Thursday, July 31, 2008

Doughboy Diaries

   Our exhausted Battalion—what was left of it—was relieved at last. The men were tired, completely tired. Just the knowledge that relief is at hand releases the feeling of utter weariness which is held at bay so long as there is work to do wherein weariness has no place.
     It is wonderfully good to come out of the line—to come away from the incessant bombardment, the ever-alertness for gas, the casualties and the millions of flies which are inescapable. When you go in, you are tuned up to those things. While you are in they are part of a day's job. The cold meals of canned stuff are part of it. The hole one sleeps in, the clothes one wears interminably, the occasional meal cooked in the rear and cooled en route are part of it. You don't realize that those things are repellant until the promise of rest comes and the reconnaissance by officers of the incoming units begins. That sort of lets down the floodgates and you want to be out and clean and fed and rested. After that it doesn't matter.