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Paul M. Spear First World War correspondence

 Collection — Box: WWI 6, Folder: 12
Identifier: 2017-275-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains correspondence written by Corporal Paul M. Spear, American Expeditionary Force, to his family during the First World War. The correspondence includes seventeen letters to his parents and brother and begins while he is stationed at Camp Mills, New York in 1917 and continues through his deployment on the front lines in France until serving with the American Army of Occupation after the war in 1919. Some of the letters do not have corresponding envelopes and two of the letters are misdated; December 26, 1916 should be 1917 and February 2, 1917 should be 1918. They have been placed in the proper chronological order.

Also included is one postcard dated August 1917, four photocopies of letters from CPL Spear, and one photocopy of General John J. Pershing's farewell letter to the soldiers, signed by Cpl. Spear as "copy furnished to..."

The photocopied letters from Cpl. Spear include one page to his mother dated October 15, 1918, and three others that are not conclusively together as part of the same letter, with only one dated December 4, 1917 to "Cush."

The original correspondence begins by discusses training, equipment issued such as rifles and uniforms, and his job. He made it to France by November 1917 and said the camp is fine and comfortable, discussing the weather but not complaining. On March 31, 1918 Pvt. Spear mentions being a veteran, being on his "second hitch on the front," but "it isn't nearly as bad as I supposed it would be either." He continues to discuss how good he has it at the front; comfortable quarters, good food, and "no particular danger." He does mention that when it gets warmer the boys shed their shirts, "except when there is danger of mustard."

Most of the correspondence declares Cpl. Spear's comfort and entertainment, even going to town for boxing matches and playing baseball, unless they "have to transact some business with Berlin." After the armistice, he marches across Belgiuma and Luxembourg into Germany and discusses the trip and the accomodations in hotels. He also mentions the flu back home, referring to the Spanish influenza outbreak, thankful his parents haven't gotten it.

Cpl. Spear's unit was supposed to turn in their horses but kept them, presumably because Gen. Pershing was coming to inspect his division. His last letter describes the drill and continued training conducted in Germany in 1919 and some reminiscence of the tour of duty, including staying at a French Castle while crossing the Meuse to Sedan that formerly was used as a German general's headquarters.


  • 1917 September 14 - 1919 March 2


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Corporal Paul Millard Spear, American Expeditionary Forces (1/30/1897 - 6/15/1966) was born in Spencer, Indiana to his parents Elmer Curry and Sarah Alice who lived in Worthington, IN and worked or owned a creamery during his service in the First World War. Cpl. Spear served with Battery F, 150th Field Artillery, 67th Brigade, 42nd Division of the AEF and was trained at Camp Mills, New York, remaining with his unit throughout his service. He was deployed to France by November 1917 and saw a great deal of action at the front, though according to his letters, being a part of the Battery was very comfortable and low in danger. Spear was promoted to Corporal early in 1918, at least by July. After the armistice in November 1918, his unit travelled through Belgium and Luxembourg into Germany as part of the American Army of Occupation.

Battery F stayed at the Hotel Meyer-Villa-Bismarck in Neuenahr, Germany as they drilled, trained, simulated gun fire and gasing, and tended to their horses. A "Battery Book" is mentioned in Cpl. Spear's correspondence and is called "Under the Rainbow." It can be found at Harvard University or online at


.1 Linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence from Cpl. Paul M. Spear, AEF, to his parents and brother during the First World War.


This collection is arranged by material type and chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of David Spear.

Finding Aid for the Paul M. Spear First World War correspondence
Andrew Harman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States