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

Fort Sill,

Sept. 23rd

Dear Folks:-

Well the suit case arrived yesterday noon and everything was O.K.  Thank you for all the trouble you took in packing it, also for the chocolate papers, etc.

The cookies also came and were very welcome.  We all enjoyed them.  Thank you and come again.

Yesterday afternoon we went to Medicine Park for our usual Saturday afternoon swim and of course we had a good time.  We expect to go again this afternoon.

The weather sure is fine down here.  Of course it gets pretty warm in the middle of the day but not excessively so but it is bright and sunshiny practically all of the time.  It is a funny thing, most every day the sun goes down in a bunch of clouds but inside of an hour the clouds are all gone and the stars all out.

There isn’t much to do around here evenings so we have taken to wandering around the reservation for two or three hours after mess.  We are way off by ourselves so it takes at least a half hour to walk any place but it is good exercise and passes the time away.

Of course when we get into our permanent quarters and get the electric lights we can work in the evening; but, as the quarters we occupy have no lights yet, we have to do all our work during the day.

Things are going along nicely in our work.  We start a new course tomorrow, a class in mapping and I am one of the goats: that is I have been picked as one of the instructors.  I don’t care much about the job but I can’t very well get out of it.

I hope you are all well.  Please take good care of Huz and Buz.

I am feeling fine and eating lots.

Love to all,



Swimming was a popular pastime at Fort Sill.

Sept. 13, 1917.


Dear Folks:-

Received your letter last night and it seems mighty good to hear from you again.  I hope you put all the Citizens from the 1st in the suitcase.  Also when you have read them please send me the Cosmo and the Metro.

Everything is going along fine here.  We are working mostly on radio both theory and practice but we can stand lots of work on that as it is slow and rather hard to pick up.

I am sorry everyone expects so much of me for as Mrs. Mills says it is rather hard to live up to but I am doing my best and that is all anyone can do.

Uncle John may be able to help me later but even the President himself could do nothing for me right now, it is all up to me.

Today we had our first taste of observing work.  Six of us were detailed to go over to the 8th Artillery on the range and spot hits for a while more to find out what was wanted than for any other reason.  Of course today we were on the ground with the battery using Field Glasses and when we really get to work we will be in the air above the target.

I can hardly wait for the time when I will take my first flight, but I suppose it will come soon enough when you consider all we have to do before that time.

I have lots of work to do tonight so will call this off.

Love to all,



Fort Sill, Okla.,

Sept. 9, 1917.

Dear Folks:-

Well here it is Sunday again and it doesn’t seem more than a day or two since we were all in Minneapolis.

I don’t know exactly what I wrote you in my last letter so maybe I’d better start from the beginning and tell the whole thing all over.

Tuesday morning started off as usual.  About nine o’clock I received a phone call to report to the 41st Headquarters, to the Commanding Officer.  He read me a telegram from Gen. Carter of the Central Dept. which ordered each regimental commander to send to the School for Aerial Observers at Fort Sill one man who in his opinion was the best fitted man in the regiment for that work.  Capt. Pearson recommended me and that was all there was to it.  There wasn’t another man questioned.  I answered a few questions about education, military training and knowledge of photography and radio-telegraphy.  The C.O. also asked me if I wanted to go to the school.  Of course I said, “Yes” because

I really did want to go and besides if I had refused it would have cooked my goose as far as the 41st was concerned.

I received my orders about eleven o’clock and went to the quartermasters and got transportation.  I was also furnished with 50¢ a meal for the length of my trip but had to buy my own sleeper.

I had dinner at the Hanson’s and left about 9:40.  My train left St. Paul at eleven o’clock.  I took the Rock Island as far as Kansas City.

I landed in Des Moines about 8 the next morning and had about an hour for breakfast.  From there the trip was on local trains and I changed at Allerton at noon where we had twenty minutes for lunch.  We didn’t reach Kansas City till 6:30 P.M. and such a dirty trip I never had in all my life.

Just as luck would have it Art Nugent had a date but he & Bill came down to the station and I saw them for about half an hour.

I was supposed to leave K.C. on the Frisco at 11:40 which wouldn’t get me into Oklahoma City till 4:45 P.M. but I managed to get a sleeper on the 11:30 Frisco, a faster train, and reached Oklahoma City at 12:35.  We were 1 ½ hours late so I missed the 12:05 for the Fort and had to lay over till 6:00 P.M.

On the train here I met a man from New York and two from Pennsylvania all bound for the school so we joined forces.  It was lucky for we landed here about an hour late at 10:45.  The Aviation Camp is about three miles from the station but we managed to bribe a man to take us over.  Then we woke a man up and got some cots and slept on the porch.

This is some reservation.  There must be about 50,000 acres in it and there are a big bunch of troops here, regulars & national guard.  Besides there is a National Army cantonment here.  So you can see we will have some gang of men but they are scattered out so it isn’t noticable.

Practically every National Guard regiment and every regiment of Regulars in the country is sending one man to these Schools for Observers but they are not all being trained here.  We have about 40 men now and I don’t believe there will be more than 50 if that many.

This aviation camp is brand new and not yet completed.  At present we are living in Officers quarters which are not entirely finished but we have the same kind of mess as at Fort Sheridan.  The Major in command is trying to get us 75¢ per day for mess and $100.00 per month pay but I don’t know if he will get it.  I sure hope so.

So far we haven’t done any work but we start tomorrow.  What our course will be I don’t know but I will tell you when I find out.

There is a summer resort at Medicine Park about 12 miles from here and every day we have been there swimming.  They load about 16 of us on a motor truck with boards for seats and away we go.  That is the way we go to town too.  Lawton is the nearest town, about 3 miles and the typical Southern town.  I don’t care for the place.

Most of the fellows here are National Guardsmen but they are a good bunch.

There weather is warm here but not oppressive and I haven’t felt the heat specially.

I really don’t know what to write you.  If there is anything you want to know I will try and answer it for you.

If you give Parker anything for the Citizen make it plain only one man was chosen from each regiment because I might as well get my share of recognition.

Love to all,


Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Ft Snelling Minn 125 PM Sept 4

TD Lawrence

Beaver Dam, Wisc.

I leave for FortSill Oklahoma to report to school for aerial observers to be safe I am borrowing twenty dollars from M P Hanson please send same to him this is quite an honor as I was chosen as best fitted man in regiment for school will write details.

MM Lawrence