[transcription provided by collection donor]
February 12th 1918
My Dear Mabel,
I've been working hard lately trying to get my correspondence up to date and I think your turn is due. I suppose that you received my last of about Jan. 10th. Nothing very much has happened since then. I spent 2 weeks at the wagon lines and am at present at the guns In this position (our 7th, I think) since we've been in France, we are digging all day with picks and shovels, making gun pits and general improvements all around. I think I'll get a job, after this war as a grave digger on salary, though, not piece work.
It'll soon be a year since the U.S.A. declared war, April 6th, 1917. I've never had the pleasure of seeing an American soldier in France. Do you know many in the army and do you see many returned ones, wounded? I suppose the majority hit for New York, when on leave from the various camps, as they do for London.
It doesn't matter when one goes to London, one always sees thousands and thousands of soldiers walking around, never think there's a war on; but I wish I were one of them right now. Did I mention in my last letter that we had drawn for our leave? I got 117th. Mine should figure out about mid-summer.
I had a letter from Murrill last week and Ella sent me a box of candy and a scarf. Also received a scarf next day from Isabel. Never intend me to have throat trouble, do they?
Jones and Swan of Barbados with whom I worked for a year, before leaving home, sent me a nice box of eatables through their agents in London. It contained all kinds of things: biscuits, salmon, cocoa, and milk, spaghetti, soups, chicken paste, pudding and roast fowl. Awfully decent of them, wasn't it?
I think I've told you before, that at the horse lines, we are billeted with French families. We have a great time making them 'compree'. At the guns, we either sleep in the dug outs, or in the cellar of some body's ruined home. All the French houses have good cellars, must have known there was a war coming. Cellars are no good for a direct hit, but they do stop splinters and we are all willing to take the chance of not getting a direct hit.
We often come across an awful bunch of stuff: tea sets, gramaphones, crockery of all kinds, etc. hidden away in a cellar by some family, who has had to get out in a hurry, expecting, I suppose, to come back some day and find them. The return will be worse than the departure, I think, when they see their homes. If a fellow could only get married over here, it would not cost him a cent, to furnish his home.
The weather has been very fine and warm for over a month, which makes things a lot more pleasant than that frosty stuff.
My great ambition is to have a Turkish bath. That's how I'll spend my first night in London. Oh, Heavens, I'll never forget that part of the war…the lice!
It's now 2:15 AM and I'm off duty in another 20 minutes so will say goodnight.
Lots of love for Carl and self and write to your affectionate brother,