About Me

Born August 4, 1894 in Auburn, New York to William and Alice Beardsley Woodruff Hills. Younger brother Carroll Beardsley Hills and younger sister Mary Day Hills. Educated at St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire and Princeton University, class of 1917

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Letter dated August 26th, 1917

Dear Mother-:

Here I am in Paris for my “permission” (leave) and if Paris can be called a rest this is certainly one well deserved.

We worked the Chemin des Dames sector for just exactly one month without a single day’s rest and as you have probably noticed in the papers that is what is commonly known as a warm corner. I was at the end quite petered out and fed up generally with my nerves so on edge that I couldn’t sit still. From your last letter you have some impressions which added to those that Nannoo wrote in hers seem to tell me that you have quite some wrong ideas. In the first place I am not a lieutenant, at least that I know of, but still a “conducteur volontaire d’une voiture sanitaire.” That paper that I enclosed in the letter was my copy of the citation the section received for bravery, good works, etc. In the second place the transfer to the chasseurs was simply that the section as a whole was transferred to that division to evacuate their wounded instead of those with whom we had been so long. I am still as I started but seeing much more active service simply because the division is the most active one in France.

All this, however, was up until yesterday, for then the U.S. govt. with their customary blundering methods and misconception of affairs in general has taken over the whole
Red Cross and I understand is going to give to all the conducteurs their choice of signing on for the war or getting out tout de suite. The idea of signing on for the war as a private in the U.S. Army somehow doesn’t appeal to any of us and the result is that everybody is getting out. When that comes off I am going to start on a wild chase for a commission in the U.S. or English artillery or transport service for, from what I can gather, commissions are not to be had at home and here, although gettable, they are very difficult. Nevertheless don’t worry at all as to what I am doing when you get this for before I do anything definite I will cable you. Every time I think of the way the U.S. is bungling things I get so mad I can’t speak. Imagine it. Here we were running perfectly, members of the French army and doing work which, according to the French could in no way be bettered. The U.S. with their politics, etc., comes along and butts in and in a little while, according to everyone who seems to know anything at all, the whole business will be such a mess that nothing will be able to be done at all, there will be no conducteurs and how the poor wounded will be gotten out God alone knows. . The whole French sanitary service is frantic. But enough of disagreeable things for the present. I am well, happy and fat, with seven days before me out of the country where things blow up, men die quickly and everything smells bad and looks worse.

I had a nice letter from Mrs. Brown inviting me to Cannes whenever I could come so I have always a haven of refuge in time of need. It was great of her to do it.

I am sending you a small package of things I have picked up. Two cigar lighters which everyone over here in the war uses, as matches at the front are unobtainable. Papa may like them. The soldiers sit around and make them when they have nothing else to do.Tell him to give one to Carroll as he I imagine would like it for a souvenir although if he goes back to St. Paul’s he will not use it. For you and Day there are some other little war trinkets of no practical use but odd. There isn’t a great deal more to say now as I have told you all the news and all about the work at other times and if I keep on I may start in again on the American gov’t.

Goodby with love,


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