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 7, 2008

Letter written December 3, 1918

Dear Mother -:
I think the last installment left us at the battle of Gondrecourt.That finally ended or rather the weather ended it for us for the snow got so deep that the carriages could not move and things in the maneouver line became impossible.Then I went to school which school was at Gondrecourt itself. That wasn’t bad at all, more or less of a vacation from the point of view of physical exercise but rather strong on the mental effort. We learned a lot of things we knew already and a lot more that we did not know. The schedule was usually classes and theory in the morning and firing in the afternoon. The course lasted about five weeks and was very much worth while. During the last week we were there, however, the regiment moved into line and when school was over there I went too. The battery was in the Toul sector near a town called Mandres where battallion headquarters was. No sooner had I reported than I was assigned for duty on observation from which place I think I wrote you quite a good deal.That work was wonderfully interesting and we shot Bosche and shot at Bosche to our heart’s content. It was however a little too risky to be thorough unalloyed enjoyment for two or three times we just stood still and looked at each other waiting for the end to come and wondering what it would feel like. The O.P. (observation post)was under the roof of the least destroyed building in the village of Beaumont. There was a little slit in the tiles to look out of during the daytime and rather a large hole which we looked out of at night.We were quite well equipped having all varieties of instruments and maps and were connected with every battery round and other O.P.’s by telephone. There was plenty to do which helped a bit and made the time pass quickly. During the day we made adjustments on crossroads, etc. over on the Bosche side for all the batteries and when we were not doing that, watched and tried to locate Bosche batteries. When we located one we shot him up and our work consisted in keeping the guns on the target and reporting results. There is certainly quite a satisfaction in locating some Heinie outfit who has been worrying you, proving exactly where he is and then systematically blowing him up. Sometimes, tho, Jerry would get mad and shoot back which was as disagreeable as anything could be. One morning after we had made a raid he was very mad, shooting up most everything in sight but somehow not us and we were shaking hands with ourselves wondering how long it would last when a great big black one went up right in front of the house about 200 yards away. That was the first in that particular locality and we wondered what was up.The next one was in direct line headed for us about 50 yards closer and so the next one and the next with about 30 seconds between shots. Finally one hit just in front of the house, showering dirt all over the place.The corporal and I were looking out watching things and had a fine idea just where the next one would hit. For protection we had some high grade tiles and a sheet of first class tar paper.The situation to say the least was tense. The Corp simply kept on looking and said quietly “And the next one gets us.” I have had some really narrow shaves during this performance but never did I feel as I did while we were waiting for the next one that never came. Why it didn’t come heaven only knows but I do know that during that 30 seconds and the following two minutes I lived a hundred years. It isn’t the things that happen that scare you. It’s the things that might.

This is about all I have time to write about now but I will do some more tomorrow and try to tell you something about how we lived, ate and didn’t wash, which tho it was just our daily existence probably would be more or less interesting.

Good bye With love


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