Letters Home: Francis Smith

From the October 17, 1918 Skidmore News:

From Francis Smith.

Mrs. S. P. Smith, Skidmore, Mo.

Dear Mother: —

This is Saturday.  I have been in charge of quarters all day and will have to sit up tonight till taps.  We had inspection today and it was a stiff one.  Several of the boys got caught with dirty equipment.

I may get a job working around the office this winter hope I do, that would give me practice on the mill and a warm place when the snowballs are flying.

None of the boys can leave camp on a journey that has to be made on the train on account of the Spanish “Flu” as the boys call it or Spanish Endflew – endways.  Nobody here seems to be very much afraid of it so I guess it don’t amount to much more than a bad cold.

I hear the 89th division is on the firing line, that is the one Harvey Hughes and Reuben Hall are in.  I’ll bet they are having a pretty tough time of it, but they are sure showing the Germans up.  We meet boys who have just come into Funston and they ask, “How long have you been in this camp?”  I say six months and they roll their eyes and say, “Great God six months in this town.”  Some of them cannot get out of the habit of calling it a town.  I have seen Ralph Wright but the once since he came here, he is clear across the camp from me.  I got a Red Cross helmet and a pair of wristlets and nose towel today, the nose towel is nearly as large as a tea towel, I do not know whether it is for me or my horse.

We have six conscientious objectors in the guard house, all they do is eat and sleep; they even object to work.  The boys have a hard time to get them to exercise.

I heard that Dutch Beocking was coming home from France wounded.  Heard that he lost his eyesight.  That will be pretty hard on old Dutch.  But he has a good home to come back to, and his people will not suffer any from want of his labor and I suppose he will get his insurance anyhow.  But it will be an awful life for anyone to go through in darkness.  Some fo the Englishmen who come to this country who have been gassed and loose their sight regain it after a short stay.  I hope it will be that way with Old Dutch.

We are going to get gas drill next week but not in the gas pit, it will only be practice with the mask.

Well if the quarantine is lifted I think I may get a pass home after a while as leaving seems to be postponed for a time now.  I would like to pay you a visit before we leave camp.  I do not think we will leave the U.S. before spring, but if we did go to California I would be too far from home to come, as we do not get the one cent rate only on furloughs of more than five days duration.

Pvt. Jas. F. Smith, Troop A. 10th Military Police, Camp Funston, Kansas.