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 25, 1917

Dear Mother-:

I wrote Morgan Harjes (the French-American bank sponsoring the ambulance unit) to cable you that I was taking my exams for a commission in the American army but as I did not get to their office while I was there taking the exams, I do not know whether or not you have replied. I sent them a note to forward any such thing to me at section, but since then we have been all over northern France and the mail hasn’t yet managed to catch up with us.

As for the exam I don’t know yet whether or not I have managed to pass it. I traveled to Paris Friday night sitting up all the time, took exams all day Saturday and left again Sunday for the section which had in the meantime moved some fifty miles and took us a day and a half to find.

I am hoping and praying all the time for it seems like the last gasp, for a commission in America being entirely shut down and there being the best chance here. If I miss it I shall certainly be in the soup for fair with nothing to do but enlist as a private here in the sanitary service or come home and enlist as a private there with never a chance in either case to get ahead. Even Stanley, who would give his neck to get to America, is worried that he did not get by.

But enough of gloom and possibilities: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I am now back at the front again in one of the old sectors which I know so well now that it seems like home. After a month’s absence, it isn’t much changed except that there is now a vast amount more troops and as for artillery it is practically wheel to wheel. Our division has only a few men in the lines up to now so our work is comparatively easy but it is a good thing since when they all sit up and the show starts in good earnest there will be work enough for everybody.

Being again in the same sector certainly gives one a funny feeling. Here I am still looking at that line of hills, just like the other side of the lake from Garnston (his family’s summer home on Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes of central New York) and knowing that there isn’t any power in the world by which any one can go over and down the other side.

I had an awfully funny time yesterday. I had a new aide just arrived in the section and together we went up to a little town near the lines. He had never been under fire before and in fact hadn’t the slightest idea what war was like. No sooner had we arrived than Fritz started one of his periodical hates and shelled the place violently. Houses fell over, dust rolled out of everything and the noise was fearful. Naturally we retired under ground and waited but the thrill my aide got was wonderful to see. I don’t know whether or not he will ever recover as it certainly was a rough reception.

There isn’t a great deal more to tell you now but I will write again soon.

With love, Paul

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