AUX RIETZ, France
Sometime in March 1918
. . . . Daytime, and all our work is done at night. Last night I think was the darkest night I can ever recall, and, just our luck, we had three trips. It was impossible to see a yard ahead of you and, as is usually the case, the road was littered with traffic and troops coming from the line. Going in, we take the sick and wounded from here to the main dressing station. The round trip being about 14 miles, with Crickie driving, I was laying out on the front fender calling "right" or "left" to keep the car on the road. It took us over an hour each trip and altho' we had no accidents in the dark, we broke sown on the last trip. Luckily, it was just breaking day, and we were only about two miles from our destination, so I walked in and brought another car to take the patients in. We spent the rest of the day waiting for repairs. The strain on the eyes at night is something terrible. We only made the one trip last night and were back by 11 o'clock and I started to read before going to bed, but I couldn't stand it. The continual staring while on the road made my eyes feel as though they were sticking about two feet out of my head, and coming into the light was just agony.
We are very lucky with our quarters this trip. We, Crickie and I, have a little concrete dugout all to ourselves. It was originally a German officer's "home". It's about 10 x 12 feet, built of solid concrete with two windows, open fireplace, and nicely ventilated. We have a table, chairs, and stretchers for bed. It's the most cozy place I have been in for months, and I'm very sorry we are only staying a week, but each car does a week in the line, turn about. During the daytime our car stands between two walls of an old house where it is out of sight. It has been terribly cold the last week and it's rather unfortunate that we cannot have a good fire in the daytime on account of the smoke being observed - and there is an abundance of wood around from old buildings, sheds etc. that would offer heat. I only wish it were permissible to carry a camera. It would be so interesting to be able to take a few pictures and explain them to you, but I suppose it's just as well we cannot . . . (piece missing from this page)
Ross was wondering who you had rented the house to - he said he didn't know to whom you had rented it the last time.
Harry and I had a quiet laugh over Ross' idea of "active service". Because I have been down for him on the motor cycle, and again in the car, and because Harry and I are nearly always together, he thinks we are as well off as we were in Canada. He looks upon the job he is working at now as 'cushy', and is always remarking about the "line of bull" that the older soldiers are giving him. I am afraid he will have a rude awakening one of these days. You see, of the four months that he has been in France, three of them have been spent in one camp that is nine or ten miles behind the line. When he has spent a few days and nights without sleep, and eats just what grub he can find, and when he has seen his pals killed or wounded right along side him, I think he will alter his opinions - But I hope for his sake, that he will be able to stay where he is for the duration. We always agree with him that we might be much worse off, and all that, but if anybody thinks they are as well off here as they were in Canada, just give them the chance to go back or stay here, and what do you think they would do? There's someone RIGHT HERE that if he got permission to go home he would walk there, beat his way to it, and get up in the middle of the night to get started. I think that after two years away from home a married man should be given 3 months furlough. Three years is too long for a man to be away from his wife, that is if he loves her as I do you. All 1st Division men (1914) who are married, are getting three months furlough to Canada. I wonder when the 1915's men's turn will come? It will be two years this month since I parted from you. How long I wonder before I see you again?
I am also wondering what our meeting will mean? Do you suppose that we will be the same happy-go-lucky kids that we were when we parted? I'm afraid not. If you've lost faith in me and don't trust my love for you, things can never be the same with us again. I'm not prepared to lead a life in repetition of the Allen family. So, I am praying that when you answer my letter, that if you think our life cannot be the same as when I left, or that you don't wish me to come back, God will give you the strength to say so. I couldn't bear the thoughts that in giving you all my love, it would be cooly accepted. However, be that as it may, I think I am rather presumptuous in talking about my deliverance. There is another being, stronger and more far seeing than me, who will decide whether I return safely to you or not. So it's a fruitless effort talking and arguing about what might come to pass.
How are you making out at Vawn. Hope you are having a good time and do not find the days so long and dreary. I know that Marie will keep your spirits up if anyone can Budsie. Did you ever see Paul L'Hereux since his return? I think I told you we spent an afternoon together about 18 months ago. I haven't seen Jack Wilkinson for months. I must try and get down to see him one of these days, be he's a long way from me now - 50 or 60 miles. He is an instructor at the training school. He has been there almost a year. I have nice German bayonet I would like to send home. If Harry gets back, perhaps he will bring it with him. I took if from a rifle in the dugout we are now in . . . rest of the page, and following pages, missing . . .