Dear Em and the rest of you,
After a somewhat buisy three days, during which time I received three letters from you, two from Lil, one from Mary, also your very welcome box, and two cartons of cigarettes from Mrs Millor and a letter from the boss, I find a little time to sit down just as I am, and start to answer what I can, before some thing else turns up to change my mind.
I think it will be proper to say that I have had a very buisy time of it since the tenth, the most of which was taken up in a way you would little dream. Its this way Em. We had a muster, and pay roll to make out and if you knew what mustering a company at the front, especially a Hdq. Co. you would have a fair idea of what we had to do with mustering, in itself. Then Jim Corr got the pay roll ready to sign and it meant another trip to every point, clear from our base to the very front line. All on foot mind you.
Hdq. Co. is some split up unit at the front beleive me. It is split up and detailed to each Battalion, from the battalions to each company in same. Neadless to tell you I had to see that every man signed the pay roll (the Lord only knows when we will get what we signed for). You read articles at home there, that say how men going into the front line trenches only stay ten or fifteen days. Hdq. Co. though stays in until the whole regiment clears out of the trenches altogether. This regiment has been up here now since Feb. 7 and to date I don’t know when we will be releived. Never a worry, kick, or any thing less than a smile though, is seen here, and they can keep us here for ever if the war lasts that long, for we all realize that kicking wont win this war unless it is a boshe you kick and you’ve got to chase him a while to catch him, and the only way to catch him is to be up here near him.
Don’t you worry about the Sammies. There are only a few of us here it is true, but those few are there, and they are not forgotten by you folks at home. I didn’t intend to tell you my troubles, when I started this letter, but the “mind will out” you know so lets answer your letters.
Your letter of the 3rd of Feb. speaks of snow. I never saw better weather in my life, since the day before yesterday. It is just (Grand). Sunny France is coming back into its own, judging from the weather of the last three days. And that dance of “Boston’s Own.” Beleive me Em Ive had some dancing the last forty eight hours but the floor wasn’t as smooth as Roughan’s. Turkey Trot, Rabbit Jump, Snake Crawl, Glide, a good many falls (for Im not as clever as I will be, yet) is our dance here when walking from one P.C. to the other. And the music (yes we have music.) We don’t keep time with it though. We try to keep ahead of it. These big shells and pieces of shrapnel play a nice tune, but Ive heard music that I liked better.
My regards to all the girls in the shop. What is Zella going to do the seventeenth? Throw Napolean a kiss for me. As for the band now, Em, it is hardly any more, while in the trenches anyway, for they too, have been split up and sent to the different battalions to be used as first aid and stretcher bearers. “When I get back to my old band how happy I will be.” When I hear music again I think Ill go nuts. Id even like to hear you play your instrument there. As for learning French and handing it to you when I get back. No, Im very slow at learning you know. Im trying hard to learn how to forget.
I was glad to hear about Uncle Al in your letter of Feb. 7 and was pleased to hear that you answered Lil’s letter. Also that Henry is well and shows up once in a while. Glad to hear it is some what warmer after the awful weather you’ve been having. Can you imagine what is going on hear now. Ill finish this letter though now that Ive started. I had a hair cut and shave yesterday. One of the fellows has a kit with him that I knew nothing of. There is a fine tune going on now Em but the papers I beleive, tell you how we take it. Just as the Boshe give it (willingly).
We are being treated fine, plenty of scoff and every thing is going along very smoothly. I was thinking of answering the other letters or some of them any way this afternoon but Im afraid this will be all for today. This at least will let you all know that Sam is still O.K. Mary and Aunt Madge has by this time received my letters, and will get another when conditions permit.
Probably you have done so but if not in your next letter tell me about the dance at Roughan’s. If they made any money (foolish question #1), much of a crowd (#2), was there any mopping up parties (#3), were the patrols buisy (#4) or anything else that could be classed as activities. Well Em probably the next letter you get from me will be sent from hear, and probably not, for we little know just when any thing is to happen, but rest well assured that I will write when I can and where ever I am and that Im looking out for Sam, when Sam aint looking out for himself.
With love to all
Sgt. S.E. Avery Hdq. Co. 103rd Inf A.E.F.
P.S. When there’s the devil to pay and things go wrong just pack them away and Smile. Tell Lena that that smile I used to have, I hope will never come off. We nead It. Where did I get this paper? I really dont know.
© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.