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Mason County Memories

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WWI History Column Dave Petersen As we approach Memorial Day I have dusted off some copies of old clippings that deal primarily with accounts sent back from our local Mason County boys who fought in World War I. News traveled at a slower pace and there was a closeness within the County between families. Everyone was in "it" together and news was anxiously awaited and printed prominently in the pages of the Ludington Daily News where the clipping originated. Young men made up most of the enlisted and drafted as observed by Roland Porter who wrote home to say " We have all that we want to eat. Two thirds of the men are between 18 and 19 years old. We have a fine time. Our Corporal is a little Irishman but he is a good one. We get bawled out every 15 minutes but he is good about it. You may not hear from me again for two or three weeks. Been Uniformed for two days; will send home a picture when I get some money." The drain of manpower was felt at home as evidenced by letters home from Joseph and Jerome Bethka to their father. " I hope that you have good crops this year and if it is necessary use all of my money for help." Joseph writes " Well father it was bad news for me to hear that you are now all alone. I know that the two farms are too much for you but do as much as you can and we will straighten it all up again when I get back." Ivan Hamilton writes " I was under fire again last night. I lay flat on my tummy for over an hour while the shells went whistling over our heads. A fellow feels contempt for the Huns but for all their shelling last night no one got hurt, though we could feel the force of the explosion, the shells fell so near us." Every generation it seems feels the impact of the wills of nations as they clash, and rains havocs on the lives, hopes and dreams of it's citizens. Over the next couple weeks I am featuring those Mason County Soldiers who fought in World War I. If you have any stories or photographs to share with our readers about a family member who fought in the War to end all Wars please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or email at davp@blackcreekpress.com or write in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431. please include your contact information. Pic1 A camouflaged ship as seen and photographed by Herman Schmock while in the Merchant Marines. A local boy; Private J.A. Dunne writes home to say " Camouflaged ships look as though a lot of drunken painters had been at work. They were painted black, gray, dark and light blue, made in curves to look like waves. They say that in a very light fog they look just like waves on the ocean." Pic2 Amos Johnson wrote home to say that when they got to France they were all a bit lonesome. "It is Sunday and there is nothing to do but write letters and play games like football and baseball. All of the boys chipped in and bought some chickens and rabbits. Talk about Dinner! It was fine. We also picked a few blackberries along the road and the cooks made blackberry pie." Pic3 Carl Knudson's picture was taken a half-hour before he boarded ship to head over to France. He wrote to his aunt to say that he had gained 20 pounds and that he was anxious to get over there and show the Huns what this 202 pounds of Yankee could do. Pic4 Vern Hackert was with the Company E 4th ammunition train in France when he wrote home "We came over some roads where heavy fighting has been going on. We are living in small pup tents and eating Uncle Sam's good grub. Some of the boys were up close to the front last night on Detail and some shells burst close to them but none of them were hurt." Pic5 Warren Fluery was in the Aviation Service when he wrote home to an Aunt to tell her that he had enlisted in the motor corp. but transferred because he thought ground work would be too tame. " For goodness sake don't tell Mother I'm going over she would worry herself sick. " Pic6 Trench Warfare was the name of the style of fighting during WWI Pic7 Moving the troops circa 1917 style

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