David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day, 2015 ~ World War I ~ Letters from My Grandfather ~ Part One

Leland Vincent Norris

 Triangle Park to Camp Sheridan, Alabama

 The year before the Armistice was signed ending the "War to End All Wars" on November 11, 1918, my grandfather, Leland Vincent Norris, was training for service with Battery D, 134th Field Artillery at Camp Sheridan, Alabama.  The battery had first assembled on 15 July, 1917 at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio and for a little over a month the young men hiked, foot drilled, cut firewood, peeled potatoes, and washed dishes. They had KP duty and passed inspections and stood in long lines to get a "pass" to leave the park to relax and visit family.  They learned how to send and receive semaphore messages and prepared themselves to become soldiers.  Then, on 23 August, 1917 they received word that they would be leaving for "somewhere in the United States" at 5:00 pm. Tents were rolled up and belongings hurriedly packed. With much pomp and circumstance and surrounded by loved ones, the Battery was led by Heidelberg's Band through the park gate down Main Street to the Union Station. Corporal Donald D. Davis stated in the book "Cease Firing" that as they marched they were a "happy bunch" because "they had answered their country's call in the hour of need, she had accepted us, and at that moment we were actually being called upon for service".  The men were given the opportunity to bid farewell to their families and each was given a small basket that contained food good enough for a couple of meals for the trip.  As they boarded the train there was a fight for window seats and these eager soldiers stuck their heads out those windows for a final glimpse at family and friends. There was much excitement about the service on trip; Pullman cars and porters were a treat.  The trip took them through Cincinnati to Louisville, where they ate breakfast. The men gathered in groups and talked and played games to pass the time. No doubt, the talk included questions regarding where they were headed.  The train stopped in Nashville so the men could step out and stretch their legs and then off they were. They passed through Birmingham at 8:00 pm. and the next morning, three days after leaving their Dayton home they awoke at Camp Sheridan, Alabama, which was just a large cotton field.  The soldiers had to basically build their new home from scratch.  They remained at Camp Sheridan from 25 August, 1917 ~ 14 June, 1918, continuing their training until they would depart for the battlefields of France.  It was from here that my grandfather wrote to his mother on 28 November, 1917:

Camp Sheridan
November 28, 1917, Eve 
Dear Mother,
Well I will try and write a few lines tonight.  I sure have been some busy boy. Working hard all day and running around at night. The girls arrived here last Wed afternoon. I sure was glad to see them. Ah yes I kissed them once or twiced. To make them think I had not forgotten how.  I received your kiss alright.  Well I am on guard tonight and (unreadable) came off of post, and am ready to hit the straw. Well, I am getting ready for our own Thanksgiving dinner. Going to have Turkey, potatoes, gravy, pie, cake, celery, cranberrys and sweet potatoes, Tomatos soup and a few more. I guess we will live high for one day at least. We boys have already received one Thanksgiving dinner. From Mabel and Vera. Tell them I thank them ever so much for it. I sure did eat.  I received the money also the other stuff you sent with the girls.  It sure was fine and Thanks. Well I guess you will have some dinner Thanksgiving: I guess Maggie will be there give her my best also everybody. (Say Mother if grandma is taken sick in bed send me a telegram at once for I sure do want to come home and see her.)  I will send my suitcase home sometime this week so keep on the lookout for it. And I guess the trunk will come next. For we boys have got our little cloth bags. Well how is the new machine.  I guess you are sporting around some.  Well I guess when I come home I will have some car to go see the girls in. I got a letter from Dwight. I guess they are pretty busy. I sure am some tired tonight. Will be glad when it is over with. How is Aunt and Uncle Ole? Give them my best. This is the first letter I have written in a week. That sure was some sweater Marie made me. (unreadable) Will keep it for when we get in France. Ha Ha. It sure is fine to have a home where you can go and feel at home again. I go down most every night and lay on a good soft bed and sleep a couple hours.  I sure wish you could have come along. Well none of us will get home Christmas unless we have a reasonable excuse. I sure would like to be there a couple days at least. I sure wish you and papa would come down for a week or two Christmas. Mr. Hart and his wife is coming down better come along.  It only costs $20 around trip now: I sure was glad to get the money. Tell grandma I wish her a happy Thanksgiving. And wish I could eat dinner with her Does she go to church with you? Give all my best and tell them I will write when I have time.
Ohio State football team played down here last Sat. It sure was some game 0 to 0. Tell Paul H to write once in a while. Well wishing you all a fine Thanksgiving and would like to be there. Most close for this time.

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