Monday, June 19, 2017

Postcards from the Great War

by Erin Doane, Curator

Private William Warren Fenton served with the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. While overseas, he sent postcards home to his wife Hazel. The historical society has 15 of those postcards in the archives. They provide a tiny glimpse into the heart of a soldier far away from the woman he loves.

Oct. 16, 1918
One way of doing things.
                               Soldier Boy
Warren had just turned 25 years old when he was drafted into service. He was living at 618 Dickinson Street in Elmira with his wife at the time. On July 25, 1918, he and 31 other draftees left Elmira. The train picked them up at the Lackawanna Railroad Station at 12:10pm and took them to Camp Dix, New Jersey for training. Warren was just one of 14,924 men who were called up from New York State on that day. He was part of the largest number of men called to service since the United States had declared war.

Warren arrived in France in the fall of 1918 and began sending postcards home.
Oct. 21, 1918
In France
Dear Hazel,
This day and date take me back to June 21, 1913.
  I always think of the 21st and of the one thing that
took place on that day.
  Many tho’ts of you
                                                               Hubby Warren

Nov. 1, 1918
In France

  I am sitting with my back to a tree while I write this card.
  There may be some scene like the one on the other side 
but I have failed to find it over here.
  With Out Y o u.

Nov. 11, 1918
Over Here
Dear Hazel:
  This is not me, Yet it may be.
  We are on the same job and here for the same purpose.
  We’re not here for fun and the Hun is on the run.
                                                           Adieu Warren
Bassens Camp #4
Bordeaux France
Jan. 19, 1919
Dearest Hazel:
    And thems’ my sentiments too.
Bassens Camp #4
Bordeaux France
Jan. 26, 1919
Dearest Hazel:
   Please accept these pansies from France.
Not in bloom at present.
Bring a canoe built for two,
And we’ll take a trip together.
Bassens Camp #4
Bordeaux France
Feb. 7, 1919
Dearest Hazel:
  My present home. Barracks with X is guard house.
4th one down on right is mine. Bath house at end of
Street. Bassens church on hill, left side.
Warren made it through the war and lived to be 81 years old. He died on June 19, 1975 and is buried in Woodlawn cemetery next to his wife Ruth. Wait a minute…Ruth? I thought his wife was named Hazel. Census records from 1920 show Warren living with Hazel in Elmira’s 9th Ward but in 1930 he’s listed as divorced. Apparently the couple was not destined to live happily ever after.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate our Chemung County Historical Society for keeping records of as many as possible our men and women who served in the US Military, that way families and friends can research them, find out of where they served, what it was like for them and family history, Thanks