Wednesday, July 13, 2005

WW1 Letter, Holloway Clark to Lila Robinson Kentucky

This 14-page manuscript letter was written by Private William Holloway Clark, on American YMCA stationary. Private William Clark of Louisville, Kentucky, writes an interesting, newsy letter to his sweetheart, Lila Robinson, dated Tuesday, February 25, 1919--only a couple of months after the Armistice Agreement with Germany was signed. Private Clark was with Company “A”, 110th F.S. Battalion, 35th Division—American Expeditionary Force


“On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Force, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1919, Commercy, France

Dear Lila:

I don’t know whether you’ll ever survive the shock of receiving this letter, but I’ll take a chance anyway. Hang up your Map of France and follow me in my wanderings. I’ve been all over this country from North to South and back again, and the only part of it that is worth a @#$%@___ is Paris. And I only got to spend two days there. Think I’ll get a job as brakeman on a freight train when I get home. I’m so used to riding inside door Pullmans—the kind that accommodate 40 hommes or 8 chevaux. I really think the horses have the best of it. Left New York September 8, landing at Glasgow, Scotland, Sept. 21. No excitement at all coming across, although one of the ships from our convoy did sink a submarine. However, we knew nothing of it until it was all over. I had an elegant bed on the boat, slept on the dining room table all the way over….

Ours was an English ship, and we have all been hating the English ever since. We took train at Glasgow for Winchester, England, arriving at latter place about 3 a.m., Sept. 22….

Landed at Cherbourg morning of Sept. 25 and marched out to rest camp where we spent 4 days. Only reason I could give for calling it a rest camp is that your stomach got much a nice rest, near starved. Being a British camp, more love stored up for the British. Get out your map of France now. Left Cherbourg evening of Sept. 28 in horse cars from Neuvic, France, a small town about 18 miles from Perigueux. 34 men in my car and fine sleeping, not one day and two nights along the way. Arrived at Neuvic station 7 a.m., Sept. 30 and were billeted in a small village about a mile from Neuvic. I slept in a nice airy barn—quite airy. In fact, my battalion remained here until Nov. 3, although the 84th div. was made a replacement div. about Oct. 10, and 12,000 of the infantry were sent away as replacements….

On Nov. 3, we left Neuvic for Cours Cheverny. Had to hike three or four miles to St. Astier where we took train. While we were waiting to entrain, who should look me up but Major Ford. First time I had seen him since leaving Sherman…. When our cars pulled in, we were agreeably surprised to find them to be passenger coaches, not first class ones, but passenger coaches just the same. Spent two days and two nights on the train and the morning of Nov. 5, detrained at Cours Cheverny and took a 10-mile hike to Les Montils, a small town about 8 miles from Blois….

On Nov. 11, the day the Armistice was signed, we heard that the 309th was to be broken up and the men sent to other units in replacements. That night, about 10 o’clock as I was coming back to my billet after celebrating the Armistice, I heard that the battalion had orders to move at 1 a.m. that night. I don’t see yet how that bunch ever walked the 10 miles back to Cours Cheverny. Nearly everybody was half shot after the celebration, and it was a wild mob that left Les Montil at 130 a.m., Nov. 5 on the hike to Cours Cheverny….

We spent five days on the train, detrained…to finish the last lap of our trip on foot. It was in the region…that I had my first view of the battlefield. About 75 of us from the 309th had been ordered to report to the division headquarters of the 28th div. at Hendicourt, about 3 miles from Woinville. We arrived at Hendicourt on the afternoon of Nov. 16. Nov 10, the day before the Armistice was signed, Hendicourt had received a final shelling from the Germans. We remained at Hendicourt from Nov. 16 to 18. There had been a mix up in orders and the 28th didn’t want us, so on Nov. 18, we were ordered to report to the 409th telegraph….

While at Brunieres, ran into Joe Lazarus from Louisville, a Lieut. in the 806th Pioneer Infantry, a Negro outfit. He was the first Louisville man I had run across since landing in France…. Ran up on Dick Jones…He was convalescing from the flu and [from] begin gassed….

….Signed ‘Holloway’ Clark…

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