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

Sam.

 

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

Sam

 

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

Sam

 

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

 

 

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

First Relief From The Line, 3/19/1918

The 103rd Infantry was relieved from its section of the Aisne line and marched to the rear where they finally had the chance to bathe and change their lice-infested clothing. They continued by train and on the march to the Southeast, joining the rest of the 26th Division reassembled at Bar-sur-Aube. What would follow was a long 4-day march to Reynel during which the entire Division gained valuable experience in the logisitics of movement and supply. Following are notes from Sam’s Pocket Diary:

Company left Rgt. P.C. (Point A) at 8 oclock pm Mar 19/18 marched to Busy de Long arriving at 12.15 pm. Men got washed and donned clean cloths and left Busy de Long at 10 pm 3/20 marching to Abbie Fontenol station at 2 am 21st arrived intrained and left at 8 am 21st arrived at Chatillon Sur-Marne (Point B) at 8 am 22nd. Detrained and left Sotillon Sur Marne at 9 am marching to Blasse (Point C) arriving at 6 pm 23.

 

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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 3/17/1918

Dear Em,

 

St. Patrick’s day, (if Im not mistaken,) and a pretty good day over here at that, as far as the weather is conserned. How is South Boston? I suppose she is dressed up like a chap on leave. Do you remember when I used to get the afternoon off, hurry home, get into a uniform and hit out for the Armory to take part in its celibration? OO La La. Those were happy days. Parading days, the last one, when I marched as a member of Co. K 8th Mass. N.G. in our farewell to Boston. Some what different today, lined up against a nation that has been at it for close to four years.

 

Although still in the trenches the fellows all seem to remember different experiences that they have had on this day and to hear some of them talk of them is not only funny but a pleasant reminder. So much for St Patrick, only I wish he was in Germany and if so I think it would be almost wholly depopulated.

 

I know I won’t get any mail from you for quite a while now and you will have to rest content on receipt of the same dose I think. I will write as often as I can but this will probably be useless for I will not be able to mail what letters I do write. I cannot tell you in this, why this condition will exist for the movement of troops mentioned in a letter is far from common sence.

 

The boys are all in good health including myself the last named more so if anything. The boshe have been feeding us up with gas latly but up to this writing no one in this company has suffered from its effects. Gas alert is very much the rule now, and very often they are worn. I class the one that I now rest my chin on, my best friend as well as does every other man on this front. One thing can be said though and that is for every gas shell that Fritz sends over the Allies give them three.

 

I suppose you’re wondering why Im writing in pencil. Well I had a fight with the pen and Im sorry to say I got the best of it. You know what I am when I get my mad up. As usual I spilled the soup and ruined the scenery about me, just as I would the table cloth. How about it Lena? I don’t suppose I should speak of this table cloth racket but we might as well think of things we long to see again. Im bitting my little finger nail too as I write. You see Em Im just Sammie in France that’s all. I wish I could dig up something to write about but you see my mind is very much at home tonight, and you know I never write when at home. Or say an awful lot either.

 

One of the boys got a letter from a friend of his in Charlestown who says that at night there are very few fellows out and that everything is dead. Id never know the old town now I guess judging from this. I hope for the sake of others that your laughing days are over as far as the kids coasting is conserned, but that those same kids will hold their anual and enormous May Parties to amuse you. Say Em I think the funniest sights I ever witnessed was a May Party up by the house. I suppose they will be at it soon and here is hoping that they will enjoy them selves more this year than any previous. If I was there I wouldnt miss them. I think Id rather see them than Napolean when said gent was running.

 

Well Em the cooties are neither calling or sending be to bed. The rats are neither lonesome nor crouded, the Boshe is neither noisey or sleeping, the blanket neither wants me nor leaves me, and a lot more neithers or eithers but Sam is going to flop, pull said blanket over me and pound my ear. I hope it is only one ear too because a fellow looses valuable time turning over. Yes Em (after sharpening this pencil for the final thrust) Im going to have a good sleep tonight for I have both the time, place, inclination and ability.

 

We had a good stew tonight for supper, with three slices of bread, and a cup of coffee. You see Em we are very well fixed, and with all our troubles packed away in our old kit bags we smile smile smile. Call me at quarter of seven in the morning for I nead a shave.

 

Good night all with love

Sam

 

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

 

 

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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 3/14/1918

Dear Em

 

Just received your letter dated Feb. 18 and will say that you are a champ. I just sent a letter to Mary and used my last peice of writing paper on it. I thought when I started that I would write enough to cover the whole sheet but when I got started on it I really couldn’t. Conditions are such now that you can’t put your mind only on sertain things. I addressed the letter to you and it will probably get there with this one.

 

As I have told you before, everything is either wet or damp here, but Ill call it damp, for it never gets any drier no matter what you call it. Ive got a few of these envelopes in my kit that are useless on account of the said dampness, sticking the flap down. Thus the envelopes for a letter. This old pen and I have some fine arguments too I tell you. Don’t I have my worries?

 

Im answering your letter now for we may get a sudden move and I wouldn’t have a chance to then. By the way Em, if you don’t hear from me for a while now don’t get nervous for there may be a good reason. Ive got to start envelope #2 now. Getting back to your letter, you said that you got a letter from me dated Jan 28, and I think thats doing pretty well for the mail service. As for the few moments to spare Em, a fellow always has this and to what better advantage could he use them than writing home. Especially when he is repaid as I am by such letters from you.

 

It has been very quiet on this front for two days now, but the Lord only knows what this means, or what Old Fritz is up to. We are ready for any thing though and if any thing, the boys would just as leave have something start as the way it is now. Tom must be in a position that makes it imposible to write or Im quit sure he would do so. Im very glad to know that Madge is well again and I hope she will enjoy her self now. It was kind of tough that you couldn’t attend that party, and I bet you was awfully (put out.) As you say Em on our party but we’ve got a long time to prepare for it don’t you think? Say Em in your next tell me if the State still comes across with the ten. Lena takes the right stand in this game and I wish that every body else would do the same. In that way those at the front will be doing nothing more than those at home, for all that anyone can do is their best.

 

As for those stairs, I sure do hear them calling me and I hope to answer their call some time. As usual (or rather the same old story Im well.) We are still in the front line trenches, and outside of being dirty, ragged, and some what lighter, those of us that have not been knocked off or wounded are as cheerful as the day we stepped into them. We are wiser though, for experience is a good teacher.

 

I don’t know as Ive got much more to say Em so Im thinking of closing on this side of this envelope. Again I say, the box you folks sent is the darb. When you get this we will, (by all rules of the game be out here,) and I don’t know as Ill kick much if we are. Was back to the base yesterday (and some walk too) and while there a few of the band men and yours truly had a little harmony. Say Em it was good, no kidding. When I get that baton in my mits again with that band behind me (OO La La). Music, when have I heard that word? While in this mood it is a good time wind up and say so with love to all I remain

 

Sam

 

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

 

P.S. If you will notice Em this letter is inclosed in an envelope that is warped on account of the dampness.

 

 

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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 3/13/1918

Dear Em and the rest of you,

 

After a somewhat buisy three days, during which time I received three letters from you, two from Lil, one from Mary, also your very welcome box, and two cartons of cigarettes from Mrs Millor and a letter from the boss, I find a little time to sit down just as I am, and start to answer what I can, before some thing else turns up to change my mind.

 

I think it will be proper to say that I have had a very buisy time of it since the tenth, the most of which was taken up in a way you would little dream. Its this way Em. We had a muster, and pay roll to make out and if you knew what mustering a company at the front, especially a Hdq. Co. you would have a fair idea of what we had to do with mustering, in itself. Then Jim Corr got the pay roll ready to sign and it meant another trip to every point, clear from our base to the very front line. All on foot mind you.

 

Hdq. Co. is some split up unit at the front beleive me. It is split up and detailed to each Battalion, from the battalions to each company in same. Neadless to tell you I had to see that every man signed the pay roll (the Lord only knows when we will get what we signed for). You read articles at home there, that say how men going into the front line trenches only stay ten or fifteen days. Hdq. Co. though stays in until the whole regiment clears out of the trenches altogether. This regiment has been up here now since Feb. 7 and to date I don’t know when we will be releived. Never a worry, kick, or any thing less than a smile though, is seen here, and they can keep us here for ever if the war lasts that long, for we all realize that kicking wont win this war unless it is a boshe you kick and you’ve got to chase him a while to catch him, and the only way to catch him is to be up here near him.

 

Don’t you worry about the Sammies. There are only a few of us here it is true, but those few are there, and they are not forgotten by you folks at home. I didn’t intend to tell you my troubles, when I started this letter, but the “mind will out” you know so lets answer your letters.

 

Your letter of the 3rd of Feb. speaks of snow. I never saw better weather in my life, since the day before yesterday. It is just (Grand). Sunny France is coming back into its own, judging from the weather of the last three days. And that dance of “Boston’s Own.” Beleive me Em Ive had some dancing the last forty eight hours but the floor wasn’t as smooth as Roughan’s. Turkey Trot, Rabbit Jump, Snake Crawl, Glide, a good many falls (for Im not as clever as I will be, yet) is our dance here when walking from one P.C. to the other. And the music (yes we have music.) We don’t keep time with it though. We try to keep ahead of it. These big shells and pieces of shrapnel play a nice tune, but Ive heard music that I liked better.

 

My regards to all the girls in the shop. What is Zella going to do the seventeenth? Throw Napolean a kiss for me. As for the band now, Em, it is hardly any more, while in the trenches anyway, for they too, have been split up and sent to the different battalions to be used as first aid and stretcher bearers. “When I get back to my old band how happy I will be.” When I hear music again I think Ill go nuts. Id even like to hear you play your instrument there. As for learning French and handing it to you when I get back. No, Im very slow at learning you know. Im trying hard to learn how to forget.

 

I was glad to hear about Uncle Al in your letter of Feb. 7 and was pleased to hear that you answered Lil’s letter. Also that Henry is well and shows up once in a while. Glad to hear it is some what warmer after the awful weather you’ve been having. Can you imagine what is going on hear now. Ill finish this letter though now that Ive started. I had a hair cut and shave yesterday. One of the fellows has a kit with him that I knew nothing of. There is a fine tune going on now Em but the papers I beleive, tell you how we take it. Just as the Boshe give it (willingly).

 

We are being treated fine, plenty of scoff and every thing is going along very smoothly. I was thinking of answering the other letters or some of them any way this afternoon but Im afraid this will be all for today. This at least will let you all know that Sam is still O.K. Mary and Aunt Madge has by this time received my letters, and will get another when conditions permit.

 

Probably you have done so but if not in your next letter tell me about the dance at Roughan’s. If they made any money (foolish question #1), much of a crowd (#2), was there any mopping up parties (#3), were the patrols buisy (#4) or anything else that could be classed as activities. Well Em probably the next letter you get from me will be sent from hear, and probably not, for we little know just when any thing is to happen, but rest well assured that I will write when I can and where ever I am and that Im looking out for Sam, when Sam aint looking out for himself.

 

With love to all

Sam

 

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

 

P.S. When there’s the devil to pay and things go wrong just pack them away and Smile. Tell Lena that that smile I used to have, I hope will never come off. We nead It. Where did I get this paper? I really dont know.

 

 

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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 3/8/1918

Dear Em.

 

Just answered Madge’s letter of Feb. 12, and in answer to yours of the same date you will have to suffer the same dose. These are the only things we can get to write on now, and for what news and time we have to write they are sufitient (or sume thing like that). Im very well thank you. I would like to get a look at the old Eighth Regi.

 

Thank you all for the package which is due any time now. Will let you know when it arrives. Nothing of any importance has happened. The weather is very good now and I hope it continues so. Times have changed at home since father was a boy all right. Ive got to answer two more letters on these cards before I do another thing, so hoping this finds you all well and enjoying some real balmy spring weather also trusting that Ill get the package you’re sending Ill remain.

 

Sam.

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

 

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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 3/5/1918

Same place

 

Dear Em.

 

I know this is an awful cheap attempt but I am writing pretty often now and I know you will excuse a post card once in a while. We are in a place where things are happening every day and I know that you realize this. Thus a line as often as posible to assure you that all is well with Samuel to date.

 

Dogfight seen from 26th Div. trenches

This has been the first clear day for about four days and it was somewhat livly take it from me. I wish you could see one of these air fights, and then again, Im just as well satisfied that your not close enough to have to witness them for when they happen there is a lot of shrapnel flying around which is the thing that has cause of more casualties than any other one thing in our short visit on this sector.

 

We hear that there is a batch of mail back at the base and no doubt this will arrive up here any day now. OH you letter from Emily J. Smily. I always seem to have a supply of these postals on hand and they sure do come in handy especially when there is nothing to say.

 

Lena, Mrs. & Miss Holland, Mary two or three others and last but not least your self have by this time received my letters, in which is about all the dope I can scrape up for the present. Aunt Madge also has not been forgotten. So you see if the pen was mightier than the sword as one of our great men said, this war would have to give me a little credit for its ending. Im fine.

 

Love to the bunch

Sam.

 

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

 

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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 3/3/1918

Still here

 

Dear Em.

 

As this is all the paper Ive got at my command, and in receipt of your long letter dated Feb 5, I am only going to write a short note in answer to your letter, for I don’t have much time just now. We are beginning to get some more winter for it has snowed now for two days and the atmospher is very much colder than it has been since our entrance into this sector. I also got a letter from Lena which I will answer as soon as posible, one from a chap at the shop and one from Southy.

 

Your discription of the folks, and their doings there at home, makes me feel almost that I was there, and beleive me, not, that I was here. How am I feeling, and how is that awful cold you and Lena seem to be worrying about? Say kid I never felt better in my life, and don’t see how I ever can unless its when I jump on a car at either Sullivan Sq. or City Sq. (Im planning now which it will be) and that old car (I wonder if it will be in the summer time and they will have open affairs) and said car starts to climb that hill. Over the hill to Lena’s. My Lena’s.

 

My cold is gone, with it our first real test of shell fire, and the idea that we wont be back soon. A few of the boys in the company will never go home as the result of this but we’re wise or getting more so. I don’t know how long we are to stay here before getting a leave that they say is due us after our first hitch but it will be welcome when it does come. I never thought that Ingersol would remind you of me but I can say that this watch reminds me of you, Lena and Bert every time Im asked what time it is or when I use it for my own information.

 

Now Em isnt this an awful letter to send you after the nice long one you sent me. But I only sent you one yesterday and I got to answer Lena’s. Besides if you really knew conditions here you would excuse me I know.

 

With love to all

Sam

 

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

 

P.S. The clipping (about the funeral of the old fellow I used to work for on Main St.) will show that I read what papers we get.

 

 

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