JOHN IDEN KAUTZ

LETTERS FROM FRANCE
JUNE-NOVEMBER 1917

BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
1918

 

PREFACE

THE following letters have been prepared for publication without the knowledge of their writer. They were written to members of his family and to friends and contained many personal references, which have, of course, been omitted.

These excisions have left the narrative abrupt in places. It was at first intended to have the matter rewritten, but that plan was abandoned because of the conclusion that what the book might gain in smoothness and in literary finish it might easily lose in freshness and spontaneity.

The author (then still in his minority), having been refused by the army of his own country because of defective eyes, volunteered for the field service in France, and these letters are a record of his six months' service in the French army just prior to being taken over by the army of the United States. As narrated in the letters, the American army in France counted the experience gained in six months' hard service as more than compensation for defective vision.

It was a wonderful thing --- this gathering in the spring of 1917 from the colleges all over our country for volunteer service under a foreign flag. Most of the boys were moved very little by the spirit of adventure. They were impelled by a high desire to do something---what they could --- in the world crisis, and they have given very freely and effectively of their youth and strength.

There is in our attic a trunk in which are placed the silk socks, silk shirts, dress-suits, jewelry of all kinds, and neckties---things which this time last year were absolutely essential to the dress and happiness of our boys. God grant they come back to them, but no longer will these things have the same value, nor will they seem so absolutely necessary, for the boys will have put away childish things. That is one of the saddest parts of the war --- the little boys of yesterday struggling to be men need struggle no longer. In these months abroad they have seen more, gone through more experiences, than life at home would have brought them in as many years.

These letters are so interesting and so close to us that we fear almost to give them to the world. They are just home letters, and perhaps it would have been just as well to keep them --- home letters. They were written by a boy who is not far from the "holes in knickerbockers" time, and are just the everyday happenings of six months' trucking service.

INDIANAPOLIS, March 5, 1918.

 

Contents

 S.S. Rochambeau, May 26.
 Somewhere on the Atlantic, May 27.
 May 30.
 June 1
 June 2, 1917.
 June 4, 1917.
 Paris, France, June 5, 1917.
 Paris, June 9, 1917.
 Monday (June 11).
 Wednesday Night, June 13.
 June 14, 1917.
 Sunday Night, June 17.
 Wednesday (June 20).
 June 24, 1917.
 Monday, June 25, 1917.
 July 3, 1917.
 July 4, 1917.
 Monday, July 9, 1917.
 July 15, 1917.
 Sunday, July 23.
 Sunday, July 29.
 July 30.
 August 1.
 August 6.
 August 8.
 August 10.
 August 12.
 August 16.
 August 17.
 August 19.
 August 20.
 Later.
 Friday, August 22.
 August 26, 1917.
 August 27, 1917.
 August 28, 1917.
 September 9.
 September 10.
 September 11.
 September 16.
 September 17.
 September 19, 1917.
 September 26, 1917.
 September 27.
 September 29, 1917.
 October 16, 1917.
 October 22, 1917.
 October 26, 1917.
 November 20.
 November 26.
 November 27.
 November 29.


Letters