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Frank Sullivan Letter


Blois, France


 and printed in the "Emmetsburg Democrat", Emmetsburg, Palo Alto Co., Iowa, Wednesday, 23 November 1918





Frank SULLIVAN, Brother of Editor J. J. SULLIVAN Writes from France
(Courtesy Graettinger Times)


Blois, France
November 24, 1918

Dear Father-

     I guess you know that today all the A. E. F. are supposed to write a letter to Dad and as you are the only dad that I ever had am writing to you.
    "Well, Dad, I don't know where to commence, there is so much to write about. I'll go back to last December when we left Camp Merriet. We loaded on the Leviathan, formerly the Vaterhand, December 14th, and sailed the morning of the 15th. We had fine sea all the way over. The Vaterland, as you know, is the largest ship afloat. She doesn't rock like the smaller tubs. I didn't get sea sick at all and the chow was great. We took a zig zag course all the way over. We did not have any convoy, but the day before we landed twelve torpedo destroyers and chasers came out to meet us. We were then along the coast of Ireland. One of the destroyers kept ahead of us and threw a screen of smoke on us for an hour or so. They must have sighted a submarine. We pulled in the harbor of Liverpool December 24th. I didn't get to see anything of Liverpool, only the harbor and railway station. We took a train from there to Winchester, arriving at three a.m. Christmas morning. There is where we commenced to realize there was a war. We hiked out to a camp hungry and tired out. The English don't use coal or wood for fuel. We made our bunks and certainly did sleep. Woke up about ten a.m. Christmas day. Had horse meat for dinner but had turkey dinner the next day. We lived on English rations except the turkey dinner and am sure that was Uncle's.
      Everybody in England looked so down-hearted and discouraged everything old-fashioned. We left Winchester December 26 and landed at South Hampton. There we met English, Scotch Highlanders, Irish, Ausses, Canadians and others. We get along fine with the Ausses, Canucks, irish and Scotch but cant' hitch with the English. We took a cattle boat from there across the channel. We were packed like sardines. I didn't get sea sick and feed the fish but some of the others have made up for me. We woke up in LeHavre, France, and hiked out to another so-called English rest (work) camp. It was getting rather chilly and of course "us Yanks" were issued tents, fourteen men to a tent 2x4. Some more English rations-aeroplane stew and tea. We stayed there for two days then loaded into side door Pullmans marked "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8". They  made another error and listed us as sardines. Well,
that sight seeing trip lasted three nights and two days. We unloaded at LaCourtine on New Year's eve. We were the first Americans there so you can imagine what a task it was to open up a new camp in a foreign country,
especially. We billeted in some old Napoleon barracks. We camped there a week and then I was transferred to the 1st division. We enjoyed another box car trip. When we hit the 16th infantry we started soldiering. We drew a
helmet and a couple of gas masks and the 15th of January we hiked for the trenches. We had one sandwich for dinner. We rested ten minutes every hour. We covered 32 kilometers the first day-that's equivalent to 20 American miles. The next day we hiked until noon, stayed in the woods until dark, then hiked up just behind the lines in an old town. We were then introduced to dug-outs and all that goes with them. We rested there two days and then went in the line and relieved the French. It was quiet there, only a shot occasionally. The first causality we had there was a k. p. (kitchen police) I was on first relief the first night. A big fellow we called Swede Anderson
was always on post with me. I'll never forget that first night. I imagined I saw Germans everywhere I looked. We were on a listening post. Every time a rat jumped around me I had the old Springfield on him. We stayed in for
seven days and then went back on a seven day rest chopping wood. The second time we went in things were a little livelier. After seven days in we went back again for seven days wood chopping, then back in the line for seven
more-my last seven days in the trenches. We just got things started for the fellows that relieved us. The day before we were relieved my old bunkie got bumped off. We were patrolling. He was to the left and I was to the right.

    We met a German combat patrol and he was one of the thirteen Americans that got bumped off. Our artillery put over a barrage that night. It was the first real barrage for me. The boches threw over a little gas but didn't
hurt anything except the chow. We had to throw that away. We got relieved in March and came out for a rest (training). In the mean time I was transferred to the Q. M. I was in the railway transportation service six months. Would be there yet only the C.O. of the Q. M. wouldn't O.K. the transfer. I was railroading when I met Cousin Pat and Bills' friend. Am at present in the commissary.
       This burg has a population of about 25,000. There is an old chateau here and a couple of cathedrals. I sent some post card views to you the other day. I was to a Thanksgiving military mass last Sunday noon. There was a special invitation to all Americans from the bishop of Blois. We have mass every Sunday morning here in camp. We have a fine priest. His name is Father Hammill. He is from Chicago.
     Well, the big game is all over now. They are still celebrating over here. The French certainly went wild and I don't blame them, either, after four years of war.
     Don't know how long we will be here but suppose it will be several months before we start back. I have not had my furlough yet. Have been promised one December 1st. If I get one I'll go to Nice. The climate there this time of
the year is similar to Florida. I would like to go as I may never have the opportunity again. I suppose the quarter master corps will be the last ones home, although it is said those who have been here one year will be the first ones home. If that is true I will start for home next month. Hurrah, homeward bound-I can't believe it. I suppose you wonder how I got in the quartermaster corps. Perhaps I have told you before, but anyway it's all over now so guess a fellow don't have to be so careful what he says. Well ,there was a fellow from the 28th
infantry named Frank Sullivan to be transferred to the Q. M. and they sent the order to the 16th infantry by mistake. Last March when we came out for a rest the order was in so I was transferred. Of course the mistake was soon noticed but according to the blue book a transfer is a transfer so we were both in the Q. M. Perhaps I would be pushing up daisies by this time if I had not been transferred. One never knows what may happen in the trenches. There is only one fellow alive from the squad I was in when in the trenches and he is back in the states crippled for life. The First Division, of which the 16th Infantry is a part, has been on all the fronts, and always thrown in first. They never had the press agents to give them as many write ups for the reason the men are from all over the United States. I wonder if Leland Laughlin is still alive? Have you heard anything about him? He was in the 16th.
      I haven't heard from Bill lately. Had a bunch of mail from the states yesterday. Hope that mother and all the rest are well. This is an unusually long letter for me to write so had better close and get busy. Wishing you a
merry Christmas and a happy New Year, I am,

Your Loving son,
Cpl. Frank P. Sullivan.
Q.M.C., A.P.O. 726, A.E.F.



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