Somewhere in France, 10/28/1918

October 28, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

Our YMCA is temporarily out of paper so I am using some which I brought from the States with me. I had a little mail this week, letter number 25 from Mother, the British American Herald and picnic program from Father and a note from Miss Phipps. I am sorry you didn’t get the card I sent from Paris. I have a little collection of them here and will send the whole lot. I bought cards of only the things that I saw but at that I have quite a few.

There is a lot of influenza here too. A lot of our men are coming back from the front with it. There is great danger of its developing into pneumonia. We have lost a lot of boys that way, but so far we have had no serious illness of any of our own company men.

For a few days now we have had pretty nice weather, a sort of Indian Summer. It has been clear and dry but not warm. It is almost the 1st of November now and we can’t expect many more warm days. I don’t know how much longer the rain is to keep up but we are glad for a few days to let things dry up a little.

Inside AEF Hospital Train, 1918

I had a surprise last night. One of the boys I had teaching in Section Seven at Ft. Riley came in to see me. He is working on a hospital train and his train was here to get a load of patients to take back to the base. Our hospital trains are fine things. They have sixteen bit steel coaches, twelve of them are like hospital wards. The beds run lengthwise, like Pullmans but there are three tiers of them instead of two. The other cars are for the dispensary, kitchen and quarters for the train men. The cars are simply and well arranged, light and easy to keep clean. A man is just as comfortable and well taken care of as at a hospital. There are doctors and nurses on the train. I imagine hospital train work is pretty nice. They travel all over the country to the various base hospitals and usually have a few hours off at the end of the trip.

We have two million men over here now. That is quite a lot. By the time they all get hardened and used to the climate and fighting conditions they will make a big addition to the Allied armies.

I am getting a little time now to practice. When we first came here I managed to get from two to four hours a day for two or three weeks and I began to feel something like my old self again. Then we began to get real busy and my practice had to be dropped. Right now we are not so busy and the other hospital company and us divide up the work. They receive the patients one day and we receive them the next. We had a few lively days. Our team has set what we think is a record for cases. Night before last we did 123 cases between 7 PM and 6:30 AM. Nearly all of those were real operations requiring an anesthetic. The other four teams who were on duty on the same shift didn’t do near so many. Twelve hours straight of that kind of work is pretty hard and we are about all in when it is time to quit.

We were off this afternoon so I took a walk over to the aviation field near here. There are machines going up and coming down all the time. While we were there a big French machine landed and then flew away again. It had three motos and was twice as big as any American plane I had ever seen. Some German planes have been flying over dropping little hand bills inviting the American soldiers to desert and surrender to the Germans. They say that it is foolish for the Americans to risk their lives when they can come over to the Germans, give themselves up and live in Germany “in comfort” until the end of the war. I don’t think that many will take advantage of the invitations.

The report we have today is that Austria has surrendered. We get lots of reports on various things and it is a couple of days before we find out whether they are true or not. More often they are not true but I hope this one is. With Austria and Bulgaria out of it and Turkey helpless, Germany can’t stand many months or even weeks and with the present indications of dissatisfaction and change of government I look for them to give up soon. If Austria holds on the war may drag on a while yet.

I am glad to have Louis Schmidt’s address. I will see him if I get the chance. A few weeks ago I made out an allotment of ten dollars a month to Mother. That is for lodge dues and anything else that may come up, the rest can be put in the bank. All the Masonic lodges that I know of are not asking their soldiers to pay dues while away so I gave my Masonic dues no thought. I made the allotment in September before I drew my August pay so the money is due from August 1. I have about a hundred dollars that I saved. It may come in handy sometime before I get home again, whenever that may be.

Are you getting my letters regularly now? Since the middle of August I have written every week on Sunday or Monday. I haven’t missed a week so you ought to be getting my letters that often. It will probably be about Thanksgiving when you get this. I hope you will eat or have eaten a good dinner for me. I suppose we will have something extra on that day. We have pretty good meals and are comfortable in every way so we are contented.

I hope you can get coal enough to keep warm this winter. Coal is scarce here but so far we have not had to suffer any. The coal used here is mostly coal dust pressed into bricks. They burn pretty well.

Mrs. Davis’ address is Box 1836 Denver, Colo. I had a little note from her not very long ago in which she didn’t say what she was doing or how she was getting along. You should get the pictures from Loomis soon. If there is much delay you might write them and ask if they got the money. I don’t know how many pictures they will send you but I would like to have one sent to the following people for Christmas: Dykes, Danes, Beechams, Aunt Lizzie, Aunt Louise, Miss Phipps and Miss Davis and of course yourselves. If there are not enough to go around or if you want more Loomis will print them I think and you can pay them and let me know what it is.

Well, this is a pretty long letter as I had better quit.

Love from

Joe

© Copyright 2014 by Alice Kitchin Enichen, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.

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