A NASH COUNTY BOY
WRITES FROM ABROAD
Private Dana S. Braswell Briefly Recites
Some of His Experiences While With the American Expeditionary Forces “Over There”
Submitted by: Margaret Strickland
Posted: 3 April 2010
Copyright: Margaret Strickland
The following letter received by Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Braswell, of Nashville, [Nash County, NC], from their son, Private Dana E. Braswell, who is still overseas, will be interesting reading for his many friends in Nash:
Inasmuch as it is Sunday, and my duties aren’t quite so numerous, I will attempt to give you some idea of the many places I have been, since leaving the only country that was originally intended for humans to inhabit and enjoy. Of course I am just as anxious to get home as any little American ever was, but I realize that complaining won’t even get me in the embarkation area, and certainly not across the branch. But I am about to write a real letter.
I left Camp Mills, August 5th 1918, and went aboard the Aquitania which was bound for Liverpool, England. This boat was loaded to its utmost capacity, carrying some 8,000 men. Miss Liberty certainly did look good as we passed out, and I wondered if ever I would see her again. We are all of one accord in saying that if we ever get back, she will have to execute an about-face to see us again.
The trip across was without moment, save of course the anxiety of the submarines, but ——?—— we began to feel independent because of the appearance of six destroyers, which convoyed us thru the submarine zone. I landed at Liverpool on the 12th. We marched thru’ the suburbs of the city en route to Camp Knotty Ash, partaking of our customary “Corn Willie,”* when we halted. Left this camp on the 14th for Southampton, going thru’ a “rest camp,” (rest in name only) and the 15th we crossed the English Channel.
Arrived at LeHarve, France early next morning, but did not land until nearly noon due to a heavy fog. From LeHarve I went thru’ another “rest camp,” spending part of the day there. On the 17th we took a “frog train” consisting of some 15 box cars, which were very artistically labeled (40 hommes; 8 cheval) so for three days we crept across the country, exchanging places with each other at the window to see the quaint scenery. We finally arrived at Tonnerre, hiking a distance of 18 kilos to Dye, where we trained until September 17th.
It was now time for us to go to the trenches. We went thru’ the following towns: Ervy, Bruyeres, Docelles, Mortagne, Raon L’Etape and across the Vosges mountains. We covered a distance of about 80 kilos. We went in the trenches in the Lorraine sector at night on September 27th. Life was none to enjoyable until October 11th, when we were relieved. We then hiked to Reincourt, a short distance in rear of the lines where we trained further until November 1st. We again took the train to Charmes and hiked nearly all night, crossing the Meuse River.
On November 5th we relieved the 35th Division. From the 5th until the 9th I was on outpost guard to intercept enemy patrols. In the early morning of the 9th I went “over-the-top,” near Manheulles. Made considerable advance that day, but had to dig in that night due to heavy artillery fire by the Boche. On the 10th we made another advance and fortune so favored us that we captured all the enemy dug-outs [that made] a nice home to celebrate the signing of the armistice.
On the morning of the 11th, we continued our advance, meeting with little resistance, when we were told that all firing would cease at 11:00 o’clock. We remained there for several days to make sure that it was not a repetitioun [of] Boche trickery, and then hiked back to a camp near Verdun. On the morning of the 18th we began a hike which took us thru’ the following towns: Bonnette-Vauz, Beauses ?, Vidette, Tremont, Chausney, Wassy, Sommevoire, Fresney, Baye, LaFreta, Grovelles. We hiked for 15 days including rest, and covered 150 kilos. I am now at Belan-sur-Ource awaiting transportation to Home-sweet-Home.
Very fondly yours,
Pvt. Dana E. Braswell
* “Corn Willie” was the slang name used for corned beef during World War I.
Source: Nashville Graphic, 5/15/1920