August 2, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have had two letters from you since I wrote last. Two letters in two days is not at all bad, is it? I only hope that they keep coming in so well. These letters were dated June 18 and June 27 and both were dandy good ones, too. If you can enjoy some of my poor attempts at letters half as much as I enjoy yours, I can feel sure I have accomplished something toward letting you know that you are the one little girl for me. The more I think of what you really mean to me, the more do I want to come back to you and make you the happiest girl ever. But if something happens that I cannot come back, I know that I will be happy just to know that I have your love so, dearest, we will just live in hopes and wait to see what the next year or years will bring for us.
I took that little excursion to the ruins of an old castle that I told you of and, I say, it was worthwhile although it was indeed just ruins that I saw. The castle is on the top of a hill that, through some freak of nature, stands alone in the valley. There is only one side of the hill that is at all able to be climbed. There is a path up this side and, although it gets pretty steep in places, it is not at all hard to get to the top that way. Just as it looks as though the path had come to an end against a cliff and a pile of rocks, a flight of stone steps attracts your attention and, as there is no other way to go on, of course that is the way to go. These steps are just wide enough for one man at a time and take you to a level space about fifteen feet higher than the path. This stairway leads you directly into a tunnel cut from solid rock and it must be a hundred and fifty feet long. About halfway down, or rather up, as the tunnel is upgrade its whole length, there is a large opening on the left side large enough for a man on horseback to enter and from this opening to the other end, the ceiling is higher, too. So I presume that is where the knights of old used to ride into the courtyard.
On coming out of the tunnel, there is nothing especially to be noticed but, on going to the right or left to the edge of the cliff, you will find there is no natural cliff but a wall built on the cliff's edge. Some of the old turrets or the bases of them are standing just enough so you can tell what they might have been at one time. Further on there are ruins of walls, undoubtedly the castle proper as there are pieces of tile roofing sheets on the ground.
The whole hill is now covered with a thick growth of trees and underbrush and it is difficult to get over the ground but, from the edge of the wall, the view of the valley is magnificent and the owner of this place must have had a real stronghold. It must be eight hundred feet down to the valley below and how the place was ever built with the means they had in those days is indeed wonderful. The whole hilltop must have an area of almost two acres but I don't suppose it was all covered by building as indeed the ruins do not show that it was. We used to study all those old places but to see one yourself and to realize what took place there in the days when Europe was alive with knights gives one an entirely different feeling and realization of history. One of these days I hope to see an old castle in a little better state of repair than that one is. I am afraid the old boy that used to live there would scarcely be able to recognize his old home now.
The band is playing down in the churchyard and it rather reminds me of some of the concerts we have heard together and I believe it also makes the other boys think of home for Shoey reminded me of the time that they used to hold the concerts on the courthouse lawn. Don't you know those days were so different from these that I often wonder if they really did take place or was it all sort of a fairyland. Peace will be so welcome to these boys here and the world that, when we get this job of war done right, I think that the greatest protests against the possibility of anything like this happening again will come from the boys who were there and realize what war is.
I have seen very little yet as to what has taken place, but I have seen enough to make me rather firm in my convictions regarding such an unnatural state of affairs as a war.
Well, little girl, it is getting a little dark for writing so I will close for this time. Remember that you will always be the only little girl for me, for you are the dearest girl in the world.
With sincerest love, Your own Lloyd
|35th Division: August 14, 1918: Division moves to Gerardmer in the south subsector.
August 15, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Well, after another long, long time to you, no doubt, I will try and write another letter. I think you understand that conditions for writing and mailing letters is nothing like it is at home and often we are forced to go quite a while without an opportunity to mail our letters. Our P.O. is constantly on the move, it seems, or the units which it serves are moving and we are either isolated from any mail connections or the office is packed on a truck or wagon. Yes, today we tagged behind a wagon all afternoon and our stuff was all on the wagon.
But nevertheless I got three letters from you today; one of July 22, one of August 7, and the other of August 10. Also, three from Mother of about the same date, and one from Carmen Staley. And, indeed I am in the best of spirits today. I am in a billet now that is away from any town, camped out in a big woods, so to speak. And airplanes, say, you never imagined there were so many. They go over in flocks all the time. I have counted as many as thirty in one bunch and it is continually that way. Once in a while a Boche sticks his nose into things but not very often in the daytime.
Don't suppose we will be here very long as this looks like a sure enough war of movement now and, from what I can get of news as to how things are going, the movement seems to be towards Hunland. It will be that way from now on, too, and until the Boches send up a howl of "enough" that can be heard clear to K.C.
This is indeed a lovely day. Reminds me of the fall days at home at about this time of year. Just comfortable, not hot nor chilly, either. Maybe you think I don't wish I were getting in trim for football. I think of it every day. It seems to be in my blood. I know one thing, football did wonders for me both morally and physically. I always did try to keep in the best of condition for the season and I know it helped to form habits that stay with me. And never fear, little girl, I am keeping myself in fit condition now, for I know that a healthy clean body is priceless during this struggle. Then I know there are ones at home that have faith in me and it would be worse than cowardice to betray their trust.
One of your letters said that you were going to Ottawa to visit in a day or so from that date, then I had a letter from Mother of a later date saying she had talked with you there and you were going out to see her for a day or two. That was the hardest part of the letters, just to think that you were at my home and I was such a long ways off. But I know that you both wished for me as I wished I were with you. But one of these times, God willing, we will enjoy tenfold the times that will at least duplicate those in place.
I am glad you got my little Kodak picture as I was not sure that such things would pass but I had an officer censor it first and usually if an officer censors a letter before it starts its journey, it is not censored any further.
I found through an Ottawa Herald of several months back the address of Fred Emerson and I intend to write him soon. Fred sure was a good old scout in our H.S. days and I want to hear from him now. I can never forget those old friends made during my stay at O.H.S. and I believe I will have to look a long ways to find any that will compare with them. One I know will always and forever be first in my thoughts and that one is no other than you, little girl, my own guiding star.
I have not heard from Doug for quite a long time and I have written him, too. He may be one of these boys that hums so busily over my head all the while. They never stop their humming all night, either.
There is a boy playing a violin in the next billet and he is no mean player, either. Last night he and a singer entertained a crowd for several hours. The boys certainly enjoy good music and, for my part, a violin was most pleasing as it has been some time since I have heard one. Music surely has its place in keeping the fellows in good humor.
Well, I will close this now as I am again "talked out." I sent some little field service post cards today. Please don't get out of humor if you should happen to get one of them before you get a letter. They can be sent so easily and just a word helps at home at times, I know.
With truest love, Your own Lloyd
August 16, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have received another letter from you since I wrote last but, as we made another move, I have not had time to write. This one was dated June 24 and it had been chasing around looking for me. I have had two, I think, of more recent date than this one but this was most welcome, nevertheless, as those two little pictures you sent were almost as good as the letter. Whenever you can put any pictures in with your letters, be sure and do it as they help a lot.
We are in a better town than the one we just came from; larger and not so many of the farmer class. Farmers are all right in the States but, over here, I would rather not be associated with them too much.
We have the best place to stay I have had since coming across. The three of us have a room all to ourselves and very good beds. So this sort of life isn't so bad after all. Maybe I am just beginning to understand a few simple tricks of the game.
This is the first town I have been in where there were any women who were at all good looking or well dressed. They are not any too well supplied with the above at this place, but it is a noted improvement. But the trouble is I find my French is entirely too limited to form the slightest resemblance to a conversation. I never was a great talker you will probably remember, but I like to have my little say and be able to understand what someone else says.
I heard a girl rattle off a whole string of stuff to the corporal in the office and when she stopped, he said, "Well, I don't know a thing you said but if it is what I think it was, I am going to have you arrested." When someone tells you he is making rapid progress in French, if the facts be known, his vocabulary probably consists of "oui," "non" and "bi're".
We have been having a little warm weather for a few days. At least warm for this country. But I expect we have it considerably cooler than you do if I remember K.C. in the summertime correctly.
We have a better place for our P.O. this time. We are in an old store or shop I expect would be a better name for it. Lots of shelves handy for the handling of mail. It beats the floor of a hay loft considerably. From the outside appearance it would pass very well for a small country P.O. but our equipment is rather frugal and everything fixed for easy moving. Nothing permanent about locations here.
I am quite a distance from the Company now. In fact, I don't know just where it is. I was only a few minutes walk from them at our last place and I used to see some of them almost every evening but they have moved, too, so we are separated again.
I hope you are getting my letters alright without any more than the usual delay. I have been writing every week and very often twice a week but I have been using the base censor envelope quite a bit and I have found out there may be some delay owing to the fact the base is overworked, so I am going to stop using them for a while.
How is Robert coming by this time and where is he? I have not heard from Doug for quite a little while now. Am looking for a letter from him anytime now.
Well as I don't seem to be very fluent tonight. I must let this do for this time. You know my failing and I don't seem to be any better talker now.
So, goodnight to you dearest.
With sincerest love, Your own Lloyd
August 25, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I received your letter dated July 13 yesterday but, as my time has been pretty well taken up since that time, I have had no chance to write until now. I also had two letters today; one from Clarence and the other from Louise D. They were written July 16, I think. It seems you get our letters in shorter time than we get yours. I expect that is because traffic towards the States is not so heavy as that coming this way. I was glad to hear that those service envelopes made such good time. Somehow I am always afraid they will be delayed. I will send some of my letters that way, however, and if they are quicker or slower than the others, just let me know of it and I can act accordingly. The Lieutenant who censored that letter and put so much on is a chaplain and was around the office quite a little at that time. He was a great friend of the Corporal. In fact, he said Corporal was his orderly for a while. It's always Father Kennedy with him and, as you may suppose, they are Catholics.
I have been riding trucks most all day for quite a while now. I take the mail to some of the organizations on the other side of one of these hills. And we have the hills, too. It takes an hour to go up and fifteen minutes to come down. Besides, the road is full of 'hairpin' curves and several places you can see the road three or four times, each time a little lower down like the roads in the Rockies but on a smaller scale. But there are not any better roads made than these over here -- just like boulevards wherever there is a road.
Well, it has been just four months since I left U.S.A. and it has been a pretty long four months, too, I think. Time seems to pass pretty quickly but, when I think of all that has happened, I wonder if it wasn't a year instead. And it is almost a year since I have seen you and it has been a long, long year. I hope that within another year all this war is a thing of the past and the boys that are the ones who get to see U.S. again are safe at home. You don't know how much I want to be in that crowd, either. But I expect you do know how much, too, because it will mean oh so much to both of us. In one of your letters you asked something of the French women and all I can say is that I respect American women a hundred times more after seeing a few French women. Sometime I will tell you why but not now as maybe I haven't formed the correct opinion. But America for mine, always and forever.
Clarence is considering entering the service now, too. Not right away, I guess, but I am glad he is taking thought along that line. But I hope that it won't be necessary for him to go through a whole lot of the hardships some of the boys over here are seeing. I firmly believe that the Yanks are going to put an end to this muss before that time, however, as they don't like to have this business hanging unfinished very much longer. They are here to do it and believe me, they do it, too.
I wish you could see some of the wonderful moonlit nights we have here. It makes one long for the many things we have left behind. But it doesn't do to think of such things very much or we would get despondent. I just lay such thoughts aside -- sort of store them up until the time we get back and then, well, there is going to be so much to do that you and I will be busy for a long, long time.
I suppose you know by this time that D.A. Work is now in U.S.A. He was indeed a lucky fellow. I saw him the morning he left and he did not seem disappointed a bit. Well, I am glad for him.
Well, it is getting quite late and I have about run out of talk. So, goodnight to you, dearest. You are the only girl in the world for me.
With sincerest love, Your own Lloyd
September 8, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
It has been so long since I wrote you I am almost ashamed to write now. To sum it all up, I have been on the move again. Another train ride but only one night. We had a flat car this time and we just piled mail sacks and P.O. equipment on and slept on top of it -- what sleeping we did do. When we unloaded, we were left with our outfit until a truck could come back to move us the rest of the distance. We were there about forty hours living as we could manage ourselves. We are getting to be a pretty good bunch for that. If we weren't, we would be in pretty hard places at times. One thing about it, we don't have to hike as long as we are on this job and I can say that is a whole lot. After we got to the town we were to locate in, there was quite a delay before we got settled in a permanent place. The outfit was unloaded at one place and, along about dark, some officer thought he had a place for the office so we carried the mail a couple of blocks and put up until morning. In the morning we began unpacking and getting things ready for business when a French officer came in and said he had the place reserved for their P.O. so there wasn't anything to do but to pick up and move again. But this time our mail truck was there and this move wasn't quite so much carrying stuff around on our backs. We have a good place now -- an old store building with lots of room and a vacant room behind for anything we care to put into it. I expect we will sleep there more than likely.
This isn't such a hilly country as we were in before. Slightly more rolling than my part of Kansas. A very pretty country but I can't say that for the towns. They are all too dirty for an American. They have too many alleys that they don't seem to care what they put in them and nothing is ever removed from them apparently. And the kids are about the most impudent set of youngsters I ever saw. No wonder, though, they run wild in town all the time.
Well, in another couple of days I will have passed another milepost and will find myself another year older. I can see as yesterday that day a year ago when you came to Garnett with the folks. But it seems a long time considering what has taken place since then. And it will soon be a year since we were together last. I can never never forget that night -- you were everything to me then. But you are a thousand times more dear to me now. After seeing what I have of the French women, you can scarcely imagine how much I long for you. I have had one letter from you dated July 17 since I wrote you last. It has been several days since I received it and I am hoping there are others to follow it in a day or two for I know there are some about due now.
Tell Louise that I thank her for the interest she has taken in me and I am glad that you have such a good friend that does take an interest in things you are interested in. Whenever you girls have any more of those Kodak parties, be sure to let me in on my share, for pictures are valued highly over here and it is a poor soldier that doesn't have his pictures. I wish I could send you more of them and I will if I have another opportunity.
I believe the way things are moving along with this war that we will have the job done and home by this time next year. Some think it will end sooner but, for my part, I can't see how it can be done so much sooner than the time I have stated. Well, I know there will be a happy bunch of Yanks when they turn their steps towards Yankee-land again. And I haven't any doubt but the ones at home will be just as happy as they to see them again. Yankee-land is the only land for me for there is the dearest girl in the world waiting for me. And how happy we shall be when the cares of war are over and we are again together. Well, little girl, I must close this and I hope that it will not be so long a time again without my writing you.
So goodnight to you, dearest, and lots of love from, Your own Lloyd
This postcard was designed and used by the British Army. Its purpose was to send a quick note home avoiding the delay of censorship. The American Army must have thought it was a good idea for they made the postcards available to American troops without altering the British design.
|35th Division: September 16, 1918: Division is sent to Meuse-Argonne area, assigned to the First Corps under General Liggett.
September 17, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I will write you again although the last letter I wrote is still here on the table. Isolated again (or yet, I probably should say) but we will get out of this someday and then my letters will go merrily on their way.
I had two more letters from you yesterday; one dated July 29 and one July 25. Maybe it seems queer to you that we get mail and yet are having trouble in sending the letters we write but queer things happen all the time here and it is always true that letters coming from the States are always easier to get to their destination than the ones going the other way. Everybody likes to get letters and will go out of their way to deliver letters usually but no one takes special care of outgoing mail but the P.O. Every time anyone sees a mail sack no matter when, where, or under what circumstances, invariably he asks if that is incoming mail for his particular organization.
I have had ten letters in two days so I guess my ship came in and I am indeed a very much pleased young man. I only hope you can get the letters I write without too much delay. Remember, though, little girl, I will write you as much as I can and, if sometimes it seems as though you will never get a letter, just lay the blame on the Huns. They caused us all this trouble and I believe they are regretting their work already.
You asked in one of your letters if I did not read your letters more than once before destroying them and I most certainly do. I carry them around for a couple of months, sometimes until my pockets are so full of letters I just simply must get rid of them. Both of my shirt pockets bulge out now with letters I have been carrying until I look like I were hiding bricks in them.
Nothing much has happened here since my last letter to you. I suppose we will move again soon as we have been here about the usual length of time. Well, we are seeing France all right. This war will have to duplicate some of my wanderings for lack of new places to go. Oh! This is a gay life -- here today, there tomorrow! One of the boys says he understands the full meaning of the expression "somewhere in France" as he has wandered about so much, he is all jumbled up as to locations.
Last night while the band was playing I sat outside the crowd and listened to the music and just thought. After all, it is a most wonderful thing to have memories, isn't it? And what is often just as sweet is to have visions of the future. Those visions always contain you, dearest. And one of these days, someday as you wrote in one of your letters -- well, I only hope that our fondest wishes may be realized. But that is not for us to say. Just place our trust in God and pray that His will be done.
There is nothing more this time, I guess. I am O.K. and getting fat all the time. Don't you know some fellows call me "Fat" or "Heavy" or other like terms once in a while. Can you imagine it? As I said before, queer things happen. So, s'long for another little time, dearest.
With all the love in the world, From your own Lloyd
Wednesday, September 25, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
It is time to write again and I can't think for the life of me what I will say. I have had two letters from you since I wrote last. One of Aug. 21 and another of Aug. 18. Both were written while you were at Garnett and you were telling of the Chautauqua. How well I remember the good times we had at the Chautauqua a year ago or better, about the time the Chautauqua was on. Also I have had two letters from Mother and one from Vern, the first I have had since coming over, and one from Doug. He seems to be taking things pretty easy yet. Has some sort of a school on the sea coast and is enjoying life immensely. Nice sandy beach and several nice girls, he says. He found one American girl that he seemed to enjoy especially.
By the way, I don't believe I ever told you I was on the coast or about three miles from it when we first came over. I took several swims in the briny and can say it is lots of sport. There was big chalk cliffs all along the coast there and, when the tide came in, it came right up to the base of the cliff. This was near the town of Eu. We are quite a distance from there now, however. That was a pretty good war for us over there even if the Huns were pushing the Tommies back towards us all the while. They stopped them, however, & now they have pushed the Dutch back past the old lines.
So you are considering taking training as a nurse. Well, it is a splendid service and a worthy one, but I most sincerely hope that this fuss will all be over before you ever have to get into it. But if you think you should start the training, I am for you and wish you God speed.
Don't you know Vern is considering getting into the service after he has had one honorable discharge. He is doing his share at home, I should think, when he is always helping move troops. I will have to call my big Bro. down, I guess. Some talk for a sprout like me, don't you think?
You should see our little 'family circle' around the campfire tonight. We have a French barrack for a P.O. now. It is situated out in the woods away from Jerry's spying eyes. We have a nice warm fire going now and our major is sitting by the fire chatting with the bunch. Several of the fellows are writing letters and our Postal Service man is busy writing money orders and the candles make a very good impression in the darkness. Oh, it isn't so bad now but it rains over here and mud, well, it is no fun to paddle around in it all day. So far however, the bursting shells have not bothered at all. (Suspect I'd better knock on wood. What do you say?)
Talk about motor trucks. I never knew there was so many trucks in the world. Any little old crossroads looks like Eighth and Grand at its busiest hour. We have crossing police, too, on every corner and at every bridge. Sometimes a truck train five or six miles long goes through. Busy places, these war roads.
Well, little girl, I hope this finds you in as good health and spirit as it leaves me. And one of these fine days I will come marching home to the dearest, sweetest girl in the world.
So, goodnight dearest. Your own Lloyd
|35th Division: September 26, 1918: On the front lines of the Meuse-Argonne -- the greatest battle of the American army, their mission was to take the Aire valley -- quite a feat for such a young force. They advanced and held the line until they were replaced by a more experienced division. General Pershing reports "The 35th suffered greater casualties than any other division during these four days of continuous fighting."
September 29, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Well, I will write a little tonight and, since I have had six letters from you in two days, I am almost ashamed of myself for not writing oftener. I am certainly one of the most pleased fellows in the A.E.F. You can readily imagine how those letters made me feel. I am awfully pleased, little girl. You are certainly giving me my share of mail.
The mail has been coming fine lately. For three days now I have been taking a whole truckload out every morning to the regiments in our Division. So you see, everybody has been getting mail. The boys need it at this time, too, and I hope they will get all that is coming to them. You will know what is taking place over here about this time when you get the reports in the papers at home. Our outfit is certainly upholding all the traditions of the boys from Kansas and Missouri.
I have not seen a whole lot. It rather seems at times as if I were not in the big game at all when I see what some of the fellows have done and are going through. Well, if the Germans like war, the Yanks are giving them plenty of it. For the life of me I can't see how anyone can be so devilish, brutal, fiendish (many other words that will better express it), as to say that war is necessary for the natural growth of nations. I have seen wounded men, my own soldiers in arms, coming back to the hospitals and, well, it just gets you, that's all. I am willing and ready to go to the limit (and you know what that is here) to bring this business to a decisive end. We are working even in the P.O. long hours these days. Last night I did not get in until after ten o'clock and we started at an early hour in the morning, but it is nothing at all as to what others are doing and I am ready to go night and day, if necessary. When we came in last night, some of "Jerry's" long range guns were trying to stop the transportation along a road over which we came. Every few minutes a big shell would come over and a blinding flash like a giant flash for photographic work would light the whole country then a big boom and I can say truthfully that is not at all a pleasant feeling to know those were intended for me or any other poor duck who happened to be about where the things broke. But he hasn't it all his way, not by a "long shot." Quite the contrary for I have seen lots of our own guns that were doing far more damage to him than he to us. I have also seen the towns that the Germans have completely ruined. In fact, they look like a huge rock pile with a wall standing here and there. Nobody about but soldiers for there is no place for anyone else. How these places will ever be made to look like towns again is beyond me. But the French will have them all built over after the war for these French are a tireless, indomitable lot and they can do it for they are doing and have done more in their four years of hell.
I neglected to say what dates your letters were at the first when I was speaking of them. I was so full of other thoughts, I had to let off a little. I hope the censor man doesn't think it was too much steam. These six gems from God's own country bore the dates of August 3, 12, 15, 16, 26 and 28, and two from Mother of August 26 and September 2. Your letters were written while you were in Ottawa at my own home and in Garnett. They were just the kind I like and the one you wrote after your visit with May was the dearest of all. Of course I don't think it foolish to think of our home. I think of it myself at times and it is indeed the sweetest of thoughts but you know, little girl, that this is a very uncertain time now for us and I don't like to build too much for it would not be right to you, it seems to me. But just the same, sweetheart, that golden someday will come and then we will plan and I know that you are the little queen when it comes to making plans like that. So, in the meantime we will carry on and do our bit in bringing peace to the world, trusting in God to make things come out right.
I thought as much had taken place with Jamie and May but, of course, I have not seen either of them for a long time. Jamie would talk with me if we were together for he is one of my dearest of friends and we have much in common. He is one of my few boy friends in whom I can confide and how I would like to talk with him now.
By the way, I sent you a little box about the first of August by registered mail. I hope you have it long before now. I don't remember mentioning it to you before so if you haven't received it, let me know. I hope this has compensated in part for those wonderful letters of yours. So I will close with all the love in the world to the dearest of this world's possessions, a true woman.
As ever, your own Lloyd
P.S. I just happened to think that this is Sunday and it is about two p.m. in U.S.A. and I wonder what you are doing at this minute. By the way, I am no longer a doughboy or a member of my old Regiment. We of the P.O. are transferred to the Postal Express Service of the A.E.F.
This is our P.O. stamp used for canceling letters.
|35th Division: September 30, 1918: Division was sent to a rest sector. Lloyd separates from the Division at this point.
In August 1918, the Central Records Office was moved to Bourges from Tours and a permanent Postal Express Service Office was established as part of this organization. Soon, postal personnel serving the separate Divisions were changed to come under the authority of this permanent office though they remained at their division offices. This was yet another attempt to smooth out the problems with mail distribution. For more information on the Postal Service during WWI, see this essay.
October 5, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I have had four more dandy letters from you since I wrote last. These bore the dates of September 3, 5, 9, and 12. Pretty good service, I think. I am sure that I am getting my share of letters and you are mighty good to write so often. I should write more, I know, but conditions are not always good for writing. I think you understand how it is with us. We are known as a mobile post office and I am sure we are correctly named for we are surely moving often these days. We did stay about a week at our last place, though. By the way, did I tell you that I am now transferred to the Postal Express Service of the AEF and consequently I no longer am a member of K Co. I have not seen the old bunch for a long time. I would sure like to get near them a little while so as to see how they weathered their last trip to the front. It isn't trenches anymore over here. The Yanks have done away with a lot of that and when things start, it is out in the open for everybody. Of course the machine guns are concealed as much as possible in 'nests' they are called and they are certainly a nest of hornets, too. I have a rather sad but nevertheless interesting tale to tell about a certain old Major I happen to know and admire but it can't be done just now. It would make a good dandy foundation for a story, or at least it rather struck me that way. I will tell you of it some day.
I was much interested in your new work for it looks like a dandy place -- more suited to you than the one of nursing, I think. Since I wrote last, I have seen what strong women it takes to be a nurse over here. Really, I never saw a place where one had harder work. They are actually on the run all the time. It surely takes the most physically strong to stand it.
We had another one of our campfire feeds tonight. One the P.O. force puts on occasionally, not from choice, but from necessity. Our kitchen moved off before we could leave so we fixed up our own supper. We had fried potatoes, French bread, coffee, cheese, Heinz baked beans, and jelly. We rustled most of the stuff. It is rather short at times, especially with this bunch here. They are all good fellows and good rustlers. The stuff was cooked in the street in front of the office. What with a frying pan borrowed from an old harness maker and a pan for coffee borrowed from a lady on the other side of the office, we did very well. This is a great life if you don't weaken or get started out wrong.
Am glad to know that Robert got a furlough. I haven't much faith in those things myself. I have a reason, however. What do you say? Wish I could have seen him but I suppose he is closer here now than ever.
Well, I must close as the fellows are making such a noise in here. So goodnight to you, little girl. You are certainly giving me my share of letters and they are the best ever. So goodbye for a little while, my own dearest sweetheart.
With sincerest love, Your own Lloyd
Postal Express Service, A.P.O. 743
October 11, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I received the letter you wrote on my birthday today. It was a little behind as I had one a day or two ago dated the 18th but they come that way quite often. The one of the 18th was the seventeen-day service we were promised. I did not expect it to start as soon as it did. Am glad you got the little package I sent you and was so well pleased with it.
We have been pretty busy for the past few days. We work as long as we can see at night and begin as soon as we get breakfast in the morning. It is a good job and interesting also with a fine bunch of fellows to work with, so I can't worry. We have a Ford in the service now. It is a rather cranky old Ford, though, and won't run only when it pleases. I have not tried my hand at it yet but you know how I run a Ford. I know you haven't forgotten how we ran Dad's Ford in the ditch by hand because it wouldn't run for us.
I am sending my request for the three-pound Christmas package by this letter. I suppose you have heard about it by this time so it needs no introduction. I thought I would send it to you as there isn't a whole lot of time to get it ready for starting across and you are closer to direct lines of communication than the folks at home. Just put in a couple of tubes of Pebeco toothpaste, some good talcum powder, and a little good chocolate and I will have a good Christmas. If you have time, you can tell the folks that you have the request but I am afraid there won't be much time. One is all we are allowed and that is quite a little considering the fact that shipping facilities are so limited.
Well, I will let this be all for this time. Will write you a good letter in a day or so. So goodnight for this time, little girl.
With all the love in the world, Your own Lloyd
October 16, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I received your letter of September 17 a day or so ago but we have had another move in the meantime and I have had no chance to write. It is the rainiest, darkest, muddiest day I ever saw here now and I don't suppose there will be much change for some time. The roads here are all rock but they have a nice layer of sloppy mud on top and it is of just the correct composition to splash. We are in a very good place for an office now. It was the best room of a family at one time I suppose. There is a piano and a sideboard in the room or at least a piece of furniture that serves that purpose. (What they call it is something I have to learn yet). We have quite a time with the Frenchwoman who owns the place. She objects to something about our occupancy and comes around about every day to make things hot for us. This close to the front, places to stop are at a premium and it becomes necessary to take every place available so we still stay here in spite of her objections.
Well, what did you think of the big "peace" move made by Germany a few days prior to this date? I was hoping when I really felt it was another German trick. I was unable to believe that unconditional surrender could be expected at this time. I knew that the President could see things better than we by far and he would not allow himself to be duped. So it's on to Berlin and I think that the whole AEF sees that it is the proper peace talk now.
Your last letter was the first one you have written me from your place of business and, from what I can see of your work, you have a dandy place. Gee, I wish I were back at work somewhere. I often wonder just what I will do after this war is over and I am again a civilian. I have no fixed trade or profession to fall back on as a great many fellows have. Most of my time was spent in school previous to the war. I surely don't regret that I went to school as much as I could but you see this business hit me just at a time I should have been getting fixed somewhere in this big world of business. Now I will be in the air for sure, but that is probably too much borrowed trouble. I will have a "job" I guess for a while and one that must be done right. After this is done, I will have more time and a better time to think along that line. But no matter when or where, you are always foremost when I get to building air castles. It surely will be the happiest of happy days to be with you always. And sometime that time will come so until then we will just plug along doing our little bit in the game so that our wonderful "sometime" will be ours & we have had our hand in earning it.
Well, it is getting time to eat again and we can't miss that, you know. We have meals at regular hours usually but of course there are things that take precedent even over eating in the army. We don't do our own cooking -- only at times when we get stranded from a good old U.S. army kitchen.
By the way, I got the letter you sent some clippings in & I thank you for putting them in. Anything you think will be interesting, just enclose it, for such things are devoured eagerly over here.
Well, I must "parti" so good night to you, dearest.
With lots of love, Lloyd
P.S. I just received your letter of the 15 of September. Thanks for the gum. It is quite a treat. I believe I get most all of your letters but you see how they come. Some right through while others are delayed somewhere. Now that I am transferred to the P.E.S., just address me, Postal Express Service, A.P.O. 743, AEF.
With love, Lloyd
October 19, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
Well, I have had two letters from you in as many days. The first was dated September 26, the last contained some pictures of yourself, Robert and Ruth. Was indeed glad to get them. I must say that Robert has a very nobby uniform. I don't remember seeing any of its kind. It's all American around here mixed with a number of French.
I am awfully sorry that you have not been getting my letters any more regular. I am quite sure I have been writing more often than once every two weeks. There have been times when we were unable to send any letters and other times when it is altogether impossible to write. At one time, about the first few weeks in September, I was entirely cut off from any mail communication. We are so constantly on the move staying in one place sometimes only for a few days. I think you will understand what this Division has been doing and will understand the situation before you get this letter. Sometimes we are lucky if we get something to eat. When an advance is started these days, it isn't the trenches that are being fought in. The fellows move over open ground now and communication is not always possible.
But nevertheless I have not written at times when I could and I am glad you have told me how my mail is coming. I believe I will try having my letters censored before leaving this office. Maybe service will be better. I have been using a good many of the base censor envelopes as you have probably noticed. I believe that you will be getting mail better by the time you read this for I have been writing at least twice a week since we have combined into one office for the whole division. Up until about September 24, we had three offices but now we are all in the same place and the postal system has received a good brushing up.
You asked me about my truck riding. That has stopped since we combined forces. I am now in the office. Yes, all truck men are armed with rifles & often automatics, too. But where I was at that time, a club was about all the arms necessary and it was too much trouble to carry. But since that time I have an idea that the men would feel considerably more comfortable if they had a gun or two.
I believe that the paper which said we were allowed to tell where we were was in the wrong. If anyone is doing so, they are just taking chances, that's all. For my part, I have been from one end of the western front to the other, hitting the high places here and there. It is just one thing after another and sometimes a little more in some places than others.
Well, it is getting late and I expect I have said too much already. No doubt you people at home imagine all sorts of things if you miss some letters but for my part, we are non-combatants. We even have a service flag on our door for our old Major, who is now in charge of a battalion on the front.
Please don't misunderstand all this harangue, for there is no one I would rather receive mail from than you and don't think for a minute that your letters will tire me. The more the better and I feel that you like to get my letters so I will try to be more regular in the future. Maybe it will not be so many months until I will be able to talk with you as we used to do something more than a year ago.
So, goodbye for a little time, my own dearest little girl.
With sincerest love, Lloyd
October 23, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I received your letter of the 26th of September yesterday. Also one from Bill D. of the same date. Was indeed glad to hear from both of you. Your letters are coming fine now. May they continue to do so. I know you are writing often enough and I believe the postal system here can deliver them now.
It is rather cozy here tonight. We now have a great big fireplace with a dandy fire burning. These old houses all have a fireplace or two and they certainly can give the heat. But what takes my eye in this room is a half dozen chairs, Louis Fifteenth style. They have had pretty hard usage but they are certainly good ones yet. We don't always find a place like this to stop. Why, we even have electric lights and a piano and once in awhile we find someone who gives us a little concert. No one of the office can play so we have to draft our musicians.
By the way, there is a K.C. boy in the office who has something in common with me. He knows something of Ottawa. He visited Coach Porter Craig (once of O.U.) several times. Also he knows Harry Jewell and the Fallis girls so every now and then we have a "chum" over some of the above-named subjects. The boy's name, by the way, is Roy Miles.
We had a parade here today. Anyway, we had a band and the soldiers. First time I had heard a band in a long time and the way the other fellows tumbled out, they seemed glad to hear it, too. These fellows were marching through and the band played while going through town. Don't suppose a procession like this is much, but it is not seen under the same conditions everywhere.
We have been having some fine sunshiny days for a change. Yesterday could not be beaten. But then it is light at night and lookout for Jerry. He was busy, too, but not right here, so why bother about the Jerry planes.
Well, it is getting late and I am rather sleepy so will say goodnight for this time. Some of these days these goodnights will be said in our old way. So long for a little time, little girl.
With truest, sincerest love, Lloyd
October 29, 1918
My Dearest Mary,
I received your letter of October 1 yesterday and am glad to know you are getting some of the letters I write. I believe the service will be better now. Anyway, here is hoping so.
The way things look, this muss can't continue many months and, as soon as it is finished, here is one fellow that is ready to "parti" for America right now. No delays permitted. France may be a fine country but Columbus certainly was well paid for just seeing the New World and I can't blame the old boy for wanting to find a new country. I know a lot of fellows that would be Columbuses if left here for a few years.
We had quite an entertainment here a couple of evenings ago. I believe I told you that we had a fine piano in the room where we have our office. Well we found a couple of Negro soldiers that were certainly dandy entertainers. One could play the piano and play it well while the other had a dandy baritone voice. They were sensible "niggers," too, and evidently had used their talents before. Well, they sang and played until late and I don't believe I have enjoyed any music so much since coming across. We tried to get them again but they had moved out.
The weather has been much better the last few days although it is getting quite cool these nights. We just drew our issue of winter clothes so I am ready for winter now. I have a whole new outfit now and feel as proud as a rookie with his first uniform. The clothes are some heavier than the issue we had last winter so I guess it gets cold here at times.
Some of this Division are getting leaves now. They are given seven days I think and are taken to certain leave centers for that time. I am not particular about one myself but will take one of course if it is given me. I don't believe much in furloughs and I don't believe you can blame me after my furlough I did not get in the states. I am waiting for the big 'furlough' and the time I am through with war and army for keeps. That is the time we are waiting for, isn't it, and we are going to make that the best time of all. I know it will be if you are there for you are the one that means happiness to me.
Well, I expect I better close for this letter as the bunch are getting restless for a card game and I have their table. So goodnight, my own dearest little girl.
With sincerest love, Your own Lloyd
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