January 5, 1919. Kenly to Mother “Bet that big ‘blimp’ created some excitement along the coast as it is a big seven passenger one and 300 feet long.”

Hotel Letterhead                   Miami Florida Wednesday 191[9]]

[January 5, envelope]

Dear Mother:

Have put off writing each day, thinking that I would know definitely about my leave and only found out yesterday afternoon. Don’t know what day you will get off on, but it will be early next week as have to wait until the boy, who is on leave from our squadron, gets back and I am not sure which day it will be.

I have got to go to Washington as that is the only place I can get any information about what we are to do in the future and also to see about getting away from here and last but not least to see about my junior grade lieutenancy as have finally been recommended for promotion. James Matthews is giving me letters to several of his friends who are in charge of the aviation branch and he advises me strongly to go as Washington is the only place that knows anything. As far as my lung goes had it thumped again last week and it is entirely well and I have a half inch more chest expansion than I have ever had before.

Have been pretty high several times lately and haven’t had the slightest ill effects. That last leave was just what I needed to help my flying, as guess I was getting pretty stale, while now I am better than ever before.

A big navy dirigible and three flying boats are due here today en route from Rockaway, N.Y. to Pensacola. Bet that big “blimp” created some excitement along the coast as it is a big seven passenger one and 300 feet long.

Miami is all up on its ear now as a few of the rich people who live along the shore near the station are trying to have it moved away as they say the noise of the planes disturbs them.

They had a mass meeting of the citizens Monday night and fixed up a petition asking for the retention of the station and told the men who object if the fuss worries them to move away. Morning paper is in favor of the retention while the afternoon paper is for removal so they are slinging mind and a great rate. We are sitting tight in neutral and enjoying the fight.

We are living down on our little house boat now and like it a lot. It’s a good thing we got it as everything, both rooms, food, and clothes are out of sight.

West Summers, Mrs. Tenhet’s nephew, is down here for his health and he has been very ill with pneumonia and asthma. He surely has had a tough time as his kid brother was killed in France last [year] and then Mr. Summers died while I was home. West was a year ahead of me at Wofford.

The weather here continues horrible. Two moving picture concerns have been here since Xmas waiting on some clear weather to take pictures. Today is the first fair day since December and also the first one that I haven’t worn either my overcoat or raincoat. I think South Carolina has it all over Miami for a climate

I am sending some pictures of myself on a boat. Also some to Bell and Kate. Will see you sometime next week.

Love to all,

John

P.S. I am using hotel stationery as it is the only thing free in Miami.

January 5, 1919. to Mabel “Had a good New Year’s Eve, going to an all American dance which was set up by some of the Air Service crowd.”

American Expeditionary Forces [Printed letterhead]

Hq. District of Paris A.P.O. 702 Dec 28, 1918

January 5, 1918 [1919 based on envelope and context]

 

Dear Mabel:-

Your Xmas package containing the socks and chiclets reached me alright this week, many thanks for same. Will drop a note to each of the ladies who knitted the socks.

Had a good days hunting last Sunday, being fortunate enough to kill one of the two deer which the party got. It was a welcome change from office work to get out in the open all day. Went down with the same crowd is in October to their club about fifty miles south of Paris. They are all Frenchman who speak no English and I heard not a word of English from morning until night.

Guess your friend Miss Coker is in town but haven’t been able to get in touch with her yet. However, expect to go down to the Hotel Continental this afternoon if I am still unable to reach her by telephone this morning.

Had a good New Year’s Eve, going to an all American dance which was set up by some of the Air Service crowd. The girls were Y.M.C.A., Red Cross, telephone operators and nurses with a few of the newspaper women who are here with the Peace Commission. Really had more fun at this affair than at any other dance I’ve been to for we had also a real American jazz band furnishing the music.

We’re having a bunch of rotten weather now, raining most of the time and the Seine is very high, higher according to the papers than it has been since the flood of 1910 but there is still some distance to go before it reaches the mark it got to that time. No very cold weather here yet however.

Hope you are well and the “flu” epidemic is finished-

Love to all,

Carl

 

Thomas C. Montgomery [signed]

Thomas C. Montgomery

Capt. A.S.C., U.S.A.

 

 

 

January 1, 1919. Kenly to Mother. “If I don’t go to Argentina surely want to get away from here at once, because if I stay in the service I’ll be transferred to the regular navy and then promotion is by seniority….”

This letter may speak to how quickly things returned to normal.

[postmark: Miami, FLA]

 

Transcribed Letter.

January 1st 1919.

Dear Mother:

Have spent all of my spare time, since receiving Sis’s letter, in running around looking for available boarding houses. I’ve been to all the hotels and the only good ones left that have any available space are The Plaza and the Green Tree Inn that Mrs. Swift runs.

The Plaza is pretty nice, I think and feeds and rooms both. Their rates for a double room with bath and three meals a day are $5.00 apiece or $35.00 a week. The Green Tree Inn has no dining room and you would have to eat elsewhere altho there are several eating places in the radius of a block. Their best rooms, double with bath are $6.00 a day, minus 10% for being the family of somebody in service, which would make the room $2.70 a day for each one of you or $5.40 for both. The next to the biggest rooms are $5.00 a day or $4.50 for you all. That also is double room with bath. Mrs. Swift is the lady that runs the Wayside Inn where you dined with Oscar. Then her mother takes roomers and she has one big double room with bath, but cold water, large closet for $14.00 a week. Am going to see Mrs. Lloyd in the morning and see if she can help any. Have been around there several times but she has been out.

We have secured our houseboat and moving aboard tomorrow. It’s pretty nice and is anchored about two blocks below the Ostend. Four of us are going to be on it. Hope none of the others are subject to seasickness.

The weather here still continues in fits and spells. We had a cold spell for the last three or four days when it was cloudy all the time and so cold that slept under three blankets and had to wear an overcoat all day. Yesterday it turned very warm and has continued so today. Tonights paper said another cold wave would hit here tomorrow.

I’m going on my leave about the middle of January. Am going to Washington while on it and see about getting away from here and also about the Argentine proposition. If I don’t go to Argentina surely want to get away from here at once, because if I stay in the service I’ll be transferred to the regular navy and then promotion is by seniority which would mean three years as an ensign before being made a junior lieutenant, while if I can get on a good station right away can probably get a promotion to that grade first and then be transferred to the regular as a junior lieut. Lieut. Valdes, who is in charge of personnel assignments now in Washington, was my old squadron commander at Pensacola and know he will help you any way he can

Love to all,

John

 

December 28, 1918. “We had a big dinner at our apartment Xmas day”

Saturday, December 28, 1918 to Mother.

Will write you now instead of tomorrow as am going out tomorrow morning for an all day hunt and will probably be too tired when I get back in.

….

He makes a point that he is “no longer ‘Infantry’ nor is it A.R.C. but A.S.C. My proper address now is Capt. Thomas C. Montgomery A.S.C., U.S.A., Hq. Dist. of Paris, A.P.O. 702, A.E.F.” Whether he assumes a precise address will expedite his mail or he is just one for having the record accurately reflected isn’t clear.

“Had very pleasant Xmas. On Xmas eve had dinner downtown with two other officers, the wife of one of them and another American girl. Afterwards we went on to a “reveillon” as they call it at the home of some French friends, which consists in a grand celebration, with dancing, food etc. We left at about 1:30 A.M. whereupon our hosts were quite peeved as it seems it is not good etiquette to leave one of these affairs before daylight in the morning. Personally I should have had to go to sleep somewhere before that time. We had a big dinner at our apartment Xmas day and then in the evening I went to dinner at Madame Borel’s. The latter was a quite homey dinner but very pleasant as it always is at her home.

Thursday night went with another one of the fellows in our apartment to dinner with some of his friends over on the “Left Bank” of the river and afterwards to a small dance over there. Had our invitations to dance through Madame Borel, it being a new place to me, and it was one of the most beautiful houses I’ve been in here. The people were very distinctly of the real kind and it was their first attempt at entertaining American officers. Enjoyed talking to a French Major and his wife who were just back from the States where he had been an instructor at Camp Gordon at Atlanta.

Had a note from Miss Coker a day or two ago saying that she expected to be here on leave next week so hope to be seeing her again at that time.

December 22, 1918. “It’s a rainy Sunday night in Paris and have dropped by my office to write you before going on to a reception.”

Sunday, December 22, 1918 to Mother.

“It’s a rainy Sunday night in Paris and have dropped by my office to write you before going on to a reception. Know you much prefer a typewritten letter because my chirography is so hard to read and they’re easier and quicker to write.

“These continue to be social days though I’ve lived a quieter life this past week. However, this afternoon went to two teas and then, as mentioned above, will be going on to a reception in a little while. The first place I went to this P.M. was a new one for me and Madame Borel, at whose home I was later, told me that they were about as old a French family as there is and that they received no foreigners before the war. However, their chateau was saved by our troops and she is now very grateful to Americans. ….

“Had a look at King Victor Emmanuel[1] the other day, his arrival making the fourth big reception Paris has had in the last month. All these Kings look like their pictures—that’s about all I’ve seen to remark about them. Wilson’s reception is to my mind the biggest ovation any one of the bunch has received, however. The Parisians have been particularly captivated by his smile. As one old French lady explained to me the other day—“We thought of him always as a man ‘tres severe, tres glacial’[2] and we knew he was a great man but we were surprised to find he was so human.” Was reading last night “Le Cri de Paris”[3] a weekly paper that always has a lot of interesting comment in its editorials and they had one whole paragraph devoted to ‘le sourire de Wilson’[4] as they call it.

“…. We are having a big Xmas dinner of our own at our apartment in the middle of the day and that night I am going on to a dinner and dance. Suppose all the family will be gathering in Marion about tomorrow and you’ll be having the usual round of family dinners. This is my second time away from them but hope to be with you next year. I enjoyed it but it made me a bit homesick yesterday when I attended the usual Saturday luncheon with my friend, M. Pellerin. This particular one was a kind of Xmas affair with lots of family connections and old friends and this other American officer and myself were the only outsiders although Mme. Pellerin tells me that she considers Lt. Richard and myself as quite in the family now.

“Suppose John must be all right by now and has regained his strength again, it being a month since Mabel’s letter telling me he was up. The ‘flu’ seems to be pretty well over here although there are still some cases of it.”

[1] King of Italy (reign, 1900-1946)

[2] ‘very stern, very icy’

[3] “The Voice of Paris” (1887-1940 with intermittent publication during WWI), was a satirical journal that also covered sports, finance, politics, art and theater. The covers featured notable theater personalities and political cartoons.

[4] ‘Wilson’s smile’ (literally: ‘the smile of Wilson’)

December 16, 1918. To Mabel. “Last week was another gay one socially—I was out every night which is too much for a working man….”

Transcribed letter [handwritten]:

Hq, District of Paris

A.P.O. 702 A.E.F.

Dec. 16th

Dear Mabel:-

Your long letter of Nov.20th reached me last Saturday and enjoyed it as usual. Sorry to hear John has been sick and mighty glad he came out of it all right.

The big excitement here was, of course, the arrival of Wilson on Saturday last. Had a pretty good look at him from my office window which looks out on the Arch de Triomphe. All Paris was out to see him, occupying windows, trees, roofs, and every other possible view point along the line of march and he surely had an enthusiastic reception. Thought of you all at home and how much you would have liked to have been here. I little thought in August 1914 that such an event would ever come to pass and still less that I would be in Paris to see it. My Commanding General was formerly his Aide de Camp and is therefore much in attendance on him now that he is here.

Last week was another gay one socially—I was out every night which is too much for a working man and this week, I’m taking it much more quietly. Last week went to two private dances and one larger one, out to dinner twice and played bridge around at the Embassy one evening. The larger dance was given by the “French Homes,” an association of French ladies gotten up for the particular purpose of entertaining American officers and they expect to give a number of others during the winter. Will enclose my invitation card for it if I don’t forget it [enclosed]. A number of prominent people were there among whom one that would have interested John was Nungesser[1] the second French “Ace.” Also an interesting Scotch girl I met had been in Russia all last winter with a British Red Cross formation.

As to how long I’ll be here that is, of course, very uncertain. The tendency is to replace Reserve with Regular Army officers where possible but, inasmuch as our work is highly specialized, it seems quite likely that I’ll be here until next summer or fall, it being almost impossible to find Regular officers with as much experience as I’ve had on this work during the past year. The Assistant Chief of my Service was in my office this afternoon and it was his opinion that I’d do well to spend Xmas of next year in South Carolina. That being the case, hope it will be possible for you and Mother to come over but guess the passport restrictions will be pretty stiff for some months yet. Also the price of living and of travelling here at this time is very high. Paris right now is absolutely full of people, the hotel accommodations being somewhat short because a number of hotels are occupied by ours and the other Allied Armies and peace Commissions. The Colonel of my Service and another Lt. Colonel came up from Tours on Saturday and my interpreter tried sixteen hotels before he found a couple of beds for them.

The weather here has been unusually mild so far but suppose it will soon be turning cold. Played golf yesterday afternoon and it was almost a spring afternoon.

Was talking today to a Major who served under Frank Harrell and thought very highly of him. He is now a Colonel and in command of the 16th Infantry of the 1st Division, now in Germany.

Lots of love to all,

Carl

O.K.

Thomas C. Montgomery

Capt. A.S.C., U.S.A.

 

[1] Charles Nungesser had 43 victories, making him the third ranking French “Ace” after René Fonck (75) and Jules Guynemer (53). Guynemer’s plane was missing over Belgium in 1917 which left Nungesser as the number two living French Ace. Nungesser disappeared in 1927 attempting a nonstop transatlantic fight from Paris to New York two weeks before Charles Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris.

December 8, 1918. “There is continual excitement here these days—week before last it was King George, last week King Albert, next week Wilson, then the King of Italy and afterwards the Peace Conference.”

Sunday, December 8, 1918 to Mother.

Monty excuses his lapse in correspondence with this: “have been busy all day every day and out every evening this week. Now, since the armistice, there is something of a social nature every night; all of which is very pleasant but a little hard on a working man.”

“…Monroe Layton dropped in…. He was awfully glad to see somebody from home—said he was quite ready to go back any time and was hoping his regiment would be one of the early ones.

“Had a letter from Kate this week of Nov. 12th, my first home letter written since the armistice, and Kate seemed to believe it was a fake. Suppose she has changed her mind by now.

“There is continual excitement here these days—week before last it was King George[1], last week King Albert[2], next week Wilson, then the King of Italy and afterwards the Peace Conference. Our Headquarters has been charged with all of the army part of the preparation for the peace crowd and we’ve had of late a feverish not to say hectic time as a result. I’ve been as busy as a cat on a marble floor trying to find sufficient place for all the new people we have to look out for and, with all the other Allied Governments doing the same thing and the city crowded anyhow, it has been some job.

“Played bridge at the Embassy one night this week and had a chance to talk to Mr. Sharpe[3] for some little time. He remembered Mr. Ellerbe very well and also Mrs. Ellerbe and Edna. Had been there on thanksgiving afternoon at a reception for American Officers which was finished by an hour of very pleasant dancing. I’ve found the whole family there very pleasant but one is still a bit awed going in by the grandeur of the footmen, etc. This coming week I’ve already been asked to three dances which think will be quite enough for one week when one is busy during the day. However, one good thing about them is that they start and quit at a decent hour instead of trying to dance all night as we used to have the habit at home. Sorry John couldn’t have been here for some of this for know he would have enjoyed it thoroughly.

“Guess this letter will reach you just about Xmas in which case best wishes and lots of love to everybody,

 

[1] George V, King of England (reign, 1910-1936)

[2] Albert I, King of Belgium (reign, 1908-1934)

[3] William G. Sharp, Ambassador to France, 1914-1919.

 

Transcribed letter:

Hq; District of Paris

A.P.O. 702 A.E.F.

Dec. 8th, 1918

Dear Mother:-

Am ashamed to say I didn’t get off any letter to you last Sunday buy have been busy all day every day and out every evening this week. Now, since the armistice, there is something of a social nature every night; all of which is very pleasant but a little hard on a working man.

Was pleasantly surprised on Thursday Afternoon of this week when Horton Blew into my office on his way to Nice on leave. He stayed over until last night and we had quite a visit over what had happened since we last saw each other. Then also one day this week Monroe Layton dropped in to see me. It seems that he has been in Paris since July but didn’t know I was here until his mother wrote him where I was. He was awfully glad to see somebody from home—said he was quite ready to go back any time and was hoping his regiment would be one of the early ones.

Had a letter from Kate this week of Nov; 12th, my first home letter written since the armistice, and Kate seemed to believe it was a fake. Suppose she has changed her mind by now.

There is continual excitement here these days—week before last it was King George , last week King Albert , next week Wilson, then the King of Italy and afterwards the Peace Conference. Our Headquarters has been charged with all the Army part of the preparation for the peace crowd and we’ve had of late a feverish not to say hectic time as a result. I’ve been as busy as a cat on a marble floor trying to find sufficient place for all the new people we have to look out for and, with all the other Allied Governments doing the same thing and the city crowded anyhow, it has been some job.

Played bridge at the Embassy one night this week and had a chance to talk to Mr. Sharpe for some little time. He remembered Mr. Ellerbe very well and also Mrs. Ellerbe and Edna. Had been there on thanksgiving afternoon at a reception for American Officers which was finished by an hour of very pleasant dancing. I’ve found the whole family there very pleasant but one is still a bit awed going in by the grandeur of the footmen, etc. This coming week I’ve already been asked to three dances which think will be quite enough for one week when one is busy during the day. However, one good thing about them is that they start and quit at a decent hour instead of trying to dance all night as we used to have the habit at home. Sorry John couldn’t have been here for some of this for know he would have enjoyed it thoroughly.

Guess this letter will reach you just about Xmas in which case best wishes and lots of love to everybody,

Carl

Thomas C Montgomery [signed] Capt, A.S.C.

November 11, 1918. Described to Mabel. “…saw flags being stuck out of every window….”

Sunday, November 17, 1918 to Mabel.

The Armistice went into effect on Monday, November 11 at 11 A.M. in Paris. It’s a surprise to Monty as he begins his routine. “On Monday morning the first definite news I had of the signing of the armistice was when I went down to see a French Colonel at the Ministere de l’Armament and as I drove up saw flags being stuck out of every window and people rushing out of the building.”

Needless to say, I didn’t find the Colonel nor anybody else to do business with and that condition continued until and really through Wednesday. Monday night I went down on the boulevards with some of the other fellows from our mess and you never saw such a crowd or such rejoicing. The way these people celebrate is a bit different from ours. Among other things along this line was the number of impromptu parades, there were a thousand and one of ‘em containing possibly a drum and bugle at the head followed by soldiers of all the Allies and any number of civilians and they would dissolve as suddenly as they would gather. Then again you would often come on a group doing a “ring around he rosy” effect with no apparent rhyme or reason and what the French poilus,[1] not to speak of our own and other soldiers, were doing in the way of kissing any pretty little midinette they saw was unlimited. The cafes were open until the “wee sma hours” for the first time in four years and everybody was in wonderful humor. Of course we are all mighty glad to see it finished but for these people who have had four years of it their joy is undescribable and they can hardly realize it.

Victory fever is breaking out all over:

Was at Madame Borel’s for dinner on Friday night and her daughter speaking of several dances which are now brewing, said she knew she was going to feel absolutely out of place in evening dress again. Madame Borel was my hostess on leave about which I wrote you. Incidentally met there the other night a most interesting Frenchman who is an intimate personal friend of the King of Spain and has had the job for the last two years of trying to counteract the Bosche propaganda in Spain.

The Armistice is impacting his work. He expects the load to increase and the available staff to decrease. “We shall now have to begin to handle claims which have heretofore simply been accumulating for the most part while we were occupied with the more pressing problem of getting various and sundry buildings and grounds for the many needs of the army.” On the other hand, because of the “releasing of personnel by the armistice, I got this week as assistants just four lieutenants, which makes a Captain and six lieutenants working under me.” He’s not content because he will be breaking in the new ones and “my work requires considerable experience before an officer is of much use to me.”

“Enjoyed your copy of John’s letter. Glad to hear he is prospering but now suppose he won’t get over this side and is consequently peeved. Your news of what Meta Nichols and Alma Foxworth are doing was also highly amusing.”

At Mabel’s prompting, he describes the sugar supply. Maybe she’s comparing it to what she is experiencing at home. “As to sugar, it’s very short here to[o]? except to those of us in the army through the commissary where we are supposed to be able to get, that is officers, two pounds a week. I know the shortage must be bothering Frank and Horace with their sweet teeth—it bothered me too when I first came over but have long ago got used to it. In the cafes here no sugar is served and the desserts are mostly fruit.”

“Shall be glad to look up Miss Christensen if she lets me know when she is in Paris. Sorry not to have seen Mr. Coker when here.

“With regard to Eugene Monroe have written direct to his commanding officer as thought that the shortest way to find out what had really happened to him. If he was officially reported dead the Central Records Office would have no other dope about him. Will cable only if I find he is still alive. Awfully sorry to hear of the deaths of the two Monroe boys and have heard of others of my friends who have gone. The flu[2] has been serious here but is now on the wane. Hope it is also better with you by now.

But it’s lunch time now so “Au ‘voir”,

[1] A poilu is the approximate French equivalent of doughboy though it is more closely connected to the unkempt appearance and agrarian background of the original soldiers in Napoleon’s armies while the etymology of doughboy remains speculative.

[2] See JKM on this.

 

Transcribed Letter.

Hq. District of Paris,

APO 702, A.E.F

Nov. 17th, 1918 [Sunday]

Dear Mabel:-

This has been quite a week. On Monday morning the first definite news I had of the signing of the armistice was when I went down to see a French Colonel at the Ministere de l’Armament and as I drove up saw flags being stuck out of every window and people rushing out of the building. Needless to say, I didn’t find the Colonel nor anybody else to do business with and that condition continued until and really through Wednesday. Monday night I went down on the boulevards with some of the other fellows from our mess and you never saw such a crowd or such rejoicing. The way these people celebrate is a bit different from ours. Among other things along this line was the number of impromptu parades, there were a thousand and one of ‘em containing possibly a drum and bugle at the head followed by soldiers of all the Allies and any number of civilians and they would dissolve as suddenly as they would gather. Then again you would often come on a group doing a “ring around he rosy” effect with no apparent rhyme or reason and what the French poilus, not to speak of our own and other soldiers, were doing in the way of kissing any pretty little midinette they saw was unlimited. The cafes were open until the “wee sma hours” for the first time in four years and everybody was in wonderful humor. Of course we are all mighty glad to see it finished but for these people who have had four years of it their joy is undescribeable and they can hardly realize it. Was at Madame Borel’s for dinner on Friday night and her daughter, speaking of several dances which are now brewing, said she knew she was going to feel absolutely out of place in evening dress again. Madame Borel was my hostess on leave about which I wrote you. Incidentally met there the other night a most interesting Frenchman who is an intimate personal friend of the King of Spain and has had the job for the last two years of trying to counteract the Bosche propaganda in Spain.

Received your letter of Oct. 23rd this past week and enjoyed it thoroughly. Was amused at Edna’s remark about the Sharpes. I don’t know any of the rest of the family but this girl, the oldest daughter who was at St. Marguerite at the same time, and absolutely unassuming and just a nice sort of real American girl.

Following my many cries for assistance and the releasing of personnel by the armistice I got this week as assistants just four lieutenants, which makes a Captain and six lieutenants working under me. Haven’t yet had time to teach these new ones much my work requires considerable experience before an officer is of much use but hope to get them broken in soon and then perhaps be able to take it a little easier myself. However, the armistice means no letting down for our Service as we shall now have to begin to handle claims which have heretofore simply been accumulating for the most part while we were occupied with the more pressing problem of getting various and sundry buildings and grounds for the many needs of the army.

Enjoyed your copy of John’s letter. Glad to hear he is prospering but now suppose he won’t get over this side and is consequently peeved. Your news of what Meta Nichols and Alma Foxworth are doing was also highly amusing.

As to sugar, it’s very short here to[o] except to those of us in the army through the commissary where we are supposed to be able to get, that is officers, two pounds a week. I know the shortage must be bothering Frank and Horace with their sweet teeth—it bothered me too when I first came over but have long ago got used to it. In the cafes here no sugar is served and the desserts are mostly fruit.

Shall be glad to look up Miss Christensen if she lets me know when she is in Paris. Sorry not to have seen Mr. Coker when here.

With regard to Eugene Monroe have written direct to his commanding officer as thought that the shortest way to find out what had really happened to him. If he was officially reported dead the Central Records Office would have no other dope about him. Will cable only if I find he is still alive. Awfully sorry to hear of the deaths of the two Monroe boys and have heard of others of my friends who have gone. The flu has been serious here but is now on the wane. Hope it is also better with you by now.

But it’s lunch time now so “Au ‘voir”,

Love to all,

Carl

Thomas C. Montgomery [signed]

Capt.A.S.C.,U.S.A.

November 3, 1918. “It will seem funny to see Paris again ‘The City of Light’ for it has certainly been a dark burg since I’ve known it.”

November 3, 1918 to Mother.

“everybody here is discussing the latest rumors…particularly the rumor…that the Kaiser has abdicated and that Germany is ready to sign the armistice. It surely looks now as if we’ll have the armistice in the next week or two. If so there will certainly be a great rejoicing in this town. It will seem funny to see Paris again “The City of Light” for it has certainly been a dark burg since I’ve known it.”

Sunday A.M., Nov. 10th—was interrupted with the above last Sunday by Charlie Wofford…passing thorough on his way to Nice on leave. Saw a good deal of him…and enjoyed very much ‘swapping lies’ with him.”

“This morning I am feeling good over two things, the fact that I got my Captaincy yesterday and the good news as to the Kaiser’s abdication.” He confesses to being “a bit surprised” about the promotion, though “very happy over it.” “Was a 1st Lieut. just eleven days.”

The previous night he was in “one of the big theaters here” when the Kaiser’s abdication “was announced from the stage and there was certainly some rejoicing. There were soldiers of the Allied Armies there and they were dancing with each other, cheering and ‘raising sand’ generally. Sitting in the adjoining café during the entr’acte I happened to be at the same table with a man and his wife who had just come in from Lille and they were particularly happy after four years of German domination. The story of their experiences there was most interesting and from what they said all that has been written about the wrongs to the civilian population in the invaded country was very true.

“Awfully sorry to hear of Eugene and Theo Monroe both having died.[1] Neither did I know of the death of Tom Lake.[2]

[A letter from John Kenly Montgomery, Monty’s younger brother, dated September 28, 1918 to Mother from Columbia said simply “Surely was sorry to hear of Eugene’s death. He was the first close friend to go since Frank Montgomery[3] and can’t seem to realize it somehow.]

“P.S. Forgot to say that was at a very interesting dinner one night this week given by one of my French officer friends to our General for the Paris region at which were present also the French General in command of Paris and several of the staff for each one. Was sitting just the second to the left of the French General and got to talk to him quite a bit. He was quite interested in our handling of the negro problem and we had considerable discussion on it—all in French.

….

“During this week had to go down one day on a proposition about forty miles out of Paris. It was rather important and met a Colonel at the place. The proprietor of the factory we were interested in has his chateau close to it so, when we made this appointment with him, he kept the chateau open a couple of days additional after he had intended to close it and entertained us there. It was a beautiful place and we had a lunch that was really a big dinner. This man was moving his family back to Paris just after we were there and I told him I’d like to have [him] come for a meal in our apartment some time. He said he’d be very glad to come and also would like to entertain all ten of us at dinner in his Paris house sometime soon. Told him that was rather a large order and he said ‘not at all,’ and that he was always happy to entertain any number of American officers. That is a sample of the hospitality we find over here on every hand.

“Glad to hear John is likely to be promoted. Don’t suppose he’ll be sent over here as I’d been expecting, in view of the armistice.

“Beginning with January expect to allot a part of my pay to Frank to take care of my notes. Have been wanting to do it before but it has simply taken all of a 2nd Lieutenant’s pay to live even very quietly in Paris. However now shall be getting enough to allot $50 a month or more.

[1] The WWI Memorial in Marion, SC, an obelisk that still dominates other war memorials at one end of Main Street, bears forty-one engraved names. Cousins David E[ugene] Monroe and John T[heodore] Monroe are among them. Marion was not an average town; the number of war dead carried a premium of fifty percent above the average in the US.

[2] More?

[3] Frank Montgomery, no relation, was John’s classmate at Wofford College. On June 1, 1919 the college honored seventeen of its war dead. Lieutenant James C. Dozier, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and former student, presided. Lieutenant Thomas D. Lake was among the seventeen Wofford dead.

 

Transcribed Letter:

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

Nov 3rd, 1918

Dear Mother:-

Don’t know a thing of interest since my letter to you of a few days ago but, having a little spare time at my office this Sunday morning, thought I’d drop you a line.

Everybody here is discussing the latest rumors—as we’ve been doing for these past several weeks—particularly the rumor in the New York Herald of this morning that the Kaiser has abdicated and that Germany is ready to sign the armistice. It surely looks now as if we’ll have the armistice in the next week or two. If so there will certainly be a great rejoicing in this town. It will seem funny to see Paris again “The City of Light” for it has certainly been a dark burg since I’ve known it.

Sunday A.M., Nov. 10th—was interrupted with the above last Sunday by Charlie Wofford coming in and never did finish it. Charlie was passing thorough on his way to Nice on leave and was here a couple of days. Saw a good deal of him during the time he was in town and enjoyed very much “swapping lies” with him.

This morning I am feeling good over two things, the fact that I got my Captaincy yesterday and the good news as to the Kaiser’s abdication. Was a bit surprised to get the Captaincy so soon though I had been recommended for it originally and am naturally feeling very happy over it. The commission is in the same branch my 1st Lieut. was, that is the Army Service Corps, of which the Renting, Requisition and Claims Service is a large part. Was a 1st Lieut. just eleven days.”

As to the Kaiser’s abdication, of which you will also be reading the news this morning, it certainly has made all the French very happy. I was in one of the big theaters here when it was announced from the stage and there was certainly some rejoicing. There were soldiers of the Allied Armies there and they were dancing with each other, cheering and “raising sand” generally. Sitting in the adjoining café during the entr’acte I happened to be at the same table with a man and his wife who had just come in from Lille and they were particularly happy after four years of German domination. The story of their experiences there was most interesting and from what they said all that has been written about the wrongs to the civilian population in the invaded country was very true.

Received your letter of Oct. 13th on Friday of this week and was much interested in all the news. Awfully sorry to hear of Eugene and Theo Monroe both having died. Neither did I know of the death of Tom Lake until your letter as the casualty lists which we see in the Paris edition of the New York Herald are not complete.

P.S. Forgot to say that was at a very interesting dinner one night this week given by one of my French officer friends to our General for the Paris region at which were present also the French General in command of Paris and several of the staff for each one. Was sitting just the second to the left of the French General and got to talk to him quite a bit. He was quite interested in our handling of the negro problem and we had considerable discussion on it—all in French.

Who did you say Minnie Hewitt married? I can’t seem to spot him mentally.

During this week had to go down one day on a proposition about forty miles out of Paris. It was rather important and met a Colonel at the place. The proprietor of the factory we were interested in has his chateau close to it so, when we made this appointment with him, he kept the chateau open a couple of days additional after he had intended to close it and entertained us there. It was a beautiful place and we had a lunch that was really a big dinner. This man was moving his family back to Paris just after we were there and I told him I’d like to have [him] come for a meal in our apartment some time. He said he’d be very glad to come and also would like to entertain all ten of us at dinner in his Paris house sometime soon. Told him that was rather a large order and he said ‘not at all,’ and that he was always happy to entertain any number of American officers. That is a sample of the hospitality we find over here on every hand.

Glad to hear John is likely to be promoted. Don’t suppose he’ll be sent over here as I’d been expecting, in view of the armistice.

Beginning with January expect to allot a part of my pay to Frank to take care of my notes. Have been wanting to do it before but it has simply taken all of a 2nd Lieutenant’s pay to live even very quietly in Paris. However now shall be getting enough to allot $50 a month or more.

Love to all,

Carl

 

Thomas C. Montgomery [signed]

Capt.. A.S.C., U.S.A?

 

October 30, 1918. “I am now a 1st Lieutenant, Army Service Corp, continuing the same duties with the Renting, Requisitions and Claims Service.”

October 30, 1918 to Mother.

“…am snatching a few minutes now at one of the typewriters having come back to the office immediately after lunch.”

His big news is “that I am now a 1st Lieutenant.” He’s less than enthusiastic because “I was recommended for a Captaincy but lost out on it owing to the rule now existing that no one will be skipped a grade in making promotions. …so, I’m for the present wearing one silver bar instead of two as I’d been promised and expected.”

Work is complicated by the departure of one of his assistants whose replacement is expected any day. He says there’s “double work to do and not much ‘rest for the weary.’”

Even so, took all of last Sunday off and went hunting with my friend M. Veber, the architect of whom I’ve written you. Don’t be too horrified at my hunting on Sunday for it’s a regular custom over here—also of late I’ve been in most of my Sundays here in the office, Sunday office work being pretty necessary these days. Enjoyed the day very much and thought of Frank and how he would have liked it. Went down with M. Veber in his car to a club about forty miles south of Paris where they have a game preserve or “chasse” as it is called over here. There we had an excellent lunch and then started out with beaters, working through each piece of woods in turn. We had dogs along too but they are not allowed to range as when we hunt quail but are kept close in. There were a dozen of us at intervals of about 15 to 20 yards from each other and there wasn’t much chance for the pheasants or small deer when they got up. However, there weren’t so awfully many of them—I had only two shots all day both of which I missed. Some of the rest of the bunch had good shooting and we got enough game for each of us to bring home a little. It happened to be a beautiful October day and a whole day of that kind out of the office went awfully well.

“The war continues to look as if it could be finished very soon although the Bosche are not readily convinced. With the latest developments in Austria it looks, however, as if the whole thing is bound to go by the boards within a few weeks which we all hope.”

 

Transcribed letter:

AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES [letterhead]

Headquarters, District of Paris

Oct. 30th,1918-A.P.O. 702

Dear Mother:-

Have received during the past week your letter of Oct. 5th and one from Kate of Oct. 9th but haven’t found time to answer either so am snatching a few minutes now at one of the typewriters having come back to the office immediately after lunch.

The main news with me since I last wrote you is that I am now a 1st Lieutenant, Army Service Corp, continuing the same duties with the Renting, Requisitions and Claims Service. Am not feeling as happy over the promotion as I would some time ago as I was recommended for a Captaincy but lost out on it owing to the rule now existing that no one will be skipped a grade in making promotions. Consequently have to be recommended again for the captaincy and it will probably take several months more to come through. Saw my Colonel yesterday and he told me would make recommendation again at once but, even so, I’m for the present wearing one silver bar instead of two as I’d been promised and expected.

Have continued to be horribly busy of late owing to the fact that I lost one of my assistants and his successor hasn’t yet arrived though he is due any day. As a consequence have had double work to do and not much “rest for the weary”. Even so, took all of last Sunday off and went hunting with my friend M. Veber, the architect of whom I’ve written you. Don’t be too horrified at my hunting on Sunday for it’s a regular custom over here—also of late I’ve been in most of my Sundays here in the office, Sunday office work being pretty necessary these days. Enjoyed the day very much and thought of Frank and how he would have liked it. Went down with M. Veber in his car to a club about forty miles south of Paris where they have a game preserve or “chasse” as it is called over here. There we had an excellent lunch and then started out with beaters, working through each piece of woods in turn. We had dogs along too but they are not allowed to range as when we hunt quail but are kept close in. There were a dozen of us at intervals of about 15 to 20 yards from each other and there wasn’t much chance for the pheasants or small deer when they got up. However, there weren’t so awfully many of them—I had only two shots all day both of which I missed. Some of the rest of the bunch had good shooting and we got enough game for each of us to bring home a little. It happened to be a beautiful October day and a whole day of that kind out of the office went awfully well.

The war continues to look as if it could be finished very soon although the Bosche are not readily convinced. With the latest developments in Austria it looks, however, as if the whole thing is bound to go by the boards within a few weeks which we all hope.

Enjoyed Kate’s letter and will drop her a line when I get time.

Love to all,

Carl

Thomas C Montgomery [signed]

1st Lt. A.S.C.