Laignes-en-Belin, Le Mans Area France
Received your letter of Jan 10 this day and was very much pleased to know that you are taking little stock in what the papers say in regards to our return home soon. We have no idea as yet when we leave here nor where we will go when we do leave so keep right on writing for its getting to be a tiresome grind now believe me.
Your letter says that the papers state we will sail sometime in March. Im in earnest when I say that we will get a surprise if this proves to be the case. We’ve got a drill schedule now that takes care of the rest of this month and this I beleive is only a starter. True, this is the embarkation centre for troops on the homeward-bound list, but orders can be changed very quickly and as much as I dislike to think of it Russia is a big job on our hands just now and things there are getting worse. The boys of this division will not put it by them to shoot us up there if things get rough.
So here we are Em, for some reason or other still in France and just as some year and a half ago we were willing to meet whatever they had for us to meet, so is the 26th ready to meet whatever they now have in store for us. We won’t go home until after Peace has been signed anyway and as none of the divisions that took part in any of the fighting have as yet left for home, there must be some thing unforeseen by us in the wind. The brave heroes such as the 76th (“who saw some of the hardest fighting”) (ha-ha and a couple of hee-hees) have returned it is true but then (“They didn’t want to do it you know they made them do it.”) Say Em where does the papers get that stuff?
Well, I guess Im getting too sarcastic now so Ill switch off and tell you what we are doing in our spare time. We have been here six days. We’ve already been inspected twice and reviewed once which means more work than one outside of this game can realize. For instance a review and we had one today. Hike out to a large field surly five miles away with pack, stand at atention for at least an hour then parade and hike back. We started out this morning at half past eight with said pack on our backs said pack consisting of two blankets, shelter-half, rain coat, gass mask slung around one shoulder, rifle over same, and of coarse all the junk that goes with it such as field belt, bayonet, aid packet, canteen and helmet. All this on for a review. We returned to our humble billets at twelve oclock, the pack not having once been shifted and every thing wet. Cold and rainy, but out again this afternoon, every thing wet to complete the day. All this might be well if we were a bunch of recruits, but after going through and doing what we have it gets our goats. Our equipment gets so dirty and this so quick that really the most of our spare time is spent scrubing up for inspection which as Ive said we had two and we haven’t been here a week yet.
When they are not reviewing us and parading us and inspecting us they are drilling us. Six oclock roll out, seven grab your eats, wash up, police quarters, better shave if you’re the least bit in doubt, leave your billet as spick and span as an experienced house wife and fall in for drill at eight. Drill (and say Em it is sure some drill for us) until eleven thirty, grab your kit and get to the chow line, for scoff for the sooner you get yours the sooner you will be ready for the afternoon degree, after having a smoke, cleaning some of the mud off your shoes, and reading a few lines in the daily paper that gets in about this time. Get back from this at three, and until four oclock our time is our own after cleaning our rifles, bayonets, shoes and a general dressing up for retreat. Dont worry though we just have about time to buckle on our belt, shouldering our toys and fall in again. Then its chow time again after which it is dark, no place to go but to the Y.M.C.A. which is so small that Ive never been lucky enough to crowd in to any performance yet.
Its the same thing and will be now day after day except Sunday and then its time to take a bath which is done by setting a dish of water up next to an open fire and with a few shivers do your duty. Cloths have to be washed, equipment cleaned and striaghtened out, buttons sewed on, well there is plenty to do. Don’t you think they are keeping us from being lazy, and trying to keep our minds off home going. (Im using the back of one of the other sheets)
Im feeling great and glad to know that you are all in the same class. More speed to Pa at 66. At the present rate Ill be older than him at 40. Id like to have a piece of that fudge tonight. Dont forget to give my regards to Henry and Leonard.
Well Em as all I feel like doing tonight is kick I think Ill lay off, put this in an envelope and join the boys in their every evening discusion. They have all got through writing and are bunched up around the small fire talking of why when and if we are going to cross the pond before Summer sets in. I dont want you to think I want to leave this just to horn in with them but don’t you think Ive said plenty?
Best wishes to all and love to you
Samuel E. Avery #69762, Hdq Co. 103rd Inf.
P.S. Notice I got the sheets all mixed up so watch out!
© Copyright 2009 by Richard Landers, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.