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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Letter written December 21, 1918

Dear Mother -:

This is another break in the serial I am running but I have gotten tired telling what has gone on and am full of what is going on. We crossed the Rhine at Coblenz on Friday the 13th of December at five minutes before midnight. That somehow sounds to me to be very unlucky and just now the worst thing that I can imagine happening to myself is to have to stay where I am for a long time, which certainly looks to me as tho it might happen. We are finally settled in what appear to be our permanent resting places for the occupation. Ours in a town called Kilgert (sp?) about fifteen miles or so from the Rhine in a country that resembles the Adirondacks and New Jersey rolled into one. Fine high wooded hills and lots of splendid red sticky mud. Not one redeeming feature. All the inhabitants that are left are engaged in the absorbing pastime of making the mud into little ornamental pipes and marbles which they bake and sell to the unsuspecting. I am sending you some specimens for Xmas as they are the only things I can get hold of. Some day perhaps I may get back down to Coblenz from where I may be able to send you something nice. By the way if you can think of anything nice that comes from this part of the country, Germany I mean, let me know and I will send it to you. I doubt it tho for I haven’t yet seen anything around here that I would care to carry away. I don’t blame the Dutch much for invading some other country. It took them away from home. As you can see I am very low in my mind today and probably will be for some time if it is anything like last Xmas. Somehow a whole year’s homesickness seems to catch up with me at this time of year and makes me feel like jumping in the lake. I know too now why they call it sunny France: like everything else in life it is purely a comparative matter. France is a whole lot sunnier than Germany. We left Verdun on a perfectly beautiful day the 21st of November and since then I have seen the sun exactly three times and those have never been for more than ten minutes. That is why, I suppose, that the Germans have such pink and white complexions; there is no sun to tan them.

I am enclosing some orders which give you an idea of what the 1st Division did. It is the only division that was ever cited singly by the commander in chief and this order deals with probably the most disagreeable fight I was ever in. This is all now.

Good bye. With love

The reference in the last paragraph above is to:

General Orders No. 201, dated Nov. 10, 1918, from the General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces:

“1. The Commander in Chief desires to make of record in the General Orders of the American Expeditionary Forces his extreme satisfaction with the conduct of the officers and soldiers of the First Division in its advance west of the Meuse between October 4th and 11th, 1918. During this period the division gained a distance of seven kilometers over a country which presented not only remarkable facilities for enemy defense but also great difficulties of terrain for the operation of our troops.
“2. The division met with resistance from elements of eight hostile divisions, . . . The enemy chose to defend its position to the death, and the fighting was always of the most desperate kind. . . .
“3.The success of the division in driving a deep advance into the enemy’s territory enabled an assault to be made on the left by the neighboring division against the northeastern portion of the Forest of Argonne, and enabled the First Division to advance to the right and outflank the enemy’s position in front of the division on that flank.
“4. The Commander in Chief has noted in this division a special pride of service and a high state of morale, never broken by hardship nor battle.
“5. This order will be read to all organizations at the first assembly formation after its receipt.

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