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

no. 1 September 25/1917- Dearest Mother- At last I have a chance to write home. Since my return from Biarritz they have kept us going pretty much night and day, and I have not had a chance to write my carte-lettres as planned. Today - however my car in the shops acquiring new brakes and undergoing various minor but much needed repairs - so after cleaning it. I have had the opportunity to wash my face and try to catch up with my correspondence. Until today I have not even had the chance to get my mail - so you can see that we have really been rather busy. Day before yesterday I was at the wheel twenty hours - which is pretty long - and then after four hours in bed - went on another trip. Am afraid that in a fairly short while - "Heine" will get


all that he is looking for - and more - on this front. Can't say much more - but read the papers. The latest letter from home - yours of August 29 gave me good news - not so good. Many thanks for the tobacco. It has not arrived yet - nor have any papers at all - but suppose that they will eventually turn up. By way of data - my gas-mask can tells me that I have to date received communications from home (mailed June 25th, July 9th, 16th, 17th Elizabeth) - 26th, August 15th, 21st and 29th - in all eight letters. From other sources - including Aunt Kate - Uncle Wes, Duncan and Mrs. and Marian Warner - six letters - thus making a grand total of fourteen. I have written home in all forty-seven times - including carte-lettres and letters to the kids. Also I sent on box of trinkets from Biarritz. To everyone outside of the family I have


written in all fourteen letters and carte-lettres. (I am keeping a register of all the letters I send - so as not to write too seldom - or something of this sort). Your car sounded as though perhaps you folks were not getting all the letters sent home - so from this one on I shall number serially everything - right-hand upper corner. C'est la guerre. Please don't trouble to send me things. Much as I would appreciate them and all that - the common sense thing is not to do so - for the expense and trouble involved at your end is not right - especially when the probability of receipt at this and of the line is concerned. The "date" above would seem to indicate it. By the way - the "gas-mask can" reference should be explained. I keep all my letters in an empty gas mask can - with paper and pen - so that I can write on the road if


possible. Generally - it is not possible. Last night there was an air raid at this place. The Germans seem to be bombing the American camion camps in turn - and I suppose that ours was scheduled for last night. At any rate - to continue the story - the planes made their appearance at about eight thirty and were overhead here for altogether perhaps an hour - but nothing hit near enough to us to be dangerous. There is a little village near us that "gets theirs" pretty regularly and of course it was not neglected in yesterday's party. About the worst wierd sound that I know is that of some thing coming down from a long way up - when one can not feel certain as to what it is. We have heard bombs before - but I must confess to a queer feeling when there were three of those long drawn out "whistles"


followed by a full thud in a near field. No - not bombs - but merely bits of shrapnel from French anti-aircraft guns. The minute the planes appearing - big searchlights from all around covered the sky - and soon the little flashes in the sky told of shrapnel. Then soon rockets indicating direction put in their appearance. Much more spectacular than a day light raid - and much more interesting. The German planes have a rather unique way of signalling to one another. Of course a light would be impossible and a whistle would not be hears - so they merely fire a few rounds of machine gun bullets. The rattle of the gun makes a very distinct sound that can easily be detected in spite of the roar of the motors. Also I settled a question that


that has been irritating my curiosity lamp for some months. The French planes are tractors - that is the propellor is in front. Also - the machine gun on a plane is in front and I have often wondered how the propellor and gun managed to keep apart. Perfectly simple after all; the bullets are shot between the propellor blades. The mechanism of the gun is controlled by the mechanisms of the motor - a case of accurate timing. Must close. There is so much talking-arguing - and noise in general that I can't think straight - let along write. The officers of the American army who are to take over the service are expected daily. Most of us don't know what to do - whether to enlist with this or with some other branch of the service. Will write again soon. Ned.


To- 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. P.S. Don't expect many letters from for the next three weeks or a month. The indications are that we will be working all of the time. Have seen more big guns than ever before and have handled more shells and trench torpedoes. Hope that Elizabeth has fully recovered. My love to all - especially to you and father. J.E.H.

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 September 25, 1917
Year Range from 1917
Year Range to 1917
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)
Automobile driving