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Sale 38 Lot 1130

WORLD WAR I ARCHIVE OF CAPT. CHARLES A. WILLIAMS A fine war-date letter archive of Capt. Charles A. Williams, Ordnance Department who served in Europe from December 1917 through the summer of 1919, mainly in France. Williams entered the service as a Lieutenant due for the Intermediate Ordnance Depot #4 located at Camp Foecy in the city of Tours (one of roughly 25,000 American troops), and left the service with captain's bars. The lot consists of 36 letters written between December 15, 1917 and July 7, 1919, 134 pp., most accompanied with an envelope canceled by the Army Postal Service. The correspondence is entirely written to Williams' mother, and details the adventures of a barrel-chested Brooklynite seeing Europe for the first time from the relative safety of the rear, and provides interesting insights both into Williams and a United States at war. Williams' tour was mainly one of safe minutiae, in part: "[December 15, 1917] ...I sleep on my cot for which I had no trouble obtaining a nice mattress and pillow on memorandum...am in a small wooden hut...", but at least part of Williams clearly itched for battle: "[February 13, 1918]...my hopes are high and it looks as though the way might be opening up for me to get where I can feel that I am taking a little personal thrust at the enemy...". Williams never saw the enemy, but did have several scrapes with danger, including when lightning struck his arms depot and started a gasoline fire, in part: "[July 18, 1918]...by the time I covered that short distance the men were all at the spot with their firefighting apparatus, but the gasoline was shooting flames and the place was a roaring furnace...". The highlight of Williams' tour of duty was his selection to help run the United States' Army of Occupation, headquartered in Antwerp: "[May 6, 1919]... this Antwerp job is the best thing that has happened to me yet in the Army...". Perhaps most interesting historically is Williams' impression of African American enlisted troops stationed at the depot, in part: "[March 31, 1917]...It certainly seems as though the South must have sent all her sons over here... There is a contingent of negroes here... They are a labor company and handle heavy artillery ammunition, and you should see how gingerly the handle the big ones...". The lot includes several relics, including Williams' circular dog tag, captain's bar, and collar decorations, as well as a 22" x 15" flag (red background with white middle square adorned with central blue star), the official menu for "Christmas Day 1918" at the Officers' Mess, several 3" x 5" b/w photographs of damaged buildings in Tours, and a 1918 YMCA 3 ?" x 4 ?" Christmas Card, with a printed inscription: "A thousand leagues separate us, but do not divide our Christmas Day", boldly signed "Charlie". Usual toning and folds, else overall very good to fine condition .
Estimate $ 400-600

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