August 12, 1918

22nd letter

Dear Mother: -

I believe that in the last letter I wrote, the mechanics were going to try to fix my car the next morning. Well, they surely did fix it so that what was about the smoothest running car is now a wreck. Besides, they used all my tools and then put them in the shop and mixed them up with their own instead of putting them back in my toolbox. Then I went to get them and they acknowledged the mistake and supposedly gave me back the same ones they took, but here I am at a front line post and my spark plug wrench won't fit and the monkey wrench is no good, so the only time I can tighten anything up or get a spark plug out to fix it is when I go back for lunch or supper to one of the other posts where there are two cars. Never again will those mechanics get at my tools.

At present I have very little work to do. In the morning, I move a few malati back to one of the concentration posts and usually the afternoon is entirely quiet. The other night, just before I came out here, we had to work until about 3:30 A. M. and part of the time over a run of 32 kilometers from the post to the hospital. That makes a round trip of about 40 miles which at night seems like a very long distance. That is one of the great differences between the work here and the work in France. In France,

700 to 900 kilometers was a good mileage for a month. Here we often go 300 a day - the record is 409 - and seldom under 150.

I am out at one of the front posts now and it seems quite natural to hear the shells going by over head. It seems queer, though, to see so much shrapnel, but they have to use it because the ground is so soft and marshy that high explosives won't always go off when it hits. I am all alone here and only see the other boys when I go back for meals. Then there are only two there, and sometimes they are both away on trips.

We had a rather amusing time this afternoon when a man brought in three sick men in a cart. The man at the post here were all taking their siesta and he went and stood in the door for some five minutes and then came over and spoke to the sualatis. I guessed from his manner that he didn't want to wake the men here so I asked him what he wanted. He told me he had three men who had to see a medical officer and I made him understand that there was none here, but I would take the men back to a concentration post where there was one. We got two in the ambulance and then discovered that a stretcher was needed for the third. So the man goes and stands in the doorway again and in a minute or two came back and says "toati domeire" - all are asleep. I wanted to cuss him out, but instead I went and pulled all the fellows out who were asleep and told them in my best Italian and strongest English that they were here to take care of sick and wounded; that I wanted a stretcher, and that there was a man to be put in the ambulance. Then I told them that after they had seen me off they could go and sleep for all I cared. Some way or other they got my drift the first time, but I guess its rather bad form to interrupt anybody's after lunch siesta.

It is quite remarkable how the treatment we get varies with the different sections. You see we aren't attached to any division but just stay in this same place and take care of whoever moves in. Then there are the Italian sanitary sections that are attached to the divisions but do no ambulance work. They are composed of stretcher-bearers, hospital orderlies and medical officers. This morning a new regiment moved in here early. I went out about eight o'clock and came back to find my bed made, my various toilet articles which I had left on my suit case were in my toilette roll, home odds and ends had been put in my knapsack and the room had been swept out.

We eat with the officers at the various posts and we do as we did in France, except that here they are usually captains instead of lieutenants. I had another little attack of stomach trouble yesterday and this morning, but I feel much better now. Everybody seems to get them chronically here from the fo6d in general, and I guess the poor water and the heat help. The mosquitoes out here are pretty thick on account of the shell holes and ditches full of stagnant water, and you should see the welts they make when they bits! Jim Eaton and I hope to go on permission for two weeks in about three weeks. We are planning to see Florence, 2ome, Naples, Pompeii and Capri. This is about all the news now. I hope all these letters get through as some of the other boys’ families are getting very few of those that are written. Maybe we will have better luck.

Harvey

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