September 8, 1915

Share Élève Pilote Aviation Militaire, Avord (Cher), Sept. 8, 1915. Dear Mamma: Have been very busy lately and now have time for only a note. I have at last gotten what I have been trying to get these past two months. I am transferred to the aviation as a student-pilot. That is a jump from the lowest branch of the military service to the highest. It is the most interesting thing I have ever done, and is the life of a gentleman, and I am surrounded by gentlemen. I have been here only this week but I fly each morning and afternoon with an instructor sitting behind me, directing my movements. It is very easy to fly but I must get the habit of the movements, and understand the air currents. I am perfectly satisfied here and everyone treats me royally. Love to Agnes and all friends. Much love, Kiffin....

June 8, 1915

ShareHospital 101, Rennes, June 8, 1915. Dear Mamma: Paul went back to Paris Saturday and so I am all alone now. I am still in bed but hope soon to get up. My wound has closed up very nicely but of course the muscles are still rather sore and the side where the bullet came through has to heal over, which will take some time as the hole is rather large. I received a letter from one of the boys of my squad, telling me what happened after I was wounded. There were six Americans in my squad and eight others of different nation­alities. We all fell but the other five Americans and the corporal who was a very good friend of mine. He was a Moor and spoke a little English. The second day of the fighting he took command of the company. Two battalions of about half strength have been formed out of the whole regiment. We are all watching the U. S. now. If she wants to keep up her name and be respected by other nations, I don’t see how she will keep from fighting. If she does declare war it ought to be easy for you to get a good commission for me. If troops were to be sent over here I could stay in France and be quite a lot of assistance when the troops arrive. I have received but little mail from U. S. since I changed Régiment s. However, the Vicomte du Peloux keeps me posted. Write me in care of him, or of Paul. Much love, Kiffin....

May 26, 1915

ShareTo the Vicomte du Peloux Hospital 101, Rennes, May 26, 1915. My dear Friend: I received your letter several days ago and enjoyed and appreciated it. I am taking life exceptionally easy; my wound is progressing well and I suffer very little. Owing to the long time I had gone without attention, they thought at first they would have to cut it open, but it is doing so well they have decided cutting is not necessary. As I said before, this hospital is much better than the average military hospital. It was a large school for boys before the war. It has a nice garden and on fine days I am carried down to enjoy it. Paul’s visits make it a great deal pleasanter for me and I have many other visitors. But I have much time for reading which is mostly English magazines, though I read the French papers every morning. When I get a little more energy I shall devote more time to the French. At present, I am taking my mind off every­thing as much as possible. Sometimes, I nearly imagine that the whole war has been only a horrible nightmare. But it doesn’t take me long to disillusion myself. The hospital has so many pitiful examples of the effects of the war—men crippled and terribly disfigured for life. I do hope the war will soon be over and that Italy has really come in, which may cause other small nations to join us also. However, I do not want it to end till Germany is completely broken. We have all gone through so much that...

May 21, 1915

ShareHospital 101, Rennes, May 21, 1915. Dear Mamma: I have wanted to write to you but knew that Paul and the Vicomte du Peloux would write you that I am doing well. My wound is through the muscles of my thigh and doesn’t pain me any but will keep me away from the front for at least two months. This is a better hospital than the aver­age and I am treated royally so really rather enjoy it. Paul is here and comes in every day from twelve to five, and it seems to me that everyone in the city who can speak English has been in to see me, offering to do whatever is possible for me. They tell me I will be here six or eight weeks and after that I will get at least a week’s convalescence in Paris. Then I don’t know what I will do. Our depot is in Lyons but there is practically nothing left of my regiment. We did some brilliant work and made a great advance, but naturally suffered terribly in doing so. When I was wounded we had captured all the trenches in front of us, had taken one village, La Targette, and were taking Neuville St. Vaast. Most of my regiment had fallen and I presume that the rest fell during the following days. So when we wounded report for service I suppose we will be put in some other regiment, although I do not know. If they put us into regular French Régiment s I will try to get into one in which the Vicomte du Peloux has officer...

May 13, 1915

ShareHôpital Auxiliaire No. 101, Rennes, I le et Vilain, May 13, 1915. Dear Paul: Well, I am lying between two nice, clean sheets now for the first time in nearly nine months, so I guess you know how good it must feel. We went to the trenches on May 5th to stay forty-eight hours, as the trenches were only a little over one hundred meters apart, and there was nothing to do but stand guard and work building tunnels and boyaux toward the German trenches. When our two days were up, instead of being relieved, we were told that there was to be an attack all along that line the coming night at midnight, and that our battalion was to lead our regiment. So all that day, every­one was busy going to the rear for cartridges, food, etc., and also working throwing up an embankment nearly reaching to the barbed wire of the “Boches.” This work was very dangerous, as it was done under rifle fire and danger from bombs, but we were protected a little by our own rifle and artillery fire. I spent three hours at it and didn’t like it a bit. We got everything ready, and at eight o’clock settled down to wait for the bombardment which was to precede the at­tack, but it didn’t begin. At ten o’clock, we were told that the attack had been postponed, and that the following morning we would be relieved. So we went out to our temporary trench and spent the night on guard in it. The following morning we were relieved, and marched twelve kilo­meters to the...