All posts by cumminsclan

1918-8-19 B – Camp Coëtquidan, France

Stationery: “On Active Service”

Camp Coëtquidan

8/19 PM.

I will have to hustle or I will not get all those letters answered before I receive some more. This answers the one of July 23.

Does that 120 per mean 120 all in—inclusive of instructing and everything? I should think that you would be getting the swelled head soon. I hope that your red headed assistant will live up to the record of the red heads. Hope you do get history and English or Latin. You should have your choice since you are “it.” You have the right spirit in planning so that the other fellow will work with you as leader. You should have lots of time to visit the lower grades. I should say that I am proud of you. In fact I am ashamed that you are doing better than I financially.

 I am glad that you will not have to take any correspondence work, since it would be entirely to burdensome to carry so much work along with your regular work.

Yes, other schools, will be thinned out as well as yours. Quite a number of H.S. youngsters will have to join the Army. Leave it to you to keep Millard [Willard?] busy.

Does not make any difference what Frantz thinks. Sure he is our for himself and you should be too. You are not retrograding. Instead you are advancing.

Am sure that your services and help will be appreciate there in the Red cross work.

 When you mention anything about your work I will be interested since I am so will acquainted where you are. Tell me all about your work and I will read attentively.

Well will close.

Yours affectionately,


1918-8-19 – Camp Coëtquidan, France

Stationery: “On Active Service”

Camp Coëtquidan, , 8/19/18

My dear Olive:

This is an answer to your letter of July 26. It may be that I will not get them all anwered since some of them are misplaced somewhere.

It seems that your program at Waverly is much better than at Hartford since your school begins the week following institute.

Glad you had a pleasant time at Uncle Als. They have a good machine and certainly make good use of it. You will find that the Sprouls are very much alike in action. I always that that Aunt Adda was OK.

I am surprised that they had enuf of pep to have a Chautauqua at home. They had one several years ago there. Yes the paper comes in very handy in bringing in home news scandal gossip, etc.

Hope the return shops are full male prisoners. They should put a few in every ship so the Huns would be careful about sinking ships.

Yes we are fighting for democracy, liberty and a lot of other things that we can’t define but our ideas are good.

 Now about those letters of the “March Wind.” Just tell her that she may write all the letters she cares to and they will be read, reread scrutinized to the limit at this end. They are always welcome.

 I am sure that you will have but little trouble at Waverly. In fact the little trouble in discipline will not worry you at all. I am glad that you have interesting work to occupy your mind.

Was at a “Y” building yesterday just in time to hear a talk. The music was good, but the sermon nothing xtra.

Yesterday afternoon I had a good rest and last night too, as a result I am feeling extra good this morning.

he regiment is on the range this morning firing with the “big guns.” I am doing no drilling. just taking care of the mail and we have been very busy since we came here. Our aim is take take some of our P.O. furniture along with us this time when we go.

Yours affectionately,


1918-8-16 – Camp Coëtquidan, France

Stationery: “With the Colors”

Camp Coëtquidan, Fr. 8/16/18

My dear Olive:

The last letter I received from you was dated July 27 and received that yesterday. It told me of your change of plans. I am glad that you succeeded in you endeavors in first rate style. It is certainly complimentary of your previous work there as teacher. You will have everything there more or less your own way since you are principal. I see no need of your having but little work to do than you had last year, or while you were there before. If I were you I would certainly arrange all the work to benefit No. 1. You know that is the way others do and they seem to get along very well. You should not have more than four periods daily and at the most seven. If you teach history you will want to do much reading to keep up with war developments, etc.Certainly that is an interesting subject with which to deal.

You notice that I am in a different place from where I was. In our letters we are not mention anything about the movement of troops, but by a little deduction you are able to see that we have moved. We are located in a camp similar to that of Sherman. The barracks are more permanent than at Sherman. I understand that the camp has been here for some time. This place puts me in the mind of Sherman. Lots of dust. We have some German prisoners here, and I understand that they are sending some back to the States.

I have not written you for a couple of days. Have been very busy. When we arrived here found lots of mail and cared for that the first thing. Then too we had to set up a post office eand are still working at that. Finally we will get things arranged.

Much warmer here than at Bain.—but little shade. The camp is practically treeless. The nights are very cool. We are not so far from the coast (western).

Yours affectionately,


1918-8-4 – Bain de Bretagne

to follow up: Hartford City Sgt. Brackney  / On YMCA double sheet stationery

Bain de Bretagne 8/4/1918

My Dear Olive:

This is Sunday morning. we had some articles of was read to us this morning and we did not get started to work as soon as we might. [According to Patrick O’Brien, articles of war were frequently read on Sunday, the point being to remind soldiers of the rules—probably because some of them were not following them and had been charged.]

Yesterday evening after supper Serg. Brackney and I went out and picked some blackberries for pies. We are going to have the cook make them for us. They will go good tomorrow. I think that we will have blackberry pie for dinner today since a detail was our yesterday picking berries.

This is a pretty day. I want to go to the river this afternoon and take a bath. Have not had a bath for a week.

We have not had any mail today but are looking for some a little later in the morning. Hope there will be something for me. I had a paper yesterday: The Freeport Press. – the result of your efforts. Much obliged for your trouble.

The Allies are still gaining. Looks good, but there is so much left to do.

This is the busiest time in this town. Everyone comes in from the country Sunday morning. They do some trading at the stores at that time also. Think that everyone attends church young and old. Very religious and yet so irreligious.

I am sending all my letters to Hartford City. Suppose that if your address is changed you can have the postmaster there forward all your mail. Hope that by this time you have made up your mind as to what you wish to do. Oh! well I will hear in a few months.

Yesterday evening we got some milk from a farmer and had some bread and milk just before going to bed and it was very good. The people are very dirty but the milk was clean. Suppose they are some cleaner during peace times but they are bad off in that respect now.

I am glad that you were rested before your vacation ended. I think that you did the right thing by working a little while visiting since it helped you so much to pass away the time, and your planning for our future is certainly appreciated by me. I love you for it.

Will close—

Yours lovingly


1918-8-3 – Bain de Bretagne

OBM’s mother is in Barnesville at this time.  On YMCA double fold sheets

Bain de Bretagne, 8/3/1918

Dearest Olive:

Good morning. How are you this fine morning? You are not up yet.

I just found Pres. Wilson’s address given on the fourth of July, and that it was very good. Does not at all sound like peace for some time. Think Germany is bound to get thrashed ere the trouble ceases. Think Wilson’s ideas of peace are good.

I am sending you a clipping which will undoubtedly interest you some. The old married women are again being welcomed into the schoolroom. I notice also that at the N.E.A. which met at Pittsburgh recently, they are trying to have money set aside by congress to help the teacher’s depleted salary. that would be fine fro the teacher. Much better than previous. If they finally devise such a scheme, teaching may finally become an inviting vocation.

I suppose that if you go to Waverly you will have things more or less your own way in planning your work. You should have it arranged so that you will not have more than four or five classes per day. – Then you may either visit or do what you care too. If you do not have a four year high school, you will not have so many classes. Will the school be a commissioned one? I would like to be with you in your planning of the work. Now, I am writing all this and not know even where you will be. I feel sure that by this time you are thinking going to Barnesville. Of course I know that since you can rest better a mothers you would want to stay there as long as possible.

In one of your letters you spoke of sending me a draft, but I am in no need of money. Money is practically worthless here, since there is but little that an American would care to buy. I saw some beautiful handwork yesterday evening and thot of sending some to you. It is very costly and I fear that some of the mail sent you will never reach you. I don’t like to send anything that is costly on that account, but some time or other I must get something and send it to you in our remembrance of France. They have lots of beautiful laces etc., and I know that you would appreciate it and I may send some to you. I must spend some money someway. Pay day will soon be here again. Of course I will not be overflush with money, but I do not need money here. Why, Olive, I can get along a whole month without any, if I have to. So you must not send me money unless I ask for it. You should spend what I send you in allotments, and I send you a few dollars from time to time to help out a little.

You well realize that we are out to win and you perhaps too well realize how much interested we both are in looking out for the future. I am afraid that sometimes you may skimp yourself in order to conserve, but you should not do that.

We had some second class mail yesterday, but little first class. It will be a week or two I suppose before I receive word from you again; since mail seems to come in about bi monthly. I am well and intend to remain so as long as possible, and I will be careful not to contract any disease which would minimize my good health. I am just as safe here morally as in Ohio, altho there are more temptation, but such do not bother me. You of course would be advised if I were sick. Will close.

Your Husband,

With Love, Clyde.

1918-8-1 – Bain de Bretagne

Bain de Bretagne, Fri, 8/1/1918.

My dearest Olivia:

I suppose you have certainly received my first letters before this, but I notice that you are very sensible about it when you say the mail might be delayed several weeks. You will know at least that I am doing my part in writing to you, and if my letters feed the fish it is not any fault of mine.

We are looking for more mail soon, since but little has been received from the 1st to the 9th of July. Just think! we are beginning another August. Am glad getting here, but they will finally come.

The war news still continues favorable. The Japs are intervening in Russia. The drive of allies in practically stopped. Can’t see now how Germany will last more than two years. We will undoubtedly be in the fight by Spring or early summer. You must remember that just now we have just as fine a place to live as in Camp Sherman. We have no dust, since we live in the fields. The roads are not so dusty. They are made of limestone. The lanes leading to the farmers’ dwellings are not in very good condition and they must get terribly muddy in winter. The roads are shaded by tress on either side also. And the sun never gets to them.

I suppose, Olive, that when I return to America that you will have everything ready for me when I return. If you decide that you can enjoy yourself better by renting some rooms next summer and having them furnished do so. I suppose that you will hardly want to do it since you can just as well rest at Mothers and I am inclined to think from your letters that you like to stay at mothers. Then too, you hardly know what you are going to do next year. I am not hoping to be home in less than a year and a half. Well, you is ever thinking of you.

Yours affectionately,


1918-7-19 – France

[on YMCA bi-fold paper, the first on this stationery]

Somewhere in France 7/19/1918

Dearest Olive:

Yours truly wrote you a card today, but why not end the day by writing you a short letter. I came back to town this evening. Had a pair of trousers at the tailor and wanted to come after them. Then too, one of the boys is sick and wanted some oranges, so I got them too while here.

There has been but little happened since I last wrote you. Saw an English paper today and everything in war news was favorable for us. So much the better. I have the feeling that such is going to be the case, for the most part from now on. Of course we must look for some reverses from time to time.

I got back from my business trip O.K. yesterday, and was very tired when I pulled in and had not done anything either, but travelling always did make me tired. Guess I never did enough of it to get use to it.

I am going to have to make a change in my allotment since congress has ruled that we cannot make a voluntary allotment of over five dollars. I hardly know what to do about it. I suppose that I can draw the money and send it to you or someone to take care of. I spend but little money here, Olive. In fact there is nothing to spend money for. You should not think of sending me money. I will wait and see how I come out and later I may send you some and you can drop it in the bank with the other.

I am pretty tired this evening. By the way the P.O. force and I moved the postoffice this morning. We were on the second floor and now we are down stairs. It is better than upstairs. Much cooler and more room.

It is twenty minutes ‘till nine the sun is still shining. It does not get dark until ten o’clock.

Will close for the evening.

Yours affectionately,


— The change in allotment takes place in August. I hardly know the government’s idea.

1918-7-9 – France

Somewhere In France, July 9, 1918

Dearest Olive:

Well, got a letter from U.S.A. yesterday and it was certainly welcomed. The regiment got its first mail yesterday. The letter received from you was written from 11 and 12. Also it contained a letter from Mother. I do not know whether she will get to read this letter or not. I will try and write her also, very soon. Your letter also contained one from Anna. The handkerchief was in good shape.

I am inclined to think that there is another letter back of that one yet, but it will come later. We must observe patience when we wait on our mail here.

We are permitted to date our letters now, so you can tell about when they were written.

I do not have access to a paper and am absolutely in the dark as to how the war is coming on. I hope to get some where soon where an English printer’s devil operates, so that I can keep up with the times. I would think that it would be a paying proposition for an American printer to start a good paper here. I have not seen anything but few paged paper in Europe.

The French use wooden shoes—similar to the Hollanders, i.e. many of them do. One is able to see lots of wooden shoe soles. When a bunch of kids go down the street, the sound made is similar to that made by a bunch of horses on a brick pavement.

We had a very slight rain this morning—The first since our arrival. I understand that it is naturally very dry here at this time of the year.

Your vacation is nearing a close. Hope that you have enjoyed yourself, and wish you all sorts of good luck in you coming year. The letters seem sort of stale by the time they arrive here but I appreciate them just as much as if they were only one day old: We will have to accustom ourselves to the new.

Yours affectionately,


1918-7-? – France

Somewhere in France, July 1918

Dearest Olive:

It is a little difficult to write you so often when I do not get any word from you, but all we can do is to write and let each other know who we are from time to time. I suppose that we will get the mail all in a bundle when it does come. Remember that it does not cost any more to send mail to me than it did at home, not as long as it is handled by the American Expeditionary forces.

I have plenty of money and will need none so far as I know. I think that we will be paid very regularly here. I understand that all enlisted men get an increse [sic] of 20% in pay.

I am glancing at a French book from time to time and am gradually picking up a scanty vocabulary. The pronounciation [sic] is so difficult. I was out again yesterday evening visiting a farm house. Took my French book with me and conversed just a little with the people. That seem to be the only way to catch the language. The French are certainly convivial.

They are drilling the boys fairly hard now. We will undoubtedly remain billeted here in this town for five [redacted] or six [redacted] weeks [redacted] and then move to a [redacted] [redacted] [MSC–almost readable] for further equipment and training. Unless something unforseen [sic] occurs, I hardly think that the regiment can experience any real action for at least [redacted] [redacted]. This is all a guess but think that it is a good one.

I am enjoying my stay here. Our quarters are just as good as they were at Camp Sherman. The bathing facilities are not so good. Must walk for about three or four miles to a river. The water is good for bathing after one arrives. I took a bath near our quarters today.

The demands of the people are much different here from that of Americans, but I suppose that they will finally discover that we want.

I think I told you that we have the P.O. in the town hall.

Yours affectionately,


1918-6-30 to 8-15 Bain de Bretagne


Bain de Bretagne

            We arrived at the Bain of Brittany July 30, about four in the afternoon. The inhabitants were donned in their Sunday clothes and had the appearance of funeral attenders, since practically all wore clothes of black. These inhabitants were quite pleased to see us, and no doubt they, too, had expected to see kakki clothed lads with feathers sticking from their hats but we were quite a different lot from that. We more than likely resembled negroes, because of our very black appearance from riding so far in a box car with little opportunity to wash.

We were glad indeed to strike the privilege of washing that Sunday evening. There were


in an apple orchard near the house. Others sought shelter in the hay mow, while the remainder lived in the upper part of the house which was only partially occupied by French peasants.

The first few nights there I slept on the floor. Knowing that undoubtedly we would remain near Bain de Bretagne for several weeks, I began to look about for some straw to fill my tick. I purchased this from the tenant of the land, and after that I had a very comfortable bed for sleeping. The remainder of the boys did the same thing.

A true soldier very soon learns that he must take car of himself, as well as he can. Time and again one was thrown under conditions that was dis-


couraging,–and nobody about to tell you how to care for yourself. One must act on his own initiative if he does not suffer, and I usually found that through perseverance some thing could be found to make one more comfortable. If one were to trust to the gods to care for him in the army he would be a corps ere a month of actual service. One thing I have learned: and that is that one can live without any of the present day comforts and luxuries. One needs only to join an active army to discover how little he needs for existence in this world. It is true, however that such a life carries one back to many aspects of savage life.

So we arrived in this town of about two thousand in hab-


itants in the midsummer months. Twas warm the day we arrived, but usually the weather was not too warm. The climate here was very agreeable. It was a very fine climate in which to drill and train troops,–neither to hot nor too cold—Just a comfortable even temperature. Many of the lads preferred sleeping in their pup tents, thinking that it would be preferable there. Luckily we had but little rain during our stay here.

We had only been here in our new French home five days until the time came when we would have to celebrate the Fourth of July. The French folk knew that American soldiers would not care to have this memorable day pass without some sort of celebration, so they in their very hospitable manner made preparations for a Fourth of July celebration. We, of course


helped in whatever way possible. We formed inline and passed in review through the main streets of the city. This celebration was quite seasonal since it gave the “Mairie” an opportunity to welcome us as guests of his little city. The Mairie or mayor invited the officers to supper that evening and gave an address of welcome followed by a response by our colonel. Thus our regiment held their celebration in a foreign land. Take an American wherever you will he never forgets the meaning of the Fourth of July. He must celebrate.

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            The inhabitants of Bretanny were very sociable. We had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the habits and customs of the people in this community, since we were their visitors for several weeks. They were not long in learning what we want to but most. Soon orders were sent by the shop keepers for chocolate, candy of various sorts. One store purchased a number of articles of clothing which every soldier needed.

There were a countless number of little wine shops. I often thot that I would count the number of shops that dealt in drinks before leaving this village. I make a guess that 30. To an American who was reared in a dry section of the United States this custom was very odd. One could not enter a home unless the host of hostess would bring a


glass of wine. This was done to show hospitality. A glass of wine means “you are welcome.”

I remember that a friend and I used to take walks through the country when we had nothing else to do, and as we passed the farm houses we would tarry and converse with the people. Five minutes would scarcely pass until the peasant would go to his cellar and bring a pitcher of wine for his visitors. The toast “Vive la France and Vive La America would always be given as the glasses sounded together. One had to partake occasionally of the entertainers would stare in awe, at your appearing unfriendly acceptance.

These people could not understand why we should be


be such lovers of water. They drank wine. Water was no good for them. The peasant when be went to the fields to work would throw his canteen over his shoulder, filled with wine. The wine commonly used by these poorer classes of people way nothing more than apple cider and very poor quality at that.

These peasants lived in a very peculiar fashion. A floor in their kitchen was an exception. They sometimes are and slept in the same room. There was nothing costly to be seen in the way of costly furniture. Surely such a condition is the only subsequent of their meager pay. They only received about three francs for a days work, which is only about sixty cents in our money.


            These people seemed to prefer living in groups. Sometimes in my walks thru the country I would see four to six houses in the country, all built in a cluster. The most of these houses were very old—some had stood the weather several hundred years. One would mostly see old people around these small clusters of houses. Perhaps a few children and their mothers. The men were either dead or at the front, but those who were left at home were still plodding away to keep those at the front as comfortable as possible.

Now and then one would see a Chateau owned by someone more fortunate insofar as wealth goes. Everything about such a home would be clean and uptodate in every way[.]


            I remember one in particular which faced out little city. It was a beautiful home—surrounded by a forest. In the large yard flowers were planted about the house. The placed [sic] had enough quaintness about it to make one wish to tarry for a moment and which that he could converse more freely in their native tongue. The occupants of such home are usually intelligent and know well the history of their surrounding country. Occasionally I found someone who knew English very well and by the process of questioning and at the same time giving him a little information I could discover a number of things of historic interest about the place.

One of the best customs which the former inhabitants


of this section of the country had was that of setting out trees along the roadside. Every lane in and about the small towns in this section of Britanny [sic] was finely decorated with trees on either side. These lanes would wind in and around to the houses in the country. These byways were very narrow and here and there the top of the trees would meet and form archways over the road.

There were no wire not rail fences here. The fences are very odd to an American[.] Heaps of dirt follow these by ways on both sides, and too this sort of fence would separate the fields. They were practically worthless and occupied considerable space, which might have been cultivated instead[.]


We have an expression in English Ugly as a mud fence. Perhaps the derivation such an expression has its origin from these mud fences which are so prevalent in and about Bain de Bretagne. The fences served as places for wild blackberries to grow and when I first saw the fruit I supposed that these people were very fond of berries, but to my surprise they never touched there [sic] blackberries but let them waste and wondered how we relished them so. We told them we knew what was good.

On the average these people did not have too much to eat. Their main food seemed to be bread, butter and wine. Of course among those who had more money, a differ-


ent condition existed. One evening I decided that we should have a surprise on one the my corporal friends. I proposed that we take the Corporal to dinner that evening under the pretense that we were only going to have a little drink of some sort. That evening we had an eight course dinner. I have never seen a better dinner but before man in my life. The cook was just late from Paris and she possessed all the characteristics of a French cook, believe me. In only give this show that some of the people in the community had plenty to ear, and we could get it if we paid well for it. The 324th F.A. left that town much richer than they found it.


            Just below the town was a small lake, which nature had put there , and I suppose this was the origin of the towns name, since the Bain In French means bath. No doubt the inhabitants used to bath in this lake. Perhaps people would come from a distance to bathe in its waters, but now it is filled with groz [sp?], and the bottom is so muddy that one was dirtier when he came out than when he entered. We were ordered to bathe in this little lake at first, but later a much better place was found about one and a half miles distant. There the clear waters of the river Senucon [?] flowed. It was a very small river but the water was very clear and altogether acceptable for a plunge.

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[Ille-et-Vilaine: Teillay, Ercé-en-Lamée, Lalleu, Tresbœuf, La Bosse-de-Bretagne, Bain-de-Bretagne, Pancé, Pléchâtel, Poligné, Bourg-des-Comptes—municipalities along Semnon]

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in the fields. I was much surprised to see how these women worked both in the house and in the fields. They did more work than the men. Perhaps that accounts for their small living quarters. Such a woman would not have the time to care for more than a room or two.

The barns were oftentimes built in with the house. The chickens and cow lived in the same building with the people. Only a partition separated them. The people are not sanitary in our American way. The first thing that our boys did where we occupied the town was to clean it up. Brooms were put on the streets and the barnyards cleaned up. Much of this filthiness undoubtedly was due to the war


The people were apparently to much occupied in other things.

We had remained here for five weeks. Miniature battlefields had been set up and practice on. Scouting parties had roamed the country for miles around. Some of the neighboring meadows were worn from the constant drill of the men.

We had become strongly attached to the people of Bain and they hated to see us leave. We have given them a liberal sum of money to maintain the orpans [sic] of their town. Some of the boys had fell in love with the boys of the town [well, I think CMC lost the thread of his sentence, but I could be wrong]. All things considered it was not an easy matter to leave the town. We had somehow become attached to the place, but we were not to remain here long. It was


really only and [sic] accident that we were here. We were only waiting until a vacancy could be made for still further training in Camp Coetquidan.

We left Bain Aug. 15th with an ever standing invitation from its inhabitants to visit them whenever we could and later while we were in Germany [inserted above—‘During the Watch On The Rhine’] some of our boys returned to see the old friend whom they had made there. Au revoir Bain de Bretagne!