Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Centennial at the Grass Roots: Great War Teaching Aids from the First Division Museum at Cantigny

The First Division Museum at Cantigny provides a wide range of aids for teachers who are trying to give their students some appreciation of the American experience of World War I. The resources are constantly being added to, but what is available — mostly online — is impressive including the story of Veterans/Armistice Day, a history trunk of a typical WWI Doughboy, and resource packs that include a great collection of letters and photos from 1st Division veteran Max Ottenfeld, who served in France.

The Soldier's Favorite Day:  Pay Day

Here are a few samples from Max's correspondence:

Well I hope this letter will find you all well and in the best of health. For myself I can say that I am feeling pretty fine considering where I am at. I bet you will be surprised when you find out that I am in a hospital, but don’t worry because by the time you get this letter I will be well and back to my outfit a long time. I was gassed Oct. 9 but didn’t go to the hospital until the 12th. I expect to be out in a week or so because I didn’t get it bad. You can see that I am feeling pretty good by the way I write this letter. I am up and walking around and you ought to see me at “chow” time, I can’t get enough to eat s a [?] continually kick. All I wish is that I was back to my outfit and then I would be all right. I left them 12th and the next day was to be pay day so I am out of luck for some money, but I don’t need it here and besides the month is almost over and I’ll have two months coming instead of one. Since I wrote last, I have been through h-- a good many times but still am alive and kicking. I’ve been over the “tops” a good many times since then and have seen all of the worst horrors of the war. Seeing dead and wounded now is nothing new to me.

Pvt. Max Ottenfeld, 18th Inf., 1st Division AEF
15 October 1918

Digging Trenches in France

Visit the museum's website page for educators at:

Or contact:

Melissa Tyer
First Division Museum Educator

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