In honor of Veterans’ Day this year, we bring you a scrapbook from our collection, titled Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919. The scrapbook is filled with letters written to Dr. Guy S. Millberry by both former and on-leave students during their military service. Millberry began working at UCSF in 1906, was appointed Professor in 1910, and became Dean of Dentistry in 1914– a role he continued in for twenty-five years.
The collected letters were written from a variety of places– Camp Greenleaf, GA; Camp Fremont, CA; Vancouver, WA; Royat, France; Oakland, CA; Camp MacArthur, TX; San Pedro, CA; Camp Lewis, WA; Khabarovsk, Siberia; New York, NY; Fort D.A. Russell, WY; Camp Greene, NC; Camp Shelby, MS; Camp Lee, VA; La Ferte, France. They were sent from forts, camps, ships, submarines, and hospitals. Most of the the letters are handwritten, a few are typewritten.
The soldiers ask Dr. Millberry for letters of recommendation, job advice, proof of graduation, if their leave of absence will be honored or extended to allow them return to school after the war ends, and give updates on their lives. One soldier, who wrote on September 21, 1918, included a copy his records detailing the dental work he did in one week.
A graduate of the 1917 UC College of Dentistry class, Edwin Busse, wrote a letter on October 18, 1918 from his station in Paimboeuf, France that included several photographs (the letter is transcribed in full at the end of this post). Busse is pictured in the 1917 Blue and Gold UC yearbook as a member of the Psi Omega dentistry fraternity. Below, a photograph of the Arch de Triumph in Paris, France. The caption reads: “Note how French have protected statue on right with sandbags.”
Included with same letter, a photograph of a “portable dental outfit.”
As well as a photograph of a “dental office at Paimboeuf.”
Clark R. Giles received his Degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from UC in 1914 and had been an instructor in Prosthetic Dentistry here before serving in World War I. He wrote a detailed letter to Millbery on on October 7, 1918 from Royat, France describing the work that goes on at Base Hospital 30, the war, his recent leave, and even mentions Busse.
Oct 7, 1918
My dear Dr. Millberry:
I have been a long time in writing to you but rest assured it is not because I have not thought many times of you and of the University.
We are located in Royat near Claremont-Ferrand a city of 60 thousand. We have the hospital well established in 17 or 18 summer hotels and at present have a little more than 1700 patients and within a few months expect to be able to care for 3 thousand if necessary.
Our department is very comfortably (not lavishly, naturally) equipped and just at present we are five dentists and six assistants. However we expect to lose our extra help ere long but in all probabilities they will be replaced by men from incoming organizations. We are kept very busy for example last month we saw some 650 patients and we try to have each man who comes in, go out with his mouth in a completed condition. We naturally have a great amount of routine work to do but mixed with it are also numerous very interesting wound and fracture cases from which we learn a great deal in the surgical and fracture line. All cases involving facial or other structures than the jaws or teeth are as you probably know handled in conjunction with the surgical department.
Click through to read the rest of the letter written by Giles followed by the letter from Busse that included the photographs, written to Millberry a week later than Giles’, also from France.
One case it has been my good fortune to handle was of two huge cysts involving one, almost the entire body of the sup. maxilla, and the other leaving just a shell of the mandibula running back under the first molars of each side. They were the largest things of the sort I have ever seen but at present new tissue is building very nicely and I hope for a nice final result in time.
We at most times have one or two fractured mandibules on hand so I feel that if when I return to San Francisco and see a fractured jaw come in I won’t be very badly excited by it. I feel that I learned a considerable number of points about such cases from Dr. Winters clinics in the two weeks we spent with him in New York. But must add that after visiting the colleges in New York I felt proud to have received my training in the U. of C. and then and there decided that you do not have to “go fast” to get the good things of the profession.
Have only met one of our men since I have been over here (now nearly six months) Maurice Gloyier, who is with an ammunition train that is in a camp nearby just at present. Have rec’d letters from Edwin Busse but do not know of the whereabouts of any of the others.
I have just returned from my first “leave” having had 7 days exclusive of travelling time. I went to Marseille, Nice, Nîmes, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Menton, crossed the Italian border and came back by way of Lyon. I surely had a wonderfully interesting and beautiful trip. Would like to have gone to Paris but at present that is “out of bounds” but hope to get there later by some method or other.
Things are surely going beautifully on the “Front” of late and from the declaration of day before yesterday guess we must have the old Kaiser standing first on one foot than the other.
Well we anxiously await the results of this huge diplomatic week and hope always for peace.
If you are not too busy, and I have never seen you too busy to take on some new task, I would be more than pleased to hear from you.
Clark R. Giles
Base Hospital 30
I am enclosing a few pictures which may be of some interest to you and for which you asked some time ago.
Of course over here the problem is films and paper. So far I have not been able to get any that fit my camera, and as you may see, those I brought from home have suffered from age and have made spotted prints.
The work over here continues to be far from interesting. This is due no doubt to the very limited means we have of doing any great amount of dentistry in these isolated stations. The commanding officer of this station has been very much interested in the work and has had me give blackboard lectures both to the men and officers.
I have written on the back of the pictures about each one.
Edwin K. Busse