Wednesday, June 7, 1917 (I think)

Dear Ma:-

I am just taking a moment in between times to write a little more of my history. We have left Trian court and are now at a more or less settled station. I don't know as I had better mention names, but the place located in the bond of the lines around Verdun. Comme ca

 

[hand drawn map]

Every day aeroplanes come over the lines and the French fire shrapnel at them, but they never seem to come very close. We are about half way between the two fronts and with three other sanitary sections around near us. So far, we have not been very busy except cleaning up the place about the cars and really getting settled. All yesterday I spent building a table and benches in a portable house for all of us to eat off. The worst of it all is the French red tape. We wanted about 40 feet of 2 x 2's that were lying in a wood pile near our station left over from building barracks for the soldiers. To get those pieces., we were supposed to get a man's signature at a place 5 kilometers away and another signature from the head of the cantonment. To get the first, it was a question of walking or getting an order for one of the cars to move. All that for some left over pieces of boards. We finally went and helped ourselves.

At present, I am sleeping with another boy - Don White - in a tent made of two ground blankets. They are of heavy canvas about 8 x 6 feet. Last night we had a wonderful storm, but we kept pretty dry. We are hoping to be billeted on a house soon, but there are so many soldiers around that there doesn't seem much chance. Every house has a sign on it with the number of men, officers and horses that it will hold.

It looks now as though another storm was coming up so I will suspend writing and make a few repairs, &c.

A few minutes later.

The storm or its prelude has arrived and the little smudged places are where the rain has wet this paper.

But now I must go on with what we have been doing.

Two or three cars have been out for blesses, but I have been working around here, which, in one way, is a good sign for now. Only fellows who don't drive very well go out for practice. We are looking for some real work in a month or a little less and then I suppose we will all got our chance. Mr. Hyde sent in to Paris for 3 extra men to come out and asked that Johnny Reed be one of them, so he may be in this section yet.

The food is improving, but now all we ask is more, more, more. I don't know why, but we all eat two or three big helpings of potatoes, sardines, lettuce or macaroni with a little meat on the side, but never get enough to satisfy us. We are eating the commonest food imaginable or perhaps the most easily obtained and cooked, as the cook isn't much. Extras, such as crackers, eggs, chocolate or any sweets are unknown almost.

All the papers (3 bundles) and your letter arrived. The papers were most welcome and passed all around the section. The magazines and accelerator came too and the latter will be installed as soon as possible. Please keep on sending magazines too. That "Life" brought more joy to the section than anything has for some time. Magazines with short stories are also very popular.

We have our phonograph now, but two things we need - needles and records. If Betty ever gets time to weed out the records and would send us some, we and the poilus, who compose most of the audience at the evening recitals, would appreciate the same immensely. There is one other very small thing. We lost the screw that holds the needle into the disk and at present use chewing gum to keep the needle solid. Everything is fine, though, and these things, although they would make things pleasanter, aren't essential.

We usually wake up to the sound of guns and exploding shells and soon maybe we will be even nearer the front. However, I found a horseshoe yesterday and tacked it to my car so everything will go well.

Harvey

F.M. on the envelope means "Franchise Militaire". I'll bet Betty has trying to guess what I was since my last note arrived.

NEXT LETTER