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"Hezzie" Goes to War: World War I through the Eyes of a Mid-Missourian

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Hezzie's locations in France
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Hezzie in Paris
Hezzie in Paris
Eiffel Tower and Ferris Wheel
in background

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Medical Corps

France, June 21st, 1917

Dear Mother and Dad:

. . .Very little new to write this week, except that I have gotten nicely settled in and everything is going along quite well and I am enjoying it immensely. In the first place, I have a nice room in a large up-to-date apartment which is very nice and clean and thoroughly modern and very cheap, as rooms go here in the city. The room costs 90 francs, or 45 francs for me, which is equivalent to $8.25. We have running water in our room, an iron bed, and hard oak floors with a window which looks out towards a certain celebrated tower. Our room is almost directly under the old Ferris Wheel which was at Chicago and which I rode on in St. Louis in 1904, I think it was. The price for going on the Wheel is 60 centimes, which is about 11¢, so I think I will take a trip on it soon. I am rooming with a Mr. Smythe, whose home is California and who has a wife and two children in Oakland. He speaks French very fluently and I consider myself quite fortunate in getting him as a roommate as I am attempting to be able to talk it as soon as possible. The room is within walking distance of the office, in about 15 minutes, but since the sub-way is so cheap here, about 2¢, if I am in a hurry at all I take it. I have started out several times by myself and find that I can get about most anywhere I want to now. We also get our breakfast at the room, for which we pay extra 1 f, 50 c., or about a quarter. It consists of a cup of chocolate, a piece of war bread and some butter - all very good, what there is of it. It is called petit dejeuner (a small breakfast). It is served in our room at 8:00 o'clock sharp - some style, eh?

The work at the office is getting heavier all the same but as yet we are putting in very little overtime. The work consists mainly of dictation regarding the medical work. . . .

I am taking considerable number of pictures and getting them finished up - it is costing like everything to get them done as the prices of things along that line is simply out of sight but I hope to have something nice to show for it. Of course it is impossible to send pictures of any kind thru the mails out of France so you will have to wait in anticipation to seeing them.

I am getting along fine and enjoying everything although the work is becoming rather heavy. From our location one could hardly tell a big war was on, so you must realize we are as safely located as you are, perhaps more so. . . .

your loving son,
Hezzie

[links below open in new windows]

zeppelin

zeppelin

crashed zeppelin

crashed zeppelin

zeppelin headlines

zeppelin headlines

zeppelin pieces

zeppelin pieces

Letter No. 26 (Zeppelin)

October 28th, 1917

. . . Well, no doubt you got full accounts of the last Zeppelin raid on England last week (Friday, Oct. 19th) and of how they flew over London at an altitude of some three miles and dropped bombs. There seems to have been thirteen of them which left Germany but as you have seen five of them did not get back, four of them being overtaken by the French airmen and completed to land in France and the other lost at sea. It certainly was a great success and we are rejoicing with the French on their victory for it ought to hold them (the Germans) a while at least. Enclosed is bits of one of them. It would be hard to describe the enormous 'beast' that they are. However, if you measure off 680 feet, and imagine a tube 72 feet in diameter of that length then you have some idea of what an enormous thing it is. It had been recently painted and the metallic parts were new, and the general indications were that it was its first trip. It was of the very latest model, being driven by six motors suspended at intervals from the main body, and developing 1,500 horsepower. The black piece was a part of the outer covering, and show that the color was coal black. The grey piece made up a part of the covering just within the black outer covering. The yellow piece is a part of the covering from one of the six or eight balloons which were located throughout the length of it and which of course carried the whole thing. Each of these balloons of course is much larger than most of us have ever seen. Where I got this you will, of course, have to use your imagination, but can be assured it is genuine.

steel helmet

steel helmet

gas mask

example of U.S. gas mask

Letter No. 36

France, Jan. 6, 1918

. . . Now, once more, let me assure you that I am not in any danger and further that if I am at any time I will write you that I am and for how long. You can also rest assured that if anything happens to me you will know of it long long before anybody reads of it in the paper for you will be telegraphed first in cables that go first of all other business. They are arranging to have very quick service in regard to notifying relatives of the boys who die or are killed. Of course they are taking all necessary precautions in case anything happens, we are soon to all have gas masks, in fact a few of the boys in our office already have them, and we are soon to have steel helmets. However, rest perfectly easy and when I do get into real danger, if that time should come I shall frankly write you, but in the meantime you may think of me just as safely as you are yourselves, so there.

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A Joint Exhibit
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Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia
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Acknowledgments and World War I Links