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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.

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


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.

“229th Aero Supply Squadron,
“via New York.”

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