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 9, 1918

Dear Mother-:

Since we have not moved lately and are still hold down the village of Salmroh (sp?) I can continue the travels and adventures of one P. Hills. I think I was at Beaumont in (illegible) at the last writing doing a touch of artillery observation.We lived there, another lieutenant called Hatch and I, for over two months. For quarters we had a splendid dugout underneath the building the O.P. (observation post) was in the top of. It was proof against anything except the very largest shells and happily very dry and fairly warm. There was too a French O.P. nearby and the two of us messed (ate meals) with them and in fact imposed on them generally. We worked our duty in eight hour shifts since one of us had to be there all the time. I would go on at four in the morning and stay till noon when Hatch would appear and stay till eight at night when I would relieve him again and so on. The night hours were naturally by far the worst for we could have no heat or light except in the little cubby hole where the telephones were and cold wasn’t the word. Moreover outside of the regular fire works there was absolutely nothing to watch. It was just a question of keep looking and wait for something to happen and usually nothing did. Sometimes tho things would get livelier and livelier among the rifles and machine guns and then up would go a rocket of one variety or another and we would turn on all the artillery and try to see what the results would be. Some nights would be very quiet with hardly a cannon fired from ten at night until morning, others would be fairly lively almost all the time with things coming and going in fine style. However, the fire in that sector was never very heavy unless there was a barrage on and they happily were never of very long duration.

About this time it became fairly evident that the Bosche were going to attack somewhere and it was going to be a real attack since already there had been identified on a great many parts of the front units that had come from Russia. We talked about it unofficially quite a bit wondering where it would break and officially every defensive measure possible was taken all the way from Switzerland to the North Sea. Then finally it did come, about as far from us as it possibly could be and it was then that Gen. Pershing made his famous offer to Marshall Foch, and we were taken.

I was sent ahead to billet the second Battalion of the 5th (Field Artillery Brigade of the 1st Division) principally I suppose because I could speak French and also because I needed a vacation. I had been in the O.P. for two months without a break or change of any sort. Three other officers had been there with me but somehow the business hadn’t agreed with them and they had been given something a little less strenuous.

It was then that I passed thru Paris and had one day there. We were to billet in the vicinity of Gisons and it was to that town we (the billeting party) first went. It was a wonderful part of the country, by far the best I had ever been in with the City of Gisons wonderfully medieval and interesting. Wasn’t there sometime in history a Black Knight of Gisons? If not there should have been. For the place is just suited to him. Black towers, a big, dingy narrow cathedral, very narrow streets and a million crows all around.

This is all I have time for now with love Paul

No comments: