MENU

The 302nd Ammunition Train - The letters of Laurance Bucknam


Laurance E. Bucknam
302nd Ammunition Train - 77th Division
Transcribed by Laura Goeller (Granddaughter)


Members of the 302nd Ammunition Train at Camp Upton; Far left is Laurance Buknam,,
Glenn Prentice is in the middle and  on the far right is James Wycoff. 


 

  

My grandfather, Laurence E. Bucknam writes these letters to various family members and friends.  Laurence Bucknam was born and raised in Perry, New York in 1893.  His parents were farmers, and he had two brothers and a sister.  Their names were Raymond, Kenneth and Violet. 

    He enlisted in the army in March of 1918, and was stationed at Camp Upton on Long Island.  He served in Company A, 302nd Ammunitions Train.  He drove ammunition trucks over in Europe during World War I (Company A was the first to be trained in this branch of the service).  After the Armistice was signed and the war was over; my grandfather then became the personal chauffeur for General John “Black Jack” Pershing.

   Once he returned home; he met and married the love of his life, Hazel Marie Lee.  They had three children: Eugene, Lorraine and Calvin.  He opened up his own dealership, Bucknam Pontiac, in Palmyra, New York.  His sons took over the business after his death in February of 1970.

  Laurence Bucknam was a wonderful and loving man.  He had a unique sense of humor that will always be remembered. His children, grandchildren and many great-grandchildren will always reminisce about his life.

 

Biography written by Laura Goeller
February, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camp Upton
307 – Co. M.
March 2, 1918

Dear Folks,

 This being the first good chance to write, I’ll give you all an ideal how everything is going on.  After arriving in N.Y., we were transferred to a boat across to Long Island then on railroad rest of the way to camp.  When on the boat we had the pleasure of taking on the Statue of Liberty (ha, ha) on under Brooklyn Bridge.  Then we were good for 70 miles ride in wilderness of pine wood.  At 6 o’clock, we  arrive in camp and it was a sick looking hole to the bunch.  Since that time we have been examined and vaccinated in the arm – an back, and we were a still bunch for a day.  Some of the fellows fainted away from the effects.  To-day were fitted with suits and look like real soldiers now. 

 This being Saturday we have nothing to do but eat and inspecting early in the morning.  They called feed here mess, and it is one, if you go away hungry its your fault, lots of beef and brown gravy.

 Friday they had a grade parade for Gov. Whitman and it took hours for it to pass.  There is only 37,000 soldiers here not counting officers and mess cooks.  The camp is 16 miles long and 11 miles wide and still building everyday.  52 – YMCA’s, places of amusement and moving picture.  The weather is fine just a little cold night, if you had any ailment just report in sick call, and you will have one of the best doctors here in the country.  Not quack.

 If the people in that section don’t believe that US is in war you want to come here and look for yourself.  That’s all is necessary.  We are quarantined in until March 14.  After that we can go anywhere.  I signed up in the motor division in Quarter Master Corp., but will not kick if I do not get in that branch. 

 It is a good clean bunch to be with, but we can never tell how soon we will be sorted.  The last Co. M was sent south so we have fill there places.  There is lots of room here now and may be they will called for more men.

 The boys now are playing basket ball or baseball cards, or anything for past time.  I have failed to find anything hard about it so far all though we were on our feet 14 hours straight so that is starting in some all right.  Send me one suit of under wear like the same kind that I have been wear all winter.  One suit is pretty well gone so send it right away in a small package. I’ll put the tag in for the right size and be sure and not get anything heavier for they gave us 3 heavy suits for this year and next, and let me know what the price is.  They gave us 4 pair of socks for summer and winter wear.  Lots of clothes and the best kind.  2 pair of shoes, 1 pair for field work with nails in the bottom and 1 dress pair, over coat and 4 buckles, coat for wet weather, summer and winter hats.  I’ll send lot of the clothes back as soon as I can find something to send them in.  I have got my suit, coat, shoes, rubbers, cap, shirt soft one, helmet to send back.

 They will finish clothes as fast as we can wear them out, but if we lose them we will have to make it right, not much danger of any stealing here in this bunch.  Buy that suit at Fred Johnson’s that is where I got the other two suits, send me one of the paper and respond soon.  With lots of love and best regards to all my friends good-by.  Address 307 – Co. M, Camp Upton, N.Y.

 Laurence E. Bucknam

Camp Upton
Sun., March 10, 1918

Dear Folks,

 Drop you a line and let you know everything is all right here.  Yesterday we got another needle in the right arm.  My does not feel bad, but it puts the whole system out of order.  One fellow had sort of a fit at the supper table and fell to the floor, cutting his head on the edge of the table.  He is now in the hospital and some others from this barracks.  To look at this bunch you natural thing they were in a base hospital.  It gives you cold chills, a fever and makes bones ache all over.

 I took a physic to help work it off this morning and feeling pretty good except being stiff and sore.  They shot in one million and a half of Typhoid germs to that’s enough to make anybody stiff.

 Did you send that Union suit to the old address, if so I’ll not get it until next week.  Send me another right away for I’ll need two suits size – 36 by 60 and get it right on the road so I can make a change this week, but do not get anything heavier than what I wore last winter.  In couple months they will issue summer wear but I have nothing for now so send them to the address at the bottom of this letter.  Dr. Scott has been transferred again to a stable.  I do not know how the rest of the Perry boys are, but just as soon as we can get out I’m going to look them up.  It has rained all night and so far today.  The surgeon just went through to dope the sick one.  We are inspected every day to find out if any of them are diseased.  It’s a good thing.

 Give my best regards to all my friends, with love to you all.  Will write more next time, let me know what the Union suits cost and don’t forget to send them right away, wrapped up in strong paper and insure address on the other side.

 Mr. Laurence E. Bucknam

302nd Co. D
Ammunition Train
Camp Upton
Long Island, N.Y.
Casual

 

Put the full address on and don’t forget the work “Casual” in the lower part of the envelope.
 Love to all.
Good-bye.

 

Camp Upton
March 16, 1918

 

Dear Folks,

 This being Saturday and most the day to myself, I will try a make a reply.  It is fine weather and dust flying and lots of the men are going to train bound for N.Y.  I could get a pass, but there is nothing up there for me so decided to let it go for now.  I sent a package this morning for Raymond of my stuff and some thing for Glenn Lawson.  They will call for his things, so leave them at the barn.  I have been transferred to the 302nd, Co. A Ammunition train. And expect to go over within 2 weeks, unless we get different orders.  This is a new branch of service.  Been here only 6 months, but will get lots of drill and instruction on trucks before going into service.  They have no truck on this side.

 I can get a 48 hour leave but it’s too short to come to Perry.  It takes so much time to travel if your people live in N.Y.  It would be right handy but as it is I cannot do anything different.  But will let you all know when we get ready to start.  I’m in fine health and have gained 10 lb. of fat so do not look very sick.  I’ll make a effort of getting my picture taken, so it will give an ideal of what a uniform is on a Bucknam (first one in our history), if there is such a thing.  I’ll make good for our sake and U.S.

 I have received your pillow and two suits of under wear with thanks and as soon as I strike the Western Union I’ll send the money.  The barracks where I first went is all clean up and ready for the next bunch.  Glenn Prentice, James Wycoff are the same old Co.  It seems funny to me; they do not get transferred.  I do not understand it.  I go over and see them once in awhile to see how they are getting along.  All of the guys that cannot learn to be a real soldier are sent south to a work camp.  So if you cannot make good, that is where you go.  Lots of foreigners who cannot understand are shipped there.

 The grub and officers are fine where I’m now and this week we will take a hike of 9 miles to a rifle range for practice.  Have lots of clothes, they even give us towels, razors and shaving brush and you can have all you want of everything, but if you lose any of them you have to pay for them.  This morning I got a hair cut and some tailoring on my suit for neatness is a great thing in the army.  At least it is in our company, for Co. A is suppose to be the best company in that branch of service and we all take pride in it to have it the best.

 Don’t worry everything is fine and my address is:

 Laurence E. Bucknam
302nd Co. A
Ammunition Train
Camp Upton, N.Y.
 

This will be my regular always from now on, until we cross the brimy ocean. 
 Lots of love to all, good-bye, remember me to all my friends and best regards.


Members of company A,  302nd Ammunition Train at Camp Upton

 

Camp Upton
March 24, 1918

 Dear Folks,

 Will make an effort to relieve myself of little news if you can find time to read it.  Everything is going along in good shape.  This last week we have drill in the for noon and pack stuff in afternoon.  The trucks for this company are on the way over there so it won’t be long before we will soon start.  I’ll make an effort to get a leave, but if not I will telegram to Raymond and have him come down for there is a number of different things that I want to do.

 The weather is great here but very windy.  It blows most of the time.  There are 10 – 12,000 leave here for New York every Saturday and Sunday 36 hour leave.  I have to keep my arm bandage and it’s rather stiff, but its getting along as good as can be expected.  We went to the rifle range last week and done pretty good for the first time.  Think this afternoon will go over to see Glenn Prentice and some of the Perry boys.  Have not seen Dr. Scott for 2 weeks, do not know where he is now, but can go to headquarters and find out. 

 Is Violet still peeved, if so she will have to work it off.  For if she was married and lived in another section of the Country it would be all right for me to write to her, but as long as she lives in the same house its unnecessary to do so.  For I’m not in love with writing enough to send two letters alike in separate envelope to same place.

 Went to the show last night, it sure was good, but those Smileage books are something like a stock company.  On the first show, pass out card and state that this card and 15 cents will permit you to a reserve seat.  The whole Smileage book is worth about 3 – 4 good seats and then you have to pay in part cash so you can make up your mind how much good one of those books are.  Just a polite graft in a modern way, but as far as the shows are concerned, they are the best there is right from New York with beautiful scenery and electrical effects.  They had a peach orchard on the stage and trees all loaded with fruit it sure did look natural.  In the second act, the orchard was in blossom and it was suppose to be in the spring of the year, which was great.  The seats are rather high, that why Smileage book do not go far here.  If Raymond and Harry come down will give them a chance to see a real show.

 How is the farmer, or otherwise the hay seed getting along, has he thrash yet?  Must be he has because there was an awful fog here last week.  You might send down a few hen’s eggs that the Rochester laid.  Send me some address of Bennett family someday.  Also, Aunt Florence.  I drop them a card let them know I’m alive, yet although, I have some cold.  But you are not well here unless you have a cold, because so much wind and salt air near the ocean.  I had my picture taken yesterday and will send one home next week if they are good.  Well will close for this time with lots of love to all.  And address my mail to:

 302nd Co. A Amm. Train
Long Island
Camp Upton, N.Y.
Laurence E. Bucknam


Laurance Bucknam far left and Glenn Prentice in front of truck at Camp Upton.

 

 

Camp Upton
March 27, 1918

 Dear Folks,

 Will drop a line and let you all know everything is all right, but our days are numbered.  I was talking with the head Sergeant tonight and he said this company has orders to cut all passes.  No more, not even for New York.  If I’m here for Sunday, I’ll telegram to Raymond for him to come down.  Would like to see you all before I go, but never the less it is impossible so I will be forced to give up that ideal.  Maybe its just as well, in the long run, for a short visit would not amount to a great deal, and would only make it worse for me.

 I received a letter from Hattie and George Hilficker and they are going to send me a box of stuff, but tell her not to because I’m not liable to be here.  Tell her to wait until I get located on the other side, but I thank her very much for her kindness in which she has shown.

 I was out driving the truck yesterday and expected to have one issued to me on the other side if nothing happens.  The supply train moved tonight and their barracks look rather sick.  Nothing in them, ready for the next draft to come in.  We are the first company to be sent over because it is the first bunch of trained men in this branch of service.  We get two months of training over there before we go into service.  So there’s lot of time yet for the war to close before we get into the harness.

 I have had my picture, and will send one along.  Yes, and one to Violet if she wants it.  Dr. Scott probably took a French leave, it’s just like him, and if he did, he will get it when he returns to camp.

 Glenn Prentice is in the Signal Corp now and he expects to go over soon.  In fact that is camp talk.  They are all going before long so, there will be a lot of company on that side the way they are going.  But whatever you people do, don’t worry because that will not do you any good, and only get you gray hair.  Everything will be all right if I can make it that way, and I will write when I get a location and send my address. 

 The Colonel was here today from Washington and inspected this division.  He said Company A are the best trained men in the field after we get through drill, so that was worth something to have that record.  We also had our over sea physical examination yesterday and everything was all o.k. in line of disease.

 So all be good until my return and I will tell Raymond of all conditions when he comes down and send my grip back too.  Remember I’ll write, so don’t worry if you don’t get any mail for two or three weeks.  I’ll drop a line the first chance I get with regard to all my friends and Pete.  With lots of love to every one of you and will write more next time, be good.

 

Laurence E. Bucknam

The pictures don’t look very good to me, but maybe they will to you.

 

Camp Upton
April 2, 1918

Dear Sis,

 How does that name sound to you.  Sis, it’s natural to me to call you that, but of course if you don’t like it just say so and I will add the ter to it.

 Well, if you insist upon me writing to you, I will fool rest of the folks and address it to you.  All the difference is you will get the first chance to read it.  I have sent your last letter to Philadelphia to a lawyer and have it writing in English so I can make it out.  Expect to get the returns before long and then I will make an effort to answer it that will be all right.  Don’t get discouraged if you have to wait awhile.

 Everything is fine here even the weather.  It has been very warm here today; it makes you sweat when you get the packs on for a hike.  Last night, after dark, the entire company went on a hike about eight miles.  It was for the use of line up and to know how to obey commands when you cannot see your officers.  It’s much cooler at night, and they all enjoy it better.  Today I have had it soft, I was Company orderly and had very little to do in which I was well pleased of the fact because it has been so warm.  I did not have to drill, and that means work because our time is so short.  We don’t expect much Infantry drilling on the other side.  It will be most car instruction and learn how to repair and take care of your own machine.  This is right time to go because the weather is so mild, not so liable to get seasick.

 How’s the farming in that section at the present time of the season.  If the weather up there is like it is down here, wheat, hay, beans would grow fine.  We had a very little rain, but heavy fogs from the ocean and lots of wind.  The night before, I was on guard over a horse stable that is not our duty, but because there are so many empty barracks that have to be guarded, Company A was called on to help out.  So, I was on the job over six stables and each stable will hold 52 horses, so I had a bunch to take care of.  Raymond took my grip, and I will send the key with this letter.  My pictures are in and you put one in my postal book and do anything you want to with rest.

 There is a new straight edge razor in issue to me when I was in the infantry so, let papa or Raymond have it and save the razor that Ruth gave me.  I did not expect to see Ida and Ruth come but was glad to have them here and also wish you came too.  I’m sure they saw sight worth seeing and had a good time, but I do wish they were here on a weekday to see the drills.  They can give you folks an ideal what camp life is and conditions they found me in.  So get the news from them.  Give Hattie my best regards and George for the regular farmer’s feed which sure was enjoyed and I’ll answer the first chance I get.  I’ll soon shake hands with Statue of Liberty and bid her farewell.  Until we meet again.  So when my mail shuts off you know I’m on the way.  If you answer this right away I will get it, so don’t forget with lots of love to all and Kenneth, remember me to all my friends and be-good.

 Remain as ever,
Laurence E. Bucknam

 

 

 

Camp Upton
April 10, 1918

Dear Folks,

 Will drop a line to let you all know I’m still on this side, but just for a short time.  Expect to get orders most any day to pack. We did not drill any today, it’s just to get rested up and ready for the trip.  The horses and trucks were shipped this morning and all other baggage, marked A. E. F.  So, it’s a sure good thing I saw Glenn Prentice and Regs Merrville and bid them good-bye last Friday, and wrote you a letter the same day must be you did not get it.  But never the less I will write and let you all know and tell all I’m allowed to go were ever we stop so don’t worry whatever you do.  For I think of you all and all my friends and will give you all the news I can. 

 I received a letter from Marguerite and she sure has the right ideal and the spirit about writing and tell her I’ll answer it the first chance I get on this side or the other.  My cough has gone, and everyone has that until they get used to the climate.  I received your letter and address, but will have to answer them on the other side.  So don’t worry whatever you do.  I’m writing this in a hurry so you will have to excuse it this time and will write more next time.  I have seen the picture they are good.  Remember to keep one of my card picture and do whatever you want to with the rest.  Will close for this time with best regards to all my friends and lots of love to each and every one of you, and don’t worry whatever you do, now remember that, remain as ever.

 Your Loving Son,
Laurence E. Bucknam

  

 

 

 

 

Camp Upton
April 14, 1918

 Dear Sister,

 Say the weather has been great here, very wet and some snow.  I suppose you have sleighing up there by this time for all storms go in your direction from here, except the wind.  We keep that here to carry off the germs; it comes very handy for such.  Say did you get that short letter I sent?  You will have to get used to that kind when I arrive on the other side for you cannot write about nothing except the weather, and it won’t take me long to tell you all about that in a few short words.  In fact, I can write it all on the envelope and fill it up with cotton or toilet paper or anything as to make it look fat, or I can write it in a signal code and give you something to study out. 

 We have to learn that and give signal by flags, the same as the signal corp. does.  Most of our time on boat will be spent in studying the code, it’s something the like Western Union code so it would be easy to learn and be a telegraph operator after you have studied this code.  This is in you out with a truck and need help you can send words by the signal to another one hundreds of yards away.  In fact, as far as one can see the other, it is very interesting.  It’s a regular schooling to a person.  We have to learn it so we can send or receive 10 words a minute.  When I get back I can talk turkey to you and you will not know what I’m saying.  Here’s where I put one over on you with your high school graduation.  I would like to take up French language to if there’s a chance.

 We have not found out yet whether we can send our clothes to the laundry or not, if we cannot that means Monday for wash day in camp, and that we will be out of here before Wednesday because that’s the day our laundry comes back.  I’m sick of this hole and I guess its because we have got our minds made up to move for so long that we are getting anxious to go some where, as long as we get out of here.  Our stuff has gone, trucks and mules last week, and we will be there before long.  Another infantry goes tonight and a bunch came in last night from Camp Gordon; in and out all the time.  Some troops here are all right. 

 We had another company picture taken and it’s pretty good considering a cloudy day.  My picture is on the right, on my knees, and Harold Maul next to me on the left.  He is from Warsaw and some piano players we are together most of the time. In the center, in camp chairs are the head officers and the center one is Captain Sherman.  He is one fine man.  The boys of that company would follow him through hell fire and that is one thing the captains have to do is to keep on the right side of the men that are under him. For if he does not, his life is short over there.  One of the pictures will be sent to you.  They cost $1.00 a piece and be sure to keep it.

 I will close for this time.  Regards to all the neighbors, my friends and love to every one of you.  Have the farmer turn over sod for food is what we need (Ha Ha) and lots of beef in our barracks.  They use 75 – 100 lbs. of beef for each meal.  See what that means to a whole camp.

 Remains as ever,
Laurence E. Bucknam

 

 

May 12, 1918

Dear Mother,

 Will drop you a line and let you know that I’m feeling fine and the weather is great, but is seems more like a dream that I’m in Europe.  I can hardly believe it.  Was some sea sick on the way over, but it was on the account of storms that rock the boat like a cork.  After the sickness it makes you feel fine and can eat most anything.  It’s a sickness that hurts no one.  Saw two whales and a number of other things which I would not dare to write for it would only be crossed out.

 Some parts of the country are years behind and the people are peculiar, but I guess that on the account of we don’t understand their ways.  The garden looks fine.  Cabbage al up, wheat and oats are ten to twelve inches high.  From the looks of thing I should say that this country is from 6 weeks to two months advance of New York.

 We made a three-day trip and at present feel rather tired, but will sober up by Monday all right.  Have had several little visits with French, who have served time at the front.  It is interesting to hear them tell their experience, but will not write any of it to you for it would not do.

 Have not seen anything of Perry boys and it’s hard work to tell whether I will or not, but when I do, I’ll let you know.  Have you received the Company’s picture yet, and the allotment that I have made?  If not, let me know.

 Find out if Hattie Hilficker received my letter that I sent right after Raymond had left camp.  Give her my regards, and rest of my friends.  With love to you all and don’t worry.  Write my address in full like this and write soon.

 Prv. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm. Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

 

May 18, 1918

Dear Folks,

 This being Sunday and much to do will make an effort to write you all.  It’s cloudy this morning and without a doubt it will rain during the day, but it makes no difference how much it rains for it never gets muddy on the account of the sandy soil.  One week has passed by since we arrived in this camp, and have done some hard drilling. If it continues we sure will be tough, so tough that we can eat nails. 

 In regards to the war situation, I think you get more news right to home than I do here.  Papers are published here, The New York Herald, but after you have read it you do not know any more than before, so it does not amount to much.  A person can get an ideal the U.S. is carrying it on.  They sure are backing up the Allies and it will be the U.S. who will win.  And the majority of the fellows have the spirit to get into it, and have it over with.  It sure is the right ideal.

 In the line of eats, the grub is good and for sweets I have found the most pure candy is lump sugar. By the box four pounds to a box cost only four franc and ten centimes in French money.  That means forty-two cents in American.  That’s not so bad over here.  You can buy chocolate bars, but they are nothing like you get at home.  They have not got the taste.

 I have not wrote to Raymond yet.  It’s doubtful if I get a chance so, I think its best for you people to get together.  Nothing would please me any more than to write to you all, and all my friends, but it is useless in trying it for there is a limit to all things.  But give them all my best regards and explain to them how it is.  When I can get some cards at the YMCA will drop them one.  It’s hard enough to get paper for letters; they issue only so much each week and if you’re there when it’s passed out your lucky.  It’s a good thing I had some tablet paper left or you people would wonder where I was if you did not hear from me.  So the only one I have wrote to are Ruth and to home.  Be sure and remember me to Raymond and Florence.  Also, to Harry and Ida.  And tell them to write for their letters are not censored so, they can say anything they want to and the Perry papers would come in handy.  I would like to see what the changes are at home and who’s alive and who’s dead, during the last month.

 At 10:30, expect to go to hear a lecture at the Y.  I went to the movies last night.  They were good.  If it wasn’t for the Y, I do not know what we would do for amusement during our spare time.  They sure are appreciated over here, more so then to home.

 Well I suppose dad is right in the harness on the Castile road every day, and if his crops were up there as they are here you sure could get an ideal what the harvest would be.  Products seem to grow fast here; the soil being sandy and frequent showers and hot sun seem to draw the seed right up through in a short time.

 How does Bert like it up there?  Is the place showing up to be what you thought it was?  Anxious to know.  Is Mr. Tutle going to make a regular livery man, would like to know, give him my best wishes and rest of his barn customers that are in the office.

 Don’t forget to let me know if you received the Company picture or not.  And ask Ruth if she got hers yet.  Have not seen any thing of the Perry bunch, but know right where they are, but will not write it down.  If any of you people hear from them give Glenn and James Wycoff and the others my best wishes and tell them I’m over here and right on the job.

 Will close for this time with love to each and every one of you and regards to all the neighborhood.

 

Remain as ever.  Address.
Prv. Laurence E. Bucknam

 

 Co. A. 302 Amm. Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

  

May 25, 1918

Dear Folks,

 Still on the job writing letters; one every week and haven’t received any mail yet, but expect too soon.  Only one mail has arrived for the Company and that was dated April 24th, so it takes some time for it to get here.

 The warm weather hangs on, and in fact I think it does in this section most of the year.  Last night the Company had entertainment by the boys of the train; and it sure was enjoyed by all.  Some of the boys have their musical instruments with them.  They went and got the piano from the YMCA and some real ragtime music and comic songs.  Next on the program was the lunch that included cake, coffee, oranges and with some help the captain passed around the cigars.  Music and dancing continued until it was time for taps.  It was backed up by the officers of this Company, and to show their appreciation the boys give them three cheers for each officer.

 Will close for this time and hope this letter will find you all in perfect health.  I am feeling fine.  With love to you all, I remain as ever.

 Pvt. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A. 302 Amm Trn.
Amer E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

 

June 1, 1918

Dear Folks,

 Have received the Camp Upton mail and two letters from Ruth address over here, and its time to get some more.  It comes tied up in bundles.  I suppose it is easier to handle that way, but as long as it gets here that’s all I care.  I would like to see the papers and find how everything is going in Perry.  There cannot be many there by now; the rate they are coming in over here.  I suppose the papers are full of big headlines.  They are here in regards to the new drive, but we do not get much real news.  It’s all guesswork and what we do get, we cannot tell.

 Memorial Day was celebrated here in camp and most of the large city.  We had the day off, and a lecture by the Brigadier General.  A week ago the pastor of the Cornell University spoke here at the YMCA.  He sure is good.  A person here sure has a chance to hear some good speakers.  Billy Sunday is at the West front so may have a chance to hear him.

 This morning the paper states that Mother’s letters have arrived so, without a doubt you have received mine by this time.  I have sent four cards out, and as fast as I can I’ll send them along to answer all of the addresses that I have one record.  They will have to have patience and wait.

 How are Bert’s folks on the farm?  Are they making good as you expected?  You might be able to tell by this time.  Give then my best regards. 

 So Tuttle has purchased a Cadillac.  It’s a good stunt for that’s what he needs.  Who has he got for a chauffeur?  Harry has gone to work for Gibney.  He would make a good one unless he has changed since I left.  Give my regards to all the neighborhood and love to Raymond and Florence and have them write.  Will close with love to you all and write more next time.

 Address:
Pvt. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

 

June 10, 1918

Dear Sister,

 Will drop you a line this time to keep you good natured.  Everything is fine here, and hope it is the same with you all.  The weather has been great with very little rain.  It sure reminds me of Florida with sand and pine trees.  Have been writing letters to you folds for some time and hope to receive an answer before long.  I have heard from Ruth several times since my arrival in this camp, and it seems good to get some news from home to find out how everything is in Perry.  I have visited many cities and towns since I left, but that place suits me as well as any.

 On a little trip with a truck last week drove into Bordeaux.  It is a good sized city and parts of it remind me of Buffalo.  The streets are narrow and most of the buildings are four or five stories high, constructed of stone.  The YMCA has a fine place for U.S. troops and is a good place to spend Sundays.  The streetcars are of smaller type and operate by women mostly.  I saw a number of young girls, but most of them were dressed in black; mourning over relatives who have been at the front.  But from actions they take it all in good part for it was done to save their country.  Age and beauty has no choice for everybody works here on this side.  Wages are somewhat low comparing them with America.

 I received a first grade conduct pass this morning which entitles me to visit neighboring places when not on duty.  Second grade conduct permits one just around the camp; third grade conduct allows one just around the regimental area.  That means around the barracks.  It takes so many months of good behavior to get from third class to second, and it’s the same way to get from second to first.  Every man has a chance to show what’s in him over here; it sure is a good thing.  You can get an ideal what kind of a life some of the follows have been in the habit of living.  I hope to always be in first grade conduct as long as I am in the army.  In fact, I’m sure of it, as far as behavior is concerned, if you are brought up that way it is easy to stay that way, if you want to.

 We have the gas mask and shrapnel helmet.  The mask is a funny piece of construction and has to learn to put it on in six seconds.  So it requires some practice.  We handle different kinds of ammunition; such as gas shells, tear shell, shrapnel and various other kinds for artillery use.

 Will close this time and hope to hear from you soon, let me know if you have received the allotment yet.  Also, the Company pictures.  Give my regards to all the neighborhood and love to Raymond and Florence and the same to you all.  Write soon.

 Pvt. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

June 22, 1918

 Dear Folks,

 Will drop you a line this time.  I wrote to Raymond last week, and I will drop a letter every chance I get either to you or Raymond.  At least one a week, so don’t worry.  Last night about ninety of our Company, in Packard trucks, drove to Bordeaux and had a feed at the YMCA then to the theatre – a real burlesque show – the first one I have seen since I left home.  Went in at nine o’clock and it was over at twelve.  We returned home at two o’clock in the morning.  Rather late hours, but as it happens I have the day off for rest.  Some of the boys were quite happy on the return, that French wind and cognac puts the life in them.  I enjoyed it very much, I went mostly for the curiosity of knowing and seeing what kind of shows they have here.  The attendance was small; the place had five balconies.  There were 45 French dolls in the play.  The show was all Greek to us because we could not understand French, but even at that some of the scenes and singing was good.  Two comedians sang one song in English. Outside of that I can tell you nothing more about the show.  That’s something to go to a show and cannot tell anything about it.  We were just like dummies.  I guess they knew Company A was present all right for they made enough noise, but that can be expected when a bunch of rookies get together.  They surely enjoyed it all right and stand ready to go at the next chance.  It’s a treat to get out like that and they all appreciated it, I’m sure even the officer's.  It breaks up the monotony of camp life and gives them all something to talk about and to remember.

 Just a glance at this morning paper shows that 1,841 more have been captured by the Italians.  They are doing good work.  3,000 were captured and 89 officers a week ago, but without a doubt you get all such news in the papers so I will not write much of that stuff.  We get it here, right after the drive has been made, by wire from the radio station.  Yesterday I was out at the artillery range and the ground is all blown up.  Holes large enough to jump into and hide and most of them are perfectly round as a basin and about three or four feet in depth, 6-8 feet around accordingly to size of the shell.  One could pick up enough old shells in a day for a big week’s wages.

 Received a letter from Raymond and found Harry has gone to camp.  It may be hard on Ida, but I do think it is a good thing for him.  It’s where it will either make a man or a bum of him.  It will make a man of him there, but if he came over here, he sure will be a bum for there are to many temptations here for you all know that it does not take much to lead him. I sure hope he does not come over, just for his own good.  When you write, give him my regards also to Ida, and send his address to me.  I’ll write him a line.  Give my regards to all the neighborhood.  Also to Hattie and George, all the Bennett people, Smedley’s and to all my friends where ever you meet them.  Give my love to Raymond and Florence and will write later.  How is Violet and Frank making out?  Don’t forget to remember me to the Holland folds.  Will close for this time with love to you all also -..- to you all, if you do not know what the dots and dashes are?  I’ll leave it to Ruth’s address.

 Pvt. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A

 

June 28, 1918

Dear Sister and Folks,

 Received your letters and was glad to get them for it was the first I have heard from home.  It sure did seen good.  The weather has been fine here and no thunder or lightning such as you told me about, very little rain for the past three weeks.  In fact, the rainy season is not yet, when it comes it lasts for weeks at a time. 

 This morning, I am not doing much, only trying to get ready for my little trip.  I did not think I would have time to write you, but I knew if I did not write now it would be hard work to tell when I would get a chance again to drop a line.  A detail from our Company is going after some Packard trucks and will meet the rest of the Company in another place.

 I dropped Ruth a line last night and told her to let you folds know about it.  I owe her a letter so I wrote to her.  I wrote to you last Sunday.  It’s going to make four – five day trip because now we are only four hours ride from Spain and not very far from Italy.  That is why it is so warm here.  I will write when we get located again so don’t worry.  My address remains the same.

Have seen Floyd Raleigh once, some time ago.  I have not seen any real friends from Perry, but expect to on this next trip.  Will let you know all about it next time I write.  Must be Perry is pretty well cleaned out of young folks the way they are drawing them.  They sure are growing in every here all right, by the thousands.  Seven to eight boats at a time and from three to 15,000 on a boat.

 That sure must have been some storm you had.  Ruth spoke about it in her letter.  We get the thunder part of it, but not the rain.  Yesterday they had a barrage of fire.  That’s where the artillery fires from all sides to one point in the center.  All you can see is a cloud of dirt in the air.  That is the kind of practice they have on the range they use for shelling villages.  Airplanes over head set the range for fire.  U.S. sure has a system and everything is done by that way.  System and moral is what wins the battles.  At present there are 150 horses on a line up for drill ready to go to the field.  They are about 50 feet from me now, if that line up went through Perry it would cause some curiosity, but as it is here I do not look up from writing because I see so much of it here every day.  You must bear in mine that the horses have to be trained as well as the men for if they weren’t you could not manage them at the front.  Horses in artillery must be used to gunfire and other things that take place.

 Well, Violet send my regard to Stella.  Also to Frank and his folks.  Sorry I did not get the candy for it would come in handy.  Have mother take care of my insurance with the money she received.  My bank book is at the bank.  They will take care of it.  Sure was pleased to hear that dad like the farm and hope crops will turn out good.  Remember me to Bert’s folks.  Kenneth sure must be some weeder all right.  It’s a good way to spend the summer vacation.

 I’ll close for this time and hope this will find you all in perfect health.  Remember me to Bennett’s, White’s Kennedy, Mole’s, Clevenger, Hilficker’s and to all the farm force.  In fact to all my friends with love to you all. 

 Remain as ever,
Pvt. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

July 21, 1918

 Dear Folks,

 Will drop a line and let you know that I’m O.K. and hope this letter will find you all the same.

 After three nights and two days travel, we landed at our destination in a section which was once occupied by the Germans in 1914.  Some of the villages are a mass of ruin and not a living soul around.  Without a doubt you all have seen pictures of such places by this time.  It sure is a sight and a sorrowful one to see such large buildings lay lake a stone pile.  There is one large church near here with the tower partly shot off and large shell holes in the sides, but the people still hold meetings in that ruined structure.  Some of the towns were shelled by the French in order to get the German snipers out, which many were quartered in the towers or other hiding places.  It’s interesting to hear some of the French tell their stories when the German’s were around here.  They took all livestock and eatables that they could find and left them to starve.  And the way the young and old were used and slaughtered is a fright.  There is a young girl that I know hid in a cellar for 19 days out of 21, which was the length of time they occupied this section.  To see and to hear what’s in this section most any person could make up a real book of great interest if they went into details.  But on my part will not say much because I would rather you get my letters than have them destroyed by the censor.

 We live with the French people in billets and it’s good to live somewhere besides in camp.  A billet is composed of a house and barn, all in one.  We occupy what some call the upper story or otherwise the hay mall.  At night when we go to rest, everything is peaceful and wake up by a new model alarm clock of a long bawl from a cow or a few cheerful notes from a rooster.

 After a person has lived in the army for a while, he can graduate as a first class tramp.  He can live on any thing or in any place and feel right to home.  It sure is some life the kind you never forget.  There are some kickers in the Company, but you know how that is anywhere.  Some people would kick if their legs were cut off.  I’m satisfied, so that’s all I care and hope the rest are.

 Fritzy comes over and makes us a daily visit; then the Allies return it.  That is the way it goes most of the time.  This morning two groups of Allies planes went over, 7 in one group and 9 in the other.  It looks like a flock of geese going south to me.  Fritzy has not done much damage with planes lately because as soon as they are spotted the anti-aircraft guns are on the job.  They fire high explosives and light puffs of smoke are seen to locate how near they are firing on him so, they can set a range according to reports.  They have pretty good luck in bringing them down.  I have not seen any drop yet, but without a doubt will have a chance sometime.  The ideal firing on them as soon as they are seen is to keep them so high up that they cannot take any pictures of places or to be able to locate anything that is going on behind the lines.  It’s one fine ideal all right.

 Glenn Prentise is not far from here, but chances are slim of one getting to see him.  So if you hear anything from him let me know.  We can see part of the Alps Mountains from here and by going over the hill at night can see the rockets go in the air to light up the battlefield to prevent a surprise attack.  Also, with field glasses, can see the wire entanglement and trenches.  This is a very quiet sector, not much doing.  We do not expect to hang around here very long.  Still on the job doing detail work with trucks and hauling some ammunition.  It’s hard to tell where our next jump will be, but we sure have seen some beautiful countries.

Well, it’s time I shut off and will write next week.  I owe Hattie a letter.  Also, Ida give them my best regards.  Sorry that Harry had to go but feel sure it is the best thing for him.  I doubt if he will have a chance to see sunny France, but do know he would enjoy it.  Don’t forget to remember him to me.  I’ll write him the first chance I get. 

 Yesterday the dispatcher news was 15,000 captured and 100 cannons.  The U.S. are giving them a dose of their own medicine.  It looks very much as if Fritzy would have to throw up before long, and the sooner the better to suit me and thousands of others.  Early this morning, the old guns were barking loud but at present it is very quiet.  I did not know they were even firing; so you see that I sleep as sound as ever.  They will have to rattle the old time on the roof before I wake up.

 Give my regards to Ray and Florence, to the White’s also to the neighborhood and all my friends, Bennet’s, Smedley’s, Helen Thayer’s family and don’t forget to have the farmer thrash his pumpkins and dry the seed.  I will close for this time with love to each one of you.

 Remain as ever yours,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A, 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

July 29, 1918

Dear Folks,

 Received your letter and papers dated June 18 and found that you have been addressing them wrong.  Be sure and put on the right one or I will not receive them.  You had Company D instead of Company A on this last letter, but it happens that Company D is here with us otherwise I would not have got it.  Sure was pleased to get them, I will have a few hours of enjoyment reading from the States.    Ruth sent a bunch of Perry papers just a few days ago, so I will have plenty of news for a while.  They are rather old, dated in April, and it is now in July, but even at that; they answer the purpose.

 *** sure is great on that line of dope, his censor must be good to censor that letter that you sent.  The entire letter could be put in two paragraphs.  The rest was dope.  The kind you could read all day and not know anything.  The best news that I found is the part describing France is the items that J.A. Jones puts in.  They are good.  At present time it is dark and rainy, only nine o’clock in the morning.  I’m writing this letter on a board across my knees with a candle on one end to furnish light.  We have had frequent showers for two days and the mud is getting deep off from the hard roads.  A person needs chains on in order to walk on this stuff.  I do not blame the French people for wearing wooden shoes.  They can use them for canoes around here. 

 Last night was a big night for the French, on the account of a French priest’ return back to his church after being four years in Germany as a prisoner.  What he tells sure was interesting about Germany.  First place, he took eight men’s places when he was captured because the 8 men had families and he knew they would starve if they took the men.  So he offered himself and he was taken as a prisoner.  And the rejoicing part of it was that the eight men and their families are all alive, in which he sacrificed himself for were at the church to meet him.  That sure was a happy meeting.  He said the bread that he got a day, he would not eat and he cried more that a baby every day.  He said no one knows what he went through and suffered, and he is so glad that the Americans are here to help out in this war.  He said that he would guarantee a victory in a short time.  He is going to talk again today.  The church bells are now ringing, and if the people in the States could hear a man like that talk from real experience they would pay most any price.  In Perry, you people hear nothing but real fakers go around talking from what they hear in order to get a reputation for themselves.

 Ruth spoke about a young officer, there in Perry, who was telling his experience.  You can make up your mind, but there’s a yellow stick in him somewhere or he would not be in the States preaching.  There’s enough over here to do, if he was any good.

 The candle is getting short so I will have to close before long.  Glad to hear you have received another check.  Also, the milk receipts were good, hope they will continue.  I wrote to Raymond and have him send me a pen, for my fountain pen is pretty well shot.  Don’t forget it; also, send some ink pills in the envelope or in papers you send.  Put two or three pills in every letter for they are of great need.  I will try and get a pen here if I can, in the next town, but you go to Abbotts store and tell him it’s for a Moore’s non-leakable pen.  Get a gold point pen and put in your next letter.  I’m feeling fine and sure hope you all are too.  I hope Violet will pass her Regents.  If she needs any help just jump on a steamer and come over. Hee-hee.  I will write more when I get a pen.  I do not like to write with a pencil so, hurry it along.  Will close with love to you all and Dad write soon.

 Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
302 Amm. Trn.
***Omitted by the cencor.

 

July 31, 1918

  Dear Brother & Family,

 Just received your letter of July 2.  I sent you one dated July 28.  Will admit that I have not written very many letters to you because I figure that I would write home every week if possible and you could get the news from there.  As soon as we get into real action I will not have much time to write, but will try an answer all that you send.  I just was relieved of guard so will spend this time answering your last letter.

 For the last two nights, Fritzy has been over in his bombing plane and keeping us awake.  If he does not cut it out there will be some thing doing.  It’s easy to tell whether it’s a bombing plane or a scout plane because a bombing plane is heavy loaded and the motor has a loud rumbling purr and a scout plane has a steady purr.  They come over about 11 o’clock when it is star light, and they sound just as if they were right on the roof, but you cannot see them unless you have night glasses like they use at the anti-aircraft gun station.  They keep a continuous fire on them so they will not come down low over the villages, but even at that they run the risk and shoot down, drop their load on them and beat it.  Some of the bombs weigh anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds and when they hit the ground, take it from me, it sure makes mother earth tremble.  At least the one did last night, and it was four miles from here.  At 3:30 o’clock this morning, they started firing on this sector.  I was on guard at that time and the bark of the guns was plainly heard.  This guard here is an airplane guard, when any one is in sight the guard has to notify the bugler and he calls attention and if it looks like a raid we are called to arms; ready for action.  They do not bother here a great deal because there are no ammunition dumps or railroad stations here, and that seems to be what they are after.  Two bunches of Allied planes, 6 in a bunch, went over this morning returning from the Germany lines.  Without a doubt, they had a little raid on Fritzy.  We have not done much driving for the past few days expect to move most any time and do not know where.  I don’t for we never know where we are going until we arrive at our destination.  This time we will go over land instead of railroad, which will make it more pleasant for us.  I went down to the burg yesterday and had some teeth treated.  Also bought a new fountain pen, Waterman’s, which cost 30 franc.  That’s about $5.50 in American.  It is the best I could find.  I have not gotten used to it yet, but it sure writes fine.  Don’t forget to send a pen point and some ink pills in your next letter.  It’s hard to get fountain pen ink here.  Put it in a cloth of some kind so it will not stain your writing. 

 You sure must be doing some driving all right, but this is the time for the rush in car business at the barn.  Give my regards to Mr. Tuttle and glad to hear that you like him.  Remember me to the folks at home.  With love to you all and Florence, suppose Gordon is on the job by this time.  Remember me to all the barn force, Peters, Rolluh and rest of the set.  Sure hope this letter will find you all in good health for I’m enjoying it every day.  Will close for this time and expect to hear from you soon.

 As every your loving brother,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
302 Amm Trn.

August 9, 1918

Postcard

 

Dear Folks and All,

 Will drop a line to let you all know that I’m in fine health and hope you all are the same.  We have been on the road for the past ten days, and have not had the chance to send much mail.  Will send a letter when we arrive at our destination so, don’t worry if you do not get mail right away.  For the last two nights we have slept in pup tens.

 As every yours,
Laurence E. Bucknam

August 9, 1918

Postcard

Dear Brother,

 Just a line to let you know I’m o.k. and hope you all are the same.  Writing this in a pup tent.  This is real outdoor life, take it from me.  Will write you more about it later.  If I had the Cadillac here now it would not take such an awful while to drive to the big city.  Received the last letter from mother dated June 23.

 Remain as ever,
Laurence E. Bucknam

August 11, 1918

Dear Folks and All,

 Will make an effort to write you a letter on this new model writing desk which is a green, mossy log.  We are camping in the woods and sure is real outdoor life.  This is one beautiful Sunday morn and a grand place to spend it: very quiet and peaceful.  There was no barking of guns last night that could be heard around here.  Must be they took a night off for a change.  We do not expect to stay here very long.  Will soon pack up and move on to the next place.  We are here and there and all over from now on, which gives us a chance to see the country and to see what’s going on.

 The paper reports here look good and hope the Allies will give them a run for their lives.  During our past trip, we drove through many shell torn villages which were nothing but a mass of ruin and the people have all moved out.  They sure looked desolate all right, and the farther north we go the more such places we sill see. Without a doubt you people have all ready seen such places in moving pictures, but I had rather see the original.  I suppose the paper, in the States, are full of war news from the last big drives which have taken place just recently.  When you send any more paper send the comic section and picture parts.  They are very interesting over here.  The news does not amount to so much unless it is some thing besides war news.  We get enough of that here.  General Pershing was near here yesterday and his statement is “Hell, Heaven or Hoboken by Christmas” and which it will be is hard to tell, but hope it is Hoboken.

 Airplanes are circling over head.  They sound like a buzz saw.  They have a machine gun on them and every once in a while they open up and fire for practice.  Glenn had a regular piece in the paper, but there was not much news in it.  His Company is traveling in the same direction as we are and without a doubt will have a chance to see him later on.  Will let you know when I do. I located his Company two weeks ago, but failed to find him or James Wycoff but hope to in the near future.  It sure would seem good to talk with some one from your own hometown.

 How is dad getting along on the farm and are the crops looking as good as expected?  How are Bert and his family getting along?  Give them my best regards.  That was a peculiar incident about *** in the ***.  I probably heard all about it when *** if so I will let you know about it.  I would like to find out what there is to it.

 Will close for I’m getting hump back from sitting on this log.  So long, give my regards to all my friends.  Remember me to Whites folks also the people in Holland and don’t forget the Bents people.  I guess that’s all this time.  With love to each one of you.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
302 Amm Trn
***Omitted by Censor

August 19, 1918

Dear Brother Kenneth,

 Since I have wrote to Violet couple of times, I will make you out an answer of some kind.  Also, to rest of the family and hope this letter will find you all in perfect health.  I’m feeling fine and right on the job every day driving a truck like the P.K. Company drives, except a new model built army style.  It has run two thousands miles so you can tell it’s not very old.  Well at present we are in a busy sector.  Lots doing every night and during the day its rather quiet, do not hear so much barking of big guns.  Expect to be here for some time at any rate until we are relieved.

 Fritzy is very careless about shooting here.  He does not care who he hits.  Well there’s only one thing to do that is if he does not quit playing so rough.  I’m going to get out of the game. Ha, Ha.  Wouldn’t you?  We have a beautiful sky light in our room.  If there was only a few window light in to keep the rain out it would be o.k, but as it is Fritzy did not finish his job, he just simply knocked one half of the rood in and called it a job.  We are very pleased to get the half that is left, for there are a few buildings left.  Most of them are nothing but a huge stone pile.  As long as you can hear the shells whistle that’s o.k.  When they come over very quiet and burst in the air you want to get your little tin hat on or get in a dug out, in a hurry.  The first one came over this morning at 5 o’clock; I’m not in a habit of getting up so early.  I will have to send a little note to Fritz and have him hold off or postpone it for two hours later; it breaks up my night rest.  Without a doubt you know how I enjoy my morning sleep, and how easy it is for me to get up. Ha, Ha.  The sky is all colors at night.  It some times looks as if the whole world was on fire.

 I’m short on ink so will not write much until I get more.  Don’t forget to send ink pills in every envelope or letter you send.  Glad to hear the stock and crops are good on the farm.  Hope they will continue.  Give my regards to all my friends.  Also, to Mr. Russell and daughter.  Love to all Raymond’s folks and love to you all and hope to hear from you soon.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence e. Bucknam
302 Amm. Trn.

August 23, 1918

Dear Sister,

 Your mail has arrived after being laid up for six weeks for some reason or another.  Mail service has been real poor, but as long as it has started coming again its all right.  Sorry to hear of Lloyd Pike’s accident, but he is lucky to get out of it as he did.  For the past two days I have been driving the Packard down to the place where he was hurt.  I very heavy thing took place there and from the looks of it a person would think so. 

 I was at the wheel for 26 hours at one stretch so I feel rather tired to write much.  They have been doing some heavy firing so it required lots of hauling, but never the less we will back them up with the goods so as to keep the Dutch on a run.  We have had many thrilling experiences lately and would like to tell you all about it, but it would not do.  Some time in the future, I can tell you all about it.  Will write more when we go back to the rest camp.  As it is now, the more sleep you can get the better off you are, for one can never tell when you go out just when you will return.  And it sure is no place for one to go to sleep on the job, for you might wake up and find yourself in Berlin and I do not care about going there until it has been considered safe.  If you should be caught out, at day break, its best to jump off from the car and pile for a dug out until dark and then move one.  A truck is a great target to fire either from over head or from Fritzy artillery.  When you go up to the front just keep cool and trust in God and you will come out all right.  It sure does scare some of the boys when the shells break on all sides and machine guns over head.  Some of the drivers push the old cars along some, but they can’t hurry me any.  The guy at the wheel has the say.  It makes no difference what the Non Com says and that’s where the driver can get his goat, and that suits me of course.

 Glad to hear you have got a rise and you would get another from me if I was home – a different kind. Ha,Ha.  I received the papers, also the Record and letter from Mrs. and Mrs. White.  Will answer soon as possible.  Yes, Ernest Dye and I are great friends.  He appears to be a fine lad.  Will close for this time and hope you all are enjoying good health, like myself and don’t worry for every thing is o.k. with me.  Give my regards to Raymond and folks and all my friends who so ever they might be and forget to have dad thrash his pumpkins and send over the seeds.  With love and kisses to you all.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
302 Amm. Trn.

August 25, 1918

 Dear Folks,

 Not much doing this afternoon so will make an effort to answer some of your mail I just received, it’s the first that I have had in about six weeks and it sure did look good.  Also received the Record and have read every thing, even the advertisements and know it all by heart.  Reading matter is very scarce here in the woods so that’s what makes it look so good.  I have subscribed for the Stars and Stripes for myself also, to send home.  We are not allowed any papers here while at the front, but will receive them every week at the rest camp.  We are not supposed to have time to read while in active service, but take it from me, I’ll find time for reading if anything in that line comes from home.  They handed the money back for subscriptions that were to be sent home.  Sorry to say, but do not know the reason.  Sure would like to have you people get it so you could get the news from what’s going on this side of the pond.

 Ruth sent a bunch of Buffalo papers; also the Herald containing the letters you had put in and it seems funny to read that stuff now because its so long ago.  I saw Quentin Roosevelt’s picture on the front page of the Buffalo paper in his plane.  You can see the original if you were here with me.  He was buried right where he dropped and his plane is over his grave.  Now that is the fact over here, all aviators are planted right where they fall and a little cross put up with the name and date on.  Also, some times parts of the machines are put on the grave, it’s a common sight in this section of the country to look across the fields and see wooden crosses dotted in the fields of wheat or hay.  Last week I drove the truck for some distance along the Marne River on a special detail.  It’s along the Marne front where so many hard battles took place and it sure will be a noticed place in history.  Chateau Thierry, Reims and Soissons also noted cities, which the American troops have won through hard struggles.  Would like to tell you more about such places, which I have visited during the past few days.  I’m afraid the censor would not stand for it.  It sure seems funny to look at the different maps that are in the papers of the battlefront.  All of those places seem like home to me now.  When I was home and would look at the maps of the battlefront it was all Greek to me then, but now its different.  Marne River flows through very beautiful country right in a valley like you see on the road to Dansville.  It’s about the size of the Genesee River.  It’s deep but not very rapid.

 Don’t worry about me receiving your mail for I think I’m getting the most of it.  I receive papers right along either from you or Ruth.  I have two copies of the Record at the present time and hope they will continue right along.

 Glad to hear that Mrs. William Waite was elected as a delegate for Wyoming County and sure think that she is a worthy person for the position.  Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Waite, also to her sister, Mrs. McGrown.  Have had many a pleasant chat with them on different trips and would like to drive for them this summer.  It’s a truck instead of a touring car this year.  I think I have said enough for this time so will bring this letter to a close.  Ernest Dye is trying to get on the same truck with me, but Top Sergeant don’t like the ideal.  I guess he thinks we would raise the devil when out on special details.  I have wrote a letter to Violet also to Kenneth and will answer Raymond’s shortly.  He sure must be doing some driving this year all right.  When you receive any allotment let me know and tell the amount.  Did you receive the silk handkerchief that I sent some time ago?  Let me know when you do, there was one for mother and one for Violet.  Sure hope you will get them both just for a little token from France.  Received a letter for Mr. and Mrs. White and will try and answer them shortly.  Give them my best regards.  Don’t forget to send ink pills along with your letters that I’m in need of very much.  Also a pen for my fountain pen is broken.  Well that’s all for this time with regards to Bert’s folks, Pete Cooligan, Vern Reichard and family, B.F. Rollak, Mr. Schwin, Mr. Tuttle and all my old friends at the barn.  Also to Mrs. Clevenger, Bennet’s folks also to those who I have not mentioned with love to you all and Raymond’s folks.

 I remain as ever your loving son,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn
Amer. E. F.
Via New York
U.S.A.

 

 

 

August 31, 1918

Dear Sister and Folks,

 Just received your letter and was mighty glad to hear from you all.  I have not wrote but a very little during the past month on the account of being on the road most of the time, and its hard to tell just how long we will be here in this camp.  It hinders mail service when one is on the move so much of the time so don’t worry when you do not hear from me, for no news is good news.  I will write as often as possible whereever I be and be sure that you folks do the same, for mail is the only thing that we have to look forward to.  I’m feeling fine as ever and hope you all are enjoying good health. 

 Glad to hear that I have become an uncle for the second time and congratulate them for their success and hope Florence will continue in getting along nicely.   I wrote Raymond a letter just a short time ago and sure hope he will receive it.  Well, Sis, I suppose you were jumping right up and down when you saw Frank driving in, and I believe I would now if I had that box of chocolates.  Save the box I’ll smell of that when I return.  It probably was one of those boxes that are in the Greeks, 25 or 50-cent size.  He could not afford any thing over that, without going busted. Ha, Ha.  I guess I’m right.  The picture was very good and was glad that you sent it, if you have any other pictures sent them along too.  Without a doubt you know what the traffic is to Silver Lake on Pioneer day, it’s the same here only worse.  Instead of going to a picnic they’re going to the front and not only one day out of a year.  It’s every day in the year. 

 Harry wrote a fine letter and sure think the army will make a man out of him, or a fool.  It’s one or the other.  I’ll keep on a look out for him if he comes over, but have a little faith in ever seeing him.  You could drop the whole town of Perry here and I doubt if I would ever see any body that I know.  When you write to him give him my address and tell him to write and I will answer.  Don’t forget not to do that. 

 Give all Holland folks my best regards also to all my friends at home.  By the time this letter reaches you I’ll add another year to my age.  It does not seem possible that the summer is so near gone.

 James and Glenn are also in active service.  Maybe that’s why they do not hear from them.  Some nights you can hear nothing but a continuous thunder and flashes of artillery fire all night long, and its our job to feed the guns so it means work.

 Will close for this time and be sure to send some ink pills in your letters.  With love and best wishes to you all.  Also to Raymond’s folks.

 I remain as every your loving son,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam

September 11, 1918

Dear Folks and All,

 Received your letter Number one and was mighty glad to hear that you have finally got the handkerchief.  They are rather pretty at that.  I thought I would try and send them just to see if they would let them go through.  I found a one pound shell on the battle front which did not go off so I pulled it apart and threw the powder away, took the fuse off the end and with a red hot iron touch it off.  Also fired the charge off on end of the cap and polished it with sandpaper so it will make one fine souvenir to send home.  After a while I will get in good with the captain and send it, but will be hard to tell if you people will get it or not.  It won’t do any harm to try.  If you do get it let me know and I will tell you where I picked it up.  You can take it to the jewelers and have my name and date, where it’s from, the battle that took place there, engraved on it.  Sure will make a mighty nice present, don’t you say.  Some of the boys are taking a two franc piece, pound the edge all around, then bore the center out; it makes a good silver ring.  Oh there are more than one way to get or to make souvenirs of France.

 Just about one half a hour ago, Fritzy located an ammunitions dump and a near village where American troops are living so he sent over half a dozen of 155 shells or the 95 pounders.  One struck near the highway so the concussion of the shell and shrapnel that in it wiped a French touring car from the road in pieces, and killed three.  The others were seriously wounded.  One was an American captain.  The rest were French officers.  The accident took place very near here about the distance from the house to the barn.  Some of the boys have gone down to see it.  I just came up that road a short time before with the truck and it’s the first chance I have had to answer your letter so I thought I would not go down.  Such things are very frequent up here and to tell the truth about it I would not walk very far to see such things unless it is to go and help out.  We could hear the shells whistle away, most true saying about them is, as long as you can hear them whistle your safe.  Because if you cannot hear them and if they strike very near you or if they do hit near you, the best thing to do is to fall flat to the ground so the shrapnel and explosion will not tear you to pieces.

Glad to hear that I have a successor going by my name and hope they are getting along nicely.  Give them my love also to Raymond.  I received Mr. and Mrs. White’s letter and was glad to hear from them.  Will answer it in the near future.  I suppose dad has nearly all the crops in by this time and sure hope they will turn out big receipts.  Don’t forget when I write that I mean these letters for him as well as the rest.  That’s why I always start my letters “Dear Folks”.  Give Bert’s family my best regards also to Mrs. Clevenger and rest of the neighborhood and the Bennett’s people, also to all my friends at the barn.  I hope this letter will find you all enjoying the best of health like myself.  Send some ink pills with your letters also, the papers.  I received the Record o.k. right along.  Will close with love to all.  Good-bye.

 Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A. 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
France

September 14, 1918

Dear Sister and All,

 I suppose by the time this letter reaches you, your vacation days will be over and hope you enjoyed them.  Well, the difference between your vacation and mine is I spend mine abroad and you spent yours in the States.  The worst part of it is it looks as if I’m going to spend the winter here.  But never the less will have to make the best of it so let her come. 

 Have not seen any Perry boys yet except Frank Hicks and Will Riley.  Its been some time since I have seen them, about two months and is hard to tell when I will see them again.  Received mothers letter the one with the ink pills and pen.  Was mighty glad to get it, all though I have not put the pen in yet, but will do it soon for I can make good use of it.  Mother was inquiring about if I had a car yet or not, the Company has 17 Nash Quad cars and 3 Packard’s and expect about 14 more Quad cars soon.  And as it happens they gave me a Packard to drive and thankful to get it, one Packard is for rations, one for gasoline and the other one I have is for baggage and the company luggage.  Also for the Officer’s stuff.  And I go out on Ammunitions details if a rush order comes in.

 Well here it is a day later, will try and finish this letter and get it off before the mail box is torn down, because we expect to move back of the lines for a rest.  Will be mighty glad to get it, for some times we have to work day and night.  It all depends how much firing the artillery does, so a rest will come in handy just now.  For a month or six weeks, we will have to over haul the trucks and get every thing for the next drive.  Ernest Dye has been put on with me as an assistant chauffeur.  He went to the Top Sergeant and asked for the place and for once he did do a favor. About two weeks ago, I was notified that Ernest had been assigned to me.  Was glad of it for I think he is a pretty good chat.  I’m now using the new pen and it works pretty good.  I just put the pen in this morning and about to finish this letter when I was called out on a detail for some rations for the Company and now it is nearly dark.  So will have to draw it to a close. 

 Can tell you a few facts about driving in Flanders mud when I return.  One night, just lately, I had the truck in a shell hole and it took one car pulling and two in back pushing so you can get an ideal what driving is like over here.  It’s a common thing to get stuck here.  It rains nearly every day so the shell holes are full of water and cannot tell just how deep the pit is and roads are very narrow which makes it hard going.  Will tell you more about my experience later.  When you write tell me about the allotment.  How much you received, let me know if you have received the insurance policy papers.

 Give my regards to Mr. Russell and daughter.  I wish he was over here just for him to see how this war is being carried on.  Give my regards and love to all my friends.  Love to you all.

 Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A, 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. E. F.
France

October 4, 1918

Dear Mother and Folks,

 Received your last letter and was glad to know that every thing is all o.k. in Perry.  The weather here has been cold and rainy so most of the boys are coughing.  At this time of the year even at home one would have a cold so it can be expected over here.  We are still at the front and expect to stay for a while.  Any way as long as the Dutchman keeps on a run, without a doubt you can tell how things are going by the looks of the papers, and I sure hope the good work will continue and get this pesky war over.

 It keeps us busy now chasing the Huns so do not have much time for writing, but do not worry if you do not hear from me right along for I’m o.k. and feeling good as one could expect for being out in all kinds of weather.  Last week the Company issued us wool lined vest, hip boots and an oil skin raincoat.  Also, wear a steel hat so we are well protected for rainy weather.  Its mighty good thing we have such an outfit other wise there would be lots of sickness.  One has got to have good clothes to stand this weather; rainy and cold for the past six weeks which makes it mighty unpleasant to be out in.

 I received a letter from Laurence Smith also one from Harry Adams.  Every thing is all o.k. with them, also I have one from Hattie and George, one from Mr. Rollak.  So you can see that it occupies most of my spare time writing, but will try and answer all I can so inform the folks to have patience, will answer them some time. 

 This morning it seems like Sunday.  Very quite, no shell fire.  Something must have took place last night and to my ideal they must have made a long distance drive or preparing for one.  Sounds funny not to hear the barking of the big guns.

 Well this is a short letter will try and write more next time.  I received the Perry Record right along and it sure brings the news right from home into No Mans Land and I’m glad to get it.  A picture man was around taking pictures of this shell torn country two days ago.  You probably will see it printed in some of the papers.  Will close for this time with love and best wishes to all the neighborhood.  Also to all my friends and Ray’s folks.

 I remain as ever yours,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn.
Amer E F
France

October 10, 1918

 Dear Sister and All,

 Received your most welcome letter and will make an effort to answer it. Every thing seems to be ok here with me and hope it continues.  The weather here sure is not like it is to home according to reports that I received.  They say it has been very dry in the Old Burg, and it rains here most of the time.  Two days ago we had a regular hail storm and it sure reminds one that the worst is yet to come.

 I was up near the lines last night and it seems real tame, not much firing.  You can see by the papers how things are going.  It sure looks good here, and if the good works continues the war will soon finish.  If I receive one of those knives I will reply to the address regardless as to who it is, black or white, makes no difference to me.  Send one of your pictures I would like to see if they look any thing like the object, which posed for it.

 I received a letter from George K. Page some time ago so I suppose I will have to answer it just to let him know that I have heard from him.  I will send a clipping from the Stars and Stripes, which will give you all a good ideal, what kind of work I have been doing and the ups and downs about it.  It will save me lots of writing and trouble of explaining it so you can show it to others and give them all a good ideal how my time is spent.

 These are rather short letters, but some time in the near future will write more.  Ask Ida what I said in her letter about you.  I received the Record right along and enjoy it greatly.  Give my best regards to all my friends and with love to all you folks and Raymond’s people.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A, 302 Amm Trn
Amer Ex Forces
France

October 14, 1918

Dear Folks,

 Received your letter dated Sept. 8 and was glad to know every thing is ok at home and according to reports farm crops are fine this year, and hope dad is well pleased with his first year experience.  We have moved again since I wrote you last, still going forward.  The Dutch are on a run and yanks right after them.  I suppose the headlines in the papers are some sized about the peace proposals of the Germans.

 Reynard must be in love with the Telephone Company to go back on the job.  Give her my best regards also to Mary Bly next time you see them.  Just received a bundle of papers also the Record.  Sorry to hear the news about Fred Redfield’s accident, but such things will happen some times.  Enclosed you will find a clipping from the Stars and Stripes which tells about a certain outfit being trapped by Germans.  We are now camped near that place and the hillsides are dotted with wooden crosses over the dead in different places.

 There’s one American and one German plane near here.  The German plane is in pieces and I have some of the parts, a piece of aluminum from the crankcase, which I am going to make a watch charm out of it.  You will find enclosed a tag to be pasted on the box.  Get the box from the Red Cross and be sure it’s the right size and correct weight.  Send me one fountain pen, Waterman’s the best.  You can get three boxes of ink pills like you sent before.  One flashlight of small size, nickel plate, one extra battery, one extra bulb.  Make up rest of the box in Hershey Chocolate Almond bars.  Send it out before November 20th, so you better star it right out soon as you receive this letter.

 Every thing is ok with me and hope you all are enjoying perfect health.  Will close with best regards to all my friends and love to all you folks and Ray’s family.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn
Amer. Ex Forces
U.S.A.

October 21, 1918

Dear Sister and Folks,

 I received your letter last night; also one from mother and Raymond.  Was pleased to hear from you all.  Letters from home are always greatly appreciated by any American soldier when so far away from home.

 The piece that you sent about the Crown Prince was good, and without a doubt there is a lot of truth in it from the way things are going over here.  You get more news there than we do here in regards to the war situation.  But even at that, there are many things that would be of great interest to you all if we were allowed to write whatever we wanted to, but are hindered by the conditions.  Censorship is for our own safety.

 I’m feeling good as ever and sure hope that this letter will find you all in perfect health.  Mighty sorry to hear of so much sickness caused from that new disease.  It sure must be a bad one all right.  Sorry to hear about the death of Fred Faning and Mrs. Arwin.  Some thing must have struck the old berg, being so many accidents during the past few weeks. 

 I think its best for you to learn French language instead of Spanish for it will be used far more that any other language after the war.  I received the ink pills in mother’s letter and have my insurance paid up. Also, always let me know what allotment you received and how much; I like to know.  I received the Record right along which keeps me well posted on home welfare as well as out side news.  I would like to b e home long enough to put those guys wise about going into the tank service.  They would be far better off if they would join airplane branch.

 I sent a long letter to all the folks so I will make this a short one.  Give my regards to Mr. Russell and daughter, and to all the neighborhood and all my friends.  Hope it has dried up so dad can get the crops in.  Good thing that they aren’t over here for it rains most of the time.  I will close for this time with love to all of you and Ray’s folks.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A., 302 Amm Trn.
Amer. Ex. Forces
+France

Dated some time in December

First 4 pages are either missing or taken by the Censors

 I will make this a regular letter this time for I know the past few letters have been short and sweet.  Will try and write more this time.

 Last night, as usual, I spent the evening on the front and it rained hard all night and the roads were somewhat slippery, but such small trifles as weather and road conditions cannot stop us from taking rations up to feed Larry.  And as long as he insists upon having some of U.S. scrap iron he will most heartily get it.  If they like the six inch pills in which we take up to the front, I see no other way out of it but what we will have to continue hauling. 

 While I was waiting for my turn to load up, a little ways from the ammunition dump was an orchard of large size, under the shade of the tree were about 150 – two man tanks which had just returned from a trip over the top.  They had guards over them.  I came in contact with one of them and enjoyed a very friendly chat with him in regards to the operations of the tanks and what success they have had with them.  It was very interesting to know just what part they take in this Great War.  I would like to tell you all about it, but I guess its best not to.  Some time in the future I can let you all know about them.  As a rule they make the break over the trenches, struggle their way to the wire entanglement and make way for the infantry to follow.  It’s great to know the ways and how this war is being carried on.

 I sent my X-mas order in last week and hope you will receive it for they are necessary articles.  The pen that you sent is not much good.  The points are bum.  That’s why I asked for another new fountain pen.

 Well I will call this a letter and draw it to a close.  Inside you will find a piece of cloth from a German airplane that I took off the tail and a sliver of wood from the propeller, just for a token.  With best regards to all my friends and love to every member of the family and Raymond’s folks.  And best wishes to all the old barn friends such as Tuttle, Rollak, Schwind, Dell Clark, White’s people.  Also to those I have not mentioned.  Best wishes to all.

 I remain as ever your loving son,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A. 302 Amm Trn
Amer. Ex. Forces
France

December 10, 1918
Company F

Dear Sister and All,

 Will make an effort to answer your letter, which I received some time ago.  Today it is raining as usual, but do not mind it much as we did when we were at the front.  Now have pretty good sleeping quarters and no more night work, which seems mighty good to all the boys knowing that we can go to bed and get full nights sleep.  What we are most anxious for at present is the order to pull for the shore.  The job is done and now for the USA is the dope.  We hear all kinds of rumors but nothing that one can put any faith in.  Never the less its just a matter of time and it seems mighty long.

Yesterday I took a bath and it was a great surprise too, for it was the first one since October 15th that’s going some I’ll say.  Just stop to think I lost all of my dear little pets called the Cooties.  Every night the boys would read their shirts looking for the new comers so, they can get a good night sleep. 

 For the past two weeks I have been attached to the M.T.O. and enjoyed a real good time.  The trucks have been turned in so that means close order drill from now on. 

 Sorry to hear that Raymond had the flu, but mighty glad that he is getting along nicely.  Sure hope that the rest of you will not catch it.  Perry must have had some blow out over the Armistice.  It was very tame on the front at that time.  I was in Sommauthe when it took place.  I owe a number of letters to difference ones, but will wait until I return and answer them in person.  I’m feeling fine and hope you all are.  Glad to hear that Mrs. Sherman wrote you, give them all the aid that’s possible.  Give my regards to Mrs. Clevenger, Mr. Russell and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Dell White and family.  Also to Bert’s folks and all my friends.  Received the pictures of Kenneth.  They were very good.  With love to you all.

 I remain as ever,
Wag. Laurence E. Bucknam
Co. A 302 Amm Trn
Amer Ex. Forces
France

 

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2018 West Corporation. All rights reserved.