John (Jack) Gault Stevenson Grandfather Jack with my Aunt Sally >
My mother's father died when she was only three years old so she never had the opportunity to know him. Fortunately her mother saved photographs and a variety of letters and documents. One of the items saved and handed down was a box that contained about 90 letters that he had written home to her while he was stationed in France during World War I. There was also a notebook with all of his military orders and official letters.
His early letters said "Somewhere in France" and "Somewhere else in France" because all of the letters were being censored to make sure that they didn't divulge anyone’s exact location.
I was able to determine where the letters were written based upon the date of the letter and comparing them to a timeline that I had created by reviewing his military orders and seeing where he was stationed on various dates.
His letters give us a brief glimpse into some of his interests and observations along with what he was doing. He said that he was unable to write any details about the training that he was receiving but that it was very interesting and that he would tell about it when he got back home. He included a lot of details about his living accommodations and there was even a sketch of one of his rooms at Is Sur Tille.
There were numerous updates on his increasing weight during the voyage over and the first few months of training. His weight went back down once he started walking several miles a day around the ordinance depots. I have an artillery shell casing that he brought back home. Other letters commented on the news that the family back home was moving to a new house or of the death of a friend or neighbor.
Since my mother was not born until over a year and a half after his return I am very happy that he was safely managing ordinance well away from the front lines.
I have found almost every available genealogical record about my grandfather but his letters are the only things that give us any insight into him as a person.
Portions of the above were taken from Jeffrey Bockman's book
John G. Stevenson's journey began:
He left Camp Merrit in New Jersey on orders to report to Camp Genicart in Bordeau, France. He crossed the Atlantic on the ship US Henry R. Mallory that left from New York City.
Here is the Menu for 14 March 1918
Paul Henderson was a friend before the war. They did not get to work together until later in the war. After the war they worked together at the beginning of the air mail service.
They are both in the WWI Officers photograph.