November 8, 1918

43rd letter

Dear Mother:-

I think this note is numbered rightly, but I am not sure as an Italian appropriated my diary - along with 200 Lucky Strikes and 2 cakes of chocolate yesterday morning.

We moved on the 3rd. Left C at about 3 P.M. and drove until 3 or 4 A.M. We only covered about 30 kilometers as we were held up a long time at M - - - where there was only one pontoon bridge across the Livenza. We had to wait in a line of mules, wagons, trucks and every other kind of vehicle from 6 P. M. till nearly midnight. When we got to C - - - the lines were at the River Livenza only seven kilometers away. They attacked and went over and the next day we followed. The roads were terrible until we crossed the river where we got on the main road to Trieste. Even then we had to stop once and fill up a ditch that the Austrians had dug across the road. Then we just drove. I remember passing an abandoned Austrian truck with steel wheels and no tires. Then an Austrian cannon and just before we stopped, about 3000 prisoners with their wagons and mules. There were a great many officers among them. Then we went on to Portog, arriving about 3:30 A.M. where we stopped as the bridge was blown out. We lay down - if one can call it that - on the front seats of the car and slept. About daylight, I got up and began to roam around, as I was pretty chilly. We were near a big munition factory which the Austrians had set on fire before they left. We looked all through that and I found a rifle on whose barrel was written: "Republicana Mexicana". Sort of a queer thing to find here. Then I got a bit of coffee and went back to the car. I found the rear curtain up. I looked in and found my knapsack open and the things I mentioned gone.

We set out again and made a long detour to get to Tog - as the bridge on the main road was down. We stopped a moment in Tog - and found out from Headquarters that Italians were in Trieste and that an armistice had been signed, to go into effect at 6 P.M. This was all yesterday.

We got here to an old Austrian hospital. It is almost brand new with new doors, stairs, partitions, etc., which look as though they had just been put in. Some of the rooms had a great deal of excelsior piled against the walls as though men had been sleeping in it and in one room a whole plasterer's outfit was found with the plaster on the wall just dry. In the kitchen, two big stoves had been built of bricks and never had a fire in them. We were assigned to one room, cleaned it out, put up our cots, sorted our souvenirs and soon looked as though we had always lived here. Yesterday afternoon, after a lunch on chicken and fresh wine with cheese for dessert, I slept and all night, too. This morning, I shaved for the first time since the attack started and washed a suit of underwear which was becoming more and more lively day by day.

We are speculating now as to where we will go next. They say thet the peace terms stipulate a new line from Innsbruck to Trieste, so we may move up there; then again, we may stay here or go back.

We are living high as the borghese have had to give anything to the Austrians whether they were paid for it or not. Now that we pay them for chicken, etc., they give it to us for next to nothing. They all are so happy when we go by and wave to us from the youngest to the oldest. But they are in a bad way so far as clothes and the necessities of life go. The Austrians just beat it from this country fast so it isn't badly shelled.

I sent two post cards from our last stop. Everything is fine, although, of course, we are getting no mail.