Full transcription of text follows:
August 24th 1918- Mother dear- I am awfully sorry, I just tore up two half finished letters home - the 15th and 18th - that should by now be well on their way home. Your letters of July 4th, 11th and 29th and Berthold's of June 29th have all come through safely. Also I have a "carte-lettre" from Ramsey in answer to one that I sent to him. Evidently his outfit is at work for he mentions being back on repos for a while. He is on the Alsace front, as nearly as I can find out. Was mighty glad to hear from him, and will try to arrange things to that we can be on leave at the same time. The chances are mighty slim, but then -. My last permission was a year ago - so on the basis of leave every four months, I am about due. If we can fix matters up though I will put off taking a furlough until we can both go. this is pretty hard to do but perhaps it might be managed someway of other. My outfit has changed its abiding place a good many times and probably will do so again. You see - our work is mobile in a goodly number of way besides "rolly" - and we have more or less followed up the bright spots along this end of the world. Come to think of it - there have been mighty few offensives - allied or German - that have taken place on the western front since we landed in the field service of which we have not had at least a taste. That's the big advantage and disadvantage of being in the Reserve Mallet. Now (and since the first Boche push) we have pretty nearly had our hands full. Most satisfactorily interesting work too. The boys have worked mighty faithfully during this time, and in my opinion have certainly merited
the two letters of commendation they have received. (I'll see if I can't send you a copy). It's been a pretty stiff go the past three months and the boys "produced" wonderfully well. These are strenuous if very pleasing days. I am not quite certain which is the most strenuous - the days or the nights. Night before last we probably the most wildly hilarious that has been mine in France. Fritz came about as near to getting me all "fussed" as he could. His entertainment was rather lurid and noisy - and I have hears it said that exhibitions of pyrotechnic nature lose their attraction if prolonged for more than a half-hour. If so, he overstepped the bounds considerably - but interesting. Well yes - it was interesting - and a bit disconsenting. Perhaps you are having the same marvelously beautiful moon now. It's wonderful; one can read fine print all night long - only one doesn't care much about reading fine print all night. It really is beautiful moon. (The old French lady who lives under us call it "la lune mechante" - and we are both right). This letter is all backwards. After completing the course at M- - whether with honours or disgrace or simply assez bien I don't know - but certainly with a delightful day in Paris on my way here. I had the mighty good fortune to rejoin my old company. This makes things most pleasant (mon lieutenant might disagree). My job has been that of pilot the good ship flivver. While considerably much work - and hence constitutionally incompatable - its offered really valuable training - for it thought in the most thorough way all the trials and tribulations of the C.O. This will be mighty valuable and worth while if ever - but that's too far ahead. In fact, way out of sight
(Even the paper is all backwards). Alas - that job is finished. The C.O. of the Groupe has issued an order that the E.O.R.'s (Elive Officier de la Reserve) shall not soil the dignity of their positions by driving staff cars. Hence - I would not consider myself a member of the Ancient Order of Folden Hands - had not Coburn and "Tad" Robertson gone on permission this morning - I am substituting for Cobern until he returns. After then - quien sabe? What is life without variety? That beings us up to date. There is such a lot that is interesting to write and so little safe to write. Oh - I wish I could tell "all about it all". We have come nearer to actual personal participation in the big game than ever before. Everything has been more real. I missed a great deal by being at school, of course - those weeks were mighty big full, weeks - but since getting back on the job, I have seen plenty. It has been war - real - more or less horrible - some excitement - some very real danger - shorts of work - men (as a black stevedore said "I'se beaucoup tired bois") worn out and still ready to carry on - battle fields before there was time to "clean up" - lots of good Germans - also lots of German prisoners. Our boys developed into great little souvenir hunters; in fact I acquired a splendid pair of field glasses myself fine Goey lenses. The situation was rather different when I returned from that when I went to the school. Instead of moving backwards - we will never reverse again for any great distance. Fritz is on his way home, and although the "nach Paris" idea cost him a lot - "nach Berlin" will be yet more costly. There was an editorial in one of the many copies of the Star that expressed
the big idea pretty well. It's a job but believe me - it's going to be a finish job. We all would like mighty well to have the war ended - but there is just one thing most of us want a whole lot more than to get home quickly - and that is to have this war so ended that the gentlemanly Hun will perforce acquire a new and revised edition of his almighty Kultur. We want to be sure - all of us - even our ex-taxi artists - that the stem of Wilhelm's bubble pipe is shattered past all hope of mending. There's only one way to do it - and thank God (in a sincerity that at last we've found out that it can't be accomplished on the "Please be good" basis. When you're smashing things - it should be done completely. Some general or other expounded to effect that a war is won by the destruction of armies. This one is a bit different in that there is also a theory and system due for the junk pile. We're going to do it, and only when it is well done will the guerre be bien finis. Then will come home - and home means a lot (that's why we are not home) - and one enormous celebration. It may be a long time - but it's the one job we can't quite. Goodby - until the next - A goodnight kiss - 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.
|Year Range from||1918|
|Year Range to||1918|
Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
World War I