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SBButler Letters, January 1918

Jan 7, 1918
Jan 13, 1918
Jan 20, 1918
Jan 27, 1918

Letters to Eva


Camp Devens
Monday eve, Jan. 7, 1918.


Dear Mother,

I'm a day late this week. Things seem to have crowded in on me for the time being, and I was very busy all over the week-end.

The Officers' Training School took away my two best men, 1st sergeant Clarence Tolsom and Sergeant Younglove; they have been of a good deal of assistance to me all fall, men whom I could leave the company with at any time, and of course I am sorry to lose them, though glad to see them get the opportunity to go. They were the two highest on my list of recommendations for the school. They are still considered members of the company and if they were to fail in getting commissions, would come back to the company in their old capacity. I have acting in Sgt. Tolsom's place as 1st sergeant of the company a Sgt. John Coughlan, and in Sgt. Younglove's place a Corporal Jacob Bernhard, the latter a man who was at Massachusetts Tech for two years. They are both starting out well.

The two men I had AWOL both had a special court martial, as I had two charges against each, & summary court couldn't have given sufficient penalties. But one of them was acquitted because the case for the prosecution was managed badly. He was just released tonight. I have another AWOL at present; disappeared sometime in the night last Friday- Saturday, & hasn't been heard from since.

I suppose Ralph will be down here Wednesday. I had quite a long talk with the Major about him the other night, and he is going to take him into the Headquarters Co. just as Lieut. June was to do. Lieut. June is still with us in a sort of unofficial capacity.

Will you please have found out for me whether I should get one of those questionnaires to make out or not? Spaulding got one with all sorts of dire penalties for any failure to make it out.

I'll have to send old laundry to you before the new comes back with the present conditions. It didn't come until Saturday last week & as I had no other shirt to wear than the one I had on, I had to wait. I'll have to get an extra one.

I'm too sleepy for more.
Lots of Love
Sylvester

[ENCLOSURE]

Y.M.C.A.
CAMP DEVENS AYER, MASS.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON, DECEMBER 30, 1917
===========================================
CONCERT
by
MEMBERS of the
BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Clement Lenom, Conductor

============================================
Programme
THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER
THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC


Camp Devens
Jan.13, 1918.


Dear Mother,

It's really the 14th so again I can't be very long. I have had a pleasant week-end in Boston, Brookline, & Somerville. Yesterday forenoon I went into Boston, shopped during what time I had in the afternoon, then went out to Willis's. They live now at 181 Walnut St., Brookline, and are anxious that next time you are up this way you should come & see them. They have a little boy between 4 & 5, Arthur, and a little girl about 2, Sallie, and expect a third arrival soon. I stayed with them overnight & until ten o'clock this morning, then went out to West Somerville to see Mrs. Heath. She has three children, Gordon, 6; Evelyn, 3; and Arnold, 7 mos. Gordon & Evelyn are spry youngsters & have been all over my uniform trying to find what everything was for, and little Evelyn even ventured to rub my mustache & inquire why it was. Mrs. Heath doesn't seem much different in appearance than when she taught at Middletown High.

Aunt Ella has sent me up a great big box of things - 3 or 4 packages of dates, two boxes of figs, 5 or 6 tremendous cakes of sweet chocolate, & a big box of assorted nuts. I have suddenly become very popular.

I had a letter from Bert Phelps this week & he is down at Camp Dix, waiting for transportation to somewhere in Texas for he enlisted in the Aviation Corps & is only at Camp Dix for preliminary training. Willis Blackman has the aviation bug. He is on the local draft board in Brookline.

I don't think of any special news of interest to you from Pleasantville lately. I don't get any more word of Sam Sewall, either.

Probably Ralph has written you all about his doings since he came here. I hope he is going to like it. It certainly seems good to know that he is at last down here.

How is your coal pile lasting?

If we're here long enough I hope to get down home in two or three weeks for the week-end.
Lots of love
Sylvester.

[note - Dad told me today that Sam Sewall's name was not Sam at all but Arthur. Apparently Sam didn't care for Arthur and sort of explains in my mind why he gave Dad Sam's last name instead of first. We've always known why he didn't get Miss Tolbert's first name, Gertrude. -Susan Czaja, granddaughter]


Camp Devens
Sun.eve, Jan.20,1918.


Dear Mother,

An announcement of an inter-company competition within all the trains & Military Police the first of last week by the Colonel has kept me going somewhat constantly this last week. He gave the cos. until Feb.14th to announce they were ready, but promised to mention in general orders those three who were first ready & proved it in the test of course. The Major wanted to announce all cos. in the Supply Train ready by Friday evening the 25th and I am straining every effort to report my company ready this Tuesday evening. The test comprises a number of things we haven't covered before, & that with the desire to attain perfection in what we have covered has naturally required pretty close attention to be successful. Intensive training is the watch word for this week.

Among the subjects of the test is individual cooking. To carry this out, Greene's & my company are going to march to his farm in Harvard tomorrow noon & cook their dinner & to supplement this practical experience I have prepared today a synopsis of what they ought to know about it, according to my assumption of what the test will be. The test will comprise also signaling, arm & whistle signals, extended order work, position & aiming drills with rifle, transmission of messages, physical drill, first aid, guard duty, military formalities & courtesies, and any squad in the company may be picked out for the test, & presumably the squad leader will have to act on his own - conduct the physical drill, position & aiming drill, or whatever he's called on for. This has meant getting the sergeants & corporals together for special get-it-quick work in how to handle these drills, for the majority of them have only acted out before, not directed other men in it, inasmuch as most of the drills we have is done by the whole co. under my direction or under one or two sergeants. And then for the test each non-commissioned officer must be prepared on map reading, writing field messages, & locating the points of the compass; and each sergeant has to demonstrate his ability to instruct & train in certain particulars; all of which has meant other special conferences & arrangements for sergeants to practice on the necessary particulars with the company. And then I've had to write up the lectures I attend each day by Capt. Armand, as well as take an hour & a half out of my day to attend them. And I've organized the company this week on paper for it's operation in the field, and turned in recommendations for non-coms as complete as possible toward my permanent quota. And it seems as though the Major had been hopping on us every other minute for some new thing he wanted done.

At any rate, I've had enough to do to keep out of mischief.

A number of promotions were announced this week. Lieut. Moody's came thru. Tom Beers got a 1st lieutenancy, also Ralph Gabriel, Burton Fall of the 301st Infantry, "Tom" Woodward, Yale 1913 of the 301st Artillery, and a number of others I know well. Still, the number of promotions is only a very small percentage of the officers in camp.

It was surely a shock to learn about Paul Ranney, and it must have brought the war home pretty thoroughly to Cromwell. [note- I think I remember from one of Uncle Ralph's letters that this man died at a training camp in the USA of either influenza or pneumonia as opposed to overseas]

This afternoon Ralph and I went up to see Cousin Ed, and had a chat with him for about an hour. Henry lost out on aviation on account of hay fever in his history, and is quite disgusted.

Ralph wanted me to tell you his arctics came all right.

The mails are very slow in delivery of packages, apparently. For that package you wrote Ralph hadn't arrived Tuesday night was mailed Friday morning. I mailed one Friday morning this week which I hope will have better luck. 301st Supply Train won't reach me any sooner. We are the only Supply Train here; there is only one to a Division. For a long time there was an argument as to whether our official designation should be Supply Train, 75th Division or 301st Supply Train & since it's been decided the latter was correct I have been using it, but guess I neglected to make special mention [of] it.

Please pardon scrawling writing. It's been done in a great deal of a hurry.

I suppose Ralph has told you my company is quarantined for measles.
Well, it's time I was napping.

With much love to you & all
Sylvester

Lucinthia's letter being returned.


Jan.27,1918. (this is a guess as the note is undated)


Dear Mother,

I've lost your letter of last week, so I can't tell whether there were some things you wanted to know or not. I sent a new shirt home in last week's laundry & one more will be coming some later week.

I hoped to get several important things done this weekend, but have fallen somewhat short of my hopes, though working pretty constantly. I was sorry not to be able to run down home, as I had half-planned, but I didn't dare leave my work this week. I hope Ralph can get a chance to go down again soon & that it will be a convenient time for me to come along then.

I announced my Co. ready Tuesday for the test, but the board hasn't yet called it. All the cos. of the Train had a contest in the points to be covered by the test, Saturday morning & Co. C won out, by a margin of 2 points over Co. E, Achorn's company. I am of course much pleased, but hope to impress on them they can do much better.
With much love,
Sylvester


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