Hometown hero: WWI casualty Leslie Richmond

by Richard Ramsdell

Leslie Mack Richmond was born on a farm northwest of Stockbridge on March 16, 1895. His parents were Arthur Leslie Richmond and Phila J. Townsend.  They moved to the village of Stockbridge in 1898.

He served in the Michigan National Guard from 1915 to 1917, spending some time at the Mexican border.  In 1917, he was called back to service and sailed for France in March 1918.

Prior to his military service, Richmond was a machinist, a member of Stockbridge Lodge F & AM and a 32nd Degree Mason. He also was a member of the Bay City Consistory and the Helia Mystic Shrine of Dallas, Texas.

The first letter

Richmond’s first letter home was written Aug. 9, 1918. It reads as follows:

 Dear Mother and all

I have received all your letters alright but have been too busy moving from one part of France to another to answer the way I should.  Then, when we got to where the fighting was we chased the Huns as fast the kitchen could not keep up, so there was no time for letter writing or anything else.

We were in the (censored) and you can bet we drove them, in fact they are still running and if we can keep it up a little longer the war will soon be “finish” as the French say. In the time we were in the line we drove them about 18 miles.  It looked a couple of times that we would be able to put the cork in the bottle but they got out each time.  You can get more out of the papers than I can say for they print things we are not allowed to say.

As it is getting dark and we can’t have our lights on this part of the country will close and write again in a couple of days.

Just one thing more – whatever you read in the paper, don’t worry for things will always come out all right and always remember that no news is good news,’

Your son Leslie. 

Published Stockbridge Brief Sun, 12 Sep 1918.

The last letter

Richmond’s last letter home was written Aug. 23, 1918, four days before he died.   It appears below as written:

Dear Mother and all:

Have seen a large part of France since the last letter and wish I had the ability to describe the beauty of the place we are in at the present time,  Will not say anything however except that outside of two or three spots Alsace it is the prettiest I have been in this country.

I expect that my last letter was more or less a wreck for I said something that I have since learned was not allowed but, at the time I thought we could say them.

Harvest is almost over. Wish you could see them at work.  It would make you glad that your home is in the States.  Once in a great while one can see an ox team drawing a binder, but most always there was a very crude cradle or even an old scythe with a straight handle and a very wide thin blade.

All the young men are in the army and the old men and women do the work. The women all seem to be old.  I don’t know where the young women are unless they are in Paris.  I saw thousands to them there,

Don’t think I am going to tell you all about Paris but I couldn’t if I wanted for my trip there was short but sweet – a ride through on the train with perhaps one hour stop on a side track but what I did see if ever get the chance I sure will see that town, Even at that I had a chance of a trip there or a chance to walk into a house on Elizabeth Street, more on that later.

This afternoon I had to choose between a swim in a fine river or going to church. As we had church last Sunday and yesterday moved over dusty roads, I thought clean linens came before Godliness this once but as my mind was in the right place, I thought I did as much good.

Has Ellsworth called yet?  He promised to do so when he got home.  Would like to have a good talk with him myself.

Well, I have my six month service stripe and when I get back where I can fuss all up will have a picture taken and send it to you. By the way am wearing three on my other arm now,

The weather sure is fine and we are thankful for it, as we have mother earth for a bed and the sky for a cover.  If there is any way possible I am going fishing tomorrow as I saw some nice ones today,

With love to all and a big kiss for you, your son.  Leslie Richmond.

Leslie Richmond died Aug. 29, 1918, in Juvigny, France.  Originally he was buried there, but his remains were returned home for burial when the war ended. He now rests at Oaklawn Cemetery.  His memorial service was held Oct. 20, 1918, at 3 p.m. in the Town Hall.  His last letter home was included with his obituary in the Stockbridge Brief Sun.

Photo credit: Diane Rockall

Diane Rockall relinquished her monthly history column to Richard Ramsdell this month with special thanks for his research and generosity in sharing these jewels of letters with the Stockbridge Community News

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