Neufchateau, France 11/9/1917

Same place in France.


Dear Em.


Still here, and we won’t kick much if here we stay, while we are in France, anyway. Of coarse some of the boys are still living in barns where they are not allowed to have a stove, and it comes kind of hard on them. But pay day is due very soon now, and those that have not already got better quarters, will probably get them by making it (money) talk to the natives here. Any man that hires a room will get about half of the expense from the French Government. That is, the Government will allow so much for said rooms, and the man will have to pay the rest. Im not effected at all by this, for Im in as comfortable a place (as Ive said before) as there is here.


The Y.M.C.A. gave us another sack of Bull Durham apiece today, which came in very handy. You will appreciate how much this was neaded when I say that we’ve not received a nickel since Aug 31, but expect two months pay any day now.


We were each issued a cake of face soap yesterday and although it was only a very small cake, it came in handy and will be used to very good advandage. Tomorrow is Saturday morning inspection, and in order to get in condition to get by this inspection, there will be very little of this cake left. One of the fellows bought a cake of washing soap the other day, and paid 1 franc 40 centimes for a cake as big as a cake of life bouy. In U.S. money this is $.28.  It takes 5 centimes to make a cent 20 cents to make a franc. Where we use dollars and cents, they use francs and centimes here. Although Im not getting onto the lingo very fast, Ive got the currency down pat. The rate of coinage is very much like ours, and is very much more simpler than English. Here goes for another page.


Here is the real news. Ive got a new nick name now. It is Major. Im drum major of the band now, and I got my first tast of this job tonight at retreat. You see it has always been the custom for the top sergeant of Hdq. Co. to be the drum major. In the new table of organization, where the companies were increased so much, it was thought that there would be a drum major to act as nothing but such. The Band Leader has been holding down this job since Smiley (the old top sergeant) was transfered from the company, but today an order came down for the band leader to be releaved of this job, and yours truly take it up. Can you picture me (thats it Pa laugh away) out in front of the regiment, swinging the old stick.


As I said above, tonight was my first attempt, and by all accounts I got away with it very well. Ive got a brand new baton, and I got out my best uniform, clean pair of leggings and put on a stearn soldierly expression! Well any way I went through with it, and enjoyed it very much. After retreat and To The Colors has blown, the band parades around the village brightening up things, I tell you. Out in front is Sam. Nuf Ced.


This drum majoring is in excess of my other duties as top sergeant of the largest company in the regiment, but Ive got a splendid bunch of sergeants with me (and by that I mean they are with me) and they help me out in every thing there is to do.


Im getting along fine Em, feeling as well as ever. Its raining again (I mean yet) but we’ve got the old fire place nice and bright with a fire that is throwing a splendid heat making the wind sound all the better, (that we are in out of it). Well bunch so much for today, try and write tomorrow.




P.S. Have you seen or heard from Henry latly? Id ought to be hearing from you soon. How does that piano sound. I wonder what is going on out in the world. What does Pa think of this drum major job I bet he is enjoying it. Ive been about every thing in this mans army but a commissioned officer but I never dreamt of ever, marching out in front and leading a band. You know how much I like music too. I hardly feel my heels touch the ground. I can’t seem to get out of the habit of using up every bit of paper. Does the wind rock house #297 B.H. this winter. Id like to be there to feel that rock. The wind is singing outside now.


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

Neufchateau, France 11/8/1917

Same place in France.


Dear Em.


Im not intending to write much for there is absolutly nothing to write about. I just got through reading some news in a paper dated a month and a six days back. It made just as good and interesting reading as if it had just left the press. After getting through with this reading I sat here for about two minutes, and this letter shows what was on my mind just as soon as there was nothing to do. They say as soon as a soldier has nothing to do, he gets home sick. Now Im not home sick but it seems that Im writing all the time to you folks or some one back home there.


Can you believe it Em, Ive got an electric light in this room now and it makes things very modern. Isn’t it going some when you get up in the morning turn a button and our little home is as radient as the State House Dome? OH we are living Em. I would like to get a loaf of bread though. Bread is very scarce here. Wood $20.00 a cord. Milk, sugar, and bread cannot be bought at all. Our bill of fare for the winter. How is the Draft heroes going to get along? Poor boys. In every paper I see here (from the States) all I can see is, “The patriotic National Army.” Banquets and entertainments by the score. Poor fellows. You’ll have my real opinion of the draft fellows pretty soon.


Ive received no mail from you for about two weeks now, but I suppose youre saying the same thing. In yesterdays lot of mail I got one postcard and that was a line from Lil stating that her brother Tom died Oct. 11th. Some bunch of mail and pleasant news too what? But I know that there is a lot of letters on the way and that it will reach here when the next mail gets in, which will be in about a week.


I can’t help thinking of the coming Thanksgiving and Christmas. You know how handy to the oven I’ve always been especially when these two days rolled around. But we expect to make it as pleasant as possible, and I expect that will be very pleasant considering how far we are from home. You can see from this letter Em (and the rest of you) that Im as happy and contented as any one could be. Hoping this finds you all well I remain




P.S. If ever I get into that Texas Border mood youll get some letters beleive me. Give my regards to all and just slip them the info that Sam is O.O.K. The Y.M.C.A. sign means more to a soldier on this side than any thing else. Good night.


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

Neufchateau, France 11/6/1917


Dear Em and the rest,


Color Guard, 1917

Todays mail brought in a Boston Post dated Oct. 4-17 and Ive just got through reading some (real news). While at the border I didn’t care much about news papers for we could at least read and understand what the papers there, said. But here, it is a message from the living to the dead to get a real Boston Paper with some real Americano news. It was ten minutes past six when I starded in on this paper (which looks as though it had gone through an ingagment) and it is now eight oclock so you see I just devoured every thing of any interest at all in it. I saw the adds of the dance halls, theatres, and other such points of “interest”, but yet so far from our present occupation. Keep them going for the boys say that they would like to patranize some of these places in the near future.


I see they were to give the “draft” fellows a great send off Oct 5th, and some of them banquets. God help the dear boys.


Well Em I suppose there are quite a few uniforms flouting around town now but I bet it never will come up to this side of the pond. Every body is a soldier although it seems no two uniforms are alike. I also read where ice cream, beans and etc. are very much on the incline as to prices. By the way, talking about beans, we got a few of these last night for supper, the first we’ve had since Westfield. It was only the other day that we got our first coffee. These things make it seems more like we were in U.S. and beleive me that is some happy thought.


The Y.M.C.A. issued a sack of Bull Durham Tobacco to each and every man here and that was a present that could not be duplicated by any other one thing. I read the editorial page and also the Observant Citizen and I was very interested, more so than when Id read it at home and I always enjoyed this page when at home. You folks get more news of the war and conditions here than we do, for we read this news with much interest. I guess there is things doing up at the front right now though by all apperances. The other two fellows (who are corporals, one of them the fellow that was in the tent with me at Lynnfield – Jim) cut enough wood today to last and keep us warm tonight and tomorrow. We’ve got a corking fire going now and this old kitchen is very comfortable. I wish you could see us. All writing, letters or post cards, home. They havent quite got the nack of writing as much as I do though.


How is Pa, Lena, Bert, the Hollands and the rest. I do wish the mail would come in for I feel sure that these questions will be answered when it does come in. Im feeling as fine as ever but some of the fellows are in pretty bad shape from colds rheumatizm (or what ever you call it) and sore feet. How is the bread holding out. It is the scarsest article in France, for there are some meals we don’t get any.


Has the wind begun to whistle around the corner of Belmont and B.H. St. yet? I suppose you’ll soon be tee heeing at the kids coasting. Im sorry I can’t “Look It” and only wish I could. Look Em do you think I need a hair cut. Has Henry showed up since? Give him my regards when he does. How is old George and his grand child. Has any one heard from Tom? Is Mr. Holland any better? Say what is going on in the old village anyway? How are the Perfections Bert? Pa, how is Old Bill? Is the water bill any smaller since I left? What is the latest song? How are they getting along with the Refinery. Has Lena made any pies or cakes latly? OH for a “wedge” of one of those pies you folks will have Nov. 26th.


Well Em wind up that clock now and get up in the morning




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

Neufchateau, France 11/4/1917

Same place in France


Dear Bert.


How is things going anyway? Im not kicking a bit. Before leaving Westfield I packed that uniform that I wore on my visits home in a trunk that the Mess Sergeant shipped as kitchen utensels, said trunk having just arrived. Well you should have seen me try to get into the blouse. It fit me pretty tight when I was home there but now its like trying to get into one of Mary’s waists. Its simply a case of getting out and exercising for about an hour every morning that’s all and then I don’t know but what Ill do a Jim Jeffery stunt (fail to come back). The trouble is Bert, Im getting fat “No Kidding.”


Tomorrow we start in on our extensive training and that might change my frame back again. We will soon be getting right into good hard work and this little weight that Ive taken on will come in very handy. I had a swell time traveling second class and eating the best of grub on the boat over, and although we’ve hit some pretty tough joints and feeds since leaving said boat, on our trip across England across the channel and so far into France, but we are here, and for the winter too by the looks, and as Ive said in openning Im not kicking.


We are getting U.S. Army rations now and tonight we had coffee, the first since leaving the Saxonia. Im not allowed to say when we left the boat nor how long it has taken us to get from one stop over to another but it has been quit a while since we got coffee and believe me it did tast good. I hope all this mail Im sending to the States gets to its destination for in answer to all Im sending it ought to bring me some letters on the next boat.


I would like to see the out side of a sack of Bull Durham or any kind of a white man’s cigarett. We are in tough straights here for smokes, and if (or when) we do get paid there is no chance to get said tobacco for they don’t have it here anyway.


All Ive done the last week is write letters. Although there is all kinds of red, white & blue wine here and it can be bought for almost a song (I haven’t even got a song) I still camp here and write in hopes that Ill get some mail soon.


We expect to be paid for two months the 20th and then this town will be mostly red. How is that half dozen up in the back room. Hoping this finds you all well.


Im still


P.S. Give that turkey a licking for me will you? I can smell it away over here. They say it is good to have a big appetite. Im a Venus in this line. OH for a mouthful of stuffing or a chance at the bathroom. Same old bull but its good to dream about.


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

Neufchateau, France 10/31/1917

With the Colors


Dear Em.


Ive received two letters from you now since our arrival in France and you cant imagine how good they make me feel. I won’t tell you how many I got from Lil for if I did you’d probably think Im hinting for more. Your doing fine Em, please keep it up. The two letters I got from you were dated Sept. 30, and Oct. 9. I also got a post card from the shipper over the shop. My guess is that Ill get more mail from you than you will from me because all the ships coming over here are pretty well escorted with fighting ships, but those leaving this side are not so well protected and there are more of them sunk. I hope you have been getting some of them though.


They sure are keeping you buisy from what you say in your letters. I wont to advise you not to attempt to send any candy (although it would taste good.) for it will never stand the voyage. I got you mixed up with Lil all right in regards to that package. By the way I got that package which was a swell pair of wristers, and they will come in handy too for it is getting very cold here. OH, you (Roughan’s). I got your letter that you sent to Westfield OK. Im glad you called up Lil and wish you would continue to coraspond with her. OH you Brockton Fair. Im glad you all enjoyed your selves. It brings to mind the medal I won some years back. Ive still got the medal on, a forbe that is on that watch you, Lena, and Bert gave me a year ago. I guess the Home Gaurd took our place this year. Ill change places with them right now.


I hope Mr. Holland is well again and by the way give them my regards and tell them they can expect to hear from me soon. No danger of me getting indigestion now Im telling you some thing. Give my regards to Madge, Mollie, Mary and every body and if I have time and paper Ill write to them. Tell Sadie I thank her for her regards and that a card would be welcomed. I sure would like to climb into that bed in the room you speak of fixing up.


I appreceiate the P.S. in your letter of the 6th of Oct. and you won’t be disappointed in me if I can help it. Now Ive got to close and answer the shippers letter and also send one to South Boston. How is Henry. I look at that group picture very often and it does me good I think. See that all the folks take care of their health this winter and Ill promise you that Sam will take the best of care of his.


I will make an allotment as soon as we get some blanks. Keep that Insurance policy running if you can for I wouldnt like to drop it now. Tell Pa I wish him a Merry Xmas and that I expect that he will enjoy one. Hoping to here from you by the next mail I remain.


Yours truly



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

Neufchateau, France 10/28/1917

Somewhere in France


Dear Em,


Just a very few words to let you know Im alive and kicking. We are still in this little town in France and I expect we will stay here all winter. We have had just one day when the sun has shined, and even then it started to rain in the afternoon.


Im writing this in a Y.M.C.A. hut that is stuck up in one of the squares so called. I want you to understand that we are living right in the town, although not in houses but barns that ajoin all the houses.


It sure is some quaint old town. Gee I would like to get a word from home although, Im making myself as much at home as possible. That is going some for me what. About 3,000 miles from 297 B.H. St.


All it seems to do here is rain for it is now that rainy season we’ve heard so much about in France since this war started. We are not in tents though, and there is a stove in this Y.M.C.A. and it is very cosy believe me.


We are only allowed two letters a week and those to be short. I will write often though and let you know that Im keeping myself well and cheerful. I wish I could sit here now and write about a twelve page letter and I sure could find plenty to write about too but there is a reason.


How is every body? Here is hoping I hear from you soon.




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

Heading for Neufchateau, France 10/25/1917

Notes from Sam’s Pocket Diary:

“Left Hadsfield Camp, France at 7 pm Oct 23/17 and marched to the Havre R.R. station and intrained at 10 pm and left station at 11 pm Oct 23/17. Arrived at Liffol Le Grand at 7 am Oct 25/17. Left Liffol Le Grand 11 am…”

Hadsfield Camp, Le Havre France 10/23/1917

Somewhere in France


Dear Em,


To start with I want to say that while in London I put this sheet of paper and envelope in my pocket and it comes in handy right now believe me. I also want to say that Im many miles away from London now.


Im not going to say much but I do want to emphasise the fact that we’ve been pretty lucky and I for one am feeling fine. We are running pretty shy of smokes and if you can do any thing to get this kind of material to us you will be doing a lot for the boys.


I don’t doubt but that you’ve written often and in due time we might get some mail, but we’ve been traveling ever since we left Westfield, and that may account for us not recieving any mail as yet.


We have seen quite a few German prisiners of war and they seem to be pretty well satisfied to be where they are. We are getting closer and closer to the real thing every day, and may be by the time this reaches you we may be giving an account of ourselves. I hope that we will make good.


There is plenty of food where we are resting now, so that we are not going hungry by a long shot. I can say right here that I would like to be in that bath tub. Im not going to tell you how long it has been since I’ve had one.


I would like to get a letter from you saying you are all well. That is about all this letter consists of any way but it will let you rest well assured that Im taking very good care of myself and that I mean to continue. Im marked handle with care and Im doing all the handling.


Give my best regard to all and I remain


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

On to France, 10/22/1917

The 103rd Infantry continued its journey to France, leaving Bordon, England by train for Southampton, where the men crossed the English Channel and finally landed at Le Havre. They briefly billeted at Camp Hadsfield before continuing on to Neufchateau in the Vosges region of northeastern France. Following are notes from Sam’s Pocket Diary:

“This company… Left Camp Bordon at 9.20 on Oct 20, arrived in Southampton at 1 pm same day… Left Southampton at 4.30 same day. PM marched in river until 4.15 pm Oct 21 and then got underway for France. Arrived at Havre France at 3 am Oct 22, disembarked at 3 pm and hiked to Camp Hudsfield…”

Arrival at Camp Bordon, England 10/18/1917

Notes from Sam’s Pocket Diary:

“This company… Arrived at Borden at 11 am Oct 18 and left train marching to Camp Borden, arrived at 1 pm same day…”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 295 other followers