Full transcription of text follows:
Lt. J.E.Henschel, M.T.C. School No. 1, A.P.O. 772A Am. E. F., France. January 14th, 1919. Dearest of Mothers: Your letter of the 17th of December came this evening, and I am hastening to answer it before the office closed for the night and my access to a writing machine is ended. Your letter made me feel rather ashamed of myself, for I know that I must have been complaining about something or other in some of my other letters, when as a matter of fact, quite to the contrary, for I suppose that if anything, I have certainly been a lot luckier in all respects than the vast majority of the fellows over here. It has never been my intention to "shoot a gripe" in my letters, no matter how much of one is turned loose here, because, whereas it is considered quite the thing for a soldier to complain long and lustily about anything and everything he does or is told to do, then go ahead and do it, why I guess it sounds considerably different in a letter. If a "bon soldat" were given the mint at Washington, the first words that his immediate commanding officer would expect to hear would be "this blankety blank gold is too heavy!" Anyway, that's the size of it. And here's the rest of the truth of the matter: of course I wanted to be with the old company after being with them so long, but one can't eat dinner at two places at once. And again, of course I was thoroughly disgusted with the fact that General Pershing and the others who take care of those matters thought that I would ever made a good school teacher, when I was such a marvelous hand at directing the welfare of a camion. In fact I was quite angry with the old "gent" and immediately started laying plans to write a letter to him that would surely set their minds all at rest (and me in Leavenworth for the rest of my enlistment here below!) but then I did not do it. And of course, being here more than anything else, I wanted to be there, and those there all want to be here. That's perfectly natural, only I did not think that I had said so in a letter home. Therefore, Q.E.D., world without end, etc. etc., don't ever tell me that I play in hard luck, FOR I DON'T. The only hard luck I've had for a mighty long time came along when I tried to translate a line of what looked like i ought to be French in one of his (Emmet's) letters. The scoundrel; just wait until I see him. Here I tried that phrase on all of my acquaintances and without exception they assumed a "call his keeper" look! Which is digressing. Those pictures were horrible. Honest (this is a fact!) when the military authorities refuse to accept a photo for an identification book, it is SOME likeness. And that's what happened. No, it was by no means flattery, but just 98 degrees below caricature. Voila. I bought a camera today for the express purpose of standing up in front of it. The only difficulty now is to buy a film for the thing somewhere. I have messengers hunting from Nice to Paris for one, so perhaps your picture will go home soon. Really though I'm awfully sorry not to have been able to send you a print of some sort of other, for of course I know that you want one, but
there simply has not been a thing that I could send to you that you would recognize as being your affectionate son. There's hopes for the future, Harvey took a few snapshots when I was at Limoges, and promises to send copies of the prints home, rain or shine good bad or indifferent. (It was raining that morning - of course.) Now. then. I am going to move from here; where, I don't know, but I am now awaiting orders as fast as the typewriters at Paris and Chaumont and Tours can type them. You know where I want them to read: just TWO guesses. Perhaps they will - who knows? - and I may start across the w.k. briny. Then again, perhaps they won't, and in that case I may start across the Rhiney waters. You see, the Colonel, General Hdqts. and six of us sous -lieutenants here all agreed that in so much as there were no more drivers and ver' few Non-coms coming here, our work and value to the army at Decize had both come to an end. After a week of doing absolutely nothing at all, with a promise of having the same difficult task indefinitely, we all went to the colonel with tears in our eyes and hearts in our throats and begged that he send us home, ship us some where else, or give us a job here. He hemmed and hawed, and finally admitted that there would be nothing for us to do here for years, denied the probability of an early ocean voyage (winter is a bad time to travel anyway.) and recommended to G.H.Q. that we be transfered to some other station. Since then the orders to move have been coming in. Two of the Selfish Six have received their orders and parted for realms unknown, and the rest of expect to leave in a day or at the most two. Except for that there is no news; most of that foes the other way across the water these days. The flu epidemic must have been terrible at home. It was bad enough over here, but we were fortunate in that we were for the most part out of doors; that helped a lot. This winter there is not the same trouble or at least not so much of it, with pneumonia, because the soldiers are provided with living quarters and there is no need of the excessive demands on one's endurance that were made the last winter. For instance in the M.T.C. there is no such thing any more as three day convoys without any good or rest, in the infantry, the trenches are no more, and with every one, if one gets wet and cold, there is at least an even break that he may be warm and dry again before a week or two. My time is up, and so is this letter. You must not worry about me, nor think that I am abused, for I'M NOT. In fact, there is a chance that I may the first of the Henschel to board ship and make that journey "homeward bound". In the mean time, if they will only keep me busy enough (there is no possibility of overwork; too many of us) I'll have no kick what so ever. My love to you and Dad. It's always there, anyway, so I can't send it.
From the service of James E. (Ned) Henschel, Co. B Reserve Mallet--French Army, American Field Service, Quartermaster Corps, General Hdgts., and Motor Transport Co. 831.
|Date||January 14, 1919|
|Year Range from||1919|
|Year Range to||1919|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I