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

Monday, December 1, 2008

Letter written November 28, 1918

Dear Mother -:

Today is Thanksgiving and heavens what a difference from the preceding ones that I have had.This one is probably as peculiar and original as any could possibly be for now instead of having a wonderful dinner at Nannoo’s as I have had or a great one at Concord, N.H. or like last year taking pot luck and wondering what the war would bring, I am now a member of the victorious invading army headed for the interior of Germany. Quite a change you will have to admit. Today we are resting, that is not moving forward any more, for a couple of days at least, in the middle of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg at a little place called Munsbach (sp?) not far happily from the city of Luxemburg. Just where we are headed for is not absolutely certain but every rumor seems to point to Coblenz as the ultimate destination of the A.E.F. (You see the censorship has been modified and we can say practically anything that goes on.) We came into Luxemburg about five days ago and I am rather keen about the country tho I do not find the people as agreeable as the French, principally I suppose for the reason that they speak sort of a bastard language, made up of every known living tongue mixed together and then distorted and naturally quite impossible to speak. Usually, however, you can find some one speaking French or English.

The country itself is beautiful but just now tremendously hard up. The H.C.L. (high cost of living?) would absolutely astound you. Bacon is 50 Frs. a pound. Soap 15 Frs a small cake, the cheapest women’s shoes 200 Frs. with men’s about 500. A suit of clothes costs the poor Luxemburger about 650 and he can’t even get an egg for breakfast unless he puts out 1½ Frs. Thank heaven tho, we are well provided for and I have everything I need for some time. Imagine trying to set up some sort of an establishment or worse than that having a large family.

I went thru the city of Luxemburg yesterday and it is a very beautiful place. Built in two sections, so to speak, with a great deep ravine dividing the two and wonderful piled up Maxfield Parrish castles hanging up on the sides of the ravine. If I get a chance to go there again I will get some pictures as it is really worthwhile remembering.

I am sorry in some ways that Carroll (brother) never got the chance to come over but on the other hand it is, I suppose better that he did not, for although it has all been a wonderful experience and worth a lifetime there have been a great many things that were neither pleasant, edifying, or elevating, and worse than that one’s sense of proportion seems permanently put out of commission; whether that will ever come back I don’t know but just now I do know that those who have been thru it all for a year or more are certainly a different lot than when they landed.

The lifting of censorship is a great relief and I am going to take advantage of it and tell you all I can but just how and where to begin leaves me in a quandary that I can’t quite cope with. I suppose I should invoke the Muse and keep up a classic trend for the adventures have all the aspects of both the travels of Ulysses and our friend Dante’s descent into the Inferno, not to mention something that if properly put out would do justice to Stephen Leacock at his best.

As you know I was commissioned here in the fall of 1917 and finally got orders to report for duty about the 15th of Oct. The place where I ended up was a little town called Valdahou (sp?) very close to the Swiss border and not far from the city of Besancon.Things were very pleasant there and the barracks were quite splendid, in fact as I look back now the men were better off than they have ever been since.The camp was on a hill and from it you could see Mont Blanc and a great deal of the Swiss Alps.

However that didn’t last overlong, for about a week later we left for the front as the first American contingent to go into line.As you can well imagine I was in a queer way, knowing about as much artillery as a pussy cat but probably more about actual conditions in line than anyone else in the regt. I was then in Batt. F of the 5th (brigade) and we had a very good crowd of officers and a fine lot of men. Taking everything as a whole we had everything except experience.

We took up positions in a sector just in front of Luneville, a very quiet one happily where they only shoot once a week to see if the guns are in order. We did a bit better than that, simply for the practice of the thing, for there was no need for the amount we fired. I spent then most of my time at the echelons or horse lines and had, taking it all in all, a fine time, tho I did work like blazes trying to catch up to the others in a knowledge of artillery.The horse lines were in a great little place, Rosieres aux Salines. We stayed in that sector about two weeks, only had three casualties which happened just as we were leaving and I think, I know for my own part, learned a lot.

This is about all now for I have got to buzz about a bit but I will write some more tomorrow and try to make it all into one continuous story, however bad in form and all it may be.
With love,

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