Letter from Anne Morgan, 29 July 1918

Anne Morgan's War: Rebuilding Devastated France, 1917–1924
September 3 through November 21, 2010

Letter from Anne Morgan to her mother, Frances Tracy Morgan
Blérancourt, 29 July 1918

Dearest Mother,

I am more than sorry to have missed writing for so many days, but these last two weeks have been regular nightmares, in addition to having every minute filled, I have had to indulge in a few days of grip, which seemed to me no end unnecessary.

Anne [Dike] went down to Chartres this week to attend to that end of things, while I stayed on in Paris, and now this week end we have reversed things and I have come up here to see after the canteen end. It really is all going most wonderfully and the girls are all doing a yeoman's piece of work. When you realize that in four weeks they have served over two hundred thousand cups of drinks and given cigarettes to at least fifty thousand more men on the road that could not stop for the drink, you can have some kind of an idea of the way they are all doing. I do hope you will get the office to show you the photographs that [Harry B.] Lachman took up here at Changis only last week. That man is such an artist that it is a joy to have him help us in this way, and he is only too glad to do it. We are going to have the farm done this week with the forty odd refugees that are already working on it, and all the famous cows from Blérancourt that have had all the exercise in the last two offensives.

People at home seem to care more about photos than anything else, as nothing that one tells them is able to give them the real picture. Alas, so much that one sees leaves pictures on one mind that it would be a relief to be able to forget the front canteens, and what this recent battlefield means is a horror beyond words, not only the villages but the woods are literally shot to pieces and of course it will be some time yet before the Service d'étapes des Champs de Batailles can do the cleaning up which is such a ghastly job, even at the best.

[By the summer of 1918, the United States was sending large numbers of troops into combat in France.]

You must all be thrilled beyond words the way the American boys are doing their part, even over here it seems almost a miracle, and at home, so far away it must all seem too wonderful for words. The only ghastly part is that their splendid bravery is working out just the way the English did in 1914, and the losses are terrific. Then too their resistance has not had the long preparation that the French have had, and they go down very quickly under their wounds.

It looks now as though we would soon have a lot of civilian work on our hands again as the army and the administration are both desperately anxious to help the people back in this region immediately and the crops have not been at all destroyed except in certain places and it is desperately important to make sure of the harvest within the next few weeks. As their houses are uninhabitable and what are standing have been utterly pillaged, we have been asked to pitch in at once and see what can be done.

Besides all this we have our farms to work ahead on and the children's center to get in shape, which will take a full month, and in no direction does there seem much chance of any holiday for the moment. Still it does seem so worthwhile that no one minds, and the life on the whole is so out-of-doors even Anne [Dike] who has the whole thing on her shoulders is looking wonderfully when she does not have to do too much motoring to get around to all our different centers.

I haven't thanked you yet for your good letter of June 27 as well as that of the 29th which came on my birthday. It is such a satisfaction to know that everything is all right with you, and that you are so well. I was rather worried that the heat wave caught you before you got to Bar Harbor, but it may not have been as bad as the paper said, anyway one likes to hope so.

We don't see anyone but our own group so I have no news to amuse you with, and we are in our work up to the hilt, morning noon and night, but the days fly past and one is never able to get half through.

Last week was a terror with one girl having broken her arm on a Ford, and the ambulance run into by a staff car which knocked out the girl and Dr. [Alice Weld] Tallant who has been in the hospital ever since. Still there were no broken bones, only a concussion, and tomorrow I am taking her down to Paris in our own car, and after a few weeks rest she will be all right again.

The Red Cross goes on being very nice to us, though they don't want us to say anything about it, anyway our work is growing so that their five thousand a month is only about one fifth of what we need, still our people are wizard about sending us money and we are keeping well ahead of the game.

This week we are sending over to America four essays that four of our [children wrote] about their own war experiences which are too charming for words, and at the same time desperately tragic. They are all so happy where they are now that they like to tell the story, but the Picart boy lost most of his fingers with some of those Boche fuses that he picked up in the street is so sweet in the way he is beginning to find himself in the new life. As to the little Chauny girl who tells the story of the way her mother and sister were killed, one would never believe her the same child as the one that came to us the day after the accident.

Well, Dearest, must leave you know and go off to bed as I am dead with sleep and must be off early in the morning. Give no end of love to every one and

believe me as always your adoring daughter,