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Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 24 January 1919

Link - Posted by David on December 30, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.

armistice
A PANARAMA. Old Glory flies over Ehrenbreitstein fortress looking down on Coblentz, lying peacefully on the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle. Germany 1919.

SERGEANT FRED PAINTON WRITES OF THE AMERICAN OCCUPATION OF COBLENTZ ON THE RHINE

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 24 January 1919

Elmiran Sends Interesting Description of Chief City in American Sector and Portrays Feeling of the Doughboys When They Show That Kaiser Had the Wrong “Dope.”

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, writes an interesting account of the American army’s crossing of the River Rhine and the occupation of Coblentz. the chief city in the American sector of occupation. Sergeant Painton is now attached to “The Stars and Stripes,” the official paper of the American soldiers in France and is afforded an excellent opportunity to see the things which he describes.

He writes:

“Coblentz, Germany,
“Dec. 13, 1918.

“Today, in a very quiet undramatic marched into Coblentz, the chief and by far largest city included in the territory of occupation. Facing me not fifty yards away is the historic and much sung Rhine, not the German Rhine in our sector, but the American Rhine for the time being. By nightfall the streets swarmed with doughboys. To them came no emotion, this was an everyday job: the Argonne. Chateau Thierry, it was all the same. To the list of tiny unknown French villages, whose names later on were blazed across the papers through the deeds of the A.E.F. is now added that of Coblentz. To those who have never toured Europe. Coblentz is as much of a secret as is La Ferte.

“As Coblentz has been made the headquarters of the 3rd Army and everything of importance centers here, it would not go amiss to give a brief description. Coblentz, with Treves or Trier as the Germans call it, rate as two of the oldest cities in Germany, dating back to the time of Caesar. Although situated at the junction of the Rhine and Moselle, it has never grown much in population. In the Thirty Years War Coblentz was, in turn, besieged and garrisoned by the Swedes, French and Prussians.

“Slipping quickly to the era of Napoleon we find it, after Valmy, made the capital of the new French province of Meurthe et Moselle. It is thus that we can account for the dual names that are horn by all the towns rivers and departments. They have, after Waterloo, been all Germanized. Now, for the first time in over a hundred years, a foreign flag Old Glory, now flies from the City Hall and also from the Ehrenbreitstein, the fortress guarding Coblentz. Does this not give one a feeling of passionate pride in our country?

“I can not resist the temptation to describe for you the Ebrenbreitstein as it looks at the moment perched high on the rugged cliffs on the opposite bank of the Rhine. As I look out the window, the sun, which shines today for the first time in weeks, sets off this monstrous fortress in all its grim and powerful lines. On its highest tower, gently waving in the springlike breeze is “Old Glory.” flaunting in the Kaiser’s face a refutation of his remark that “The Americans will take no important part in this war as they will arrive too late.” We were late, but American speed brought the train in on time.

“Ehrenbreitstein—the name is reminiscent of three balls—has been called and rightly “The Gibraltar of the Rhine.” It was commenced about the time that Napoleon made his exit from the European stage and has been strengthened and improved from year to year as new modes of killing came into vogue. In a way it resembles Verdun, in that it has been hollowed out of the rock. The huge underground chambers will easily billet one hundred men. Monstrous supply rooms occupy the base and by means of spiral stair cases one finally rises to the height of 385 feel and gazes from the cement battlements down on the fair city of Coblentz, lying peacefully on the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle. On clear days one can see Andernach lying further down the Rhine. Up to the time we took possession of the fortress, no foreign soldiers had ever made its will resound with the tread of their footsteps. Now the case is reversed: No German soldiers are allowed inside.

“The city proper lies on the peninsula formed by the juncture of the Rhine and the Moselle. We were much impressed with the civic upbuilding. Each building and private residence were beautiful examples of German architecture and everything was scrupulously neat and clean. The city is laid out very beautifully, with long gardens and promenades running along the banks of the Rhine. Being on that great inland waterway, there is considerable business done in cargo carrying.

“It is rather amusing to run into a newcomer and have him ask eagerly, “Is that there river the Rhine” Upon receiving an affirmative answer, he usually stares long and thoughtfully at it and then with a smile and shake of the shoulders, remark: “Well, that’s sompen to tell the folks at home, by Gosh. I saw their old German Rhine.”

“You can well imagine our thoughts when, as we stood on the now historic pontoon bridge, about ten o’clock at night, we heard the sweet strains of “Taps” wafted over the swift flowing waters beneath. That we would eventually stand here none of us had any doubts, but who would have thought a few short months ago that the curtain would have been rung down so quickly?

“Today is the 14th of December, a day that will go down in the annals of historv as the day on which our olive drab columns crossed the Rhine to finish occupying our area. We were all up before daybreak, eagerly awaiting the moment when the advance would be sounded. The streets were crowded with the boys of the gallant First. As the dim gray crept across the sky announcing the approach of another dismal, rainy day. the brief command. “Forward March” was given to the leading battalion and the great moment had arrived. Who can say what emotions pierced our breast as battalion after battalion swung into line and the boards began to rattle with the impress of hundreds of steel shod boots? Who can say that we had not received our reward for all the hardships endured as we watched the grim, gaily painted guns go thundering over the bridge quaking beneath their weight? What could we think when we remembered that the remnant of Germany’s fighting machine were slinking away a few short hours ahead of these boys, whose deeds at Monfaucon, Cantigny and Soisson will live forever in the memories of all Americans? All felt the same desire to yell with joy, toss their caps, anything to give vent to their superexuberant spirits brought on by witnessing such a show of a nation’s power as was this. Further up on another bridge of more substantial construction, the lads of the famous second were also taking their place in line. Hundreds of the civilian population left their beds to witness this great event. To those who took stock in Kaiser Wilhelm’s statement that aside from two or three regular divisions, there were no American troops in France, this sight must have been well nigh incredible. Can you wonder that, instead of being angry at having to remain a few months longer, we are intensely proud?”

 

A few weeks later, The Star-Gazette reported that Sergeant Painton was to be shipped home after suffering injuries from gas attack in the St. Mihiel Drive.

 

SERG. PAINTON ORDERED HOME SUFFERING FROM GAS EFFECTS

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 18 February 1919

Elmira Soldier Collapses Several Months After Having Been Gassed in St. Mihiel Drive—Has Been Attached To Staff of the Stars and Stripes.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, whose interesting letters from France have been widely read, is enroute home, suffering from the effects of gas, which he received during the St. Mihiel drive by General Pershing’s troops. Painton has lately been attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes and was having a most interesting experience as a reporter with the American Army of Occupation when he suddenly collapsed and was forced to give up his work.

He writes: “A year ago today I landed in Glasgow, England, and now, on the anniversary, I find myself scrapped, war’s cast-off and en-route home.” Painton was gassed several months ago. and at the time paid no attention to the matter. He says “now I am getting the real effects, my stomach is gone, my nerves are gone, and, as you know, I already had a bad heart, so here I am feeling as bad as the Kaiser. I expect to sail in about a week and should be in Elmira by the first of March.”

Painton was evacuated from Coblentz on the Rhine and was forced to leave all effects in his trunk at Paris. He says he fears he will have to spend his first month home in bed, but he hopes to soon be tearing off copy for local papers before very long.

Painton was thrown by the concussion of a shell while at Troyon, during the St. Mihiel drive, and believes that he suffered an injury to his side. Because of the condition of his nerves, he is unable to sleep at times without the aid of an opiate. The former reporter declares he dislikes very much to leave at this time, because he was having a wonderful experience with the American Army. However, he looks forward to the trip home as a tonic, although greatly disappointed because he must leave his trunk full of war souvenirs behind. He hopes to have a friend take care of it for him until he can have it sent home.

Painton was a reporter in Elmira at the time the United States entered the war. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction. He was not accepted in the draft without an argument, and so eager was he to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. He was again rejected at Camp Dix, but finally was allowed to go to Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way across in the transport service with an aviation section.

Finally an opportunity came to him, after the armistice was signed, to become attached to The Stars and Stripes, the official publication of the American soldiers, published in Paris. His articles, which have appeared in the local papers, have been widely read.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 3 January 1919

Link - Posted by David on December 26, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.

armistice
TREVES. Locals turn out to watch the allied occupying forces come through town.
1 December 1918

SEGT. PAINTON TELLS OF TREVES

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 3 January 1919

Boy Tries to Sell Helmet for Meat—Entire A.E.F. Envious of Those Who Make Up the American Army of Occupation—Does Not Expect to Be Home for Several Months.

“It is tiresome work, this making history for our kids to study.” is the apt way in which Sergeant Frederick Painton writes of his experiences, in one of the first letters received from Germany since the American Army of Occupation took up its march to the Rhine.

Sergeant Painton, who is now attached to the Staff of “The Stars and Stripes,” the official paper of the American Epeditionary Forces, writes from Treves, one of the tirst of the German cities occupied by the Americans, he writes that the German people appear glad to see the Americans and are quick to barter souvenirs for something to eat. Sergeant Painton writes:

“Treves, Germany,

“December 6, 1918.


“Dear Friend:

“When I walked out of the office a little over a year ago who could have said that a year later I would be in a German city, sleeping in a German Hotel, and not a prisoner? But such is the case, which proves that truth is stronger than fiction. At present I rest, covered from head to foot with the mud of two nations and the Duchy of Luxemburg. We drove all the way from Verdun, which we left early this morning.

You cannot imagine the mental sensation of being actually in Germany and seeing German soldiers walking down the street unguarded. And what irony of fate to order and eat a meal in a German hotel and pay for it with French money! In spite of all that has been written in the negative, there is not a doubt but what the lower classes are in a hard way for food, which I will prove by the following incident:

We entered Treves at S o’clock, French time, swearing like pirates. It was blacker than Hades, foggy, slippery, and to cap the climax we had two flat tires and an empty stomach. Wc stopped to try and find some place to cache the car for the night and while my companion was trying to find one a little German lad came up to me and offered to sell one of those Dutch picklehaubes, or spiked helmets, which the boys are so crazy to get as souvenirs. I asked him how much, and he said “Das Fleisch,” which means meat. He did not want money, as money will not buy meat in this country. In this hotel, however, we had plenty to eat for five marks and 30 pfennig.

German money is used entirely, which means learning a new money system and I am becoming a shark when it comes to rates of exchange. I talk in halting German, so halting, in fact, that it stands still most of the time. I have become so used to talking French that the little German I learned in school has completely left me. It is like a Ford, though, it may start again at any time.

I can’t say when I will be home. Being with the Army of Occupation means not within three or four months at any rate. I don’t mind though, this is a privilege and the whole A.E.F. is envious of us. As we came across the bridge over the Moselle, which is the frontier. I saw by the dim light a tall, grey-cloaked, spike-helmeted man walking down the road. As we came closer I also saw that he wore an up-turned mustache a la Kaiser. As the swirling fog eddied around him I was forcibly impressed with the likeness to the ex-Kaiser and also that we were victors. This was doubly brought home when he glanced over his shoulder and then slunk out of the road. Vanished hopes and bitter memories, indeed. Here was the incarnation of them.

In the city, however, the people are gay without being noisily so. Children laugh and imitate our salute as we walk down the street. The people are for the most part well dressed and have a relieved air about them.

I am enclosing a German identification tag which you may wish for a souvenir. In our Ford at present we have ten or twelve helmets, six guns, paper bandages, caps and the Lord only knows what else. But how to get it home, that’s the question.

German time is an hour later than French and it now registers 11 o’clock, so here is where I hit the hay. It is tiresome work this making history for our kids to study. I prefer to sleep just now.

Auf wiedersehn, as they say here!

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 24 December 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 24, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.

SERGEANT FRED PAINTON LEARNS IT COSTS TO EAT IN LUXEMBURG

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 24 December 1918

Writes That One Day’s Meals Cost $12, but the People of the Duchy Appear to Eat Well Just the Same—Is Attached to Third Army.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, now a member of the staff of The Stars and stripes, the official paper of the American Expeditionary Forces, was in Luxemburg November 26, the date of his last letter. According to the Elmira soldier, Luxemburg is no place to sojourn on a private soldier’s salary, unless the latter carries his own canteen along with him. One day’s meals cost about twelve dollars.

Sergeant Painton writes:
November 26, 1918.

“Dear Friend:

“I think that my presence in Luxemburg will take you by surprise, but, anyway, here I am enroute for Paris. This is sure some beautiful city, but talk about the high cost of living, this takes the brown derby. The Alaskan gold rush couldn’t even touch it. Here are some of the prices in American money that I had to pay today: Two dollars for breakfast, four-dollars for lunch, and five-fifty for dinner. Remember, this is for one only. There is a candy shop near here where a bar of chocolate of ordinary size costs $16 each. Beer is fifty cents a small glass, and four sticks of licorice costs two dollars. Ice cream is fifty cents a glass and ordinary wine like we buy in Paris for three franc a bottle costs twenty here. These were the prevailing prices before we came and in some cases they were even higher.

“All the citizens have a sleek, well-fed appearance, and, as I found no signs of paper clothes or wooden shoes here, I think I will have to go further into Germany to find them I shall go further as I shall be attached to the Third Army. There is a great deal to tell you, so I shall put most of !t off until I get back to Paris. That trip following the German retreat was the greatest thing in my young life.

“I saw Jack Wilkinson in Paris and have a date with him for Wednesday night if all goes well. If you would like a Boche helmet for a souvenir I can send you one. We came upon hundreds of boxes of new helmets that were ready to be Issued. We all had Mauser rifles for souvenirs and plenty of “ammo.” so shot holes through some of them for practice.

“Well, it is time to hit the hay, so will close. This is the first time I have slept in a bed in two weeks, so I will make it a good one. I was stationed in Verdun for three or four days and had to sleep in an old shack on the floor.

“Every sign in this town is painted in both French and German, although the latter language is in more use.”

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 30 November 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 18, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war.

armistice
ARMISTICE DAY Parisians flood the streets and party hard after hearing the war was over.
11 November 1918

ELMIRAN GIVES AN ACCOUNT OF CELEBRATION IN PARIS WHEN ARMISTICE IS SIGNED

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 30 November 1918

Sergeant Frederick Painton Tells of Being in Paris, When Good News Is Received—City Declares Three Day Holiday and Wild Scenes Are Enacted.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, formerly of the 496th Aero Squadron and now attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes had the enjoyable experience of being in Paris when the news came that the war was over. His description of the seen that followed in the French capital gives an indication of the great joy the end of the war brought to the Frenchmen, and not the least enjoyment for the American soldiers, who happened to be in Paris was the enthusiasm of the girls, or the “flappers,” as Sergeant Fred calls them. With their streets lined with war material captured from the Huns and the street lights operated again after four years of darkness, the Frenchmen gave themselves to celebration in utter abandon.

Fred Painton is a son of Mr. and Mrs. George Painton of this city, and a former Elmira newspaperman. He was among the first Elmirans to land in France, being attached to the aviation service as an automobile driver. As a result of his newspaper experience, young Painton has secured a place on the American soldiers’ official paper, The Stars and Stripes.

His description of the celebration in Paris, written the day after the armistice was signed, follows:

“I arrived in Paris Sunday night, so I was here yesterday when the announcement came that hostilities were over and that the armistice had been signed. From that moment yesterday morning, when the Parisians were informed that the war was over, they went mad, simply mad, with joy.

“Never before have I witnessed such a demonstration as took place, commencing yesterday afternoon, and still in progress. As I sit here typing, this letter to you, I can hear the yells and cheers of the people as they promenade ceaselessly back and forth on the Boulevard Des Italians. It has been said that the French government has declared a three days holiday, and I can well believe it, as I doubt much whether anyone would work at any price.

VEHICLES DECORATED.

“The town, the people and the vehicles are bedecked with streamers, flags and ribbons of the colors of the various allied countries. Yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock as I left the office, the boulevard was a seething mass of swaying, demonstrative humanity in the midst of which were several taxicabs and fiacres stalled and unable to move. Impromptu parades were formed and the howling mob chanted the national anthems of the Allied powers. To use a hackneyed phrase, the scene was beyond description. If you can picture Elmira on an election night and then magnify it a thousandfold, you may perhaps be able to visualize the sight I have witnessed for the past two days. Coincident with the announcement of cessation of warfare, the lights of Paris, which have, for the past four years been turned off or darkened, were turned on full blast and tonight, the boulevard almost puts in the shade our “Great White Way.”

“On both sides of the Champs Elysee, the place de la Concorde and the Fuileries Gardens have been placed captured artillery and airplanes. They range from a machine gun to a grim siege mortar and from a giant Gotha bombing plane to the tiny dragon fly of a Fokker. There are literally thousands of pieces and to one unaccustomed to seeing large displays, perfectly appalling.

TAKE THE “BROWN DERBY.”

“When it comes to “taking joy out of life”, a Frenchman takes the “brown derby”. After four years of repression, they have cut loose with an abandon which, if tried in the United States would land them all in jail. As I was walking down to the hotel in company with another chap, we were violently assaulted by vivacious French girls and strenuously kissed to the intense enjoyment of the bystanders and our distinct embarrassment(?) It’s said, and I can well believe it, that two hours after the glad news was unknown that one could not buy a flag or piece of bunting in Paris. It is very amusing to us, who take our enjoyments more or less quietly, to watch the violent and hysterical manifestations of joy of these volatile French. All places of business were closed except the cafes and restaurants which did a pre-war business.

“It has been one of the great moments of my life, and I would not have missed it for any amount of money and will always owe The Stars and Stripes a debt for being instrumental in getting me here in time.

“The intense enthusiasm seems to be catching, for Italian, American, British, Aussies, Canadians, Portuguese and other soldiers yell as loud as the French and festoon themselves just as fantastically. In a way it reminds one of the Mardi Gras of New Orleans, as there is no limits placed on anyone’s wildest eccentricities. The kissing of the very pretty French “flappers,” at any rate, is contagious to say the least.

“Of course, with my change in stasix for which I am in a way genuinely sorry, as the old girl and I covered 10,000 miles of French soil ranging from end to end, on good roads and bad. I can at least say when I come back I have taken a personally conducted tour of France which covered everything very thoroughly.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 23 October 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 16, 2019 @ 11:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter.

FRED PAINTON WRITES HOME OF HIS FIRST AIRPLANE TRIP

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 23 October 1918

Former Elmira Newspaper Man, Now Serving in France, Gives Detailed Descriptions of Sensations Experienced in First Air Voyage.

Sergeant Fred Painton, former Elmira newspaper man. now attached to the 496th Aero Squadron, with the American Expeditionary Forces in France, in his latest letter describes his “most wonderful experience,” a trip in an airplane. His account of the journey through the air makes the reading almost as thrilling as the ride itself.

Sergeant Painton recently enjoyed a furlough in Paris, an experience to which he had long looked forward to, and, next to Elmira, he declares it the most beautiful city in the world. It was shortly after his trip to Paris that he was given the opportunity to ride in an airplane.

His letter follows:

“496 Aero Squad. Amexforces. France.
“Oct. 1, 1918.

“Dear Friend:—

“Well I shall have to tell you the many experiences that have happened to me since I wrote from Paris.

“To begin with I have made my initial trip in an airplane and that to me is the most wonderful thing that could happen to anyone. The day after I wrote you from Paris, I took some high officials of the air service to a aviation camp. After the business, which called them there was transacted they decided to take a “joyhop.” Forthwith we proceeded to the flying field, where they made ready for the trip.

“I waited my chance and then when one of the aforementioned high officials came close to me, I heaved a deep sigh and remarked to the empty atmosphere that I would give my right arm, if only I could get a chance to take a trip in a “ship.” The said H.O. turned to me and asked if I had ever been up, and upon my answering ‘no’, he yelled to one of the pilots, and told him that it would be all right for him to take me up in the next two seater he flew. The ‘airgnat’ said that he was going to fly one of the two sealers right away and motioned for me to follow him. I did and you can believe that I was all afluter. To think that I was going up there, where all the rest of those white winged planes were lazily running in circles. It seemed almost to good to be true.

“As they had no helmets to spare, I simply took off my overseas cap and left on my goggles. The pilot told me that it would give me a good shampoo. They are glad to take anyone up at this field, when they have occasion to fly a two-seater, as it does away with the necessity of putting in a two hundred pound sack of sand. I very gingerly climbed into the rear cockpit and waited for them to crank the motor. This is done very carefully as the slightest mistake means the life of the mechanic, who is cranking. The pilot calls out “coupe.” The mechanic repeats it after him so that there can be no mistake. That means that the switch is off and then the propeller is turned over to draw a charge of gas into the cylinders. Then the mechanic yells “contact,” and again the pilot repeats after him. Then with one foot braced that he may jump away from the terrific suction caused by the churning of the propeller, the mechanic gives a quick twist and with a roar the powerful motor starts. The noise was deafening and the wind from the propellor seemed more than likely to tear the hair from my head. Eventually the pilot nodded his head and then by means of long ropes, the blocks were withdrawn from in front of the landing wheels and we “taxied” across the field for the start.

“I have no distinct remembrance of the exact moment, when we left the earth, but suddenly saw the tops of the hangars and the trees drop away beneath me. Then I knew that I was actually for the first time in my life off of terra firma, with nothing but a bit of canvas and wood between me and—what? There were no straps, as the observer usually stands up. All I had to rest on was a little folding seat on the side and a couple of grips. We were then about 600 feet up. and climbing all the time in wide spirals. The sensation is something that I shall always remember. The view itself was wonderful, of course, but it reminded me of the time when I first saw a moving picture taken from an airplane. But then came the realization that it was I, really I, in this machine, and that there was the earth below me, falling away gradually as we continued to climb. At 800 feet the buildings, trees and hills stood out somewhat, and made the scene unequalled for grandeur, but when the little dial on the dash registered 1,200 feet, things became flat, and the earth resembled a multi-colored checker board. The wind was terrific. I had to keep my neck and head craned forward to overcome the terrific pressure.

“The roar of the motor was deafening, but after a few moments I paid no attention to it; my mind being taken up with the different emotions that assailed me. I had no sense of fear, this machine being a large roomy craft, with a wireless key, clocks and other intricate machines for telling the aviator where he was and how high. No more did I have that qualmy feeling in the “basement” that so many fellows tell about, who have taken their first ride. This, however, may be explained by the fact that it was about five-thirty when we went up and at this time there are no “air pockets,” or diverging stratas of air that cause the ‘plane to sway. When we would bank around the ‘plane would roll gently like a ship in a heavy sea, although the former rolls more quickly. After twelve minutes had elapsed the roar of the motor ceased and we “peeked over” for the long volplane to the field. The wind whistling through the wire braces sounded like a thousand ghosts trying to shriek at once. The earth still resembled a flat, many colored checkerboard, but when we had dropped to about seven or eight hundred feet, the hangars, buildings and trees began to assume depth. This is a very strange phenomenon and is truly wonderful to watch. It seemed to me as we rapidly neared the earth that we would not clear the hangars, but suddenly they passed beneath me and the next thing I felt was a slight bump. We bounced into the air, but the pilot turned on the motor in order to keep her nose up and we came down again with another bump, this time to stay. I had been in the air just fourteen minutes, that is counting the time that we started “taxiing.” The experience is one that will ever be green in my memory and although it is just possible that I may get a chance to go up again, the sensations experienced will never be the same as they were on this, my initial trip.

“I was going to tell you about Paris, too, so will do my best. Aside from Eimira, N.Y., it is the most beautiful city in the world, at least I think so, and so do all the rest. The bridges across the Seine are beautiful examples of architectures and the goldened domed invalides when viewed from the Place de la Concorde, is magnificent beyond description. Unfortunately the Arch de Triumph has been divested of most of its wonderful sculptoring for fear of destruction in raids but even what is left is very wonderful.

“Paris in war time is the most cosmopolitan city that one could ever see. Uniforms of all nations are to be seen on its boulevards at all times. There are representatives of all the relief societies, that I ever heard of and some that I or anyone else never heard of. There are associations for the relief of all the ailments that mankind is heir too and a few that we are not. Bizarre and gaudy uniforms are worn by these people. I really believe that thev have got a “society for the rehabiliation of asphyxiated cooties” and an association for the education of shell shocked trench rats. No disease misses their eagle glance

“If the night life of Parts is called quiet
now, I certainly would have liked it here 
before the war. The life centers mostly
 around the “Folies Bergere” and the 
Casino des Paris. I really enjoyed myself
 six days there very much. As It Is time 
for “taps” I must close. Your friend.


FRED.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 13 May 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 11, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter.

TELLS HORRORS DONE BY “HUNS” WITHIN BELGIUM

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 13 May 1918

Sergeant Painton Learns Much Regarding Atrocities Accomplished as Result of German Invasion—German Posters Given Publicity.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, who was a member of one of the Chemung county draft contingents, and who is now in active service with the expeditionary forces in France, has written to friends in this city telling of the horrors inflicted upon the Belgians by the German hordes during the latter’s first rush toward Paris. He says:

“I suppose that you think that the letters are following themselves very fast, but honestly, there has been so much of interest that has happened that I must tell you about it. After my adventure with the Harley, I went to the Y.M.C.A. with the intention of seeing the movies. The show had started when I got there. The first reel was the world’s series photoed by the Universal. It was good. Then came the surprise. The Y. secretary introduced Countess De La Tours San Marie, who showed up the most wonderful collection of German posters that has ever been gathered together. A collection is being made for the British museum. Her’s is the only other one in existence, besides that one, and is to be presented to an American museum at the end of the war. These were posted in Belgium and invaded France at the beginning of the war. As she exhibited them to us she translated the meaning of each one and some of them were enough to make a man’s blood run cold, or hot.

“The first one was headed “Proclamation,” and signed by Von Der Golz, that inventor of exquisite torture. It was put out in the first advance of the Germans into Belgium at the time that the tiny but heroic Belgian army was contesting every foot of the ground given. The Belgians had been destroying railroad bridges, tearing up railroad tracks and barricading everything that would impede the advance of the Boche. That of course, was war, and countenanced by all articles of war. But it was not in the Huns code. Speed was necessary above all things so Von Der Golz, not being able to get at the plucky little Belgian army, tried different tactics. He immediately had printed thousands of posters stating that all villages within the immediate vicinity of railroads would be held to strict accountability for the preservation of the railroads and bridges. If the latter were, in any way damaged, all the inhabitants of the village would be shot. At the time such a proceeding was unheard of, so it was thought to be a scare, so the destruction still continued. Then without any pretext or excuse other than this infamous order, Belgian peasants were shot down in cold blood. Not hundreds, but thousands. There it was in black and white. No denial is possible.

“The next poster, when explained, proved to be the most senseless thing I that the Germans ever done. For some reason or other that was not mentioned, they suddenly became suspicions of French chickens. Not the chickens in the sense that we mean, but real hens with feathers. The proclamation said, in part, that ell the inhabitants within the jurisdiction of the German imperial government should immediately render to the local headquarters an accurate list of all chickens that they owned. This was to be kept up-to-date, and at any time one died, the remains should be brought in to headquarters to find the cause of death. All eggs from the hens should be surrendered to the Germans and if, upon examination, any were found to have been needlessly cracked, the owner of the hen should be severely punished. If at any time the German officials in charge, thought that a hen was not laying enough eggs, the owner of the former should immediately put the fowl to death. Sounds crazy, don’t it? It is. However, if any one reading this piece should know of a way whereby a hen can be made to lay more eggs than she wants to, that person can save many Belgians severe punishment.

In all the principal villages of Belgium, the most prominent citizens were sent to Germany as hostages for the good behavior of the town. Most of these will never return. You can take it from me, this dame had my goat for fair by this time. This stuff seemed to get home.

For the first few months that the Germans occupied the invaded country, they were half way reasonable in their demands. All they required was six pounds of wool per person from every one. Recently they confiscated everything of any value whatever. The populace is destitute.

There were lots of other posters, including the one put out by the German government announcing the capture of Paris. There was another one announcing the fact that poor Germany had been picked on by the British pigs and it was the Imperial command of the German Emperor, that Germans fight to the last that they may strafe England. It also mentioned they had with them the help of God, who had especially appointed him (Kais Bill) to wipe the British off the map.

Well, I must close. I gotta go to work.

      Your friend.
        PAINTON.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 23 April 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter.

FORMER ELMIRA NEWSPAPER MAN IS IN MOVIES

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 23 April 1918

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton Near General Pershing in France When Picture Is Filmed—Says Pershing Is “Big” All Around.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton of the 655th Aero Squadron in France, formerly engaged in Elmira newspaper work, has written to friends in this clty, telling of his experiences in France.

Sergeant Painton was recently close to General Pershing, when a motion picture camera man “shot” the latter as he was leaving a hotel. His letter follows:

Headquarters 655 Aero Squadron,
Amexforces, France,
March 15, 1918.

“Yesterday was a regular day around this man’s town. We all had the honor of seeing General Pershing and Secretary of War Baker. In fact, I stood so close to him that I could have reached my hand and touched him on the shoulder. I had been down to the station to see about something or other and got back to the Hotel—just after he had gone inside. So being right on the job I got right up on the door step and waited until the first full-fledged General since Grant should come out.

“While looking around I saw that there was a moving picture camera up in the window ready to start the minute that the General came out. I was right in the direct range and there is no doubt but what I registered joy on the celluloid. Then he came out.

“Black Jack Pershing” looked just like his pictures, Except that they never do him justice. He is a big man. Big in physique; big in mind; big in heart and is holding down a big job.

“We are organizing a baseball team in our squadron and in the near future intend to play the flying cadets. When we do I will have something interesting to write about as it promises to be some game. We have several near pro’s on our team and several of the cadets have been playing pro’ ball.

“I guess that that is all this time as I have got to get to work. I will have something more of interest to write when I get on my other Job that I told you about. For the present bunch that I say ‘comment allez vous mes amis,’ which same means ‘Har hunch, how’s tricks.’

“So Long.      
“PAINTON.”  
WEBB-CANNAN.

“In The Dark of The Sea” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on December 6, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

SINCE we’ve been featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI, this week we feature a short tale Painton had in the pages of War Stories. It’s the tale of the Schmidt brothers—one had left home in 1912 and eventually found himself in the German Navy having risen the ranks to become their most feared submarine captain. The other brother remained at home and signed up when America entered the war, putting his talents to use for the US Navy listening for subs never thinking he would one day be hunting down his own beloved brother!

The German sub U-74 was out to ruin Mediterranean shipping, and its commander, the “Fox,” was famous for his cleverness. It was up to Carney to stop him—Carney and his listener at the hydrophones—and it meant close, quick work. Dolph Schmidt was that listener, and he knew things—but said nothing.

From the November 8th, 1928 issue of War Stories, it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “In The Dark of The Sea!”

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 12 March 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918. Fellow Elmiran “Jake” Golos, a well known newsboy, also arrived in France on January 31st.

FRENCH TROLLEY LIKE ‘SAND CAR’

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 12 March 1918

Sergeant Painton Says the Trolleys “Over There” Remind Him of Elmira’s Work Cars—Meets Elmiran.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, Elmira boy, now attached to the 655th Aero Squadron in France, has written an interesting letter to friends in this city describing his experiences in France. Sergeant Painton left Elmira with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix and was later transferred to the aviation camp at San Antonio, Tex. After a short period of training, he was ready for the trip across to England, where he landed a few weeks ago.

In one part of the letter he speaks of meeting Jacob Golos, an Elmira boy, who is “over there.” Sergeant Painton says In part:

“I think that since leaving the states I have traveled by every mode of conveyance except airplane and submarine. The most excruciating of those was a two-day trip in a French freight car with a flat wheel and me riding over the flat wheel. Though I was not seasick on the trip this certainly made me feel funny. I met Jake Golos a short time back, but was separated from him shortly after. Since then I have not seen a single Elmira fellow. We are at present quartered in a city of some size which has a history that would fill a book. One of the cathedrals was built in the 15th century and is a wonderful structure. There are many points of interest which, believe me. I am going to get to see before coming back to the old home town.

“Streets are not streets here such as we know. They are alleys. The road, especially the middle of the road, is the walk. It is a good thing, too, because as I was going back to the barracks the other night I walked along the sidewalk. By the time I got to the barracks I had a cheap skate on from trying to follow the crooks in said sidewalk.

“Oh, I almost forgot the trolley cars. Those razzle dazzle things of beauty which are identical with the E.W.L. & R.R. Co.’s sand car and made in the same year. They are called a tram car. Two or three times I have seen one going at full speed, which is about nine miles per hour. I don’t mind riding on them. however. Peachy-looking dames come to garner in the sheckles. Whenever we get on one we always remark that we don’t know where we’re going but we’re on our way.”

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 2 March 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 2, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918.

painton_WWI_enlistment
FREDERICK C. PAINTON’S Armed Forces Registration Card. June 5th, 1917

SAYS “TIN FISH” CHASES VESSEL

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 2 March 1918

Sergeant Frederick Painton Writes Parents From England That “Sub” Tries to Sink His Transport.

Mr. and Mrs. George Painton have received interesting letters from their son, Sergeant Frederick Painton, who recently arrived in England with a detachment of Expeditionary Forces from Camp Dix. Portions of his letters relating to details across and his experience follow:

“Somewhere in England. Jan. 31. 1918.

“Well, here I am in the land of grandfather’s birth, right side up with care, as usual. Many thrills I have experienced, but that of mounting guard on a liner, with giant waves running a 60-mile lee wind eclipses them all. A sub (tin fish) chased us and was chased off by our destroyers.

“The song, ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ is very apt and applies at all times to us. We know, less than outsiders. Oh, I feel so good to get off the old tub of a liner. I hope that you people did not worry over me. I knew 1 would land all right.

“February 2.

“I was so terribly busy yesterday I could not write, but will finish this today. We were paid off yesterday, the first since I entered Uncle Sam’s army. From now on I will draw about $40 a month.

“It rained all day today and I had to drill my platoon at that. Well, they would not stop a battle just for rain.

“All a soldier has to live for is what he gets to eat and believe me I am going to pamper my inner man. The stuff costs like the deuce. A six pence here, and eight pence there soon amounts to a pound. I have learned the money already. We sleep in planks over here—no cots. When we get to our destination, of course, we will, have our own cots, but that is not yet. I have been drilling my men in squads right and left and other drill pertaining to squad formation. This is the stuff I learned at Camp Dix. I am supposed to be a duty sergeant, but as they are shy on ‘non-coms’ I have been pressed into service, for I am supply sergeant.

“SGT. FREDERICK C. PAINTON,
“229th Aero Supply Squadron,
“via New York.”

“Sky Guilt” by Frederick C. Painton

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THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. Mike O’Connor returns from a four day stint of detached service with the Second Corps to find his kid brother in the brig facing a court martial for murdering a fellow pilot in a bar brawl. Mike draws on his pre-war experience as a detective to find the true culprit and takes to the sky to sweat out a confession from the guilty party! From the pages of the November 1933 The Lone Eagle, it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Sky Guilt!”

A Gripping Story of Exciting Peril in the Air and a Pilot’s Grim Determination!

As he has in previous stories we’ve posted, Painton has once again named the squadron’s operations officer Willie the Ink—Painton uses a similarly named character—Willie the Web—as operations officer in his Squadron of the Dead tales.

“Sky Herdin’ Heinie” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on February 9, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton.
Painton gives us his take on the cowboy war bird. In it, the cowboy in question is the mesquite Midget, Billy Sanders, from Jim Sills’ Bar-Bee Ranch. An old hand at rounding up the Boche in the air, he finds Jim Sills’ boy Harv now in his squadron. The two come up against Boche air ace von Steffen who seems to have a charmed life and cannot be touched, but when he shoots down yung Harv, the Midget is left with no choice than to break his sky-jinx!

From the pages of the November 1928 issue of Triple X Magazine—so called because it featured air, western and war stories each month—it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Sky Herdin’ Heinie!”

They called the German ace a Sky-Jinx and said his plane couldn’t be shot down. But Midget, the cowboy-flier, didn’t believe in jinxes and he swore to kill the man who had shot down his friend and old range buddy.

“Aces Fly High” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on January 19, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Aces Fly High” Painton relates a tale of brothers in the same flight. The older, Blake Grenfell tasked with the duty of looking after his younger half brother, Pup. And that’s a task in itself as Pup is determined to become an Ace at the expense of all others. Good men are lost in Pup’s pursuit of becoming an Ace and things just go from bad to worse until drastic actions and sacrafice must be made to save the Grenfell’s name and social standing back home. From the November 1933 issue of Sky Fighters—it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Aces Fly Hig!”

Daring Rescues and Savage Strife in the Flaming Skies Above No Man’s Land!

As he would in “Flaming Death” (Sky Fighters, November 1934) Painton has once again named the squadron’s operations officer Willie the Ink—Painton uses a similarly named character—Willie the Web—as operations officer in his Squadron of the Dead tales.

“Flaming Death” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on October 6, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Flaming Death” Painton gives us a pulse-stirring war-air novelette—”B” Flight’s mascot, Babe Norwood, the squadron’s youngest flyer, is shot down with incendiary bullets! All of the fighting nations had agreed to ban their use—so rigidly were they banned that any flyer caught using them was instantly stood against the wall with barely the mockery of a drum-head court-martial. The squadron uses all avenues of the services to hunt down the culprit and bring him to justice! From the November 1934 Sky Fighters it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Flaming Death!”

Follow a Mad Race Through Roaring Skies on the Trail of a Sinister Hun Whose Guns Spout Outlawed Bullets!

And look for a brief appearance by the squadron’s operations officer named Willie the Ink, Painton uses a similarly named character—Willie the Web—as operations officer in his Squadron of the Dead tales.

“Heroes Die Hard” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on August 18, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Heroes Die Hard” Painton crafts a story of an immoral politician trying to use his carefully created war record to sweep him in to office when the war is over. The only problem is a man he wronged in the past who now stands in the way of his future! From the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s “Heroes Die Hard!”

You’ll Thrill to this Gripping Drama of Fiendish Treachery and Grim Courage in the Air!

For more by Frederick C. Painton:

Pick up a copy of Squadron of the Dead! Eight classic Painton tales that ran in the pages of Sky Birds magazine in 1935! The Squadron of the Dead contained all the hellions of ten armies! Men without hope; men courting death; men who loved to kill; men who laughed and fought, drank and cursed, lived hard, and died harder. Americans, British, Russians—even Germans—made up their ranks, and only one bond held them together: Death lay ahead of them. They were assigned the grim missions no other squadron dared to take—for they had all been condemned to die!

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