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Date: March 17th 1917
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

17th of Ireland, ’17.

My very dearest Kid: —

A few days ago, I was sent out as stretcher bearer to a party going up to work farther up the line. I was tickled to death, as this place, after five months, is getting monotonous. We marched off in the afternoon with full kit: two blankets, tin hat of course, and all, and believe me I was thankful I didn’t have a rifle to carry nor ammunition, only a few medical supplies, — just bandages and dressings, and a bottle of iodine in case of bad accidents. There is always a field ambulance somewhere near.

Well — we eventually arrived and found our billets, in huts like I have told you of, and like the pictures you have seen of the Y.M. huts. Inside are rows of bunks three high, with chicken wire as a mattress. Anyway that night, hearing the 29th were near, I set out to find them, which I did after a long hunt, in a village. There I met B. and all the others I knew, and stayed the night, borrowing an overcoat and blanket to sleep in. I half wish I’d come for good. They seem a great crowd.

I have always been under the impression that it was busy back where we were; but up there was a surprise. No word of mine could begin to describe it — even if I were allowed. It’s terrific — absolutely unbelievable. Miles and miles in endless procession of munitions and men.

Wait while she opens up — and you’ll hear all about it.

Next day, I went out with my party, who were to keep a railroad track which runs right into the support trenches, — a positive cinch for me — nothing to do at all. One fellow cut himself with the shovel. Another fellow had a sore heel. And another fellow had to go with the field ambulance; he had the grippe, and they kept him there. That was all I had in the few days.

Next night, the Corporal in charge and myself took over a tent and moved in with the party rations. It was about a foot deep in mud and water; but you get used to that, and with a kit bag, which I used sleeping bag fashion, and several sandbags I slept fine. Read awhile — “The American Prisoner” by Phillpotts—by the light of two candles stuck on my tin hat at the head of my bed in the mud. It was altogether much cosier than in the hut, more private, and nicer everyway. The Corporal wasn’t a bad fellow, either, and we got on well.

I can’t tell you exactly when I’ll go up; but about any time, I think. I am quite ready; the days are warmer, though the nights are still cold. I am anxious to go; the sight up there got me all excited. To be out of it is to be out of everything worth while. I would not miss the beginning for anything. . . .

One of the boys tells me it is awfully dark and hard to find your way in the trenches at night. I guess this will be rather rotten for me, because my eyes are none too good at night.

I am thinking about you and storing up things to tell you about all the time, though I won’t be able to tell you anything yet awhile.

I never do or see anything that you do not share with me in spirit.

Good-bye for a day or so, Lal dearest.

Original Scans

Original Scans