U.S. Army Doctor WWI Letter France and Luxembourg December 1918

 This letter was written by a Doctor, who at the time he wrote the letter was a Lt. but would later become a Captain. He was a doctor with the 130th Infantry, but spent some time with a British Ambulance Company also. From the letter December 10, 1918, St. Supplet, France…….

   Sell darling since I haven’t written to you since we started on our occupation journey as we have been so busy and even yet no way to send mail but am going to write to send it when I do get a chance and I may forget some things if I don’t write you now. To write whether I can send it or not is quite a recreation to come so near talking to you.
   Last night dear I dreamed of you not the first time by any means but seemed almost real.
   Well to start with our Journey. We left Recourt the little town we were in about 2:30 PM. I was near ready to stop before starting as the running about inspecting etc. took a lot of walking.
   We camped that night in the same place we did when we left the line at Causevoy, after being relieved by the French Colonial troops. When we thought we were going to a rest camp near Rupt, but left for the front the next AM after making the 37 kilo march. This was near Morengo. I slept on the floor, went to bed about 1:30 after getting warm by fire slept in overcoat and one blanket. The next day we started out and went past that terrible shell town land that I spoke about before where the dead was in the tree and the barb wire thrown up in the top of another.
   We marched about 10 kilo thru a beech woods a lot was quite badly torn by shells but for the most part standing. It was one of the prettiest sights I ever saw in a part of it where the underbrush was cleaned out and the leaves on the ground all the same kind and color over the whole wide area looked so soft and velvety and of such a rich reddish brown color. From here on we were on German held ground for about 4 years (???).Could see the German graveyards about the most conspicuous thing, many good stories form the people who went thru the occupation. The ones who got out only were safe from their usage. I guess even they had them segregated, according to the class, officer, noncommissioned officers and privates, any women who didn’t comply with her services was starved to do so.  One place they had some civilians dig their own graves then later occupy them. Well, I hope these things were not true and a lot are not I suppose.
   The buildings like civilized ones. Really a lot of towns I think anything to get rid of a lot of the old stable and house combination buildings that look like they have stood till the beginning of time. They said the Chicago fire really proved to be a good thing for Chicago. We will hope the war will not be so bad for France, of course the lives lost that can not be changed now. We will hope that Wilson will succeed in bringing out a state of affairs to end future wars and to guard against advantage being taken of us being in the war to the advancement of any one class of peoples to gain??? But is a settlement made of affair for truce to come and surely what we are doing or those that paid the full price has not been in vain, and I believe he will be equal to it.
   The old lady where we are billeted lives all alone. She is a kind old woman. Americans are fine, noting too good for them. We gave her a few things got a soup bone that would be thrown out otherwise and brought to her and she is very appreciative for all. Said I didn’t look like I was sick. Pointed to my ring and I showed her your picture and she looked at it over and over and thought you looked healthy too. Asked if I had any babies. I of course had to tell her no. Well dear that is all for this spasm. We should be just this side of Luxembourg tomorrow night.

*Note: The letter breaks here, and resumes on December 13th* 
   The next night we were billeted in in Villerupt?, which is partly in France, and part in Luxembourg. This was more like a real city than we had seen since coming here to France. Part of the men were in an old Hotel part in houses that must have been built to house laborers working in the iron works. I try to get around and inspect the areas before the men leave, when I can’t then the men left to police up can fall right in and not get left to catch up, if they have done a good job. Soon after leaving this city we crossed a corner of Lorane and began to get into quite Germanized looking places, the people talked German more than French. We passed thru the city of Aves??. Whoever was leading sure did go. We almost had to trot our horse to keep up and there was a lot see. Looked very up to date and modern. The people in good clothes and lots of overland car sales room, drugstores, and a candy store with real candy in the windows.
   We came to Bothreigen after dark in a pouring down rain. We were billeted at a place who were very nice to us. There were 3 unmarried daughters one about 30, one about 28, and one 20 or so. They were dressmakers and looked very neat and quite refined and very healthy. Really did one good to see some wholesome people even if you do have to talk German to them all together. Here we stayed a day and left the next AM. Captain Humphrey had a temperature of 102 and was quite sick with flu I guess. Also Capt. ??? I gave some medicine too. He was better the next AM and is getting alone OK now. We spent the next night at Anveiler a little place where some American artillery were already. The people in some parts were quite Pro German and didn’t want to take us in but when they saw we were going to stay they came across pretty good but not very good billets. Where the infirmary was the boys got alone OK. The landlord called the Germans Sweinhunds and everything he could think of. Then we moved to here. Mertert?? which bids fare for a town. We are in a summer estate of some rich Parisian Doctor. Some of the rooms are very fine. A large hotel range in a white brass chandelier to hold a lamp and candles, no electricity here. The ceiling is all decorated with blue designs and some plaster of paris mold decorations. The walls are oak but is just stained when examined close and what was hard carved looking was just plaster molded, but a very charming room.
   So the Bat. Hg. Mes of the 2nd bat. For once dined in a room that a noble might be complemented to do so and had a pretty good feed. But had bully beef to eat which was camouflaged so it didn’t go so badly. Now we are along the river near where it joins the Rine across is Germany. One battalion came on the other side, we on the Luxembourg side. But best of all are going to have a rest tomorrow. Seems as though they always move or fight on Sunday in the army. I sure remember a month ago the 11 when we were in the thick of it. Funny how newspapers do mix it up. Grason was in the hospital Nov. 14 and Capt. Yerkes hasn’t been with us since the middle of October. Our battalion and the 1st were the ones in the ??. Then Mawyer was to officers training school but I laugh at the things I read. I haven’t seen any Colonels go over the top yet. One might, Col. Cleuin?? Was up to hear them sending some shells over our way that were mostly gas and I suppose he might got some as well as some of the others back but you can of course see how the Chicago people get in the Stars and Stripes didn’t even get the 33rd Division in their report at all. One of the Sergeants wrote in and they had an article giving the letter entitled “Passing the buck and the corps” (army) Didn’t send it in as being in the fighting and we were for 37 days and then going to the St. Miheal coming out Nov. 11 going in Sept. 25 to the Muse our battalion the first I was in then started up then. So you see the whole thing is a lot of publicity. As for our own lives will say we had plenty of other things to attend to than think about the shells lighting about except a few that came close and didn’t think about getting hit as that makes one of those deep dugout rats out of a man pretty soon and you can’t take care of cases the way they come in in a ?? especially with one medical officer as was the case with me in a dugout. The poor stretcher bearers sure were all in and it is the hardest kind of work to get up an down those stairs.  If we had gotten a direct hit we wouldn’t have known what hit us, but as the English used to say “That would be very unlucky”.
   Well dear your husband has ceased to be a noncombatant now and as on his medical belt a 45 automatic and will say I believe I could use it if I had to as I did some considerable practice sine here. But suppose it will be a fluff too as one is going to not shoot at a man with a gun unless he is sure to hit him.
   Hope I can send this out before tomorrow.

Lots of love to you my darling wife, 

*Note: ??? are used when it was difficult to make out the writing in the letter.*

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