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


Private J.E. Henschel, American Mission, M.T.D., Am.E.F., Provisional Company "A", Convois Autos, Par B.C.M. May 12th, 1918. Mother dearest: Don't you like a showery day? This morning when i was awakened the rain was beating down on the remorque rook most delightfully. Being a more or less privileged sort of person, I lay in bed enjoying the patter immensely for several minutes before getting out in it. The above short paragraph about sums up the total of news that I am able to give you. This time it is impossible to lay the blame on the long suffering shoulders of our coring lieutenant, for there is actually nothing of news of importance that I might tell you. It would take an expert Hun indeed to worm valuable information for his aid and comfort from anything in my power to say. In fact, it has been so long since it has been my please to do anything that might be termed strictly military that I might as weel be home. Better, for perhaps I could raise potato or refrain from eating a loaf of bread. As it is, I employ my most valuable days helping to make the world safe for democracy by figuring out menus and exchanging old clothes and like safe and sane occupations. Don't even go out on convoy anymore (but nobody seems to, for that matter). There was an interruption in the course of this horrible, which in turn interrupted by further orders - quite just ones, too - from the lieutenant. A few bon companions had enticed me to partake in a short session of the great American pastime, for the lowest possible stakes, of course. The course of true love not running exactly smoothly, above, I thought that an entre-act would prove beneficial to all concerned, and now having finished the short interim, with no serious damage to my finances, the wisdom of the change will be proven by the completion of a remarkably fine epistle to the dearest person in the world. All the above is tommy-rot (Sammy-rot?) but honestly, Mother, I don't feel much like tommy-rot. I have been just a wee mite home-sick most of the day, and if there is anything harder than to write a nice, breezy, cheery letter home when one is wishing with all the wish he can to go along with the letter, I don't know just what it might be. Which is a splendid sentiment for a valient, veteran, hard-fighting quartermaster corpse to be sending home, isn't it? I apologize. Have I told you of our home? For some time we have been billeted upon the grounds of a chateau "somewhere in Europe" far from the cares and trials of conflict. It really


is a very beautiful place and I have completely fallen in love with it. There are beautiful wooded grounds back of the chateau proper, with winding paths leading through the trees. It has appealed to me immensely - these grounds and the paths. At least once a day for an hour, "Tad" Robertson and I walk clear to the end where there is a bench and take a home made lesson in the mysteries of the language of the land. After having been here for very nearly a year, it suddenly occured to us that perhaps the war would endure long enough to make a least a speaking and listening acquaintance with French worth the trouble of acquiring it. We have succeeded thus far in telling ourselves that our uncle hase purchased a hotel, and that the friends of his newphew found the letters. Furhter than that, deponant sayeth not. But to return to the chateau. I know that you would love the place. I have often imagined walking through everything of this sort that we run up against with you and enjoying your enjoying it with me. Perhaps you od, for I have a pretty active imagination. For instance. In June, 1916, I imaged that I was going to war for fair. Almost did, in fact. In October, 1917, I imagined that I was enlisting in the American army, but almost did not. Only QMC. That was certainly a narrow escape. Why, if I had not done so at that time, I might actually be fighting now and my excellent talents as a bean dispenser wasted. I can sympathize with my friend "Bob" Williams (who by the way is responsible for this yep having been printed instead of indited in my characteristic scrawl. Bob arrived in France about October or November and was immediately placed in charge of the gas-parc. This is an excellent position, requiring extraordinary talents and the ability to county and add. After having this thankless job "wished off" on him for some months, he is now the pilot of the good ship Royal in the officer of the officer commanding our groupe. I really can not blame him very much for feeling slightly disgruntled, as he too was one of those who came across to become a volunteer ambulanceer. I have digressed again. Shall try not to do so anymore. There is balm in Gilead, and that is largely people. I have spoken of our two Irishmen, Paddy and Paddy M. They are jewels and one of the delights we have (and really we have many, even though they be at times somewhat obscure). The second Paddy could have my months' wages just to stand by and talk. I would not attempt to reproduce his dialect here, for although a Royal is an excellent machine, it certainly is not a Victrola. He is a pleasure - and an excellent carpenter, as my remorque-home will bear witness. It is now absolutely the nicest place that I ever hope to call home, and the most convenient. I can now live with comparative ease among my two score and more of rifles and the trousers, denim, blue, and the shirts, flannel, OD. In fact, can even deal five-card hands there, although I have a mighty good hunch that I shall not after tonight. About that box, Mother. Don't worry at all about


sending parcels to me. Little things like regulations will never keep me from having things that I need, and thay will keep the transportation facilities across the "big drink", as they say at Annapolis, from becoming clogged. I am awfully sorry that you were unable to send the package, chiefly because of the disappointment to you, and partly because I know that a birthday box from home would have lots of most welcome things in it. By far the greatest pleasure that we derive from remembrances from home is the knowledge of the love that is sent with them and the pleasure that it gives those who send them. That is why I am always on hand when the mail comes in to get your letters, for you know that you are the only regular correspondant that I have, and worth some hundreds. There are some of the boys who write regularly to dozens of people and so are favored with dozens of letters, but I would n't keep on writing letters, I will try to be more faithful in answering them promptly. And don't bother about the packages; I would rather have a letter any day. They are much finer, Mother mine. So, I shall send home no requests for packages. A letter came the other day from "Speed". His name was acquired because of his long sarcastic drawl, and a stunt he attempted of measuring tenths of seconds on an Ingersoll, but he seems now to be making the nick-name fit. He is (or was at the time of writing to me) at a flying school in Texas and was making good rapidly. It's the greatest game in the world, and one worthy of the best Hun fighter. There is not a fellow that I know in that end of the guerre who is not absolutely tip-top. he could not be and stay there very long. There is a boy named Brown in "B" company, who is really a remarkably fine violinist. He helps wonderfully to drive away the blues and to bring back a bit of home. We will get together in the remorque or on a seat on one of the wonderful winding paths, and Charley will play all of my old favorites for me, the beautiful "Lament" and the "Elegie" and the Kreisler melodies. And just before we come back to camp, he will play "Du, du liegst mir im Herzen" and Leybach's "Nocturne". Gee, I wish that I could wind up the old Victrola tonight and put on a record. Doggone the Boche! I will lie on the ground smoking and listening and imagining at a hundred mile and hour clip. Even the mosquitoes bits quite as at home, and I find myself all lumpy upon my return to camp. Won't you play that very short and very difficult and very, very wonderful "Vogel als Prophet" for me? Having told you pretty freely just what I do not like, I really should say a little of the things that do give me pleasure. I like my company. This is quite startling - or should - for when I was assigned to "A" I did not think that I ever should. They are all pretty fair boys, their greatest dis-attraction being the vile mouthed some. Some of them are just down right worthless, but by far the greater part are very good workers, if they are told exactly what to do.. As infantry I think they would be indeed mauvais, and for taxi-drivers of New


York, some do display an astonishingly great lack of knowledge of driving and motors, but as I have said before most of them are very good at their jobs. The curious thing is that they are just like a bunch of infants in some respects. Two of them were out here in the court year calling one another names the other day one in Yiddish, and the other in German, I think - and each of the prophecying the dire consequences should the other know the names he was being called! For all the world like a couple of six year olds. And then again, contrary to what one would gather from other parts of this letter, I like my particular job. The fact that there is regular work and planning and some responsibility attached to it is about that keeps me from going completely bugs. If I must be in this service for the rest of the guerre (and although difficult to convince, I am rapidly coming to believe that those are the prospects) the job of acting mess and supply sergeant appeals to me most of all. Against another letter of mine, the "acting" part of the job seems to be about the most permanent - and it is by no means permanent. It is late, very late, and as my lieutenant has promised to stay up until this is turn in, I should stop. Looking over the sheets shows quite a goodly number; looking over the subject matter shows much less. Forgive me this letter if you can. With all of my love, Mother. Ned

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 May 12, 1918
Year Range from 1918
Year Range to 1918
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Military life
Taxicab drivers