Letters from Oregon Boys in France
Compiled by Mrs. Frank Wilmot 1918
Lieut. Lambert A. Wood
France, July 14, 1918.
Still out thank Heaven, hope we get a good long rest, we need it. We have had many wonderful things said about us, by the Great General, by the Conventions of Mayors of the French towns we saved and by statesmen. Our own colonel, a distinguished soldier, said after our magnificent fight for nearly forty days, to command the ninth was the greatest honor he ever expected to have. The hardships and dangers we endured and they were not light, seem as nothing to the thought that we were among those few thousand devoted Americans who saved Paris and perhaps the whole outcome of the war. We do not talk much about it, but way deep down in our hearts we believe it, we knew the conditions as they were. Instead of being forced back, we hurled back many Hun attacks, and during the time we were in, forced the enemy back two kilometers, on a front of eight kilometers and took over 1400 prisoners and killed thousands more.
I started this letter hours ago, but have had so many brother officers dropping in for visits that I could not finish. We are so happy to see each other again and so childishly glad to be alive. It is such a fine feeling to know that you are respected and liked by these officers, who belong to the best fighting regiment of the best division in the American Expeditionary Forces, and all of whom have been tested in the fire of real battles and have not been found wanting, and to know that you, yourself, have done your part. We are almost like children laughing and talking and kidding one another. A year ago I would have stood in awe of these men; I tell you they are a picked lot; but now, good Lord, I know them all by their first names, even the field officers I can call my friends. How time does change things. I laugh at some of my friends on staff jobs in Brigarde, or Division H.Q., now crazy to get into a line job and get some action and glory.I always say "why, you poor fool, back there you have a bed and eat off a table and can even take your shoes off at night, you'r lucky." Then they get mad and say, "Yes - oh - yes, how lucky we are, signing papers with a battle going on; no chance to take prisoners or kill Huns. I want a man's job where I can get action." Funny how a man's viewpoint changes after thirty-eight days in the front line with no dugouts or trenches. However, I have been lucky at it I guess, good chances for a decoration and promotion. I am commanding this company now with a Captaincy just over the horizon. I am glad for your sake. I am in command of the best fighting company in the army. Captain Weems was sent to one of our big trench schools as instructor; he surely is a wonderful man and one of my truest friends.
Many of our officers are going back to the States to act as instructors and I would like it too, but this is strictly between ourselves; but the fact is that my name has been mentioned several times to be one of them, but the man choosing said, "No." Therefore it is up to me, I guess, to lead men in battle till the end. How I would love to see you all again and talk to an American woman, which by the way, I have not done since Thanksgiving day. Since March we have been too close to lines to see them.
Dear little bride Helen, a splendid letter from her so brave and womanly; what a shame to separate such dear people as they are, so hopeful and sure that the future will be rosy. Oh, how I hope it is. I hope for her sake he stays on his work in the rear, this is a hard, dangerous game. I do hope they soon will be reunited; but oh! I am proud of the bravery of my little sister, the finest kind of bravery in the world; and I am, oh! so proud of my parents who always write such brave, happy letters with never a depressing word and who sent me away with a smile. That is true bravery and we soldiers know it, we do our little tricks in the heat of battle and lust to kill; you, in the old homes with so many associations and recollections of the ones away, and yet you never worry us with your fear for our safety. Oh! you wonderful people God keep you safe and well; you are more precious than all else.
Love to all and write often, please. Don't worry, I am so busy I don't get time to get killed.
Lambert A. Wood,1st Lt. 9th Inf.
The following letter was written to Lieut. Lambert A. Wood while he was on the firing line in France by John P. Wade, Col. of Cavalry, A.G., Washington, D.C., and by Lambert sent to his mother in Portland for safe keeping, telling her in confidence of the pleasure it had given him to receive from one in high authority such words of commendation unasked and unsought:
Adjutant General's Office,
March 4, 1918.
Lieutenant L.A. Wood,
9th U.S. Inf.
My Dear Wood:
I don't know you and you have in all probability never heard of me, but after reading your letter to your mother, written on November 4, 1917, I cannot but have a strong desire to congratulate you on getting right down to brass tacks. You are absolutely correct about who will win the war. When all is said and done, it is the man who has to stand up against the iron. I am here in the A.G.'s office and God only knows how we poor devils are going to break away to lend a hand, but we know what you have before you and long to be with you.
It is absolutely sickening to see the number of highly trained men who are too good to carry a gun. One can get all kinds of skilled men for ordance, G.M., Sig. Corps, Med. Corps, etc., but the men who have the technical knowledge necessary to carry and care for a rifle are scarcer than hen's teeth.
I can assure you that your letter has been read by every officer in this office with the greatest interest and approval. We found your letter in a little book called "Letters from Oregon Boys in France." I wish your letter could be read by every one in the United States.
I am writing this note to let you know that the "Regulars" are with you, heart and soul. There may be some of my friends left in the 9th, if so give them my best.
John P. Wade,
Col. of Cavalry, A.G.