Letters Home: Quay Sewell

As we give thanks here in the U.S., we remember Thanksgiving 1917 and the soldiers and sailors who were far from home.  We also remember those who are serving our country overseas today, and we give thanks for their service and their continued safety.

The December 6, 1917 Skidmore News published this letter from Quay Sewell, who described Thanksgiving at Fort Sill:

Fort Sill, Okla., Thanksgiving Day
To The Skidmore News:
Since receiving the Skidmore News of last week and reading all the letters from the different people who have roamed away to a better or worser land, have had an inspiration to write myself.

First of all I want to tell you of the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner we had today.  Nothing was missing, we had everything from turkey to pie, even after dinner mints in the form of Club House Roi Tans.

While devouring this feast I could not help but notice the different expressions on the soldiers faces as I glanced up and down the long table we had in our mess hall.  I mentioned above, there was nothing missing.  I was mistaken, there was something missing.  Although cheerful enough, their thoughts were many miles away.  Can you imagine two hundred and fifty men eating Thanksgiving dinner without a mother being there.  In my mind I could hear the parents of us khaki clad men saying, if he was only here today.  I wonder if he is having a good Thanksgiving dinner, and I know that during their dinner we were the main topic of conversation.

Right here I want to tell you that we soldiers appreciate what the people at home are doing for us.  I noticed the contribution that the people of Skidmore and vicinity gave to the Y.M.C.A. fund and think you did exceedingly well.  If you people could only visit one of our training camps and see what the Y.M.C.A are doing for the soldiers, believe me, you would know that your money was well spent.

Will now give you a little dope on an army engineer.  Our work consists mainly of construction work, such as supervising the digging of trenches, building pontoon bridges and the building of drainage systems besides taking the regular infantry drill.

As for myself, Uncle Sam has been keeping me busy enough for the past four months, in fact, he insists that I get up at the almost impossible hour of five forty-five in the morning and tries the balance of the day to make a soldier out of me.

I am contented with plenty to eat and a good place to sleep.  I have gained about twenty-five pounds in weight and am feeling fine.  Think I will be a regular fresh air bird the rest of my life.

The conveniences here are not many but we don’t mind that now.  The worst part of all was the breaking in, and the first few days we were in camp I thought that when Sherman defined war he put it very mild and I was not alone in my belief.  Now we are all pulling together and “doing our darndest.”  We are all anxious to cross the pond and live up to our slogan, “Over the Top and Give Them Hell.”

With best regards to all,
Quay Sewell
Co. D. Camp Doniphan, 110th Engineers, Fort Sill, Oklahoma