September 1, 1918

28th letter

Dear Mother:-

Unfortunately, quite a few of the boys are sick and so instead of going back to camp after my four days at post, I came up here. I wrote to you from Casa 3 the other front line post. Now I am at Casa C the same distance behind the lines, but evidently there is quite a bit more going on here. The house is a rather small brick farmhouse that has been all sandbagged up and on the side farthest from the lines, two abris have been built. Besides, the second story is stuffed fall of earth and rubbish so that some of the rooms in the house are safe.

Naturally, there is quite a bit of shelling goin .g on and quite often one hears the machine guns open up. There is a battery of machine guns near here that fire indirectly like the artillery and put down a barrage on roads and communication trenches. They make a great racket every night.

I got here yesterday morning. There is a captain and some lieutenants of the engineers who eat here and I eat with them. Right after lunch, an aeroplane came over and the Italians began shooting iat it. The Austrians were throwing in shrapnel and I think the plane came to see how it was hitting. I was standing jtist outside the door of the house when I heard a "whir -r -r -chunk" and a piece of shell hit about six feet ahead of me. Almost at the same instant, a little piece whizzed down so close that it almost seemed to have passed over my shoulder. But it didn't make a hit, so nobody cares. Later in the day, a captain, two lieutenants and I went up to look at the lines. They are very much the same as out in front of Casa S. The support trenches have big dugouts and the front lines are out in this deep solid sand. We went into quite a few observation posts, but it was the same view from each one - the lazy, sluggish, muddy river and on the other side a steep bank covered with low bushes and occasionally, a bit of bare earth showing where the parapet of the Austrian trenches is. The machine guns were doing a little shooting and about half a dozen of the bullets came close enough to make everybody duck.

The mosquitoes are thicker here than anything I have seen yet. They sit all over the walls and ceiling until night and then they go hunting. I fooled ‘em all last night, though, becaase a captain balzano at one of the hospitals gave me five metas of gauze which I made into sort of a tent to go over my bed. I tell you it is mighty necessary and efficient, too. There are two soldati who sleep on stretchers in the same room as I do. The boy who was here last time said they snored terribly, but I got to sleep before they began last night and woke up after they finished this morning. The worst of this post is that you see nobody for four days and if anything happens, it is at least an 8 kilometer walk to the nearest post.

I had a moment last night, so I wrote to Mr. Butler, to tell him a little about what we were doing. If you can get the letter, you might include it in the book, as it is sort of a summary of everything since we left.

Yesterday, the boy who came to relieve me at M--- and tell me to come out here, brought four letters from you and a copy of the Aerial weekly. One of the letters had the clipping aboat the boys in section three who were decorated. As you must know by now, that is the section I am with now. We got these front line posts as a result of the work the section did then and we hope, if they have another offensive here that there may be a couple of valor medals given. The Italian "croce de guerra" is not a valor medal, but one given for consistent hard work anywhere. The valor medal has three grades and corresponds somewhat to the French "croix de guerre".

I am glad you are all having each a nice time at Spring Lake. It must be great to swim in salt water again. Here, we think we are lucky if we get a chance in.the S - - - River occasionally.

By the way, did Marj ever get started over here? I haven't written to her because she said she was going to sail aboat August first, but never told me any address. The old shells keep on skating by overhead and bursting around, but outside of that, there is little to write. I hope you can get some more magazines over as they are rather few and far between, and most of as have read all the books and other things at least once.