Douglas Moore McMillan, a farmer from Red Springs, N.C., entered the Army in June 1918 and was attached to Base Hospital #65. In September 1918, the unit went to France, near Brest, where it remained for the duration of the war. McMillan was discharged in July 1919.
The collection consists entirely of letters written by McMillan to his parents and sister between June 1918 and July 1919. McMillan was sent first to Fort McPherson near Atlanta, Georgia, for training. He describes attending automobile school, French lessons, drill, receiving a gas mask, and guard duty. He was vaccinated for smallpox and mentions a rumor that the Germans innoculated their prisoners with diseases. While stationed at Camp Upton, N.Y., before embarking for France, McMillan noted that there were approximately 60,000 soldiers at the camp, several thousand of whom were Blacks. He mentions visits to New York City, where he saw the Follies, Broadway, Chinatown, the Imperial Hotel, and Coney Island. He also commented on the cement highway between the city and his camp. Before leaving from Hoboken, N.J., he gave his father instructions for selling his crops and asked to be remembered to his tenants.
In France near Brest, McMillan noted the rainy weather, high price of goods, and the politeness of the French people. Other topics mentioned include necessity of women driving coal wagons and streetcars, both men and women wearing wooden shoes, and the excellent appearance of the many bird-dogs. From September to December, he drove an ambulance and then was made cook for the base hospital. He describes menus and his schedule which permitted visits to Brest. Throughout his hospital service, he notes the large numbers of soldiers going through the base hospital. With the Armistice signed in November, McMillan mentions boats leaving for the United States regularly, Red Cross and YMCA entertainments, and hydroplanes flying overhead dropping news pamphlets.In February 1919, he received a three-day pass and took a train to Paris to see the sights. McMillan returned home on the cruiser USS
FREDERICK and was processed for discharge at Camp Mills, Long Island.