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


5 Private James E. Henschel- American Mission Motor Transport A.E.F. Reserve Mallet- France- October 12/1917- Dear Dad- Your letter of September eighteenth with two from Mother came today. Also the money order. I don't know how to thank you; it was mighty good of you to send it, and I certainly appreciate your doing so. It will be necessary for me to send the order to Paris - so that I shall receive the money in about ten days or so. the first things that I buy will be a bath - as soon as I have the slightest chance - and then have everything I own laundered. My last bath dates back to some time in September and a change of linen still earlier. I have written three letters to the Athenaeum through Mrs. Wells the secretary, telling what I could of our


work. Suppose that two of them have been received by now and that the third will be shortly - And I shall write again as soon as possible. I am certain that the ladies must appreciate how difficult it is for me to write from now on - for we are now permitted to tell very little of our work and experiences. There is little else that I could say of interest to them. however, I would not have them believe that I am unappreciateive of all that they did for me. As a patriotic investment - considered in cold matter of fact terms of dollars and cents - I firmly believe that their money was well spent. Not a day goes by but that I do something of service valuable to the French army - which means of course that every day they are receiving value for their investment - for always all that I can do here was made possible by them. Whether we carry timbers or shells - it is certain that are taking something urgently needed just where it


is needed, and that were we not here, some Frenchman would have to do the work. And France is short of man-power. I shall follow your suggestions as regards the lodge and Kellog Smith, and shall write to them on my first day of "repos". God knows when that will be - for we are kept going pretty steadily day and night. I have had one meal in camp - supper tonight - in the last two days - and hardly feel up to writing many letters after a long trip. We get pretty tired. I believe that this is the steadiest work, with the most irregular hours of any service in the army. Of course - we are still serving the French army in this sector. The other day I came in early in the morning from a particularly hard trip and could not get to sleep - so I wrote a letter instead - in which I remarked that we had been remarkably fortunate and had had no "accidents". It happened that just about that we were having our first bit of hard luck. On a convoy carrying logs a couple of shells


came too close. "Bob" Lamout lost his right hand and "Hank" Thompson had his back and sides filled with shrapnel. Scully - a section chef - was rendered deaf because of the explosion. A French sergeant with them was killed. It certainly was a shame - for they are both might fine boys. Both of them are Princeton students. The circumstances might be interesting. The French unloading crew went to the abris - or dugouts - immediately the parc was shelled - so the boys decided to unload themselves, that they might get the camions away as soon as possible. One of the two shells wrecked the Ford staff car accompanying the convoy - as well as hurting the boys. It is these things that make me proud to be a private in this service - the type of fellows in it. I only hope that it does not change. Did I tell you that there are two Masons - that I know of - in our section - the two Lamade brothers? They are members of Iray Lodge, 397, Pennsylvania. Their


father is Dietrich Lamade - editor and owner of "Goit" - a thirty-third, and quite a prominent and active Mason in the east. The younger Lamade received his third at about the same time that I did - and all three in short order before leaving. Am glad to hear the news about the Temple; wish that I could be there for the opening - but that is too much to hope. It certainly was too bad about Berthold's arms. I hope that it is O.K. again by the time this reaches home. The spark is tricky and must be watched pretty closely. Better luck next time. Also hope that the others are all well again. I myself have had a bit of fever and chills for the past few days; must have caught cold. These rainy cold night drives and sleeping in wet cloths is probably responsible. Have taken a lot of quinine and hope to be all fit again in the morning. I had better be - for I am expecting a call at three or four o'clock.


Gradually we are becoming U.S. soldiers in more than name. Yesterday we were issued U.S. helmets and blankets. The helmets look much like inverted wash basins, but are really more comfortable to wear than the French derby-shaped affairs. We are expecting to receive U.S. gas masks and rifles tomorrow. The rest of our equipment will probably come through shortly. Staff car drivers are being taken from out section. Somehow or other I believe that I would rather be in this work - although the other calls for sergeants' pay. There is a bit too much "toadying" to it. I think - and besides I would rather be a truck-driver than a chauffer. Let those that can't stand the heavy work ride in the touring cars. Believe that I could have the job - or one of them - but don't think that I will apply. Still - it's a whole lot more fun driving a Cadillac Eight than a truck. I hope that there is something to


your projects in the southeast farm lands. I certainly wish that things would straighten themselves out where your interests are now, but I suppose that is practically a matter of years and waiting is about all that can be done. where are you contemplating entering - Florida? You see - I am afraid that I don't know very much about the real estate game. I'm glad that Ramsey has sergeant's stripes - and suppose that you are also. It should help him out a lot. When do you think he will get over? Is Harvey still a sergeant? I hope so. Am afraid that a private is all that I will be - for some time to come - although of course - there is always a chance - so long as you and Mother don't feel disappointed - why I am perfectly satisfied - and feel that I am doing the best that I can do in the way of service. I know that I would rather do the work of a private and know that I am doing it well than


wear a non-coms chevrons or hold a commission if I had to use "pull" to get there. One can get something better - (I don't call it better) if he touches for it - but I don't think I am built just that way. On the whole though - things are pretty fair and straight, and I feel very well satisfied. Once in a while a cog slips - but then - there are so many cogs. All that I want is to feel that I have played the game as hard an as well as I could. I can't get into any other service but the Q.M. (the physical exam) they tell me - and this is pretty active and real service. Must to bed. Once more - my gratitude for the money order. It shall not be wasted. Please don't feel that I am in "dire need" - though - for I am not at all. My love to all the home folks - especially you and Mother. Ned. (Above all - you and Mother must not worry over me. It is much better that I be here than at home - while the war lasts).

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 October 12, 1917
Year Range from 1917
Year Range to 1917
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Wounds & injuries
Military service