Some Place in France, Oct. 1.
Dear Sister: Now when I head my mail "Somewhere in France" I do so not only on account of official reasons but because I am really somewhere in France. I do not know where in the devil I am except that I am in France.
This division is such a good fighting outfit that we do not stop long enough for our mail to catch up to us. This afternoon I received the first letter from home - your letter of August 15.
So far, I have been only in Paris and a few more cities. The next place I shall visit will be Germany, and from the way Belgium has acted it will not be long before my ambition shall be realized.
I have been in France just a little over a month and not a month with this outfit, and been through one campaign already. Helped capture a number of Boches, and helped eat their vegetables. Am now lying near their country waiting for the word, some day, to go over. Besides I have been recently appointed battalion scout officer, a job of much worry, but very interesting and important.
I am enjoying myself very much except for the rain. In addition, I am now a full-fledged member of the American Expeditionary Forces as I am suffering from a dose of "couties." Now, instead of it being a disgrace to be lousie, it is a sign of the inner circle. Although it causes some inconvenience, one must do such things, y'know, to keep up prestige. Besides, it's being done on the western front this season.
A few nights ago when our company was moving to another position we were gassed by Fritz for about three hours; but having a good company we had no casualties. The company which relieved us had two I believe.
It is quite a sensation to be walking along peaceably when out of the murky sky comes whirling a gas bomb at express train speed, and all the boys turn to one side and dive into some cellar, dugout, or in fact any hole or ditch large enough to cover any or all of one's body. Then there is the long night watch from a shell hole in front of the front line. My company was outpost company for a while, and there we had some experience, believe me. Nothing on earth or near it causes the sensations up and down one's spine as does the little whizbang sailing over one's head "so near and yet so far," only to explode with a deafening roar, and if near enough, spray one with soft dirt and steel fragments. If some day you see a white-haired shavetail strolling in on you, simply take down my picture from the wall and compare. Perhaps you'll see the resemblance.
Then there is the gas. Perhaps one would be walking or dashing from one ruined building to another (act of camouflaging oneself from Boche birds), when the much beloved whizbang drops over a gas shell near one. Then, it is a case of utilizing the training received at Camp Kearney, and donning the mask, flounders for his destination.
Still another cute trick of Heinie is to shoot out kitchen full of gas. This adds such a nice flavor, and everything, that we feel as if we need no food just then, and pass up that meal for the next. Or if you don't like that, take for instance the case of Louie heaving gas over near an H2O supply and adding flavor to the water, of which a most sickening coffee is made.
Tell Pop that I'll have to sleep outside, if I ever get back because I don't see how I am going to enjoy my sleep if I don't have rain trickling down my back and if I am not resting in soft slush.
I may send home a Boche helmet or canteen or some such thing when I get back of the line, if possible. There are "oodles" of them here but are rather heavy to carry in addition to our own equipment.
Received two letters from Roland since being here. One of the 11th of August, three weeks ago, and one of the 3rd, I believe, just a few days ago. So you can see how the mail comes here. The main thing, however, is to write often, if only to say "yourstruly," and sign your name.
Regards to everybody,
Your brother, PAUL
Co. I, 102nd Inf., 26th Div., American Expeditionary Forces.
P.S. - The old stuff of apologizing for the stationary. The Y.M.C.A. has lots, but the transportation problem is a long one here. We have plenty of cigarettes and stuff, but no one can get it up to us on the line. The only way people at home can send packages over is to pay for the stuff to some concern such as Wanamaker, N.Y., and they having branches in Paris, can supply it to the troops. This is no hint, however.
Source: The Marysville Appeal - Oct, 24, 1918, page 8 - Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
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