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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Letter 66 ~ October 23, 1918

I tell my mother and brother about the trench attack we staged and also about what we hear as far as camp rumors.

Addressed to Mrs. Hattie P. Griffing, Manhattan, Kansas
Smoky Hill Flats
October 23, 1918

Dear Folks,

Well, I can still eat my ration of beans and cabbage with the rest of them. This living in the open and working as we do sure gives a fellow an appetite and I have never felt better in my life.

I sure had a sore foot a few days ago. The issue socks are thin and when they got wet, they rolled up behind my heel, and before I came in at night I had a good sized blister. The next day I wore them again and of course that made it no better. The blister festered and swelled. Believe me, I had a hard time dragging that foot around at 120 steps per minute. I have been wearing those woolen socks you sent me since Sunday and my foot is well now. I am not going to wear another cotton sock as long as I am in this army if I can help it – and maybe longer. Those wool socks are so much better when a fellow keeps getting his feet wet.

I thot sure I was coming down with the “flu” the other day. My head ached severely and I just felt bum. I went to bed early and I am sure I had a little fever, but I was so determined not to get it that I didn’t report to sick call in the morning. It was rainy and nasty and we went out and dug trenches. Pretty soon we were called in and policed up camp, and were given the rest of the forenoon to clean our pieces and police up ourselves. I sure was glad because I had a chance to keep in the dry.

In the afternoon, we were ordered to strike our tents and we moved camp back farther away from the river. That was last night. Tonight we are so much at home here as tho we were born here. This is a better place and the camp is lined out better because it is to be here for quite awhile. They even started a good road in front of the kitchens.

We understood last night that we were to stay here for about six weeks, but again today we hear that we are to return [to Camp Republican] at the end of the week. So you know just as much as I do how long I will stay here. We men out here will probably do one of two things – either be transferred into the 10th Division, which has now started to move, or be held as the skeleton of a new division which will be formed at Funston as soon as the 10th moves. We have heard both things and don’t believe either.

The weather sort of half-way cleared up today and things are getting dried off a little. We had another trench attack today, only on a larger scale. The riflemen were issued 60 rounds and the automatics 120 rounds. The bombers had eight grenades apiece. Some of the fellows get so nervous they don’t want to throw their grenades but I think it is more fun than a picnic and it sure is good practice for a fellow because we have to charge thru wire entanglement and charge over trenches.

Well, I hope Willis is all right now but I expect he doesn’t feel very well yet. This is bad weather for influenza.

There is a fellow in my tent has a stationary outfit that is might handy for the barracks bag. I wonder if you could find one in town like it for me. It is covered with paper and folds like a book. These are pockets for envelopes and stamps and letter paper and a tablet, and places for pencil and pen. It is handy and everything is together.

A fellow just now came in who had gone over to the camp after some of his luggage. He said that there was quite a lot from there transferred to the 10th [Division] but that the men who were over here and had their names on the transfer [list] were crossed out so maybe we will not be in the 10th after all.

Here’s hoping I get to see you soon. Goodbye, -- Ward

1 comment:

  1. This letter is so typical of soldier's letters home from camp. The hot topics always seem to be food, clothing, and camp rumors which usually turn out to be miles from the truth. The rumors usually address the soldiers worst fears or their fondest wishes.One thing seems certain in retrospect. That is that Ward and his comrades had more to fear from the flu than the battlefield.