Worthy Son: Harold Loud’s Military Training, Part 5

Part 5.  Gunnery Schools, Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas, and Taliaferro Field, Fort Worth, Texas, April-July 1918     

Introduction 

The next phase of Harold Loud’s training involved gunnery instruction at Camp Dick, in Dallas, Texas, and Taliaferro Field, near Fort Worth, Texas.  At these two locations he practiced both ground and aerial gunnery and learned about the operation of the machine guns he would be expected to operate in combat.

During World War I, the areas around Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas, were quickly developed as aviation training fields.  In Dallas, two training fields were developed: Love Field and Camp Dick.  Love Field was a flight training field located six miles northwest of Dallas; it remains in existence today as a commercial airport.  Camp Dick was a training camp set up in the Fair Park area east of Dallas; the Cotton Bowl stadium is located in modern Fair Park.  Love Field was a flying field, but Camp Dick was not.  Camp Dick was used primarily has a holding camp for aviators who had completed one or more phases of their training and were awaiting assignments to their next stations.  It also provided facilities for gunnery instruction.

Three separate fields constituted the Taliaferro Field complex.  Taliaferro Field #1 was known as Hicks Field; it was located about 15 miles north of Fort Worth.  Taliaferro Field #2 was Benbrook Field; it was located about ten miles south of Fort Worth.  Taliaferro Field #3 was known as Barron Field; it was located about ten miles southwest of Fort Worth.  These fields had initially been constructed as training fields for the Royal Canadian Air Force, which had requested that the U. S. government provide training fields to be used during the winter months.  However, once the fields were constructed, the American government used these fields to train its own aviators.

Harold Loud was initially assigned to Camp Dick, where he received instruction in gunnery and then served briefly as a supervisor of one of the gunnery complexes.  He was in training at Camp Dick for nearly six weeks, from the 30th of April until the 9th of June.  Then he was assigned to Hicks Field (Taliaferro Field #1) where he continued his training in aerial gunnery.  He began with gunnery training on the ground and then transitioned to aerial gunnery, shooting at targets on the ground and nearby lakes from an aircraft.  His training at Hicks Field extended for another three weeks, from the 9th until the 30th of June.  He was then sent back to Camp Dick to await orders sending him to an operational assignment.

While he was at Camp Dick and Hicks Field, he kept active socially, even attending a dance at the Dallas Country Club.  With so many training complexes and so many other aviators in such close proximity, it is not surprising that he developed an extended network of male and female friends.  He certainly must have enjoyed the opportunity to explore the Dallas social scene, especially in this time of intense military activity and movement.

He paid special attention to two young women during his brief time in Oklahoma and Texas.  The first of these young women was Mina Norris, whose family lived in Tulsa.  He had met Mina at the Galvez Hotel in Galveston while he was in training at Ellington Field; he mentions her but does not give her name in letters he wrote to his family on 27 January and 4 February.  Then, when he was departing Fort Sill for Camp Dick at the end of April, he called her long distance from Oklahoma City and received an invitation to visit her in Tulsa, an event he describes in the letter to his family dated 30 April.  Mina Norris was the daughter of W. C. Norris, who owned a company that made specialized equipment for oil drilling rigs.  Less than two weeks later, while he was in gunnery training at Camp Dick, he met Adele Volk, of Dallas, Texas.  He mentions their social activities frequently during the next two months, mentioning her in eight letters he wrote home between 12 May and 8 July.  Adele was the daughter of Leonard Volk, co-owner of one of Dallas’ most successful shoe and clothing stores.  By the time he received orders overseas, he had been seeing Adele frequently, and the relationship between them had become serious.  Unfortunately, his departure for his overseas assignment prevented any further developments.

His involvements with these two women indicate that Harold Loud was a very sociable and personable young man.  That he was able to establish meaningful relationships with what must have been two very attractive and desirable young women in the Tulsa and Dallas communities while he was undertaking intensive gunnery and flight training shows that he definitely appealed to the fairer sex and that he was not afraid to take the initiative in his social and military activities.  Coming from a family whose wealth had been earned through hard work and industriousness, his background and upbringing must have appealed to these two young women and to their families, who had earned their fortunes in similar fashion.

Finally, after a week at Camp Dick, on July 10th he received orders to travel to Hoboken, New Jersey, where he would be boarding a ship for France, a voyage to a land from which he would not return.

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Camp Dick

Dallas, Texas

April 30, 1918

Dearest Family:

I know you are wondering why I have not written before this, telling you about Camp Dick.  The reason is that I have only just arrived here this morning.  I have been having the most wonderful time and aside from railroad fare and one day’s hotel bill my expenses were nil.  Now I am sure I have you wondering where I have been.  I will give you one guess and here is one hint to help you; I now know how and where oil wells are drilled.  Yes, you have guessed—the place was Tulsa and quite a little town it is.

How did it all happen, I hear you ask.  Well, when at Oklahoma City, I took a long chance and called up Miss [Mina] Norris on the long distance phone.  You will remember meeting her and her mother at the Galvez Hotel when we were in Galveston.  I did not know her other [first] name, but by chance and good luck, the right Miss Morris answered the phone.  When she learned I was in Oklahoma City, she asked me to run up to Tulsa and told me what train to take and said she would meet me at the station.  When I started I had thought to only stay a day or so and expected to put up at the hotel, but no, the whole family met me and insisted on my staying at their home.  You can imagine how reluctantly I accepted.  They had a delightful home and it did seem so good to be there after living in barracks as I have been of late.

It was 9:30 PM when I arrived and an hour later we were on our way to a dancing party.  The party was a peach and the girls were peaches too; I don’t believe I ever saw so many good-ooking girls at one dance before.  We got back to the house at 2:30 AM and there found a lunch awaiting us.  There were hermits [cookies], just like we have at home, and Oh! such good milk.  Needless to say, we did not get up until noon the following day.

We drove around in the afternoon and went to another dance in the evening.  As uniforms are scarce in Tulsa, I had no difficulty in getting dances.  I had a big Marmon Six to drive around in and I think it was the most beautiful running car that I have ever driven.[1]  Sunday afternoon we drove one hundred and twenty-five miles.  I saw them shoot off a couple of oil wells and was much interested.  Mr. Norris is a delightful gentleman and was very good to me.  Mina’s sister is also very nice and her brother is a Beta.[2]

Camp Dick is greatly changed.  They have tightened up on the officers and they have almost the same rules as the cadets.  I am not sure but that it is possible I may get into the instruction department and have charge of the machine gun range.  It would be a very good experience and give me plenty of practice in the actual use of the gun.  As soon as I find out what I am to do I will write more about it.

Do you remember Billy Plummer?  He was a brother Beta at Ann Arbor.  He is here and just ready to leave and I am to have dinner with him tonight.  It seems mighty good to see him again for I always did like him.[3]  I have a little disappointing news: it looks as though we were to be here for quite a while.  All of the Fields are full and they have no place to send us.  Some of the boys have been here almost two months.  However, I have been recommended for a scout pilot and I have a hunch that I shall go to some acrobatic or aerial gunnery school where they have the fast little planes.  There are three of them in this country: Lake Charles, Louisiana, Florida, and Mineola.  I feel quite honored over the recommendation but whether it will count for much in Washington I do not know.

Write to me soon.

Greatest love to all, Harold

 

Camp Dick, Texas

May 7, 1918

Dearest Family:

I realize that I have been slow in writing but really, things have been so mixed up here that we have been kept pretty busy.  Now my transfer has come through and I am in the school department.  Here I have a regular schedule and I know just what time is my own.

I am so sorry that I missed seeing Stowe when he was in Dallas.  I thought he was to be there a week later.  The mail service at Fort Sill was bad and the forwarding of mail was slow.  All the letters you wrote me at Camp Dick came yesterday.  They had gone up to Fort Sill and back here again.

It looks as though we were to be hung up here for some time yet.  Quite a few of the men are leaving but none of the Fort Sill men.  We seem to be out of luck so far as getting orders out of here is concerned.  However, they often surprise us and we may get them any day now.  Some of the boys have been here eight and nine weeks though.  Three other boys and I have a room at the YMCA where we keep our trunks etc.  It makes it very nice for each evening we can go for a swim in the pool there.  Of course we have to sleep out at the Camp.  The weather here is quite warm now but it will doubtless be much more so a little on.  You must find it pretty cold at the Lake [Van Ettan Lake, near Oscoda] but I do wish I could be there with you.

Last Saturday was a big day here.  We had a big track meet and some very good exhibitions of stunt flying.  One of the boys flew all the way here from Houston.  Sunday I went out to dinner and tea at a young lady’s house where Billy Plummer used to go.  Her brother is a Beta and a 1st Lieutenant.  She has had two years at Smith [College] and is a very sweet girl indeed.  Funny, but they all seem to appear that way to me now.  I am beginning to think that I fall awfully easy.

The entire Camp must move out of here in a couple of months as their lease on the Fair Grounds runs out and they are to hold a fair at Dallas this year.  There is a rumor that this Camp will be moved to Fort Sheridan, near Chicago.[4]

I must go to a lecture now and I will finish my letter when that is over.  It is to be a talk on sighting a machine gun.

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I was delayed longer than I expected as an announcement was made that all men who did not have documentary proof of their typhoid inoculation must take them over.  At Fort Sill they gave the same orders and I wired to all the places I had been, including ground school, but none had any record of it.  You see, in all that mixup about my enlistment, in the early part of my Army life, the records were lost.  I did not take the inoculation at Fort Sill because I did not like the idea of taking them while I was flying.  Sometimes they affect one pretty suddenly and I didn’t wish to be in the air at that time.  Here it is different so I took my first shot this afternoon.  To make sure of the record this time I had them make it in duplicate and I shall keep one.  Thus far it has had no effect on me but there is no telling what the morning may bring.

The letters from Cousin Fred are very interesting.  He seems to have plenty to do and to be enjoying it.  He is in a mighty good branch of the service.

Doubtless you know that we are not allowed to tell the date when we are to sail [overseas].  It does not look as though it would ever happen but if I do get overseas orders, I shall simply wire you that I shall arrive in New York, or wherever the port of embarkation may be, on a certain date and you will understand what that means.  We will, of course, get a leave before we go over.

How big a garden do you expect to have at the Lake this summer?  Will you plant the entire orchard or only a part of it?  Oh! but it is warm here.  I am sitting in the window in my shirt-sleeves and now and then a breeze hits me; were it not for the breeze it would be terrible.

I am so glad that Mother liked the pin that I sent her.  Write to me soon.

Always with greatest love, Harold

 

Camp Dick, Texas

Sunday, May 12, 1918

Dearest Family:

I hope the weather at the Island [the Loud home on an island in Van Ettan Lake] is as ideal as it is here today.  It is neither hot nor cold but just comfortable, with a nice breeze blowing.  It is the nicest day we have had this spring and I do believe it is because it is Mother’s Day.  How I wish I was with you but as that cannot be, I shall try to write you an interesting letter.  Nothing seems to happen around here of any importance, it is simply the daily routine of the Camp with a plunge in the evening and then bed.  We shall all be glad to get away from here.

The inoculation which I had did not affect me in any way except to make my arm a trifle sore.  I am to take my second shot on Tuesday and the third and last one a week later.  Quite a number of the boys have had to undergo this the second time the same as I have and for the same reason.

Yesterday we got off at noon and four of us went out to the Country Club and went in swimming.  They have a very nice out of doors pool formed by damming up a small creek.  The water was just right and we stayed in for about two hours.  We remained at the Club for dinner and Miss [Adele] Volk, the girl I was to take to the dance in the evening, came out with her brother and met me there.  This saved going back into town after her.  I had a nice time at the dance and Miss Volk brought me home.  She is the girl I told you had been to Smith College and she is a peach.[5]

Albertine seemed to be quite excited about me.  I wrote her from Oklahoma City but evidently she did not receive the letter.  The New York Times which Father sent came yesterday. The account of the Zeebrugge affair was very interesting and the most complete I have seen.  Now a similar thing has happened at Ostend.[6]  The navy seems to be getting pretty active.

Did I tell you that I have been promoted in the gunnery department?  I am no longer out on the range but an assistant in the dummy gun department.  In this department we use dummy guns and airplanes and simply try to test the judgment of the cadets in aiming at moving objects.  There are eleven 2nd lieutenants in this department and one 1st [lieutenant] and I am assistant to the latter.

Fort Sill has had pretty hard luck in regard to accidents, this week past.  One of the men who just came down from there told me they have so many pilots who have never flown in windy weather and who have not had quite enough experience to handle the large fast ships they have there, that accidents are more liable to occur.

I have not purchased a new good suit yet because there is so much likelihood of a change in our uniform.  There is a rumor that we are to have gray ones and they are to be copied after the British design.  I hope the order goes through.

I had Cousin Esther quite worked up by writing her a “kid” letter which led her to believe I was about to be married.  Did she tell you about it?  She wrote me the nicest letter of congratulations etc.  She followed this with another one which starts out with “You big stiff.”  She seems to be much interested in her work and is looking forward with pleasure the work she plans to do at the Ann Arbor summer school.[7]

I am enclosing a snap shot taken at Fort Sill.  In it I have on my jumpers and flying togs.  It was taken just before going up one day.  I don’t know what you will think, but I consider it pretty good.  The regular pictures I was to have taken I shall put off for a week or so, until I am sure about the change in uniforms.[8]

I have not been able to meet Lieutenant Borden’s brother as yet.[9]  We cannot get off until six o’clock, and then it is too late to go out to the field where he is.  I have phoned a couple of times, but have had no success in reaching him.

I have had several letters from Galveston, and the place seems to be picking up considerably.  They say that the hotel is quite gay and fairly filled up.

Write to me soon, Mother dear, for I am always looking forward to the coming of your letters.

Always with the greatest love, Harold

 

Camp Dick, Texas

Sunday, May 26, 1918

Dearest Family:

Another week has slipped away and still we have no word as to when we are to leave or where we are to go.  We have learned one thing of which we are pretty certain: when we do go from here, it will be to Mt. Clemens or Fort Worth, and that makes me a little cheerful, because I stand a fifty-fifty chance of landing near home.

Your letters came and also The  [Oscoda] Press which contained the letter from Harry McKenna from overseas.  It was very interesting and I am delighted that he is getting along so well.  Tell Father not to worry over his foolish dream.  Don’t think that I would get married without letting you know all about it.  Moreover, don’t think that I fall for the silly ones any more; they are all right to dance with, but that is all.  I must say, though, that I have almost fallen here in Dallas.  The girl [Adele Volk] is a wonder and a good, sensible girl too.  Much to my disappointment, she has gone North for a while.

Last week I flew at Love Field.  The ships there are good ones, but of the primary training type and seem very simple after those we have been flying.  It gives us a twenty percent increase in our pay, though, and for that reason there was no kick coming.  It is still pretty hot here, but since I have my thin suit, it is much more comfortable.  Now that my inoculations are over with, I must be vaccinated; but I do not worry about that, because I know it will not take.

Practically all of the Cadets have left here now.  We are expecting about a thousand new recruits this week; they are boys who have not been to ground school.  I do not imagine they will be very crazy about the life here, as they will have to work pretty hard.  They are to get lots of drilling and physical training to round them into shape.  It rather looks as though our gunnery department would be discontinued now that the Cadets are gone, and I suppose I am due for some new job now.  I shall still stay in the gunnery department though.  The boys at Ellington, who arrived at Fort Sill just as I was leaving, are here now.  George Ohrstrom is among them and I got a job for him in my department.  It seems so good to see those boys again.

I enclose a couple of snap shots taken at Fort Sill.  The day was not very clear and that is why the pictures are so indistinct.  Nothing of interest or importance has happened here and that is the reason for this short letter.

Always with love, Harold

 

Camp Dick, Texas

May 30, 1918

Dearest Family:

This being Decoration Day, we have no work and it has been a day of rest for me.  This morning I listened to a speech at the grounds, delivered by some minister, and it was really very good.  The rest of the day I have spent around the Camp.  Since my Dallas girl has left, I feel lost.  I did not realize that she was responsible to so large an extent for the good time I have been having here.

It looks as though we are to get our orders pretty soon now.  The class which graduated ahead of us at Fort Sill have received theirs.  All, thus far, have been sent to Fort Worth, and we are hoping we will get either Mt. Clemens or San Diego.  All the boys seem to feel as I do and are willing to go any place, so long as we get out of this part of the country.

You must get the [idea of a] 1st Lieutenancy out of your mind, for there is absolutely no chance of any promotion while at this Camp.  I am now at the head of the problem range.  The man who was in charge was ordered away and, being his assistant, I naturally stepped into the job.

The weather here continues to be pretty warm, but with my new suit, it is not nearly as uncomfortable as it has been.  I wish I could feel the cool breezes of Lake Huron for a while.  Our barracks are so warm that we move our beds outside at night, and are cooled in the breeze from Galveston.  At night there is always a breeze from off the Gulf, and it is surely a life saver.

I hope the work of settling the bungalow at the Island will soon be over, and then you will be able to have a rest.  It must be awfully hard to do it all alone.  Write to me soon.

With greatest love always, Harold

 

Camp Dick, Texas

June 2, 1918

Dearest Family:

This is the week that I surely expect to get my orders, and I am hoping that they will be Mt. Clemens.  It will be just my luck to get Fort Worth, but even that has its advantage, as it is the oldest and best gunnery school in the country.  This is the course that one should pay very strict attention to, as being a good shot means much in this branch of the service.  Also understanding your gun is very important, and the department that I am in here has given me much experience in that.  From what I learn from the boys who went over to Fort Worth last week, there is very little flying to be done in the course.  The first week is all class work, and the second is range work from early morning until night.  Just shoot, shoot, shoot, all day long.  Then the third and last week is air work, and from what I hear, it is very interesting work.

What you say about being a good shot is all very true.  I am sorry to say that we do not have facilities for practice around here, except the machine gun range, and I have gone out there to shoot every time I get a chance.  I have gone to several of the shooting galleries, but they do not do as much good as trap shooting, and that we cannot get here.  At Fort Sill we got quite a bit of that.  Don’t ever think that I get the “don’t care” spirit, for I do not.  However, I do not think that advancement is to be very rapid for a flying officer.  If I were a ground officer, it would be different, but I would not change places with them for anything.

Both Mother’s and Father’s letters were received, and I was indeed glad to get them.  Do not worry about my tying myself up with any young lady, for just at present there is only one that I would think of; but I think if she said the word, I could not very well resist.  You know who that is and about how much chance there is of anything happening.

Nothing new has happened here except the arrival of about a thousand men, fresh from their homes and in their civilian clothes.  They are being fitted out and going through training before going to ground school.  When I look at them and watch them drill, it makes me think of my own little experience in ground school, just about a year ago.

Before this letter reaches you, you will, very likely, have received a wire telling of my transfer.  As soon as I reach my new post, I will write, telling you all about the field and the course.

With loads of love, Harold

 

Telegram from Harold E. Loud:

Dallas, Texas, June 9, 1918

Mrs. Edward F. Loud, Oscoda, Michigan

Am now at Fort Worth, Texas, Taliaferro Field No. 1.

 

Taliaferro Field No. 1

Fort Worth, Texas

Monday, June 10, 1918

Dearest Family:

Again I am at another field and this one hotter than all the rest.  I never thought that eight hours could be so long until today.  However, it is all for the best, so we must not complain.  Last Wednesday I received my orders, but I did not know the correct address to give you until after reporting here.  That I did Friday and then went to Dallas until Sunday afternoon.

The Field [Taliaferro Field #1—Hicks Field] is located about fourteen miles north of Fort Worth, with no connection except by automobile.  However, as Fort Worth is not much of a place, we do not expect to go in very often.  The Field runs a system of auto tenders every hour, so we are not so isolated as it would seem.

The course here, after the first week, will not be so monotonous, and in fact I imagine it will be very interesting.  This week, though, we spend eight hours a day studying the new Marlin aircraft [machine] gun.[10]  Next week we spend on the range, and the last week we have camera gun work and shooting at targets on the water.  The ships are like those we had at Fort Sill, and we are all glad of that.  Since the United States has taken over the field, they have scrapped all the old ships which the Canadians used, and have replaced them with new ones.  The order following that which sent us here was for twenty-five men to [report to] Mt. Clemens!  Isn’t that always my luck?  But still, from what they say, this is a much better school, for that is a new one and has hardly had time to get a good start.

Your letters and also the Lawrenceville letter arrived before I left.  Also my boots came back and now they fit me perfectly.  They are the best looking service boots that I have seen, and several have asked me where I got them.  They are very satisfactory.

The boy who was talking to Father on the train was Pat Smith, the University of Michigan football captain.[11]  He is now at Camp Dick with the new bunch of rookies.  Ed Grimm and his brother Charles are both at Camp Dick now; the former is a Lieutenant, having finished at San Diego, and the latter is a rookie.  They are the boys who were so good to me when I was in Dayton last summer.[12]  I also ran into a couple of old Lawrenceville friends whom I first met when I lived in the Lodge.  It was a great surprise and a very pleasant one too.  Camp Dick seems to be quite a reunion camp.

I expect to stay in camp until week after next, when I think I shall go back to Dallas for the weekend.  One never knows how nice a place is until after he has left it.  We are living in nice barracks here, and thus far we are not crowded.  It may be different next week, after the new bunch comes in.  If things go as I am now planning, I may ask for a leave of absence after this course.  It rather looks now as though we would be sent back to Camp Dick again.  Now that the one cent per mile rate is in force, a trip to Michigan would not be such an expensive one as formerly.[13]

I am pretty tired, and I think I had better go to bed.  Write to me soon.

Always with love, Harold

HaroldLoudTaliaferro

Taliaferro Field, Texas.  Training aircraft visible on right.

 

Taliaferro Field, Texas

Sunday, June 16, 1918

Dearest Family:

Were it not for the heat, this would not be such a bad place.  All last week we had interior instructions on guns.  Now we are to be on the range until Thursday, when we start flying, and this we are to continue for a week, when we take our final written examination on the entire course.  Judging from the way twelve men flunked last week, I think the examination must be a pretty stiff one.

Father’s letter came Thursday, and Mother’s yesterday.  It seemed ages since I had heard from you and it did seem good to get them.  The Press also came yesterday, and the letter from Harry McKenna was indeed interesting.  He seems to have a good job over there, and I do not wonder that he enjoys it.

The nights here are wonderful, with a lovely clear sky and a cool breeze blowing.  Most of us have our cots outside and the last four nights I have slept with a blanket over me.  The life here is indeed different from that we led at Dallas.  There, there was so much doing in a social way, while here we go to bed early and get up early too.  It seems good too, for one cannot always live for a good time and not tire of it.  Society and its various functions are fine for a while; but not for me as a steady diet.  One always feels as though he had accomplished so much more, after a week like we have just had.

Several rumors are floating around as to where we go when we have finished this course.  We do not place much of any faith in them, but it is lots of fun to have the dreams they suggest.  Most of them are to the effect that we are to be used as instructors in the various new gunnery schools throughout the country.  Our class seems to be booked for Miami, Florida.  That would not be half bad and indeed I think it would be a heaven after this.  I must go to dinner now and finish my letter later.

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Mess is what they call it, and a mess it surely is at this place.  The heat is not conducive to a large appetite and that helps some.  We usually have plenty of good iced tea; but this noon the help in the kitchen got mixed and put vinegar in the tea, so all we had to drink was ice water.

I hope Gordon has good luck with the Dodge when he drives it up home.  Do you remember the trip up there in the Marquette, just after my graduation from high school?[14]  Wasn’t it a pleasant one?  Nothing has happened here and a description of my present work would not be interesting.  Next week I may have something of interest to write about my aerial gunnery.

Always with love, Harold

 

Taliaferro Field, Texas

Monday, June 24, 1918

Dearest Family:

Only one more week and I shall be through with this course, and maybe I won’t be glad!  The latter part of last week was not so bad, as we were flying then, as we are now.  It is pretty good fun but we would enjoy it more if we could fly the ships ourselves.  All we do is to ride along and shoot the gun.  The weather of late has been a trifle cooler, and that indeed is a relief after the terrible heat of our first week here.  Those days caused me to lose about ten pounds in weight.

I hope Father will have a good time on his auto trip across the State with the Power Company party.[15]  I am sure it will do him good.  I am glad that Mrs. Brandeau will soon be with you at the Island, for then Mother will have time to rest.[16]  It has been a big job for you to settle the bungalow all alone and now, when you get help, just sit back and take a good rest.  Please do, Mother, for I know you will need it.

Last weekend I went over to Dallas for the Country Club dance.  I had a pretty good time, but the town did not seem nearly as nice as it used to when Adele [Volk] was there.  She is now in New York seeing her brother [Harold Volk] off [for France], and from what she writes, they must be having a pretty good time.  I wish you could meet her, for she is an awfully nice girl.

Now to tell you a little bit about our work.  Last Thursday when we started flying, we were on the camera turret gun.  In this work we are in the turret in the rear of the ship, and stand up.  The ships are paired off, and we go up to take pictures of each other.  The camera gun is an exact duplicate of the regular machine gun and operates exactly the same, except that when you pull the trigger, it takes a picture instead of firing a shot.  The ships maneuver around until they get a favorable position, and then they snap the picture.  It is quite exciting at times.  Saturday we had the real gun and fired at targets on the ground.  It was good practice but not exciting.

Today we had the fixed gun, that is, the gun is in a fixed position, always pointing straight ahead.  Here we sit in the front seat and we must point or aim the ship at the object we desire to hit.  The beauty of the camera gun work is that one can tell just where you are wrong, for when the film is developed, it is all before you.

I am glad that Roxane liked the boys from Mt. Clemens, whom I told to look her up.  I thought them quite nice and I would like to have known them better.  Our final written examination comes this week, but I am not worrying much about it, as I think I know the stuff pretty thoroughly.

I enclose a couple of snap shots that were taken while I was in Tulsa.  Miss Norris sent them to me some time ago.  They are not very good, but they show my new uniform.

You will surely have quite a houseful of children at the Lake this summer.  I should think that you would almost need a nurse-girl to take care of them.

Father’s letter, giving the itinerary for his auto trip, came last week.  I’ll bet he will have a mighty good time.  Write soon.

Always with love, Harold

 

Taliaferro Field, Texas

Sunday, June 30, 1918

Dearest Family:

The course is over and I passed in everything.  I am again awaiting orders; where we are to go is still a mystery.  The class preceding us have received theirs.  The men with the highest grades were ordered to Hoboken, and the others to Florida, to be gunnery pilots at one of the new schools there.  The boys who were sent overseas are going to England to take a two or three months’ course there before they go to France.  Thus you can see that we can hardly form a good guess as to where we are to go.  We may all go over and again we may all stay here.  I know that all of our crowd are anxious to get across.

This last week has been a very decent one.  The work pleasant and I believe beneficial.  I fired about 4,500 rounds of ammunition from the air, and the last two days my marks were very good.  I could see a great improvement myself.  We have been shooting at targets in the water, and in this we can see just where our bullets strike.  We go up with a belt of 250 rounds, and fire in bursts of twenty-five.  Yesterday morning, out of forty bursts, I failed to get a direct hit only three times.  The new Marlin gun that we are to use is a wonder; it fires so fast and still does not jam.  Not once did it stop on me.

Almost every night of late, a few of us have been shooting at clay pigeons.  Continual practice is surely what one needs, as our scores plainly showed.  Each night we shoot twenty-five rounds.  My score the first night was twelve hits, and last night it was twenty-two.

Your letters came and also Cousin Fred’s and Dr. Talley’s.[17]  They were surely interesting.  Don’t we all hope though that Dr. Talley is right in saying that the war will be over and he will be home for Christmas dinner!  A great many are beginning to think that way now.  Even our Commanding Officer here has told us that it was quite probable that none of us will see active service, there are so many ahead of us over there now.

Adele Volk and her mother are back here now.  Her brother sailed last week and they were planning to remain in the East for a few weeks, but changed their minds.  I was surely glad of it, for it did seem good to see Adele again.  I wish you could meet her, Mother, for I am sure you would like her.  She is a good sensible girl and not the usual Southern type.  No, I am not engaged or married.  Don’t ever worry about that, for you know I would tell you.

Yesterday and today have been quite comfortable, with a nice cool breeze blowing.  It is indeed a comfort after the 128 degree day we had recently.  We hardly expect our orders now before the end of the week.  Just as soon as we do, I shall wire you.

Congratulations, Gordon, on your good work in school last year.  Keep it up and you will never regret it.  My only regret of my college life is that I did not study more.

Always with love, Harold

 

Dallas, Texas

July 5, 1918

Dearest Family:

Just this minute got back from Fort Worth, where I found your lovely letters.  No orders as yet, but we sort of expect them by Monday or Tuesday.  Have had no intimation as to where we are to be sent.  I am going out to Adele’s for dinner, and I must now clean up and dress.  Will try to write you a long letter tomorrow.

Always with love, Harold

 

Camp Dick, Texas

Sunday July 7, 1918

Dearest Family:

Sunday is here again and I am back at Camp Dick with no prospect of an order before Tuesday.  At last I have had my picture taken, and the proofs are to be ready tomorrow.  I hope they prove to be satisfactory.  The Press came yesterday.  What a wonderful Fourth they must have had in the old town [Oscoda] if they carried out the program as given in the paper!  I am anxious to hear about it.  Dallas had a great Fourth.  I was most interested in the dog track meet and flying exhibition at Camp Dick.  It was very good; I don’t believe I have ever seen such excellent flying at a meet before.  There were the most wonderful formations and stunts, and a very realistic sham battle in the air.

Nothing has happened that would be of interest to you, although it has been quite a week for me.  There have been numerous parties, picnics, and dances; really very gay.  But what has made it especially nice for me is that Adele kept the entire week open for me.  She is such a peach; I fear I have fallen this time!  The question remains, is it mutual?  And that I am going to find out before I leave.

I tried to get a leave of absence, but having had one not so very long ago, my application was turned down.  You see, when we apply for one, we must give the date of our last one.  I was using the excuse to get married, as this is about the only one that works, aside from sickness or death.  Don’t worry about the loss of my ten pounds; I have gained it all back and I am feeling fine.  I am all tanned up just as I always am in the summer time.

I have met a bunch of the boys I used to know at Ann Arbor.  Camp Dick seems to be a great place for meeting those you used to know.  I do not believe that Lynn is very much pleased at being sent back to Camp Custer, and I can hardly blame him.

You mentioned in one of your letters that Mrs. Andrews had sent me a pair of socks.[18]  I have never received them and I fear it must be due to the almost constant changing of my address.  They may show up at any time.  One of the boys had a box on the road for two months before it reached him.

I shall wire you as soon as I receive orders.

With love always, Harold

 

Camp Dick

Dallas, Texas

Monday, July 8, 1918

Dearest Family:

Still no word as to when or where we are to go.  It rather looks as though we are to stay until the Camp moves and then move with it.  Father’s letter came this morning.  It must be nice at the Lake now and I do wish I could spend a few days with you.  Don’t you know of some important business that requires my presence?  They only need a good excuse here to let us go.  I think they are glad to get us out of the way.  It seems as though I might be needed for some important land deal.

Did I tell you that I had to send my boots back because they did not fit correctly?[19]  The weather here is so warm that I have invested in a thin suit.  The old one became very uncomfortable.  The [calling] cards came from Roxane and they were exactly what I wanted.  They are very neat and all the boys who have seen them are going to have theirs the same style.  I have written to thank her for them.

This weekend has been quite interesting and most pleasant for me, because it was spent with one of the nicest girls I have ever known.  Saturday afternoon we went swimming and then Adele and I had dinner at the Adolphus [Hotel].[20]  Then she went home and put on a party dress and we went to the [Dallas] Country Club.[21]  And all this while she had been planning on leaving for the East on Sunday afternoon.  Sometime during the evening, however, she changed her mind and we spent part of Sunday morning turning in her ticket.  I had dinner at her home and in the afternoon she and her mother and I went swimming.  She is a girl of Albertine’s type, not in looks but in actions, and you know what that means to me.

The Camp goes on in the same old way, with nothing new happening.  The only thing is a little new work.  We are busy now most of the day with classes.  I have finished with the inoculations and they had no effect whatever.  Now I must be vaccinated, but that is nothing.

Write to me soon and try to find some excuse that will get me a leave.

With greatest love, Harold

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Note by Edward Loud:  Before this letter reached us, a telegram came saying he would arrive in Detroit on Friday, July 12th, asking the family to meet him there.  This they did, and he was with them there until Sunday afternoon, the 14th of July, when he left for New York City.  It was his own wish that none of his family should be with him at the port of embarkation.

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Notes:

[1] The Marmon Motor Car Company built cars from 1902 until 1929.  The first Marmon six-cylinder car was built in 1916.

[2] Mina Norris was the daughter of W. C. Norris, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Morris had come to Oklahoma from Pennsylvania, where he had specialized in making equipment for oil booms.  His W. C. Norris company prospered in the oil industry and remains in business today.

[3] William Leroy Plummer was a classmate of Harold Loud at the University of Michigan.  He was in the U. S. Air Service from 1917 to 1919.

[4] Fort Sheridan was a U. S. Army training center near Chicago, Illinois.  It was established in 1898; it closed in 1993.

[5] Adele Volk was the daughter of Leonard R. Volk, a Dallas businessman.  Leonard and his brother George Volk had founded a shoe store in Dallas prior to 1900.  After 1900 they expanded the store and offered a variety of clothing and household products.  By World War II it was one of Dallas’ best-known department stores.  Adele Volk’s older brother, Harold L. Volk, was a lieutenant in the U. S. Army during World War I.  He was assigned to the Headquarters section of the 165th Field Artillery Brigade, 90th Division, which was sent to France in June of 1919.  He departed for France before Harold Loud received his orders for France.  Harold Volk visited Harold Loud’s grave site in France before he returned to the United States in 1919 [see his letter to Edward Loud in Section 8].  Adele Volk married Cornelius Lombardi, a lawyer from Washington state, in May of 1923.

[6] The Royal Navy attempted to prevent German ships from leaving Dutch ports by blocking the harbors at Zeebrugge and Ostend.  The Royal Navy blocked the shipping channels by sinking ships near the harbors’ entrances.  The first attempt (Zeebrugge and Ostend) occurred on 22/23 April 1918 and the second attempt (Ostend only) occurred on 10 May.

[7] Cousin Esther:  Esther Loud, daughter of George and Elizabeth Loud.  She was the same age as Harold Loud.

[8] Unfortunately, no photographs of Harold Loud in Texas or Oklahoma have survived.

[9] Individuals not further identified.  Lieutenant Borden may be Horace A. Borden, later a member of the 90th Aero Squadron.

[10] The Marlin machine gun was a modified version of the Colt-Browning .30 machine gun.  It was a lighter gun than either the Lewis or Vickers machine guns, both of which had been used on allied aircraft.  It also could be operated with an interrupter gear, which allowed the gun to be mounted on the fuselage of the aircraft and fired between revolutions of the aircraft propeller.

[11]  “Pat” Smith: Cedric Crawford Smith was an all-American football player for the University of Michigan in 1917.  During the war he was a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Air Service, assigned to aerial gunnery tasks.

[12] Ed and Charles Grimm are not further identified.

[13] This is evidently the reimbursement rate for travel while on official leave or orders.

[14] The Marquette Motor Car Company, of Saginaw, Michigan, built cars from 1909 until 1911.  It was then made a part of the Buick Division of General Motors for one year only, in 1930.

[15] Edward Loud had been instrumental in the sale of thousands of acres of land in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the Consumers Power Company for the construction of six electric power dams along the Au Sable River.

[16] Mrs. Brandeau: Apparently a housekeeper for Edward and Annabelle Loud in Oscoda.

[17] Cousin Fred:  Probably Frederick Hale Loud, second son of Henry Nelson Loud, oldest brother of Edward Francis Loud.  Fredrick was 18 years older than Harold Loud.

[18] Mrs. Andrews: Apparently a family friend.  No further information provided.

[19] Harold Loud may have bought his boots from the Volk Brothers shoe store; each pair of boots or shoes was made to fit the individual.

[20] The Adolphus Hotel, in downtown Dallas, Texas, was opened on October 5, 1912.  It was intended to be a hotel built on the “grand Beaux Arts style” and, although it has been modernized, it retains its historic charm today.

[21] The Dallas Country Club was founded in 1896 in the Highland Park area north of downtown Dallas.