Saturday, January 26, 2008
AEF Doughboy in Battle
Somewhere in France
October 6, 1918
Well dad were still here in the same place so I will write you another letter today and tell you about the 2nd day of the drive. I have been on the sick book every day for almost a week and have been marked quarters which is pritty lucky for me as usually you have got to have a leg gone or combinashun rumatism and saintvitusdance as Bud says in order to get out of drill by bein sick but sense I aint doin nothin else I might as well tell you about our fight.
Well the 2nd morning we got woke up about haff past 5 or sooner and say mabe it wasnt a sensashun to open your eyes and find yourself on a hill and wonder where you was and then sudinly realize that you was in a battel and remember what you seen yesterday and what might hapen to you today. 1st we eat a little bully beef and hardtack and then they called the companys together which it was near imposibel to get together bekause of the slippery mud all over the hill and then they says "Boys theres a lot of machine gun posishuns over the hill right ahead of us and we have desided that the best way to clean em out is to send out a detale of men to flank em and take em and we want volunteers to go on this misshun." Well that was some proposhun right early in the morning that way before you hardly got your eyes open but after a littel bit they got the number of men they wanted and I found out I had volunteered to go to though you mustnt think it was bekause I wanted to be a hero bekause by that time I had lost all my ambishuns to be a hero and everything like that and simply went bekause I seen it was my duty and nothin more. As we climed that hill and lined up to go ahead and get them nests my old heart began tryin to clime out again and I'' bet if I lived to be 100 years old and went to battel every morning my heart wouldnt of learned to act no better on the last mornin than on the 1st bekause theres 1 thing you wouldnt never get ust to or would learn to like and thats havin peopel shoot at you with a rifel and blow you to peices with shells and pour lead into you with a machine gun like a garden hose. If anybody ever says they wasnt skared up in a drive you will know that there ether liars or aint never been there 1 or the other bekause there aint nobody that can wach a man get bumped off without feelin pritty sure that the next shell has got his name wrote all over it and when he hears it comein and aint skared why my names Bill Kaiser thats all and hes just a plane liar if he tells you he wasnt. It aint the man that aint skared thats the brave man its the man thats so skared he cant hardly breathe bekause his heart is where his lungs should ought to be but still goes on anyway and fights till its all over or hes nocked off and theres only 1 way to keep from bein so bad skared and that is to keep goin just as much as you can bekause the more ackshun you get into the less time your goin to have bein afrayed somebodys goin to get you. If you give yourself time to get skared the chanses is that you will do a good job doin it.
Excerpted from Cooty Bill by Kirke Mecham, 1919. To be continued