August 6, 1918

19th letter

Dear Betty:-

Despite your praiseworthy economy of powder on the 4th of July, I can't say that there seems to be many shells down here. I have been out at post about 2 miles from the front for four days and in that time I doubt if I have seen a hundred shells. Down here they don't use much high explosive because when it hits the mud, there isn't sufficient resistance to set it off. They use a great deal of shrapnel instead and of course that is very easy to see as it explodes in the air and leaves a puff of yellow and black smoke.

Yesterday afternoon I sat for about an hour up by a window in the third story of our casa and I could see way out across the Austrian lines. It is so absolutely flat here that if you get up about the level of the trees you can see for miles and miles. At night we can see the star shells on three sides of us as we are in the point of sort of a V in the lines. All the country we are working over now was taken by the Austrians in July and then the Italians drove them out again. Consequently, the fields are full of hand grenades, star shells, shoes, helmets and all the other rubbish that the Austrians threw away when they retreated. The country is so low and level that all the fields have ditches around them for irrigation. Usually they are overgrown with bushes and if you look down under the bushes, you can find every imaginable thing. But the queer part of it is that although a field may be full of shell holes, it is so damp and at the same time so hot, that the grass grows up very quickly and makes it impossible for one to see at a casual glance that anything has happened at all. The trees too,, even though they are cut down within 6 feet of the ground, will keep on growing and new shoots will come out of the top of the trunk.


Lately we have been living pretty high for we have been eating with the officers of the sanitary section to which we are attached. There are about ten officers headed by a major and even here this near the lines, they have tablecloths and an orderly in a white jacket to wait on table. That is at our main concentration post about 6 miles behind the lines. At the actual posts, we have a soldier who sweeps out our room, brings us water and coffee when we want it and generally acts as orderly. But these Italians do it because they are ordered, not because they want to do it to help the Americans which was the French attitude.

I hope you got the photographs I sent in my last letter to the family. I'm feeling fine and beginning to put on a little weight again. I haven't had a letter other than yours in ten days.