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Catalog Number 1994.41.12
Object Name Letter
Accession number 1994.41
Description Full transcription of text follows:


Rec. [December] 23rd, 1918 Verdun France [November] 23 1918 - Dear Mother and all the rest Yesterday we got news that the censorship was off and that we could give our address and tell a few things about what we had seen. Fortunately or unfortunately we got behind in our schedule so arrived at Verdun just a few day too late to see things in real action. had plans been carried out tho some of us wouldnt be writing letters today. as for describing what we have seen that cant be done. you just have to see the desolation and destruction and even then you dont fully realize what has gone on - For Instant the above city once had 80,000 to 100,000 people in it when we marched thru there was nothing but soldiers and houses shot to pieces. not a sign of a woman or a child, even the birds have left the country. Iwas in town about [Wednesday] - and saw one or two women - Y.M.C.A. and nurses but civilians are absolutely a thing you dont see. Well we march on out to the country and then we saw trenches by the 1,000 and miles and miles of barbed wire entanglements, youve tryed to climb these barbed wire fences - and know how easy it is to get hung up - well - drive about ten stakes this way [image] and


then pass wire between those stakes in all directions and you have an idea of an entanglement. Then back off about 20 ft. take a run and try to get thru that fence. If a man got thru one fence - he found another and another and so on - almost with out end - and the German wire has a barb on it about an inch long. Then you find shell holds - bigger and deeper than our furnace and in some places so close together you can hardly walk between them - and to make thing pleasant ever so often you fall over a skull or some other part of a skelton. Wars a beautiful thing when you have on a nice new uniform etc but Sherman didnt half express it in his famous statement. Well after walking for about a half day we camped - and I finally got my men settled and Ihunted a place to sleep - finally found the remains of a large house. upper story all gone - and most of the lower Ifound one room tho that had four fairly good walls and part of a roof and a good floor - put my bed roll down and found and old stove - lit the fire heated water in a steel helmet and washed and turned in. Didnt stay there long - but built a little cabin - out of logs we found in a dug out so Iam as comfortable as anyone could wish. We are having beautiful weather thank goodness night cold but days clear and bright and we have plenty of good food - better than you are getting in the states tho perhaps not always cooked as we would like. Well less go back a little we landed in Liverpool England after a rather uneventful trip altho we


Just missed some floating mines and the ship behind us ran into us one night but didnt do any harm. Then we took a train one of those celebrated English trains for Romsey - for a rest camp - nearly froze that night as we had no heat in the car and nothing but our over coats and hardtack for food - got to rest camp and if I rested any I sure never do want to work again. Next we went to Southampton and crossed over to [Le Havre] and that was some trip 500 horses 500 coons - all mixed together and a few officers no lights no food no blankets as the boys say no nothing finally got into port and the entrance to the harbor is very pretty and turned in to a real rest camp - got cleaned up - and later started again - was in out skirts of Paris but that didnt help us any well we finally got to the little French town Iwrote about last night after travelling in a cold car with the men in box cars - That trip took 3 lox day - dont remember exactly - any way the march to the village was awful on the men and Ididnt feel any too good - got in town at dark and had to get about 200 men to bed before we could find our quarters - no supper. Then we came on here and have been working every since. That isnt a very full description yet you can get your map and start at [Fort Riley] and trace us there fairly well - we should be moving on in a few days and when you write address


The letter as usual. This afternoon I am going out for a walk and see what Ican find and Ill stop now and start again tomorrow in that way Ican spend part of Sunday with you. lovingly Jim Sunday night If I am right on time you should either be coming home from church or else eating Sunday dinner also providing Iam right on date you cant imagine how hard it is to keep track of the days of the week and the date of the month. Itook a long walk this morning tho Ididnt see much of interest same trenches same wire and destroyed villages graves and shell holes. Ididnt get very far Sunday on this letter so will start again. It is raining this morning cold and naturally damp. altho Iam comfortable - I am worried about these men because they are sleeping in tents and niggers dont stand exposure any to well any way. Just got a letter from Wagon Mound saying my books had been shipped so Isuppose you have received them. as Ihavent had any mail from home for about a month it is pretty hard for me to write so Ill stop hope you are all as well as Iam and that you keep well - address me as usually for Idont want Verdun on the letter I may far away from there before a letter could find me. We have 100 sack of mail lost now, but expect to find it most any day love to each & every one Jim Merrry Xmas - Lt James R Davis 816 Pioneer Inf - (Medical Dept) A.E.F. via N.Y.

From the service of James Robert Davis, M.D., Medical Corps, 816th Pioneer Infantry Division.
Date December 23, 1918
Year Range from 1918
Year Range to 1918
People Davis, James Robert
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Wounds & injuries
Barbed wire
Shells (War)
Dead persons
Letter Writing