Letter from Will Mitchell
of Frost, Navarro County, Texas


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Frost Soldier Under Shell Fire Eighteen Days Sergt. Will Mitchell Led Signal Detachment in Thickest of Fight Around Verdun

Tanlay, Yonne, France Dec 3, 1918
Dear Mother and Sis:
Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and happy. I have just finished a two weeks hike, beginning near Verdun and ending here. We didn't have time to receive any letters and writing was out of the question. I am here to tell you that I was just about worn out when we go there. We didn't do any fighting around Verdun but would have gone on the line there Nov 18. We made our drive on the Champagne Front about halfway between Rheims and Verdun.

Our division made a fine showing. We were under shell fire for eighteen straight days. During those days Fritz gave us everything he had in the way of frightfulness. I got a little gas the first night up but not enough to send me to the hospital. It shortened my wind until I had a hard time keeping up with the advance at times. I am all O.K. though now. The thing was terrible at times and again it wasn't so bad. Just an occasional shell but always enough to let you know that Fritz was somewhere not so far in front of you. Though in several fierce bombardments, I had my toughest time on the afternoon of October 12. I had charge of the signal detachment with the first battalion. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon we went over the top with the hill overlooking the Aisne river, in front of Attigney. My orders were to stay with the Major, and the Major led his battalion forward. Our advance the past few days had been so rapid that our artillery had been unable to keep up with us, so we went over the top without artillery support I don't know how to describe it, but if there is such a thing as hell, on earth, we had it that afternoon. For a half mile we moved forward in the face of a withering barrage of high explosive gas and shrapnel and the last three or four hundred yards, machine guns and snipers played tag with our insurance policies. One shell hit close enough to me to knock dirt all over me with _____ Had it gone off they might have found my dog tag, I don't know. I am lucky indeed.
Sergt Will Mitchell

Headquarters Co 144 Inf 36th Division A.E.F.

The Frost Star - Vol 28 No 39. Jan 12, 1919 James E. Kelly, Publisher

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