December 7, 1918 – Letter to Robert’s mother:
Merry Christmas + Happy New Year
My dear Mother,
We read the papers almost as carefully now as we did when the war was on. Now we are anxious to find out who is the next bunch to go home.
I understand six divisions have been selected so far and the 35th is not among them. We have very little idea when we will go back but hope it will be soon.
The weather is not very cold yet but it is awfully wet. We have all had wet feet for two weeks. However more of us have been sick that I know of. I have had a cold but it is better now.
It looks as though we might be here for some time. They have put in stores and electric light, and have ordered cots and more blankets. Sometimes I think that we may have to put on a sham battle to show the president how we go over the top. We have been practicing that kind of stuff ever since the war stopped. Of course that is only a guess. They might send us in to occupy Germany yet. We might be on our way home too. We don’t know. They feed us just the same stuff as usual only a little more of it I think.
The Y.M.C.A. got brave enough to open a canteen here today. I don’t know how long they will last. They seem to be afraid of shells yet. I saw one Y. Man who was not afraid. He followed us in the drive and carried drinking water to the artillery men. They are about four miles behind the lines but are in a shell fire at times. He was the only one I ever saw where there was any action, so if you every hear of the Brave Y Men, just refer the person that tells you to me.
We have a little time each morning to clean up around our billet. The old lady downstairs throws her ashes, garbage, sweepings, etc. out the door so we have to clear it up. I had my squad out in front today and we just got the refuse cleaned up and dumped in the Meuse River when out she came, wooden shoes + all + dumped coffee grounds in the nice clean road. I told her that that was “pas bon” (no good) and she thought I meant that the coffee was no good. Of course I tried to explain what I meant, but gave up. So I guess we will have to either continue to clean up the mess, or else sweep it all back in her front door again. They are awfully dirty but I guess they think we are too, at times.
Uncle Sam pays six cents a day per man for the use of these barns for us to sleep in. That seems cheap enough but at times poor Uncle gets cheated at that. Then if we use fifty pounds of hay for a bed, they file a claim for about ten tons of hay, and Uncle Sam pays it without question. Some of these peasants will retire for life when they settle with the U.S.
Did you know that a woman is not allowed in the trenches. I believe during the whole war there never was a woman in a trench. Not even on a quiet sector, but I have seen some trenches and dugouts as clean and neat as any American home (except for cooties).
We do not have much drill, but even five hours a day gets awfully tiresome now that the war is over.
I have been worried about you + Elinore + the girls getting the “Flu.” I hope the danger is over before now.
There is no news now so I will close.
Love to all
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.