Full transcription of text follows:
Private J.E. Henschel- American Mission Motor Transport A.E.F. Reserve Mallet. France- January 16/1918- Dear Dad- Am answering in reply to your letter of November twelfth, which reached me a short time ago. I do not understand why it is that you folks do not hear from me more often than your letter would indicate. Of course, for a short time we were limited to only two letters a month, but as I have written Mother (which means all the folks at home) this was raised. Since then I have written every week if only to say "Howdy". I hope that more will have reached you before this. I have been just a little worried about
one letter in which I referred to a possible transfer to the infantry - worried because perhaps is might cause Mother to worry. It was very foolish of me to say anything before I was certain - for since then such a course has proven itself more or less impossible. Not the least of the reasons I wished a change (you see - I've got to confess "the whole works") was the fact that I have had for quite a while a half-way belief - a "sneakin' suspicion" that you thought me "running away from something" by coming to France when I did. Hence - a desire to redeem myself in the eyes of the highest courts. You understand how I felt? Now - I know exactly the answer this sounds as though it were pleading - so please don't send it. Just regard it as an explan-
ation for childish and idiotic impulse - such as a blind man trying to read. It just can't be done without eyes. Tell Harvey there will be lots of time for him to be over here, and plenty to do. Of course I know it must seem harsh to be kept waiting so long - but "the States" is a pretty good pace to spend the winter - in spite of the blizzards we keep hearing about. I am glad to note that Ramsey is doing well and hope that he gets ahead rapidly. His degree at Rolla should help him quite a little. That is, his work there certainly should give him a knowledge of engineering technic and all that - and hence a decided advantage over most in his battalion. Things don't
always work out that way - because of a lack of opportunity to use better knowledge and ability. What I mean is that the outward results in a wood-chopping or "spud-peeling" detail are not at all commemorate with nor indicate the degree of education. Of course promotion is always open to us, if we prove ourselves fit - adverse reports notwithstanding. The whole question is rather complex; I doubt very much if I can convey my meaning to you. For instance, in our outfit - with the type of fellows in the old Field Service - promotion, except when to a commission, really means very little. That is, I would not care particularly one way or another about a sergeants' chevrons, unless they meant a stepping-stone to a commission.
That is (again) I see no particular glory or credit in being a sergeant in an outfit in which nine out of ten fellows are of the same caliber as one's self; it would be more or less a question of chance. But if a fellow is chosen to have a chance at a commission by officers who are in a position to know his abilities and lack of them - why it indicates a little more. In short - the "laine faine" policy is the best to go on here. If there is anything coming - it will come; if not - well, as our French friends have a way of saying - "it's nothing". This is not an explanation nor an excuse for the "Private J.E.H.-" just a statement. Now do not think me unambitious. The plain facts of the case are these; I am a private-first class since November - have been offered ser-
geants' stripes - would probably take them if offered - the same as dinner or a new pair of shoes. What all is happening at Ivanhoe? Of course I have not been a brother long enough to appreciate all it means nor to know much about it, but all the same, I am very proud of my silver button and am much interested in Ivanhoe affairs. I have thought quite often of your suggestion to write a letter to the lodge or to Mr. Smith - but you know, there is so little that I could say of general interest and there are not very many who know me well enough to care a great deal about my personal health - and so on. I sent a Christmas card, how-
ever, which I suppose has been received by this time. Will you give my regards - just say "hello" for me to those who do know me? I mentioned in last Sunday's letter the money-order - which seems to have been lost "somewhere in France". Would suggest that payment be stopped or a duplicate issued. Perhaps the latter course would be best for I can have it cashed through the Y.M.C.A. now, and delay regarding information as to the whereabouts of the lost order will be avoided. Also by way of old news in case past letters fail of delivery - have taken out $10000.oo insurance payable to Mother. There are rumors of compulsory allotment or saving of pay. If these prove true - I shall allot one-half my pay to you. Our work remains about the same as it
has always been. Things settle down to a routine, varied by changes that in turn themselves become a part of the routine. My personal health is good - save for a cold that is more annoying - because it never ends - than serious. When I can speak aloud again I shall be pleased. I am hoping that this finds all of the family - especially yourself and Mother - in excellent health. With much love - Ned- (I am writing on a desk composed of your old suit case, a mess outfit, overcoat, and other articles. Hence the writing is more illegible - if possible - than usual. Coburn sends his regards).
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||January 16, 1918|
|Year Range from||1918|
|Year Range to||1918|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I
American Field Service (AFS)