Full transcription of text follows:
Private J.E. Henschel Prov. Co. "A"- American Mission- M.T.D. Am.E.F. Convois AUtos Par. B.C.M.- France- July 4th 1918- Dearest Mother- The fourth of July has come and almost gone and we are all pretty well tired and happy. Just a year ago today we landed at Bordeaux. the year before I celebrated the day by going to Laredo; I wonder what will be the situation next year? Not being a good guess - I'll not try to prophecy. That doesn't prevent my wishing and hoping. I lots of ways our fourth here was spent as we would in the States. We had a military ceremony in the morning - a short patriotic address - a flag raising and a picnic-like field meet. After dinner there was a ball game. It sounds like home - doesn't it? Most of the town helped us celebrate and everybody visited the school all dressed up in their "Sunday-best" - even a general. A number of Croix de Guerres were presented in the morning. This is always an impressive ceremony. The band plays a series of flourishes and the presenting officer - in this case, the Commandant who heads the school - inspects the troops present, who are in units in this formation [diagram of troops] (Band) Officers and Staff The men who are to be decorated stand in the center in front of the presenting officer. All the troops stand at present arms while the citations are read and the crosses pinned on
the soldiers' coats. The band itself was very interesting - a Zouve outfit. There were only three instruments - drums - bugles - and a queer African reed instrument, something like a clarinet but much simpler. The effect was certainly wierd - to say the least. After this we marched into the lecture room and were addressed in French by the Commandant. A translation was given by one of the instructors for the benefit of the Americans - but speeches hose a lot in translation - don't they? Then we had the athletics. There were the regular events - a sack race (in which I entered and was ignominiously defeated) - a three-legged race - potato race - and a relay and hundred yard dash. Also there was a tug of war between the transport and the ambulance and another between the Americans and the French in which we were victorious. Then we had dinner - and such a dinner! It was pure libel to call it luncheon as the menu I am enclosing shows. There was plenty of good things and the best of everything from chicken to champagne. We toasted France the French students on the other side of the hall toasted l'Amerique - and both sides sang songs. The favorites were Tipperary and Madelon - one an English song familiar to the Frenchmen and the other a French son that we all know - a rousing air that has wont its way into the heart of every American who has heard it. Then we sang the Marsellaise (?) and the Star Spangled Banner. I used to have doubts as to whether this could be sung - but it certainly can. The band came in and played and sang their national - if one could call it national - anthem. It was really very
beautiful. The melody carried a plaintive, appealing note that is not usually found. We will remember that scene a good long while. It was one of the finest days I have ever spent. The afternoon held a base-ball game. Quite a novelty to the good people of the town. After this we more or less separated into groupes and either took walks or read and played bridge. You see the "first annual gloom" as a St. Paul boy spoke of our first anniversary in France wasn't gloomy at all. We all feel mighty glad to be able to be here, and I am certain there isn't a one who would wish to return home until our job is well finished. This will probably take quite a while, but that is not so important as that it be done - completely. It is getting dark, so I must close this. I hope that you folks at home spent as pleasant a Fourth as I did. My love to all at home. Ned.
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||July 4, 1918|
|Year Range from||1918|
|Year Range to||1918|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I
American Field Service (AFS)