Letters 9/27 to 10/07/1918

McKinley (Mac) Austin’s brother was serving in the Panama Canal Zone.
Raymond Austin, Balboa, Canal Zone, to Mort Austin, Eldred
September 27, 1918
Dear Father,
So you will be glad when the last battle is fought. I think we all will be. I don’t like to discourage you, but I feel we will see quite a while of it yet. Our loss to date has been about 25,000 men, so you see we haven’t fought a single big battle yet and I feel sure there are some big fights in store for us yet. We’ll win though, cost what 
it may.

Tell Bill not to enlist until he is at least 17 years old, unless we should get hard up for men, and I don’t believe we will. There are enough between 18 and 40 to do up this job good and proper.

There is nothing much worth writing that would pass the censor. I am glad you are sending the papers every week. I sure do enjoy reading them. By the way, if you can get any books on military drill, tactics, etc., send them to me.

Hoping you and the rest are all well and happy as I am. If you have any to spare, please send more pictures. With love to all, Raymond

Meuse-Argonne, France, September 28, 1918
A runner was sent back with a message: “For God’s sake send us litters, blankets and food.” The word came back that nothing could be done on account of lack of transportation.

At this time there were 800 men at the dressing station. German airplanes were dropping bombs on the station. It was raining all the time. The men had summer underwear and no overcoats and many of them laid for hours on the ground without litters.—Hoffman, Cap. Harry H., Scrap Book No. VI, p. 1, Feb. 17, 1919.

McKinley Austin, 11th U.S. Inf. 
to Lena Hill, Town of Highland
September 28, 1918
Dear Lena,
Did you get the other letter I wrote? I got a letter from you 
that you wrote just after I left 
the states. I got your picture from my aunt. It was good, but you are much better looking than the picture.

Well, how is everything in Eldred now? I hope to be back there by this time next year or sooner.

It is now about 14 months since I enlisted in the army and I will be glad when the war is over. We are doing our best to get it over soon, too. The Allies are winning everywhere now, and America is doing her share.

I heard from my brother Raymond. He is in Panama now. He seems to like the army pretty well…Hoping you are well. I am your friend, McKinley

Dieulourd and Trondes, France, September 29, 1918
On September 29, while stationed at Dieulourd, 3 enemy shells caused a great number of casualties in 1st Battalion. On October 1, Battalion Regiment Headquarters established at Trondes [102 kilometers (63 miles) to Montfaucon].
—Sgt. John J. Popp.

The first phase of the great American offensive had spent itself without reaching its first objective and with the enemy’s strongest defensive positions still unconquered.—Gansser, p. 170.

Raymond Austin, Balboa, Canal Zone, to Mort Austin, Eldred
October 1, 1918
Dear Father,
Your letter from Monticello received today. I was very glad to hear from you. I saw your name on the jury list, so was not surprised. Did they try many interesting cases this session?

I have been on the rifle range or gallery twice. The first record I made was 13 scores out of 75 possible points. There was only one fellow who was as low as I was. The second time at 75 yards, I shot 30 points, a trifle above the average. The rifle we use for target practice weighs 8 pounds and shoots .22 shot cartridges.

Mother said she was going to send me a package. I would advise her not to send things to eat for any perishable things will sure “perish” before they get here. However, I could use towels, handkerchiefs, soap, 3-in-1 oil, shoe polish, etc. It would leave me nearly all of my $7.00 each month. I would also like my razor.

Have you heard from Mac lately? I suppose he has had a hand in the fighting by this time. 
I wish I could be with him now.

I think Bulgaria’s surrender is the very first sign that the balance is beginning to swing in our favor. Turkey again cut off from German aid, will soon quit. Germany and Austria-Hungary may fight on indefinitely…I hope next year will end it. Your son, Raymond

[Mort Austin was on Jury Duty in Monticello when his wife Jennie wrote him.]

Jennie Austin, Eldred, 
to C.M. Austin, Monticello, N.Y.
Wed. Noon, Oct. 2, 1918
My dear Mortimer,
Just received your letter and was glad to hear you were well. We all feel fine.

I got a letter from Ray. I will send it to you. Tonight I am going to get Mac’s letters and the pictures together and send to him.

I will be glad when you get through “courting” for it is certainly lonesome without anyone to scold. Well, Elizabeth is ready to go back to school so I must close. With love from all, Jennie
X Arthur’s kiss, X Elizabeth’s kiss, X Robbie’s kiss, X mine, X Willie’s

Raymond Austin, Balboa, Canal Zone, to Jennie Austin, Eldred
October 3, 1918
Dear Mother,
I am in the best of health and spirits and am enjoying life as well as it is possible to in Panama.

Have you heard from Mac lately? I have been thinking a lot about him recently. To say I am worried would be unsoldier like and to say uneasy or anxious is altogether too mild an adjective for this case.

…New York may not be the best state in the union, but the United States is the best place in the world.

I have given up all hopes of seeing France as a soldier. I’ll not feel very proud when I get home.

Your loving son,Raymond

Meuse-Argonne, Second Phase October 4 to October 28, 1918
The second and the hardest phase of Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France started on October 4 and lasted through the month.

Autumn was now upon us in earnest. The nights were penetrating cold and the ground where the men had to lie moist from the chill rains which turned paths and roads into sloughs. 
Mist interfered with aerial and artillery observation.—Colliers, March 29, p. 5.

Aida Austin, Eldred, 
to McKinley Austin, France
October 7, 1918
Dear McKinley,
I see by the papers that the soldiers are going to be allowed to have Christmas presents, and that the Christmas labels are being distributed to the soldiers. It will seem so good to be allowed to send you a little something again.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the war ended before Christmas, but it isn’t likely that things will be settled enough so that many of the soldiers will get back much before spring.

Quite a number will be in the next draft from Eldred. I don’t know just who.

We are having some beautiful weather, but I suppose the winter will soon set in now.

We are all well and hoping that you are. If there is anything special you want, let me know so that I can send it when I send your Christmas.

With love, Aunt Aida

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