March 19, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s mother:
Betting about camp favors two to one that we will sail before Apr. 10th, but I’d never bet on anything cause orders can be changed too easily.
We moved yesterday from the tents at the Rifle Range into barracks and I hear that we are due for another move in a few days to another part of camp.
This morning we passed in review and one of the Generals was presented with a Cross of War. He was never in action with us but, as one of the lieutenants said, “He saved the wood of Pont-sur-Meuse.” You remember he would not let us have fires last winter. He is as well liked as the flu. There were a whole raft of S.O.S. officers there + the 140th sure knocked their eyes out. Our line was perfect. Of course it rained + we had no coats + nearly froze standing at attention for half an hour.
They are busy building an enormous camp here. I guess the whole A.E.F. will pass through Le Mans on the way home. There are ten Y.M.C.A. buildings here already. They all have signs posted that they sell at Y.M. prices now. Evidently some of the charges are true since the Y.M. had to regulate them. What I have against the Y is that we never saw them on the front. There were a lot after Nov. 11th. Still they did a lot of good behind the lines in the S.O.S., at least in the big cities.
The “dough boys” have a song they sing called “Mother take down your Service Flag Your boy’s in the S.O.S.”
The S.O.S. means non-combatant units, or Source of Supplies.
I got a letter from Helen she says she is going to teach next year + not finish school. How about that? She seems to be having a good time at Winona. Her teacher told her that she should stop studying so hard. Goodness she is different from most of the West kids isn’t she?
Evidently Horace thought that I was not in the army, or else he thought I did not see any action. I hope he didn’t get any more action than I did.
I am very glad that Bess has recovered from the flu. She wrote that Henry had it but that she would not, because her mental control was too strong. She must have lost her morale.
Our Captain has joined the Regular Army and has gone to Germany. He enlisted for four years.
Well Mother I must close + go to dinner.
You are not half as anxious to see that boy of mine as I am. I would like Elinore to meet me in St. Paul as you suggested but she said that she would rather I go to Sauk Centre + get her. Perhaps that is the best way. You know how it would be if she was your daughter. I will come to St. Paul first of course + will have time to see you, then go to Sauk Centre, and if you wish we will come to see you. I hope I can get the little cottage at the lake. I want to take a rest of a couple of weeks before I start work, + Lake Rebecca will suit me as well as anywhere.
You said that you would not speak to me if I went A.W.O.L. + got busted. Well I don’t think I will but I still think Art Herbert did perfectly right when he went to Paris to spend New Year’s Day with his father-in-in-law. There was no reason for not giving him the pass that he asked for. I guess there is no chance of me being made a Sergeant. We have four or five too many now.
Love to all,
Robert is talking about General Dugan here; the story of the General not allowing the men to light fires to keep warm was covered last month. In From Doniphan to Verdun, Chaplain Edwards also mentioned the fact that the General received a medal for work the men had done before he got there:
Although he joined us twelve days after we came out, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his good work in handling the 70th brigade in the Argonne-Meuse offensive! At least the citation so read.
The General is on the left here.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.