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 30, 1918

Dear Mother -:

This will be more or less in the line of a second installment of the continued story I began in the last letter. As for myself just at present there is nothing new – we are still in the middle of Luxemburg and very quiet but I rather imagine that we will drag out before many more days.

We left off the last time if I remember correctly at the time we left the Luneville sector in Nov. (Paul is here relating his experiences as an officer in the U.S. Army’s First Division since beginning artillery training after receiving his commission. Before the Armistice, censorship prohibited his offering any details of operations or location in his letters home.) Well, we started from there to march to our winter quarters which were in the middle of the Meuse valley, probably the worst locality in France. At least it has that reputation for every time you even mention it to a Frenchman, he shivers, groans and makes some appropriate remark highly uncomplimentary. We were four days on the road and finally ended up in a little place about ten kilometers from Gondrecourt called Chassy. It was miserable, and medieval was the only word that describes it. I think I wrote you about it at the time for I was quite impressed and depressed also. However we started out almost immediately on a series of maneuvers which kept our minds off anything else. I don’t believe I ever worked harder or had longer hours in my life as did also all the rest of the division. In speaking about it still the men call it the Gondrecourt war and insist that it was without doubt the hardest battle they ever endured. There was one advantage, however, in that it made everything that ever followed it seem easy. That kept up until the first part of January with a welcome relief of one day off for Xmas and one for New Year’s. The weather was also in keeping with the whole performance as it alternately rained and snowed the whole time with now and then a day when it got so cold that it was almost impossible to breathe. The climate of the Meuse is more like that of Auburn than any place I have been since I left the village of the plain. I remember one day in particular we left Chassy to make a reconnaissance at four the morning. It gets light about eight at this time of the year. It was raining blue blazes and the roads were an absolute glare of ice. The major was along and all the officers of the battalion together with an immense detail of men carrying all the artillery instruments known to man. I have a hunch we looked something like the children of Israel coming out of Egypt. We rode away like blazes as the place of business was a long way off and of all the rides I ever hope to take that one wins. You could see absolutely nothing and we were supposed to be following the major. Every once in a while you would hear some one go down swoosh! Great cursings and howling would follow but those still up never stopped a second. Everyone that I saw afterward took one or more spills during that ride. Well, some of us arrived finally, the major unfortunately being one. I can see him yet as he stood there in the grey dawn with the water running off his nose and the slush into the top of his boots cussing everything under the sun and us in particular, for most of all we were late, and the others from the other brigade had gone on somewhere else. We were till noon getting that whole detail together and then having messed around for an hour or so we rode home again in the dark. Such was life but as I said everything after that seemed easy.

This is about all now but as the Ladies Home Journal says “will be continued in our next number.

This is, I think, about time to wish every one a merry Xmas tho it seems queer.
With love

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