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Catalog Number 1986.213.28
Object Name Letter
Accession number 1986.213
Description Full transcription of text follows:


Somewhere in France July 14th., 1918. My Dear Father: I wrote Mother from a little town in England some time ago. I stated that I would write you the following morning but certain things came up which prevented me. We packed up and moved again. We have not been in one place for any length of time until now. We travelled for one month straight and are at last settled for a while and doing real work. I am now “Somewhere in France” and have been for some little time. This is one of the prettiest countries I have been in. People don’t live out on farms here but dwell in picturesque little villages and go out in the daytime to farm. The little towns must have been built back in Ceasar’s time. They are stone buildings with stone or thatched roof. There is a church in every village and also a public shrine. A family washing pond is built on the edge of the town where all congregate to wash their clothes. Every evening you see the women driving herds of sheep and a few cows right through the center of the village up the main street. There are wonderfully trained shepherd dogs here too. I have seen three dogs take a herd of sheep to pasture every morning all alone. There are no fences so the dogs watch them during the day and bring them back at sunset. Everything is very green here. The weather is wonderful, quite cool in the evenings and just right during the day. I am fixed perfectly on clothing and equipment and need nothing. We can get milk here for supper that is still warm from the cow. When in that little English town I spoke of, which was quite a historic place, I got permission to take my platoon to town and show them some of the sights. We saw that wonderful and famous cathedral which was built over 1000 years ago. The bones of the father of Alfred the Great are put away in marble caskets there, and in other caskets are the bones of other rulers and nobles of England. Cromwell parked his horses in the shrine of this cathedral when he overthrew the English Parliament and ruled with an iron hand. We visited the castle where King Arthur and the Knight of the Round Table held forth. The round table is still there with the name of each knight carved in his place. Joan of Arc was also tried and convicted in this castle. You should have heard some of the remarks my men made. One of the old prelates took us around. He tried to make an impression on the boys but from what I could see I don’t believe he got very far. When he waved his hand toward one of the ceilings and said in flowing language that it was one hundred and


[Page 2] ten feet to the ceiling from where they stood, I heard several whispers “The Hell you say”, others came across with “I know damn well it isn’t over fifty feet. One fellow said that the Union Station in K.C. was ninety feet high.” I warned them that it would be best not to argue the matter there and to keep their mouths shut and ears opened. I realized at the time however that I had a bunch of real Yankees in my platoon. They enjoyed everything very much however and acted like gentlemen the whole time. We made our trip across the channel O.K. and arrived “Somewhere in France”. As we marked through the streets of this city, the whole populace turned out and lined the streets. Flowers were given us and thrown from the windows. American flags lined the streets and were waved from the windows. “Vibe l’America” was heard from all sides and our men were only too ready with the reply of “Vibe la France”. We camped on the outskirts of this city for the night and the next day left for this little country village “somewhere in nowhere” as the men say. When we left the city the band escorted us out and our sendoff was as great if not greater than our reception. I am certainly having some wonderful travels and experiences and I have never felt finer in my life. My, but I shall have a lot to tell when I get back. I shall not be able to see any of my friends for some time to come at least. I have seen Lynn Gaylord once. He was riding on a big truck and waved to me. He was smiling and happy as the rest of us. He is billeted in a little village not far from this one. Yesterday, July 13, I received a letter from I.O. and one from Aunt Edith. These are the only two I have received since I left Camp Mills and believe me but they were wonderful. I have read them over half a dozen times at least. Of course I realize that the mail is slow and ships are held up for some time, but news from home is the only thing which takes us away from the mess shack now. I shall have to close now. There is really no more news, I can tell you. I shall answer I.O.’s letter as soon as possible. I am officer of the guard tonight. It is now midnight and I am writing here in the little guard house by candle light. The sentinels offpost are snoring all around me. Well I must close and wander through these little streets for awhile and inspect my posts. Ever so much love to you, Mother, I.O. & Jr. & the rest, Burnie,

From the service of James Kellogg Burnham Hockaday, First Lieutenant, 354th Infantry, 89th Division.
Date July 14, 1918
Year Range from 1918
Year Range to 1918
People Hockaday, James Kellogg Burnham
Subjects World War I
Castles & palaces
Military life