Thursday, March 8, 2018

March, 1918, First Contact: “The Boche haven’t got me yet!!”

by Captain William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

On March 7, Private Robert Addleton stepped through the door of his home at 6 Holt Avenue in Macon for the first time in more than six months. He was the first member of the 151st Machine Gun Battalion to return from the war. After enlisting April 17, 1917, Addleton had traveled to France with the battalion and ultimately to within 10 miles of the Western Front. Mere days before the 151st entered the front-line trenches, it was discovered that Addleton had been underage at the time of his enlistment. He was sent home with an honorable discharge. While his comrades were overseas receiving their baptism of fire, Addleton went back to work at the Willingham Cotton Mills in Macon. 

Somewhere in France (The trenches near Ancervillier)
March 14, 1918
My dearest daddy,
Your letter received today. I was surely glad to hear from you. I am getting along well and fine. Tom Hensler is getting along just as nicely as can be. So is (Private Weymon Guthrie, Company B; Pvt. Leonard Chandler, Company B) and old Moore (Emory Moore, Company C.) You couldn’t kill him. Tom is just as full of life as ever, keeps you laughing all the time. (Sergeant Ed Williamson, Company A) is with us now. He rejoined us about a month ago I suppose. I was as glad to see him as if he had been my own brother.

Corporal Robert G. Burton’s March 14th letter offers a reassuring version of the war in which he and his fellow soldiers are happy and in high spirits. Perhaps knowing that any correspondence sent home would be widely distributed among family members and shared with the local paper, Burton provides no hint of his location or the fact that Soldiers of his unit had been in the trenches for nearly a week. in the Luneville and Baccarat sectors.

Sectors in the Vosges Front, 1918. Map by Capt. William Carraway from
American Battle Monuments Commission data.