Somewhere in France, 10/8/1918


October 8, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I have received three letters from home this week, two from Mother and one from Father. I think I have received all the letters that have been sent to me now. The letters come irregularly and not always in the order in which they were written. Since beginning this letter I have received another from Mother, number 23. The last one I had before that was 21. This last letter didn’t take long to get here. It was mailed on Sept. 7 and got here on the 8th [of October].

It dosen’t seem that you have been getting all of my letters. You should have had more than five up to that time. For some time I have been trying to write every Sunday but the way my hours in the operating room are arranged I can’t always do it. When I miss Sunday I make up for it on Monday.

There has been little of interest that has occurred here during the last week. The early part of the week we were kept busy. The drive [Censored] kept us going [Censored]. Our men are quite happy over the German request for a peace discussion. I haven’t much hope of anything coming of it. We haven’t heard yet how the Allies have received it but I do not expect it to receive much attention.

We are having the most miserable weather I ever saw. Today we have had five or six hail storms. It is really cold and the constant rain makes it miserable. However, we can’t complain. We have nice warm clothes and beds and pretty good things to eat. The boys at the front are the ones that suffer. No word from the YMCA yet. I am still expecting to hear every day.

Let me know the addresses of any of our friends that came over. A few days ago a young lieutenant came in to see me. He was a student at Coe and happened to be passing by. Occasionally we meet someone we knew at Ft. Riley and who have come over since we did. Our men are coming over pretty fast now and their presence is bringing results at the front. All the Allies are having success and big gains and a lot of it is due to the help of the Americans and the renewed courage that the enthusiastic Americans have given them.

I haven’t been outside of camp for a month [Censored]. For some reason or other the German planes don’t seem to be so active around here as they were a while ago. We have not seen one for a long while and we used to see them quite often. Once in awhile when we have a little time in the evening Sgt. Hill and I play a few games of cribbage. When I was in Emporia they gave me a little cribbage board and I have used it to good advantage. He has been recommended to be made a lieutenant. He is a very good office man and a good deal of the success of our hospital is due to the efficiency of the office. He deserves it and I hope he gets it.

I wrote a letter the other day to the Loomises in Emporia. I enclosed five dollars and asked them to make some pictures and send them to you, I don’t know how many I will get but I think there will be enough to send to a few friends at Christmas. I still have these they sent me and I will send these on to you. I have the little camera with me but I haven’t any film. We came away from Ft. Riley so suddenly that I wasn’t able to get any and in New York we were told that we couldn’t get those things.

The package of cartoons came a couple of days ago. They are very good and enjoyable. You can’t really appreciate them until you have been through these experiences like we have. The Red Cross has a little reading room with a few magazines in it and I think I will put the cartoons over there. The Red Cross has a little canteen here where they serve [Censored]. The YMCA has a little store where we can buy cookies and tobacco. They have very little and it isn’t very cheap but we buy things there once in a while for a change.

We had an exceptionally good supper tonight. Fried steak, boiled potatoes and gravy, boiled onions, two very good biscuits and cocoa. When we first came here we got nothing but canned corned beef and beans for every meal for nearly three weeks. Corned “willy” that often is pretty tiresome. When we work all night, which I do every other night, we have a very good meal at midnight. We can’t complain about our food now and men are generally [Censored] …had it but we get lots of them from the front and a great many of them don’t get through it.

I owe several letters yet and once in awhile get one written. I can’t write regularly to everybody and I don’t think they expect it. We have been here long enough now to have seven day passes due us. Things are too busy now to let us off so we may get them later. We are allowed seven days to visit the place we go to and the travelling time besides. I would like to go to the southern part of France if I get to go.

My regards to everybody and lots of love for yourself



© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 9/29/1918


September 29, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

We have passed a very busy week since I wrote you last. The big French and American drive north and west of [censored] opened up a couple of days ago and is keeping all of us almost constantly on the go. We hear reports of large gains in territory and prisoners. We feel confident of its success.

This has been a great week for the Allies with the big victories in Palestine, Serbia and Bulgaria, Verdun and around St. Quentin. It begins to look certain now that there can be only one outcome to the war, the only question is when.

The papers we get here do not tell us of any German gains nor is there ever anything the least unfavorable to our side. Some of us are not blind enough to think that everything is so rosy all the time. If you can I wish you would send me the Sunday Tribune. We can get Tribunes here but there isn’t anything to them. They are only a half a sheet and there is no Chicago news in it.

There is a German prison camp near here and of late it has constantly been in use. The prisoners are kept here only a short time and then sent back somewhere. I don’t know whether any have gone to the States yet, I think not. When Alice was here there was a train load going out. They were willing to trade almost anything for tobacco. We are issued tobacco now, so having some on hand I traded it off to them for a couple of poor rings, a cigarette holder and a few little buttons and things. It is hard to send these things home now.

I understand that the Red Cross has small boxes that can be filled and sent to us at Christmas. I saw a little article in the paper to that effect. I know that all the boys will be glad to get a little something from home, no matter what it is. We are not really suffering from want of anything but anything that comes from home makes us feel better than anything that we get over here.

I have one pupil now. A young fellow from a wireless station nearby comes over a couple of times a week. He isn’t exactly an advanced pupil but he plays fairly well. He just came in and gave me a melon and some tomatoes that he managed from someplace. They will be welcome additions to my supper.

The weather is miserable lately. It is quite cold and very damp. We have already had a number of pneumonia patients. A Red Cross man attached to our hospital died of it this morning.

I am still awaiting news from the YMCA. It is hardly time yet for word to get back from Paris. I hope to hear this week, though. I wish I knew where some of my musician friends are as I might be able to get some of them to to, too. I know there are several in the service somewhere. I think I shall try to find out where Carl Hakes is. I don’t know whether he has been called or not. The newspaper talk about Steindel and other orchestra men looks rather foolish. I am sure a lot of them were pro-German before the U.S. got into it, but one would expect that as nearly the whole organization is German. Haven’t all the unnaturalized Germans been interned?

We have a number of prisoners at the hospital. Some are sick and some we are using to carry litters, dig graves and other work. They seem happy enough to do their little work. I enclose a German medical card. I don’t know whether it is attached to the men when they are found on the field or after they are in the hospital.

In addressing me it might be well to include “France” as there are Americans in Russia and possibly Italy and a letter might go the wrong route and have to go all around the world to get to me. It took sixteen days for a letter to come 150 miles so I don’t know how long it would take from Siberia. If it hadn’t been for that delay in the letter from Paris I would have been out with the concert troupe a month ago. I need some strings and I understand that it is almost impossible to get them in Paris. I think they could be sent from home alright as there are envelopes for them so they would not come under the head of packages. I would like two G’s and 6 A’s and 6 E’s. I have had one wire E on for a year and a half now. What I need more than anything is to have my bow rehaired.

If I leave here I will arrange to have my mail forwarded. I think I will write to Loomis in Emporia and have him make up a few of the pictures he took when I was there last April. I will send him some money and have him send the pictures to you. Give my regards to all.

Much Love from


© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 9/23/1918


September 23, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I have been very fortunate this week as far as receiving mail is concerned. I have had three from Mother and one from Father, three from Gladys, a couple from Miss Phipps and one from Mrs. Davis. Some of them were due here a long time ago but seem to have been stalled on the way. We have had promises that our mail will be delivered more frequently and regularly and we all hope it will be. The cablegram which Mother sent on the 2nd of August reached me on the 18th of September. It was cabled to London and sent as a letter from there. It arrived in London on the 5th of August. Although it arrived late I appreciate the sending of it just the same. I wonder if my letters have been reaching you regularly. In a letter from Gladys written about the middle of August she says she had only one letter from me and I know I have written here on an averageof one letter every two weeks. I have written you about one letter every week. A while ago I had track of the numbers of my letters so I will begin again and call this number one.

I have received permission to do the YMCA work so whenever they want me I am free to go. They sent a letter on the 2nd asking me to report in time to start a trip on the 9th. The letter arrived here on the 18th. I don’t know what they thought when I wasn’t in Paris on the 9th to begin the trip. The colonel sent a letter explaining the situation and saying that I could go whenever they got word to us in time. During the couple of weeks that I was able to do some practicing I learned five new solo pieces which I can use.

Last night our company put on a minstrel show. We have a Red Cross man here who used to do vaudeville work and he coaches the men. It was a very good show and I think everybody who attended enjoyed it. Sgt. Fontaine and I were the “orchestra” and also played a couple of solos on the program before the minstrels began. A couple of the nurses made a big chocolate cake for the “actors” so we had a little feed after the show. We had canned corned beef three times a day for two weeks straight and such a luxury as cake was almost too good to be true.

Our hospital is feeling pretty proud these days. I have told you of the hard work that we did during the drive between Toissone and Rheims. We have received a letter from General Pershing commending the company on the work done. In a way the letter corresponds to the awards that are made to individuals for distinguished service. Each of us is to receive two copies of the letter so I will send you one when I get it.


In honor of the occasion we were given a half day holiday. Most of us went to a town about thirty miles away. It is a pretty good sized town, about a hundred thousand in peace times I guess. There wasn’t anything to do down there but it was a little change from the monotony of camp.

I told you in my last letter that Alice Atkinson was here. She stayed here about four days. I had almost nothing to do during that time so we visited a good deal. Their company is just a few miles from here. She and some of the nurses came in this morning to attend church service. We have a very nice little church here. Both Evacuation Hospitals No. 6 and No. 7 have chaplains and they hold services Sunday mornings. They are both Episcopal ministers and the services follow the Episcopal service very closely. The music consists of a little collapsible organ which dosen’t amount to much.

Life here has been very dull. We have had very little work to do. We have had quite a number of patients but they have been sent back from the front lines with influenza, fever, bronchitis or something of that sort. There has been almost no surgery at all. In two weeks I gave six anesthetics. We expect our busy time to commence very soon now.

I am rather surprised to hear of Sarah Roberts getting married. I suppose there are lots of the girls in the States that are hurriedly getting married before their men go away to the war.

What is Gordon’s address? I would like to know what organizations my friends are with so I may be near them some time and want to see them. I suppose that the censor will think this is a pretty long letter. I don’t envy him his job of reading all the letters we write.

There is no telling where I will be by the time this reaches you. I expect, though, that by then I will be trotting around the country playing my fiddle by then. Everything is arranged so I can go with the YMCA when they want me.

Give my regards to everybody.

Love from


P.S. We are not allowed to put our rank and organizations on the outside of the letters anymore. Wehn you write me address the letters as you have always done them.

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.


Somewhere in France, 9/14/1918


September 14, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

We had a delivery of mail yesterday, the first in two weeks. I had every anticipation of receiving a handful of letters and all I got was a postal card from Gladys. I have had only one letter from home in five weeks. I know you are writing regularly and I don’t like to have any letters get lost. I wonder if you have been getting all of my letters. I am going to write you every Sunday for certain and during the week if I can. I haven’t been very systematic or regular in my letter writing and especially of late when I have been trying to get all the time for practice that I could.

I am now working in the operating room again giving anesthetics. I am assigned to Capt. Harvey’s operating team. He is a head and brain specialist and cases of that nature are given to him to do. We work regular hours but they are so mixed up that it is hard to keep track of them. We start one morning at seven and work until noon, then we are off until seven at night, on till seven next morning, off till noon, on till seven and off till seven next morning and begin the same order over again. That system gives us one evening on and one off etc. We had one bad case this morning. A man had a piece of shrapnel that went through the eye and socket up into his brain. Capt. Harvey got the piece of iron out. One of the man’s eyes is out and he probably will lose the sight of the other. In the operating room is where you see the terrible results of the war.

Before now you will know about the drive around St. Michiels (?). Newspapers are two days old when we get them so you know more about what is taking place than I do. We get reports from the men themselves but they are always just local and don’t mean much. The Americans are meeting with almost no resistance. The soldiers they are up against are mostly Austrians and as soon as the Americans go after them they surrender.

We have had quite a number of wounded prisoners through here. Our own casualties have been very slight. We had a couple of Germans on our table the other night. They were scared to death. When I put them to sleep I guess they doubted whether they would ever wake up again. We treat them well and they haven’t anything to fear from us. We had one officer and he raised a big fuss about having to give up his personal belongings but it didn’t do him much good. Lots of them have pictures with them of their wives and families. Some of them have beautiful children and wives. The pictures show no signs of starvation or suffering and I doubt a lot that what we hear about their privations. No doubt everything is high and the poor are unable to get things they would like to have but I haven’t seen any signs of actual starvation.

Last night I had a big surprise. Another evacuation hospital passed by here yesterday and they left their nurses to stay with us until they got their new place set up. I was strolling around the camp and met Alice Atkinson. You will remember that she is the nurse that used to sing in the choir at St. Edmonds. I knew she was in the service and hoped to see her sometime. She is the only person I have met over here that I know. We have been visiting and talking over old times and have enjoyed being together. Se probably will be here a day or two yet. Se came over a month after we did.

We have quite a nice little theatre here and about twice a week the YMCA gets some films and puts on a show. Last night we put on a home talent concert. Sgt. Hill sang and Sgt. Fontaine and I played, we had some readings and a little comedy. It was a pretty fair show and seemed to be much enjoyed by everybody.

This afternoon there was a baseball game between our team and the hospital that is working here with us. There is quite a little rivalry between the two organizations and both hospitals backed their team to the limit. We beat them pretty badly, 13 to 3 and tonight there is a pretty gloomy bunch on the other side of the camp. There was a lot of money up on the game and number six must be about broke now.

Tonight we heard an unofficial report that Metz had been taken by the Americans. Metz is supposed to be the most strongly fortified city in the world. I hope the news is true but I am doubtful of it. We are anxiously awaiting definite news from the Front. We know that big gains have been made.

Well, I hope that my letters will find me soon. I am sure they must have gotten lost somewhere.

Love from


P.S. Have not had any news on the YMCA proposition yet.

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Somewhere in France, 9/3/1918

I don’t know what number this is but I will call it eleven and keep track of my letters from now on.


September 3, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

We had a delivery of mail the day before yesterday, the first for three weeks or more. Naturally such an important happening caused a lot of excitement in the Company. After standing in line for an hour and a quarter, crawling up to the window inch by inch I was rewarded by receiving seven letters. Two were from Miss Hartley, two from Miss Phipps, one from Mother, one from Gladys and one from Eleanor Rutland. The letter from Mother was numbered 14. The one I received previous to that was numbered 12 so 13 must be on its way somewhere.Miss Hartley said she had sent me three letters, but I received only two. I like to get lots of letters from my friends but it is not so easy to answer. I have managed to pay off a few of those I owe but I am still deeply in debt.

We have moved again since my last letter to you. Moving around means a lot of work for the men and I am glad that we are settled now for a while at least. We have a number of wooden barracks and have put up some tents besides. Our quarters are in the barracks so we will be pretty comfortable if we are here during the cold weather.

I told you that when I was in Paris I saw the man at the YMCA about doing some playing for them. A few days ago a request came from him asking that I be given permission to do that work for two months or an indefinite period. Our colonel has his approval and I suppose the matter is now up at headquarters waiting their decision. I hope it goes through but I am not counting too much on it as I may be disappointed. I don’t know why they should turn it down though if it is satisfactory here. I don’t know what the YMCA will ask me to do if I am given permission to go. They may send me out with an orchestra or I may play solos, I don’t know.

I have had very little to do the last three or four days and I have spent quite a little time practicing. I have learned three new numbers so I feel that I have accomplished quite a little. I have memorized a Hungarian Rhapsody by Haweer, Pierrot’s Serenade by Randegger and the Moment Musicale by Kreisler.

I have a couple of Kreisler numbers here so when I learn those too, I will have made quite an addidtion to my repertoire. I have a little room where I can practice all by myself and I am making good use of it.

We haven’t any patients now except a few sick men who were dropped off on their way to the front.

Eleanor says that Anita Blank has a little baby now. I don’t know how old it is but she had it at church a month ago. I begin to feel like an old man when I see so many of my young friends married and having children. Gladys says that Bud is at an officer’s training camp now. I think he will get along better than his older brother. As usual my regards to everybody. I hope I will have news soon as to the YMCA work.

Love from


© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Soldier’s Mail for September, 1916-1918

September, 1916: South on the Border

In September, 1916 Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the Massachusetts Brigade continued to secure the Border from their base at Camp Cotton (the “City of Tents”) outside of El Paso, Texas. The National Guard troops were inspected by the Regular Army to ensure their compliance with Federal standards for training and performance. In mid-September, there was a Brigade March to test the men’s strength and endurance after three months of active duty. This was followed by a military parade to Fort Bliss which formed the largest military column seen in the United States since the Civil War.

Read the page South on the Border to learn more about the events of the Mexican Revolution that made American military action necessary. Read the page September, 1916 to learn more about the living conditions of the Massachusetts troops at Camp Cotton as they continue to secure the Border. Read Sam’s correspondence to his family as he relates his ongoing experiences of camp life and the dangers of patrolling along the border.

September, 1917: Watchful Waiting

Following the formal entry of the United States into the Great War, in August 1917 1st Sgt. Sam Avery and the rest of the 8th Mass. Infantry were mobilized once again for federal service. The encampments used by the men of the 8th Infantry for training and reorganization were at Lynnfield and Westfield. During this time, the 8th Mass. Infantry was disbanded and Sam found himself reassigned to the 103rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. Read Sam’s diary notes and letters about life in the encampments, being reorganized into the 103rd U.S. Infantry and preparing to sail to France.

September, 1918: Recovery in the Hospitals

In September, 1918 Sam Avery remained in the AEF hospital system while he recovered from severe gas poisoning. At the same time, the 103rd Infantry participated in the St. Mihiel Offensive with the rest of the 26th “Yankee” Divison. Read about recovery in the AEF base hospital system here. Also, read about the St. Mihiel Offensive juxtaposed with Sam’s September correspondence which reveals a rare parallel narrative.

The Soldier’s Mail correspondence is published here according to the sequence in which it was written. Therefore, letters are organized in “reverse order” with the most recent at the top. To read them chronologically, readers should start at the bottom and work upwards.

Somewhere in France, 8/23/1918


August 23, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I may not get a chance to write to you again for a few days so I will use a little time that I have now. I wrote you  a week ago and since then we have moved. It is a big job to pack up a big hospital like ours. The material had to be loaded onto trucks and carried to the depot, unloaded there and again loaded on the train. After we arrived here it had all that to go through again unloading. We are back near our first camp in France after we left the port where we landed. We will be here only a couple of days as we are awaiting orders and transportation to go on to wherever it is that we are headed for. We are not setting up the hospital here at all. It has taken a day or two since we got here to get the material straightened out.

It surely has been hot these last couple of days. We never had it so hot where we came from and I hope our final destination will not be any worse. We are not near any town. There are just a few houses gathered on one or two streets. In most of the houses I guess the people and the cows and chickens all live together. The country is hilly and beautiful, the fotthills of the [Censored] I suppose. Last night several of us took a hike up the river a little way. We found an interesting cave and some ruins. The country around here is almost no good for farming. There are no farms, just a few plum trees and pasture for the cows.

We haven’t been getting any mail for a while and I suppose that it will be some time after we get settled before our mail finds us. I haven’t had any for two weeks or more so I should have quite a lot coming when I do get it.

There is a large town about three miles from here but we are not permitted to go there, probably because we are expecting word to go any minute. Now that I have the time there is no place that I can go to practice. We have a phonograph which belongs to the YMCA. That is all the music we have. Some of the records are pretty fair, but altogether there are only a few.

We are all encouraged over the reports of the progress of the war these days and also over the promise of the future. Perhaps it won’t be so long as I feared it might be before we are all together again. I am anxious to hear how the new business is going.

Give my regards to all.

Love from


© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Chateau Montanglaust, 8/15/1918

Evacuation Hospital No. 7, Chateau Montanglaust at Joue-les-Tours, 1918

Evacuatoin Hospital No. 7, Chateau Montanglaust at Joue-les-Tours, 1918

August 15, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

I had a letter from Mother a day or two ago. I think I have gotten all the letters that have been sent. They have been coming about once a week. I wanted to write you Sunday but wasn’t able to make it. Perhaps before you receive this you wil have received the post cards I sent from Paris. I don’t know whether it is permissible to write in a letter that I have been to Paris so I don’t see that there can be any objection to my writing it here.

I had been hoping for a long time that I might get an opportunity to visit the city. Owing to the likelihood of our leaving here I had begun to fear that I wouldn’t get the chance. However last Monday I got permission to go in on an ambulance that was taking in some tires to be fixed. I got in about noon and left on the train at six the next morning. I was all alone and had no one to show me around the town but I inquired my way around and saw about all the things that I had in my mind to see.

First I tended to the errand that I was sent on and then I went to the YMCA headquarters and there I saw the man who has charge of all the entertainment of the camps in France. Some of the best artists and stage people of America are touring France for the YMCA. Mr. Towne said that he would like to use me in that work and would make a request that I be permitted to do so for a couple of months or a longer time if possible. I don’t know what will come of it but I certainly would be glad to get the chance. I don’t think there would be any objection on the part of our commanding officer. The YMCA is doing such fine work here for the soldiers that I don’t think that they would be refused a favor like that.

By the time that I got through with my interview it was four o’clock so I set out on foot to see Paris. The nearest things was the Church of the Madalein. There is no use of any trying to describe everything to you because the censor would have to take a day off to read it all. There was no service going on so I roamed around inside for a while. From there I walked down and passed the government buildings. I don’t know what they all were and didn’t have time to find out. I followed the Champs de Elysees to the Triumphal Arch. I could see the Eiffel tower in the distance so I headed for it, passing many beautiful buildings on the way. The pictures give little idea of the immensity of the tower. The Tracadero is close to it so I walked over there.

Nearly all the Exhibition buildings are closed now so there is nothing but the buildings to be seen. The buildings themselves are wonderful enough. I wanted to see the cathedral of Notre Dame more than any other thing in Paris so to save time I took a taxi over there. Taxi rates are not high in Paris. We must have gone three or four miles for about fifty cents. The cathedral was closed when I was there so I didn’t see the inside of it. On the way we passed the Louvre, Palace of Justice and many others. I spent the night at the YMCA hotel. There were no concerts or operas on as this is not the musical season and I didn’t care to go to a show in French. I saw a lot for the little time I had. Sgt. Hill was in and met a professional guide who took him around. If I get in again I will look him up. I came back on the train. Soldiers travel here very cheaply. The soldiers pay about 35 cents for what it costs civilians $1.50. Are they doing that in the states now?

I visited an American Hospital in Paris. If I get another chance to go sometime I will see if I can’t transfer there. I know that there are hundreds of others who would like to, too, but if I were there I could study and so would have a reason for a request for the transfer.

About a week ago I had another little trip up into the territory that has been retaken from the Germans. It was the first I had seen of real devastation. In several towns there wasn’t a single house that one could live in. I don’ see how they can ever be rebuilt. At [Censored] the civilians are moving back again. Some of them find their homes wrecked but for the most part there wasn’t a great deal of destruction.

I have gotten acquainted with some people near here who have been very kind to me. They have a daughter about sixteen or so who plays violin a little. I help her with her violin in return for which they try to teach me French. They are from Paris and stay here to avoid the bombardments and the Big Bertha. Everything was quiet while I was there. I saw only one or two places where there had been any damage from aviators or the cannon. I expected that the city would be pretty well deserted but there were a lot of people there. The city is dark at night, not much like the gay Paree before the war.

Our censor tells me that he had to cut out a lot of some of my letters lately. I guess some of them have been rather long, too. I hope there isn’t anything in this one that shouldn’t be and that it will get to you safely.

We are doing almost nothing right now, but wait. We are all well and being well taken care of. I hope this finds all at home in good health and spirits. My best regards to all.

Love from


© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Chateau Montanglaust, 7/17/1918

Evacuation Hospital No. 7, Chateau Montanglaust at Joue-les-Tours, 1918

Evacuatoin Hospital No. 7, Chateau Montanglaust at Joue-les-Tours, 1918

July 17, 1918

[Editor’s Note: The beginning part of this letter was censored and cut out.]

…letter to you. I hope that this time I can get one finished and sent away. Just yesterday I received two letters from Mother, number 8 & 9. I have received all of her letters up to now. [Censored] …delivery we had so I suppose that there are several more letters on the way to me. I am glad to know that you have begun to receive my letters and that they get to you so quickly. You will be likely to get my letters pretty regularly now. That depends on my writing regularly and partly on its not being delayed or lost in transit. I try to write you at least once a week and oftener if possible but it has been two weeks now since my last letter to you. The reason is that we have been working constantly and almost without any rest. We have the privilege of serving behind the most active sector on the front and for several days we have been flooded with patients. For several days we worked until the entire company was worn out. Then the division headquarters sent us 100 artillerymen and 50 medicals and we let some of our men off for a 24 hour’s rest.


Every day we receive more patients than we can take care of and we have to send them on to some other hospital without having anything done for them. Patients come in a steady stream as fast as we can write them on our books. We operate on them and send them on by train to a base hospital. [Censored] That will give you some idea of the amount of work we are doing. Patients come to us from the front in ambulances or trucks and it keeps sixteen men busy unloading them and taking them to wards. The operating room is constantly rushed [Censored] …tables going all the time. The surgeons have to work until all the cases are cleared out. A few days ago I was called to give anesthetics. We started at one in the afternoon and worked straight through without any interruption until seven the next morning. I worked with the same operating team all the time. The last couple of weeks I have been working nights, in charge of the receiving ward. That is a hard job when we are busy but not so bad when things are slow. I rather like the night work. I am off at 7 a.m. and sleep till the middle of the afternoon. Then I can practice or write some and go back to work at 7 p.m. Since we have been so busy I have not had regular hours. Both the day and night shifts have been working nearly all the time.

You can’t have any idea of what the war is until you are close to it. Of course we are not on the firing line but we can hear the guns and know when there is anything going on at the front. Our work is a constant procession of suffering. There are patients with wounds of all kinds and degrees, men choking and burning with gas, men who are mental and nervous wrecks from shell-shock. A lot of men who go through here are almost insane from their sufferings and experiences. When we are busy we can do little for the comfort of the patients. Some of them have not eaten for two or three days and we can’t even feed them as they have to be sent out to make room for others. Of course patients who stay with us a day or so are fed but we sometimes get men who are not severely injured and we send them right away. We can really feel that we are doing our bit here. We may not get the physical suffering that these men do but this hospital does a great work and we are all a part of it.

Our force now consists of about [Censored] men and nurses and still we haven’t enough. The nurses are fine. They seem to be capable and they do work hard. It is pretty hard for them as they have to live just as the soldiers do. There is no time for social affairs, or at least there isn’t now.

On the Fourth of July all France declared a holiday and the towns had celebrations. The town near here had a concert in the afternoon and all the town turned out. I played a couple of numbers on the program. All the rest was by the French soldiers. On the 14th which is France’s holiday they had another celebration and I helped out there, too. The French appear to like the Americans and are very cordial to them. They like thier money, too, and charge them double price for things. We are about due for a pay day soon. We haven’t had any pay for nearly three months. I had some money when I left the states so I have managed all right.

The only thing we spend our money for is for things to eat. The army food is not very good, and besides that it isn’t well cooked so we go to town every few days and get a meal. Things are expensive but we think it is worth the money to have an enjoyable meal now and then.

It has been quite cool ever since we came. We have had two or three warm days but that is all. Up to two weeks ago we had no rain but lately it has rained quite a bit. The weather changes quickly and on a clear day it may start to rain within a few minutes.

We can’t receive any packages from the states now because of lack of shipping space. I don’t know whether Mr. Mallam can receive things or not, he is not in the army. There isn’t anything I need right now but I might want a pair of those shoes in a few months. We get only the heavy hob-nailed ones over here and they hurt my feet. If Mr. Ballam stays perhaps they could be sent to him and he send them on to me.

It is nearly time for me to go back to work and I must get my supper first so I must plan on writing again in a couple of days. We are all as well as can be and I hope everything is going well with all at home.

Love from


© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

Chateau Montanglaust, 6/23/1918

Evacuation Hospital No. 7, Chateau Montanglaust at Joue-les-Tours, 1918

Evacuatoin Hospital No. 7, Chateau Montanglaust at Joue-les-Tours, 1918

June 23, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

This is Sunday and I have planned to write a letter home every Sunday and during the week, too, if possible. If it had been yesterday my letter would not have been written.

Since I sent my last letter our mail has found us and we have had two deliveries. I was fortunate enough to receive ten letters out of both lots. It certainly made us feel good to hear from home. Home dosen’t seem so far off now that we have a connecting link. Five of the letters I received were from Mother. The last letter was numbered 6 so there is one still to be accounted for. As I look I see there are only four letters from Mother. In the first bunch there were tow letters dated May 15 and 18. The next one is dated the 30th and the next the 7th of June. It took the last one only 16 days to get to me. That is very good time. It will take my letters longer to reach you. They are put in here in the office and censored whenever the officer gets around to it. Then they are sent to the mail headquarters. I don’t know whether they are censored again there or not. After that they are sent to the states. Letters coming to us are not censored at all.

This is Wednesday morning and this letter has hardly gotten started. Sunday afternoon and evening there was a rush of patients and I had to lay aside letter writing and everything else. There must have been three or four hundred that came in that night because it was necessary to open more wards. I had four wards to look after and I was on duty in them from early Sunday morning until ten o’clock Monday night without any relief or sleep. I have had to do that twice in the last week. We are short of men and so we have to work long hours. We haven’t enough nurses to take care of the wards either. Every few days we get a few more so we have now either sixty or seventy, I am not sure which. They are very patient and hard working and do a lot of good for the poor fellows who are placed in our care. The privates who work in the wards don’t know a great deal about that work. They do the normal labor and the nurses and doctors do nearly all of the medical work. We are short of doctors, too. Some of them who are in the wards have nearly a hundred patients at times and it isn’t possible to give the necessary attention to so many. We are looking forward to receiving more men and probably doctors, too, so it will be better then.

The patients who came in Sunday night were mostly gassed. Some were burned and some had inhaled it. It is terrible stuff and causes more suffering than shot wounds. If they don’t get it badly they recover without any permanent injury but those who get much of it in their lungs either die or are left with weak lungs and throats.

This surely is a busy place. When we are rushed everybody has to work until the rush is over. In the operating room there are four tables going all the time, night and day. Sunday the receiving wards couldn’t take care of all the patients as they came in so they were laid out on the grass and the doctors and nurses worked on them there.

Every day or two we evacuate all the patients that are able to be moved. That is a big job, too, so between receiving and evacuating and taking care of the patients while they are here everybody is kept on the jump.

I was taken away from the ward work yesterday and put in the operating room giving anesthetics. It is six months since I did any of that and I feel pretty shaky. I got along fairly well, though, and gave ten in a little room over half a day. We worked straight through without any stop. As soon as one operation was through I started putting the next man to sleep so that he was ready by the time the doctors got their hands washed and were ready to begin. I was afraid that I might have to begin all over again getting used to the operating room but it didn’t bother me at all. The operations were all for removing bullets and pieces of shrapnel from all parts of the body. The wound itself may not be very big or painful, but it usually takes a lot of cutting to get the pieces out. We have some doctors with us who have been over here for some time doing this work. Most of the company doctors are in the wards.

Since writing you last I have received three lots of mail. There were about ten letters from Mother. Several of them were forwarded from Camp Merritt. I think I have received all that she has sent now. There were also two letters from Father, one of them was forwarded from Camp Merritt. Besides those I recieved letters from Gladys, Jessie Saunders, Miss Phipps and Mrs. Davis. Altogether I must have about thirty letters. I don’t know how I am ever going to answer them all. I suppose that by now I have received all the back letters that I have coming to me and from now on will get them as they are written. I will be able to answer them more regularly then, anyway.

I am rather surprised to hear of Felber going in the Navy. I suppose he knew he would be drafted and thought he would like that better than the Army. The Navy men are enlisted for four years but there may be some way to get out when the war is over.

I will drop Mr. Ballam a line. It is not likely that he will be around here. He probably is working at some supply depot which will be farther back.

Things are rather quiet around here today. We have sent most of our patients out and there dosen’t seem to be much doing at the front so we have a little breathing spell. We spent a part of the morning fixing our tent up. There are six of us in our tent. There is room for eight so we have a table to eat and write on. Over here the men are not allowed to have beds so they sleep on the ground. One of our boys speaks French and has been friendly with the caretaker of the estate and he has loaned us six of the countesses mattresses so we in this tent have soft, warm beds.

Our biggest problem is in regards to food. We are not situated where we can get food from the American Army. By arrangement we draw our supplies from the French Army and their stuff is not so good as ours, and there isn’t as much of it. All we can get from them is bread, coffee, fresh beef and sugar and occasionally a little flour. That dosen’t give us much variety. We get potatoes, too.

The weather has been very cool. At night it is really cold. I would like to have a little hot weather just for a change. Three nights this week German aeroplanes have flown over us on their way to bomb Paris. The anti-aircraft guns near here shoot at them a lot but I haven’t heard of their doing any damage. They haven’t bothered us and I don’t think they will.

We have about a dozen Germans in one of our wards. I think I shall have to go in and see them today. I don’t know who they are or where they are from. They are being taken care of just the same as our men are.

According to the new rules now it is impossible to send us packages of any sort. The Americans have been sending so much over for the soldiers that it took up a lot of shipping space and flooded the mail system over here. There isn’t anything that we are really in need of anyway so we can get along all right. The YMCA is going to open a little canteen here so we can buy chocolate and other things that we need.

Everybody here is well and happy and working pretty hard. We hope to be getting home someday but I expect that will be some time yet.I must pay up my letter debts this week and will try to write you again in a few days.

Best regards to all and

Love to you from


© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.


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