Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, was originally called Armistice Day and marked the end of World War I. Millinocket had men who fought in that war. One was Murray Morgan who joined a Canadian infantry company and fought in France and Belgium. He was a student at Colby College when he enlisted and was one of a number of Maine men who joined the Canadian army before the U. S. entered the war. While in Europe, Morgan sent several letters to an acquaintance in Waterville, a Captain Harold Pepper. Copies of these have been received by the museum recently. The originals will be part of a show of WWI letters at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine in Augusta. MHS was contacted for photos or possible contact with Morgan relatives.
Morgan was killed in action in Belgium in February of 1916. Following are a few excerpts two of his long letters. “Jan. 13, 1915, the trenches in Belgium. First the scene, a valley just below our trenches which are on the crest of a ridge and which have cost many a life to take.” He talks of the Germans being 400 yards away, firing howitzers called ‘lazy Eliza’ for the sound their shells made. “Next imagine a great hole in the ground, in the side of a hill, reinforced by numerous sand bags, the hole inhabited by numerous rats, more numerous lice and a couple dozen men grouped around a few braziers filled with burning coke and you have a dim picture of my habitation tonight.”
“Jan. 27,1915, somewhere in Belgium. Am still on the firing line, but will be out in a few days for a short rest. Had a close call today, a shell dropped about 25 ft. from me. I don’t mind the rifle fire when iron foundry is hurled at you it gets on one’s nerves a bit. It was pretty cold last night, was on guard just before daybreak, gazing over the parapet trying to get a look at Fritz at that time in the morning is enough excitement for most anyone.” He mentions standing in the mud watching for the enemy, smelling for gas, no feeling in his feet due to cold and being sleepy. “A new sentry takes your place, you cook and eat enough for a dozen and retire to your dugout and hit the flea nest for a few hours.” He describes it as one of the joys of a soldier’s life that must be experienced to be appreciated.
This is only a tiny part from the eight letters and some post cards. More later.
*** A Little Taste of History, a new cookbook featuring recipes from many Millinocket pioneer families and their descendants (wives of mill employees, businessmen, school and town employees and more. Includes some photos and personal notes. 200 pages. Each cookbook is $15.00 (mail orders add $5.00 SH each book). At the museum, Memories of Maine Gallery, Steel Magnolias, Katahdin General & by mail.
*** Museum HOURS…. Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays from noon – 3 PM. The new OPEN sign will be lit.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or email@example.com. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.