April 12, 1919 – Letter to Robert’s father:
The latest innovation in garrison warfare is the Cabaret Mess. Can you picture about 7,000 men eating to the latest jazz music of a fifty piece band. They don’t play because they like us exactly but as a cure for the latest A.E.F. disease, ie “the gangplank itch.” We all have it bad. And the Embarkation officers are doing everything to cure it till enough ships can be spared to take us home where we will have this awful disease no more. Embarkation officers have the “gangplank itch” also. They admit it. No doubt Gen. Black Jack has it too. The only real cure is “Get the boys home toot sweet!” then we will have it no more.
There is no news. Every day there are rumors of ships for the 140th and every day we expect to sail but we are still here. It takes from two to three weeks to ship a division from this port. The harbor is small and only small boats can get in. The Div. HQs and part of the 139th has sailed so I guess we will leave soon also.
The weather has been lovely and we have little to do but eat + sleep. The laziness of it makes it the more tiresome.
This is Palm Sunday and I intended to go to church but had a detail on K.P. so could not make it. Next Sunday is Easter and I hope I will be far out on the Atlantic.
I have not had any mail from you for some time no doubt because I told you to stop writing a little too soon but I expect to hear from you this week if there is any more mail delivered before I leave.
I am anxious to know whether I can get the cottage this summer for a week or so. Of course it is hard to make any plans with everything so uncertain.
Well I must close and write to Elinore before supper.
Love to all, Rob.
This is, at long last, the last letter Robert sent home from France. There is one more letter and two postcards still to come, sent from Newport News, Virginia.
As much as Robert wants this adventure to be over, that’s how much I wish it could have continued.
Here’s the harbor area at St. Nazaire:
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.