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Ralph Harris to Mama, November 23, 1918

LETTERS FROM THE BOYS OVER THERE

Mrs. A.L. Harris, Oriental, N.C. has received the following letter from her son, Ralph:

                                                                                    Bordeaux, France, Nov. 23, 1918.

Dear Mama:

Well tomorrow is the day to be set apart for a good letter to be written home. So I will try and give you a few ideas of my life for the last four months. Heretofore I have been restricted on what I wrote, but now I am allowed to write most any thing I wish.

Well I will start from the day I left New York. We loaded on our boat July 30, sailed out of the mouth of the Hudson River and stopped until the afternoon of the 31st, when all the convoy had arrived fourteen in all. The whole division was along with a few exceptions. We were guarded by 1 aeroplane and two subchasers, the former only went out for one day, but the latter came all the way. Had a very quiet trip, not very much could be said about it. Only we came up hill all the way. And when we were three days from England we were met by sixteen chasers and I tell you they did do some work for they were all around and through our convoy all the time until we landed. Of all the whole trip we did not see a single submarine. On Sunday August 13 we arrived at Liverpool, unloaded at once and the company marched out about four miles to an English camp for a little rest. But I was left on the ship on a baggage detail. So I got to see a little of the town.

In three days I left for Winchester, a very good town. We were kept there about one week, did not drill very much only took a hike or so, and have found out since that was only an eye opener. From here we went to South Hampton, only stayed long enough to load on a boat to cross the English channel. We sailed one night about dark and landed at La Havre, France, at dawn the next morning. Walked out to another rest camp about six miles. We only stayed there a few days. Then we loaded on box cars for parts unknown. They were said to hold forty men and eight horses, but we did not have any horses along. We loaded about two o’clock one morning and rode all day  and the next night, unloaded about eight o’clock the next morning. Then the cooks made us some hot coffee and we stayed around until noon, then started for our billets about six miles. There we got about one months training, loaded again in the same kind of train and rode for one day and night. Then had another long hike to our billets, stayed there about four days and started for “St. Die” this place was six miles from the front and we were twenty-seven miles from where we were headed and it had to be made at night, so we left about eight o’clock p.m., arriving the next morning about light, it rained all night long. We hit some gas on the road that night, but had no casualties.

After a period of trench life we went back for a rest and more training. After this we rode one day and night. Then we had 60 miles to hike in two days and nights and first rest was at St. Mihiel, where the Americans had fought very hard to hold it. So we went on the next day to Verdun, another very important place in this war. Here the hardest fighting experienced by our boys took place, it was nothing to see the shells bursting. Have had them to fall in 20 yards of me. Here we stayed one week and we had to get in dug outs once or twice every night while we were there.

On the morning of the 9th I was called by my lieutenant to get my men out. We left at 5 o’clock a.m. The day before I felt the mumps coming, but I did not want to give up, but on the morning we left I said I was going, mumps or no mumps. So I went for three miles and I saw the doctor and he said I had better get back to the rear. And by that I missed my trip over the top. They tell me they were hit awfully hard. Have seen two who got hit, but have not heard from the rest.

From reports now I may not go back to my company, but go back to the States. Well, I am feeling fine, hope you all have a pleasant Thanksgiving Day. Well, this is a little sketch of my trip, can tell you lots more when I see you. Will close, with lots of love to all.

                                                                                    RALPH

Co. K, 322nd Infantry

U.S.A.P.O. 791

 

The Morning New Bernian, Sunday, December 29, 1918, p. 4, c. 3


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Updated: November 20, 2014.