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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.


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.      

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