoke about missing him when he goes home. Well Em, don’t let him and Leonard go home, and you’ve got the whole thing solved. Am very pleased to hear that Nora is getting along all right and I hope that this will find you ready to say she is O.K.

 

Good luck to the Home Gaurd Em, and let me tell you right here, give them credit. They are doing their bit in the same spirit that the tin soldiers are doing theirs. Right here I want to say Em that as usual Mass. in her Militia has them all stopped again. Will tell you about it when I see you. Can’t tell you in this form. I can picture Henry and Pa chewing it out, pipe and fag. Say Em talk about being cold, will tell you about it when I see you.

 

I havent received your second box, if such was sent, or as Pa would say if it wasnt sent. By your letter of the 10th Dec. I take it you and Leonard have some pleasant sessions. Am sending a cap such as we are wearing now. Ive been wearing it all day, so tell him it is one his Uncle wore in France. The one I wear is blue and the #s 103 on the left hand flap. May have it made a duplicate of my own, will tell you later. Tom is a lucky kid if he can get home within a year. Nuf ced. I know you will be disappointed in the brief letters I will be compelled to write from now on, but beleive me Em it isn’t because I don’t want to say more, or because I have nothing to say.

 

It is now twelve oclock and a letter to Henry before I turn in. Never weakening a bit Em. As luck would have it we’ve got a fire here tonight, and a streak of luck has got to be taken advantage of. Now don’t be disappointed Em if you don’t get another letter as long as this although I will promise to write often to keep you posted on my condition. I say good night with love to all

 

Sam.

 

P.S. Henry will have to wait until tomorrow. A healthy man gets sleepy.

 

 

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

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,


Sam.

© 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.

 

Sam.

 

 

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