May 26, 1918 – Letter to Robert’s father (”On Active Service with the British Expeditionary Force” YMCA letterhead):
Co. B. 140 Inf.
May 26 – 18
The letter you wrote 4/23 arrived here yesterday. After I left N.Y., I spent about 2 weeks on the water. The trip was rather monotonous but we had a little excitement off the coast of Ireland so the trip was not without all interest. They rather rushed us across England so we did not see much of it. From the car windows it is as pretty as a park in the country but the cities are dirty and smell of ruin.
The English Channel was very smooth and we did not see any subs. I guess we had too many sub chasers with us. France is very quiet. There is lots of sunshine and dusty roads. There are only a few men about. We are billeted in a little village about [redacted] miles back of the lines. We are attached to a Regt. of [redacted] Rifles for training and rations. The [redacted] are not a bad lot but I have nothing good to say for their rations. We are not drilled so very hard but hard enough on this food.
There is a prison camp about a mile from here. I was down there last night to church, and got this paper. And am writing this in the mud barn where I sleep.
I am glad to hear that Ruth is better. No doubt you are all at the lake by now.
I have not written to Aunt Aggie yet but will as soon as I get a chance.
Love to all
PVT. R.D West
Co B 140 Inf
The [redacted] notes are sections of the letter where Robert’s penciled words have been erased. In this case, you can tell that the Army’s censor did not want it revealed that Robert’s unit was with a British unit, and of course his mention of how close they were to the front lines could not be allowed.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.