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Catalog Number 1996.51.136CC
Object Name Letter
Accession number 1996.51
Description Full transcription of text follows:

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Private J.E. Henschel- American Mission- Motor Transport A.E.F. Reserve Mallet- France- February 3/1918- Dear Mother and Dad- Day before yesterday was another big day for me - as mail goes. There were five letters - two from Mother - a draft questionaire - a Christmas card, and two armfuls of the [Kansas City] Star. Therefore I was very much set up - fairly jubilant - and now have enough newspaper to occupy my attention for a week. All that I do there days is read and write and smoke and sleep - on the whole - a mighty easy time of it. Now that it is cold again - being shut of by no means unpleasant. Somewhere or other I have read that -

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"God made Mothers because he could not be every where at once." Certainly they were not made to be troubled or worried unnecessarily, especially those that have so much to do as my Mother has. I'm mighty sorry that I wrote that ill-fated letter lost November. Too much selfishness - and lack of consideration for others seem to be two of my faults. Don't worry any longer about any change of service on my part; it is impossible for several reasons, not the least of them being that the two dearest people in the world would not like it. The matter of the questionaire will be disposed of, when I have left this place, through the C.O. here. A number of the boys have received draft papers and they have all

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been attended to in this manner. Do you remember the large black book effect that I used at the University of filing paper and notes? All of my papers relative to the officers' training camp are in one of the packets, along with letters of recommendation and so on. Could you folks have a couple of true copies made of all that - sworn to, or whatever the proceedure is, and sent to me at week intervals, so that I could be assured of receiving one set? The originals could be kept home then. There is a possibility that these papers would be mighty handy for me to have in a couple of months. (Don't forget the letters - please). Little "Mac" Seymour has been discharged from the infirmary; his measles are declared

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cured, and he was delighted be "released". The orderlies say that his bed will be kept ready for him - prophecy bubonic plague, or some other unearthly ailment. You see - Mac has played in hard luck the past two months or so, for a few days after recovering from a bad cold - he broke his arm - very shortly after returning to duty, the measles got him. Hence the prophecies seem warranted. I miss him a lot, but I expect to be back to duty myself in two or three days at the most. My treatments have progressed from the cold towel and "the wiggling" stage to that of massage and standing on my feet. Suppose that I am about the least-sick man that ever posed as an infirmary inhabitant. If only there were

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means of writing in comfort - the situation would be ideal. The letter from Mrs. Leavel of the Athenaeum come with the others two days ago, and pleased me very much. A "note of thanks" is hardly due me, for all thanks should go the other way. I am mighty glad that the Athenaeum understand the situation as regards the ambulance work, because I was afraid that I had unwittingly "obtained money under false pretenses" - something that I would not want them to think. They were so good to me and their spirit and attitude toward the work of the Field Service so splendid that if any of any of the good women entertained such a thought, my

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position would be not only embarassing but cheap and imposible. Aunt Kate and Uncle Henry sent me a box filled with the best cigarettes and pipe tobacco that I have had in France. My dirty black pipe received the surprise of its life when I first filled with that tobacco. Gave Coburn Herndon one package of it, but am keeping all the rest carefully hidden. A letter from Aunt Kate was in the enormous mail two days ago; I hope to answer it this evening. The Missouri outfit has scattered so widely that there are now very few of us within hailing distance, but their place has been taken by others of the Field Service. We have been very fortunate thus far in that we who wore in the Field Service have been kept in

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separate outfits from those who come with the troops from the States. This is good for two reason - the first, that the type of fellows is so different from that of the average enlisted soldier; secondly, that so long as we are kept apart, there remains the hope that something better may be coming. I have made some mighty close friendships among these boys. There is a rather hot-headed boy from "No'th C'o'lina", who won all of our hearts the day he was ready to clean out the camp because someone kicked a dog rather brutally. "Babe" Williamson is probably the most intimate of my new friends. "Charley" Brown, of Boston, sleeps next to me in the barracks, and makes life more enjoyable with his fiddle. Dark haired and brown eyed, husky, but a little lazy, a really remarkable performer on the violin. It should miss him a lot

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if he left. Most of all, though, I believe that if "Bob" Clark, whose home is St. Paul, were away, I should sorrow for his "Damn that Henschel" when my thousand and one things dropped on him. (You see - he sleeps below me). That one expression is about the only "cussing" he indulges in - yet he has not missed a day in visiting me here. "Ray" Harper - late of California and the Standard Oil Company (my capitals are lacking) made up the third of a great team of fatigue artists and company grouches - or "gripers". Harper Henschel and Herndon are alphabetical - hence the team - a most jovial crew. We possessed the record for steady and unbroken "gripe" slang and everything, but it can never be said that there were any three who wielded a mightier shovel or could "throw a nasty pick" to compare

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with us. Harper broke up the team by coming into the eyes of the Powers - and some months from now will probably be an officer. There are two boys - Dowley and Bray - also from Boston and near Boston - who surprise the barracks by drawing tons and tons of boxes and whole sacks of letters. "Ken Dowley's chief characteristic is the astonishing number of transfers that he can make and unmake in a day - from the infantry, through artillery and tanks, to aviation and back again. All in a day - And the next day he will have a new branch of service to choose. The betting is that he will be right with the most of us when peace!!! is declared. Bray is a very quiet, peaceful, intelligent sort of a "cuss" - well liked by all of

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us. An older chap, and more steady. I could write all night telling about the boys - which would make this latter much too long and no more interesting. The boys are just the average sort of college students, good-natured, fun-loving, gentlemanly. We always get along splendidly, there is never any hard feeling, and needless to say, there has never been a "fight" in the barracks. It would be difficult to choose a better group, all-around, to be associated with closely - whether as soldier's, or at home, socially. The hail from all over the union, from the better class of homes, and nine out of ten are University students or graduates.

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Does that about answer your question? It is getting late - supper over hour ago - and no letters to [ms illegible: 1 wd] written. Must do that tomorrow morning. The clippings were very interesting - the other [Missouri University] boys as well as myself. Will you tell Iola how much I appreciate her goodness? She is too thoughtful and kind; am afraid my obligations are increasing more rapidly than I can repay them. Trust that everyone at home is well - that Berthold's arm is O.K. once more My love to all of you, always - Ned- (Pardon the up-hill sloping; am writing in bed)-

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 February 3, 1918
Year Range from 1918
Year Range to 1918
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Mail
Newspapers
Military discharges
Illness
Friendship
Tobacco
Military life
Search Terms American Field Service (AFS)