October 13, 1918. “…everybody here seems to think this definitely means the end.”

October 13, 1918 to Mother.

“Suppose tonight you are all talking of the great news of today as we have been here and figuring on when we’ll get home for everybody here seems to think this definitely means the end. If it is, it will be almost too good to be true though suppose it will be some time yet before any of us start back home. The service to which I belong will probably be in France longer than any other inasmuch as we will be the ones to settle up claims and there surely will be some claims to settle. However, if I have to stay over here another year or more suppose I’ll get leave back in the States some time early after the declaration of peace. That’s all guesswork, however.

He’s busy, apparently catching up with work, and tired. He is also “mess officer this month” at the apartment “and have had to put in several evenings straightening out these affairs.” He mentions the office move again, this time explaining that it was “a move from one office building to another.”

Had lunch a few days ago with a French officer I know well and his wife, both of whom are quite interesting. The wife was badly broken up in the St. Gervais church affair[1] on Good Friday when one of “Big Bertha’s” shells dropped in there and is now getting around again. She is an American by the way and said the hard part of it was that she had been a nurse on the front ever since the beginning of the war, had been under heavy shelling and never hurt, then came back to Paris for a few days and was badly hurt.

“The weather here is getting to be quite cool now and the clocks were also turned back a week ago so with the short afternoons and cool weather it really begins to seem like winter again. We have a cosy fire in our sitting room in the evenings and none of us stir from it very much. I don’t care much about going out any distance at night anyhow with the dark streets and difficulties in transportation but think I’ll go to the French theaters more this winter as I understand French well enough to appreciate them now and it’s one of the best ways to improve your French.”

He reports no home mail “in two weeks” and a sighting of “Rabbit” Mullins[2] who “was wounded and in hospital here and was then on his way back to troops.” He saw Monty pass through the hall and found him in his office. “It seemed quite funny to have him saluting me and tacking a ‘Sir’ on to everything he said.”

[1]Friday, March 29, 1918. This was the most damaging strike on Paris during WWI. The shell collapsed the roof of the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais church and killed 88 of the congregation while wounding another 68. The church was full for Good Friday services. The attack on the 4th century church located along the ancient Right Bank within a block of the Paris City Hall gave this attack much of the shock the German’s intended.

[2] Any info?

October 8, 1918. “Everybody here is discussing the German peace offer….”

Transcribed letter in full

[AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES Letterhead]

Hq. U.S. Troops, A.P.O. 702

OCT. 8th, 1918.

 

Dear Mother: —

Am snatching a moment after lunch before starting to work again to drop you a line. Haven’t had time for several days to do any writing of letters except for business ones.

Had another letter from you last week but forgot the number. Should be due some more any day now as am a little behind with home mail.

Was busy Sunday moving my offices up to a new location[1] which is more desirable all round. Look right out my office window at the Arc de Triomphe, and it’s only a five minute walk from our apartment so it’s both beautiful and convenient.

Everybody here is discussing the German peace offer and the idea here is, as it seems to be in the States that we should give them no terms but unconditional surrender. We can force them to this anyhow in a very few months and it’s much better to go on that much longer than to accept any halfway proposition now.

But have got to get to work again so will try to write you a decent letter in a day or two.

Love to all,

Carl

Thomas C. Montgomery

2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.A.

[1] Probably 7, Rue de Tilsitt—a block from the Arc de Triomphe—an address he uses later in writing letters from his office.

September 28, 1918. “Everyone here is much excited over Bulgaria’s demand for peace and think that Turkey and also Austria may be detached from Germany”

September 28, 1918 to Mother.

[looks like he didn’t have much time to write from the coast]

He has two letters from his mother—“nos. 49 & 50 and also one from Miss Mary Gentry telling me all about Mr. Bomar’s race for Congress (hope he was elected). Was very glad to get the news that Eugene Monroe was alive—wish I knew where he was as he may quite possibly be within visiting distance of me and would like to see him. …while on my leave I ran over one afternoon to a neighboring town…and who should I run into on the street but the little fellow who used to room across the hall from me in the Y.M.C.A. building in Spartanburg. He had been turned down for the Army for physical reasons and had come over in Y.M.C.A. work, leaving Spartanburg as late as June 1st this year so we had quite a talk over what has been happening there since I left.”

Surely enjoyed every minute of my stay with my friends at the beach. It was particularly nice to sleep as late as I wanted in the morning and then to get up and have breakfast with two attractive girls and afterwards play golf or swim or walk or loaf absolutely with no thought of leases and claims. …. My new assistant whom I’d left on the job almost kissed me when I walked into the office yesterday morning he’d had so many troubles and yet what he’d gone through had been only typical of what comes through my office every week.”

“John’s picture is good but he has the solemn expression which he seems to always put on in photographs. When is he coming over this side? I’ve rather supposed he might get over next month or the month after and he’ll probably get a chance to come to Paris sooner or later so I hope to see him.”

“….fall is distinctly coming on here.” So, he finds it “a bit strange” to get news of hot weather in Marion.

“Suppose you are all just as pleased at home as we are here over the way our offensives are succeeding on all fronts.Everyone here is much excited over Bulgaria’s demand for peace and think that Turkey and also Austria may be detached from Germany which would certainly mean the end of the war.”

 

Transcribed letter:

Hq. U.S. Troops,

A.P.O. 702, AEF

Sept. 28th          

Dear Mother —

I returned from my seven days at the beach Thursday night to find your two letters nos. 49 & 50 and also one from Miss Mary Gentry telling me all about Mr. Bomar’s race for Congress (hope he was elected). Was very glad to get the news that Eugene Monroe was alive—wish I knew where he was as he may quite possibly be within visiting distance of me and would like to see him. You never can tell when you’re likely to run into somebody you know over here and I may see him at that. An instance is that while on my leave I ran over one afternoon to a neighboring town where we have some troops and who should I run into on the street but the little fellow who used to room across the hall from me in the Y.M.C.A. building in Spartanburg. He had been turned down for the Army for physical reasons and had come over in Y.M.C.A. work, leaving Spartanburg as late as June 1st of this year so we had quite a talk over what has been happening there since I left.

Surely enjoyed every minute of my stay with my friends at the beach. It was particularly nice to sleep as late as I wanted in the morning and then to get up and have breakfast with two attractive girls and afterwards play golf or swim or walk or loaf absolutely with no thought of leases and claims. I like my work and find it most interesting but after ten months with only half or all of Sunday off, a change and rest was wonderfully good. My new assistant whom I’d left on the job almost kissed me when I walked into the office yesterday morning he had been having so many troubles and yet what he’d gone through had been only typical of what comes through my office every week.”

John’s picture is good but he has the solemn expression which he seems to always put on in photographs. When is he coming over this side? I’ve rather supposed he might get over next month or the month after and he’ll probably get a chance to come to Paris sooner or later so I hope to see him.”

It seemed a bit strange to receive your letters speaking of hot weather at a time when fall is distinctly coming on here. Tonight it is raining a steady fall rain and I regret to see the good weather of a summer pass into winter weather for which I care not at all.

Suppose you are all just as pleased at home as we are here over the way our offensives are succeeding on all fronts. Everyone here is much excited over Bulgaria’s demand for peace and think that Turkey and also Austria may be detached from Germany which would certainly mean the end of the war. But by the time you receive this letter much more may have been decided.

Love to all,

Carl

Thomas C. Montgomery

2nd Lt. Inf. U.S.A.

 

 

September 15, 1918. “Had a wonderfully interesting automobile trip this past week up to Chateau Thierry and then along the Marne for some distance and through the Champagne country.”

Entire Letter

September 15, 1918 to Mother.

It is a fine September morning when I’d like to be outside but am too busy these days to take all of Sunday off. However, hope to get out of doors all afternoon and, meanwhile, waiting for some people who are coming in to seem me, will try to get off a few lines.

Had a wonderfully interesting automobile trip this past week up to Chateau Thierry and then along the Marne for some distance and through the Champagne country.

(Sept. 18th) Was interrupted on this Sunday and haven’t had time to finish it yet. Am going down on the coast tonight for a seven days leave to visit these people I wrote you about and will have time to write you from there.

Love to all, Carl

September 10, 1918. “Just a year ago today since I sailed out of New York and a year full of many interesting things.”

September 10, 1918 to Mother.

In addition to his letter from home, he has received one from Miss Mary Getry, his ideal for a “steno.” That letter reports on Mr. Bomar’s[1] “race for Congress—am wondering how he came out in it…. Hope he put it over Sam Nicholls.”

He’s also been following the “new draft bill.[2] …have wondered how it will affect Frank and Horace[3]—suppose they won’t know for some time.”

Everyone here—and I suppose in the States too—continues to smile over the way Foch has been putting it over on the Bosche. Talking to a Frenchman in the Metro (as the subway is known here) the other night about the latest communiqué he remarked “Oh, Monsieur, the Communiqués are always pleasant reading now—what a difference from the spring.” And I think that difference will be permanent.

He has subscribed to the “Stars and Stripes” for his mother.

His work never ceases to be “interesting and busy” and now he has “a new Lieutenant as assistant” and thinks he will get another one though “the work has been gaining so rapidly with the increase of the A.E.F. that I fear it doesn’t mean much of a let up for me. However, with two assistants I ought to be able to get away for a 7 day leave….”

“Just a year ago today since I sailed out of New York and a year full of many interesting things. Hope things may so come out that I can be in talking distance of you instead of having to write a year from now.”

[1] Horace Bomar was partner in the Law Firm Monty had started with in 1914? Bomar lost the Congressional race to incumbent Sam Nicholls who represented South Carolina’s 4th District from 1915 to 1921.

[2] Need clarification on this.

[3] Monty’s brothers in law. Frank is married to Kate; Horace to Bell.

 

Transcribed Letter

September 10, 1918 to Mother.

Dear mother –

Your letter of Aug. 9th reached me last week just after I had written you. Also had one from Miss Marie Gentry telling me about Mr. Bomar’s[1] “race for Congress. Am wondering how he came out in it, election time being now over. Hope he put it over Sam Nicholl’s.

Guess you must have had some awfully hot weather during August from your letter and what some of the other fellows have heard from home. Here there wasn’t a day we’d call hot in South Carolina – in fact there were very few nights I didn’t have a blanket over me.

Notice from the papers that the new draft bill[2] has gone into effect and have wondered how it will affect Frank and Horace[3]—suppose they won’t know for some time.”

Everyone here—and I suppose in the States too—continues to smile over the way Foch has been putting it over on the Bosche. Talking to a Frenchman in the Metro (as the subway is known here) the other night about the latest communiqué he remarked “Oh, Monsieur, the Communiqués are always pleasant reading now—what a difference from the spring.” And I think that difference will be permanent.

Was up in the “Stars & Stripes office about a month ago and subscribed for it to be sent direct to you so you should have begun to receive it regularly by now. Thank you’ll find that much better as, although I buy it every week, I often forget to send it on to you. The captain in charge told me they were going to begin to publish an edition of it in the States being the same as this but two or three weeks later in date.

My work continues interesting and keeps me busy. Got a new lieutenant as assistant yesterday and expect another one soon but the work has been growing so rapidly with the increase at the A.E.F. that I fear it doesn’t mean much of a let up for me. However with two assistants I ought to be able to get away for a 7 day leave which I will surely come in nicely.

Just a year ago today since I sailed out of New York and a year full of many interesting things. Hope things may so come out that I can be in talking distance of you instead of having to write a year from now.

Love to all, Carl

[1] Horace Bomar was partner in the Law Firm Monty had started with in 1914? Bomar lost the Congressional race to incumbent Sam Nicholls who represented South Carolina’s 4th District from 1915 to 1921.

[2] Need clarification on this.

[3] Monty’s brothers in law. Frank is married to Kate; Horace to Bell.

September 5, 1918. To Mabel. “Was shocked to see in the casualty lists this week that Eugene Monroe had been killed in action.”

September 5, 1918 to Mabel.

“Finally saw your friend, Miss Coker, last night…. She has been in town for nearly a week but had sent me a letter through the mail instead of making inquiry through the Provost Marshall’s Office…. We had quite a talk last night on S.C. and on France and was interested in her news of having seen you all. …. She left Paris this morning for work in the South of France….”

Was shocked to see in the casualty lists this week that Eugene Monroe had been killed in action. …. I had known nothing of it before, my last news of Eugene being from a Captain who had run into him up back of the front in February. Know it must have been quite a shock to Mr. and Mrs. Monroe as Eugene was quite a favorite.

Fall is creeping into Paris. “This country is wonderful from about May 1st to October 1st but, at least around Paris, I can’t say much for the other months.”

“Our apartment life continues to go along nicely though the crowd has changed a bit in the last month, four fellows having been ordered elsewhere and replaced by new ones. Had quite a parlay with Eugenie, the cook, yesterday trying to explain how corn muffins should be made, we having got some corn meal from the commissary. Believe she is going to attempt them for dinner tonight and am anxious to see the results—they may not be corn muffins but bet they will be good.”

 

Transcribed letter:

September 5, 1918 to Mabel.

Dear Mabel:-

Finally saw your friend, Miss Coker, last night and thought she was quite pleasant. She had been in town for nearly a week but had sent me a letter through the mail instead of making inquiry through the Provost Marshal’s Office where all officers’ addresses are kept. As a matter of fact she had been in the building where my office is several times but it hadn’t occurred to her to inquire for me. If she had she would have located me easily for I’ve been here long enough to be known. We had quite a talk last night on S.C. and on France and was interested in her news of having seen you all. Sorry I didn’t know she was in town before but only received her note by mail yesterday afternoon. She left Paris this morning for work in the South of France but guess she’ll get back here at some of these times and hope to see her then again.

Have been out of luck on the mail proposition in this last batch – everybody seems to get some except myself but suppose it will drift in some of these times. Had rather waited to write until I should have a letter to reply to but will answer them when they come Was shocked to see in the casualty lists this week that Eugene Monroe had been killed in action. We don’t see the lists here until several weeks after you have them at home as the New York Herald carries them when they receive their New York editions. I had known nothing of it before, my last news of Eugene being from a Captain who had run into him up back of the front in February. Know it must have been quite a shock to Mr. and Mrs. Monroe as Eugene was quite a favorite.

The fall weather has commenced with us here but has been fine so far and understand it will probably continue good until about the 1st of October – the time when I arrived last year. It surely was rainy then, my first glimpse of the shores of France being through the rain. This country is wonderful from about May 1st to October 1st but, at least around Paris, I can’t say much for the other months.

No other particular news with myself. Our apartment life continues to go along nicely though the crowd has changed a bit in the last month, four fellows having been ordered elsewhere and replaced by new ones. Had quite a parlay with Eugenie, the cook, yesterday trying to explain how corn muffins should be made, we having got some corn meal from the commissary. Believe she is going to attempt them for dinner tonight and am anxious to see the results—they may not be corn muffins but bet they’ll be good.

Love to all,

Carl

August 28,1918. “…one of them was rather young to be wearing a Captain’s pips and also that he had a number of decorations. …it was the Prince of Wales.”

August 28, 1918 to Mother.

Sunday lunch at the country club:

…several English officers came in with a couple of girls and took a table near. Noticed that one of them was rather young to be wearing a Captain’s pips and also that he had a number of decorations. …it was the Prince of Wales[1]. Nobody knew about his coming in advance and, as they came in just like ordinary folks, nobody paid any attention until the news was passed around. He played golf after lunch and when he came back in the crowd was at tea under the trees in front of the club and, being then wise to who he was, “rubbered”[2] quite a bit. He seemed to be absolutely simple and unaffected and one thing I liked particularly was when a British General he knew came walking up, he chased over and saluted and shook hands with the General as if he were no more than a Captain.

“Hot weather” brings visions of getting “down to the coast and into the surf.” He’s still hoping to make good the invitation to Brittany though “the summer has just about finished.” There is the promise “of another officer as assistant some time soon” which might allow him “to break away for a few days during September.”

Well it was a year day before yesterday since I left Marion and I little thought at that time that I would not have been back as instructor before this time. However, my chances of going back as an instructor went glimmering when I was assigned to staff work and present prospects are that, if retained on my present work, I’ll be one of the last dozen officers to leave France after the war. However, in such case, when the job is finished, if I’m still doing the same thing, guess I’ll be able to get back for a while before returning here to cancel the leases and pay the claims, etc. That is all “on the knees of the gods[3]” as yet.

Went around to the Y.M.C.A. headquarters last week and inquired after Mabel’s friend, Miss Coker, but they had no record of her so guess she hasn’t lit yet.”

 

[1] Prince Edward (1884-1972) Future Edward VIII, afterward Duke of Windsor

[2] “rubberneck”???

[3] 1908 publication. See what relevance it has

August 18, 1918. To Mabel. “Congratulations to John on his commission…”

August 18, 1918 to Mabel

He has her July 24 letter. “Congratulations to John[1] on his commission.” Monty speculates, with this milestone reached, “he will be coming across sometime in the fall and hope he will be able to get as far as Paris as would like to see the youngster.”

Mabel has apparently let him know that “Miss Coker,” a friend of hers, is in Paris. Monty writes: “Will drop by the Hotel Petrograd tomorrow and see if Miss Coker has arrived.”

Mabel has also enclosed a note from “Miss Mary Gentry” whom he knows from his time at Bomar & Osborne. “Certainly would like to have her here as a stenographer for it’s hard for the general run over here to comprehend American thinking.” He again relates his experience with “stenos,” including his present Irish one, who “will do exactly what I tell her to do but doesn’t think two inches ahead of her nose.” He reiterates that she has lived nearly all her life in France, thinks in French, is older than him and is “a very queer bit of humanity.” This last assessment may have been provoked by a recent confrontation over space that he relates. He’s been given an extra office, expanding his empire from two to three offices which he hoped would allow him a “sanctum sanctorum” where “I could parley with people without two or three typewriters buzzing in my ear. But this steno was highly insulted that I put her in the outer office and was bound she was coming in the little room with me; whereupon I told her she could do as I said or ‘go to and stay put’ and she finally accepted my verdict.”

He refers to “my rich old French friend, M. Pellerin, having been to dinner with me on Tuesday night.” The next afternoon he finds three boxes that contain “three wax figures about fifteen inches high and prettily dressed, one representing the Statue of Liberty, one France and one America.” They arrived with a message that Monty translates as: “’That these flags of our two countries placed on your table may be symbols of the ancient friendship of America and France, a friendship that this war has transformed into an affection fraternal.’”

[“Glad to hear Kate continues to improve and trust she will soon be all right.”]

[1] Monty’s brother, John Kenly Montgomery, usually referred to as John but sometimes as Kenly.

August 14, 1918. “…everybody on staff work is too busy with A.E.F. growing as it is.”

August 14, 1918 to Mother.

He begins “guess your letters missed the boat.”

“Nothing special with me the last week.” The weather has been “so fine that one wants to be outside all the while instead of sticking over a desk.” He’s still looking forward to vacation on the coast and “would like to pry loose one of these seven day leaves but wouldn’t have the heart to ask for one these days as everybody on staff work is too busy with A.E.F. growing as it is.”

“Had this French friend…to dinner last night.” He was “pleased as a child over the white bread we had.” Monty claims to like the French brown bread just as well or better “but the idea of white bread after four years surely pleases them.”

He reports that all are “pleased with progress on the front” and assumes so much progress has been made that “This last push seems to have got somewhere close to where they had the Big Bertha for we haven’t had any dropping in the city since they put on this last show.”

“George Norris from Columbia was in town one day last week and he and Henry Bouchier[1] and I had dinner together and a great time reminiscing and swapping news. George and I were in the same company at Oglethorpe last summer and got to be quite good friends there. Both asked to be remembered to Kate and hoped she was well over her operation by this time.”

[1] Graduated in a “Special Course A.M.” from Wofford the same year as Monty. Picture is with the “Senior Class” in the yearbook

August 7, 1918. “’Big Bertha’ opened up on us again day before yesterday….”

August 7, 1918 to Mother.

[“Had two letters from you last week, both written from Baltimore…. That was the first I knew of Kate’s having gone to the hospital—hope she is over the operation and getting along fine now.”]

“Big Bertha” opened up on us again day before yesterday, the Bosche showing his spite I suppose at his defeat by our recent offensive.” He describes this as the “Parisian viewpoint,” complete with a depiction of a people who “shrug their shoulders with an ‘I should worry expression’ and go about their business as usual.” He points his mother to articles in the Saturday Evening Post by Irving Cobb[1] and George Patullo[2] that cover the gun and the Gothas “which describe the whole thing much better than I can.” The tenor is that the “big gun does very little damage and now one pays it very little attention.”

Nevertheless, he seems news starved, notes that the Saturday Evening Post is not as regular as it had been and asks his mother if she will “subscribe for it for me.” Apparently, even his lady at the news kiosk whom he has bribed “to save me one copy of each issue doesn’t always get them.” He feels the subscription will “come through where the cigars wouldn’t.” As for cigars, “there has been no difficulty about buying them at the commissary since about Feb. 1st.”

He now has a standing invitation for Saturday lunch with the “Frenchman I wrote you about last week.” “I’m simply to telephone if I can’t come.” He has learned meantime through “an American lawyer” that the Frenchman is known as “’Le roi de margarine’” and apparently among the richest men in France[3]. “Had rather supposed from one thing and another that he wasn’t at all short of Francs but didn’t know he went that high financially—regardless of his cash he is one of the most charming Frenchmen I’ve met over here and with a very keen sense of humor.”

The weather has a “touch of Autumn in it and the trees are beginning to lose their leaves.”

[1] Irvin S. Cobb was a Saturday Evening Post reporter who covered WWI. A humorist, short story author and a familiar figure on the lecture circuit, he was sometimes compared with Mark Twain. In 1915, he wrote a book Paths of Glory about his war experience. Monty reports attending a lecture in his final letter home, January 1920.

[2] George Pattullo was a fiction writer and War Correspondent with the Saturday Evening Post who later broke the Sergeant Alvin York story. Pattullo’s article “The Second Elder Gives Battle,” which reported York’s one-man victory against the Germans (October 8, 1918), appeared in the April 26, 1919 edition of the Post. York became a hero and an American sensation overnight as the result of Pattullo’s article.

[3] Auguste Pellerin (1853-1929) made his money in margarine. At the end of his business career Pellerin had established plants in France, Germany, Denmark, England, Sweden and Norway. He served as French Consul to Norway from 1906-1929. Pelerin was a friend of Cézanne and Rodin and an active and avid collector of art. Pellerin, who commissioned a portrait by Cézanne (1899) and two by Matisse (1916, 1917), maintained a significant art collection that contained paintings by Corot, Manet and as many as 150 works by Cezanne at one time.