A Warm Welcome

May 7, 1918 – Full diary entry:

“Disembarked. Marched through Liverpool to RR. Arrived Winchester 4am.

Heavy packs.”

A long – but wonderful – passage in From Doniphan to Verdun: The Official History of the 140th Infantry:

We disembarked in good order, and in an hour had moved out from the wharf. In that hour the Chaplain gathered the letters that had been written into a sack, and rushed into the Customs House, where he asked for the “Big Boss.” He was shown into an office, where an elderly Englishman of rather distinguished appearance was in command. The situation was briefly explained to him. The letters had been censored, but as yet we had no censor stamp. They were important, and too heavy to carry on the march through town. He was very kind, and promptly cut the red tape, promising that they would start for the States on a boat leaving the next day.

The streets were crowded with men, women and children, very different from the stolid English we had been led to expect. They commented on the large stature and fine teeth (of course the men were laughing) of these Westerners. They greeted us with the wildest enthusiasm. We were to meet nothing like it again until we marched in Cape Girardeau and Kansas City more than a year later. Every step of the march to the station was accompanied by cheers and applause so generous that we realized the tribute was really to the good old United States. The music of their cheers was good for homesick men, and the regiment marched like veterans.

We made most of the trip to Southampton by day, and saw the country in Springtime at its best. We were impressed by the splendid buildings, in good condition despite the years of war. The farms were kept like lawns, and we looked for hours on beautiful scenery such as can be found only where to the lavish gifts of Nature has been added a dozen centuries of loving care.

At almost every station we found a welcome as we rushed through. Banners with the inscription “With the best of luck” were displayed. Crowds of school children waved British and American flags, and our progress was like that of a victorious army returning from war rather than that of green troops going to the Front.

Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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