Thursday, September 18, 2014

Those Places Thursday - Montana State Hospital - Margaret (Bauer) Koch

My 2x great grandmother, Margaret (Bauer) Koch was a patient her.  She was admitted December 12, 1897 at the age of 62. She was a patient here until her death in September 23, 1900.  Margaret had a daughter, Catherine Gardiner in Billings; a daughter, Ella Koch Butte; and a son Charles Koch (my great grandfather) of Billings. She is not buried on the premises. I need to find out where she is buried either in Butte or Billings since she had children in both places.

The Montana State Hospital is located in Warm Springs, Deer Lodge county, Montana right along Interstate 90.  

This summer I was on my way to Yellowstone National Park with family and I was able to stop here and see the hospital. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Military Monday - World War I - Frank P. Smith

On April 7, 1917 a young man of 19 years of age enlisted into the service. This young man was Frank P. Smith (my grandfather). He departed from his hometown of Spokane, Washington on April 6, 1917 via the Spokane and Inland Railroad arriving at Camp Murray April 11, 1917.

 While at Camp Murray, he was assigned to "H" Company 2nd Washington 161 Regiment Division 41. He remained in this Camp until April 15, 1917.

He was later transferred to Camp Tacoma Sector, Electron, Washington for guard duty. This appears to be Fort (Camp) Lewis. (click on the link below for further history on Fort Lewis).

He was back in Camp Murray on August 15, 1917 and then sent across the country to Camp Mills on August 39, 1917. (click on the link below for further history of Camp Mills.

Frank arrived at the Port of Embarkation on December 12, 1917.  On December 14, he boarded the steamship, President Lincoln for an 18 day voyage to France.

The ship arrived in Brest, in northwestern France in Brittany, on December 29 and landed December 31, 1917.  He remained here for two hours. He was soon transferred to Chaumont, Dijon, France.

Frank moved up to the battle line on June 15, 1918 where he participated in the following battles: Marne Offensive, June 28; Second battle of Marne, July 14; St. Mihiel Offensive, September 16; and Meuse Argonne, October 7.

He was wounded at Meuse Argonne, the Champagne sector, Oct 9, 1918.  He was in hospital:Field #16 - Evacuation 5; Base #202 - Camp 52; Base 85; Base 69 - Evacuation Newport News, VA and Gen #27 Fort Douglas.  He was in the Base Hospital #202 in Orleans, France when the Armistice was signed.  The only promotion he received was to First Class Private in March of 1917.

                                         On The Way Home

On May 18, 1919, Frank arrived in St. Nzaire, France where he would board the steamship Antigone.

 He arrived at Newport News, Virginia May 29, 1919. He was transferred to Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, Utah. It was here that he was honorably discharged.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

World War II Letters Home September 3, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                      Royal Air Force
                                                                                      Stockton - on - Tees
                                                                                       September 3 ,1939

Dear Folks:

I have just finished dinner do thought I would write a little news before I went to bed as I got off night duty at 6 o'clock this morning and am going on again at 6 this afternoon.

I suppose the big news is rebroadcast there almost immediately after we hear it so I don't need to write about it.  At 11:00 a.m. the Prime Minister issued a proclamation in view of the ultimatum which was given Germany,  that  "a state of war exists."

I don't suppose I shall be doing any flying for a while at least not as long as i am working in operations room. Every morning about 5 or 6 o'clock we send out a dawn patrol of 9 Ansons on Reconnaissance.  They are on the look-out for all activities in the North Sea.  They leave the coast here and fly on parallel tracks about 6 miles apart for 160 miles out and then return.  The whole coast is patrolled in this way.  The crews are trained so that they can recognize at a glance what type of class any ship is that they see and how many and what size guns it carries.  They are able to do this depending on the visibility of course, up to a distance of 10 miles and from height up to 12,000 feet.  These fellows know all the fleets of every country.

We are all packing up our civilian clothes as we will only be wearing uniforms from now on.  We also have to have with us at all times our gas masks and anti-gas clothing which is a rubber cap, coat, eye shields and a can of anti-gas ointment.  The reason for the waterproof equipment is that some of the gases, including mustard gas, comes in liquid form and has great penetrating powers; it even soaks through leather and wood.  Gas attacks aren't very likely but at least it is a protection.

Every night is a black out.  All street lights and other visible lights in buildings are put out or else the windows, etc. have to be covered sot that not a ray of light escapes.  Cars crawl around using their park lights that are half covered over;  some of the cares use their head lamps but these are covered with cardboard of black paint so that only small slits light the road.    Trains, buses, and trolleys all have their windows painted over so you can hardly see them, except for a faint orange or blue light.

There is a  balloon barrage (or was, I mean) of 8 balloons about 4 miles from here over Middlesboro and yesterday when we were having tea we also had a thunderstorm.  Of course everyone was watching the balloons when it started to lightning and we weren't disappointed.  Inside of 15 minutes 6 balloons were struck;  I saw 2 strikes and they went down in flames.  The operators couldn't get in the lorries to wind the cables in because the lightning naturally coming down the cables would at least have given them a bad jolt, so nothing could be done about it.  I didn't read anything about it in the papers this morning - probably they aren't publishing that sort of news now.  The balloons were nearly a mile high and were filled with hydrogen so they made a large blaze as they sank.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

World War II Letters Home August 27, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                              Thornaby, Yorkshire
                                                                                              August 27, 1939

Dear Folks:

I am writing this to all of you as I don't know whether Mamma is home again or not.  I wrote in my last letter that I might be coming up here and sure enough I did.  A young Scotsman came up with me.  We traveled by train and what a jam!  The train was about a quarter of a mile long and filled with people so that we and many others had no seat.  I think most of them were people evacuating London.  Every time  ride in a train over in this country I hate them a little worse.  It is just like riding behind the harrow in dry weather;  every thing you see and touch is grime and soot.  To make matters worse this whole north country is a manufacturing area.  All the buildings are black and the sky is so full of smoke and fog that there is no such thing as a clear day,  just a sort of semi-darkness all the time.  Another remarkable thing about England in general is that a place the size of Canora instead of about 1,6000 people has around 16,000.  It seems unbelievable.

I guess I am rambling off the track a bit.  So to continue.  This station is actually in the middle of a number of towns.  There is a main street running just past my window.  It seems funny to be able to step out of the camp gates and be right in town, especially after being in Honington and Stradishall where were about 10 miles from any sort of villate.  Everything on this camp is a jumble.  I don't know where north of south is (not having seen the sun) and finding your way through the maze of buildings here is more than a feat.  The organization here is also in turmoil.  The 2 squadrons of Hampdens that were here have moved out and a G.R.  (General Reconnaisance) squadron of Ansons have moved in.  They are expecting to get some American Lockheed Electras or 14's for G.R  work but it is hard to say when.  Probably I should explain just what a G.R. squadron is for. Well, most of their work is coastal patrols/  They spot submarines and ships etc.  and are also an aid to our battle.  by locating enemy ships' direction, speed, and number, etc. and send by wireless (in code) this information to G.R. aircraft dropping bombs on them,  also we have torpedo dive bombers that carry a 1,000 lb. torpedo which will practically go through a battle ship and sort of eradicate it.

I am gradually getting around to where I come in.  As you should realize there is a very carefully planned organization of G.R. movements and tactics.  This is all planned in the operations room, where they are constantly in touch with the aircraft and their movements.  In the operations room all messages are received from and sent to aircraft.  In the first place aircraft aren't sent out in aimless directions.  Patrols and searches of a definite character are plotted for a formation or a single aircraft to carry out.  The time to turn back or alter course and time of arrival back at base are all calculated for them.  Since I have had a navigation course that is part of my job.  We work 6 hours and are off 12 hours then on duty again for 6 hours etc., at least that is what we are supposed to do,  as yet we are just sitting around waiting for instructions to go to work.  In the R.A.F. things are always in a state of indefinite decisions.  The Air Ministry will tell you to do something and when you go to do it - no one else know anything about it.  Typical of schemes controlled by the Government.

According to the paper,  train service and merchant ships are under government control now.  Ration cards are being issued;  A.R.P. trenches being dug, evacuation taking place, troops are moving all over, "black outs" every night, etc., etc.  People all seem quite busy doing one thing or another - but still very few expect there will be a war.  I don't think so myself.  I believe something is going to fall to pieces in Germany.  The  Russians and the Japs are having it out and things in general don't seem to be hitching very well.

What is doing on the farm now, and how the crops look?  Are you going to stack the grain this year or thresh it out of the field?  I suppose since you haven't had an awful lot of rain that the lake if fairly low again, or has it gone dry?  Have the ducks started to come back yet or is it too early?  How is Paul  M. getting along - is he back to normal yet? What are Pat and Paul Gogol doing?  Do they still live down in the same old shacks or have they moved out?  I guess that is enough questions for a while.

Oh yes,  Richard,  will you scrounge around and find all the old stamps you can, preferably some that are on letters and parcels from about 1920 is possible.  There are several very enthusiastic stamp collectors in camp (at Stradishall).  Also get those other large denomination stamps of the issue that those were that you have already sent.

I'll send some more magazines as soon as I get back to Stradishall.  You might send me a Chicago Herald some time if you get one, don't forget to include the comics as they don't have them here.

I'll let you know my next letter how my work up here is getting on.

Don't put 75 Squadron on my address as squadron numbers are not to be published any more, just address it to me at R.A.F Station, Stradishall, Newmarket, Suffolk.  If you put P.O. on they will know that it goes to officers' mess.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

World War II Letters Home August 20, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                                 Officer's Mess
                                                                                                 Royal Air Force Station
                                                                                                 Stradishall, Newmarket
                                                                                                 August 20, 1939

Dear: Dad and Richard:

I guess it is about time that I wrote again.  I am glad to hear that the crops are still o.k. and didn't get hailed out or burned up.  You must be getting to be quite a cook - canning fruit and peas, etc. How does the garden look - has it been alright or was it too dry?  I suppose during this hot weather the lake is quite a favorite sport. especially on Sundays.  We have been having terribly hot and close weather here for the last couple weeks.  There is a bit of a breeze today, so it isn't too bad.

I am Orderly Officer this week-end so I have to stay in camp, otherwise I would be at the bathing pool at Newmarket or the river at Burlwell.


Sorry I didn't get this finished the other day but as I have been so busy lately, I couldn't.

I was Aerodrome Control Pilot for night-flying on Monday night until 3 o'clock Tuesday.  Then I had to get up at 8 o'clock and go to Honington to attend a court martial.  A sergeant who was N.C.O. 1/c messing was charged with fraudulent misapplication of air men's rations.  As there was insufficient evidence and lack of proof, he was let off "not guilty".

I have been kept busy all this morning in the Navigation Office issuing equipment (sextants, calculators, maps, etc., to some Observer Sergeants who have just arrived here on a Navigational course.  So I was filling out loan cards for all of them.  After that I gave a couple officers some instructions on using and sighting with the bubble sextant, then after lunch some more sighting and I relieved the Squadron Adjutant in his office until 4:30.  In case of mobilization I will be posted to Thornaby - somewhere in Yorkshire as a Navigational Instructor and probably get in some time as Instructional Pilot.  There is another "flap" on just now.  This is the 3rd crisis I have been through since I have been over here.  All our leave has been cancelled and we are not (for the present) allowed to leave the station.  Also we have to be ready upon and hours notice to move out of here to where ever we are posted.  Upon notice of mobilization the whole squadron must be ready to completely evacuate in 6 hours - that means, ground staff, aircraft, repairs, equipment, stores and munitions.  My 1st war posting was to Harwell, near Oxford, but now that is changed.  Otherwise life in the R.A.F. is proceeding quite normally.

We had a couple of days of heavy rain here.  Some of it was a regular cloud-burst.  Some parts of the country are suffering from floods.  When the sun has been out it was terribly hot.  It has been hot today again so I supposed it will rain tomorrow.

The crops that I have seen over here look quite good.  Some wheat crops will be good for about 50 bushel to the acre.  They call wheat 'corn' here; I haven't actually seen any real corn.

There should be a lot more news to write about but I can't think of it right now.  I am sending some magazines with photos in them for you to keep for me.  I am going to have supper now, so I'll try to write more after I finish.  I will try to send some England newspapers to you so you can read the local news about Europe today.  I will write again this week-end and see if I can do.

Best Wishes and Love,


P.S. The enclosed is just a sample of some sort of seaweed that grows on the rocks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

World War II Letters Home August 6, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                           R.A.F. Finningley
                                                                                           August 6, 1939

Dear Mama:

It is hard for me to do much letter writing lately with all the moving, etc., going on.  Also there is a lot of air maneuvers going on day and night.

At present I am on Ground Observer's duties here.  Certain factories and large electricity transformers have been selected as targets for mock air-raids and I have to leave this station - sometimes at 5:00 a.m. with a transport lorry  which has a camera gun mounted in the roof, and go into Rotherham (just out of Sheffield) to protect these targets.  I have to comment on the tactical ways that the approaches and get-aways of the aircraft is carried on - while the air gunner shoots them down with his camera gun.

We get our orders from Mildenhall so I have to phone long-distance to the operations Officer there to get my orders and tell him the results of all the attacks.  When he considers that a target is blown up then I move to another target, as I will be doing this afternoon.  I left he station yesterday at 5:00 a..m. and didn't get back until 9:00 p.m.  We take our lunch with us and besides for being over 5 hours I get 4 shillings extra allowances and over 10 hours I get 8 shillings so I don't mind staying away.

We are to be up here for about 8 days so I should do alright.  Besides, it is around 200 miles from Stradishall so I collect travelling allowances too. But moving from station to station makes the mess bill larger as we invariably pay mess subscriptions to each mess, even if we are only there 1 week.

Everything seems to be rush and confusion - we only had 12 hours notice that we were to pack our kit and come here.  We didn't know what we were to do nor how we were to get here until about an hour before we left.

Besides being in charge of Barrack block and the photography section I am Assistant Navigation Officer of our squadron which keeps me quite busy - you know how it is - the Navigation Officer keeps out of sight and leaves me to do the business.  it is all good experience and I never turn a job down because it is good training and the more important you ca make people believe you are, well, it means that the Air Ministry at least knows you exist and probably the first to get the benefit of anything that comes along, (that is if it is possible to say that there is such a thing).

I took some negatives into Cambridge the day before we came up here, to get some pictures made to send to you but now I guess they will have to wait until I get back.  My mail is getting all mixed up and so is everything else so it will most likely take the rest of the month for me to get back to a normal, easy life again.

Oh yes, you asked me about those bottle caps, yes, I still want them if you care to collect a few.

I hope everything is going fine and that Grandma feels better.  Tell here 'hello' for me and that I wanted to enclose a note to her but I haven't much time as I am so busy.

I suppose you get all the European news so there is not much need for me to write about it.  I must close now and will write again in a few days.

Love, Your Son,


Sunday, July 27, 2014

World War II Letters Home July 27, 1939 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                           Norwich, Norfolk
                                                                                           July 27, 1939

Dear Mama:

Doug and I have been spending our few days leave travelling about visiting friends of his father.  We left the station on Friday the 19th and went to Hull.  Saturday we went to Huddersfield which is near Leeds and saw some people.  Then on Sunday we went north and east of Hull to Flamborough Head and Searborough and half way up to Whitby - along the coast.

At Flamborough we went into the caves in the cliffs and north of Searborough we saw some pretty moors covered with heather and bracken.  On Monday we went to Sheffield and saw an army pal of Dr. Morris' (Doug's dad).  We stayed over night there.  While we were there we drove around quite a bit through the hills south-west of Sheffield.  It is a very pretty country.  It reminded me of Montana.  Also we went to Sherwood Forest - the home of Robin Hood.  I have a picture the major oak where Robin Hood is said to have hidden in the hollow trunk.  It is a beautiful place.  As soon as I get some more prints made I will send you them.  I also have a few pictures taken in an old church.

Tuesday we left Sheffield, the manufacturing and smoky city, and went back to camp when I got your 2nd letter. Wednesday we came back up here on the broads in the lake lake and river country and we are spending a few days with Mr. and Mrs. Brooks.  Mrs. B was a nurse during the war and knew Doug's dad.  Their home is in London, but this is their summer residence.  I will also send photos of this place.  They have a beautiful thatched cottage and across the road from it is the river on which they have a swell cruiser. It is a motor cruiser and has sleeping room for 3 people, kitchen and all.  They live on it for several weeks at a time when they go cruising up and down the river.  As there isn't room in the house Doug and I are sleeping on the cruiser.  Boy!  Is this a great life!  We have traveled about 1,800 miles in the last two weeks but by mooching from house to house, we have spent very little money -  and I think it is a well spent holiday.  Besides the fortnight I spent Christmas in Wales this is the only other holiday I have had since being over here, a year and a month today since we landed at Liverpool.

Apparently I must have gotten over 70% on my navigation exams at Manston because I got a folder from some school wanting to sell me a book on the administrative part of 2nd class navigator's license.  they probably got the dope from Air Ministry.  I think I told you that from what I figured out on my marks I should pass.  I'm afraid a lot (about 90%) of the fellows didn't pass.  Besides the exams I had at Manston I have to write 2 more exams to get my license, one subject is on navigational legislation and the other is wireless.  so as soon as I hear definitely I'll write them off.

We won't be doing any pilot flying in August - mostly classes, but will start flying or learning to fly Wellingtons in September.  I have only done about 10 hours of piloting since the first of March.  If we don't get some soon I'll be out of practice.

During the last week my rheumatism has started to bother me in my leg.  This is the first time it has bothered me since I have been in England.  I hope it doesn't keep on.

Well, Mom, I don't know just what else to write this evening, but will write more in a few days.  Make the best of your stay in Nebraska and enjoy yourself.  Grandma will most likely hang on for a few more years yet.  I got a letter from Esther too.

Best wishes and lots of love.

                                                                               Your son,