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.

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.