WWI Balloon Company Winch Truck – A French Latil Mystery Story

I paid a pretty penny for a dozen photos from the 20th Balloon Company (WWI, American) specifically for this photograph.  I’m attracted to obscure and strange photography, and this photo is an anomaly for WWI image collectors.  What the heck is going on?

20th Balloon Company Winch Truck

20th Balloon Company Winch Truck

The vehicle/tractor/truck in the image was something I’ve never encountered.  I knew it was related to a balloon company, and the large drum on the back alerted me to the fact that it likely was meant to hold and retract cable wire.  But how could I figure out the make and model of the vehicle?  Balloon Company information is difficult to identify through google searches, but I was able to make some leads by searching in French!

Latil Truck

Latil Truck


My first hit came with a French search for “winch truck” and provided the above image.  I now knew that the Latil Company made heavy 4×4 vehicles for the French army during WWI and provided the American Expeditionary Forces with balloon winches!

I couldn’t quite make out the grill badge in the image I purchased……

Mystery WWI Badge

Mystery WWI Badge

But I was able to figure it out after my French language search…

The Latil trucks/tractors were originally made to tow 155mm guns, but they were retrofitted to accept heavy-duty winches to support the observation balloons used by the 20th Balloon Company.  The Latil company would later be absorbed into Renault….

Lentil Artillery Tow

Latil Artillery Tow

And according to a ca. 1919 publication, only 50 of these trucks were made specifically for the AEF during WWI.  They were outfitted with Cachot power winches (seen in the rear of the head image) to retract the balloons after observation was achieved.



Latil in Action  – Courtesy LOC

Special thanks to the Transport Journal  blog!

Check out this specific post to learn more about the Latil:


And another blog picked up the Latil story: http://justacarguy.blogspot.com.br/2015/11/ww1-observation-blimp-and-tow-truck-i.html

Visualizing Shell Shock in World War One: Footage from the British War Archives

WWI has the dubious distinction of being the first modern war to be fought with the mass of industrial mechanization and production in close support.  To a lesser extent, this distinction is also often shared with the American Civil War.  The mental distress of the soldiers involved in this global war are well known to most schoolchildren enrolled in Social Studies or History classes.  The psychiatric distresses imparted upon these men during the massive artillery bombardments of 1914-1918 are best exemplified in the following video made available by the British War Archives.

Select section 3 in the left hand drop down menu.  Or watch the whole series!

Dogs of War: A Saint Bernard Mascot – 67th Coastal Artillery Company Veteran “Barney”

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here to PortraitsofWar, so I’m taking a quick moment to add a recently acquired real photo postcard of a St. Bernard mascot from the 67th Coastal Artillery Company. He’s even sporting his own uniform!  Check out the 1st Army variant patch with the 67 denoting the unit number and a double overseas chevron for a year of service.  Good work Barney!

Mascot photos are one of my favorite avenues of WWI photo collecting. They are relatively hard to come by and are tough to research.  All the better for a unique challenge when trolling through the pages of eBay.


Barney the St. Bernard in WWI

Barney the St. Bernard in WWI

The Mystery of the German POW of WWI: A Photographic Study

It’s been a long month for us here at PortraitsofWar, and we apologize for a lack of posting since the last photo on April 3rd.  In today’s post we will be looking at a different side of the war than normally highlighted on this blog.  Normally focused on American portraits, photos, and slides, we will be dissecting the story behind a German prisoner of war being held in Marseilles, France in 1918.

Unteroffizier Grießbach as a POW in France

Unteroffizier Grießbach as a POW in France

Before delving into the biographical information hand inscribed on the reverse side of the image, we will inspect and identify the visual imagery captured on the obverse.  The first thing of note is the format of the image.  The photo was printed as a real photo postcard (RPPC) and was likely obtained in a pack of 6 or 12.  It’s not uncommon to see identical copies of WWI RPPC’s pop up on the market from time to time.  The consistent size, quality and subject matter of these images make them a highly collectable form of WWI militaria.

The three major identifying features present on the front of the RPPC will need some research using easily-accessible internet resources.

  • Buttons
  • Collar Insignia
  • Cap/Headgear


Upon quick glance it’s clear to see that the buttons running down the center are a rimmed (see the raised edge along the outside of the button) with a crown in the center.   This type of button is widely known as the standard button of a WWI German soldier and were made to be removable to allow for the cleaning of the uniform. This was a common standard of many nations during WWI.

Rimmed Crown Button

Rimmed Crown Button

Collar Insignia

The next identifiable feature of the tunic is the visible decoration of the collar. Here at PortraitsofWar, we’re use to identifying WWI doughboy collar insignia, but had to rely upon outside sources to help with this particular post.  The first thing to call attention to the neck region is the disc on the left side of the sitter’s uniform.

Collar Details

Collar Details

The disc on the left hand side of the photo is known as an Non Commissioned Officer collar disc (sometimes as disk) and can infrequently be seen in period studio photographs.  A lengthy internet-based search only turned up a small handful of images, the best of which can be seen below.

NCO Discs

NCO Discs


The third and final identifying feature of the obverse side of the photo is the headgear worn by the sitter.  It appear to be an easily bendable version of the Prussian feldmutz field cap.  This style of cap was popular with NCO’s and were easily folded or packed for transport.  WWII versions were popularly known as “crushers.”

Prussian Feldmutze

Prussian Feldmutze

Cap Cockades (Kokarden)

The circular insignia seen on the cap above are known as cockades, or kokarden in German.  Sadly, the photo we’re working with is in black and white, but typically each cockade color helps identify the unit type, region and era of creation.

Visual Observations

So what do we know just by viewing the front of the image?  We certainly know the soldier is an NCO in the German Army during WWI.  He’s sporting all the fittings associated with a non commissioned officer of the period, but doesn’t have all the extra tidbits normally associated with a WWI period phograph. Where are his ribbons, medals and weaponry?

Hand Written Reverse Side

In the world of identifying WWI photos, the really important research material is always included on the backside (reverse) of the image.  In this case, the German soldier oddly wrote in French to an unmarried friend or relative of his who was living in Dresden during the time. It’s very likely that he was writing to a girlfriend or close female friend, as the wording is very proper.  Please see below for a low resolution scan of the backside.

Photo Backside

Photo Backside

What does the backside tell us? 

Firstly, it’s clearly a real photo postcard created to be sent to recipients.  The CARTE POSTALE header is a clear indicator of it’s origin: France.  The sender of the postcard notes Marseille as his current location, and Dresden, Germany is the destination.  How do we interpret a real photo postcard without knowing anything else about the people included?  Isn’t it strange that the postcard doesn’t include a message?  This infers a close connection between the writer and recipient.  Perhaps she already knows about his wartime status.

Writer Section

This section is typically reserved for messages but, in this case, relays the status of the photographed soldier’s military situation.   His handwriting is careful and is strangely written in French without the normal stylistic handwriting nuances of Germanic writing of the period, it becomes easy to make out the passage.

“Uzfdir. Griessbach

pris. de guerre

6283, depit de Marseille,

detacbhment coulou

(Ceceille) france”

The surname of the sitter is uncertain at this point.  Is is Greissbach, Greissback, Greissbarf or possibly Greiss back?  The prefix Uxfdir. is short for Unteroffizier and can be easily related to a rank between corporal and sergeant most worldwide military rankings. It’s odd that an Unteroffizier would wear an NCO collar disc, but that is an issue best left to the armchair historians who browse this blog.

Who was it sent to?

“Frau Gerfrun Griecfsbahn


Weinbergstraße 1/73 I”

Was this woman living in Dresden at the time?  Does Weinbergstraße 1/73 I correspond with an apartment number in the city?

If so, this is the location of the house the postcard was meant to be delivered to:

Weinbergstraße 73, Dresden

Weinbergstraße 73, Dresden

And is this the house that the card was meant to be sent?  I recognize the Audi in the carport! I used to have the same model.

Weinbergstraße 73

Weinbergstraße 73

I need the help of German speaking friends to help decipher the last names of the sitter and the recipient. Hopefully we can narrow down the search using the power of the internet.  If you have a clue that may help, please don’t hesitate to comment on this post!

Women of the YMCA in WWI: Kittie Kunz’s Service in YMCA Hut 16


Material related to wartime (and postwar) activities of the YMCA can be easily researched through the help of internet databases, digitized books, collectors forums and various other digital avenues.  What is lacking, however, is information directly related to the individuals who volunteered their time and money to travel to a foreign county to serve donuts to war-weary doughboys waiting to return to their families in the US.

I was lucky enough to track down a large grouping of ephemera collected during the war by a YMCA canteen entertainer, a Miss Kittie Kunz.  Included in the grouping is a selection of rare YMCA “unit history” paperwork which gives names and identities to many of the women and men who served alongside Kittie.  I researched each of the names in hopes of tracking down passport application portraits.  I was overwhelmingly successful and found nearly 75% of the names in the US Passport database that matched perfectly.  Each was listed as being a member of the YMCA or Red Cross, and each matches the date range for the YMCA hut. A neat find!  Please read on to see the faces of the women who served alongside Kittie.  You will also find a smattering of hard-to-find ephemera related to the YMCA.  It’s amazing that Kittie saved some of these items.  Not all the paperwork is contained in this post, but the scanned material gives a quick glimpse into the typical material a YMCA canteen worker would deal with.

Kittie Kunz's YMCA ID

Kittie Kunz’s YMCA ID


Kittie's YMCA Paris Travel Permit

Kittie’s YMCA Paris Travel Permit


Kittie’s YMCA Paris Travel Permit Reverse

Kittie's Permit to Travel to Reims

Kittie’s Permit to Travel to Reims

YMCA War Service Pin Card

YMCA War Service Pin Card

YMCA War Service Pin Card Interior

YMCA War Service Pin Card Interior

Tea Service Notice for the 28th Division

Tea Service Notice for the 28th Division


Here is where my favorite piece of researching WWI material came handy….. I was able to research the names of the women listed in the distribution section and track down their WWI era passport applications.  Here are my results:

YMCA Women

Miss Gertrude Garden - YMCA

Miss Gertrude Garden – YMCA


Miss Dorothy Berry - YMCA

Miss Dorothy Berry – YMCA

Harriet McKenzie - YMCA

Harriet McKenzie – YMCA

Margaret Robinson - YMCA

Margaret Robinson – YMCA

Katherine Parks - YMCA

Katherine Parks – YMCA


Janet Kunz - YMCA (sister to Kittie Kunz)

Janet Kunz – YMCA (sister to Kittie Kunz)

Kittie Kunz - YMCA

Kittie Kunz – YMCA

Pauline Brown - YMCA

Pauline Brown – YMCA


Mary Waden - YMCA

Mary Waden – YMCA

Dora Lewis - YMCA

Dora Lewis – YMCA

Katherine Beakes - YMCA

Katherine Beakes – YMCA

Cora A. Kennedy - YMCA

Cora A. Kennedy – YMCA



Lois Loyhed - Red Cross

Lois Loyhed – Red Cross

Harriet Maxon - Red Cross

Harriet Maxon – Red Cross

Dorothy Peters - Red Cross

Dorothy Peters – Red Cross

Alice McCoy - Red Cross

Alice McCoy – Red Cross

Esther Edmondson - Red Cross

Esther Edmondson – Red Cross

Mary Jones - Red Cross

Mary Jones – Red Cross

Eleanor Little - Red Cross

Eleanor Little – Red Cross

Mary Healy - Red Cross

Mary Healy – Red Cross

A Mormon Missionary in WWI: Battling Influenza in American Samoa

Byron Miller in World War One

Byron Miller in World War One

When searching for new portraiture to add to PortraitsofWar I generally tend to look for material with identifiable soldiers, uniforms, medals and other researchable information to help shed light on life during wartime.   In this post, I will be researching a photograph of a US Navy sailor who caught my eye during a recent eBay search.

Reverse Side of Postcard

Reverse Side of Postcard

The information written on the back of the postcard shows an identification of the sitter as a B.G. Miller.  He is identified as being a Pharmacist’s Mate 1st Class from Salt Lake City, Utah who was on duty at one point at a hospital in Samoa on August 1st, 1918.  Additional info added to the photo includes an anecdote about his position as a Mormon missionary in Germany during the breakout of the war between Germany and France.

With a little luck and a lot of research I was able to track down our mysterious B.G. Miller.  Byron Gardener Miller was found listed in the Utah World War 1 Military Service Questionnaire on ancestry.com.  Please see his card below:

Byron G. Miller in WWI

Byron G. Miller in WWI

It looks like Byron attended the University of Utah for a year before being shipped off for his overseas missionary work. This is likely the reason for his service as a Pharmacist’s Mate with the US NAVY as can be seen in the details of his uniform.

Navy Pharmacist's Rate Patch

Navy Pharmacist’s Mate Rate Patch

The reference to his missionary service in Germany during the outbreak of war in July of 1914 is partially confirmed through my discovery of his listing aboard a ship ledger arriving in Montreal, PQ in September of 1914.


His service in Samoa has also been confirmed through the same series of records.


Sadly, his arrival back in the US in 1919 wasn’t likely a time of joy for the Miller family; a Utah death certificate shows that he died of influenza only a few months later on February 7th, 1920.  Interestingly enough, my research into the US Hospital in Samoa shows that a MASSIVE flu outbreak in the Samoan Islands lead to the deaths of nearly 25% of the population.  The US Navy set up an epidemic commission to deal with the issue.  The results of the intervention in American Samoa were incredible.  Apparently the method of using maritime quarantine lowered mortality rates to nearly 1%.  It’s strange that Byron would die of influenza only a few months later while in the United States……

For the 1919 report please CLICK HERE

1920 Death Certificate

1920 Death Certificate

One of the main goals of this website is to help share photos and pertinent military service information with the families of the men and women depicted in the images I collect. In this case, I’m hoping a Miller family representative will discover a rare image of their ancestor who witnessed a formative time in history.

WWI Panoramic Photo – The Most Decorated Company of the 29th Division: Company H, 115th Infantry Regiment



One of the most difficult aspects of WWI photography collecting is presenting it in a manner that allows for many people to view and appreciate the content. Each of my scanned panoramic photos takes at least an hour to scan in sections, and subsequently digitally splice together. This post is a particularly good example of a panoramic taken of  H Company of the 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division. Note the Native American soldier as well as two soldiers wearing the ribbon for the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). Sorry about the large file size.

Click HERE for the H Company, 115th Roster

I actually was able to do some research on Company H of the 115th and found some info on a few members that I was able to identify in the photo.


2nd Lt. Patrick Regan

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Second Lieutenant (Infantry) Patrick J. Regan, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 8 October 1918, while serving with 115th Infantry, 29th Division, in action at Bois-de-Consenvoye, France. While leading his platoon against a strong enemy machinegun nest which had held up the advance of two companies, Second Lieutenant Regan divided his men into three groups, sending one group to either flank, and he himself attacking with an automatic rifle team from the front. Two of the team were killed outright, while Second Lieutenant Regan and the third man were seriously wounded, the latter unable to advance. Although severely wounded, Second Lieutenant Regan dashed with empty pistol into the machinegun nest, capturing 30 Austrian gunners and four machineguns. This gallant deed permitted the companies to advance, avoiding a terrific enemy fire. Despite his wounds, he continued to lead his platoon forward until ordered to the rear by his commanding officer.

Congressional Medal of Honor

Congressional Medal of Honor

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 50 (April 12, 1919)

Action Date: 8-Oct-18

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Regiment: 115th Infantry

Division: 29th Division



2nd Lt. Patrick Regan

2nd Lt. Patrick Regan


I was recently (11/2014) contacted by a grandson of Lt. Regan alerting me to his presence in the photo.  I had no idea he was present in the photo based on my prior research and the visual evidence in the photo.  His double wound stripe stood out but wasn’t enough to make a 100% identification.  Upon contact with Lt. Regan’s grandson, I was able to confirm that this is a previously unknown and non-digitized version of the Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.  I’m posting the publicly available photo here:

Lt. Regan

2nd Lt. Regan




Captain, U.S. Army
Company H, 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: October 16, 1918
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Artie E. Bolton, Captain, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action in the Bois- de-la Grande, Montagne, France, October 16, 1918. Having been ordered to take up his position on the final objective, Captain Bolton made a personal reconnaissance of his company front line, during which time he was subjected to the artillery fire of both friendly and enemy guns and machine guns directed on his position. He again went out on the same mission and captured 20 prisoners who were carrying a machine gun.

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Cross

General Orders No. 44, W.D., 1919
Home Town: Wingina, VA


Captain Artie E. Bolton


Robert S. Landstreet

Place of Birth: Maryland, Baltimore
Home of record: Baltimore Maryland

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Robert S. Landstreet, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, A.E.F., near Bois-de-Consenvoye and Bois-de-la Grande Montague, France, October 8 – 16, 1918. On October 8 First Lieutenant Landstreet led his platoon through machine-gun and rifle fire in an advance which resulted in the capture of 300 prisoners and 12 machine-guns. On the morning of October 16 lie volunteered, with one sergeant, and straightened out the line of an adjacent unit. His movements were under constant machine-gun fire, and so close to the enemy that he, with his sergeant, captured two prisoners while accomplishing their mission.

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Cross



Lt. Landstreet


 Hugh P. McGainey

Place of Birth: Maryland, Baltimore
Home of record: Baltimore Maryland

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Hugh P. McGainey (ASN: 1285511), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, A.E.F., near Verdun, France, October 8 – 15, 1918. In the Bois-de-Consenvoye, east of the Meuse, Sergeant McGainey, in command of his platoon, led his men, under heavy machine-gun fire, and captured approximately 500 prisoners, three fieldpieces, and many machine-guns. On October 15 he voluntarily exposed himself to warn his men against gas, and was wounded by shrapnel. He refused to go to the hospital until ordered to do so by the medical officer.

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Cross

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 3 (1919)

Action Date: October 8 – 15, 1918


Sgt. Hugh P. McGainey

Sgt. Hugh P. McGainey


Pietro De Bernardinis

Company H, 115th Infantry.  For extraordinary heroism in action near Verdun, France, October 17th, 1918. In the Bose de Consenvoye, east of the Meuse, Pvt. De Berdaninis, acting in the capacity of a runner, carried three successive messages through heavy barrage of both own own and the enemy’s artillery, traversing a patch where two men had previously been killed by the same barrage.

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Cross

Home address: Louis Brino, 3921 Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD.

Pietro De Berardinis

Private Pietro De Berardinis


Corporal, U.S. Army
Company H, 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, A.E.F.
Date of Action: October 8 – 29, 1918
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John E. Ferguson, Corporal, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Samogneux, France, October 8 – 29, 1918. Throughout the offensive east of the Meuse, near Samogneux, Corporal Ferguson displayed exceptional bravery and endurance as a battalion runner, repeatedly carrying important messages through intense artillery and machine-gun fire after other runners had been killed in traversing the same routes. On numerous occasions he alone was responsible for the maintenance of both forward and rear liaison.

Distinguished Service Cross

Distinguished Service Cross

General Orders No. 37, W.D., 1919
Home Town: New York, NY

Cpl. John E. Ferguson

Cpl. John E. Ferguson



Paul Reed Gilbert

Name: Paul Reed Gilbert
Race: white
Address: 510 N. Pulaski St., Baltimore
Birth Place: Baltimore, Md.
Birth Date: 22 Feb 1898
Comment: NG pvt; pvt 1c 4/20/17; corp 5/25/17; sgt 10/27/18, Co L 5 Md. Inf; Co H 115 Inf 10/1/17, Hon disch 6/5/19, Overseas 6/15/18 to 5/24/19, Center Sector; Meuse-Argonne
Maryland in the World War 1917-1919; Military and Naval Service Records, Volumes I & II
Order of St. Sava

Paul’s grandson alerted us to his presence in this photo.  Thanks!

Sgt. Paul R. Gilbert

Sgt. Paul R. Gilbert


Thomas F. Streb

Place of Birth: Maryland, Baltimore
Home of record: Baltimore Maryland

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Private Thomas F. Streb (ASN: 1285690), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with Company H, 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, A.E.F., near Verdun, France, 17 October 1918. In the Bois-de-Consenvoye east of the Meuse, Private Streb operated his automatic rifle on a post enfiladed by direct machine-gun fire during a desperate counterattack by the enemy until the rifle was damaged by the enemy’s fire and he himself was wounded. He remained on post continuing to defend same with an ordinary rifle. He was later gassed and refused to go to the hospital until ordered by his company commander.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 27 (1919)

Action Date: 17-Oct-18

Rank: Private

Thomas F. Streb

Thomas F. Streb

Veterans Days 1921 – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Original Ceremony Service Attendant

As of September 1920, the US Quartermaster Graves Registration Service had successfully identified over 90% of the bodies of US servicemen who died overseas during WWI.  The nation was still in mourning from the losses of the war, and the government looked to other countries for a suitable ceremony to honor those whose bodies were never identified.  In the fall of 1920, the caskets of four unidentified U.S. soldiers were chosen for reburial in Washington D.C.  One pallbearer, SGT Edward Younger, chose one body to be the Unknown Soldier of WWI.

The remains were transported aboard the USS Olympia, the flagship of Vermont’s Own Admiral Dewey, and arrived home on November 9th, 1921.  The body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda for two days, where over 90,000 people quietly filtered through.  This Unknown Soldier was buried with full services on November 11th, 1921.

As I pawed through my large collection of WWI and WWII photography looking for a suitable candidate for a Veteran’s Day post, I came across one photo that stood out as a perfect blogpost.

This veteran is wearing an Indian Wars medal on his chest, and looks distinguished in his black cap and jacket.  This photo was taken only moments after he was a member of the first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ceremony on November 11th, 1921.  He inscribed a quick note to a loved one on the reverse.  I can’t find a list of the members of that first delegation anywhere, but I’m sure he is one of the visible veterans standing around the casket in this photo:

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Although his identity is a mystery to me, maybe his name will come to the surface after this post hits the web.  What a fitting photo post for Veterans Day!

Special thanks to David R. Berry for the following message:

May I submit to you that the identity of the distinguished gentleman is Mr. Isaac B. Millner. US Navy, Civil War veteran –a seaman aboard the USS HARTFORD, flagship of Adm Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay 5 Aug 1864. Millner had a life-long interest in Adm Farragut, attending several commemorations of Farraguts life and career.

He was affiliated with the Dept. of Anthropology at the National Museum; holder of several patents; a specialist in Native American and Micronisian Indian cultures; a modeler for the Smithsonian working in the medium of paper’ machete and a member of the US Geological Survey. Author of the book: The Last Cruise (1917)

You will find many notations for him in Google under his full name as well as his initials I B Millner. He is mistakenly noted in the 1920 Census as Isaac B Mi-(one L) ner. What his relationship with Mrs. Clara A Wright Of Wincasset, Maine, might be is unclear, but one might note that the description and the address texts on the back of the portrait were written in two distinctly different hands. It could be that Mrs. Wright was a friend of his wife Mrs. Mary Millner.

A 1929 photo of IB Millner appears here:


WWI Doughboy Letter – Barre, VT Boy Compares Streets of France to the Granite Streets of Barre

A letter was delivered to Mr. Elmer Clark of 76 Maple Avenue, Barre, VT. in February of 1918.  I’ve included a snapshot of 76 Maple in the photo below:


76 Maple Avenue, Barre, VT

The letter provides the Vermont World War One historian with a wonderful snapshot of life in France in the early days of American involvement.  Sgt. Edward Clark was a truck driver who delivered supplies to front line troops but had the security of rear echelon  protection to write his letters.  Please enjoy this transcription and try to put yourself in Ed’s shoes:

Edward Clark  Letter Cover

Edward Clark Letter Cover

(Page One)

Dear Sis,

Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and feeling fine.  We are stationed about 100 miles from the front and have to go up there every other day with supplies.  To get back to when we first landed in France we received out trucks at a certain place and then drove them over land to General Headquarters.  On reaching that place we were attached to that troop and have been with them ever since. The trip overland was about 400 miles so we had a good chance to see that part of the country.  [Sgt. Clark appears to have refreshed his ink supply] From what I heard about France before I came over I thought that I would see greater things than we have in the States.  But now if you should ask me I would say that France was 600 years behind the U.S.A.  All there is to see is stone (Page Two)buildings two and tree stories high and the streets of Barre would make these streets look like a dump. When they talk about sunny France they will have to talk about it to someone else besides me.


I have received six or seven letters from Gin but none from you.  What is the trouble, have you forgot that I am living?  What is Elmer doing?  From what I hear it must be a hard winter on him. We are in luck for one thing and that is we can go around part of the day in our shirt sleeves but in the morning and night we need our coats on.  Not that it is so cold but it is damp and it goes right through you.

(Page Three) Is Royal staying with you yet? Gee it must seem good to him to get off the farm.  How is Steve and all the rest of the folks?  Well sis from the way things look over here we will be here for some time to come.  Gee if I could only get back in the gold old U.S.A. They would never get me to come over here again.  Well it is time for lights out so I will have to bring this to a close.  Love to all.  Write soon and often.



Sgt. Edward Clark

Motor Truck Co. 304

General Headquarters


Want to read the letter in the original script?

Page 3 of Letter

Page 3 of Letter

Page 2 of Letter

Page 2 of Letter

Page 1 of Letter

Page 1 of Letter