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, April 1, 2008

Letter dated October 5, 1917

Dear Mother-:

Two letters from you came yesterday and it certainly was great to hear all that was going on at home. I haven’t yet heard any result of my artillery examination but hope to get the news soon. If I pass it, everything will be fine for we will go into training for a few months in the French methods and then either be sent back to the U.S to train troops there or attached directly to units here, but exactly what will happen to me I am afraid is looking a little far ahead, for I have yet to pass the exam and become a lieutenant. We are at the front again here at a place we have been before doing some work but mostly just sitting around and getting things ready for the riot which is due to start any day now.

I have just discovered much to my disgust that the “Esprit de Cor” (French army publication) which I sent you will probably never arrive since they contain a little too much accurate information. That remains to be seen, however, and I am hoping, for they are quite interesting. Driving here now isn’t nearly the sport it was the first part of the summer. Then it was light from about 4:30 till 10:30 while now it doesn’t begin to get light till six and is dark again by seven. If I get my artillery commission please don’t worry about me for certainly I won’t see any active service for a long time and when I do the casualties of that branch are not any higher if as high as the work I am now in and besides that I will be leading a more comfortable and pleasant existence 2/3 of the time.

I am enclosing in this letter a copy of a few more citations we have received which you can put in the family skeleton closet but which seriously speaking are very fair things to have. The first gave the section the Croix de Guerre with a palm, the second added a gold star and the third a silver star. I had a letter from Billy Seward here wanting to know what I was going to do, etc. He is considering the aviation and may enter that tho I can hardly imagine W.H. 4th as an aviator, can you? The weather here lately has been wonderful – hot, bright days with nights that were so cold that you could hardly keep warm. The moon is full now so our nights are consequently not quite all they might be on account of the Bosche avions, which every bright night persist in sailing over and dropping things on the depots of material near our cantonment. They are the damndest things (I mean the air raids). You are soundly sleeping when suddenly there comes a terrific riot from the anti- avion (anti-aircraft) guns right beside you, everybody jumps out of his tent in pajamas and helmet usually wearing beside that a blanket and sabots (wooden shoes) to see the fun. The air becomes full of search lights, rockets, bursting shells, tracer shells and the ground all around makes the most terrific noise. The bursting of the bombs, the anti-aircraft guns, all the mitrailleuses (machine guns), etc. After a little while it is all over and we go back to bed for another few hours. Needless to say they never hit the avions but they have a tremendous amount of fun trying to and likewise the Dutchman never does a great deal of harm.

I hope by this time you have gotten the little box which instead of mailing I ultimately gave to Penn Sefton to carry to you. (Pennington Sefton, also in the ambulance service and also from Auburn, New York. He and Paul Hills later married sisters, respectively Mary Seymour and Jane Seymour, also from Auburn.)

This is about all there is to tell you now.Before I change my nationality back to an American again I will have my photograph taken as a Diable Bleu and sent to you. In the meantime

Faut pas t’en faire – which is pure slang but expressive – et bientot la guerre est fini (and the war will end soon.)

With love Paul

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