This is a letter home from my great-grandfather in 1918 — reprinted in the local paper — recuperating after being injured in battle. It was recently discovered by my mom’s cousin.
The Cleburne News (Cleburne County, Alabama)
Issue of Thursday, August 1, 1918
LETTER FROM SPENCER HORTON FROM FRANCE
Somewhere in France, July 28, 1918
Since I last wrote you I have been transferred from the Paris hospital to a beautiful hospital in southern France, large enough to accomodate several thousand patients. It was the home of the Monks before the war. It is situated on the side of a high hill overlooking the river which gives a very beautiful view of Monclair village, and the beautiful fertile valley which looks like a garden. Also we have a very large park and a large number of Chatteauz.
I’m gaining strength very fast, can now maneauver without the aid of crutches. I will soon be able to return to my company, and you may know I’m so anxious as things are more exciting near the front.
Dad, I wish you could see the boys as they enter an attack; see their stern, sturdy faces. They are so solemn and sincere. You don’t see any “kid faces” or kid matters no matter how young the lad may be, he’s a man now, doing a man’s duty. Just before the attack as they awit the zero hour, the appointed time to start, you will hear some humming “home again”, “mother dear”, “that little girl of mine” or ” the yanks are coming”, and some are murmuring a word of prayer.
The last few moments that await zero hour are always the longest and when the moment arrives, the Artillery is the first to open and every gun fires at the same time, which sounds as it was one great gun. Then over we go, some singing, some hollering.
You should see the prisoners. They come in droves, some seem to be glad while others seem to think the whole world has come to an end. Fighting here is quite different from that on the Western Front. We don’t have the muddy trenches here or the big rats. They is always something to take the boy out of life. You remember I told you that I thought old Pied Piper had played all the rats of France to the Western Front. Well I have been forced to believe that he played all the “cooties” of Europe to the present sector. You have read of Chateau Thiery in your school books have you not? DId you ever see one? Well, you have missed something. They are small but sure make you stand up and take notice.
Let me tell you of my surprize although a delightful one. Yesterday in the mess hall I met James Cook from Coke. The first Wood county boy I have seen in France. You better know I was glad. I just hugged his neck good, while the crowd looked on. I guess they thought I had turned French but it was the joy of my life. He also had a slight wound and will soon be restored to duty.
Being in the hospital among the american nurses makes a fellow feel as tho he was at home, and they are so good and kind to us. They do everything for our comfort. Of course I think I have the best and most beautiful in my ward, Misses Potter and Myer. They are here now and send their regards. They all work so hard, believe me, we have to take our hats off to them, for they are not only doing their bit but their best and after the war is over I mean to see that there is a monument erected as high as the Statute of Liberty to honor them.
With love to all and best regards, your son,
Spencer R. Horton, 8th Co. 5th Reg., Marine, A.E.F.
[note from editor of The News: The above letter was written by a son of Mr. A.J. Horton, who moved from near Muscadine, Alabama to Texas several years ago, and a grandson of Mr. Art Horton who will be remembered by the older set. Also he is a near relative of Mr. Arthur Harper of this place.]