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June 8, 1918. Dear Family: I am going to take time out to write a letter home tonight, even though letters may still be defende. As you are very probably well aware, the past several weeks have meant work, strenuous and long for all of us over here. History has been making and making rapidly, and the fact that we have had to step pretty lively to keep up with the pace. In short, we have been working to the fullest of our powers, under more or less handicaps, putting every ounce that we have into the game which means so much to all of us now. Surely America must be alive to the fact now that we are up against the most most serious proposition that we have yet had to face, that everything depends up on everybodies' giving everything to the great war against the Hun, that now more than ever before there is but one place for a red-blooded American, and that in the fighting line here or at home. For the work and the sacrifices that are necessary for you at home mean much, perhaps as much as the work that we who are privileged to be here can do. Our work has felt the pressure the same as that of the other branches of the service, and needless to say, there have been more risks involved than ever before. We have rolled night and day ever since the last drive commenced, never knowing when starting just when we would return. The men have put in their thirty and forty hours at the wheel with never a murmur that amounted to anything. The spirit shown has been fine and on the whole I don't believe that more could be expected of anyone than our boys are giving now. Would to God that they had all been here two years ago, and with them all that we know will come after. The war has certainly come home to us in a way that you people can not appreciate. There have been numbers of little personal incidents that indicate this fact, but the big thing is that in my humble opinion all of the Americans who are here now know that a war, our war - most emphatically OUR war is going on, and that it means everything in the world that we strike hard and strike quick and then strike again and again until their is no doubt that the last Hun attempt has been crushed. There is no middle ground, and although this fact has excited for four years, I believe that it will at last mean the same to the Americans at home as it does to the French and to the English and to all others who have suffered in this war as they have suffered. I thought tha tthe war had meant all that it possibly could to me last summer and last Octocber, when I first saw the horrible things than German ambition has done to France and when I saw the fields of crosses marking truggles on the Aisnes and the Somme, but since the spring drive of the Germans first started, more and more have I been impressed and horror-stricken at the way of the German. We have made camp one day in a village as peaceful in appearance, as beautiful as any town that could be found in the States, and the next day the Hun was there doing his dirty bit. Believe me, it is all right to say "Fight without hatred" but if there is any love now in me for anything Boche, it is pretty well camouflaged. The refugees leaving everything be-
hind that is dear to them; the old women and small boys walking after hour along the roads, sometimes with a wheel barrow holding all that could be taken with them, sometimes with a team of oxen and a great wagon loaded with household effets; the deserted little towns where everyone was once so happy; the women who was forced to bring her little one into the world in a ditch by the side of a road; all of these things and many more have been stamped indelibly into our beings in a way that will never change, and has made us willing to give every ounce of endurance that there is in us to right this terrible wrong. If perhaps hate has replaced the once friendly feeling that we entertained for the German - can we be blamed so much? I know only on thing, I can think only one way - carry on and carry on and then carry on some more until the Boche has been paid in his own medicine for his terrible dream of Empire, until the spirit of conquent for conquests's sake has been driven for all time from the world. Perhaps I am just beginning to feel this business the way that I should. We know that it is a finish fight. Also we know that it is probably a long one, and that certainly it will be a hard fight and a costly one. Everything that America can give - in men and effort and money and material must be given, and must be given quickly. Everyone over here must give his utmost limit - and now that he has seen the real meaning of war as it has been met by the French for four years, he certainly cannot help but do so - and likewise everyone at home, who makes our being here possible, must bend every exertion in our directino and that a peace most certainly with victory. There can be nothing else. There have been many small incidents that I would like to tell you about, but I only have time to put a few into this letter. One night the Y.M.C.A. distributed a quantity of chocolate and canned fruits to the boys. As it was practically impossible to purchase such things, they had a pretty high rating among the fellows. That same night a party of refugees stopped for the night near our camp. I can see them now - the two very old women, the one old man, the boy about twelve who led the team of oxen for miles over the road; there were probably some thirty in the party in all. They had very little in the way of provisions of any sort, so we made a large pot of coffee and sent over a very generous share of the good things that the "Y" had given us to them. It certainly was worth while, just to see the gratitude that was evident upon their faces. A few hours later we left that place and have not been back since. A few hours still later the Germans were in there. Our work remains essentially the same, of course, and covers the transport of everything from men to shells. Of late we have had more variety. It has been our privelege to carry back on trips that ordinarily would have meant a return with an empty camion, refugees and wounded and property of all sorts. At one place where we camped for a few hours the people were evacuating the place practically everything that they owned had to be left behind. It seems rather horrible but we helped htem out a bit by having a chicken dinner. The chickens had to be left with the other things and by buying chickens from them, we were able to leave the eight0four francs more to the good than they would otherwise have been. I feel proud to think that in a time when
it is possible to take almost any sort of thing found around a farm house, merely for the trouble of picking it up, provisional company "A" has paid cash for all that they have acquired. Incidentally, it was two days before the men were not rolling long enough to eat that chicken dinner. I postponed cooking it for a day, and then had to hold it for another day after it was cooked before I could serve it. Among the minor trials and inconveniences that we have had to bear with has bene the loss of a number of articles of clothing. Due to our rapid moving around and the number of places that we have left behind us it is quite to be expected that along with the places we should leave behind considerable personal property. All of the clothes that I brought with me from America have either been destroyed or are now giving aid and confort to the enemy. Along with them are one trunk, one duffle bag and a leather suit case that made a number of trips to Mexico City. Among the "lost in action" should be mentioned the most useful thing that I brought with me from the States, the small bag which Mother made for me th day before I left home. Hence you must not be surprised should I send in a requisition once things are more settled again Of course the business of the officers's training school has been indefinitely postponed and will not be taken up until the situation has become more or less stable again. I sincerely hope that it will remain "indefinitely postponed" so long as the Boche is rampant, for the last thing that I want to do it to go to school while there is real work to be done. But I have told all this before on a card. My love goes with this letter and all of my best and dearest thoughts. I hope that it finds everyone at home well, and that by now Father's arm does not trouble him. Ned. By the way, among the missing is a silver Ivanhoe button. it went in a good cause, but I would like mighty well to have it replaced if such a thing is possible, for I feel very proud of it. I shall have to start at the bottom again in the work of the lodge when I return, I fear.
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||June 8, 1918|
|Year Range from||1918|
|Year Range to||1918|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I
Clothing & dress