Showing posts with label Luther B. Otken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Luther B. Otken. Show all posts

Friday, May 28, 2010

Letter of the day, May 28

Camp Merritt
Tues 28th [1918]

Dearest Sister:
Haven't heard from home since I've been here - guess my mail has been misplaced or sent on over. Had a letter from Charlie today - he is well & still getting along O.K.

Hot and sultry up here - we are all feeling the heat, rains nearly every day.

We have all gotten our equipment complete now but the men are not fitted out yet - think we will be here several days longer, so write me care of Camp Merritt.

I put in for commutation of quarters this morning - claiming Mother as dependent - this will amount to almost $60 which I will send home every month for the household expenses. I also made an allotment of $100 per month to you to be deposited with 1st Nat'l Bank of McComb - this is to begin with June pay - don't think I'll need much more than $120 a month over there. When this begins to come in, let to go to pay my debt to you, then save the rest for me.

Miss Hodges is in New York - together with Misses Clark & almost 20 more of the Camp Shelby nurses all being fitted out for foreign service.

Have been over to New York several afternoons & evenings - we are allowed this - so we are back by nine a.m. - and must remain until after dinner - nothing to do here except paperwork - which I have very little to do, & inspection of the men to see that they do not develop any diseases.

I suppose I don't have to say that I see Miss Hodges when I go over - we went to hear John McCormack - the famous Irish singer, Sunday night at the Hippodrome - it was a benefit for one of the Catholic orphanages - he was great - you know he is called America's foremost and favorite singer & he deserves all the praise he gets.

Does Frances get an increase in her salary with this new increase the government ordered for R.R. employees? I don't see why she shouldn't.

Much love to all at home-

[Captain Otken made a notation on the reverse of the first page of the letter, regarding his pay and allotment]:

Captains salary     $200
10% Foreign            20
Commutation            60

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Letter of the day, May 22

[No date on the letter, so we're going with the postmark. Also, one of my favorite things, nice letterhead.]

[May 22, 1918]
Camp Merritt

Dearest Mother:
Got two letters from you this week and that sweet card. Also had a couple of letters from Charlie. Didn't get the first letter you and sister wrote, guess they went on over. Dr. Williams is not in N.Y. now- is up in Conn. [Apparent] hasn't his last naturalization papers so can't get in the army.

Met one of my old college friends on the street in N.Y. yesterday afternoon, he is also in service now.

Very hot up here, humidity is great so we feel the heat very much but at that it is a great deal cooler here than in N.Y.

Got my "commutation of quarters" O.K. - am enclosing check for $230 - Use $60 of this for household expenses & tell sister to put the balance on what I owe her. We have had our final physical exam & everything preparatory is finished now and tomorrow morning, we go to the Port of Embarkation & we will be allowed to write no more letters until we get on the other side. I will leave cards here at the port that will be mailed as soon as we arrive safely over there.

Didn't get out to Camp Dix or Mills - would like to have seen Dr Johnson and Archie B.

Capt Sanderson is the man here that I was with in Camp Shelby.

This big drive doesn't look very favorable but I hope they will be able to stop the Germans before they get much farther.

Well, little Mother of mine, altho I'm going far away across the seas, the day never dawns but what I think of the mother and sisters back home and I hope and pray that some day I can come back once more.

I'm proud of the fact that I'm in this war, proud of the work the Medical Corps & Red Cross is doing and I'm trying to do my full share - hoping that when it is all over and peace comes once more, that this old world will be a better, cleaner place to live in. Goodbye - to you and the girls - all the love in the world  and a kiss for each of you.


Address me.
Capt. L.B. Otken M.R.C.
U.S.A. Base Hospital #22
American Exp. Force
New York N.Y.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Letter of the day, May 9

From our Otken Collection of correspondence. Dr. Otken was a surgeon with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War 1.

U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 22
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Friday, May 9th [1918]

Dearest Mother:
Your letter & the girls' came yesterday, glad to hear from you of course.

Sent the girls some post cards today & a picture I had made to Sister.

Has rained up here the last few days & has been real cool again. Had a letter from Charlie yesterday, sorry I can't go by Washington and see him. Got my commission all right & sent it on to Frances to put with my other papers.

Find this a nice lot of men, majority of them are Masons & everything is very congenial. Had a nice letter from Dr. Lee this morning, I wrote him shortly after I got here.

Sunday one of the Doctors carried me up to his summer home on a little lake about thirty miles north of here. There were six Drs. & their wives out there, all belong to the Base, We went up in auto's [sic]. Had a nice ride and a great dinner then drove back in the evening. It is a beautiful country, lots of small lakes - say a mile or two long and one half to one mile wide. The rich people from here have their summer homes along the shores & it certainly is beautiful.

Twelve of us had to act as pall bearers in a military funeral Monday for Lt. Col. Daum[?], an aviator killed in a fall at Dayton, Ohio.

We are all impatiently awaiting orders to leave here - we expect them before the week is out. Oh, yes, about that wool helmet. All those things [were?] given me when I got here - furnished by the Red Cross, helmet, muffler, gloves, socks, toilet kit etc. so if you have made that one, send it to Charlie he probably hasn't one.

Miss Hodges wrote that a new major had arrived to take Major Crawford's place but Maj. Crawford hasn't been ordered away as yet.

I see where a lot of drafted men are going to Shelby - so they will have lots of work at the Hospital there now.

Col. Baylis wired me congratulations when my commission came, so I wrote & thanked him a few days ago.

Sister wanted to know if [I] was on the surgical service - yes. There will be [illegible] men on the medical service over there, as practically all the cases are surgical.

Much love to all at home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letter of the day: February 8

World War 1 has ended and a surgeon with the American Expeditionary Forces in France is more than ready to go home. This is from the Otken Collection.

Sat Feb 8th 1919

My dear Sister,

Your letter of Jan 11th & two bundles of papers came this week, the first mail I have had from you in two weeks.

We are still living here at Beau Desert in a ward doing nothing but hiking a little every day. However our gang plank list has gone in and we are on the sailing list, so expect to get away from here in the next few weeks.

There is not much sickness here – the flu seems to be over & just the wounded & usual run of cases come in. Thursday night a kerosene stove blew up in one of the wards over at 114 – about eleven thirty and the entire ward burned down in a very few minutes. It was full of patients all amputation cases but all were moved out safely. There was a hard wind blowing & the boys did good work in holding the fire to one ward[.] Two adjoining wards caught fire but were extinguished – only the tar paper roofing being burned.

Dr. Gardner[?] sailed this week for home, so guess he will be back in McComb before many weeks.

I wrote Charlie a couple of letters to Camp Leach that should have reached him by this time.

Several of our men have been detached from the unit this week & assigned to new jobs here in this section – I hope nothing like this will happen to me, I’m ready to go home now.

We are to take only twenty of our nurses home, the rest have to stay here on duty with these hospitals here.

Frances is being relieved from Evac. Hosp. #1 at Toul & will probably start for home in a few weeks – she will most likely go by way of Brest or St Nazaire. When she gets to New York will probably wire me at McComb & begin sending her letters there, so just hold them until you hear from me.

She has had very little work to do up there as the hospital is just about cleaned out. The com. officer there gave a party of the nurses a trip over to Verdun & and the battlefields in ambulances – they go to see all the battle front in that sector. That is about the only thing over here that I have missed that I would really like to see.

If the flu is raging over there it does look like they would get some of these Hospital units back and turn them loose lot of Drs. & nurses just killing time over here when they could be of so much use over there.

Am surprised to hear that Benton is back – doesn’t agree with what Henry Hesse told me – does it.

Hope the 1st of March will find us on the water. All take care of yourselves, expect to be with you soon. Much love to all.


Capt LB Otken
USBH 22,
APO 705 Am.E.F.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cartoon postcard in new Medical Museum collection

Otken Collection
Postcard sent by Luther B. Otken, a World War 1 surgeon in the American Expeditionary Forces, stationed in France. This collection of WW1 correspondence was donated to the National Museum of Health & Medicine last month.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Letters Home from the Front

A few weeks ago we received a small collection of letters from the descendants of a World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces surgeon. I've been scanning them so we can give digital and printed copies back to the family. Today I came across one that I've transcribed to post here. The surgeon is Luther B. Otken. He served in France and in the US. I realize this isn't as good as the handwritten letter, but it was multiple pages. I will post a scan of a page here and there so you can get a feel for the real thing, but in the meantime, here's one letter home.

"Bordeaux Sunday Sept 22 1918
Dearest Mother,

I didn’t get my letter from home this week –however I got a bundle of papers from Sister.

Everything running along in its usual manner now. Work going very smoothly. We got in a lot of new patients this week, among them a lot of wounded German prisoners – all came from the St. Mihiel fight a rather stolid ignorant looking lot, some old, some mere boys, one a Lieut, looks to be about nineteen years old. About half of them came in on litters, badly wounded, our boys had certainly worked on them with hand grenades. All my boys are getting along nicely – all getting well. One of the nurses in BH114, the unit next to us, died Friday from pneumonia – don’t know what part of the States she came from.

Our boys won a great victory at St. Mihiel + today we got word that Metz is just about to fall – I think the morale of the German army is fast weakening.

I operated a second time on my face case this week and completed the job, think I am going to get a fine result.

On some of the field cards that came in on the wounded in this last convoy, I noticed where Maj. Ney was the operator in Evacuation Hospital #4 so guess he is over here now.

We have been having a quite a lot of rain and it has turned much cooler – the nights are cold. The days feel like our fall days. Makes me want to be back there again out in the pine hills once more.

We have been in France three months now – the 19th , in one way it seems a long time in another it seems that we got here but yesterday.

I don’t hardly think we will win this war before Xmas but I don’t think it will even last another year, the Allies are hitting them at all points and are giving them no rest so that the German reserves are just about used up.

Hope I get some mail from you next week, we are about due some more mail from the States.

Hope all at home keep in their usual good health. Give my best to Dr’s. Inirs[?] + Reahew.

Love to all at home

Capt LB Otken M.C.
US Base Hospital 22"