Archive for March, 2008

Letters to and from Mortimer McKinley Austin in WW I

Monday, March 31st, 2008

From the collection of items my mom sent, here are some letters to and from Mortimer McKinley Austin, my dad’s oldest brother that died in WWI.

July 1917
post card dated July 1917

I have been accepted and am at Ft. Slocum
Your son,

August 1917

Chickamauga, Aug 4, 1917

Dear Aunt,
I am here and like it better than at Fort Slocum. We get better food and the officers seem better, though we had a fine sergeant there.

It took over 34 hours to come here, counting from the time we left the barracks at Ft. Slocum, till we got here.

If I am lucky, and come back, I wouldn’t miss this for five thousand dollars.

The trip down to here was worth a year of a man’s life. I’ll never forget it. I am sure.

I am going to write a letter to the whole family soon giving more details.

For the present, my address is:

*Mortimer Austin
11 US Inf, F Company
Military branch
Chattanooga, Tennessee

When I change, I’ll let you know.
Your nephew

*They put me down by me first name here.

August 4, 1917
To all the family, relations and friends,

I am very well and certainly like this place.

We left Port Jervis on the morning train instead of the 12:15. Some of our bunch didn’t know about the change more got cold feet so that of the fifteen applicants, only two, Al Delaney and I went. We were examined at Poughkeepsie and a bunch of us, 13 in all, were sent to Ft. Slocum. We got there late at night.

Sunday we were examined again and four were sent back. Also we were vaccinated and inoculated for typhoid. My vaccination didn’t take, but the inoculation did.

Monday we got our uniforms and were assigned to our squads. Tuesday afternoon, we were told to get ready to go South. And we were examined again.

About 7:30, we left our barracks, turned in our blankets and marched to the parade ground. The commander inspected us. Then we were sent aboard a ship and sent down the East River.

All the way down, everybody on shore was waving. Every boat was saluting and the factor whistles were blowing. The Battery was crowded with people cheering, waving and throwing their hats in the air.

I saw the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and other noted places.

The shipped us from Jersey City, through on a special train.

We were well received everywhere. As we went through the towns, we would sing and cheer and wave to the crowd. My throat and arms got tired, but I never had so much fun before in my life. We certainly got some welcome. In one East Tennessee town there was a little girl about eight years old holding a baby about the size of Robbie standing by the track and waving to us.

The country through east Tennessee is very beautiful and so are the girls. The ladies of this region are very good looking and nice acting girls. They have a ladylike way that a good many of the northern girls, especially those from the city, have not. And they dress properly for which I think counts a good deal toward making a lady. Of course, I may have only seen the best sort of them, and may latedr see the short skirted loud mouthed, painted over dressed female that we see too much of in our cities.

Give my regard to all our town and soon I will begin writing to my friends up there.

from Mac
Mortimer Austin
F. Company
US info MIlitary Branch

August 12, 1917

Dear Ma,
I have not got any letters yet, but I suppose everyone is well.

The army is no picnic, but it is not so very bad. They say our lunch is to be assigned to the machine guns.

I saw a card here that said,”A patriotic shouter is good, but a patriotic shooter is better.”

I was vaccinated the second time and it is coming on pretty good. I was down to the station where they were unloading watermelons and a man dropped one of the melons on my sore arm.

Most of the officers are good, but there are two I don’t like. One is a sergeant who thinks that hollering is the only way to learn a man. The other is a conceited kid corporal. Jimmy Sullivan says he would like to meet them again when the war is over.

Sullivan is an Irish sailor. He had been in the merchant marine and has been through the danger zone lots of times without seeing any U boats. His boat helped pick up survivors from other ships three times. He says every port in France is full of German prisoners. He says that there are no soldiers in Europe that can match the British in bayonet fighting. I thought the French were better, but I have heard a good many say not.

Give my love to the family. How are Raymond and Verna getting along?

from your son,

Just got your letter (double underlined).

August 24, 1917

Dear brother,

How are you? I am getting along well now. I did have a very sore arm, but it is a good deal better now.

We have bayonet drill now and rifle practice.

Our captain showed us some trenches modeled after the best and newest types and gave us a talk about transverses, parapets, etc. and their uses.

Our lunch is in with the regulars now after about…[seem to have lost the rest of this letter. les]

Postcards from 1906 and 1907

Monday, March 31st, 2008

My mom sent me a box with a number of interesting items. Here are some of the many postcards that I recently scanned.

Post card to Willie Austin November 7, 1906.

Postcard to Jennie Austin January 22, 1907.

Postcard to Jennie Austin (Mrs. C. M. Austin) in 1907.

Post Card to William Austin October 2, 1907