August 31, 1917

Dear Ma:-

I have, it seems, quite a bit to write and yet when I come to set it down, it all seems rather indefinite and incoherent, but I will try and set down what news I have as clearly as possible.

To begin with, the U. S. Government has taken over this branch of the service. This came out in the Paris Branch of the N. Y. Herald about August 27th. Now, that sounds all very nice and simple, but look what comes now. We all have to decide whether or not we want to sign for the duration of the war. Nobody wants to do that because now that this is part of the U. S. Army, it will be a place for ambuches, cripples and consumptives. At the same time, nobody knows if they are going to just drop us, or if we will have to stay for the rest of our enlistments, or if we will have to stay longer until we are relieved by someone who has signed for the duration of war. Personally, I want to stay in this for a while longer, but not for more than six months more, but I won't sign up for the duration of the war in a slacker's service. Besides, A. Piatt Andrews is not a man that one wishes to serve under. One boy put it very well at lunch today - "if the recruiting officers come alone, they will get two or three times as many men as they will if A. P. A. comes with them". That is true and shows how A. P. A. is regarded.

When you get this, I wish you would get a word to Mr. Hereford and ask him to tell you how this government control will affect us. Also, I would like to know the particulars of the aviation exams, as that is the only other thing I can get in at 18 - which is quite a ways and yet not so far off if I can stay in this for awhile longer.

Now for a little more private news. Some ten or more magazines arrived the other day and also 4 cans of milk which I may have mentioned before.

Two or three days ago, six of us went off to some woods to get fire wood. They put up a cold lunch for us and I took cocoa, bacon, milk and sugar. The latter were a very important addition as we ate slices and slices of bacon on bread and only about a gallon and a half of cocoa. The cold lunch wouldn't have kept 6 flies alive one hour. These French men are great drinkers, but they don't know the first principle of a roast beef, five course meal.

Everything else is the same as usual. We have been transferred to another division that has made an attack recently. They have all sorts of Bosche souvenirs that they sell us for next to nothing or give us. Then we act as middle men and sell what we don't want in Paris. It's great trash.

We are getting to the beginning of the rainy season and it is damp and cold when not actually raining. However, that's part of the game, too. I think we will be kept here at least two months longer or until the end of our enlistments, for the government moves very slowly, it seems.