May 24, 1917

Dear Ma:-

I have lots to say, but I do not know just how much I will get written. To begin with, I want to tell you that I did get in Sec. 26 and we are leaving for the front on Saturday. My address will be:

H.L.W., Conducteur
S.S.U. 26
Convois Automobiles
par B. C. M.

There is an awful nice crowd in this section and there seem to be very few discordant notes. It is so different from the last section which seemed to be made up mostly of adventurers and fellows whom we did not care to go with. I am not driving an ambulance, but the camionette; that is a Ford with all the tools, parts, etc., and if any one breaks down or any serious repairs have to be done on the road, it is the camionette to the rescue. I may only drive this car in convoy and have an ambulance when I get to the front. However, that remains to be seen. All day today, I have been working on it as they did not make a very good job of putting the car together at the park here. Of course, we don't know where we are going, but it will most likely be Champagne where all the recent fighting has occurred, altho' the last two sections have been sent there so we may go elsewhere.

Last night Camion Section 3 and our section had a farewell banquet. The transport men went off this morning to the training school at Sousons.

By the way, of course you don't know who is the head of our section, but it is one of Elizabeth Hyde's brothers. The one that was married two or three years ago, but his wife died about a year ago. He does not know who I am, as I have decided that all this letter of introduction business and favors and pull don't work. The boys who keep quiet on that line and just show that they are willing to work, so I have not used any or tried to get any pull.

We are going to have a phonograph in our section so that if you find anybody trying to got rid of records, you know where they will be welcome. In fact, quite a number of sections have phonographs and would like to have baseball and football apparatus, but nobody, it seems, thinks that we are here, but they remember about all of the Frenchmen who are not even of their own nation and don't even speak the same language. Either people must forget that there are Americans serving here, or else they think that we are indifferent to what little sources of pleasure they might send us.

It seems to me as tho' the service here was getting to be too eager for men. There are a lot of nice boys, but the number of others is almost as great. The last section was made up of the latter, ours of the former. They are the kind that because drinks are cheap, get drunk and behave generally as does not befit men who are supposed to be gentlemen and representing the U. S. It makes the rest of us awful sore, but what can we do. And yet the Frenchmen see these men drinking and the service gets a black eye.

It is surprising how different is the opinion of the people here about the war than in the U. S. You talk of this being the last summer. Here they think it will last three or at least 2 years more. There is a boy about 20 years old who was with Mr. Hoover in Belgium and had charge of distributing the food in Liege. He knew a number of Germans very well before the war, as he has traveled a lot in Europe and went to college here. One of his best friends was VonBising's private Secretary. He is a very good friend of mine and says that the Germans tell the Belgians to eat what the Americans supply and then they (the Germans) take all the food the Belgians raise. In other words, the Belgian Relief Committee has been indirectly feeding the Germans. He also said, and many others here express the same opinion, despite the statements of Mr. Hoover and many others, that the Germans have plenty of food to keep them going. Here Germany is considered as strong as when she entered and started the war and even more so.

I wish you people could realize it all and now with Russia worrying everyone, it is all the worse. It is all very pretty to look at pictures in papers and magazines, but even here in I Paris one can see how little we all know about it. If more people in the U. S. could realize how big it all is and how much the forces of the U. S. could help, at least morally, they would show some speed and not come as though they were coming to a picnic.

Now I really think I have written enough. Please circulate this letter to Marj. and my address to all who would like to have it. I hope you will write soon and I am looking anxiously for newspapers and letters, as well as any other little comforts. I will write again as soon as we get posted for good.


On reverse of photo: "This is terrible because [it was] snapped without warning. It is also of the camionette and not of Ambulance 644 which I now have.