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April


THIS MAN'S WAR
by
Charles F. Minder
306th Machine Gun Battalion
Company B


APRIL

DEAR MOTHER,
Friday, April 12, 1918

It is nine o'clock and we are on a train, having just passed New Rochelle, and are headed north, where to, we do not know, except that we are now on the way to France. We came over the Hell Gate Bridge. That was a wonderful thrill. New York looked great, even though it was dark and you couldn't see very far. New York sure made me wonder whether I would ever see it again. The fellows are all singing, Some are playing cards and you would think they were going off on a picnic to have a good time. I wish I could be so light-hearted. Poor fellows, they might as well be as happy as they can, for it will not be long before they will realize that this is a serious mission we are going on. As bad as the food was at the barrack, I missed it tonight on the train, because all we got was some cold salmon out of cans and some bread and butter. We stopped for a little while somewhere in Westchester and some Red Cross women served us hot coffee. This was a lifesaver as we were cold.

We had our first experience in eating out of our mess kits. They are made out of aluminum and, after we are thru eating, we all have to clean them ourselves. This automatically wipes out the Kitchen Police detail from now on.

At two-fifteen this afternoon, we lined up outside, said good-bye to the good old barrack, and the whole Battalion marched off to the station and got on the train. There was something about that march that gave me a thrill. It made me feel like a conquering hero. I guess it's the comradeship with the men that makes you feel that way. We whistled and sang the popular war songs all the way, and some of the fellows haven't stopped yet. The Sergeant just told me that I go on guard duty at eleven and stay on until one. All the corporals have to stand on the platform of the train and see that no private jumps off, or tries to desert. The privates have it easy tonight. I don't think there is going to be any comfortable sleeping tonight. We are in coaches and all have to sit up. It's pretty tough trying to sleep that way unless you are dead tired, and when you wake up, your bones are stiff from the uncomfortable position.

Some of the fellows think they are taking us up to Canada to get on a boat there, to avoid the submarines. But I don't see how that is possible because we are going in the direction of New England. Good night, Mom Dear, all my love to you and Mousie.
Affectionately,

CHARLES.

Saturday, April 13, 1918
DEAR MOTHER,
We are now on a steamer called the Karoa, an English ship, with a crew of Malays and natives from India.
There are fully two thousand men on board and it is too big a crowd for the size of the ship. There are only twelve showers on board the whole ship and bathing is impossible. The whole 306th Machine Gun Battalion, Headquarters and Medical Corps, are on board, also all of E Company of the 306th Infantry, with their Headquarters Company, Regimental Headquarters and Supply Companies. It is some crowd! I was relieved at one this morning after being on guard for two hours. Most of the fellows were sound asleep and snoring as terribly as ever. The noise of the train drowned them out, however. I slept then until six this morning.

At seven, we arrived at Boston, and immediately detrained and were marched to the Cunard docks. We had a long wait on the dock, for it wasn't until two o'clock that we boarded the boat. The fellows were all ravenously hungry and ate too much of the meal that the English cooks on the ship served us.

The crew of this ship are very interesting to watch, but they are a dirty lot. I don't think they ever bathe. At five o'clock we put off to sea. It's ten o'clock now, and I guess we must be about a hundred miles off the coast somewhere. All the lights on the ship are out. No one is allowed on deck. They are afraid we might be seen by a submarine and sunk, so they are not taking any chances. Well, Mom, I feel I am in the Navy tonight. I have my hammock all ready to hook up and have been waiting until things kind of settle down so that I can get to sleep. I feel all right, not seasick yet. I think the five years of motor boating I did on Long Island Sound did me a lot of good because I have good sea legs.

It's a shame the way we are herded in here. Why, it's worse than the cattle-pens! I hope this is a fast boat and we get over quickly because this is going to be terrible. Well, Mother Dear, I would give anything 'in the world to be home with you right now.
Your soldier sailor boy,

CHARLES.

Sunday, April 14, 1918
DEAR Mom,
We were awakened at seven this morning. I was dead tired because I had such difficulty in falling asleep last night. It must have been between two and three in the morning when I finally dozed off. My mind was wandering something terrible. I've had a dull headache all day and feel seasick.

We had a little excitement this afternoon about five o'clock. The boat suddenly stopped and everyone went to the rail to see what was the matter. A hydroplane was drifting helplessly on our starboard side and there were two aviators in it. One was standing out on the wing waving frantically. When he saw the ship stop, I can just imagine his feelings. In a short time it would have become dark and they would probably have drifted out to sea. They sure were lucky that our ship came along when it did. They were from the fort at Rockaway and their machine had broken down. They drifted alongside and a derrick was lowered to them arid they hooked the plane and hoisted it up on deck.

We were all surprised tonight to see the electrically illuminated ferris wheel at Coney Island. I stayed up until we dropped the anchor. We are somewhere in New York Bay, back to where we started from. Why we took that long ride last night to Boston on the train is beyond me. What a waste of time and expense! But that's the way they do things in the Army. A submarine chaser came alongside, and we lowered the hydroplane and the aviators down to the water and they towed it away.
Yours, as ever,

CHARLES.

Monday, April 15, 1918
DEAR MOM,

We are still anchored in New York harbor. What a temptation to Jump overboard and swim home to you today! We loafed practically the whole day, with the exception of a half-hour physical culture drill up on the deck where the officers are. The soldiers are all down below and are not allowed to go up with the officers. They have a wonderful deck to promenade on up there. All we can do is to walk around the hatches on the front and rear decks. They also made us stand for a physical examination. This broke up the day's monotony. There are a number of other ships anchored here in the harbor and I think they are part of the convoy that we go over in.

We saw a huge dirigible balloon flying over Staten Island this afternoon and it sure did look pretty in the sunshine. They say that the balloon crew can see far out over the ocean to protect us from submarines. The fellows are getting used to the crowded quarters and there were fewer complaints today. The men seem to be in a better state of mind since the sun came out again.

The food on board is terrible. We have a couple of cockney Englishmen cooking for us, and it's a shame that they get away with it, because they cannot cook decently at all. The coffee is served from a big garbage can. There probably never was any garbage in it but when you see them dip the coffee out of it, your stomach turns just the same. The smoking order has been changed. We are allowed to smoke below decks now, but under no circumstances must a light be seen on deck after five o'clock.

Today, the fellows got their cards out and are gambling furiously.

One fellow in the company who is a nut on keeping track of things reminded us that tonight, six years ago, the Titanic sunk on her maiden trip, fifteen hundred and eight people out of the two thousand two hundred and twenty-three passengers drowning. Some of the more sensitive fellows shouted to throw the crape-hanger overboard. It isn't a very pleasant subject to bring up when everyone on board is worried about being sunk by a torpedo from a German submarine. I slept pretty good last night, Mother Dear. The ham-mock wasn't so bad after all. It is beckoning me now so will end this and add some more tomorrow.
Your homesick

CHARLES.

Tuesday, April 16, 1918
DEAR MOTHER,
We left this morning at a quarter of eleven with fourteen other ships. The Karoa is the flagship of the convoy. We have Brigadier General Wettenmeyer on board with us. This morning we lost another officer from our company. He was ill with appendicitis when we left Camp Upton but pluckily came along just the same. It was more than he could stand, so the submarine chaser NO. 425 took Lieutenant Nachazel and a few sick privates off the ship and took them over to New York, I guess. Lucky fellows, I call them.

We had another physical culture drill up on the officers' deck and another physical inspection. The officers sure have it wonderful up there. They have a nice dining-room and private staterooms, while we soldiers are worse off than steerage passengers. The animals on cattle boats have better quarters than we. When I walk past the place where they are cooking the food for the officers, my mouth waters. This afternoon I saw about fifty chickens all laid out ready to go into an oven. They had them tonight. We had beef stew, mostly flour and water to thicken it. I didn't eat much of it because I didn't like it, and, furthermore, I do not want to overload my stomach, because that is what makes you seasick. Well, I guess you must know by now that we left Camp Upton because you didn't get any letter from me for three or four days.
CHARLES.

DEAR Mom,
Wednesday, April 17, 1918

The sea was just a little choppy but nobody is sea-sick as yet. No one has been since that terrible first night on board. The 306th Infantry band was playing for a while today and it sure was great. It was just what we needed to chase the blues away. We had some more calisthenics and physical inspection today and loafed the rest of the time.

The steamer Philadelphia, on our starboard, almost collided with us tonight, coming within one hundred and fifty feet of us. The Captain of our ship put up the starboard light for a moment and the Philadelphia headed off again in a different direction. These fourteen ships in our convoy keep pretty close together, and how they avoid hitting each other is beyond me. At night, you can't see the other ships at all, and this morning when we awoke, even tho it was foggy, they managed to keep together. I hope this keeps up all the way across or we'll be bumping into one an-other.

The moon and stars are out tonight and it looks promising for some good weather. I was up on deck tonight, looking up at them and wished I was living on another planet instead of on this mad world. I was swinging a little last night in my hammock and fell asleep while dreaming of you, Mother Dear.
Your

CHARLES.

Friday, April 19, 1918

DEAR MOTHER,
The weather was good and bad today, mostly bad. We had another boat drill today and the usual physical culture drill and physical inspection. Nobody is sick as yet. The Karoa is riding the waves very good tonight, and the sea is a little calmer than it was this afternoon. It is just a week tonight that we left Camp Upton and it seems like a year. How quickly the time passes! We have all been thru something this past week and the worst is yet to come, I think. The ships in the convoy are all staying together nicely and nothing exciting happened today.

The officers had a wonderful looking lot of fish to eat tonight. I saw them as I walked past their kitchen today. They opened a lot of cans of salmon for us, heated it, and poured a lot of thick creamy gravy over it. We were hungry and it tasted good. They served us some rotten English tea tonight and the fellows let out a yell. They want coffee, even though it is served out of a garbage can. Sleepy now so will climb into my hammock. I have a nice quiet spot all by myself over in one corner.
CHARLES.

DEAR MOTHER,
Saturday, April 20, 1918

We shoved the clock fifty minutes ahead today, according to the ship's clock. A sailor strikes the bell every half-hour so that's the way we tell. There is a sailor up in the lookout on the front mast all the time looking out over the ocean, and if he sees anything that looks suspicious and might be a submarine, he gives the alarm.

One little Italian fellow in our company turned actually yellow today. He is terribly seasick. The surprising part is that we haven't had any big waves as yet. I'll never forget the big waves we ran into the time we all went over to Germany when I was a little boy. At that time, I thought sure the waves would go right over the ship. I still remember that we were all ordered below decks for two days. Do you remember? It was very windy, cloudy and cold today, which made it very unpleasant. I think I will sleep with all my clothes on tonight.
Good night, Mom Dear,

CHARLES.

Monday, April 22, 1918
DEAR MOTHER,
Tonight we entered the danger zone and everybody is on edge. We are getting near to the coast of Europe and the German submarines are in this vicinity. The moon is shining brightly and the ships are easily distinguishable, and we make excellent targets for the enemy to shoot at. I can see all the other ships in the convoy tonight and it is a very pretty picture. The farthest one is about two miles away on our port side. I wonder how many men there are on the other ships! They are all larger boats. The one we are on is just a little freight ship. The two thousand men crowd it something awful.

It's wonderful, when you think of it, how we are getting all our soldiers to the other side. The Germans never thought that we would be able to. There are almost a million of us in France now and more coming. When the Germans see this crowd, they are going to drop dead, I think. There aren't so many of them left, you know. I read that they are putting all the kids in the Army as soon as they reach eighteen. Isn't it awful when you think of it? Just think of all the widows there are going to be after the war is over!

At three o'clock all the non-coms were assembled and we had an hour of school and examination on almost everything we have already learned. It's surprising how quickly you can forget. All of us were rusty and the Lieutenant made a remark to the effect that we must do better than that if we want to hold our jobs. I'm still acting corporal, haven't received any chevrons as yet, and am getting the pay of a first-class private only. I'm working cheaply for Uncle Sam. He has lots of expenses, at the moment, so I don't mind, and will help him along a little. I can't ask him for a raise as I would do in civil life.

The gamblers are still playing poker, black-jack, and banker and broker. This boat is another Yukon gambling dive. The smoke is thick from the fellows smoking and the gamblers wager recklessly. The fellow who has been winning so consistently added another hundred and ten dollars to his winnings and now is four hundred and ten dollars to the good. He would have to be in the army for over a year to earn what he has in the last week. Well, Mom, that's about all for today.
Love to you both,

CHARLES.

Thursday, April 25, 1918
DEAR MOM,
We had some calisthenics this morning, and it did us a great deal of good. We did double-time, running on one spot. This kept up for about fifteen minutes, so I guess we ran about two miles, jumping up and down on the one spot.

One of the fellows from upstate, a healthy red-cheeked fellow, by the name of Anderson, rebelled today. He has been complaining about the food a lot. He became so mad that he threw his whole mess kit full of food on the floor. The Top-Sergeant came along and saw it and told him to clean it up. Anderson refused, saying it wasn't fit for dogs, and so forth. The Top-Sergeant left and shortly came back with the Captain of our company. Everybody stood at attention while he bawled us out, telling Anderson that it was downright mutiny to carry on in that way, and that he could be court-martialed for it. Anderson told the Captain that if he could get the same food that they were feeding the officers, there would be no mutiny. Evidently Anderson has been walking past the officers' kitchen, where I have been strolling each day. I saw pies) puddings and steaks, and I told you about the fifty chickens I saw.

The Captain was stumped and couldn't answer for about a half a minute. He is fair and square, and down in his heart, he knew about the different quality of food the men were getting in comparison to the officers. He made Anderson clean up the mess and left. Tonight there was a great difference in our meal, the best we have had since we got on the ship. The cooks went thru a little more trouble and made a farina pudding for us just smothered with a nice vanilla sauce. This is the first dessert we have had on this ship. I am beginning to think that we have been entitled to dessert at every meal, but somebody has been holding back on us. We had a nice piece of roast meat tonight. Up to now, I guess they have been cutting it up and dumping it into a big pot and just making a rotten stew out of it. Slum is the name the fellows give it.

Anderson was all smiles tonight. The fellows were all kidding him and thanking him for having put up the kick. No one else had the nerve to do it. I wish he would have started to boil ten days ago and all the rotten meals we had would have been avoided. Now we are almost over. It pays to kick sometimes. Well, Mom Dear, guess that's all for tonight, will add some more tomorrow.
CHARLES.

Friday, April 26, 1918
DEAR MOTHER)
The sun came out in all its glory today, and life was worth living again. I had a wonderful sunbath this afternoon and kind of dried myself. Four more destroyers joined our convoy this morning, and we are sailing merrily along and have plenty of protection now. I don't think any German submarine will come near us. We still have our life preservers on and haven't got used to them yet; I don't think I ever would. They took all our hammocks away from us this morning, and we thought sure we would land some time today. Here it is ten o'clock, and we are still on the ocean, and I don't know where we are going to sleep tonight! The things they do in this Army! I think they're all crazy. Our packs are all made up, and it is some job to undo them to get our blankets out. No one seems to know what to do. If we unpack them, we might be called in the middle of the night to get off the boat. If they would only tell us that we land tonight sometime, we would know what to do. The officers are well off. It makes no difference to them, because they have private staterooms and bunks in each one of them. There is much more room down below now that they took the hammocks from us, and it will be easier to get out in case of accident.

This afternoon I went up to the front of the ship and looked down at the water and two great big fish were racing along with the ship. They must have been at least five feet long and looked like sharks to me. I became dizzy, looking down at them, and continued on my walking trip back and forth. An hour later I took another look and they were still there racing along with us. The fellows are still playing cards and only stop long enough to eat and sleep. I see a bundle of bags over in the corner and am going to lie down on them and get a little rest.

Good night,

CHARLES.

Saturday, April 27, 1918
DEAR MOTHER,

Well, we got over safe and sound. The funny part of it is that we are in the harbor outside of Liverpool, in England. I thought we were going to France and what we are doing way up here is beyond me. It is now twelve. We dropped anchor twenty minutes ago and it looks like we stay here for the night. Our packs are still made up, and I wish they would have let us keep our hammocks so we could sleep decently.

I had a terrible time for sleep last night. I was up a number of times. The fellows were sprawled around everywhere on the hard floor, using their packs for pillows. Some were sitting on the benches at the mess tables with their heads on the table fast asleep. There were four others with me trying to sleep on the bundle of bags. We froze all night. At six o'clock this morning I went up on deck and we were still out on the ocean. We had a physical culture drill this morning. The fellows were half dead from the terrible night. Then we had another physical examination.

This afternoon we lined up and signed the pay-roll. I guess our next pay will be in foreign money. We had the first sight of land this afternoon at three-thirty. How the fellows shouted! Everybody was up on deck. Surely the joy of Columbus, when he saw land, had nothing on us. It was the Holly Head of Wales that we saw. It was just a mass of rocks and looked like Gibraltar. It was spotted with white houses on the orange and purple rocks. It was a wonderful sight with the Philadelphia on our starboard side silhouetted against the mass. The water is called the Irish Sea, and it is well named, for it has a wonderful green color, a light Zinnobar Green. At night it turned to a more milky green. We saw no more land after passing that point until we dropped anchor. We can see the lights of Liverpool very dimly. The boat is steady now and I am glad the trip is over. We changed the time forty-five minutes today, making a total of four and a quarter hours difference from New York time.

The coolie crew brought out some musical instruments tonight and played some weird music. They cook their own food in the stern of the ship and it sure does smell terrible. I don't know how they can eat that kind of food. The smell is enough to knock you over. On this trip they walked about, doing their work barelegged with just a white sheet around their bodies. The soldiers were all bundled up in overcoats and freeking, and these devils didn't seem to mind the cold at all. The English officers of the boat shout at them something terrible. They all speak the India tongue, and it sure is a strange sounding language. I guess it's the bundle of bags over in the corner for me again. Why they ever took those hammocks away from us, I don't understand. Well, Mom, guess I will close this one and perhaps will get a chance to mail it tomorrow.
CHARLES.

Sunday, April 28, 1918

DEAR MOTHER,
It's eleven-thirty, and we are on an English train somewhere in England going South. We stopped at a town called Rugby for fifteen minutes at eleven o'clock and some English Red Cross women gave us all some hot coffee. It was a life-saver. We are on a train that has five compartments, holding eight men in each. The doors are on the side of the train, not at the end, like the American trains are. Quite a novelty these trains. This morning, when I went up on deck after another restless night, our ship was away up on the Mersey River, having moved up during the night as the tide rose. All morning we worked, helping in bringing all our supplies out of the hold and placing them on deck. About two o'clock a tug pulled us over to the shore, and we all got off. It did feel good to get on land again.

We were fifteen days on the Karoa. The harbor was very picturesque and interesting. I wish this was a pleasure trip so I could go sightseeing. The dock was fenced in all around and we could see nothing of the town. I was disappointed.

At a quarter to seven this evening, after waiting around on the dock all afternoon, we boarded this train and soon after started on our way. The scenery on the way was beautiful, everything was in bloom. A wonderfully kept hedge is on both sides of the railroad tracks all the way. I swear it must be hundreds of miles long, because we have been riding for almost five hours and the hedge is still here. And what a difference between this and our railroads in America! This is scrupulously clean. There is no junk alongside the tracks in this country. I think I would like to live over here just for the pretty scenery. We also stopped at a place called Creve for a few minutes at nine o'clock. The train is shaking too much for writing, so will close, Mother Dear, and hope I get a chance to mail this soon. These seats are soft, so it won't be so bad sleeping, but it will have to be sitting up. Will add more to this tomorrow.

CHARLES.

Monday, April 29, 1918
DEAR MOM,
At four-thirty this morning, we were awakened by a great deal of noise and shouting. The English conductors of the train were shouting, "Change!" Over in the States, they holler, "All Out! Last Stop!" So we changed. We were lined up, counted off, and started to march over cobblestones. These cobbles must have been on these streets for hundreds of years. It was very interesting marching through the city so early in the morning. Everybody was still asleep. So there was no cheering like we got when we paraded on Fifth Avenue in New York. We finally ended up at a rest camp in the city of Folkestone.

We are billeting in mansions sacrificed by rich people for the soldiers. The Birchfield Mansion is directly opposite us and is crowded with doughboys. This Birchfield must be some English Duke or something from the appearance of his home. There are ten of us in the room I am in. Straw mattresses are on the floor. We each have two blankets and I had a wonderful sleep all afternoon.

This morning after giving us a good breakfast, we were told we could visit the town if we wanted to from nine until eleven. We are enclosed by a six-foot fence al around. As sleepy as we were, all took advantage of the two hours of freedom, and we passed out thru the gate and walked around the town. It was great. What a wonderful little city! I hope to go back here some day and do some sketching. The buildings are all low and old. A wonderful quaint town it is. The English people were all very polite and kind. They sure are glad to see the "Sammies," as they called us.

We had a lot of fun in the stores buying things. The money is different. When we asked how much something cost, they would answer, "Tuppence ha'penny" and "Shilling thripence," or something like that. All the soldiers were bewildered and wanted to know what that was in American money. I have a bunch of English coins now that I got in change when I gave them my American money, which they took gladly. I don't, know exactly what I have now, and I can just imagine how foreigners must feel when they come to the United States.

This city was bombed from the sky recently. A German zeppelin came over one night and dropped bombs on it. You should see some of the houses. One of them was completely cut in half, as if you had taken a knife and sliced it off. Some of the houses were altogether smashed away, nothing left but huge piles of stones. Many people were killed and injured. That's another thing I can't understand, why they have to come over a city like this and drop bombs on the women and children? There are no soldiers here. Why don't they do their fighting at the front? Killing these poor civilians won't get them anywhere. The world is mad, Mother. All the lights go out at nine in this town. The windows are all draped with black cloth. There are a number of searchlights off in the distance tonight illuminating the sky. They are searching for enemy aircraft. I saw my first sight of the battle front tonight across the Channel. The Tommy told me that it was Ypres that we were looking at. Even though it is about thirty miles away, I heard the faint sound of artillery firing and saw the flashes of the guns over here in Folkestone. Mind you, across the Channel from France! We are pretty close to it now. Well, Mother Dear, I guess I'm in for it now. I will close this long letter and mail it to you in the morning. Good night, God bless you. All my love to you and Mousie. How I wish I were with you!
Affectionately,
CHARLES

DEAR MOTHER,
Tuesday, April 30, 1918

You'll get a surprise when you get this letter. We are now in a rest camp sixty miles behind the front-line trenches on the north coast of France. We can hear the bombarding going on all the time. Tonight, we can see the flashes of the artillery very plainly. It is all so very interesting. I don't know where to start. It is just like I read about, but when I used to read the war stories a couple of years ago, I never thought that some day I would be in it. And here I am now, a soldier, and I guess there will be just as much adventure ahead of me as the other soldiers went thru who have gone on ahead.

On our right is a camp of Chinese coolies. They sleep in tents and are boarded in by a large fence. They are playing strange music over there, and it sure does sound as if we were somewhere in China. There are all kinds of soldiers in this camp, English Tommies, Canadians, French, and some negro troops from Morocco. Gee, but it's interesting! Lots of activity around here, too. Supplies are piled high. Everybody rushes around real businesslike and it sure does look like war.

I saw a bunch of German prisoners working over at the railroad station. They looked at us American soldiers with surprise. We seemed to interest them a lot. I guess we must have been the first American soldiers they saw. Their expressions seemed to ask, "Where did they come from?" They have always thought, no doubt, that their submarines would keep us away from Europe.

I must tell you about how we got here today. I woke this morning at seven, after having ten hours of good solid sleep and felt bully after it. We all packed up and marched away from the Folkestone rest camp and marched to Shorricliffe near by, and left there on a train at ten-thirty-five. The crowds along the way cheered us and made us feel good. They shouted, "Good luck, Sammies!" Some of the young children hollered after us, "Give 'em. 'ell, Sammies!" They don't sound their h's' and it sure does sound funny to our ears. It made us laugh.

My impression of England was nothing but women, children and old men. The young men and middle-aged ones must either be at the front or have been killed off already. We had a nice ride on the train and arrived at Dover at one-thirty. They gave us a quick bite, and at two-twenty, they put us on boats and we left England. The trip across the Channel was quite rough and a couple of the boys almost got sick again.

We arrived at Calais on the northern coast of France at three-forty. It only took an hour and ten minutes to cross and at exactly four-thirty-five, I stepped on French soil. What a thrill it was! We all feel like veterans and we haven't seen any action as yet. The French people cheered us with great enthusiasm. They feel that we are going to help them win the war, I guess. I saw lots of women with tears streaming down their faces and shouting, "Viva la' Merick!' and a lot of other things in French. I wished I understood French. It was very touching.

The crowd consisted mostly of women and children. The few men whom I saw were old and feeble. They had wonderful smiles on their faces, these old birds. It made you feel like a conquering hero, and we all marched on with chins high and chests up. After a short march through the town, we got to this rest camp and we are in barracks with bags full of straw for mattresses to sleep on the floor. We are going to stay here for a few days, the Lieutenant told us, to recuperate from the ocean trip.

There are dozens of aeroplanes flying overhead all the time. They are real military fighting planes with the insignias on the bottom of them. How I looked up at them and envied them! I tried so hard to get into the Aviation Corps back in the States, but had no luck. I don't know whether I'm better off in this Suicide Club or not.

The English soldiers and the Canadians are all very congenial fellows and it is interesting to listen to the Tommies talk. There are French girls here in the Camp. They attend to the handing out of food and do the cleaning over where we eat. Tonight, they gave us a ticket. We get on line with our mess-kits, hand in the ticket, and they fill it up with food. These checks are counted, I understand, and the bill for each meal is paid by Uncle Sam. Lieutenant Krell lectured to us tonight on hygiene. This I am very much interested in, as I only had one shower bath on board the ship. I haven't had a decent bath for almost two weeks. I smile when I think of how I used to take a bath every morning when I was home. Those days are over.

They gave us a couple of blankets apiece tonight so I am looking forward to another night of good sleep. The Chinks are still playing their flutes or whatever they are. The moon looks pale and yellow and I feel I am in China somewhere. That's the impression it gives me.

The planes above us are still humming away as much as ever. The Tommies told us that the planes are going over the German lines tonight, dozens of them, to "strafe" them. Well, I hope they don't fly over German cities and kill civilians, like they did to the English people over in Folkestone.

With all my love to you and Mousie. When you write me again, address it, 306th Machine Gun Battalion Company B, 77th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. I will get it then., no matter where I am.
From Your soldier boy who misses you,

CHARLES.


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