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"Near the front"- July 25, 1917- Dear Father and Mother I received a letter from home with numerous enclosures dated the 24th of June, and needless to say, was more than pleased do so. The clippings were interesting. The Sunday in New York I spent as follows: the morning walking through Central Park and going to church, and the afternoon bathing af Far Rockaway beach. So I suppose Father won. Although we spent a few extra days in New York, the time was pretty well taken up. Two or three wealthy relatives of some of the boys helped to give us pleasant evenings so that we saw a couple of shows and had suppers at some of the show places. The chief object of living in that city seems to be to spend money - and receive very much for it - not. I am pretty well tired out, so you must pardon it this letter sounds sleepy. Our work is driving these big trucks full of anything the army in this sector may need from lumber and barbed wire to high explosive shells. Almost all of our trips are at night without lights over horrible roads, and as the trucks pretty rapidly, it is really quite strenuous work. We leave either at about three in the afternoon or four in the morning and are always out at least twelve
hours. Then we have a day of "repos" - if we are lucky, in which all we have to do clean the camions and fix them up if necessary. The poor things usually need it. My first camion was numbered 13, but it is now in the shop recovering from last night's journey, and I have been given number 22. Number 13 is too unlucky anyhow. Although we go pretty close to the line, there is really not a great deal of danger from shell fire, for the roads are screened as much as possible from the German view. We have had shells burst near us, but none too near. Our equipment includes a helmet and gas mask which are always taken with us, but I hope we may never have use for them. The chief trouble that I antisipate is staying in the road and avoiding running into the camion ahead. One of our boys marked a truck up considerably by running into the truck ahead of him and had to spend the night in the closest dugout, for the Germans opened up an offensive before he could get away. The big guns keep banging away night and day, but today they have quieted up a little. Last night we took thousands of 75's somewhere, so in a few days I suppose we shall hear a French offensive. the poilus we see say that the fighting has been worse here than at any other place heretofore. One hear some horrible tales, and the small trench knives all of the soldiers carry seem to bear them out. The one big impression that proximity to the fighting has given me is one of horror. Gas and liquid fire, and terrible ways of using them are
are just a part. It's everybody, and both sides. Very few prisoners are taken now by anyone. Those who started the ball rolling have a terrible score to answer to. We have been united with the Princeton unit to make T.M.U. 133. They are a mighty nice outfit of boys and we get along together splendidly. And by the way, that is our new address. J.E.H- T.M.U. 133 Convoise Automobiles, Par B.C.M., Paris, France. Don't address any mail to the address sent in my previous letter; that is all wrong. Also I think that letters will reach me sooner went this way than when sent through the Paris office. You should see the glorious mess that they have there, not only in regard to mail, but in regard to everything. Absolutely no system at all. I have not yet received either of the letters you forwarded. A hospital in the near visinity was bombarded by German planes a day or so ago and one nurse was wounded by broken glass. One of our fellows was in the Chef of the sections Ford less than a hundred yards from where a bomb exploded but was not hurt at all. He was rather lucky. Still those things happen all the time and no one thinks anything of it. When everything seems to break loose at once is when a battery
of big guns opens up. The noise those big shells - 155's and 220's - made when going overhead is only surpassed by the sound of the "arrives" going in the opposite direction. If some German gunner makes a mistake and one of those things fails to go overhead, letters from little Neddie may stop quite suddenly. However, I suppose there is really little enough danger in our work. We received our pay the other day - at the rate of five cents a day and some of this horrible French tobacco. I brought a pound of Bull Durham with me, but it is now almost gone, and when it is no more, I fear my smoking days are over for I simply can't stand the French stuff. I purchased some little trinkets to send back home to you folks, but don't think that I will attempt to send them, for they are made of brass and customs officials I am told have a rather disagreeable habit of confiscating everything made of that metal - No - I am not spending my over abundant funds recklessly. I must close, as I am "too much tired" to write. Will write again soon. My love to all of you home-folks. Ned. To- L.H. Henschel 3236 Euclid Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A. From- James Edward Henschel, T.M.U. 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.
|Year Range from||1917|
|Year Range to||1917|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I