Needham Goes Over There
Needham, the War, and the Home Front in World War 1.
Like most American towns, Needham sent its young men to the Front, and backed them up at home with Liberty Bond drives, clothing collections, and victory gardens. “Over There” uses clothing, uniforms, and memorabilia from the Home Front to look at Needham at the time of the First World War.
Notice to the Public
“If there is anyone in the town of Needham that wants this war to continue, just disregard any order or recommendation that the government has made. I, for one, don’t believe there is…. The coal situation is serious and becoming more acute daily and the [orders for conservation] must be strictly enforced…. I am making this appeal. Let everyone do their bit to win this war and help the boys go over the top. They are giving their lives. Why should we hesitate to do all in our power toward the same great causes?” – Local Fuel Committee Chairman, 19 January 1918
“I would enter a village, or better, where once was a village – nothing left but crumbled walls, with perhaps an outline of a house here and there. I pictured these same villages four years ago – I pictured their stores and the ever-present cafes where the peasants and farmers would gather after a hard day’s toil, and spend the evenings in laughter and characteristic French happiness – but now a dead stillness. I tried to imagine should I, after the War is over to return and find my home and town in complete ruin – and my heart ached for the poor French…. There are no small babies in France now – practically none rather – the baby carriages are used to gather wood in…” – Letter, T.J. (Jim) Crossman to his father, 26 February 1918
“Sam, I’ve got the best thing in the Army barring nothing – I will tell you what I can, but the most interesting part of it I cannot tell. I am in the Intelligence Department of the U.S. Army…briefly, observation and information of the enemy – how does that sound? Could you beat it?… There is no living man that is happier than I – I am stepping into the most dangerous branch of the Army, as a choice…and I know I’ll never regret it even though they get me the first crack…
I have written this letter for two reasons. 1st That someone at home knows what I am doing, 2nd That, if the case be, that I am ‘tucked’ away there will be somebody to tell the rest of my loved folks…. Be sure and make them realize that I have all the confidence in them in the world but I did not want them to know of my dangerous work because I loved them and did not want them to worry…
PS –To the Censor, Dear Sir,
If for any reasons, you should see fit, not to let this letter thru – I ask you, with due respect, as an American soldier trying to do his duty to his beloved country and home, I ask you to hold this letter until the war is over and then send it to the address on the envelope. I know your duties are many, but I promise you that I will never ask such a great favor again. I remain most respectfully yours, Private Thomas J. Crossman, Jr.” – Letter, Jim Crossman to his brother Sam, 3 February 1918. The letter was delivered.