IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Pvt. Fred L. Dunsmoor
Letters Home - WWI

France, July, 1918

Dear folks-:
Well how are you all? I am feeling pretty good. The boil is all well now. This is sure some country over here the roads are made out of crushed rocks and when we go out to drill we get the guns in awful shape on account of the dust.

The buildings here are all made of stone. I guess they were put up before Christ. The people live in one corner of a building and keep their stock and hay in the other part.

This is sure some life. We get madder every day so the Huns want to watch out when we catch them. I think we could lick about six to one the way we feel.

Part of the way over we had to sleep wherever we could, part of the time standing up, part of the time under some body and part of the time on top of some body. Just wait, we’re going to make the Huns pay for it later on.

The people are as homely as a hedge fence over here. I haven’t seen a pretty person since I came. I wish I had learned French while I was at home. These people can’t talk English at all where we are now. Everyone keeps wine over here. The captain told us we could drink it. Six or seven of the boys got smart and got drunk. You ought to have seen how they punished them. I drink a little every night that I can get it; but I know enough not to get drunk after seeing what the other fellows got.

I was to church last Sunday and the next day our platoon went all through it. They have the Catholic religion. The priest is sure an ugly looking devil.

Have any of the rest of the boys been called yet? Who is working for Stewart now? Tell Jay I have wished I was back on the ranch more than once during the last two weeks.

We sure were crowed coming over here. It was a fine trip only there wasn’t quite enough excitement. I haven’t seen any of the boys over here yet; but maybe will run across them some day. Lorren Foster came over on the same boat with us. Lorren Uhl came on the next boat but I have not seen him yet. Say they have got some great trains over here. They don’t have air brakes on them, they are just hand brakes. Instead of taking an engine to switch the freight cars around a couple of fellows push them around. Tell Ernie’s folks that this life so far has been just about like that story in the Railroad man’s magazine, “Leaving Out the Girls.”

Tell them all to write and hello for me. Don’t worry because we are going to come home safe and sound just as soon as we can whip “old Bill”. I got a card from Bertha and a letter from Berrys yesterday. They are the first I have heard from since I left Camp Travis.

Your loving son,
Fred Dunsmoor

Dear Folks at home:

Well I am well and feeling pretty good and I suppose you are the same. We are having fairly good weather here. Yesterday is about the first it has rained since we came over.

I have been out on a wood chopping detail to-day. I have also mowed hay with a scythe since we have been in this burg. We are getting some new drills too. I suppose after while when they get started we will drill a half hour without the officers giving us a command.

Well I suppose everybody is starting harvesting by this time back there. How are all the crops now? They say we are not allowed to write only once a week so the rest of the folks will have to read your letters.

We filled our bed sacks full of hay the other day. Before that we were sleeping on the ground. If you wasn’t lying on a rock you were lying on some ridge or a little hollow. I sleep like a log now, don’t like to roll out in the morning at all. After we get out we take exercise; so it don’t take long to get awake.

We are getting good grub again now and plenty of it. While we were coming over and before we got settled the grub wasn’t very good. If we don’t get enough to eat the first time we go back and get some more. The country here is hilly and rocky. When we are marching we just go up one hill and down the other. One afternoon we took a short hike thru a piece of timber. We all felt like going to roost early that night.

Don’t any of you folks ever write? I haven’t received only those two letters since I have been here.

You don’t want to believe all the things you hear about how we are used, because they aren’t so. It might be different at the front, but here it is nearly the same as being in the U.S.A. A person can hardly realize they are so far from home.

I chum with a fellow from Hawkeye now. His name is Benjamen Rogers. He says he is acquainted with the Luthers. He is in the same squad I am.

I wish they would move us over where there was a little excitement. If they don’t hurry up and take us to the front the war will be over before we get there. I would like to be in one little battle anyhow before it ends.

Has “Snick” been call yet? They say that they want us to sign up for fifteen months after the war is over. If they keep us in a place like this all the time I won’t sign up for a day.

Well when any of you folks can’t think of anything to do you might sit down and write to me. I will have to learn to play cards all over again when I get back home. The boys don’t play anything except poker and pitch here.

I have written all I know so will close for this time.



Note: “Snick” referred to in the 2nd letter was Fred Dunsmoor’s Cousin Elwin Sargent. Who had enlisted on June 25th, 1918 and was still going through basic training at Camp Dodge, IA when Dunsmoor wrote the letter.

~The letters from Fred Dunsmoor were printed in the Strawberry Point Press on Thursday, Aug 8, 1918 [Vol. No. 44 No. 31]
~Contributed by Terry Sargent


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