(YMCA stationery "On Active Service with the American Expeditionary Force)

Camp Pullman
LaRochelle France

Dec. 28, 1918

Hello Ma:

How are you these days. I'm OK. I guess we are getting kind of caught up now. They gave us Christmas off and we get off again tomorrow, Sunday.

Rich and I were out in the country for Christmas. We sure had a time. We visited a little place by the name of Rompsay, and believe Zeke, she was Rompsie, too! They had an old player piano in a café out there that made music like a shivaree, and the madamoiselles! I want you to hush and dance! Well, I'll say Rompsie!

I guess we are going to be drilling some now soon after New Years. Preparing to parade in Indianapolis, I guess, ha! Don't you worry about the trip back. That looks pretty tame to what it did coming over.

Well, I never thought of getting that kind of souvenirs, but if I can I'll get them yet. They probably will take us away from here before I get a chance to get out that far. You see, we aren't living that close to the trenches, and an American soldier has to have business someplace before he travels anywhere and has to have papers on him to show he has a right to be loose. If he doesn't he won't get very far. Even the officers' automobiles are held up in town and their number taken, and they have to tell their business there, etc. You see, the U.S. have military police in most every town where U.S. soldiers are stationed, and things are altogether different here than it is in the States. The whole country is only about the size of Texas and they have to be pretty strict in war times.

Yes, I heard about Bill being married. I don't mind my part of that dance but I hate to have Ida cut the pigeon wing. I'll bet she is sore all right. I never tell her anything you write to me. Iva needn't be so sure about that wedding. It might fail again like it did before. Of course, I couldn't swear to it but it's possible. I guess I'm not the only soldier she writes to. You needn't tell her I said so but I think I'm right. You'd ought to told Warford that if all us soldiers were like him, Uncle Sam would have good cause to want to get rid of us as quick as possible.

Well, if Allie could see the last battlefield she would see more than I've seen, but the battle fields start just the other side of Paris and there are trenches within a few miles of Paris. The last battle was a kind of running fight and not near as big a battle as some more of the fights they had.

I made up a little piece about the 35th Engineers. Here it is:

Uncle had called for volunteers
We joined to give him a lift
He put us in the Engineers
And called us the Thirty-fifth.

Over the sea to France we went
To where we could not tell
But double time and h___bent
From Brest to LaRochelle

We knew not what our lot would be
Or what we'ed have to do
But a busy bunch of Yanks were we
In just a day or two

We went to building "gons" and flats
And boxies, yes, and tanks
We built the cars to haul the gats
And cars to haul the Yanks

We built the cars and cars galore
And worked ourselves to death
They kept yelling more and more
When we would stop for breath.

More stuff was coming every day
From good old U.S.A.
A voice kept calling all the day
"More Cars!" it seemed to say.

Oh what is all this noise we hear
Pray, don't be quite so stormy
We're just the 35th Engineers
Not the whole blamed Army!

What is that voice we seemed to hear
Oh, say, what can it be?
The voice all Yankee boys hold dear
The voice of liberty.

At freedom's call we quicken pace
And worked with one accord
To help our boys our foe to face
And stay the Kaiser's horde
Oh armies in the field of France
We owe you gratitude
We see you haven't got a chance
Unless we send you food

So food meant cars and cars meant eats
For fighting, bleeding Yanks
So take them, boys, you've got us beat
And hand it to the Hanks

The Colonel called us up one day
We allowed he'd give us hell
But he had a few nice plans to lay
A little tale to tell

He helped us make a nice program
We made it plenty big
We allowed we didn't give a d___
How hard we had to dig

We'd make more cars than all the wars
Would need to haul supplies
We'd make a train from here to Mars
And lay the rails and ties.

We buckled down and went to work
Each Corporal, Sarge and Buck
If anybody tried to shirk
He sure was out of luck.

We pushed the thing each day and night
Each engine shop and crane
Hot rivets flew like streaks of light
And hammers crack and bang.

Four hundred seventy five a week
We called the first attack
But that was just a lucky streak
We allowed we'd soon fall back.

But every week we beat our mark
And up the line we went
The war dogs have to howl and bark
Before our strength is spent
Each week we count the cars
And give each week a name
Oh boy, we surely got to Mars
With no two weeks the same

Lieutenant Colonel Vincett
The man behind the gun
The Yanks are crossing the Vesle
The Huns are on the run

On to Berlin and over the top
Each week a thing alive
Bombarding Metz Huns on the hop
And Colonel Waldron's drive

These are just a few of the names
We gave our banner weeks
Oh no, it's not a song we sing
It's Yankee grit that speaks!

But now the war is ended
The Huns gave up their guns
Oh say, is it not splendid
How well our work is done.

And now the voice with joy
Is calling over the sea
Oh please come back, my boy
Oh please come home to me.

Sweetheart, wife and mother
Land of liberty
Is calling to her brother
From over the dark blue sea.

Oh won't it be a blessing
Oh glorious happy day
When we can quit our guessing
And sail for the U.S.A.

But our mission isn't ended
So the Captain said
War has been suspended
The enemy is playing dead.

We've simply got to see it thru
They've told so many lies
We've got to show them who is who
And spoil the trick he tries

Our service record is notably clear
We're going to watch our step
And for the little extra time we're here
We'll fill it up with pep.

Oh, it's some piece! Sounds about like some of my dope, doesn't it?

Dec. 29

Well, we had a very nice time today. Had some pictures taken. Will start you some on January 10th. You probably will get them about the first of February. Well, I guess I'd better close and put this in the box. Answer soon.

Pvt L. McCoy
99th Co. 25 Grand Division
Trans. Corps, APO 735
American E.F.