(Somewhere in France - ca. Aug 15, 1918)

Dear Folks:

Will now drop you a few lines as we are over here safely and didn't have very many fights, either. The storm we got into for two days and nights drove us several hundred miles out of the way. We were all pretty nearly all in when we arrived. Cramped up in the ship for so long was worse than hard work. I can't tell you anything I have seen or anything about how we came or where we landed, but the ground felt might nice underfoot once more. But the ground was weaving around worse than the ship. Actually, I couldn't hardly walk for an hour. One of the first things we saw when we landed was a whole gang of U.S. soldiers looking for friends and relatives among us. They found some, too. Every once in a while one of them would make a dive into our ranks and grab someone he knew.

It's not so much like a foreign country right around here. There are so many soldiers here from America that it's pretty near like the U.S. camps. The most noticeable thing is the lack of up to date things. Everything is 500 years behind times. Railroads are of the very earliest model and the engines are about the size of common threshing engines. Cars have high iron wheels with spokes in them and springs like a spring wagon, ha! Of course, there is some U.S. stuff here in the railroad line that is a little better, but it is all away short of the old U.S.A. The street cars are about as big as one of the auto trucks the U.S. quartermaster corps uses here. All the buildings are old stone buildings like you see in bible pictures.

The country, in general, is pretty, especially when looking at it from the ship out on the water. There's some real nice scenery here. The people are awful nice and friendly, and seem to look at us with a kind of "big brother" feeling. There is some pretty girls here, too, but don't tell Ida I said so, ha! Ha! The young girls look more like Americans than any other foreign people I ever saw. I said young girls because that's about the only kind of young people there are here. The menfolks are all gone to war and all the little tads wear hats with wide bands around them printed with the name of towns where great battles have been fought. Such as Leh Marne or Ypres and so on, telling, I suppose, where their father or brother was killed. I guess there isn't a home in all France but what mourns the loss of one near relative. I feel sorry for them, and also for Germany, for it must be worse there than France.

It may seem funny to say I feel sorry for the enemy but it's the truth. Of course, she started it and caused her own misery and deserves worse than poor old France.

We stopped twice on the hike over here and the girls and little kids would mix up with us and try to talk. But there isn't a very good understanding between us, ha! I have been studying French for quite a while and can talk some. They can understand me but they have to say every word exactly as it's printed, and say it slow, or I can't understand a word. Most all the little chaps know a little English, enough to beg for cigarettes and pennies. They sing "Hail, Hail, The gang's all here" and "Good-by Broadway, Hello France."

Say, I'm full to the rim of things I'd like to write but there's no use writing stuff for the censor to cut out so I'll just have to wait till I get home again. Gen. Pershing says it's either "H___, Heaven or Hoboken" by Christmas, so if it's Hoboken, I'll tell you during the holidays, eh!

I'm certainly glad I got to come over here, even if I did get scared blue a dozen times coming over. The sailors weren't scared at all but when that old ship would lay down on one side and then rear up and pitch clear up on the upper left hand corner, then the other way till her decks had the same slant as the roof of the house, I had to wet my hair to get my hat back on again. During the whole trip, I wasn't seasick. It's not a disgrace to be seasick or scared, either, for every soldier aboard, officers and all, was scared. Most of them were seasick and sometimes the rail was lined with soldiers "feeding the fish" as some of us named it who were able to go through without throwing up our sox.

We lost one sailor off our ship. A rope broke, took him off the upper deck. He dived down and got out away from the suction of the ship and two buoys were thrown to him. One of the buoys hit the water in front of him and a big wave rose several feet high and broke over his head. We never saw him again. We got one of the buoys back and stayed on the spot till it was a plain case that he was gone for good. One thing sure, he was a swimmer and as game a man as ever died at sea or any place else. He was 20 years old, they said.

Well, I'm feeling fine. Hope to get out of here soon. I will write again soon so just set fast and we will all be at home in another year. Where are brothers Harley, Bill and Frank? Has Harley left Camp Wheeler yet? I wrote to him but never got any answer.

I haven't got paid since June. Sometime I have more money than I need but they just kept me so busy the last 2 months I couldn't get a chance to send it home. I may get a chance here when I learn the ways. I think the Y.M.C.A. handles money orders and also registers letters. My address is: Pvt Lawrence McCoy, 35th Engineers, A.E.F. France. Be sure and address it just this way. As ever your son,

Lawrence Mc

P.S. Tell Ida I will write to her soon but for her to write soon for it takes about 3 weeks or a month for a letter to come from U.S.A. and get up to our Regiment Hdqs.

Our Lieutenant congratulated us on getting all the way from D.C. to France 100% all the way. Everybody got through and was able to hike with his pack. We had two good officers in Camp Merritt but the Captain didn't come. The Lieutenant is still with us. There isn't a man of us but what likes him and if he stayed with us he wouldn't have any trouble getting volunteers to help him do anything he was ordered to do. They say he doesn't go to the 35th so I suppose he will be leaving us pretty soon. Well, I must close. It is getting late and I've got a job down at the quartermasters to look after yet tonight.

L Mc

(censor note: OK Gaither)