Posts Tagged ‘Last letters home Dale Melrose’

I will give my great uncle this: he had ambition. He was also very intelligent and a quick study, and it frustrated him no end to be commanded by people who were not on the same level.

Camp Lewis, Oct. 28, ’17

Dear Mother & Dad,

     Well, it is beginning to be sort of wintry out here too. We had a heavy frost last night and it is always cold in the morning. The wind blows the dust around a lot in the day time. It hasn’t rained much though and we can stand the wind and cold better than rain while we are drilling.

     The company went to Tacoma yesterday to see the football game between the Ambulance Cos and the 91st division teams. neither side scored but it would have been was a fine game anyway.

     I came back this morning but some of them are not back yet. This will be about the last time off I guess for most of us. We have orders to issue no more passes and I guess that means a closed camp.

     The base hospital force is to leave here about the 15th of December. That means that we go soon too, because as soon as the hospital is established the ambulances and field hospitals come before the main body of Troops. The draft comes in February and we must be out of here before then anyway.

    I haven’t seen either of those fellows from Montana but there are so many here that no one could be found with a fine tooth comb unless you go through headquarters and that is too much trouble. I’ll send you a picture of part of the camp soon to give you some idea of its size.

    I had some pictures taken but they did not suit me and I made the photographer refund my money. I intend to get some soon though and I’ll send you a half dozen or so.

    I just left off writing to watch an aeroplane fly over. I bet I won’t leave off writing to watch a little thing like that in a year from now.

    French keeps on as usual and I intend to start a German class this coming week at one of the Y.M.C.A. buildings (you know there are about 8 buildings in camp).

    There is to be an officer’s training camp opened here and I am going to try and apply on the strength of my French and German as well as my other experience. I don’t expect to make it but I’ll give myself all the exposure possible. I don’t figure on anything anymore, but will just keep on bulling along and it won’t hurt me any to work when there is nothing else to do in the Army but work, eat and sleep.

    After Nov. 1st it will cost us poor soldiers a cent more on all our letters. The soldiers get the bad end of it all the time. The business men prey on them, they are pestered to buy Liberty Bonds, and I don’t know what all. Above all, they are expected <to be> and are, for the most part, a bunch of rough necks.

    Well, that is enough for this time, I guess. It is the same old round here only a bit fiercer than it was a while ago.

    I have some ties and a civilian hat that I’ll send to John if he wants them. The ties need a little pressing but are all right.

Your son


~~~~Dale is correct about the postage being a burden on soldiers. After the war, in 1919, the rates dropped back down to two cents.

For some reason, there are no more letters in October and none at all in November. Dale’s next missive is dated in December:

Camp Lewis, Dec 2, 1917

Dear Mother and Dad,

     The winter has begun I guess. It snowed some last night and has been raining hard ever since Thanksgiving. We are in for it from now on.

     I inquired about my application for Officer’s Training Camp and found that it has gone on above this company. I don’t know what they said about it but to know that it has gone on is some consolation. If it gets high enough it may go through because it will strike the place where they have been told of my knowledge of French and German. I want to get out of here somewhere into the regular line. All the stuff they are teaching us here is so simple that I could learn it all in two weeks of study. In fact I knew most of it before. I don’t want to stay under command of men who know so little about commanding us as our officers do. Our new captain is the only man of them that knows anything about military things and he doesn’t have much to do with us.

    Some of our company had been moved into a different building because we were crowded in to much in the regular building. I like the new place pretty well because I have a corner and more room on the shelves, etc. I am still teaching French to the sergeants and to the class at the Y.M.C.A. Ww are getting along pretty well now. I use a lot of French in the class and make them answer in French. They know how to ask for food and handle money, ask their way and a few simple tings like that already.

    Well, there is not much to tell this time. I’ll close now. The real address is the one on the outside of this envelope but anything will get me.

Your son



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