Marion Borlin's Letters from World War One
World War One Letters from Marion Borlin
Marion Borlin's life in the Army was documented in hand-written letters saved by his parents during his World War I enlistment. These 35 letters provide a first-person account of his activities and experiences between 13 December 1917 and 15 June 1919.
December 13, 1917 - Welcome to Jefferson Barracks
Well I have just eaten my first meal at Uncle Sam's expense and it was a 45 center too. The train was so late yesterday that it was just about dark when I got here so could do nothing until today. I ran around all morning trying to decide what line I had best go into until afternoon when I enlisted in the aviation section of the National army. I passed the preliminary physical examination easily but the clerks and officers were so busy that it was nearly 9 o'clock before my papers were all made out so I won't have to go out to the barracks until tomorrow.
It doesn't seem like the snow has melted a bit here yet and the walks and streets are so slick one can hardly walk. I saw a woman fall on the street this evening when she got off a streetcar but I don't think it hurt her much. I will write some of the kids as soon as I find out what my address will be.
Marion (Mailed from St. Louis, MO)
Kitchen and Mess Hall at Jefferson Barracks 1917 (MO)
December 23, 1917 - Christmas & Pie
Our section was called out this morning and assigned to a new section and promised for sure that we would get our uniforms tomorrow but I am afraid we will not get through soon enough for me to be able to get home for Christmas. But if I don't I will try to get home for New Year. I have not been able to get into the post office here yet but think I can when I get my uniform. They had a Christmas tree and small program here last night in the Knights of Columbus building and I got a piece of pie. We had pie for dinner today too so I went in and ate twice. They have two hardboiled eggs for breakfast every Sunday morning and this morning a fellow gave me one so I got three. I saw Walter Reynolds this noon here and he is the first person I have seen to know since I have been here.It has been quite warm the last few days and a lot of the boys are out playing baseball and football now. There does not seem to be any disease in camp here outside of a cold but feel all right otherwise.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year
I am Yours very truly, Marion W Borlin
Tent City Jefferson Barracks (MO)
January 1, 1918 - New Years & Uniforms
Dear Mother & Father,
Well, we are started in on a new year. I think this is the first one in four years that Donald and I have not been out at Henry's. They have given us our uniforms and clothes at last. We really get good clothes. Two pair of shoes, 2 pr of heavy wool socks, 3 pr of 2-piece underwear, 2 shirts, 1 pr pants, 1 jacket, 1 overcoat, 1 pr leggings, gloves and a hat. I only kept one suit of my old underwear and sent everything else back. I sent them to John as I thought he would have a better chance to get them than anyone else. I got a pretty good fit in everything except shoes. Both pair were too small but I traded around until I got a good fit. We were all measured up and our sizes put down on slips and then we were lined up and marched through the supply building, each with a sack and a fellow read off the sizes and our sacks were filled as we walked through. A man would be coming out about ten steps apart with a complete outfit. They have nearly everyone fitted up in uniforms now and are working hard to get the men shipped out. They are sending several hundred men out each day now and have 150 empty coaches down at the railroad station yet. They sent a trainload to Rockford, Ill yesterday and are sending some to Georgia, Florida, Texas, and California. I did get a letter from Rosa today noon and it was only posted in Carrollton yesterday. It was the second letter I have gotten since I came here. We had an extra dinner today: chicken, potatoes, oyster soup, celery, bread, butter, an orange and apple. Tonight they turned the thing around and didn't have hardly anything for supper. We generally have real good feed though and plenty of it. I can't tell you a thing about when I will be shipped - maybe in a day or two or maybe in a week or two. But don't worry I will get along all right if anyone else does.
Marion 27th Co, Jefferson Barracks, MO.
Troops Leaving Jefferson Barracks
January 11, 1918 - Welcome to Camp Hancock
We arrived here in fine shape yesterday noon after a nice forty-hour ride in sleepers. When we got here we had to walk two miles into camp with our packs. We were at once put into quarantine for a week or ten days. We all took another mechanical examination this morning and from all reports we are likely to be sent to France possibly within a month.
The bunch I came down with; two hundred in five coaches; were all picked mechanics. We were all busy yesterday afternoon pegging down our tents which had just been stuck up. We also had to rustle a little firewood. It is mostly all pine timber here. They have real officers here and they treat us like men. It isn't anything like Jefferson Barracks. We don't get such a great deal to eat but it is good and I guess enough. We will get quite a bit of physical exercises and drill here but nothing more except a series of inoculations. My squad was on guard duty last night and today at the end of our company street to keep anyone from passing in or out of quarantine. We can hear the infantry practice all day and some artillery. The soil here seems to be all sand at least all that I have seen. I am well and trust this will find you all the same.
Yours sincerely, Private Marion W Borlin, 15th Cas Co, 2nd Motor Mech Reg, Camp Hancock, GA
Camp Hancock 1917
Camp Hancock 1918
January 28 & 30, 1918 - 12th Company, 2nd Motor Mechanic Regiment
Dear Mother & Father,
I received your letter yesterday evening. We get our mail twice a day on Sunday the same as any other day. We have been busy the last two days being assigned to new and permanent companies and moving around into the respective companies. I am now in the 12th Company, 2nd Motor Mechanic Regiment, Signal Corps. Luckily the new 12th Co was put on the same street that the old 15th casual Co was so I did not have to move. We do not have to do much work and hardly any drill but they keep us moving around at something nearly all the time, on some detail of carrying boxes of clothes or grub, or on wood detail or cleaning the street, or kitchen work, putting up or taking down tents, or out for roll call or medical inspection and all such little things as that. There will be no chance for me to come home before going to France as it seems that they are very much in need of mechanics over there and they are going to send us over just as soon as possible. We expect to leave here within just a few days and will likely stop in New Jersey a week or two before sailing.
I may not be allowed to tell you anything about my work after I get over there but I think I will be working on different kinds of gas motors as I am classified as engine motor mechanic. I expect the work will be quite like it would be here in a shop any more than that we will belong to the government 24 hours a day and will be under their control at all times and must work any number of hours they see fit. Of course all of us boys would like to see the war end soon but we are going over with the determination to do our best until we win.
Yours with love and best wishes,
Pvt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Co,. 2nd Motor Mech Regt, SC, Camp Hancock, Augusta, Ga
Motor Mechanic Regiment, Signal Corps. 1918
January 30th. 1918
My squad was on kitchen duty all day yesterday and then on guard duty last night. We had quite a rain again last night but when on guard we could stand in the kitchen door and keep dry. I had Henry and Agnes send me some towels and small articles and yesterday I got a new sweater from Agnes and Rosa and a bible from Rosa. They were both mighty nice. I am real well equipped now with most everything I need. I have plenty of money now and we expect a payday pretty soon too. I guess we will be paid $30.00 a month while in the US but I do not know what I will get when we get over there. There will be $6.70 taken out each month for life insurance and I have signed to have $15.00 sent home to you folks each month with the understanding that the Government is to add $10.00 but I am not positive that they will do it as I hear that they use their own judgment about it later. I know you folks cannot get out much so I will have Henry to attend to my insurance papers and the money and so forth. We are being fed enough now and I am feeling fine.I got a registered letter from Jake this morning. He said Lucy had gotten through butchering. I can nearly taste fried tenderloin and sausage. I am enclosing a clipping from Trench & Camp, a soldiers' paper which is issued each week by the YMCA, which will tell you something about Camp Hancock. Will also enclose a map which will show you where I am and the route we came from St. Louis. If we go from here to New Jersey we will have another quite a little trip. We have a YMCA about two blocks from our tent. They are surely a great help to us boys. I am in the "Y" now writing. It is hard to try to write in a small tent with six or eight other fellows and at night our one candle does not make a very good light.
Yours with love and best wishes,
Pvt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Co,. 2nd Motor Mech Regt, SC, Camp Hancock, Augusta, Ga
Camp Hancock, Augusta, GA - Mess Tent
February 15, 1918 - Breaking Camp
We have been very, very busy this week getting everything ready to break camp. Some of the men worked all night last night and we all have to stay up tonight until everything is completed. We have been drilling twice a day lately and going out before breakfast for fifteen minutes of exercises. It is pretty nice to see two or three thousand men drilling in companies on the forty-acre parade grounds. We now have a band with our regiment too and will march out of here with music. We have been having inspection of our equipment every day and have been practicing rolling our clothing washed and cleaned up for the move. The bugler blew the payday call this morning early but it is now 7 o'clock and no pay in sight yet. I still have $10 left and with the pay I think I will have enough to keep me going. I had some pictures taken here in camp so will send some of them home even if they are very poor. I will try and have some better ones taken later on if I get an opportunity. Rosa tells me mama is feeling a great deal better since the weather has warmed up and that Lucy is going to move in with you folks. I am glad of it as they will be lots of company and help. Well I must close or I won't get this letter off today.
Yours very truly,
Marion, 12th Company, 2nd Motor Mech Regt, SB
Camp Hancock, Augusta, GA - 1917
February 20, 1918 - Camp Merritt
Well we have moved again and are now in Camp Merritt, New Jersey for a few days rest before sailing. We didn't go exactly where we had expected to but are not far from there and will beyond a doubt embark from there. We left Camp Hancock about 3:45 PM Sunday and passed through parts of eight states on our way. We passed around the outskirts of Richmond, VA - the old southern capital and also passed the old house in which Stonewall Jackson died in Va. Monday we could occasionally see an old snow bank which was the first snow we had seen since coming to Camp Hancock. Monday night we reached Washington DC about 7 PM and laid over there about an hour but were not allowed to leave the coaches. We could see the capital building all lit up. While there the Red Cross served us with a lunch consisting of sandwiches and good coffee.
Tuesday morning we came within sight of the Statue of Liberty, NY. We reached camp here about noon yesterday and were welcomed with a rain. It rained all afternoon and most all night but is nice and warm today and is thawing quite a lot making it real muddy. It seems nearly like home to get back north where they have nice houses that are painted and see white children and women again. We were given quite an ovation as we passed through Jersey City, NJ. All the factories and all the locomotives that were in the yards just tied their whistles back as we passed and people were standing in the windows and on the fire escapes waving flags and handkerchiefs. We are all feeling fine and healthy and are anxious to go and get in it. This will be the last place that I will be able to tell you where I am at. After we leave here we will just be somewhere, but don't worry I shall take care of myself. I will try and drop you a line when we leave, if possible but don't be surprised if you don't hear from me as they may not let us get any mail out after we get packing orders. We are to all mail a card at the docks to our people announcing our safe arrival on the other side and the cards will be held here until we reach the other side and they will then be released. We are to have a final equipment inspection here Saturday and may leave at any time afterward.
With best wishes to all, I remain yours sincerely Pvt Marion W Borlin, 12th company, 2nd MM REG, SC AEF, via New York
Yours very truly, Marion, 12th Company, 2nd Motor Mech Regt, SB
Camp Merritt 1918
Camp Merritt Jersey City, NJ looking South - 1917
March 1, 1918 - Shipping Out (Camp Merritt, NJ
Mailed from Jersey City, NJ)
Dear Folks, It has been misty about all day but has cleared off this evening and looks pretty fair again. This will likely be the last letter you will get from me for a month or more as we are going to leave here very soon, likely tomorrow night or Sunday. I will leave a postcard at the docks where we embark and it will be held until our safe landing has been announced and then posted in the regular mail. We have been given another pair of shoes here, a winter cap, and a shelter half which is a half tent. Two of them are buttoned together making a little tent about three feet high and just big enough for two men to sleep under. We were given nine rounds of ammunition this evening for a 45 automatic but we haven't got the automatic yet. We will very likely not get them until we get on the other side. I have been in the army two and a half months and haven't fired a gun of any kind. I worked over at the quartermaster headquarters the other night until 1 AM issuing shoes, caps, shelter halves and all other clothing that was short in the companies. If a store would sell as much stuff as we dished out in six hours they would be going some. I guess about 2000 pairs of socks, 1000 pair of shoes, 1000 caps and a lot of other articles. We took about a five-mile hike Wednesday through a small town by the name of Tenaffy. This was the only time we have been outside of camp and we were not allowed to stop in town. No one has been able to get a pass here at all. I just got off of twenty-four guard at 11 o'clock today, serving two hours on and four off, so am a bit tired and sleepy tonight. We all have all of our clothes washed up clean and ready to go. Don't worry we will get through all right. Wishing you all the best of health and good cheer,
I am as always Yours Marion,
12th company, 2nd MMReg, SC, AEF
Undated Post Card:
"I have arrived safely overseas." (This card will be held until safe arrival of the boat on which I sailed.)
Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd MM Reg SC, AEF
What it costs to equip an infantryman in WW1 - 1917
March 14, 1918 - The Trip to England
We have completed the largest part of our journey in fine shape. I sent you a cablegram day before yesterday announcing our safe landing and trust that you received it ok. I started to write you Sunday, your birthday, while on the boat but didn't get much written so will just start over.We had a real good voyage all the way and I didn't get sick but was dizzy most of the way. Didn't miss any meals. We are in a rest camp now for a short time before going on to our destination. Land and buildings sure do look good to a person after seeing nothing but water for a number of days. We had the finest trip yesterday on the train that I have ever had. The scenery although it consisted mostly of small farms, was the most beautiful I have ever seen. The farming and gardens are well under way here already but it is quite chilly here this morning. My fingers are so cold I can hardly write. I wouldn't take anything for the sights and experiences I have seen the last two weeks. There are a lot of things that I am not allowed to tell you but as our captain said we will have that much more to tell when we get back. We had a two-mile march last evening, but it seemed like six from the depot through town to camp. The little children would line up along the streets and hold out their hand just to touch us or shake hands as we passed. I happened to be on the outside of our column so I got to touch a lot of little dirty hands. We do not see any young men here - just women, children and old men. The women all seem to work at all kinds of work and everybody here rides bicycles. They have fine roads here but there is not much travel except by foot and bicycles. Very few automobiles but out of what there are one sees a Ford once in a while. I never got a single letter while in the last camp in the US except two or three forwarded from Camp Hancock. So I think I should have a bunch of them whenever we get in a mail steamer. I am in the best of health and hope you all are as well Yours sincerely,
Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd MM Reg SC AEF, via NY
Training Completed and sailed to France aboard the USS Leviathan - 1918
March 14, 1918 - England
Letter card with 8 pictures from Southampton, England enclosed.
I bought this letter card in the YMCA here so I think the censor will surely let them go through. I think there is no objection to my saying that we are in England now for a short time. I can hardly realize though that I am here but there are a good many things that do impress one that we are not in America. The US have really given very little in this war yet as compared to what these countries have given. I suppose Lucy and the children are living with you by now. I think the last letter I got from anyone was one from Jake written Feb 17 nearly a month ago so don't think anything about it when you don't hear from me often as our mail doesn't go out every day. I am up for guard duty tonight so must close.
Yours truly, Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd MMReg SC. AEF
April 1, 1918 - Welcome to France
Well we have taken quite a long move again since I wrote Rosa and had quite a little heavy marching mixed in with it. We are surely getting to see our share of the country and I enjoy it very much. We don't have any idea how long we will be stationed here whether for a short time or permanently, but it is a splendid location and we don't care whether we stay or move.
Our company dined with the French yesterday for Easter dinner and were given quite a feed consisting of soup, beans, bread, prunes, coffee and wine. This is a great wine country here. I have seen acres and acres of vineyards and they seem to cultivate them very carefully. In the last village where we were billeted, the population said the water was not good to drink, so they all drank wine. Wine is quite cheap here too, from about two francs per bottle up. A franc is considered equivalent to 20 cents American, but in changing US money to French, we get a little over a half franc extra on the dollar or five franc and sixty centimes per dollar. 100 centimes = 1 franc. This country looks ever bit as old as it really is. Some of the buildings look centuries old and no doubt a great many of them are. No wonder they speak of this as the old country. I surely missed the good eggs yesterday that I have been in the habit of getting on Easter when at home but I shall pay up for it when I get back. I will let you know when we are ready to start back so you can start saving up eggs and baking cherry pies. We have begun to get our mail over here now. I think I have gotten five or six letters now but no papers.
Distance is measured by kilometers here instead of miles. 100 kilometers equals 62-1/2 miles. We have a fine bed now too. Our mattresses are filled with some kind of hemp grass and it feels like feathers to what we have been used to. We don't have to get up very early here either. The boys are spending their spare time playing ball and fixing up around the camp. We expect to get to work in a few days. I am glad to hear that Lucy and the children are with you now. I am well and trust you all are the same.
Yours Sincerely, Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd M.M. Reg, S.E., AEF, France.
Le Havre, France to Nanterre, France - 1918
April 13, 1918 - Spring and Easter
I received a letter from you and one from Jake today so will answer yours at once. I am sure glad to know that you all are keeping well. I guess you are now having the usual April showers. So are we. We have been having them for the most of a month that I can vouch for. The weather seems to be improving a little though as it is warming up a bit and we have an occasional clear day. I see you still uphold the present condition of affairs so I shall say no more. I had never intended my complaints for myself alone by any means but for all the rest of the boys that have been here as long and longer. I know there are many of them in fact after my trip to the Mediterranean and back. I will say that I am unable to miss any American out of their country at all. Next Sunday is Easter so you will have to eat a few extra eggs for me. I am glad that they have finally stamped out the flu over there. It is remarkable that it has never gotten among the men here at least it never has in any of the camps I have been in. I believe it must be due a great deal to the inoculations we have been given
Yours sincerely, Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12 Co, 2 Reg, ASM, APO #701, AEF
Le Havre, France - 1918
April 24, 1918 - A Little Grippe and Cold
Dear Mother & Father,
I am here in one of the American base hospitals, but for nothing serious, just a little grippe and cold. I came in Sunday and am all right again now. I am going back out to work again tomorrow. You can rest assured that we are well taken care of here when the least bit sick and we are located so handy to several excellent hospitals here in this beautiful city that it is only a few minutes ride to come in.
It sure is a treat to me to be in a real house with a nice soft bed and real good eats such as scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, asparagus, jam, rice pudding, and custards, and a phonograph for music. I got a pass a week ago Sunday and came into visit the city. There are really some very interesting things to see here and I hope to come in often.
We are working every day now and part Sundays but will try and write you a little very week if I can. How are you all getting along at home? Good I hope. I suppose you have been having quite a lot of summer there already. Not so here. Still cool and cloudy 9/10 of the time. Gardens do not seem to be any further along here that they were back in the States when I left. We had several frosts last week which I am afraid will hurt the early fruit. Tell mother to not put in too much time in the garden.
Yours Sincerely, Marion W Borlin, 12th Co, 2nd MM Reg, SC, APO 702, AEF, France
April 26, 1918 -- (Post card to Mrs. Lucy Cummings)
What do you think? I just got your card and fathers letters which you wrote Feb 24. Was glad to get them and the information from Dr. B. I have been laying off a few days on account of the grippe but am back on the job again now and feeling fine. How are you getting along with the Reo? I hope you and the folks can get along good together. The weather is, I believe, improving a little here.
Yours truly, MWB Pvt Marion W Borlin, `12th Co, 2nd MM Reg, SC, APO #702, American Expeditionary Force, France
May 12, 1918 -- Mother's Day
Do not think that this is not for father too but it is especially for you as this is "Mother's Day" and we have been reminded of it by our officers and the YMCA people and everyone has been requested to write home today. There is going to be a special effort to rush this mail through and see how quickly they can deliver it.
Our officers requested the French government that we have a holiday today and it was granted in your honor so none of us are working in the shops today. Isn't it grand to be under real men like that? They also bought carnations for every one in the company and we are to have a special dinner with strawberries for desert. What do you think of that for the army? I suppose you think we are over here having the hardest kind of hardships and we sometimes think we are but I know we are not. We are really fairing very good. We have been a little shy on feed in times past while moving around so much but am glad to say we are getting fine feed now and plenty of it. The weeks seem to pass by quickly too now that we are busy at work. I think I will go to the city this evening as they will have a special program at the YMCA. Have you learned to drive Lucy's car yet? I hope you folks are getting to take a lot of nice trips this summer. I guess everyone is very busy about home now. I hope they have a good crop season this year.
They are beginning to have quite a bit of garden stuff on the market here now. We have had rhubarb two or three times and radishes once but the radishes tasted more like turnips than radishes. They have regular street markets here just like peanut stands at a carnival. In the small towns they have a certain day each week for market and in the cities they have a market everyday. The people bring in produce from the surrounding country and they have everything for sale from kids (young goats) to laces and all kinds of dry goods. Everyone talks all the time and it sounds worse than a bunch of geese.
I don't think I am picking up this language very quickly, it all sounds alike.
Best wishes of the day. Your loving son, Marion W Borlin, 12th Co, 2nd MMReg SE, APO #702, AEF, France
Marion Borlin spent 9 months in Nanterre, France with his unit, repairing and testing military vehicles.
May 26, 1918 - Sightseeing in France
Last Sunday was my Sunday off and I went to the City sightseeing and didn't get to write you at all so will write today before I leave camp. I am well and getting along fine. Our shops and camp are being improved daily for our convenience. The weather seems to be improving quite a bit too the last two weeks. It is getting pretty hot some days and we have had two or three days in succession that it didn't rain, which is quite a change from what we have been having. I received yours, Howard's and Lucy's letters of April 30th yesterday and was glad to hear from you all and know that you were all well. Tell Howard and Sybel I am glad to hear from them but haven't time to write to everyone separate. Lucy understands. I am away behind with my letters the last two weeks. I am glad you are not expecting this war to end as soon as some people are because I expect it to take some little time to finish the thing up right and there is no doubt but that we will do it in time.
We are going to have a holiday May 30, Decoration Day. The YMCA is going to have a field day meet in a near-by city with all kinds of races and contests. The boys have a baseball game every Sunday afternoon but I haven't been playing this summer. There are so many places to go and things to see without baseball. The team has just come home now, yelling, with another game to their credit. Garden truck is on the market now in full blast. We even have had a few messes of cauliflower. I saw a whole wagonload of onions yesterday evening. The Germans haven't got anything on the French when it comes to onions and garlic. Irish potatoes are up about 4 inches and other stuff in proportion. Will write to the kids whenever I get time.
Yours very truly, Marion W Borlin, 12th Co., 2nd MM Reg, SC, APO#702, AEF, France
June 12, 1918 -- 6 Months In
This is the 12th of June. Six months ago today is when I left home. Three months ago today I landed in Europe and a month ago today was mother's day. After six months of this life I can see no bad effects to myself in any way and am learning something every day. Work is going along very nicely and we have plenty of it. I am getting some splendid experiences in repairing and testing out autos and trucks. I got to take two nice trips away out in the country last week with the French chief. I said out in the country but it is really just a string of small towns like the suburbs of Chicago or St. Louis. The roads are fine hard roads everywhere. I believe roads are easier to build and keep up here than at home. When they begin to wear down and get rough they just scatter sand and small gravel over them and it seems to beat down and stick.
Just got a letter from Jake yesterday. He is the next on my list to write to. Then have some wonderful flower gardens here now. They even have the ones beat that we saw in Woodford County last summer. The French people are daffy on flowers. They have as many flower stands in the city as newspaper stands. Do you remember how nothing could ever induce me to wear wool socks while at home? I have worn nothing else since and suppose I will wear them all summer unless I buy others. There has been some very hard fighting going on the past few weeks and is yet and while some days things haven't gone as we might wish them I think that very soon and probably by the time you get this letter, you folks over there will be hearing some very good news as America is just beginning to make herself felt here now and they, Americans, are certainly leaving a very good impression every time they get a chance to prove themselves. We got our first free issue of Red Cross tobacco last week. Three bags and one can of tobacco and two packages of cigarettes. Pretty nice wasn't it? It is getting about time for taps (lights out) so had better quit. It isn't good dark here at 9:30 PM.
Best withes to all Yours sincerely, Marion w Borlin, 12 Co, 2 MM Reg, SC, APO#702, AEF
July 3, 1918 - Americans Prove their Worth
I received your letter of June 10th with the bill enclosed and thank you very much for same. I don't know what I will get with it yet but will get something for a remembrance of France.
Everything is going fine for America here now. The Americans who are at the front are certainly proving their worth in every engagement and especially the Marines have done excellent work. France is beginning to open her eyes at what the US is doing and I venture that Germany is too. Everyone is planning on quite a celebration here tomorrow. We do not have to work at all and all of the Frenchmen get off at noon. Our entire company is invited over to dine with the French and I imagine they will put on something quite a little extra as they are very grateful for the successes which the Americans have made lately. We are having nice weather here not very warm and the nights are real cool. I am sleeping under three and four blankets every night. We have only had one week that was very warm and that was over a month ago. I am well and trust you are all the same.
Yours Sincerely, Marion, 12th Co, 2nd M.M. Reg. S.E., APO #702, Am E F
July 16, 1918 - Fighting and Music
It has been real warm here today and it reminds me of some of the hot days we had last summer but for the most part we have had fairly cool nice weather. July is a big month this year in France. July 4th we had quite a celebration and then again Sunday the 14th we had another and now next will come the 22nd. I don't know whether the French government will have a holiday for me or not. Guess I will speak to them about it. I just received notice the evening of July 5th that I had been given a rating of sergeant, effective since June 1st. You may know that I am very grateful for this as I have worked hard since getting here and intend to keep on doing so. I sometime feel like I am hardly in the army and wish to be up with the fighting but I suppose this work we are doing is about as important as any branch of the army. You have nothing to worry about my safety as we are in what is called the noncombatant branch of service and am in practically no more danger than if I were at home.
There is a very hard battle going on this week, started at midnight Sunday and as the weather was favorable we could hear it very plain and see the flashes of the firing against the sky. We could hear one constant roar up until Monday morning when the other noises of the day drowned it out. From every report we have gotten so far the fighting is going very favorable for us and the outlook for an early conclusion of the war in our favor is very bright indeed. With the good work that Italians have done and our growing stronger every day I think the Germans fighting spirit is well nigh broken.
We have quite a little music in our company now with ten instruments, a phonograph, piano, two drums, two violins, cornet, trombone, saxophone, and trumpet. Quite a collection for one company isn't it? You will hear of the twelfth company giving Gen Pershing a concert one of these days I expect. I have never been fortunate enough to see General Pershing yet. I got one Patriot yesterday May 23rd issue and it was the first one I had gotten for nearly two months. Letters have been coming pretty slow too for quite a while but I trust you are all well. I have a chance to send this in to Paris to mail this evening so will close with best wishes to all.
Sergeant Marion W Borlin, 12 Co., 2 MM Reg, SC, APO #702, AEF, France
One of many German "Krupps Cannons" outside of Paris, France. 1918.
July 26, 1918 - A Jolly Good Fellow
I haven't gotten to write but very little the last two months and I don't suppose near all of the letters reach their destination either, so I will try and write a little more if possible. Everything is going good here and just fine for us at the front. Of course our boys are having to fight hard but they are getting great results. I imagine the St. Louis papers have been putting out some big headlines these last two weeks. Have you noticed that our boys haven't been beaten in a single battle yet? They have fought against some awful odds too especially in the battle of Chateau-Thiery in June when they stopped the big German drive. They did it single-handed too as they had very little artillery and airplane support at that time. Few people have imagined that the Germans were as close to Paris as they really were too. We have been able to hear the firing most every night the last two weeks. I often wish I was up there if I had the proper training but it takes months to get a man fit for that kind of work while in this line I got to work just as soon as we got over here and have gotten a lot of practical experience which may come in quite handy later on
I just got a letter this evening from Agnes that had been on the road ever since June 17th and I know I haven't been getting near all of my mail. Agnes says you have been having 100-degree weather there. It has stayed quite cool here practically all the time so far. I am sleeping under three and four blankets every night. We are promised a furlough next month but I don't know where I will go yet but will try and make the very best of the opportunity. We won't be allowed to go to any neutral country and I don't know whether we will be allowed to go to England or not. Prospects are very bright at present for the war to end quite a bit before you and I had expected. I forgot to tell you in one of my letters, when I was telling you about the musical instruments this company had, that we also have two dogs and one Billy goat. Two of my chums and I were in Paris Sunday afternoon and as we were walking along near the Eiffel Tower an old gent alongside spoke up and said "Are you looking for someplace". We at first took him to be one of the several guides one meets up with in Paris that want to take you around and charge you a few francs and all the tobacco you have, but he turned out to be just a jolly good fellow that likes to talk and have a good time. He once lived in the States but as he said it, he had lived in or near Paris since 47 years. He certainly entertained us with his jokes and has promised to come out to a near by town Sunday where we expect to meet him again. The YMCA came out from Paris Monday night and gave us a short show. I guess because it was July 22. They expect to come out every Monday night from now on.
Yours Sincerely, Sgt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Co, 2nd MM Reg, SC, APO #702, AEF
August 24, 1918 - Busy on Detail
I have been a little tardy lately in writing to you but no need for excuses. Our furloughs have been postponed again but I am now billed to go Sept 1st which isn't so very long off. I am surely anxious to go as I feel like a little rest would do me good.
I am very busy at present as one of the foremen is away on furlough and I am in charge of his detail of twenty men beside doing testing out work for the detail in which I was in before. I think we will be sent to a rest camp which is France's world famous summer resort in or near the French Alps. I will write and tell you all about it. I came to Paris tonight to the "Y" first to write you as it is nearly impossible for me to write in camp with all the fellows jabbering and wrestling around. I have to leave for camp tonight on the 12:05 train which gets me home about 12:35. France is feeling pretty good over the fighting of the last two months and I venture there has been quite a little rejoicing in the states too. At that, this is a slow war but sure. The 4 th of next month I will be wearing a six-month service chevron. I will not be likely to get any wound chevrons as they don't issue them for skinned knuckles and mashed fingers which is the only kind of wounds I am likely to get. There isn't any excitement around here any more at all since the long range guns have been put out of commission and we have only had two air raids in over a month. I think it will be a steady retreat for the Huns from now on and the farther they go the worse they will be dogged. I am looking for another great battle to start soon. We can't hear the guns at all any more. I was quite surprised the other day to get a letter from J.O.L. Carmody from Texas. I have also gotten one from Mr. Ball at Jacksonville, Ill.
How is everything and every body about home? Mail has been pretty scarce for a long time. I guess everyone is pretty busy. There are quite a few colored US sailor boys in Paris this evening, the first ones I have seen over here. I guess they are spending their vacation here. I have no news or anything of interest to write about tonight so had better close. Best wishes to Lucy and the children.
Yours sincerely, Sergeant Marion W Borlin, 12th Co, 2nd MM Regt, APO #702, AEF
September 13, 1918 -- Six Month Service Stripe
Six Month Service Stripe enclosed.
I suppose you are figuring that I am on my vacation now but if you are you are mistaken as I didn't get to go on the 5th as I was supposed to. Just two days before I was to go one of the foremen got sick and I had to stay and take his place. I am now planning on going next week. We now have our six months service stripes and I am sending you one which I had bought as we were issued two and I don't need this one. They are worn four inches above the lower edge of the left coat sleeve. I got a letter from Donald last week. He is OK and back with his outfit. I was surely glad to hear from him again. The Americans launched another big offensive on their front yesterday and the reports from there are very, very good. The Germans have suffered one big defeat after another ever since July 14th and they will continue to do so now until they give up entirely. From present indications they may do so this winter. We are having a whole lot of cool rainy weather again. I think it has rained some every day this month so far. We never have any real hard rains, but the wet drizzley kind. I want to take a bath tonight so will have to close or will be too late.
Yours sincerely, Sgt. M W Borlin, 12th Co, 2nd MM Regt, APO #702, AEF
October 30, 1918 - Talk of Peace
I haven't heard from you for quite a while. I guess you are too busy reading the papers or else you are like me, a little lazy when it comes to writing. There is no news here with us, everything is going along just about the same. Work is not slacking up any and all government work such as building storehouses, magazines, and shops are progressing just as though they expected the war to last ten years longer. You can bank on it that our allies are not going to go to sleep and be caught by any traps. The fight has gone too far now and cost too much for them to pass up anything now that we have the big advantage. There is lots of peace talk right along but they don't seem to be getting very far with it. The latest we have is that Austria is finished but we have heard it so often now that we don't believe anything until we see it. France is floating a liberty loan now and they have a very large display of captured war material from old rusty helmets to aeroplanes, a Zeppelin, a tank, and a submarine in Paris. It is quite interesting to anyone like myself who has not seen these things in real conflicts. Anyone buying a loan bond was allowed to go out on the submarine. I didn't go on it.
It is pretty chilly here now and always damp. The tree leaves have mostly all fallen but vegetables are still quite green. I was issued a long leather vest yesterday which will help keep out quite a bit of the cold. Only the ones who are doing driving were given them. I am still doing testing and inspecting. We are working nine hours a day in the shops now and don't quit work until 5:45 PM. It starts getting dark about 5 o'clock. I got a letter from Mrs. Mills saying that they had a son staying out at Rosa's now. I'll bet they are a happy couple now. It will be so much company for Rosa. I guess Henry is selling automobiles and barbed wire now. One is about as expensive as the other I suppose. I imagine Jake and John are figuring up what they will do with their threshing money and Lucy is entertaining Aunt Sich. I must write Lucy the first chance I get. Best regards to all.
Yours sincerely. Sgt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd Air Service Mechanic Regs, APOI #702, AEF
November 13, 1918 - Victory!
I hardly know how to start this letter there has been so much happened the last week. I suppose you folks got the news of the end of the war just about as soon as we did but I don't believe you can conceive what it really does mean to the world. I know I didn't until I got to Paris in the afternoon and saw not hundreds, but millions of people of all ages thronging throughout the city hugging and kissing each other and yelling and singing theirselves hoarse with joy.Everyone was confidentially expecting the news Monday morning so when about 10:30 AM a French sergeant came running out of the office with news that the armistice had been signed and was to go into effect at 11 o'clock, all work stopped at once and tools were left just where they were used last. I had a car ready so I jumped in and ran down to Nanterre, a near by town. Everyone was out in the streets and bells started ringing and the guns from the aero defense stations fired salutes. Flags were brought out from everywhere and hung over doors and gates. In a few minutes time a large crowd had collected at the depot and a parade was started down the main street.After dinner we were called into formation and told there would be no work that afternoon or next day so everybody dolled up and made a bee line for the train for Paris. The train was already full, but we hung on the sides and rode on top of the catcher. Everywhere flags were flying from windows and doors and everyone from babies to old folks were out waving and yelling. When we got to Paris everything was aswarm with people hugging and kissing each other and singing in countless parades.
I doubt very much if the like has ever been equaled in history. People who had had four years of war hanging on they heads and who had been night after night run out of their beds to refuge by the inhuman civilian air raids; so no wonder they were joyous. This is why I say that I don't believe you folks back in the states can fully realize what the end of this war does mean.
The one big question with us now is when do we start home? We have not the least information on the subject but I believe we will be on the road by Christmas. By us being attached to the French army I think we will be released soon after the peace terms are signed and in the meantime we are doing the same kind of repair work that we have been.
Best wishes to all, Sgt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd Air Service Mach. Geg., APO #702, AEF
Crowds including children dancing and carrying flags of Allied nations during a spontaneous celebration of Armistice Day & the end of World War I. Paris, France. November 11, 1918.
November 24, 1918 - Father's Day Letter
Dear Father, Today is designated as fathers day and the censorship is lifted for one day so I will tell you something about my trip coming over here. We left Camp Merrite about three o'clock in the morning on March 3rd and after about a two-mile march we boarded a train for Hoboken. We got to the docks at 9 AM and were at once marched onto the ship. Did you ever find out what ship I came over on? It was the USS Leviathan or formerly the German Vatterland and it certainly is a massive structure. The trip we made it carried about 14,000 troops beside its crew. Enough to populate a little city. The next morning the 4th the little tugs began to gather around and hook on as thick as they could get. It reminded me of a lot of ants clinging onto a big carcass. We were all forced below decks and kept there and about 9AM we started to move off. We were allowed on deck again about 22 o'clock just in time to get a last glimpse of the statue of liberty. In just eight days we landed at Liverpool England. We worked all that night unloading baggage and the next morning we boarded the little old dinky train for Southampton arriving there that evening about 5 o'clock with a three mile march ahead of us and our packs on our backs. I was mighty glad to lay on the floor of the tents that night. The next night I was on regimental guard and the next afternoon the 15th we marched back to the docks and boarded an old side-wheeler bound for France. It was sure one rough trip across the channel but we made it OK and landed at Havre next morning. We stayed there four days and then boarded a train again for nobody knew where. Twenty-four hours later we unloaded at San Quano. This train was composed entirely of box and cattle cars. We had dinner here and then marched about nine miles to Contres a small town where we were billeted in barns and lofts. We stayed here one week, drilling every day. At noon the 29th after four hours of marching drill we got orders to pack and move at once. We marched about 14 miles to Bloise and again loaded into boxcars. Another 24-hour ride and we landed at our present camp Nazaire five miles from Paris. As I have figured it out this made about 346 hours that I had spent in traveling on rail and sea since we left St. Louis. We are now looking forward each day for the orders to start back over the brine. I don't know when we will start but hope in a few weeks. Tomorrow morning we start drilling an hour and 15 minutes each day so they must expect to start us back soon. If we do get started back don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for three or four weeks.
Yours Sincerely Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd Air Service Mech Reg, APO #702, AM EF
Yours very truly, Marion, 12th Company, 2nd Motor Mech Regt, SB
December 22, 1918 -- Seaport, St. Nazaire
At last I have gotten up enough courage to write you and let you know where I am today. Monday morning we broke camp and boarded the train with full confidence that were on our way home. After 69 hours on the train, going a distance that could easily be made in 10, we landed here the morning of Dec 19 in camp Ker Plunk. The name describes the whole camp.
We weren't here long until our hopes of going home were vanquished entirely. Today our company is being split up into eight or ten different details and to be sent out in different places on detached service for an indefinite time, possibly months. As the order reads now I am to go with six or eight other men with a $50,000 traveling machine shop repair outfit but I don't know where to. The job sounds good as compared with the others but I am afraid that I will be out of luck for mail when we get all split up.
It rains here continually and every one wears hip boots and rubber suits so I will be only too glad to get away from here. We have gotten any mail for a week. Christmas is three days off. I have had some photographs taken but haven't had a chance to mail them. My address will be changed again but will leave it the same at present. Sgt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd Reg Air Service Mechanics, Via St. Nazaire, APO #701, AEF
January 1, 1919 -- Happy New Years
Dear Folks, Happy New Year.
We are having a pretty nice day here today for a change. It was clear most all day only a little rain this evening. We had a very good dinner today and afternoon I went down town to St. Nazaire. Our camp is about a mile from town. There are nine different camps in this vicinity and the amount of US supplies along the docks is wonderful. I have been up the coast about six miles and all one sees is US supplies, war material, and US troops the majority of which are negroes. At one place there is nothing but warehouses covering a strip a half-mile wide and two and a half miles long and they are full. It will be a big job to take care of all the stuff the US has over here and they seem to be taking their sweet time in doing it. None of the folks at home need to think that their boys over here don't want to come home because they all do if they only had the chance. Some people seem to think that some of the boys will be mustered out over here and stay but this is not the case. There are many boats at the docks all the time and some of them are taking troops away but most of them are men from the hospitals.
There are large steel derricks built along the docks for unloading the boats and they are kept busy. One of them that I have been passing several times lately has been two days steadily unloading immense railroad locomotive boilers and it handles them like they were sticks of wood. They are still unloading army trucks by the hundreds. The detail I was supposed to go out with has been cancelled so we are still here just doing detail work around camp such as hauling old boxes, lumber, coal, cans and everything imaginable. There is nothing in sight at present so we will stay here until something turns up.
Everything is so different here from what it was in the vicinity of Paris. One would hardly recognize the inhabitants here as the same nationality they are so different. Wooden shoes are universally work here by the civilians and I have met two yoke of oxen on the road here. Sounds like old times doesn't it? I am very sorry to hear that mother has been failing in health. I have a photograph of her that Dorothea kindly sent me and she looks so much thinner than she did. I do with you could move to town and be satisfied. While we are working here most of the day in the rain we have good oiled suits and hat and hip boots which keep us dry and I wish I could think that you folks are as well as I am. It seems strange to me that when I am among thousands of soldiers that I never see anyone I know. I still get an occasional Patriot. Got one as late as Dec 2nd issue. Best greetings to all
Sgt. Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd Reg Air Service Mechanics, Via St. Nazaire, APB #701, AEF, France
USS Leviathan, Troop Transport - 1918
January 21, 1919 - St. Nazaire, France
Dear Father & Mother,
I have just received your letter of Nov 29th. Owing to our moving our mail has been considerably mixed up but it is getting straightened out now and we are getting some through pretty quick direct from New York. I just a week ago got the money order from Mrs. Mills but I got the Christmas box a day or two before Christmas. I am surely very thankful to you and the others. I mailed you two packages of pictures about January 12th and as they will not insure parcels over here I am anxious to know if you get them OK. Have some of the folks let me know when you get them. In one package I have a roll of some camp and company pictures and in the other is a pair of mittens and stockings for Rosa's baby, some detail pictures, a map of Paris and a bunch of my photographs which I had taken while in Paris. You may give sisters and brothers one of them and I have promised Mrs. Mills and Dorothea each one of them.Agnes told me in her last letter that you folks had been planning each week on my coming home but I guess you were not any more disappointed than I was in not getting to come. When I wrote Mrs. Mills and Jake I was expecting to be sent out from here on convoy but this was cancelled and there is absolutely nothing in sight now. I think I will be allowed to say that the outlook for going home now is pretty slim unless something should turn up in the States to change conditions over here. It continues rainy here but is not cold enough to freeze. They say that they have now had 60 consecutive days that it has rained here. Quite a record isn't it?The Americans have several hundred German prisoners about here working about the docks, warehouses, rock quarry, and on road work. They are all well fed and well clothed and have to do less work than our soldiers do. They are very quiet and seem quite content to work for the US but dislike to work under the French. They are all very anxious to get back home. No doubt most of them may have families.
January 27th. I failed to get this letter off and in the meantime new things have been turning up. Eleven other men and myself are leaving here tomorrow for Meucon, a small town near Vennes north of here near the coast. We do not know anything about what kind of work it will be or what kind of a place it is but it can't be anything but an improvement over this place. I will write you again as soon as we get settled down and know where we are and in the meantime my address will be the same with a few additions.
Yours sincerely, Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12th Company, 2nd Reg Air Service Mechanics, MYC Reception Park, BS #1, APO #701, AEF
February 22, 1919 -- Washington's Birthday
Today is Washington's birthday so we have a holiday the first we have had since New Year. I am now located in Camp Meucon near Vannes. This is a very large artillery camp but is partially vacated now. There are still several hundred horses here and colored porters to care for same. There is twenty two of our company here doing the repair work for the camp trucks and touring cars and we have plenty to do. There seems to be no end to the work over here for months to come. They are repairing worn roads here and they tear up more road in a week this wet weather hauling rock with the heavy trucks than they can fix in a month. I have gotten to Patriots lately, one of them in which Christian and some more boys were putting in their complaints and the bright reply that the editor made. As long as the people are humbugged into believing that everything is going along all right, that the boys are being treated fine and gotten home as soon as possible we are very likely to stay right here (enjoying) the army life at one dollar per and paying off France's army debt. I must say though that none of our bunch or myself are sitting around crying our eyes out or anything like that for after a year overseas I hope I am not quite that soft. All we can do is make the best of a bad job and wait, wait, wait. It begins to look as though I was going to miss another winter as we have only had a week or two of frozen weather, enough to burst several motors and radiators that were neglected but rain I have seen enough rain the past year to keep the Mississippi full for all time to come. There is no place to send out laundry here so that leaves another joy for myself.
Don't look for letters often as long as present conditions exist as I simply don't feel like writing. I am well and trust you all are the same. The headquarters of our company are still at St. Nazaire so I am leaving my address there and they forward it to me.
Yours Sincerely, Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12 Company, 2nd Reg Air Service Mechanic Motor Reception Park BS#1, APO#701, AEF
March 11, 1919 -- Avigon, France
Dear Father & Mother,
I am about 1300 kilometers from where I was when you last heard from me. I had never said anything about trying to get a leave because I wasn't sure that I could. I have been fighting for two months to get my second leave when my third one is due. Sat noon the 8th they told me my permission had come through OK for Avignon (Vaucluse) France which is about 120 kilometers up the Rhone River straight north of Marseilles, so my buddy and I started Sat evening via Paris, Dijon, Lyon for here with 14 days to do with as we pleased. We stopped off five hours in Paris Sun morning seeing some of our old stomping grounds and again boarded the Paris-Marseilles express. We were accidentally asleep when the train got here so rode on through to Marseilles and the Mediterranean Sea. We spent five hours there sightseeing and again boarded the train for here and here we are in a town of 50,000 population and only about twenty five Americans. There is no US post office, "Y", or Red Cross here so I am going to try and send you this by French post.
This has been my first opportunity to see southern France and I must say it is beautiful to look at but I don't for the life of me see how the inhabitants make a living around Marseilles. The main occupation seems to be the manufacture of brick and tile and some fruit raising. Some of the trees are in full bloom now while here where I sit on a leaning tree that overlooks one of the walls of a porch that is built high up adjacent to a large stone cathedral. I can look straight down about 200 feet into the Rhone river or look across the way and see two snow covered peaks. I don't know whether they call them mountains or not, but if it is it is the first I have seen in France. Nice and warm and clear sunshine. We are staying in a hotel and sleep as late as we feel like.
I can tell you more about this trip when I get home than any trip I have ever taken. I am inclined to think that unless something new should turn up we may soon be thinking of leaving France. My knee does not make a very good writing desk but probably you can make out part of it. I will try to write to all of the folks while here if I can because it is nearly impossible to write while in camp,
Yours Sincerely, Marion
April, 9 1919 - Camp Meucon
Well we are still doing the same kind of repair work here at Camp Meucon near Varnnes as we were before I went on leave and no end in sight yet. Army orders always come unexpected so I am sending all my extra junk – a sweater, a pair of French gloves, postcards, photographs, and a few souvenirs I have made, and a gas mask. I am sending them in two packages and expect to slip them and this letter past the censor. Let me know as soon as you get them.
The weather is fairing up quite a bit which makes it quite a bit more pleasant but also makes us wish all the more to be home where we could enjoy a little freedom again. It seems like all the officials in the States are thinking about at present is politics and they have already forgotten there was a war and that they have something over a million men left over here who's opinion of the Democratic administration is not improving any.
Henry seems to be very well satisfied with his new business and seems to be doing well. Rosa is very happy with her baby boy and always writes about him. She sent me some of his photographs. I never hear from Lucy any more maybe it is because I cannot write her much and I guess she is pretty busy too. I got two letters from Mr. Ball in Jacksonville last week. One was written Nov 15 and the other March 3. That shows how our mail has been coming. Do not let the Patriot have any more of my letters because I have nothing to write about and cannot write anything that would be of any interest to anyone.
I keep well always and the work is not bad here so you have nothing to worry about me. All we can do is keep marking time until they finally get ready to send us home. Let me know if you get the packages.
Your Sincerely, Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12 Co, 2 Reg, ASM APO #701, AEF
For the months of February and March I have been payed in full, no allotment money being taken. I do not know whether it is a mistake on the paymasters part or not. If they continue to send you the allotment and pay me in full, that will be their lookout. Since it will only be a few more months any way I will not ask them anything about why they have not taken out the allotment. mwb
Noontime at the mess hall. Solders form in line and with military precision, come like a swarm of locusts upon this great eating place. Five thousand hungry men can be fed here every 20 minutes.
May 9, 1919 - Onto St. Nazaire
Camp Meucon Dear Folks
We have finished work here at this camp and are to leave here for St. Nazaire tomorrow to rejoin our company. There is no telling what we will do from there. I went to St. Nazaire Tuesday with a convoy of trucks and touring cars which were being turned in from here. I was sent along as mechanic in case any trouble should turn up so rode first class at the rear of the convoy in a Dodge sedan. It was a pretty fair trip but a little tiresome because the trucks traveled so slow. I am enclosing a post card picture of a large bridge which we crossed over. When we came back I and another fellow walked over the arch which is 180 feet above water.You asked me in the last letter if I have plenty of money or need more. Yes, I really have more than I need since they have been paying me the allotment money the last three months. I have sent you I think three packages from here and one to Agnes. There wasn't much in them but trinkets but I hope you get them all right. I am well as usual and trust you all are the same.
Yours Truly, Sgt. Marion W Borlin, 12Co, 2Reg, ASM APO #701, AEF
Typical barracks in Camp St. Nazaire, 1919. A group of boys start on their way to the mess line. Afterwards they will seek the ball fields or go to one of the Ys to write home, to read or to get refreshments and entertainment.
May 30, 1919 -- Camp Guthrie
Camp Guthrie, St. Nazaire, France
I just yesterday learned that there had been circulated in the states reports that the men who had been over here over a year and were still here was due to their having contracted venereal disease and having been sent to detention camps. One of the boys mother wrote and asked him if that was the reason why he had not come home. I am writing you this letter to assure you, in case you have heard any such rumor, that it is an utter falsehood. I told you when I left that I was coming back as clean as when I left and I assure you that I am as clean in that respect as the day I was born. Our prolonged stay over here has not been due to any shortcomings of our company in any way either as I think our company has as perfect a record in every respect as any company in the AEF. My service record will prove everything when I do get home.Probably you wonder what has prompted me to write this. Here is the reason. Last evening one of my dearest friends in the company received a letter that his mother had passed away and you don't know how much he is worrying and wondering if she had heard any such reports and had worried about it. We fully expect to leave France sometime in June probably about the middle. We are drilling hard all morning in fact they are drilling us harder than they did in war times. We are having real good weather now over here. Very dry for France. I am anxiously waiting to hear if you have gotten the packages I sent you from Camp Mencon. The officials had intended to quit censoring mail June 1st but since the Germans failed to sign the peace terms they still see fit to nose through our letters. The Salvation Army has a splendid canteen and show building here. They have done far more for the AEF boys than the YMCA has thought of doing.
Best wishes to all, Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12 Co, 2 Reg ASM, APO #701
Traveling by train in France - 1918
June 15 1919 -- Coming home via USS Amphion
At sea On board German vessel now the USS Amphion. At last we are on our way for home. We broke camp at Camp Guthrie the morning of June 3rd and marched eight miles to the St. Nazaire docks where we boarded this ship at noon. We pulled out of port at 6PM the same day and have been plugging our way across the foam for twelve long days. We are heading in for Newport News, VA and expect to reach there sometime tonight but will not dock before tomorrow morning.
We have had a very good voyage with the exception of about three days which were very rough. I have been able to eat everything I could get and keep it down so I guess I am OK. I don't know how long it will take to go through the camps and get mustered out but I am hoping and trusting that I may reach home by July 4th, a free man. I will try and keep you posted as to my whereabouts. Yours Sincerely, Sgt Marion W Borlin, 12th Co, 2nd Reg ASM Enclosed was a pre-printed card provided by the American Red Cross: Newport News, Virginia. Have just arrived at this port safely and am feeling well. My stay here will be too short (probably two or three days) for you to try to see me. Our program is to go quickly to camps near home for discharge. If, however, anything develops that necessitates your communicating with me, telegraph or telephone the Information Service of the American Red Cross at this port, giving number of my regiment. They will do their best to locate me or forward a message to the demobilization camp.
USS Amphion, Arriving in a U.S. port (probably Newport News, Virginia) while transporting U.S. service personnel home from Europe, 1919.