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 September 19, 1917

Dear Mother-:

Just after I had written you the other day asking not to send any more packages what should happen but that two should arrive.One from Benson & Hedges in England and one from you at home. Thank Papa ever so much for the tobacco which is wonderful and thank you for the cigarettes.They are perfectly great and that is something that here is as rare as a white crow.

You were right about the chasseurs being the blue devils that you read about. There two division of Chasseurs Alpins, the one we are with and another and a couple of divisions of “chasseurs a pied” which are practically the same thing but not quite as good. They are called diable bleu principally because of their character and wonderful spirit, being about
the best attacking troops in the world. The blue comes from the fact that they are dressed in “bleu foncee” (dark blue) instead of the ordinary horizon blue of the regular French soldier.

One should be, tho, a student of ethnology to be able to dope out exactly what a man is in the French army. There are men from every part of continental France speaking every dialect you can imagine and added to the other divisions from all the colonies: Moroccans, Tunisians, Senegalis, Spahis, chasseurs d’Afrique, Zouaves and the Foreign Legion. Most of the chasseurs with whom we work are from the Vosges or extreme southern France down next to Italy. They speak a language which is the weirdest thing you ever heard in your life. Every syllable is pronounced very distinctly and all the nasals have a “g” on the end of them with an “e” not quite mute on the end of that. This matin is “matinge” and soixante quinze is “soixanty quinzy”.

I am sending you a copy of the Esprit du Corps with a poem in it of real colloquial “poilu” French, the kind that every soldier of any sort can speak and understand.

We are still waiting in the sleepy old town I told you about to be called into action again and I imagine it will not be long now before we go, as everything has been ready for days now and all that is necessary is the order to move and believe me when we get there, there is going to be a hot time in the old town tonight as the preparations being made are enormous. I am hoping that my U.S. Army exam won’t interfere with my being in on the show as Fritz is going to go for the loop of his young life. Did Nannoo ever get any of the letters I have written her? They are quite a few and I have had no answers. There isn’t a great deal more to tell you now but I will write again as soon as I am able.

Good bye With love,

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