Paris Station – December 14, 2017 Special Order. OCQM No. 128

HEADQUARTERS LINES OF COMMUNICATION.

AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES.

 

Special Order. OCQM                        Paris, France                          December 14, 1917

No. 128

 

Extract.

 

Par. 41 First Lieutenants H. Marfield Blackburn, Wesley W. Price and Harry C. Peers and Second Lieutenant Thomas C. Montgomery, infantry, U.S.R., having reported at these Headquarters on November 28, 1917, are assigned to station in Paris, France, from that date, and, pursuant to verbal instructions from headquarters, A.E.F., reported to the Chief Quartermaster, L. of C. for duty.

 

By command of Major General Kiernan:

Johnson Hagood,

Col. C.A.C.

Chief of Staff

Official:

F. A. Wilcox

Adjutant General

“…it takes every last cent of my salary to live here….”

Monty balanced his good fortune, excitement and celebration with news of something less agreeable. “The only trouble about my new work is that it keeps me entirely too busy to get out for any sightseeing, even on Sundays.” At this point, he seems to have forgotten all about the censor and his concern about telling too much. He writes, “last Sunday, I got out and had a look at the Tomb of Napoleon and the Cathedral of Notre Dame.” One senses that French word order has affected his English. After saying he can never know how long his assignment will last, he writes: “I like it all very well but it takes every last cent of my salary to live here—as in our big cities.”

The list of negatives lengthens. “Another trouble about being here is that I guess my mail will chase me to my last station and then back here before receiving it. However, you soon get used to all these things in the army and I am really enjoying my new quarters.” He sends “Xmas wishes to all the family and kinfolks.”

Transcription:

Dec. 4th, 1917

Dear Mother –

Since my last letter have had quite a change in my line of work and station. Instead of infantry, I am now doing office work, being attached to the staff at headquarters, Lines of Communications. Also, instead of being in a rather cold and disagreeable place, I am now in a most interesting place where I have steam heat and hot and cold water in my bedroom and live much as I did at home. Was assigned to this work just before Thanksgiving which I spent here very pleasantly, having a real “homey” sort of dinner at the Officer’s Club, served by American ladies who live here, and which I finished with two pieces of wonderful mince pie. The only trouble about my new work is that it keeps me entirely too busy to get out for any sightseeing, even on Sundays, although last Sunday I got out in the afternoon and had a look at the Tomb of Napoleon and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Have no idea how long I’ll be here nor whether I’ll be continued in my present line of work for any length of time – one never knows in the Army. I like it all very well except that it takes every last cent of my salary to live here – as in our own big cities.

Another trouble about being here is that I guess my mail will chase me to my last station and then back here before receiving it. However you soon get used to all these things in the army and I am really enjoying my new quarters.

Don’t know whether this will reach you by Xmas or not but again all Xmas wishes to all the family and kinfolks.

With love,

Carl

O.K.

Thomas C. Montgomery, 2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.R. P.S., Leave of [sic] the BCM in my address now – make it, Thomas C. Montgomery 2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.R., AEF Paris France.

“…packages of Prince Albert…for my pipes.”

November 26, 1917

Dear Mabel –

Since writing mother yesterday from this neighboring city came back to camp and found your letter of Oct. 26th, enclosing the kodak pictures, and surely enjoyed it. All the home news looked mighty good to me.

Glad to hear Kenley has got into aviation finally and feel sure he will find it congenial. There are several aviation camps in this vicinity and several machines are in sight most of the time.

You ask whether I am in France but suppose you know by now I am and have been here since Oct. 6th. Some of my letters should have reached you soon after my letter from the place where I landed. Hope, as aforesaid, that you got one of my letters about cigars and that some will soon reach me. Other things for my comfort I can buy here as well as at home. Wish you would include with this box of cigars a week 2 or 3 packages of Prince Albert tobacco for my pipes.

Sorry to hear your farm sale was not satisfactory and hope you will find a good sale this winter.

[Carl’s letter to Mabel concludes here with no closing salutation. Missing pages?]

Special Order No. 10, November 26, 1917

“Definite orders” are issued November 26, 1917:

American Infantry Officers’ School,

La Valbonne Branch, France.

November 26, 1917.

 

Special Order

No. 10

 

Pursuant to telegraphic instructions from Hq, A.E.F., dated November 25, 1917, the following named infantry officers will proceed to Paris, France, reporting upon arrival to the Commanding General, Lines of Communication, for duty.

[Sixteen names including]

Montgomery, Thomas C, 2nd Lt. U.S.R

. . . .

The travel directed is necessary in the military service. [no date for travel or arrival]

A.B. Drum

Major, U.S.M.C.

 

November 25, 1917–“definite orders in a day or two”

By November 25, Monty has made it into “this city near our camp” for a “film from the States.” This is otherwise a turning point because he is “under orders to move this next week though I don’t know where as yet—guess I’ll get definite orders in a day or two.” He’s an infantry lieutenant, so the possibilities are clear. All he says is that he doesn’t “know if the change will be for better or worse.” He’s also calculating the time it takes for mail to move around. “Hope you got my letter about sending me some cigars and that I’ll soon receive them.” He is also contemplating an ideal delivery cycle for the cigars that he imagines en route to him. “Guess it will be a better idea to send a box a week instead of four boxes a month as if any get lost it will be only one week’s supply.”

Doubtless written during his foray into town, or on stationery he picked up while there, the letterhead above his sepia cursive identifies its origin as Le Grand Hotel, a perfectly generic hotel name beneath which he has carefully snipped out the city name. However, the rampant lion and the three gold fleur-de-lis of the coat of arms reveal the city—Lyon. This would seem to confirm that he was at the training center at La Valbonne, twenty miles from Lyon. His military records agree that he attended an infantry school at La Valbonne from October 8 through November 27, 1917.

 

Transcript:

[Letterhead: Le Grand Hotel (coat of arms – Lyon) Téléphone: 16-33_63-72 Télégr: GRANOTEL (Monty has snipped out a small rectangle probably Lyon in order to keep with his interpretation of the censor’s constraint on divulging locations.)]

November 25, 1917

Dear Mother –

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I am enjoying sitting in front of an open fire in my hotel in this city near our camp after having been to a movie. The best part of the movie was a film from the states and you may be sure all Americans in the theater enjoyed it thoroughly.

Last night when I came in, I ran into a Doctor, a captain in the Hospital Corps, who was loafing here on a few days leave and we have been knocking around together since. He came over with the first troops in June – is, by the way, from the staff at Johns Hopkins – and had a number of interesting things to tell me about the first expedition etc.,

I am now under orders to move this next week though I don’t know where as yet – guess I’ll get definite orders in a day or two. Don’t know whether the change will be for better or worse but I am hopeful as usual. It will at least be a change from what I have been doing since reaching France.

Still have heard nothing further from home. Had a letter last Monday from my girl in Mississippi written Oct. 21st in which she said she got my cable on the 19th or two weeks after you received yours. Don’t understand the difference as both were sent at the same time. You both should have received some of my letters at least a month ago. Hope you got my letter about sending me some cigars and that I’ll soon receive them. Guess it will be a better idea to send a box a week instead of four boxes a month as if any get lost it will be only one week’s supply.

This letter should reach you before Xmas so a Merry Xmas to everybody & don’t worry about me as I am getting along all right.

Love to all,

Carl

November 16, 1917 — “Sale of the Farm”

On November 16, Monty enthusiastically welcomes his first letter from home. “Your letter of Oct. 6 was received last Saturday [November10] and was mighty glad to get it as it was my first news from you since sailing.” The rest is how much he’s seen and done—including a three-day trip he wants to tell about “but again the censor prevents.” And about the cold weather. He’s “become so well accustomed to this rain & damp cold that I mind it very little any more.” All safe topics. His mother, now five years into widowhood at the age of 60, has among other things relayed that she’s selling the farm. “Hope your sale of the farm was entirely successful…,” he concludes.

 

Transcript:

November 16, 1917

Dear Mother —

Your letter of Oct. 6th was received last Saturday and was mighty glad to get it as it was my first news from you since sailing. Have been looking for other letters since as you should have received some of my letters from this side by Oct. 15 or 20th – however nothing more as yet. Have been writing you every week since landing on this side but the mail seems to be so uncertain that I don’t know whether or not you have received them. If you have got some of them you will know that I am not permitted to tell you anything much about what I have seen or am doing. Wish the censorship did not prevent my writing as I want to for, if so, there would be plenty of material for letters.

Just returned this morning from a three day trip – the longest leave I’ve had since landing – in which I visited some very interesting places and altogether had a wonderful time. Wish I could tell you all about it but again the censor prevents

Have continued in my usual health and have become so well accustomed to this rainy & damp cold that I mind it very little any more.

Had a letter this morning from Charlie Anderson in which he spoke of having heard from Edith as late as October 12th. Was surprised to find he was over this side – guess he must have come very soon after I did. Hope your sale of the farm was entirely successful and that Kenly has his affairs straightened out by now.

Love to all,

Carl

OK

Thomas C. Montgomery

2nd Lieut. Inf. U.S.R.

 

“Nothing of Interest”, October 30, 1917

– October 30, 1917

Dear Mother –

Haven’t written earlier this time as there has been nothing of interest to record which would get by the censor. Have continued well and I am getting pretty tough physically again after my two months of idleness. Spent Sunday in a neighboring city and while there witnessed the first snowfall of the winter – it snowed heavily all morning but very little stuck owing to the fact it had been raining all the night before. Have become pretty well accustomed to this French weather by now and don’t mind its dampness any more. Got myself a pair of high laced leather boots two weeks ago and haven’t been bothered with cold or wet any more. They are much better than anything I have seen in the States – Frank would find a pair of such boots great for his hunting expeditions.

Hope you are all well and everything is right with you. No mail from home received yet.

Love to all,

Carl

 

O.K. Thomas C. Montgomery,

2nd Lieut. Inf. U.S.R.

October 19, 1917

October 19, 1917

Dear Mother –

Have now been in France nearly two weeks and have got pretty well accustomed to the life and my work over here. We’ve had a bit of sunshine this week for a change and a most welcome change it was for the weather has been wet and cold most of the time. Our fare at table is simple but ample in quantity and wonderfully well cooked. Never cared for spaghetti at home but have got to like it pretty well the way they prepare it here.

A night or two ago several of us varied the monotony of our regular fare by going over to a neighboring village for dinner at one of the numerous Cafés – every second or third house seems to be a Café here. We had an excellent dinner at a very reasonable price and also enjoyed the scene in the Café. Practically all the men in the room where in uniform and seemed to be having a great time chatting away over their red wine and cigarettes.

Spent last weekend in a neighboring city and found it most interesting.

Haven’t yet received any mail from home but am looking for it any day now and will be glad to know how you have all been since I left home. Hope those boxes of cigars are on their way when you receive this for while I found some pretty good English pipe tobacco in this City last Sunday, all of their cigars that are worth smoking are out of sight in price.

The New York Herald and Chicago Tribune both get out a small paper in English in Paris with all the cable news from home and the latest war news but this is all the home news we get. Here at the Y.M.C.A. the latest Sat. Evening Post is of Sept. 29 and you may be sure that it and all other American periodicals however old are read again and again.

Hoping to hear from you soon and with lots of love to all, Carl

O.K.

Thomas C. Montgomery

2nd Lieut Inf., U.S.R.

Monty Repeats Himself October 11, 1917

Monty explains he has over looked some things that we don’t become privy to. A thorough search for missing last pages may tell us something. I’ll keep you up to date.

Transcription of the letter:

Monday, October 11, 1917.

Somewhere in France.

 

Dear Mother—

Since writing you just after my arrival here two days ago I find I may not have put all the proper marks on my letter and so thought I better drop you another line.

Have been here three days and I am still to see the sun. In fact ever since getting to this side of the water it has rained most of the time. However, I’ve continued in excellent health thus far.

The censorship regulations are such that I can tell you very little about myself which I regret as the country & people have been most interesting.

I am anxious to hear something about yourself and the rest of the family as I have now been out of touch for over a month. Guess we ought to be getting some mail soon as am now at a permanent address for a while for the first time since leaving New York.

In case you don’t get my other letter will repeat a request I made in it – namely that you will send me or get Frank to send me several box boxes of cigars. He knows the kind I like – those he usually smokes – and they will be more than appreciated as it is impossible to get decent cigars over here. Hope to get some money to him to meet the interest on my notes and cover the cost of these cigars before long. As yet haven’t been able to get my September salary but I am expecting it any day. Will be getting about $155 a month over here and I ought not spend much more than 100 dollars of it myself—if that much. I thought I’d be able to have about $25 a month deducted from my salary at Washington and sent direct to him but find that can’t be done. However expect to find some method of accomplishing this and before long. while speaking of the cigars, wish you would send me

[letter ends here after two sides of the first page of longer letter.]

Somewhere in France, October 9, 1917

The letter dated October 9 comes from “Somewhere in France” where he arrived “yesterday afternoon” and closed with the hope that “later in the week, I’ll know more of what we can say in letters. Now I’m afraid to say anything.” He seems to be bursting with information to share but can’t yet find a way to put it in his letters. “Have had lots of interesting experiences since landing though, after having the censorship regulations read to us this morning, there is very little we are allowed to say.”

He is concerned that the “loafing” of recent weeks has resulted in his being “very soft physically” and he is ready for activity to rectify that. “Am enjoying the French people…and expect to do some little boning on their language in any spare time as while I get along fairly well in talking to them, they speak it entirely too fast for me.” Monty also puts in an order for cigars, the first of many. “You can get pretty fair cigarettes over here but good cigars and pipe tobacco are another thing altogether and I don’t care for cigarettes.”

Transcript of original letter:

Somewhere in France

Oct. 9, 1917

Dear Mother —

Finally landed here at my destination, or what will be my destination for a while, yesterday afternoon. Have had lots of interesting experiences since landing though, after having the censorship regulations read to us this morning, there is very little we are allowed to say. Have been in the best of health ever since leaving the U.S., being lucky as to seasickness and escaped it entirely. I’m glad to be getting to march again as am very soft physically after the length of time I’ve been loafing. I’m enjoying the French people I see thoroughly and expect to do some little boning on their language in any spare time as while I get along fairly well in talking to them, they speak entirely too fast for me.

One thing I want sent me right away is several boxes of cigars—Frank knows the kind I like. It will probably take them from two to three weeks to reach me so, including the time it will take for this letter to reach you, it will be after the middle of November before I get them but they will come in mighty good at any time. You can get pretty fair cigarettes over here but good cigars and pipe tobacco are another thing altogether and I don’t care for cigarettes.

Hope soon to be getting some mail from you and will write regularly from now on. Perhaps later in the week, I’ll know more of what we can say in letters. Now I’m afraid to say anything.

Lots of love to all the family,

Carl

As before stated my mail should be addressed to: Lieut. Thomas C. Montgomery, Inf. – U.S.R., AEF BCM Paris, France.

O.K. Thomas C. Montgomery 2nd Lieut. – U.S.R.