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On Board the U.S.S. Leviathan


HISTORY
of
THE 306th Field Artillery

ON BOARD THE U.S.S. LEVIATHAN


ATLANTIC OCEAN,
April 27, 1918.
DEAR OLD PAL:

Well! Well! here's a letter from your old friend right out in the ocean.

Can you amagin, Al. "Me," who's been kicking up the dust on the old diamond, or chasing 'em over the grass in deep center. "Me," who's never had no use for water, except what's in the pail and you know, Al I only hit that for appearances sake cause you know, Al, it's the regular thing to do after banging one over the garden wall. Yes, Al, I am now doing a high diving act on the high seas. Said diving being into the lunch. But I'll tell you about that later.

To begin with, we started for France from Camp Upton about 9p.m.onApril 21st. At 9 P.m. we falls out of the barracks and had roll call with full packs until 3 A.M. April 22d. Every time a guy coughed they'd put over another roll call on us. Meantime the boys was getting restless like lions in a cage to get over there and get in some good barracks again, and put in a few more months at squads right, in which we ain't quite up to the handle yet, in fac far from poifect.

Well, at 3 A.M. the foist sargent for the last time, very gently bawls " CALL THE ROLL," and off we go for France to get the 5.30 train for Long Island City.

We just gets on the road long side the barracks when we gets a halt, and by this time we was pretty sore about the way we was delayed from getting at the Germans when some guy put over a rumor that an order just came from Washington that the war was over, believe me, Al, we was so disappointed, that if it was true, we was willing to go right back to civilian life and leave the army flat. But we was soon off again after another roll call and got the 5.30 train at 4 O'clock-

Soon we pulls into Long Island City and gets on a special ferry-boat resoived for us, and when we hears that we are making for Hoboken, and that we would have a few roll calls in that good old Irish town, the boys all feel pretty good. Also pretty dry, cause it was excrushiating hot. But I guess the gink who was running the excursion was one of them bone-dry guys and we lands flat on the dock.

Well, Al, I wasn't much surprised to see that we was going to make the voyage on a boat with smokestacks. I had a tip on it from a guy who's pretty thick with the barber who shaves the Major. And what do you think the name of her was? Yes Sir! the Leviathan. Some giant, boy! She's the old Dashund or something like that, made over, and listen Al, the guy who give her the new name knew something, 'cause the foist part made a hit with the Irish and Algerians in the outfit. We get as far as the gang-plank and we have another long delay on the dock. But this was just military courtesy and we didn't mind. It seems the Commodore of the vessel was just dining at the time. And he takes about three hours to dine! Which is mak-in- a good job of it eh, Al? So right here is where we gets our foist knockdown to corned beef. Our Cap. commands, (1) Eats, (2) Rations! Rations is the command of execution but before he says it we have forty-two cans open, and when the Red Cross ladies hands us coffee and cake for desert, which was delightful, we calls it a meal. (The coffee and cake part of it.)

It gets to be about 2.3o and at last we move. Yes Al, she's some boat! A whale! But I hear that an Irishman drawed, the plans for her, I had a laugh, Al, when one guy sees the boat and says he don't get it as how such a boat made of steel cud float. So I tells him as how the boat was made of iron, not steel. And she's made of wood inside, plenty of wood in proportion. That's where a guys education comes in Al.

Well it don't take us long to get consigned to our staterooms, and right here, Al, is where I gets sore on the Irishman who made the plans. I figures right off that he's a blood relation of the guy who invented bob wire. No doors or walls or curtains or anything on the staterooms, everything open! Amagin Al, you know how we made the circuit on pullmans. I asked a naval guy on the ship, "What's the idea?" and he says it was the " Iron Pipe Demountable System " and I tell him I calls it, " The Sardine System." But then he tells me about the idea being that if the boat was captured we could be safe because the Germans couldn't get thru the ailes of our bunks. That's where I lurns something Al. But I couldn't kick, because the side of the boat I slept on has holes in it, portholes they calls em.

Well Al, once we gets under way there wasn't much excitement until Mess time, then all hands makes a dive for the Grand stairway what leads to the Ball-Room. That's where we dine Al, in the Ball-Room. Can you amagin it Al, privates in the Ball-Room with hand paintins on the walls and ceilings! I don't know where the Officers feed. J guess they have to take care of themselves as best they can. As I was saying Al, the boys make the big rush for the lunch and every time I sees that rush it reminds me of the riots at the gates on the days that McGraw had me slated to pitch. Once we gets into the Ball -Room it's all big-league stuff Al, with Officers standing all around umpiring and any guy caught going to the plate more than three times in one inning is out. We only have two meals a day and that is enuf Al. Breakfast and dinner. For supper we have abandon-ship drill by the numbers in case the ship goes down.

And we have nifty little life-presoivers that go on like a chest protector. We was told that if the ship went down, to keep cool, and take one blanket with us, and take an Annie Kellerman off the stoin. I guess we would keep cool, eh, Al? Can you figure as how the - a guy's going to swim with a blanket on

him? That may sound all right to a naval gazoop, but take it from me, Al, I always have my belt filled with ammunish and my rifle handy. And if the boat goes down yours truly will take a Brodie off the stoin with his gun. That's a guy's best friend, Al, -his gun. And you know there's quite some wood on her too, and I figures I cud hang on to it if the presoiver got loose and went down. I guess that's quick thinking, eh, Boy? Well, you know me, Al! But believe me the "Subs" never had a chance. Our deck is decorated with guns all camoflowed and each of 'em run by the best Navals we got in West Point.

Every night we close the portholes so as no sound can get out and hold an entertainment with movies which we enjoy, Al, but most of the nights we spend trying to shave ourselves with salt water. We always have our evenings to ourselves, Al, and I spend most of em on deck taking in most of the scenery which is always about the same,--one cloud follows us all the way over. I guess that's obsoiving things pretty close, eh, Al. Well that's my way.

Well Al, old boy, I'm sorry I can't tell you just where I am, but here's a hint. One day I asks a petty Naval just about where the ship was and he says, " We are now passing thru Military Channels." So there's your tip, Al, look itupon the map and you can figure about where we will land. Now Al, I guess I will have to close as I just hears the whistle blow for medical exercises which we have every day.
Assuring you that I will keep in touch with you and hoping that you will give my regards to all the boys in the league, and wishing you the same, I am your old Pal.

HEN.

CAMP SOUGE,

DEAR OLD PAL: May 10, 1918.
I suppose everybody on the circuit is wondering how I am and how I got across the ocean. Well, the ocean ride was soitinly wonderful. In my opinion every young guy should make it once in his life, and believe me, Al, it looks like every young guy is going to have a good chance.

Well Al, I suppose you took my tip and found that we landed in Brest, which is in France, on the coast. We blew into the harbor and sunk the anchor on May 2d, about 6 bells A.M. (which is about the general time for doing anything in the army) and it was soitinly a gorgeous sight. The harbor with the hills was wonderful and put me in mind of the Blue Ridge mountains which I heard tell of in song. And then there was a sausage obsoivation baloon up, which, with a few French "Subs," was the only things that made the scene look like war-time.

About noon we was escorted ashore on a lighter and lined up in the street for a march to our rest camp. It was funny to see the youngsters run up to us and beg cigarettes and pennies. They soitinly take up smoking at a delicate age over here. I saw one kid about 9 years old working on a cigar like as if it was a herring.

Finally the band plays and off we go making a big impression on the population of Brest (about 180) who gave us a big hand. It was a pretty good hike of about 3 miles to our barracks, but the scenery was new to us and we gave the country the double 0 for it looked pretty nifty with the green hills and little white houses with orange colored roofs.

Towards evening we hit our lodgings which are called the Pantanezen Barracks. And believe me Al! They sure was a rumy bunch of stone houses. They say that Napoleon put up his outfit at this joint. But that's letting it down easy. I'd say that Noah used it for a Zoo right after the flood.

It sure was a swell place to rest. Rest Camp? It was a Summer Resort! All we had to do was drill all day OR go down and work on the docks. We also took a march while there to one of the nearby towns just to show the natives what a crack regiment looked like.

On May 7th we blew Napoleon's joint and marched down to Brest and here's where we gets the low down on the French Railroad Sistem. Well Al, we line up longside of a row about a mile long of box-cars; each one about the size of a packing case with four wheels on it. Can you amagin the sensation AV Oh, it's great! And get this Al! On the outside of each car are some nice hand painted words which reads: 8 CHEVAUX, 40 HOMMES. This means that the car don't care who gets on, 8 horses, or 40 men. So we pile in, wishing we was horses.

You've seen the cars pull in at the stock yards Al? Well that's us pullin out. And I used to think it was pretty tough makin the circuit on Pullmans. Anyway we didn't get along so bad. For dinner we had canned Irish Turkey, Tomatoes, and Hardtack. For supper and breakfast we had the same, which is as good as you can get on any box-car.

All along the road we piped the scenery, which we gave the 0. K. It was really gorgeous Al. But mostly hills.

Well, on May 9th we blew into a burg called Bonneau. I guess this is the joint the wild guy hailed from. It is in the Department of the Gironde, southwestern France, and can easily be found if you look on a map about 9 by 12 feet. Any-way we shake our overland special. And putting our packs gently on our backs in the prescribed manner we hike about 2 miles to this ranch which is called Camp de Souge. And here we are givin Squads Right a battle for further orders.

Well Al, I'll try to write again soon but to tell the truth I've been pretty much engaged since landing on French soil. What takes up most of a guy's time is counting his pay what he gets in French money and believe me, Al, the French Sistem of cur-rency is awful. But I'm only a private, Al, and if it's an ordeal for me to count my salary, you can guess what the Officers are up against when they computate their stipend. Everything goes in franks over here, Al. So many centimeters makes a frank, so many franks makes a kilo, so many kilos makes five franks, and like that. I'm getting the hang on it now. It's the old story, Al, If a guy's got the education, it don't take him long to get the combination.

But being as I'm able to interprete French money, it gives me a considerable of extra work, cause the boys all ask me to go with them when they buy something, so as I can tell 'em how much they spend and how much they have left (which ain't never much).

Things is pretty high over here. The French talk about franks just like us Americans talk about collar buttons. Iguess it won't take long to build up France. If we stay here long enuf they'll have side walks inlaid with Poils and Solid gold, ball-bearing door nobs on the doors, to.

Well Al, I guess I'll close now, asking you to give my best
regards to all the bone-heads in the league and wishing you the same I am, your old Pal Hen

LAWRENCE H. FOSTER,
Private, 306th F. A.
(With apologies to Ring Lardner.)
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