Letter to Dad

April 4, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s father:

St. Nazaire
Camp No. 2

Dear Dad,

Another stop nearer home and civil life. We were in a camp near here where we had our “final” physical exam. We had to go in one door stripped past about ten M.D.’s. The first looked at teeth, next at throats, next for scabies etc. The last one put our underwear on a table and with an electric light + magnifying glass hunted for cooties. If he found one he hollered “Cooties!” and a “pill shooter” painted a cross on the right arm of the victim + took his name, which meant that he must stay here till he was rid of them. I got by alright.

They fed about six thousand in the mess hall there and it was pretty poor grub. Corned beef three times a day.

This new camp I am in now is the Isolation Camp. We have little to do but we have no freedom. Wear overalls and jumpers. We have meat tickets and they feed us pretty good. Had oatmeal mush this morning.

We can see the harbor here and can see and hear the ships coming + going. They are taking the 91st Division out now. They have nearly all gone and the 35th is next. I will land at Newport News. Camp Lee Virginia. From there I will take the Camp Dodge men to Des Moines to be discharged. I do not know how long this will take but I do not think it will be long.

I enclose an advertisement of a paper which will, if he subscribes for it, give Mr. Thompson the addresses of many manufacturers in Great Britain.

There is a movie here every night.

Your loving son,

Robert.


This is the first letter from my “April 1919” envelope and I’m very sad to say that it’s my last envelope, and there are very few letters in it. The end of the story is closer than I’d like.

Chaplain Edwards, thankfully, is still on the job and paints a vivid picture of the 140th’s last days overseas in From Doniphan to Verdun:

The days passed uneventfully, with pleasant weather, and the men were given a final physical inspection. One of the examining physicians said that they had examined two hundred thousand men and that the 35th division were the finest, cleanest lot of men they had seen.

Here, as elsewhere, the good behavior and orderly discipline of the men was marked. The only happenings to mar these pleasant days was an explosion of a delouser which injured two of our men, and the sickness of Earl Charlesworth, who was left in the hospital with typhoid, of which he later died.

The rest, the sea air, the food and the amusements combined to put the men in good shape.


Robert’s note about “Mr. Thompson” is in response to his father’s request last month for Robert to find the addresses of European factories, so that Mr. Thompson could explore the possibility of selling a new line of products back in the U.S.


Where was Robert today? See the timeline.

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