York Soldier gassed in France
On November 29, 1918, Cornelius L. Stambaugh wrote back home from a military hospital in Toul, France, where he was recovering from being gassed, to his friend Daniel Hildebrand. He sent the letter in care of the Gazette and Daily, where Stambaugh thought Hildebrand still worked.
Unfortunately, Hildebrand had passed away, but his widow shared the letter with the newspaper, allowing York County to hear from its native sons.
Dear Dan: Since I have not written to you for over six months, or very near that long, I suppose you think I have been pushing up the daisies somewhere in France. However, I have been so blamed busy that I have hardly been able to keep up my correspondence with my relatives.
I have been in some of the fiercest scraps the 28th division has been in. I went clean through the Chateau Theiry drive without a scratch up till the night before the division was relieved, and that night the Dutchmen sent so much gas over, and I was so busy, I couldn’t help being gassed, and of course I had to get a little of it into my lungs and was sent to the hospital.
I belonged to the signal platoon of the 110th regiment. I have done anything from operating telephones, telegraphs, both the regular wire outfit, the ground telegraph, and the wireless. I also have used the flashlight system of telegraphy, and also have been shooting trouble, that is repairing wires in the heaviest kind of shellfire. I also have acted as a messenger on foot, and in an auto, or side car.
Since I have been gassed I have been spending my time in four or five hospitals recuperating. At present I am attached here as a clerk for one of the doctors. I am quickly becoming proficient at taking temperatures, counting pulses, bandaging all kinds of wounds, as well as taking care of all the patients medical records and all other paper work, and anything else that comes up in a large hospital.
Well Dan, there is plenty of wine, beer and cougnac Pronounced con-yak over here). That cougnac is a composition that has a taste like scat [moonshine]. Believe me, it has a knock like scat.
Well Dan, how are things going at the Gazette? I have not seen one for so long, that I don’t believe I will know what one looks like any longer. Send me an issue as a Christmas present, won’t you.
Have you seen anything of the old gang lately, if so, let me know how they are?
I am situated at Toul. It is one of the few nice cities of France. There are two cathedrals here. One is a real large one, the other, a real small one. The town is surrounded by a heavy wall, and a wide deep moat. The hills around the town look as innocent as can be yet the comprise one of the strongest forts in the world. I have seen Boche [disparaging term for German] aeroplanes fly over the city, and a few seconds later come tumbling to the ground a mass of flames.
Well I hope you will excuse this scribbling, as I am in a hurry. It is about bed time. Hoping to hear from you real soon. I remain,
Cornelius L. Stambaugh.