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Leslie O. Brooks World War I letters, 1917-1919
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Leslie O. Brooks World War I letters, 1917-1919
World War I letters, 1917-1919


Brooks, Leslie O., 1891-1986, creator


55 holograph letters, 48 written by Brooks to family in San Francisco -- most to his sister, Lydia; a few to his brother, Theodore, or to his mother. Letters from Aug. 23, 1917 to Jan. 25, 1918 are from Kelly Field, Texas; letters from Feb. 4, 1918 to Mar. 1, 1918 from Aviation Branch, Morrison, Virginia; letters from Mar. 25, 1918 to Jan. 26, 1919 from France (the last 4 from Colombey-les-Belles); a final letter on Mar. 10, 1919 is from Hampstead, Long Island. A few of the letters are on insignia letterheads; the letters from France are censored. A small set of 7 letters are to Lydia or Theodore Brooks -- two from a brother, S. E. (Stan) Brooks; three from cousins; two from friends. Also included is a xerox of a newspaper cartoon "Not all rookies fly at Kelly Field".
The letters of Leslie Brooks to his family offer a young man's impressions of the world he encounters when he leaves home to serve his country during the 1st World War. His enthusiasm is almost audible in run-on sentences that lack punctuation as he talks of cyclones in Texas and cotton growing in the fields there; of snow in Virginia and the apple cider available from "old time stores"; of too much rain in France and of the French people eager to show off their towns. "The people are fine over hear and they sure like to see the Soldiers come and visit their villages and they show us the different things that they think will interest us so that makes if fine for us."
Brooks sees his war-time service as an opportunity in several ways: "I am sure going to study hard as one can never learn too much and I have a fine opportunity to get ahead now and I will work hard for it" and "I do not know if they will send us to that Aviation school or some other one it does not make much difference to me as I want to see some of the world anyhow while I have the chance". His letters are full of concern for his friends and family; he often mentions sending photographs and souvenirs to his mother and sister.
There is little said about the actual war experience in France beyond a few remarks about the end of the war: "Am glad I was over here on the biggest day that will be known in the worlds greatest history." But of note are references to the Spanish influenza epidemic that swept the world at the end of the war. Brooks writes on Jan. 19, 1919 to his mother: "Am sure pleased to hear that you are over it and hope that it will not spread again in San Francisco or anywhere else." In a letter that Stan Brooks writes to his brother Theodore on Oct. 27, 1918 he talks of the quarantine at Camp Fremont and of the assignment of soldiers to accompany the bodies of the dead to their home towns. In her letter of Dec. 1, 1918, Gertrude Douglas writes to Lydia: "I heard yesterday that there were only 150 deaths at Fremont from Influenza. That is the average death list - it may be a few more. But isn't that a splendid record - among 40,000 men"?


1917 (issued)


Brooks, Leslie O -- 1891-1986 -- Correspondence
Soldiers -- California -- Correspondence
World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal narratives, American
United States. -- Army. -- Air Service. -- Biography


Leslie O. Brooks was born on Feb. 5th, 1891 in Redwood City, California. He attended schools in Easton and Burlingame and later was employed at the local firms of MacRorie and McLaren and the Bay Development Company. He entered the Army Air Service in August of 1917 and was assigned to the 83rd Aero Squadron (later designated the 495th Aero Squadron) stationed at Kelly Field, Texas, where he worked as a mechanic and helped build engines for "flying machines". In January of 1918 the Squadron spent a month at the Aviation Branch, Morrison, Virginia, and then shipped overseas to France. There Brooks continued to work as a mechanic and truck driver and was promoted to sergeant. He was discharged in March of 1919 and worked thereafter as an auto mechanic with membership in the Mechanics' Union. Brooks was a resident of Burlingame for over 40 years and died in San Mateo on Jan. 28th, 1986. He was survived by a son, Leslie, three grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
Finding aid available and calendar in each folder.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
Leslie O. Brooks World War I letters, 1917-1919



Physical Description:

1 ms. box (ca. 55 items) : ill.







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.