You say the hills ring there every time we gain a victory. Gee whiz! You must get a little bit tired of them sometimes, don’t you? It has been a continued victory for us every since we started in, but we sure earn it, believe me: the kind of life we have to live. There isn’t a day or night that we aren’t under German artillery fire, so to keep away from the shrapnel, etc., we have to sleep underground and talk about mud, rain and cold nights. Wow! But we have overcoats and an extra blanket now, so it isn’t quite so bad. My little dugout is directly behind one of the guns, and every time it fires, rocks, dirt, etc., fall down on me till sometimes I think I’ll go bug house. 

I’ll have to stop a minute I guess and go out and see an airplane fight.  

Well! there’s one more Hun fighting bug that won’t do any more harm. He came over after one of our balloons, but he was clear out of luck. Our guns got him before he could turn around. Every day we see at least two or three air battles and two or three Germans hit the ground every time. Horse races, etc., will be pretty tame to us when we get back.

The other day we had several balloons up, and the Germans tried five times to get one and the last time they succeeded. One of them slid down out of the clouds, burned a balloon and got clear out of the country before we knew what happened. One day at our last position we saw them burn seven. But I suppose the Allies raise just as much thunder with German balloons. Just about daylight this morning we saw a big German sausage poke his nose up over a hill trying to get some observations, when bang! a little Spad plane shot down on her and all we could see was smoke. It must be some sensation to be up 2,000 or 3,000 feet and have one of those gasoline birds tear loose at you with machine guns, burn up your balloon, and then cut loose again at you in your parachute. I saw one of our observers jump five times one morning in about two hours before they got his balloon.

Some people seem to think that Germany has the supremacy of the air. She hasn’t got the supremacy of the air. She hasn’t got the supremacy of anything. I’ll bet she never saw as many airplanes in her whole history as we saw sail over last evening at dusk. Several said they counted 200 and then got all mixed up. Italians, American, English and French, altogether, on a bombing trip. You see, they go over and drop bombs behind the German’s trenches and at the same time our artillery puts over a fast barrage and the doughboys go over the top. Is it any wonder we drive them back? They are making considerable resistance up in this sector, though. More than we have encountered since we have been on the front. We are up pretty close to them for being big guns; up even ahead of the little French 75’s, and they have direct observation on us. Consequently, they make it pretty hot in here once in a while. I’ve laid here several nights and wished I was back home in a good soft warm bed. Every day we can see where our shells light, and see the flash and smoke of the German guns.

I have a pretty good job in the battery now, that of gas sentry. But it makes one feel kind of queer when you stop to consider that the life of every man in the whole battery is in your hands 16 hours out of every 24. There is not so much danger in the day time, though, because most every one is awake. But after night when half of the battery is asleep and the other half is at the guns, one has to be on the job every minute. Believe me, it’s a long old eight hours to spend walking up and down a road in mud up to your ankles, chilled to the bone and shells dropping here and there. Then’s when a fellow thinks about home, and if I ever get out of this O.K., I think little old Sheridan, Wyo., will be big enough to hold me for some time.

Night before last the Dutch shot gas all around us the whole night long, and alarm after alarm sounded all along the line, several batteries being pretty badly gassed. To my mind, about the most blood-curdling sound I ever heard on a still night is that confounded gas alarm. Not only the sound alone, but what it means. It means that there is deadly gas near, and every man that gets two or three good whiffs of it is a goner. I’m always afraid I’ll be too late with it or not loud enough or something and some fellows will be gassed. It isn’t a pleasant sensation at all. They say they find dead Germans with gas masks on and blankets wrapped around their heads to keep away from the gas, but it gets them any way. Some of the boys were up on a hill day before yesterday making a little fire and coming back ran into a small amount of German gas, but none were burned seriously. One of them has a pretty sore neck this morning is all.

(From "In the World War")

Letters Home - More from Clyde E. Kelsey

BORN IN SHERIDAN County, Clyde E. Kelsey lived in Arvada and Sheridan prior to the war, graduating from Sheridan High School. 


He enlisted in the Wyoming National Guard on 21 June 1916 - before war was declared and the guard was nationalized into the 148th Field Artillery. He later transferred to the 146th Field Artillery.


As a private with the 146th, Kelsey say action at Chateau-Thierry, Verdun, and St. Mihiel. Like many of his fellow soldiers, Kelsey was injured by mustard gas - despite his position as gas sentry.


After the war, Kelsey returned to Sheridan for a brief while. He attended aviator school in 1920, but was lost to history shortly afterwards.


If you know Clyde Kelsey's whereabouts after 1920, please contact us at trailend@wyo.gov.   



 State Historic Site

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