December 1917 — Boston to South Carolina
Charlie Bell left Massachusetts on December 8th, 1917. The letters that would follow would be transcribed by his mother and preserved for future generations. This preservation has kept intact a marine's journey through the 1st great war of the 1900's. Through these letters the reader can feel what the times were like and the atmosphere of war. What a great gift for a mother to offer future generations.The letters can be seen in their entirety. See the attached image. Through these letters you can watch his progress through the major battles in WWI until his discharge on August 10th, 1919.
From Massachusetts to Paris Island South Carolina. Private Charlie Bell began a journey that over 4,000,000 other Americans would make. On the train trip down to the southern states it was obvious that civil rights were very much an issue by the language in the letter. Black and white separation was not only commonplace, it was accepted.
December 12th 1917
Paris Island meals----"For breakfast this morning we had corn flakes, with milk and beans. Coffee without cream and sugar and dry bread. This noon we had lima beans, hashed potatoes, salmon, bread and tea. Of course no butter, sugar or cream. The stuff isn't bad, but the worst part comes from washing your dishes. We all wash them in a tub of hot water and wipe them with a towel, but as Eddie said, the towel is rotten but the time you get through."
Charlie's time at Paris Island includes descriptions of drill, the food , the surroundings and his home sickness comes through in his letters. He is one of those rare individuals that not only conforms to the life but thrives in it. At one point he asks his mom to send him pumice stone for his teeth. Mail is of utmost importance to him and all of his comrades!
January 11th, 1918
"I got $12.88 pay-day, sending $10.00 home and have about $1.50 left till next pay-day. Next time I expect about $27.00."
Feb 17th, 1918
Charlie and his unit were transferred to Quantico, Virginia.He was upset because he and another fellow had acted as Corporal but their stripes were denied them when transferred and given to someone else.
March 23rd, 1918
"At Sea" and closing in on France. Charlie writes about the band playing and seeing them off from both Paris Island and Quantico. He wrote that sea sickness had bypassed him. They had all received shots on board and some of the guys got sick. From now on all letters will be censored.