Recently, we discovered two additional letters written by my grandfather, Miles E. Baldwin, during his service in the Ambulance Corp in France, 1917-1919. I am adding these to the previous post series on this subject.
The first letter was written during the period when Miles was recovering from illness, and enduring a long convalescence. He was exposed to mustard gas and also suffered hearing loss from artillery blasts; the mustard gas caused some serious respiratory problems. He was unhappy being away from his company and the men he had trained with, and was trying to be reassigned to his unit.
104th Ambulance Co.
Sir: – I greatly desire to return to your command and since it is only through your insistence that my return is possible, I appeal to you again.
It has been my misfortune to be separated from the company by sickness; now that I am well I desire to be back with my comrades, with the company that I esteem above all others.
Application to the Div. Surgeon and Headquarters of the 41st Div, also applications sent to the 161st Field Hospital have returned some men to their original companies.
I am now in good health and feel great confidence in my ability to carry out everything in line of duty. Please give me a chance to play the game like a man, and not remain here like an unfit, entirely out of it all.
I have done everything possible to effect my return, but it’s only through your effort that it can be brought about.
Will you please notify me if you desire my return to your command so that I may act in conjunction with your wishes.
Pvt. 1/cl Miles E. Baldwin, Jr.
161st Field Hospital
The letter has a typed heading along one side: HQ1 26th DIV. AEF. 705. (Dis. from Hosp.) May 9, 1918.
The last letter was written about a year later, to Aunt Jennie, and contains some more details of his stay. He never was returned to his unit, and endured a variety of random assignments in the year before his departure back to the states.
March 1, 1919
Dear Aunt Jennie, I am in Brest, on the sailing list and expect soon to be on the way back to the States.
I feel pretty fair considering the manner in which I spent my time convalescing. During that time I did everything from administering an anesthetic to digging drainage ditches.
Do not send any more mail to France for I will probably be on my way home before it arrives here, besides I haven’t received any mail since January 12, anyway.
The rain here is continuous and after you take a breath of the air here, you need a bellows to blow the fog off your chest.
I suppose most of the boys in my old unit are home or in the States by the time you receive this letter. I expect that it will be rather rough crossing at this time of the year. I send love and best wishes to you all and I hope the days will be few before I am back in little Rhody again where the sun shines once in a while and New England boiled dinners are obtainable.
Love to yourself, Ted.
Pvt. 1/cl Miles E Baldwin Jr
Casual Company #979
Censored by: [blank]
Combined with the earlier letters and pictures these letters give me a better idea of his two-year experience.
I close this series with the last memento I have: