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Date: September 7th 1916
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

7 September, ’16. (Sunday Evening)

... It is a fearful day, just pouring down with rain, tons of it, in true European autumn style. It was the same all last night, and I guess will be the same till about next July. It will be terrible, if it’s the same all up the line — and I guess it is. Also I suppose it will cause a halt in the “move.” I wonder if you at all realize what an amazing, wonderful thing this move is, realize that the Germans with all their so-called thoroughness and their thorough understanding of war according to their own rules made by themselves, having for eighteen months prepared a position, we have gone and walked right over it — manufactured machinery and trained the men to do it. Remember not one mistake has been made, not one. Have you ever thought, supposing all our carefully thought-out plans, our reliance on the morale of our new troops: any one tiny thing had gone wrong, all the world today would be saying that we were gone coons; that we could not beat the Germans at their own game; that the sooner we quit and got the best peace terms we could, the better. Instead, not one thing has gone wrong. Our amateur soldiers have proved as good as trained men, brought up to breathe the very idea of a victorious war. Our machinery has stunned the enemy. All the German ideas of artillery have been outdone. In the air we have absolute supremacy, our men even coming down to fire on troops with their machine guns. Only the other day, one came down to engage an anti-aircraft battery that was bothering him — surely the height of cool courage. Now we have invented a “land battleship”; I have spoken to a boy who was near one that went into action; he said all the Germans in the mine crater it advanced on, threw their rifles in a heap and stuck up their hands.

All this is being done without any “frightfulness.” There are signs that Germany is “getting wise.” And when she does, we may hear of some inside news that might hasten the end. We do not know yet what kind of a loser the German is en masse, but I have a hunch he will not make a good one.

But to return to the beginning as I said: supposing just one calculation of ours had gone wrong, we would all be feeling it differently today. It annoys me when I think people are taking it all for granted; it sounds kind of “German.” We are super-men, sort of; we can imagine people saying, — “Of course, I always knew we should win.” What rot! No one knew we should win. No one knows how near we may have been to losing at various times, and now to take it all in that self-satisfied, I-told-you-so way, is — well — horrid.

The boys who come down hourly don’t say “I told you so”; they know beating Fritz is no cinch. They say he is outclassed, is getting weak. They know we are winning, because — we have worked for it; our soldiers are men, not machines. They know we are better led, our artillery is superior — in a word we are better men than Fritz. Moreover, our cause is the right one.

Later — and I don’t know what I intended to say in that sentence.

However I haven’t much time. You will understand that. The boys up the line don’t take prisoners by the several hundred and reinforce concrete machine gun emplacements without more than a few getting put out of mess for a while, and the greater the activity up there, the more we are kept busy down here.

I was with you in spirit on your birthday, all day, and at night my head was on your little cushion, and your photographs were underneath it — yours and the young You, our Bill.

Never, never get low-spirited, down-and-outed. You won’t, I know. It’s only a mood when you are, and passes in a day. We have no reason, either you or I, to be down-hearted. We cannot claim this war as a reason — else half the world would be. Yet, what else have we to complain of? Are we not well and fit? Have we not all we could wish to build on, the will to do it, and the brains? All is well with our world. . . .  

In you, I have all I need — all I want.

Dearie Lal — Good night.

Original Scans

Original Scans