(From In the World War)

Letters Home - Rene Benjamin Farquet

Trail End

BORN IN SWITZERLAND in 1897, Rene Benjamin Farquet was twelve years old when he emigrated to the United States in 1909. First settling in Weston County, Wyoming, the Farquets were a farming family. Before his enlistment in the Wyoming National Guard in 1914, Rene worked the the Jackson Stationery Company in Sheridan. 

Reenlisting in July 1918, First Sergeant Farquet served on the Mexican border before being sent overseas, where he fought in the battles of Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne and Oise-Aisne. 

After the war, Farquet returned to Sheridan. In 1925, he moved to Portland, Oregon, where he managed a stationery store. He later became a printer in Santa Barbara, California, where he died in 1988. 

Farquet's single letter home, published in The Sheridan Post in August 1918, tells of his time at artillery school in Saumur, France. He also describes the sinking of the steamship Tuscania in February 1918.

 State Historic Site

I am sorry for not having written sooner in answer to your letter, but postponed doing so while I was in the battery because our officers were so strict in censoring our mail that almost everything of interest was deleted. Now that I am not connected with a regiment, I will have the opportunity to tell you more about where we are and what we are doing. I left the battery about a month ago and came to Saumur, France to take a course in artillery. This is some place - you have probably heard something of it as it was formerly the great French cavalry schools. Previous to the war, it was one of the most prominent schools in the world, and officers from many countries came here to take instruction in riding. The French have now turned the school over to the Americans as an artillery school, and it is considered the best one we have.

Our instructors are all experienced - men who have seen action - together with a great many French officers who have been in this line since the beginning of the war.

So far as equipment is concerned, we have everything just as it is at the front, and we are supposed to use it as if we were in the front line trenches.

We receive instruction in telephony, telegraphy, wireless and riding. There are a number of large riding halls where we hurdle and practice different stunts in riding. I am proud to say that I have had equitation in the Saumur cavalry school. The city is noted for its monuments, walks and drives. As soon as I can procure a pamphlet telling something of historical interest concerning Saumur, I will send one to you. I was sorry not to write more in regard to the trip overseas, but my first attempt in that direction was so completely censored that very little was left when it reached the states.

I had the opportunity of meeting
[American journalist] Irvin Cobb, who arrived on our transport. He came into our dining hall several times and talked to us about his first trip to Europe which was made during the first year of the war. He sure is good - the best I ever heard. I laughed for a week afterwards at his comical way of putting things. His story [about the Tuscania] in the Saturday Evening Post was told exactly as it happened. I was on deck at the time and saw the whole thing. The Tuscania was not more than five hundred yards and to the right and to the rear of us all day. We could see the soldiers on deck and signaled to them during the day, finding out where they were from and other things of interest. All at once, I heard an awful shock and what was it but the boat nearest us, going down. It sure woke up a few of us and, believe me, I slept with my clothes on and my life-saver close at hand. We minded it less than we might, since we were so near land. The next morning we were in England and tickled to death to put our feet on land.