from the Boys
News of Camp and Field from "Those Doing Their
Recruit in South Carolina Camp
following letter has been received from Frank E. Ambrose, who recently
left for Fort Slocum, N.Y.:
Camp Jackson, S.C. June 9, 1918
Dear Epsom Friends:
I wish to again thank all my friends who were at my home May 27th
and made everything so pleasant before I left for Fort Slocum, N.Y.,
and also for the beautiful gifts presented to me, which it would seem
impossible to get along without. I assure you the gifts are more than
I left for Fort Slocum, N.Y., June 3 and was there until June 6, when
we were sent here to South Carolina after getting our uniforms and
taking examinations. It seems a long way from home here, but I cannot
forget my home town friends who were so good to me.
About 1,600 boys came down from New York. There are between 40,000
and 50,000 on this camp ground. There are a lot of Y.M.C.A. camps
here and the boys enjoy them very much. They have church service and
Sunday School. Was at the service this morning and there were about
400 present, just in one branch place.
I hope that you don't feel disappointed if you do not receive an individual
letter as it is impossible to write a great deal with so much work
and drilling placed before me. This camp is used for training. As
it is nearly time for the roll call, I will now close, trusting that
I will hear from some of you soon, I remain,
Frank E. Ambrose
15 Tr, B.M.F.A.R.D.
Camp Jackson, S.C.
Hdqrs. Co. Supply Trench and Mortar Battery
Notification of Private Frank Ambrose's safe arrival
in France has just been received by his parents in Epsom.
Mr. Ambrose has been in training at Camp Jackson, South Carolina,
and the following letter was received by friends shortly before his
Camp Jackson, Columbia, S.C.
Dear Mrs. Lawrence and Mrs. Cox;
I want to write a few lines tonight to let you know that the package
arrived in fine condition and I want to thank you ever so much for
it. I appreciate it very much and it seemed as if I were eating at
home when I ate that nice cake and cookies. I really made a big hole
in it that night with my supper.
I also wish to thank you for your kindness in sending the Valley Times
to me. I had an idea that it was from you when I got the first paper
but as there was no trademark, it puzzled me a little. It seems so
nice to read the Epsom news. I am well contented here now. I feel
as if I wanted to stay now till the war is over. I cannot complain
about the food as I find enough to eat and a good place to sleep.
The food is not like the food at home but it is real nice. They are
driving the drilling right into us lately as they are preparing for
the next draft. They are building barracks here all the time. It is
certainly a busy place. We were aroused out of bed at half-past four
Sunday morning by the guard that was on duty. We were all out in about
(2) two minutes. You can imagine what a sensation it was to be wakened
and a hundred and fifty getting out. They are getting more strict
every day. They give us about ten minutes to get dressed and lined
up in the morning and we must have everything O.K. We are inspected
every night at retreat and must be clean, shoes shined, face shaven
and full uniform on fastened in every way. We are called down for
the least little thing. I suppose that is the discipline of the army
and it is a good thing. The boys really look fine and are picking
up every day. Everybody is respected and treated nicely if he obeys
his commands. There are some real nice officers here, I think, and
I like them very much.
We are drilled six or seven hours a day. There are a few of course
that are a little slow about catching on to the drilling, but most
of them are doing real well for the time they have been here. I wish
you could see the way the boys sweat down here. Anybody could sympathize
with them after seeing them but no excuse in the army whatever. We
are marked for extra duty if late for roll call and not on hand at
drilling period or even for talking, spitting or not at attention
in ranks, also for not being in bed at 10 o'clock sharp at night.
We have lectures given every night by the Battery Commander in the
Mess room, on military courtesy and guard duty. It is interesting
to hear him talk about the army in France. They give us examinations
every once in a while to see if we can answer questions on military
work. We are all given a fair deal in the work by taking turns at
kitchen police and fatigue duty around the barracks. Wish you could
exchange the weather with you. There is nothing like being in the
Northern States. Guess I have written enough for now and I have a
little washing to do this evening. Trusting you will please excuse
writing with a pencil as it is all I have at present and am even writing
on a book. The tables are all taken up most of the time as there are
so many boys. We now have a serial number as a few of the fellows
have written things they should not and letters are likely to be opened.
Hoping this finds everybody well, with best regards to all the folks.
F.E. Ambrose, Serial No. 389598.
15th Bm. F.A.R.D. Hdqrs. Co.
Letter received November 25, from an Epsom Soldier Boy.
Somewhere in France
October 24, 1918,
Mrs. Eva Lawrence Cox and family:
I am going to write a few lines to let you know I have not forgotten
you all. I certainly miss the lovely letters that I used to get when
in camp at the States. Have not received mail for over three months
but I know everything must be about the same at home. It was a great
surprise to me to find I was to come across the Atlantic so soon after
being sent to the South for training. Well, I can say I am proud to
be here with the boys doing my bit. We certainly would like to get
back to the States once more when the horrible war is over, and we
all have our minds fixed that we will. I have certainly gotten used
to things here now. There is a lot of rumbling in the air all the
time and old Fritz, as you might call him, comes overhead quite frequently
to see what is going on but we are too much for him and he turns back
I have been back of the front for a while helping the work along.
I have seen a great deal of this country. Have been through the No-Man's
land and it is a wonderful sight to see how the land is dug up in
trenches and dugouts that the Huns had for three or four years and
not even a tree with a branch on is left, just a stump of a tree now
and then. The Allies are pushing them back all the time and it looks
encouraging every day. I can imagine how the papers in the States
look now. We see them occasionally but we don't get the whole paper
as you do. I see that the Fourth Liberty Loan is getting up to the
high mark. Suppose everything is high and help must be hard to get
in the neighborhood. Have not heard from home yet and have written
a lot of letters but am now settled for a steady address, being placed
in a regiment and of course the mail will reach me quicker. The branch
of service I am in is the Artillery. I have got in a division that
is mostly New England boys that were at camp with me. So I am well
contented and enjoying the best of health as the days go by and the
time passes so quickly that it is almost impossible to keep track
of the days of the week which seem all alike in the Army. I often
wonder if my brother Forrest is over here or not. Is Watson still
at home? Where is Percy Hall now? This is a great country for raising
grapes and making wine. The French can't get along without wine with
their meals. The women do a great deal of work, working at most anything
you can think of. Well, I guess I have written all the news for there
is not much to write about when one is far away from home. It is getting
along in the evening and I have to go on guard duty for a few hours.
The boat that I came over on was sunk on the way back. Wasn't a bit
seasick coming over and we certainly had a few rough days. This country
is way back for farming and building up cities, no wooden buildings
at all. Will have to close for this time, hoping this will find all
well at your house and at home. Trusting I will hear from you again,
I am sending my regular address. Best regards to all and trusting
in the Lord that I will see you all again soon.
From your neighbor,
Frank E. Ambrose
103rd F.A. Supply Co.
Serial No. 389598
American Ex. F.
Via N.Y. France
Camp A.A. Humphreys, July 5, 1918
Dear Mrs. Cox,
Will you kindly have this printed? Tanking you very much, I remain,
Forrest E. Ambrose
As it would be quite an undertaking to write to you all individually,
I will send just a few words, so you all will be able to hear from
I realize that I haven't been in the service long, but long enough
to know what army life is, I have got accustomed to it now and am
beginning to like it, even if it isn't as easy and pleasant as civilian
Nearly all the boys who came from Fort Slocum when I did have been
transferred to other Regiments and Companies, so we are scattered
all over the camp. I am assigned to Headquarters Co.., and my name
has been put on the "preferred list" to be held here for
a while. As soon as I learned this I applied to be transferred to
another Regiment. As I knew the other boys would probably be moving,
and perhaps out of camp soon, I wanted to go with them. Out Adjutant
told my Lieutenant for whom I am working, that he wouldn't consider
my transfer until he first got his permission to let me go. I have
tried to persuade him to let me go but without any results. He got
another man to help do the work and promoted me to Corporal. It isn't
very much but the pay is $6.00 more a month and that looks good to
any soldier. There are 125 in our Company and five of us were made
Corporals and one sergeant.
The work that I am doing is very interesting and I like it very much.
There is always something to do but I have had someone to help me,
it has been much better. The Lieutenant for whom I work is the Regiment
Mess Officer. His duties are to receive orders for food supplies from
each Company of the regiment each day and then purchase them, so as
to deliver them the following day. A great deal of this is brought
from the Camp Quartermaster here. The remainder is bought in Washington
and brought each day by truck.
As President Wilson was to speak at Mt. Vernon yesterday, tow other
fellows and I hiked out to hear him. We thought we could get there
quicker by cutting across and going through the woods but as we lost
the trail, it took much longer. The President went from Washington
to Mt. Vernon on his yacht the Mayflower, and was met by the marine
Guard and the marine Band. Both sides of the walk from the dock to
Washington's new Tomb were lined with soldiers and behind them thousands
of other people, waiting anxiously to see him and hear his speech.
It was made from a large stump directly in front and only a few feet
from the tomb. I was fortunate to get within about fifty feet of him,
being near enough to see him very plainly but not near enough to hear
much of his speech. He spoke very low and in such a crowd as was there,
it was impossible to hear very much. His many friends who were with
him carried wreaths of handsome flowers. After the speech the "Star
Spangled Banner" was sung my McCormack, a great singer, and other
patriotic music given by the band.
I will have to close for this time as it is nearly time for "Taps."
We are called to Quarters at 9:45 and taps are sounded at 10 o'clock
sharp. We must be in bed at that time or we may get some extra duties
the next day if the sergeant finds that we are out when he comes around
to inspect the barracks to see that everything is quiet and peaceful.
Of course we Corporals get by with some of that work because we get
in with the sergeant. (I wonder why?) This is leaving me well and
happy and hope it will find you the same. I will be pleased to hear
from all of you but please don't be disappointed if you shouldn't
get an answer.
Yours very truly,
Corporal Forrest E. Ambrose
Headquarters Co. 5th Engineers
Cap. A.A. Humphreys, VA.
France, December 7, 1918
Dear Mr. Lawrence,
I will write this evening to let you know that I haven't forgotten
you all. Since I left the States, have done very little writing, as
most of my time has been taken with my work. It makes no difference
where a Company is, whether located in a Camp or traveling, the Mess
Sergeant has plenty of work to see that the men get fed. While we
were on the boat coming over, our Company was obliged to furnish a
detail of men to work in the kitchen so I was put in charge of this
detail. There were about ten thousand men on the ship and as they
all had to eat in the one large kitchen, we got only two meals a day.
We got fine feed and plenty of it and were thankful for that. The
British food is some different from ours, as I found our when we were
in Winchester, England; while we were there we were fed with English
rations and they were poor.
We left the States Sunday afternoon, October 27, and landed at Liverpool
on the following Sunday noon. Seven days is good time for a transport
to cross the ocean but we would have landed twelve hours sooner if
he had met our destroyer on this side when we should have. We were
supposed to have met it Friday night, when we reached the danger zone,
but we didn't meet it until Saturday night, so lost a little time
as we had to pass through the danger zone one whole day without any
convoy. Just before going into the harbor the ship struck a sand bar
and we were obliged to disembark onto small boats to go ashore. We
didn't see much of Liverpool because it was night when we got ashore;
we went direct to the station and got onto the train and rode all
night, passed thru Leicester, where we stopped to get coffee and a
bite to eat, got off the train at Winchester about seven o'clock in
the morning and hiked to camp. After staying there one week we went
to Southampton and crossed the English Channel to Cherbourg, France.
We stopped there only one day and then went to St. Aignon. We were
in billets there for five days and then left to come here. For a while
it looked as if we would go to Metz, but I don't think we shall now;
we arrived at this Camp on the 21st day of November and have been
fixing up a Camp of our own. We are in tents and have got pretty well
settled now so we are quite comfortable. Other Companies of white
boy, who are operating a large saw mill, have been here many months.
The men in our Company are working at the mill now. The mill has been
in operation for quite awhile and has been sawing lumber to be sent
to the front.
I suppose there were great times in the States when the news of the
Armistice arrived. The papers here state that some of the boys have
arrived back to the States already. This sounds good to us and we
are all waiting for our turn to come back.
How is everything in Epsom? Imagine I have some mail on the way but
it seems a good while since I received any. It has been nearly two
months since I received my mail and I sure will be pleased to get
some. I have written quite often to the folks but do not know whether
they have received my letters or not.
Well, I must close. I didn't intend to write so much when I started.
Am well and trying to enjoy myself as much as possible while I am
here. I hope this will find you all well. I wish you all a Merry Christmas
and Happy New Year. Will be very glad to hear from you if you have
time to write.
Sergeant Forrest E. Ambrose
Co. "A" 547th Engrs. Troops
Eclaron, Haute Marne
A.P.O. 706 France