Letter from Hubert Hayley to his Dad


Thoachoy, France - 1919

Dear Old Dad of Mine ---

Today is November 24th, and is called "Dad's Xmas Letter Day," We are supposed to write our Dads some kind of letter letting them know how much we love them, but that is impossible with me, as there isn't words in the English language to express it. The ban on the censorship is raised to some degree, so I can tell you a little of the outline of what I have been through.

Well, I left on the train from Camp Bowie July 8th, went through Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New York, and wound up at Camp Mills, Long Island, N. Y. We landed in Camp Mills July 12th, boarded ship July 17th and rode out by the Statue of Liberty noon July 18th. We were on the largest ship in the fleet of about thirty ships. It is next to the largest transport in the service of the United States, so you see I was on some floating piece of machinery. We came in sight of land about 2 o'clock on the evening of July 30, and disembarked July 31st in the French Port of Brest. We stayed in the Pontanogian Barracks, which was formerly used by Napoleon, in fact it was built by him. We stayed there about a week and then loaded into box cars (forty to the car), with all our equipments in our packs and rations for four days and nights, and all the sleep we got we got sitting up. In this way we rode four days and landed in the little French city of Bar-Sur-Aube, on the river Aube, where our division was put ----------------- full equipment and wont by train to Pecancy, a small town close to Epernay and also Chalons. We got our first taste of war there from airplanes that were continually bombing us, but didn't do much damage. We could hear the big guns there but none of the shells came near us. It was there that I was billeted in a barn on the floor right above a lot of sheep and only two blankets and got down with Spanish Influenza. I was sent to the hospital and stayed there several days. I was then sent back to my Troop and joined them at Suippes. We went over the top the first time on the morning of October 8th, about 4 o'clock. We were in the front lines until the 28th. For twenty days we were where our pals were being bumped off every minute that passed. If we struck a match at night or showed ourselves in day time we were shot at, and the artillery was all the time dropping shells around us and the airplanes were showering bombs on us. Sometimes we would be without food, but there was always one object in view, that of keeping your own movements hid and trying to catch Fritzy. Several of my best pals were killed, one of whom you knew but I am not tell who, just yet.

We were relieved the 28th, and you can be sure that we were some glad. We drove the enemy from the Somme Py on the Hindenburg line to the Ainse river, a distance of about 30 kilometers or 25 miles. Most of us lost our equipment except our rifles and fighting equipment. We had been sleeping in mud holes without taking off our clothes, and none of us had had a bath, in fact it was rare at some times to see a man who had washed his face in a week. I had it a whole lot easier than lots of the boys in our division. I sure feel for them, too.

When I get back in America and see some old doughboy who went over the top, I will take my hat off to him, but some of those "birds" who are holding down some commission, and the nearest they know about the war is to bawl somebody out--well, he won't get very much out of me. We left the front and went to the town called Conde en-Meuse, close to Bar-Le-Duc, where we were put in the 1st Army corpse of the 1st American Army, and I supposed we were to leave for the front again when we got the news of the armistice. We left Conde en-Meuse the 19th of November, came in truck on down south to Tonnerre, and am at present sitting in an old French Chateau in Trouchey about nine kilometers from Tonnerre, and here is hoping that I will be on my way to old Texas tout de suite. This old newspaper talk about all the troops wanting to go over in Germany is all pure, uttered lies. Nobody but a few officers who are making more money than they can in civil life want to go. As for the enlisted men they all want to get back as quick as possible.

Give my love to all and just oodlies of it to you.

Hubert Hayley

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