Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Luton Man with the United States Army

Fred W. Cannon [Luton News]

Wednesday 9th January 1918: Fred W. Cannon, whose father lives at 54 Cobden Street, Luton has written to the Luton News of his experiences with the United States Army in California:

“Since leaving Luton eight years ago my experiences have been many and varied. Starting in as a railroad man, I have been successively farmer, dining car cook (between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and later through the Western States), hotel clerk, steel worker, miner, travelling salesman, and, last but the most important, a soldier in the grand an glorious Army of the United States. The last-named is the greatest experience of all. Whilst working in San Francisco last June President Wilson’s clal for volunteers was sent forth, and with hundreds of others I heard and went. Joining in this city on June 30th, I received my first insight into Army life, and was sent to a receiving barracks called Fort McDowell. This fort is situated on an island in the San Francisco Bay, and commands a wonderful view of the world-renowned Golden Gate, which is the entrance to the bay. A little to the east of the island in the Island of Alcatraz. This is nothing more than a rock pile, out in the bay, but upon it stands an imposing stone structure. This is the military prison, or, as it is termed here, Disciplinary Barracks.

After two weeks spent at Fort McDowell, I was sent to the Presidio of San Francisco, and there assigned to a field hospital. Then my real instruction began, and we were all kept pretty busy for eight hours a day. After being given foot drill for about two months we were started on litter, or in English, stretcher drill and first aid. About this time we received orders to move, and needless to say, we were all greatly enthused over the prospects, as we thought, of going to Europe. Imagine our chagrin, then, when it became known that our destination, instead of being to some Atlantic port, was another camp in California. However, this is an ideal spot and an ideal climate. We are living in tents that are lighted by electricity and heated by little stoves, which make them very comfortable. A few months ago, where this camp now stands were flourishing ranches, but now it is a regular city, with accommodation for about 40,000 men. This is but one instance of America’s gigantic preparations, and I am sure she will continue them until the victory is complete and German militarism is a thing of the past. Profiting by the mistakes of England in not using conscription until her fighting men were greatly reduced in numbers, she is building up an Army of millions, and when American troops get started I am inclined to believe that von Hindenburg will retract his statement that ‘America need not be reckoned with’.”

Source: Luton News, 10th January 1918

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