The Life and Letters of World War I Aerial Observer Lt. Mortimer M. Lawrence – December 1917

Wednesday A.M.

Dec. 12, 1917


Dear Father:-

As I said in my night letter yesterday, we have been informed that we will be commissioned as soon as we get to France.

One of our men went to Washington last week and through a friend (Major Smith) managed to see several of the higher officers in the Signal Corps and the War Dept.  It seems they had lost all trace of us through some mix up down there.  One man thought we were overseas and another that we were still at Fort Sill.  After much trouble they succeeded in locating our papers.  Then the high mogul, McCain the Adjutant-General of the Army, cabled Pershing that we were to be commissioned on arrival.  He also established our status as “cadets” which may not mean $100.00 per month but does mean good accommodations on the trip abroad.

Under the circumstances I didn’t want to go across with practically no money because if we are commissioned there are certain things like collar ornaments, hat cords, etc. which we will have to have at once.  The $50.00 will supply those things and the rest of my equipment I can get out of my pay.

With such uncertainty about what will really happen I hated to ask you for the $50.00, hated to ask you anyway, but I hated worse to land overseas without any money.  Of course I am not exactly broke because we were paid Saturday but out of my $20.00 I have had to buy a supply of tobacco, soap and other little things that are hard to get in France.

We may be here till after Christmas and in that case I will surely try to get home but I am much afraid I will have no chance.  However I will do my best.

I received the notification that the money was at the telegraph office but I have to go to Hempstead, a small town near here to get it.  I will do so tomorrow morning.

Thank you very much for sending me the money.  I no doubt will be able to repay you very soon if we get our commissions.

Lots of love,


John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I

John J. Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I


Dec. 6, 1917

Dear Mother:-


We don’t seem to be learning anything new about our status here and nothing has happened so I am at a loss what to write.

Since I have quit cooking I have been out drilling with the rest of the gang.  We don’t do much, but just enough to keep us from going stale.  Of course we have no rifles or any arms so we have nothing but foot drills and setting-up exercises.  The weather here is pretty good as a rule, cold & snappy of course, but fine for drilling.

Everyone is getting rather impatient because we get no news or information of any kind regarding ourselves, but I don’t know what we can do.

However we aren’t very uncomfortable here, we have a good bunch of fellows and the eats are good, so we really have nothing to holler about.

I hope you liked the pictures.  If you want more let me know.


Love to all,