Letter, November 28, 1918
[Letter on color stationery
of the American Y.M.C.A. and color stationery of the Y.M.C.A., Union Franco-Américaine.]
Nov. 28 - 1918
Dear father & mother
I have the letter of Nov 1, and will spend part of this
thanksgiving day answering it. I was interested in the note or
clipping about Fred. Maude had written something concerning him
but she described it in a rather indistinct way and I could not
get much from her statement. But the article he wrote himself I
now see what he was doing & where & when it happened. Im not far
from there now. We are just a few miles north and east of St.
Mihiel. Some country thru here. I well remember the drive he
refers to. On the 12 of Sept. I was on my way to school and read
the accounts in the paper of what had been going on, but little
did I think Fred was in that drive. On Sept 26 our boys had a
fight north of Verdun on the river Meuse at Consevoy & Mont folcon
that was far different from the on[e] at St Mihiel. The 149th art.
(our Bat. A belongs to them) came up to our front from St. M. and
from all reports the line of the Meuse was one of the hardest
fought battles of anyplace along the line. Yard by yard they
advanced. With many divisions being identified on the side
opposing us. For 45 days our regiment stayed in the line without
But I'll not go father for its too long a story. You never
learn much of our div. as nothing is ever printed about us, so it
will have to go untold until we get home and can tell our friends
and then they will know we have been far from idle our six months
My trip thru France was to a school where special
instructions were given in gas. Learned many interesting things
concerning it. The place was Clemacy. On our way there we went
thru Nievere which is over 200 miles south of Paris. and by
returning by way of Paris we did not go over the same road twice.
Nievere is a large city, Has a Cathedreal built in 1028, and
rebuilt about 1500. largest I've been in, tho the one at Amiens is
larger, I never had the privelege of visiting it. At Nievere I
found the 1st masonic lodge in France. Napoleon is quite famous at
this place. A large monument erected to him. He made a stand here
in one of his great wars and won a decisive victory. So that is
the reason for the history.
Did I ever mention of having seen the place where Joan of Arc
was imprisoned the day before she was burned? The place is not so
much, but glad I saw it.
I've spent quite a few days along the banks of the Somme when
we were attached to the Australian division. Have been in Amiens
many times. To think that river ran red with blood in 1914 when
the heavy german push for Amiens was made. Those chalk hills, hot
sun & dust were very uncomfortable when we were there.
Then we visited Albert. Was attached to the British then. We
entrained in Amiens and went to the Verdun front. And some of the
most beautiful, picturesque, places we saw on the way. But there
is no place like the front down here in these hills. How our boys
ever drove them out of here is more than I can see. Our regiment
was on the front on Nov 11 when recall was blown and they came
marching back thru no mans land. A sight no one will forget who
saw it. We had just cleared them out of the hills in to the level
plains of Woevere. at one place here I counted something like 21
villages. It is as level as a floor, this plain, a bit swampy, &
full of barbed wire.
They blew up a mine in Fresnes the day we were there. yea
gods, you should have seen it. Whole buildings went up hundreds of
feet in the air in a million pieces. Was some sight.
We are now on what seems to me to be a mt. when you climb up
from the village below you sure think it is one too. It is covered
with woods and trenches and long billets. Our band is in one large
billet. We have stoves ever so far apart. Have a long table we use
to write on. Cornet case is my writing chair. We rehearse in here
twice a day.
This afternoon we play a concert for 3rd Bn. We are not going
to have turkey and all those nice things to eat today, seems just
like any other ordinary day. yet we can feel the spirit of the day
somewhat by thinking of what, more than likely, is going on at
home. I've been thankfull many days during my time over here, but
this is the acme of thanksgiving. I believe it to be the greatest
one in history.
Its a gloomy day. rains every few minutes it seems. Never
fails to rain at nite. Mud fierce. you cant keep your feet dry &
warm. Takes me 3 hours every nite to get my feet warm. You know my
feet are naturaly cold. I dont mean that in the figurative way
either. Will be glad when we can get out of this country. While it
hasn't froze much over here, yet it is chilly & wet, very
dissagreable weather. Have to be careful & keep your self as dry
as possible. Since war has ceased we can do it much better than
Well Mother I am hoping that by the time I have been gone 2
years that I will be near home again. Possibly by that time I will
be home. We are all wishing for peace to be signed. I don't know
when the first ones will be sent or how far from the first we will
come. But at the best it will be quite a while. It is rumored we
will garrison Luxemburg. I wish we would go there, and get out of
these lonesome hills. No civilians any place. Only to get back
into Gods country again. This makes 2 Thanksgiving dinners I've
had to miss at home. If you miss me, you can feel certain I miss
you. Only there is so much I am missing - all my folks, while, its
only me that you miss - all the rest is there, tho Guy is not
there it has been only a short time he was there. He should be
getting to come home to stay, soon, it seems to me.
So Mary Lopp had the spanish flu. Am glad to hear Arthurs are
getting better. Rec. a letter from Bertha telling me of their
experience with it. She sure is having a pretty tough time, first
operation, then sore lungs and this spanish flu. I sure can see I
am not the only one who is not having the best of things[.] Every
one seems to be having their troubles in diff ways.
Had to laugh about the Alarm clock. It sure has done its bit
So daddy has to go to work at 10 oc. I guess you can get used
to anything. I have had to do it and I am not super human.
Say, I sure would enjon [sic] eating candy and peanuts with
you. I've had no popcorn, icecream or peanuts since coming over
I give a bloody damn what kind of candy it is, glad to get
any kind. Such a little we get. I havent seen a Y.M.C.A. for
months it seems. And when I do see one it seems they sell out
before I get to buy any thing. And if you do get to buy its only
one piece (little one) of candy. Cigarettes & cigars you can most
You sure are doing quite a bit of washing lately. Must like
it. I haven't done any myself for a long time. Not because I dont
need it tho. We havent had a decent place to do any for a long
And a bath is a luxury. A hot one especially.
Well daddy I say you are not doing a big bad considering what
you started in at. Sure has paid to stick with it. 91 is good
wages for 8 hours a day.
So the old belgian has an auto. Do you mean the crippled one?
If thats the one, how does he run it. Am surprised to hear of
the girl marrying an austrian. What is the matter with the girls
over there. They seem to be, all of them, getting married, and
some don't seem to be at all particular who they marry. Well they
can keep on getting married as far as I am concerned personally.
How is the food proposition now. is it getting better? I see
by reports that they are considering feeding the allies plenty
before they start shipping to the germans any great amount. I sure
hope they carry that out for I've went on light eats pretty long
Our thanksgiving dinner was salmon heated up, potatoes, gravy
and bread & coffee.
It has rained so this afternoon that we are not going to play
concert, and are being permitted to write letters.
Sure are having the rain, not hard rains, but misty & drizzly
So my watch needed a main spring[.] I had one put in, in
Quincy, also a jewel. It must be hard on main springs. I had the
missfortune of getting my wrist watch knocked out. So I have none
now. Took me quite a while to get used to being without one - can
hardly say yet that I am used to it.
I understand from newspaper articles that men are being sent
home now. Those in the hospital that are able to be moved. I
suppose before many more weeks other units will start moving[.]
Hoping I get home by spring I remain your son, with lots of love
Paul B. Hendrickson
Hdq. Co. 129 Inf A.E.F.