Letter from Anne Morgan, 18 and 20 August 1917

Letter from Anne Morgan to her mother, Frances Tracy Morgan
Blérancourt, 18 and 20 August 1917

Dearest Mother,

Sundays are becoming as busy here as all other days with all kinds of visitors, so it is hard to get time to write as I want to. This week we also have Homer Folks' daughter [Gertrude] stopping with us so as to show her some of the interesting parts of this part of the world, so it has kept us very busy all day entertaining her.

We had a wonderful military Mass this morning with the most wonderful music. David of the opera is here and sings too beautifully for words, then there was a violin obligato which was very fine, and then the men all joined in a patriotic hymn, so it was a real concert, then tonight, there is a cinema of the big review that was held here the other day when [Commander-in-Chief Philippe] Pétain decorated one of the regimental flags. Some of them also went over to see some of the big Boche trenches which are ninety feet down and all cemented, real palaces, where a thousand men could be sheltered at the same time.

August 20th

As usual I was interrupted just there and in the meanwhile no end of water has run under the bridge, and we have been having a marvelous experience in every way. On Sunday Anne Dike and I were taken off on a very mysterious trip that I can't write you about, but it was a wonderful chance that I will tell you all about when we get home. You can't imagine how interesting it is to be living in the middle of the army in this way; we are really getting to feel as if we belonged in it, and the Etat Major that is here now are the most wonderful people to cooperate with imaginable. The different officers in charge of the villages are in most cases devoted beyond words, and are accomplishing the impossible with the men who are really en repos between their days of service in the trenches. It is all so desperately worthwhile and human in its various problems and our place in it all seems to be growing more and more clear as we understand the question better and the people learn to know we are here to help them to help themselves.

This week we are starting in the school, Miss [Florence] Wright, Miss Toovey and Miss Hie[?] are starting with sewing and carpentry classes and the Instituteur [head teacher] is thrilled, as he has no means of doing it himself and yet realizes that the whole future is the question of the children in this country of the very old and the very young.

Yesterday at Querzy we found such a fine woman living with her father- and mother-in-law and an old man cousin, the three were ninety-two, eighty-eight and eighty, one of her sons was killed, one was a prisoner and one wounded, and the daughter-in-law and grandchild are with the Boche. The two old people were sleeping on the floor and only dreaming of getting back to their own village of Bichancourt, which we are going to arrange for them. None of them asked for anything and were only thrilled with the fact that they had fished out of the river the things they had hidden there in the way of kitchen utensils and wash pails when the Boche drove them from their own home.

You can see for yourself how interesting it all is and yet what a long drawn out piece of work it is going to be and how much planning and foresight it all needs. Your wonderful check arrived last night and has thrilled us all beyond words. Anne [Dike] and I have already spent it ten times over but have this morning decided to put it into stoves which are so desperately needed this winter in every home. You were an angel to send it and I never can tell you how much that kind of confidence in our work means to all of us. We are both so longing to have you here for a bit so you could see for yourself how it all is, if only the old submarines were out of the way I know you would adore having a few months in France under these conditions. Of course I don't mean out here in Blérancourt, but at Compiègne where you could be than comfortable. Miss Folks is so thrilled with her visit that she wants to come out and join us and work here which delights us under the conditions with all our R.C. [Red Cross] troubles. I think the last straw came yesterday when she went to the ambulance in the church at Trosly-Loire which is most picturesque and unusual.

Well, Dearest, I could go on writing indefinitely if only I had the time to, for every day brings more stories that would interest you, but it is so hard to steal the time.

Please give no end of love to every one and above all to Blythie and with no end for yourself.

Always your adoring daughter,