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 4, 1917

Dear Mother-:

This is probably the strangest birthday it will ever be my good or ill, whichever you consider it, fortune to pass. I am on duty to stand by outside the dugout of the medical director and wait for orders. It is a twenty-four hour séance and usually there are no orders. I was a little lucky and in the afternoon took his nibs to S---- which relieved the monotony a little. Otherwise there is nothing to do but sit and read and watch the rain. This is the fifth day of it (the rain) and you can imagine what the roads with heavy traffic all the time are like. I have today read one book thru and wished I had another. The few French men around aren’t a great deal of help as they are Gascons and when I tried this afternoon to fall into conversation with them the effort socially speaking failed for they couldn’t speak French and I could neither understand nor speak Gascon. The result was that we struggled for a while with “pas beaucoup”, “ca va” and “mauvais temps” and the result was that both sides retired in disgust, the enemy richer by two cigarettes.

The weather seems to have completely quelled both sides for, tho here I am very close to the lines there is hardly a sound. Every once in a while a gun goes off and that is all, as much different from recent days as night from day, and a little relief too, for I saw a little too much war then.

The God that protects fools, drunken men, and college boys must also do a little looking out for ambulance drivers. One of our cars was towed in the other night with 68 holes in it. The driver wasn’t there when it happened but had gotten out for a minute to see what was stopping the traffic ahead in the road.

Last evening we had a big party. Our French lieutenant is leaving and we gave him a send-off. We had a wonderful dinner with several kinds of wine, sang and made speeches and had a fine time all within range of the Bosche and most of the people there having seen and done things that most people are glad never occur during their lives. Rather unique, wasn’t it? I wrote you Maurice and a few other curiosities were coming to the section. Well, they all arrived but M., who couldn’t have things just to suit him, is still consequently in Paris. The others were all fine boys and fell in with the work nicely, tho a little horror-stricken at first.

Aug. 8 – So many thhings have happened since I began this letter that I might just as well tear up what I have written and begin again but I will keep on just for the humor of the thing. Well, to begin with when I got back to camp Maurice was there after all, having just arrived and had the scare of his life. He was talking blue blazes and hasn’t stopped yet. He was quite scared his first day out but managed to live thru it, but I rather imagine rues the day he ever became attached to section cinq. You certainly should see him scraping the mud and blood off a car and taking a swallow of brandy with a crust of bread for his breakfast at 4 a.m. on the road. It was great.

Then Hunt T (Talmage) got wounded. He was sitting on top of a bank watching the war when a shell landed right beside him. It blew him off the bank and twenty feet away while a piece went thru his sleeve and part of his arm and another scratched his head. Rather a close call but he did not even have to go to the hospital while the poor beggar beside him was killed quite dead.

Then I got some very disagreeable disease and thought quite certainly I was going to die. However as it is only the good that do that at my extreme youth, I have staged a comeback and can move about today again.That is about all the news of particular interest for the present but I will write again when there is more

With love,


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