The Life and Letters of World War I Aerial Observer Lt. Mortimer M. Lawrence – January 1918

No. 1

Det. Aerial Observers



Dear Folks:-

This is not going to be much of a letter for the simple reason that there is nothing to write.  Of course there is lots I’d like to say but it is no use for it will be all cut out.

I just want you to have a letter at the earliest possible moment and to know that I am safe and well.  Of course I will cable too.

Our trip is nearly over and has been a good one.  It has been a little rough and quite cold except when we were in the Gulf Stream.  We have also had lots of fog and mist but that was fortunate rather than otherwise.

I haven’t had a sick moment and have really been having a long enjoyable vacation, for we have been on the way since the day after my last letter from Garden City (the short one).  I hope you received that O.K. because I had to have another man mail it for me.  I was so busy I didn’t get a chance.

Since coming on board I have done nothing but eat and sleep and play auction.  Also I forgot to say I drink tea regularly at 4 P.M. every day.

We have had some enjoyable talks and concerts on board, for we are traveling on a regular liner not a troop transport.  Consequently our accommodations are very good even though they are more crowded than normally.

Our departure from Garden City was very unexpected and very much rushed.  We received orders at 6 P.M. one day, packed and shipped our baggage the next and sailed on the afternoon of the third day.

Owing to our sudden departure there are lots of things in your letters that I haven’t answered and I’ll try to do that now.

I believe I wrote you that Uncle Al didn’t leave for Texas till the 7th.  I called him up the day I was commissioned and told him the good news.

I received all the Christmas packages except the one from Mrs. Wagner.  I intended to write her from Garden City but was unable to so have written here.

The box from the City contained apples, nuts, chocolates and smokes and was very nice.  I appreciate being remembered.

The Red Cross boxes were fine.  Mine was from the Milwaukee Chapter.  They were packed by Montgomery Ward and contained a handkerchief, folding chess & checker game, writing paper & envelopes, pencil, box of candy or salted peanuts, shaving cream, tooth paste & brush, talcum powder, pipe, tobacco, cigarettes and I think a couple of more things I have forgotten.

No I was not peeved because Sis wrote Uncle John, in fact I was very glad for I couldn’t do that myself.  But as it happened his assistance was not needed.

That question of Sister’s about her future relationship to Ruth is rather a leading question.  I think a lot of Ruth and I hope she thinks as much of me.  No doubt she knows that as well as if I had told her but I didn’t think it was fair to her under present conditions to think or feel that she was in any way bound to respect my wishes, so I said nothing.

Gene Hanson is at Galveston and has been made a sergeant.  He will probably win a commission before this is over.

I am like a boy with a new toy I am so pleased with my watch.  Every time I look at it I like it better and it is so small and flat compared with the Ingersoll.

I returned my draft questionnaire without answering any questions just scribbled all over the front that I had been in the regular army since July 14th and was now a 2nd Lieut. A.S. S.R.C.  I was rather disgusted with having to bother with it.  They will probably send another but I’ll never get it, thank the fates.

I am sorry I wasn’t able to return Uncle Mort’s letter.  It sure was interesting.

This letter is almost long enough for the first one.  Will write as often as I can after we land.  Lots of love to all and don’t worry about me.


You will notice on the first page of this letter a number 1.  I intend to keep each letter numbered consequtively [sp] so that you will know whether you receive them all.  Please number yours the same way and tell me if possible how many you have written without numbers.  Love.

This Army Signal Corps photo provides the view from a ship crossing the Atlantic.

This Army Signal Corps photo provides the view from a ship crossing the Atlantic.


Jan. 8, 1918

Dear Folks:-

Am writing this tonight in hopes I can slip it by the Censor.  Also I may not be able to wire tomorrow.

Have been too busy yesterday & today to write and I must get a little sleep tonight.

Talked to Uncle Al on Friday.  He didn’t leave till yesterday.  Let Aunt Mary know I have gone as I promised to come out if I could.

We are sailing on a dandy boat, I saw her this P.M. as I was in charge of taking our baggage down.

Please don’t worry about me, for I’ll be back O.K.  I’ll write just as often as possible.  Take care of yourselves so you’ll all be well when I get back.

Heaps of love,




Please call Harold Schemmel and thank him for the cigarettes which I received today.  Tell him I’ll write.  Also tell Cy, Steve Clark, Warner & Harold that I have gone.

Please don’t forget to write Ruth if I get a chance to cable when I land.

Rec’d my City of Beaver Dam box yesterday & wrote immediately.

Chas. Boomer, Ed Bauer & Pat Galloway of B.D. are all in an Aero Squadron which sails with us.




I am feeling fine, happy to go, and proud as a king of my commission and my new wrist watch which is a peach.


Address me – Lt. M.M. Lawrence

Det. Aerial Observers No. 1.

Aviation Section Signal Corps.

American Expeditionary Forces.


Received at Beaver Dam, Wis.

9 AU HK 14

AF Avaition Depot Garden City N Y 1245 PM Jan 4 th,

T D Lawrence

310 N Center Street.

Beaver Dam, Wisc.

Commissioned today Second Lieutenant Aviation Section Signal Reserve Corps please wire three hundred dollars.

M M Lawrence.

123 PM.