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

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Letter dated July 2, 1917

Dear Mother –

Our new position here is all that I imagined it would be in the way of being lively. However, it is wonderfully interesting, and there is a great deal more to see and watch than our last action. I don’t believe the military authorities would mind my telling you that we are on the line between Rheims and Soissons near Fismes. This is a particularly interesting sector just now since the Germans are trying to get back some of the ground that the French have taken away from them and there is something doing all the time. The last two days I have been at the advance post and worked to death tho it was all very much worth while. Today, however, I am on rear evacuation. The other cars bring down the “blesses” from the “poste de secours” and we carry them from here (a large field hospital) to the base hospital several miles back. This kind of work is rather lazy as we only get a few calls during the day and the rest of the time sit around and watch what is going on. There is enough of that tho to keep very well amused mostly in the matter of aerial work. A Bosche “avion” starts over the French lines to see what is going on and the French shoot at it with shrapnel. Then a Frenchman does the same thing and the Germans take a few cracks at him. The French shrapnel makes white smoke and the German, black, so you can always tell who is receiving the attention. Sometimes when there are as many as twenty “avions” of the two sides up at once the whole sky is a mixture of black and white balls of smoke that look mostly like cotton at first and then break up after a few minutes and drift off. You wonder why they don’t hit the wrong avion but as a matter of fact they never seem to hit any and each one is shot at an unbelievable amount of times. I have watched this business now for every day for over a month and haven’t seen a single avion brought down.

Then, if you want and feel slightly cold blooded, you can watch the doctors fix up the wounded. It is perfectly marvelous the things they do and the speed. If I ever get hurt I pray heaven it will be in France with one of the doctors who has had war experience to fix me up. I keep wondering at myself to see how used I have gotten to things. I can now sit around and eat crackers while watching things that a while ago would have turned me inside out completely.

When I was just writing this last we had a call and had quite a long trip with six “blesses” to two rear hospitals. Now we are back and will probably have nothing to do until about eleven tonight when according to schedule there will be quite a number since usually they bring them down at night after dark and it does not get really dark until after ten.

I got a letter from you yesterday dated May 13. From what you said I evidently made quite a faux pas in clearing out when I did but “c’est la guerre” and unfortunately I am not a mind reader. Nevertheless I suppose it is all for the best, and as for my young heart being put permanently out of commission I imagine it will be quite intact when the next opportunity offers itself.

Who do you suppose have come to our section today? – Maurice - the dancer – Hill of Fair & Warmer (?) – and Mrs. Castle’s brother. All the boys have already named them the circus and are thinking up the most horrible terrifying lies possible to scare them with. Can you imagine Maurice slopping in mud to his knees, sleeping in a manure pile and handling very disagreeable fragments of things? I can’t.

The Bosche is certainly a very annoying sort of person. This afternoon he persistently shelled a hospital, smashed two of the tents all to flinders and wiped out two rows of beds. If ever I get a wounded one I certainly will give him the ride of his life. I am beginning to believe all the tales of barbarism I have heard. There isn’t a great deal more now to tell you but I will write you again soon. Best to every body home.

With love, Paul

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