Letters to Mac in WWI: January to August 1918

January 1918

To Pvt. Mortimer M. Austin
F Co., 11 Inf
Chattanooga, Tenn

CAC 7 Co., Fort Amador
Canal Zone
Jan 5, 1918
Many happy returns of the day!!

Dear Old Mack:
Well this is the date you get a little older and tomorrow I do the same.

Did four hours guard this morning. It is pay day and I go on pass this pm so will have time to write no more..

Drew just $13 yesterday. That is all that is left after my four liberty bonds bills…$.25 wounded soldiers fund
collected from loans $1.65 which left me just $8.40.

When I went to town, I spent $5.20 for little odds and ends. While in the city, I made up my mind to see the place. You talk of slums in New York, London, Chicago,but believe me they cannot begin to compare with the city of Panama. It is only in sections that the other cities have slums, but all Panama is just one great slum district.

Yours, George R. Sidwell
[above letter is an excerpt from a long letter]

January 24, 1918
Chickamauga Park

Dear Aunt,
We have had bad weather. It was warmer today and the mud is about up to my ankles.

We are drilling now. There is nothing to tell you. We are not allowed to tell much anyway. There was a bit of verse on our bulletin board.

    “Soldiers, beware,
    Enemies ears are everywhere
    A wise old owl lived in an oak
    The more he saw the less he spoke
    The less he spoke, the more he heard
    Soldier, imitate that bird.”

There is no need of worrying over me. We are getting good food and we have as good care as can be given us. I am feeling good and am getting fatter. You would be surprised to see me now.

Well, I hope you and all the folks are all right. Did you see the letter Raymond wrote about me to the “Lone Scout”? I met a fellow in Chickamauga who asked if I “knew Private Mortimer Austin, F Company, eleventh infantry.” I told him I did. He had seen that letter. He was a nice fellow,
Well, goodby
Your nephew

March 14, 1918
on YMCA paper with a flag
Chattanooga, Tenn

Dear Father,
I got here all right. The mild train was late into Jersey City and I missed my train. I was 14 hours late, but as I got the conductor to sign a aper telling the reason, I think it will be all O. K.

Well I will write soon. Tell Aunt Aida that I am here all right. With love to all the family
Your son,

March 31, 1918
Chattanooga, Tenn

Dear Aunt,
I was very glad to get those pictures they were real good. I don’t know which I like best, so I can’t tell you.

We are having fine weather her now.

I did not send anymore this month because I owed some and there are some things that I want to buy to take across with me. But I expect to have a good deal to send back next month

My corporal is attending sniper’s school and I have had to lead the squad. I don’t like it very much. I am expecting to be transferred to the Machine gun company. I would rather stay with F. company, but I have noticed that a good many things that have happened to me lately, really unimportant themselves, have resulted in advantage to me. And while I am not superstitious, I think it best not to try to change that everything is coming for the best. Perhaps you understand what i mean? I suppose I could get another man sent in my place, but I think whatever happens is for the best.

Will I will close,
Your nephew McKinley

May 1918
Letter Jennie Austin wrote to her son, McKinley
Eldred, Sullivan co., NY., Monday 1918

My dear McKinley:
At last I have gathered enough ambition to write, also, I begin too realize that Dad and I are growing old when the cold weather affects us as it has this winter, we were certainly glad to hear you were having good weather. it is beginning to be pretty decent here.

Raymond seems to write quite long letters to you, so I suppose he keeps you supplied with all the news. Clarence Wormuth is in France. Aunt Lottie and Christina…[all the letter I had.]

May 18, 1918
Middletown, NY
Dear Pa, Ma & bro & sister,
I am still in Middle town. But as we expect to leave early Monday morning for Ft. Slocum, and I may not have a chance to write soon again
recruits got tickets or a pass at a hotel for a free night’s lodging and a ticket that gets them a 50 cent meal at the French restaurant.
costs $2.50 per head a day; $1.50 for meals and $1.00 for lodging.

June 1918
June 27, 1918

Dear Mother,
Just a few lines to let you know I am all right.

I have been to the trenches and like them better than drilling. It was bad when it rained, but on good days, I like it.

The Germans shelled us once or twice but the more I see of artillery bombardment, the less I am afraid of it.

The trench rats scared me a couple of times when I was on guard. When they run around, they make a lot of noise and I thought once that it was a German in the next bay when it was only a rat.

Did Raymond ever join? I think it will do him good. I wish you would send me the address of the Eldred boys who are in the army.

Well I guess I will close hoping you are well. I am
Your loving son,

July 1918
M. M. Austin
Private, Machine Gun Co.
11 US Inf.
APO 728

On YMCA paper
July 27, 1918
Dear Aunt,
I have started to write to you several times, but something always bothered. I have been busy, so would only write one letter to the folks and expect they tell you what I write.

I have been so busy lately, or so lazy that I have (not?) written lately. But I thought you might worry and think I was in the big serap.

I got the pictures all right. They were good.

You wanted to know about this country. There are some of the prettiest places here I have ever seen, but I prefer Sullivan County. I have seen pictures home that look just like the country here.

How is everything in Eldred? I suppose nearly everyone of the boys have either gone or expect to go soon.

I can’t think of anything much to write, so I will close.
Your loving nephew,

PL GT Dashiell
1st Lt. Inf.

July 7, 1918
Dear Mother,
I got your letters all right. And I got one from Raymond. He was still at Camp Merritt. If he goes to Panama, he may see George Sidwell. if George is still there. It must be hard for you to see us go, but you have been very brave. If all the mothers in America were like you, there would not have been a need for a draft. I think the reason we boys, who are no braver than the average, were so quick to go, was that we have always been taught that we have a duty to our country. Some seem to think that their country should protect them, but shouldn’t call on them to help.

I am getting along well. We have been lucky so far. This is a fine place for summer home, but we have some bad neighbors.

Give my regards to all. Tell Aunt Aida I will answer her soon. But it is hard to get time. I have several letters now.

Hoping to hear from you soon, I am
Your loving son,

August 1918
Mortimer Austin
Private, Machine Gun Co.
11 US Inf.
APO 728

August 9, 1918
Dear Mother
I hope you will pardon me for not writing sooner. But when I had paper, I did not have time and when I had time, I could not get paper.

Have you heard from Raymond lately? I have had one letter form him.

I don’t suppose there are so many city boarders up this year.

Aunt Aida sent me a couple of pictures of the children saluting. They certainly looked comical, especially Robbie.

Is Willie still working at Proctor’s?

In the last letter I got from you, you said that Miss Ferguson was inquiring for my address. I have not heard her yet, and I am beginning to hope that she has lost it.

Tell Grandfather [This must be Sherman S. Leavenworth] that I will write him sometime. When I get back home, we will have some time swapping war stories. Raymond will talk for a week steady when he gets back.

I am getting along well. Except in a big drive there is not much danger, so you need not worry about me.

Well, I will close. Give my love to all
Your loving son
Mortimer M. Austin
Private Machine Gun Co.
11 US Inf
[OK GF Dasbielf
1st Lt 11th Inf Co.]

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