Somewhere near Vaudesson, 2/19/1918

Same dug out.


Dear Em.


Having got possesion of a little ink, a stub of a candle and some writing paper (the Lord only knows where the envelope is coming from) I write. I received your very welcome letter of Jan. 20-18, also one from Sadie, the letters you wrote Sunday when Babe was playing the piano, the victrola was going and Pa was enjoying it all. Say Em, you talk about old people finding consolation in reading the Bible. Here is an old man and your letters has it on anything for consolation I tell you.


I suppose by this time you have got the letter I sent stating that we are away up here in the front line holding a section of the line of trenches with the French. Yes Em America is in it now and forever if Germany chooses to look at it that way. This trench life is all that it has been cracked up to be and we havent seen much wet weather latly either. The sector that we are on you have no doubt read of very often I know I have. Two of the boys have already been knoked off and more wounded. (Don’t tell any of the draft boys this) We hear that “Boston’s Own” are in France now and are going to occuppy the town we left before our move up here. If this is true they will go into a nice little town beleive me. We never expect to see this dear little village again for it is too far away from the front to move us to. We expect to stay here about twenty more days before being pulled out for a rest, and then in again for another period.


Ive been very buisy all day writing on Co. work and say Em you talk about coal-less days. My fingers are feel-less and if you liken my feet unto yours when yours are cold you’ll have it. Yes we have quite a lot of paper work in the trenches, while the big shells, machine guns awhirl over head and the air ships buzz, fight, and observe. First you here a whistle that sounds louder and louder, then a bang. Air fights are an hourly occurance, and say the boys are cleaver that drive these machines. Talk about your Beechy stunts, he is dead. The thrill of this, and the big Jack Johnson have all worn off now.


By the way Em Im fine and have been ever since my first real sleep which was Sunday night. Do you remember those two pairs of big heavy socks I bought away back when I was called out. Well Em they are the most sensible thing I ever bought in my life. My feet are cold understand but I can imagine what they would be with the issue sock. This little candle is burning very fast and it is a race as to who will finish first the light or me. Living in the ground no fires and very few candles. This is the life, this is the life, (it has come to be the life for me). Im far from liking it, but its the best weve got.


Im going to try to send Madge a line, but she is all I guess outside of you folks at home there. Its funny to here you mention the picture and having a few more left I thought Id send them along, before I loose them. Some lose what? Id like to put these fingers down your neck now, I bet you’d go over the top to get at me. Well Em such is life up to the present and here is hoping that the future is as good as the past has been. We are in for some tough times but Ill pull through all right as I always have. Im in the best of health which is half the game to start with.


Does Lena bite her finger nails now. Tell her I havent got any. Hoping this finds you all very comfortable (I can appreciate it) I think Ill close for the present. It is neadless for me to mention them all by name but I think of every one back there and I want you to remmember me to them. Yours truly.


1st Sgt. Samuel E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf. 26 Div. A.E.F.


Now for an envelope.


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

Somewhere near Vaudesson, 2/11/1918

Some where In, In France


Dear Em.


Although Im writing this in pen and ink, and on some real letter paper we are in. We have been in now for two days and Im getting pretty well used to this part of the ground. I will have to admit that it has been some time since I have written to you, and also since Ive heard from any one back there, but that is due to our movement which was some movement beleive me. As usual Im feeling well considering. You will have to consider trenches to get an Idea of what it means for me to say Im well. The boys are all standing up under it O.K. The Bosh has felt Uncle Sam more than you folks at home probably know of. And beleive me they are going to get more.


The 103rd Regiment was the first Infantry N.G. organization to enter the trenches and of corse that means that this company and our dear old Capt Tobey was the very first of infantry to see the (well what is called no mans land). Now I dont want you to think Im trying to throw a lot of bull, but I do want you to know that all is well. As I said in my letters to you before we left for these parts, Im not going to write much. Just let them all know how things stand and also tell them not to expect any mail for some time to come yet. If you could see me penning this you wouldn’t stay long to know what Im going to say. You’de be satisfied to wait for the mail. I hope they get your mail up to me soon for I know it will make things lighter. The ink that is in this pen now is the last Ill see for some time and I may have to finish in pencil (just as I thought).


I wish it was fitting and wise to explain some of the real things Ive seen since landing on this front but as usual, Id rather the letter got to you than take a chance. Give my best wishes and regards to every body. The watch says 3.21 now and night will come soon enough. Ive still got the pipe and some of that Dills that you people sent me and a few cigaretts which is fine right now.


This paper is very very damp now but I guess Im drying it up pretty well with this line of chatter. Its pretty dry now, isnt it? As soon as we get off this sector (if they feel like moving it) Ill tell you more. Having said all I can for the present Ill close





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

Into The Front Line, 2/5/1918

The 103rd Infantry and the rest of the 26th Division left the Neufchateau training area on February 5, 1918 and headed for the front in the Chemin des Dames sector of the Aisne line. After briefly billeting in Soissons, the American units moved into the trenches on February 9. This was intended to be a time of final “on the job” training for the New England troops while holding the sector along with the French. What would follow was the baptism of fire for Sam and his men. Following are notes from Sam’s Pocket Diary:

“Feb 5/18 Borded train at 12 noon, train started at 12.45, arrived at Soisson 9 am Feb 6. Hiked to barracks at Crouy arrived at 2 pm. Left Crouy at 8 am 7/18 marched to Hill #60 arriving at 11.30 for mess and rest. Rested in dug out until 4 pm Feb 7 when the signal scouts and intelligencs entered the third line the rest of the company being Billeted in the town of Soysons until 6 pm Feb 9 when the different platoons moved in with their different Battalions. 1st Sgt. Clerk moved in at 10 pm Feb 10 with field desk, typewriter…”


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

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




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

Neufchateau, France 1/23/1918



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




© 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





© 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




© 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




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




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.