Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 1996.51.136EF
Object Name Letter
Accession number 1996.51
Description Full transcription of text follows:


Lt. J.E. Henschel, Motor Section, Advance P.C., G.H.Q., A.P.O. 930 A.E.F. February 7th, 1919. Dearest Mother: Lots of things to tell this time. This wierd assortment of second lieutenants gave a dance last night; the party was quite as queer as those there. Our organization is quite unique; there are in our immediate circle eight second lieutenants and two captains, and the queer thing is that the shave tails run the place. Run it ragged, too. Well, as I started to say, the M.T. office gave a dance last night. There were the ten who eat at our mess, and four telephone girls - and, to insure that it would be a real honest to goodness party, we had punch and icecream. One might think that four girls were about six too few, but not so; most of us had not danced for months and months. Therefore, most of us did not perform astonishing ly well last night, but it was a wonderful attempt, and the party was a howling success from every point of view. We have it on the rest of the G.H.Q. officers, because we have such a congenial crowd. Also, because we have a first morgage on anything that goes on wheel and burns gasoline, and so experienced no trouble at all in transporting the fairer four. Haven't had such a completly enjoyable evening in a long long time. My work keeps me out of doors almost all of the time, which pleases me. I am still bringing in the contraband, and judging from the large numbers of things that I find along the road and in hidden out of the way corners, there is lot yet ahead of me. Took a picture (three to be accurate) of the cars, or a part of them that I have already lined up, and I shall send it along if it is any good. The only difficulty that I find is that the more I do, the more I find to do. For instance, yesterday morning I went out to look up a truck that had been reported to my desk, and at this one place found not only one truck, but a steam tractor, and enormous haybaler, a powerful steam engine, a touring car, two road sprinklers, three wagons and five trailers. Hence I have all of this to move instead of a single truck. That's the way it goes, but I'm immensely happy, because it keeps me busy all of the time. Also (as a reward, I suppose, or something of that sort for efficient confiscation of trucks) they have added all wagons and machinery of all sorts to the wrecked motor cars list. Horses were on the list, but I drew the line at live stock; there is no way I know of to look at a horse and tell who owned it three months ago, or whether it needs new bearings or differential gears. They can't fool me a lot on machinery now, but I'm hanged if I know horses and mules. My car had an accident yesterday that might have been serious. The roads are like glass, due to the heavy snows we have had lately, and while passing through the little town of Ruwer, a little girl of six years or so slipped and fell in front of the limousine. It was impossible for the driver to stop, and before I knew what was going on, the car had passed completely over the kiddie. I felt mighty sick for a minute, and thought I had killed my first German, but fortunately the wheel did not touch her at all. She was scared all right, and I carried her to her mother, who was more scared. Today I went back, and found the kleine Madchen just as gay as ever, and made friends with a handful of candies. By the way, I never thought seriously that chocolate candy could be a valuable instrument for war purposes, but two pieces


properly distributed brought me information the other day as to the whereabouts of some $34,000 worth of motor cars. The flu must certainly have been terrible at home. Every paper we see is filled with it. I don't know what happened last year, but all over the world it seems to have been the same. All over Europe, whole families were wiped out, according to the news that is printed in French editions of the New York Herald and the Chicago Tribune. I have heard of the death of quite a number of boys that I knew at high school and college. There has been no news from either Ramsey or Harvey for a long time. I expect that by now Harvey must be about ready to sail for home, if he has not already done so. About Ramsey, I know nothing. I have been unable to hear anything at all of the doings of whereabouts of his organization. As for myself, I have no idea what so ever as to when I may expect to go traveling towards that steam boat. So long as I have something to do, I don't care how long it will be, but at Decize, especially when I was doing absolutely nothing, it was one long nightmare! The first part of that last sentence is not so, for of course I want to get home, and the tooter the sweeter (toot sweet being Yank for the French version of PDQ). What I intended to say was that as long as I am here, I do hope that I have a job that really amounts to something. I have now, and unless something happens, they do occasionally, you know, I expect to have one indefinitely, but I know of hundreds and hundres of officers and enlisted men who are sitting around waiting, doing nothing or drilling to pass the time. That's the worst possible sort of thing, and can produce all sorts of troubles mighty easily. I have certainly played in luck lately, and have the best sort of a stand-in" with most everybody. Except, of course, certain colonels inspectors, from whom everyone runs. They are like every one else, simply waiting, and when time hangs too heavy, go around just looking for trouble. In the past week we, being a part of G.H.Q., we have been honoured with the visits of some six colonels, inspecting, and so are polished and cleaned up to a "white heat". Perhaps I am too wild against the Friendly Fritz, but honestly, I can't swallow them at all. They treat us all right, I suppose; too well in fact. It makes one wonder what's coming next. But they have pulled some stunts that simply make one crazy to think about, and every one thinks of them that it was all right. That's what "gets" me more than anything else. I cam over here, like a lot of others, thinking that the Germans were human beings like the rest of the world, and that their chief difficulty was the Kaiser and the Kaiser system. What is true is that every one here is the Kaiser and his system! They believe in it; it's a part of them, which is the unbelievable part. One will not find a German soldier who will admit that the German army was beaten; they blame it on Ledendorf and the Crown Prince, and are just as arrogant as before. I did not believe these atrocity tales, at first, but I told you of the French boy who lived with our company for some days, the one without a right hand. I don't know whether I mentioned or not the women two of us saw, who not only had been vilely treated by these nice soldiers, but who after they were through with her, but off her breasts with a saber. She told us the story quite quietly, and showed us the cruel scars. That isn't melodrama, or the "sentimental", but just horrible fact, and I don't think that it is necessary to say that there was not much love left for Fritz when she was through. That was about the time that a number of us tried to transfer to infantry. I am mailing tomorrow morning to Berthold some things that he might want, among them a saw-tooth bayonet. They said they did not use the things, but there is a whole warehouse full of them at [Coblenz]. I saw the wound they make in a thigh, and hate to think of what they would do elsewhere. They are a slick, nie crowd all right, and the fattest, most comfortable appearing "starving nation" that I ever hope to see. I intend to send home


a picture of some of them as soon as it is developed and printed, so that you can see for yourselves. No sir, one can't forget some of these things. Every time I see a wonderful church, I think of those piles of stone that we lived around so many months. One just can't help it. Every time I hear any of their music, and some of it is very beautiful, I can't help remembering that the musician would put a saw edged bayonet on the end of a gun tomorrow, if some one told him to, and be glad to do it. That's the one thing of all others that I admire in our own boys; there are none of them who no note hate intensely the necessity of having come over. Well, I guess that I had better leave the rest of the Hun "straffing" to Prexy Wilson and the others at Versailles. They can do it a lot better than I. I hope. My love and thoughts are always at home. I wish that I could hope to be there myself soon, but I'm afraid not. 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 February 7, 1919
Year Range from 1919
Year Range to 1919
People Henschel, James (Ned) Edward
Subjects World War I
Letters (Home)