[Continuation of letter started 12/21/17...]
Dec. 22, 1917
Another dark dismal snowy day. Inspection this morning with packs, and drill this after noon with full pack helmits and gass masks. Tomorrow, Sun a lecture at 10 oclock. This drilling Saturday and lectures Sunday is something new in the American Army, but then every thing is new now. Its work Em hard work from the time you get up in the morning until you hit the cootie nest at night, and then its work to sleep. I just drew two more siuts of under wear an O.D. uniform, two pairs of #11 trench shoes and another blanket this morning.
In this pack that I carry around at drill is 1 shelter half (or half a tent), 1 tent pole, 5 metal pins, two heavy blankets, a siut of heavy underwear, two very heavy pairs of socks, one towel, 1 cake of soap, 1 tooth brush, and paste. 1 bacon can filled with bull durham makings, a condiment can filled with matches and perfections (thanks to you folks at home), a can of shaving soap and three O.D. hankercheifs. Add a gass mask bag one on each hip, slung from the shoulder, a round about, canteen first aid pouch cartridge clip carrier, and pistol, and beleive me Em I must be a picture of war days proper.
I had my picture taken as Ive told you, and the (Frog) asked me if I wanted my whole picture taken. For fear that the rest of me would be hidden by two #11 trench shoes I said no, half of me is plenty, the rest of me is too much. Im going to wear two probably three pairs of heavy socks inside these #11 when we go up aways, so you see it was partly to be well prepared that I drew these Bunker Hill Shoes. Fill the leather of said #11-EEs with oil (we grease them every day) and they are some heavy load to carry around with you. But then Im not so heavy yet but that a slight breeze might bowl me over and see the job Ill have getting up with all this truck on me. Of coarse Ive still got the two pair of barrack shoes and two pair of those nice clean canvas leggings that I keep clean and which I wear every night when I lead my bunch of musicians about the town at Retreat.
Ive got to wear this steel hat and gass helmits though, besides a suit of heavy under wear, an o.d. shirt, an o.d. uniform, a pair of heavy socks, a pair of #11 well soked hob nailed trench boots, a Red Cross sweter, an over coat cut to within two inches of the knees and a belt around it, a pair of wristers, a pair of heavy gloves, a round about first aid packet and pouch a canteen filled with water (poison the French call it) pistol, an indentifycation tag around the left wrist (with name, rank company and regiment on it), one around my neck, with the same history on it, a baton and a gun. I guess it’s the same grin, unless one of the kids get in my way and then its my usual scowl.
Well Em it won’t be long before Ill be getting to the end of this letter so I might as well start closing now. Ive got a half hour before afternoon drill, and Im thinking of going out. Its funny to see the pioneers marching out to drill with a shovel or pick (each man carries one or the other except the corporals or sergeants) besides their packs, masks and other parifanalier (excuse mispelling please). The pioneers are the fellows that dig the trenches and make the dug outs. Then the Bombers & Sappers who carry their own trench mortars. One fellow carries the barrell, another carries the tripod, another carries the base plate, the others carry amunition. I wish you could see the American Army as it is in France today. We look like a bunch of foreigners. The signal Platoon has its wireless, and telegraphic implements and is getting along pretty well with it.
I saw Emma’s husband the other day and he said he had heard from her. Get Little Mary to send us a line. Did she get my post card? A Line from Henry would be welcomly received. I haven’t heard that Bert or Lena have lost their right arms either. Tell Pa to give my regards to Old Bill, Bert, and all the boys at the shop. Tell the Studley’s I was asking for them? How is the gang up Winter Hill ways these cold days. The Home Gaurd, Boy Scouts. Say whats going on back there any way. How is Pa’s bacon holding out? Has Uncle Al been around latly? Well Em I guess Ill throw my over coat and pack on now and join the crowd.
© Copyright 2008 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.