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


September 15/1917- Dearest Mother- You must pardon the interval between this and my latest "carte lettre" - it has been spent solely in having a good time. For the past twelve days I have done nothing but enjoy myself - haven't written a line to any one and have completely forgotten the camions - and now am returning to Jouaigne and work by way of Paris. You see - I received my first permission, or leave - (which we receive about every four months). I spent part of the time at Paris and the rest at [Biarritz] on the Atlantic coast, near Spain. We bathed and walked and ate and spent all of our money - and now are going back - clean and healthy and quite comfortably "broke". Before our next permission arrives we hope to be taken over by the government - or to have entered some other service - so the lack of funds will not hinder enjoyment of life very greatly, but simply cut down


the number of tons of chocolate one can eat. To return to the beginning - and so make this a bit more connected. Permissions are granted to six members of a section at a time - and my name was not selected to leave before a month at least, perhaps longer. By some cause or other, on the night of leaving, orders came to our section to have eight - not six - report for leaving. I told the Chef (or head officer) of the section that Seth and I were the ones - and he said that if we could get away with it - it would be all right with him. So we reported with the other - received our "orders de movement" with the others - and started that same night - chiefly on nerve. We walked five kilos to a railroad, bought a useless ticket, and arrived in Paris the next morning - almost before those at camp knew that we were going. We stayed in Paris a few days, partly to see a bit more of the city, but chiefly to have a new uniform made - and then left for [Biarritz]. By partillay convincing a rather good looking girl at the sta-


tion that we were or ought to be officers - assisted by the judicious investment of two francs and a half - we managed to ride the entire trip second class, instead of the horrible third - which is the only way a soldier is supposed to ride. We arrived at [Biarritz] about noon, and sought first food - and then later the less important item - lodging. As luck was with us, we met (or better were met by) an American nurse and her mother, who directed us to a very good place, where for only ten francs a day we obtained "board and room". The food was excellent, the rooms were clean and in them were real beds - with mattresses and box-springs (luxury beyond our dreams!) and the company at the hotel delightful. I am enclosing you the customary tourist book of photos of the place (now I


refer to the town itself)- Miss Nation (the nurse, whom of course in spite of "Nina" was at once re-christened "Carrie") and her mother did much to make our stay pleasant. we can barely make ourselves understood in French whereas she speaks the language like a native. We shocked - at first the rather conservative clientels of the hotel by doing exactly as we chose at any and all times - without regard to anyone or their opinions. When they later grew accustomed to see us smoke on the front steps - or all five of us take charge of Carrie and parade to the nearest cafe, or to see us violate all traditions and as near as possible reverse the order of a meal - or drink gallons or water and leave their excellent wine untouched. I think they rather enjoyed it. We met an artist who at first held himself aloof - but later invited us to inspect and criticize his collection of pastels (they were really very good) and to adopt


his young daughter, who could speak a little English, into this "family". I took complete possession of a little Scotch. French boy at the start, which outraged his mother and nurse. Later she invited me - and the others - to visit them at their chateau near Paris. I intend to do so, too, if I ever have the opportunity. (All of which would probably astonish Mrs. Moores). And their was a little French orator of about seven years, whom we stole from his mother for a day. She could not object in words (she could talk no English and we refused to understand her French) but she looked exactly as though she considered us crazy. We were good friends later. I really believe that we partially enlightened some poor [ms illegible: 1 wd] as to how to have real fun - as we might


in God's country. The final result was that they loaded us down when we left with sandwiches fruit and cigarettes - and wine - and begged us to send other permissionaires to [Biarritz] - which we shall certainly do. The cigarettes were the contribution of a French girl who volunteered to become Seth's "Marraine" or "god-mother" - and by so doing took upon herself the task of keeping him supplied with books, papers, cigarettes, letters and the like. Hope - quite selfishly - that she keeps up the good work. I paid my hotel bill and found myself still in possession of a few francs - so bought some trinkets which I mailed to you people. they are a rather peculiar type of Spanish or Moorish jewelry that I have never seen elsewhere - gold hammered into steel. Hope that the things prove acceptable, for they may have to serve a Christmas presents. Also I am enclosing two little handkerchiefs for Mary and Elizabeth which


I bought at one of the shops in Paris. To tell the truth - I intended to get something much nicer for them that I saw in the windows - but the price was way out of sight. I had to pay entirely too much for the things as it was. The soldier in dark blue is an Alpine Chasseurs - the best soldiers of France, and the one chasing an imaginary boche is the typical French poilu. Also I am enclosing with this letter a copy of the "Field Service Bulletin". The best thing in it is on the last page. As a rule the Bulletin is all a mistake, but once in a while something good appears in it. I am hoping to find letters from home when I arrive at the front again. It has been


quite a little while since I last heard from home. However - mail gets delayed. Dad you receive my letter with the snap in it? Will send another upon my return to camp - showing the sector where we are operating. the chief argument for discussion at present is the taking over of the service by the army. It is pretty much a proposition as to what one may do; no one seems to know just what we will be permitted to do. I am going to try out for aviation - but I doubt if my eyes will let me in. Am hoping, but at the earliest - will not be permitted to take the examination for about a month a half. I will probably stay with the camions for the rest of the guerre; that's the way things turn out when everything is confusion. We were rather discouraged when we returned to Rue Raynouard, for it was impossible


to get a straight-to-the-point, frank answer from anyone regarding anything. It looked too much like a case of double-dealing throughout - but I have now come to the conclusion that there is no need of worrying - or that at best no good can come from doing so. Must close. My love goes with this as with all my letters. Ned. To- Mrs. L.H. Henschel 3236 Euclid Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri U.S.A. From- J.E. Henschel TMU 133 Convois Automobiles Par B.C.M. Paris.

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 August 30, 1917
Year Range from 1917
Year Range to 1917
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Military life
Railroad travel
Search Terms American Field Service (AFS)