State Historic Site
BORN IN CALIFORNIA, Missouri, in 1894, Aubrey Boggs Crawford was your typical World War One Army recruit. He was white. He was unmarried. He worked in a low-paying job. He was of medium height and medium build, and had no distinguishing marks about his person.
Inducted in June 1918, Crawford was a lowly infantry private when he went overseas - just another soldier destined to go "over the top" of a trench "Somewhere in France."
Fortunately for us, the future newspaper editor wrote two letters about his experiences overseas; experiences which gained him both scars and medals - including the Purple Heart.
The following excerpts from his letters were published in The Sheridan Post, the newspaper for which Crawford served as advertising manager shortly before he was called into service.
5 September, 1918, Co. A, 160th Infantry, Somewhere in France
Dear old friends: Well, here I am in France. I should have written to you before this, but the difficulty has been to find time, for I have been on the go pretty much ever since I left the good old town of Sheridan.
This part of the world is entirely different from what I had pictured in my mind. It is a great country, but the customs and habits of the people seem to be behind the times. For instance, the people wear wooden shoes and oxen are still used for teaming purposes. My notion is that the United States was ahead of this country before Columbus ever discovered it.
To give you an idea of just how rapidly Uncle Sam is handling his fighting men: We were at Camp Lewis seventeen days, Camp Kearney six days, Camp Mills four days, and then embarked for overseas. So it only took about six weeks from the day I departed from Sheridan to land me in England.
We have difficulty in getting any real news. We are at present quartered in a stone barn about a mile from a small town. We go about a quarter of a mile to our meals. We are close enough to the front to hear the big guns anyway. We are all keen to get over where the real excitement is.
You may rest assured that I am literally obeying your instructions to "Keep Old Glory Off the Ground," and I will continue to do so even when I go over the top.
These Yankee boys are all right. We are all on the bit and rarin' to go and if they will only turn us loose it will not take long to wind this war thing up and come home.
I have written about all the censor will let through and must close. I shall expect all of you to write to me as well as all the rest of my old friends in Sheridan.
15 October 1918, AEF Base Hospital, Somewhere in France
Dear Old Friend - I am writing just a few lines to tell you why you have not heard from me in the past few weeks. First, I have been busy moving from one place to another. It seemed impossible to write to anyone.
After roaming over Europe and wading through France, I finally reached the front and had the actual adventures I had longed for before I left Sheridan.
On Friday morning, September 27th, at 5:55 o'clock, I went over the top for the first time, and my experience is beyond my power to tell in words. I leave to your imagination this situation until I get home and can sit down and try to picture to you what seemed then to me to be a brief dash through the essence of ten thousand hells.
On Friday night, the 27th of September, the Huns sent over a shrapnel which struck in my vicinity and has put me out of the game, I fear for all time. Splinters caught me in the right arm. At present I am in the hospital and have been ever since the occurrence.
I am told that an order has been made whereby all the hopeless and difficult cases of injury will be returned to the United States for scientific treatment, looking toward rehabilitation of the wounded insofar as the skill of experts can make it possible. In this the hopes of many are centered. Since my name is on the list I expect to be on the high seas, homeward bound in the near future.
As I understand it, we are to be placed in some eastern hospital and treated until we are able to get around somewhat after the fashion we did before injury. Aside from my pain and misery, I am receiving the best of treatment and am fairly cheerful.
On my arrival in America I will wire you my address and I want you to write me as often as your time will permit.
(From "In the World War")