Letter from a New Bernian in the Line, 1918

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Letter from "A New Bernian in the Line", 1918



                                                                                    “In the Trenches”

                                                                                    Aug. 19, 1918.

Dear Sir:

Have been asked several times to write to the folks at home and having nothing much to do this afternoon I though I would just write you a short letter to let you know how the New Bern boys are getting along.

Our regiment is now in the line but my battalion was lucky this “spell” to be the reserve battalion, therefore, we are what we call a good distance back. We are not having much real excitement this trip, for so far “Jerry” (our name for the Germans) hasn’t gotten our “address” yet. He send us one or two stray shells once in awhile but none near enough yet to get our “wind up.”

Being the reserve battalion we are in shrapnel proof dugouts or huts. Of course one of these huts wouldn’t stop one of Jerry’s favorite 5.9’s, that is his favorite shell on this front. He also has a shell we call a whiz bang, which is a silent kind of shell, that is, the shell is on one before one knows it. One particular quality about Jerry is his generosity with his shells he always gives us plenty of them, but we feel safer this trip than we did the last time up the line.

The last time we were up here, we went right into the line, and of course being our first time, we all had our “wind up” to a certain extent. We soon calmed down and were getting along fine until Jerry gave us another “strafing” or shelling about dawn. Thereafter we kept it up for the duration of our spell. Of course we had quiet spells, especially in the day when we were allowed to sleep. No one sleeps at night, for if we are not on duty there is always something else on hand, either a trip to no man’s land or somewhere else, always something to keep us from getting bored. By day one could sleep all right were it not for the many little inhabitants of the trenches, who generally keep one busy. (?) Then the rats in the trenches disturb one’s rest for they are not particular where they crawl. It is always something to keep one worried. At night we are visited by mosquitos. The mosquitos at home are infinitely small compared with ours. I had an idea that the mosquitos at Camp Glenn were large, but I see now that they would not be large enough to cope with these fellows. Some of the boys have declared these mosquitos wore gas masks but as you know that is merely an exaggeration, but they are pretty large at all that. I have heard of the muddy trenches of ----- and I guess the tales about them have gotten home. I had no idea the mud was as plentiful as it is.

Now don’t try to think I am trying to picture to you the darkest side of our life. We are all faring good in spite of all these things. We don’t mind the rats, mud, mosquitos or anything else if Jerry will keep his shells to himself. Why the boys have even gotten so they don’t mind the machine gun bullets. Of course we “duck” from them, but they are so small compared with Jerry’s 5.9’s. And don’t think that we are discouraged over these little matters, for a better spirit can not be found in the American Army, than in our regiment. We are all feeling fine and have all voiced the sentiments of our comrades in their motto: “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken by Christmas.” Of course we are all looking forward to the day when the Allies will use the suburbs of Berlin for rest camps and the Reichstag will be occupied by Allied officers, when Belgium is free and the Lusitania has been atoned for, then we’ll all come home and tell the folks at home how we did it.

Now just a word about the boys. Sergeant Jim Mitchell, Thomas S. Taylor, Harry Davis, John Parker, Lyle Smith, Steve Simpson, Macon Cavanaugh, and John Berry are still with the Medical Department and are doing good work in looking out for the wounded. Sergeant Murray Pugh and Thomas Gillikin have left us and Corp. Thomas Bissett, who is in one of the line companies now, is on Detached Service at an officers training school. We all hope he can fill the vacancy caused by his brother. The other New Bern boys, if there are any, are all faring fine as can be under the existing circumstances.

I expect New Bern is right short of men now, even the Mecca for loafers (Clark’s corner). I expect New Bern has lost most of its population. If we ever get back, there will be many a tale told on that corner. Tell all the fellows who are being drafted now not to take it too hard, for their services may not even be needed, if we can keep the Huns the way we have them going now. We have him bested in every way now and it shouldn’t take so much longer to crush Prussian Militarism, and establish world wide Democracy, for the future generations.

So much for this time, for it is getting late and Jerry is getting too active to be calmly sitting here writing. Give our best regards to all of New Bern and tell them we are doing our best to uphold old New Bern’s reputation, for we all know they are sticking with us. With best personal regards to yourself.

                                                                                    Yours truly,

                                                                                    A NEW BERNIAN IN THE LINE.

The Morning New Bernian, Sunday, September 15, 1918, section 1, p. 2, c5-7


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