A typewritten letter dated November 11, 1918 from Ned Henschel to his parents.
From the service of James E. (Ned) Henschel, Company B Reserve Mallet -- French Army, American Field Service, Quartermaster Corps, General Headquarters, and Motor Transport Company 831.
November 11th, 1918. Dearest Mother and Dad: If only you all could see how glad everyone in this place is! Never in my life have i ever seen such happy people, for the eleventh of November meant the biggest thing possible to them all. Fighting stopped; at last the German people have awakened from their horrible dream. It's taken a long time, four years and half of the sort of thing that France has been through is tremendous, and now that it is all over, why it is almost too much for them to believe. The good folk are so happy the tears stand in their eyes, and they make no efforts to hide them. Even those who have lost their dear ones. I was talking last night with a mother who gave her two boys and her husband and now is all alone who told me "Why should not I be glad? My two boys and my good man are gone it is true, but there are so many others. The war, it is finished, thanks to the good God."
The whole town is decorated with flags and paper banners and streamers, quite gayly, and at night, lanterns shine at every window and door. High above the walls of the town some one has erected the great numbers of good people, mostly kiddies and old folk, that are in the town. An American military band came down from a nearby town and gave a concert in the square, later followed by a parade through the town itself. Don't know who enjoyed it most, but rather imagine the kiddies, who like everywhere, insisted on forming a voluntary escort to the big drum. There never was quite such a time before.
I had a letter from Ramsey, that I am enclosing. It seems that he was lucky enough to be back for awhile, for the "A.P.O.'s" are always permanent addresses in the rear. Number 743 is at Ratentout, which as yet I have been unable to find on a map. It is impossible for me to get a leave now, and so far as I can find out, it will continue to be so for some time to come. There is a rare possibility that I may county on any such slim hopes as that, of course I wrote at once to Ramsey telling him to go ahead if he got a chance. I left my chanced behind back in the Reserve, and now, although I am by no means indispensible to the welfare and guidance of this school, they would not think of letting me away until the future of the place has been decided by G.H.Q. Besides I am too well "busted" to take a leave anyway, so it doesn't matter.
A truck carrying mail from here was burned the other day and quite a bit of matter intended for the States burned along with the truck. it may be that some letters of mine were in the bon-fire, so if by any chance there has been a gap between this and my other letters, that may account for it.
Last night I had dinner down in the village at the little cafe that I have mentioned before. (It being the fete de la guerre, drank heavily - two enormous cups of black coffee, to the amusement of madame). There were three French soldiers who found out from Marie that my home was in Missouri, thereupon coming to my table with a salute, begged permission of "mon lieutenant Americain" to sing a song.
Although I had no idea as to what was up, I told them that I would honoured, etc., etc., as French custom demands. Then they sang the song that I am enclosing with this letter. It is a song rather popular in the theatre at Paris just now, and I was immensely pleased to think that they would sing it for me. It was really very nice of them. it has since turned out that one of these bone soldats before the war was an artist at the Opera Comique. You must find someone to translate it for you. Must get back to work. Things go along much the same as always, for being a safe and sane embusque, we have no fighting to stop. My love to all at home.
From: 2nd Lieut. J.E. Henschel, M.T.C.
M.T.C. School No. 1, A.P.O. 772,
American Ex. Forces,
Decize (Nievre) France.
(Can't say that I am particularly proud of this address, but it's the only one I own, and regulations call for it inside of the letter).
(You must pardon any errors; I'm not very strong, either on this machine or in French).
Le Long du Missouri.
1. J'etais alors aux Etats-Unis
Aux bords fleuris du Missouri,
Pays de reve et d'amour!
Dont je me souviendrai, toujours
Le Soir au milieu des plantations
Les negrillons assis en rond
Chantaient ce refrain charment, tout doucement.
Tout le long, le long du Missouri
Sous les grands mimosas fleuris
Chaque soir a la brune
Quand au ciel monte la lune
Au loin dans la savanc on entend
Une chanson, que tendrement,
Fredonnent les amante.
2. J'ai desire moi-meme a mon tour
Chanter un jour, ce chant d'amour
Et sous les grands cleux bleutes
Que de charmes, j'ai goutes
Dans les bras d'une enfant aux yeux doux
Caprice fou! j'oubliais thout
Mes parents et mon pays -
Tous mes amis.
3. En France je rentrai cependant
Et j'eus souvent d'autres romans
J'ai connu d'autres baisers
Plaisire trop vite epuises;
Mon coeur a chante, mais sans entrain
D'autres refrain, ce fut en vain,
J'entend toujours malgre moi,
Think there is some more of it, but I certainly don't know any other verses.