Brothers Meet on French Battlefield
Extracts from a World War 1 letter from Lieut. Charles N. McClendon to his father in which he tells of meeting his brother, Lieut. S. S. McClendon, Jr., on the Western Battle front in France:
Oct. 23rd, 1918
“I received your “beaucoup letters from home. You can imagine how greatly I appreciated them. The letters from you I carried to Sidney as he had had no mail in several weeks on account of moving around. Are you surprised that I met him? We have been hoping to meet; when I had a letter from him, and though he didn’t say a word that wasn’t o. k., it enabled me to get him over the phone in about three minutes. We are only about 20 minutes ride from each other so about seven last night I drove over to see him. I stayed ‘till mid-night and we came back in one of their cars. He drove over with me so as he could see exactly where I could be found.
“You’d be mighty proud, father, of your third son if you could have seen him as I did last night. After leaving him 18 months ago as he was starting for the training camp, I find him not the college man of the past, but a sedate young American soldier, wearing well deserved 1st Lieutenant’s bars on his shoulders and two gold stripes on his left arm that signify more than a year’s service in the war zone.
“How interested you would have been to walk with me, in, out of the dark, and find him sitting at the great table, with electric lights flooding charts and diagrams (intricately dismaying to the uninitiated) and with great maps splotched and lined with colored crayon and stuck full of countless vari-colored pins. Surrounded by wireless and telephone messengers and orderlies. Officers, regardless of rank recognize his as the master mind and expert, being assistant chief of railway artillery. He directs fire and gives commands of these heavy guns sending thousands of shells to the German lines with death and destruction. He is a keen and alert modern business man, reporting things to the powers that be, investigating matter over the phone, answering questions, giving orders.
“The responsibility of his position is so clearly evident upon entering the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ of his part of war work, that one need never inquire as to his place among the other officers. I find them all to be his friends, who respect and appreciate him, over him or below him. They are a fine and clever set of men.
“Sitting across the table from him and talking to him, I could see that the past year with its experiences and poise and dignity that few possess.
“Somewhat older in appearance, having a firmness of expression that speaks his absolute confidence in his ability and knowledge of his work. He does not approximately know what he is doing; he knows it definitely, because he has done it all. He is one of the initiated and has had his baptism of fire from the Boche, and knows their worst, but sits quietly and positively in certain knowledge that he can go them several better any day. Great officer! This veteran soldier brother of mine. He is modest, clean, healthy, well set up, will dressed, hardworking, confident and typical American.
I can see this same old analytical Sidney underneath it all, and I know he will return, as all good American boys will, more mature, of better judgment, unbiased in his view point, and capable of washing off the stains and grime of war, forgetting all but that which brings a greater love and appreciation of the joys of home and righteous living.
“In a couple of hours, I go up to the lines again with my company. I am company commander; then for several days we will be where “very interesting things” happen.
“A great deal of love for you all,
Tyler (Tex.) Courier-Times.
See more on Charles N McClendon’s WW1 service here.
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