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3 Private J.E. Henschel- American Mission- Motor Transport A.E.F., Reserve Mallet- France- October 6/1917- Dearest Mother- My new address is at the top of this page. There seems to be a prescribed form which we must follow from now on - or at least so we have been told. As we have been moved - it will probably be some time before mail gets to coming in with any degree of regularity. None the less - today is a red letter day - for a lad joined us from the other camp bringing a letter from you and the Star containing Brumbach's letter. This is the first time a paper has come through for me. No packages yet. I am writing this letter by the light of small gasoline torch in an overcrowded undersized remorque to the accompaniment of music by four others attempting songs of almost every kind. So you can see that I
am labouring under disadvantages. We are now fairly well settled in our new camp - at least we know our rank - the location of our bunks - the number of our trucks - the names of our Major - Captain and chef - and a fair idea as to the temperature. The past few days have been very cold, wet and altogether disagreeable - but I don't suppose that these slight discomforts now ought to be complained - for it must be remembered that whenever it is wet and uncomfortable for us - it must be pure unadulterated hell for the fellows up front. It is hard to keep in mind that whenever we hear a gun to off - there are so many of them - that somewhere a shell arrives too close to someone for comfort - or perhaps it would be better were we to forget that entirely. Did I tell you that I had received Elizabeth's letter - with the rose enclosed? It had a been opened by the censor - but he left the rose in it - for which I am very grateful. It seems like a bit of home - and goodness knows that there are few enough "bits of home" around here. I have the picture of Berthold Elizabeth
and Mary posted on the side of remorque (which is French for what we would call "trailers") and only wish that I had a Kodak picture of you and Dad to place with them. the place is dreary enough - you know - and colder than the proverbial barn. You don't suppose that you might find such a picture and enclose it is a letter - perhaps just as a sort of Christmas present? I don't know anything that would please me more. Little "Tad" Robertseon - whom you do not know - was pretty home-sick tonight - so we all proceeded to cure him by using the usually most effective remedy possible - a great and lengthy "kidding". His "Ruth" writes him every day but of course the letters have all been delayed as a result of the moving. Hardly imagine the cure was very complete - for most of were feeling pretty blue ourselves. It certainly makes one feel pretty much away from everyone we care anything about - over here. I miss you and Dad very - very much - Mother mine. But I must not feel
that way - for I am only one among a good many millions. There is just a little in the way of news. Seth Herndon applied for enlistment but of course was rejected because of his size. His brother as I told you in the earlier letter had been sent to a school for non-coms and has returned. He and three others were the victims of misfortune - for although qualified in every respect - there were too many returned from the school and consequently they are now privates again. So - in short - "Si" was reduced from the rank of second sergeant for no reason at all. Two of the Missouri boys have been sent to the school for officers. They are both fine fellows and I am glad they have this chance to go up. We have been told that there is a good chance for advancement in this service - but I rather doubt it - for this sections here are fully organized and I believe that new sections will arrive quite as fully organized. We Missouri
boys have been added to other units so frequently that there has never been a chance for more than one or two to hold non-com positions. Personally I don't care much - for sure as a step toward the unattainable commission - I would as soon be a private as a non-commissioned officer. I only hope that Americans at home will remember after the war and during it that very many with as good or better educations than most of the officers and in every way or capable served in the ranks. The head of the history department of Princeton - Dr. Walter P. Hall, a very brilliant man - served as a private until his deafness disqualified him for enlistment. And there are a great many similar cases. You mention funds. Of course I am broke; did you ever know me otherwise? But please don't think of sending money; we are now U.S. soldiers and will soon draw quite enormous wages. Besides - we have not much need for money. In fact - I may start a
bank account. Suppose that I could save $10 or so a month for the next fifteen or twenty years of the war. I would be quite wealthy. SO please don't send money. A letter now and then is all the luxury that I could hope for - even if I received thousands of francs in wages. If you feel you must send something - send a pair of knitted "knee-lets". While driving - our knees get pretty cold from where the puttees leave off - By the way - that is a sensible - if not very beautiful - suggestion to knitters for camion-eers. Even though dark as pitch and web and cold - the big guns keep booming steadily. I wonder do they ever hit anything. It makes one think of what the "thrifty" Germans most answer for some day - the waste of it all. All the material and labour and years of work and building brought to nothing - but for weightier than all - the terrible - useless - waste of life. It
seems so dammable. I tell you mother - every time I pass one of the military burying grounds - and there are very many of them here - with the wooden crosses crowded in as closely as possible - and at the far end the rows of hinging - unfilled graved - of it seem to [ms illegible: 1 wd] through me. I want to cry out - but little good that will do. There is but one thing worse. We hear of a coming attack and work hard carrying tons of material and thousands of shells - and we always know when the attack comes - for on one of our night trips the endless procession of ambulances will begin - and last for days. It's horrible. It means all the empty holes in the ground have been filled and many many more prepared; that the forest of white crosses - each a mute accusation against Germany - has increased over night. It means many more wrecks and toner bits of things that once were whole, peace-
ful men. Germany has taught France hate where she thought to teach fear. Can you America's task now? It is not one of months - as we had all hoped - but one of years - even after Germany is crushed. It's a tremendous and awful and horrible thing and America must think very, very deeply before she can even imagine what has happened. Germany has fought - not only killing men's bodies - but a war tearing apart nations' souls - and for that she must answer and pay heaviest. I must close. Am about frozen solid - and besides am getting flighty. My thoughts and love are always with those at home. Ned. To. Mrs. L.H. Henschel 3236 Euclid Avenue. Kansas City- Missouri- U.S.A.
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||October 6, 1917|
|Year Range from||1917|
|Year Range to||1917|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I