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Friday, February 13, 2009

Letter 61 ~ October 19, 1918

I write my mother and brother to tell them about the special training I have been receiving.

Addressed to Mrs. Hattie P. Griffing, Manhattan, Kansas

Smoky Hill Flats
October 19, 1918

Dear Folks,

Yesterday I got 3 letters from you folks and 2 from Minnie. Some of them were written last week. It sure was good to get them. We will have to stay here another week so I borrowed some paper and maybe I can get an envelope somewhere.

We used to think that D.2 [Detention Camp 2] was a bad hole to live in but it would seem like home after being in this place. It is all muddy [here] and the trenches have water standing in them in places. I am sure glad to have come out here tho because the stuff we are getting is lots better and more interesting than the men at D.2. are getting.

Today we went thru a trench attack. Each man was issued 20 rounds of ammunition and 2 grenades. The automatic gunmen had sixty rounds each and the bombers had 5 extra grenades. Next week we are going to pull off quite a fussy attack and they are going to bring men from Funston and the Detention Camp to watch it. I wish I had a Kodak so that I could send you a picture of me in my helmet and gas mask. We have the Enfield rifle now too. Our Lieutenant said today that we who are getting this special training will be the skeleton of a new division which will be formed at Funston when the 10th leaves. Of course that is not absolutely a fact because plans are changed over night.

I hear that the quarantine for Spanish Influenza was lifted this morning and that another was put on for spinal meningitis so it may still be sometime before I can see you folks.

You wrote in your last letter as tho I didn’t try to get a pass to come home. I did but it was useless. No single men were given passes, I know.
Noble is married and so he got his pass and [James] Sparks [who is not married] went to town without a [real] pass. He had one of his friends typewrite an imitation of a pass. The passes issued here are just typewritten on a slip of paper and signed by the company commander and the major. Sparks signed this slip with a pen and got by with it. In the pass, he said he was going to Manhattan to visit his wife, Mrs. James Sparks. He nearly got caught too because 3 men escaped from the guardhouse that night and Sunday morning all passes were copied by the M.P.’s and were supposed to be checked up at headquarters. But that takes so much work that they probably didn’t [do it]. You may be sure that I will have a pass just as soon as I can.

I never did get that cake you sent in the mail.

We are supposed to be issued overcoats tomorrow. We were issued sweaters last night. I sure wish I could get back to camp and get my wool socks. Maybe I can tomorrow. It sure is hard to keep your feet dry here in this mud and water. Some night next week we will spend all night in the trenches. I am slowly beginning to get accustomed to this life. In a little while I expect I will like it. I don’t mind the grub a bit anymore and it is worse here than it was at camp because they just have a field kitchen and there are about 250 men to feed. We walked clear over to Fort Riley night before last for a bath but we haven’t any place to wash our clothes.

Minnie asked me in one of her letters about those samples of grain we got in Crops Lab. I had told her she could have them for her school work if she wanted them, so Bill [Willis], will you label them for her and tell her how to fix them up?

Well, I hope you folks are keeping as well as I am. Goodnight, -- Ward

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