The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.
Jan. 22, 1919
PIECE OF SHELL GOES THRU COAT OF MEDFORD BOY
Nonchalantly and with modesty Gilbert Stewart, a Medford young man in the 4th engineers, in a letter just received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. I. Stewart, relates the active part he took in the closing drives of the campaign in France. In the St. Mihiel drive he received a piece of shell thru his raincoat, and a dud shell exploding near him scared him “out of seven years of growth.” Once, by the Vesle river he “kissed himself good-bye.” The letter in part follows:
“I am writing this from a town in Alsace. Believe me I never expected to be in this part of the country a few months ago. Some collapse to Willie’s empire, wasn’t it? This is one of the richest section of Europe with some big steel mills and some fine towns as well as a rich farming country. The censorship is partly off now so I can sketch what has happened since I landed here. Here it is:
“Landed in Bordeaux about May 13 and was shipped to Calais and billeted with the English army. Were armed with British guns, English instructors, etc. Were there about three weeks and were given our U. S. guns again, and sent down to the American sector. We wound up in reserve near Chateau Thierry about June 20th. Didn’t see any real fighting but heard a few of Heinie’s shells.
“When the big attack of July 18th started we were first in reserve and then in active service. Some of it was damned active, too. Once sown by the Vesle river I about kissed my self good-bye, but it was a little too early and I came thru without being touched. We were relieved on the 12th of August and went back for a rest.
“We moved up again to take part in the St. Mihiel drive. It only lasted a few days and then we moved over to start the last big drive that went clear into the Argonne. We started on Sept. 26th, (There was some artillery fire that morning), and were relieved on Oct. 19. Things were pretty hot there at times. I got a chunk of shell thru my raincoat and a dud shell that lit pretty close and scared me out of seven years of growth.
“The work was about the same for each drive — building roads or stringing barbed wire and digging trenches. Of course at times the most important job was dodging Heinie’s H. E. shells. That’s about all there is to my war experiences. Of course I can add a lot of details later (verbally, I hope.).
“Now I’m with the army in Alsace where I suppose I’ll stick until peace is signed. Save a job for me some time in February or March as I am in hopes of being back there by that time.”
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