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the men, just from this little town who have given their lives in this war and it's quite a long list!
E. J. CANRIGHT,
Medical Department, 149th Field Artillery
SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE,
MY DEAR FOLKS: I could almost head this letter "Somewhere in Germany" as we are driving the Germans back again, and at this rate will soon be in Berlin.
My regiment had the honor of holding the most advanced artillery position, so we are able to see the vast preparations for the attack. An attack is always preceded by heavy and concentrated artillery fire to destroy any enemy battery positions, machine gun nests, etc., and to prepare the way for the infantry. We had "beaucoup" artillery brought up there especially for the attack-guns of every size-big and little. There were guns everywhere; and shortly after midnight, at a given signal, every battery on that part opened fire. It was a very dark and rainy night-you could not see your hand before your face, but the blinding flash of the guns would reveal everything for a second and then all would be dark again for an instant until they fired again. We kept that up all night long; while we were doing that the tanks moved up into position preparatory to the attack. All that night they went by. We used two kinds of tanks -big ones about the size of a street car, and little ones about the size of a Ford car. You have seen pictures of them so know about how they look. They are made of steel and operate like a tractor engine, and travel a little faster than a man can walk, but they make a lot of noise-they rattle and clank like a threshing machine. However they will go over anything, trenches, ditches, shell holes, mud, etc., and will cut right through barbed wire. Nothing stops them. All that night at intervals between the roar of the guns you could hear the tanks rattling and bumping across the field and the flash of the guns
would reveal them moving slowly but steadily across the field like some huge, prehistoric monsters. It was a weird sight, I can assure you.
The tanks and the doughboys were scheduled to go over the top shortly after daybreak and it was some sight that morning to look across that vast field and see the tanks lined up and scattered behind them. All over the field, in groups and squads, were the doughboys waiting to make the attack. Then all of a sudden they started moving forward all along the line. The tanks led the way, spitting fire from all sides, with their machine guns, and following just behind them were the doughboys firing their rifles and using their bayonets as they advanced. It was just like the pictures you see in the movies, only this was the real thing. It is unusual for the artillery to go "over the top" with the infantry, but this time we actually did it-one of our batteries went over between the first and second waves of the doughboys.
Pretty soon we got orders to increase our range, so we knew that our troops were advancing through the German lines and going ahead rapidly. Oh Boy that's a wonderful feeling. Then batches of German prisoners began coming back under guard— some of them looked mad and sullen and others looked as though they were glad to be prisoners.
Of course we advanced too, although it was almost impossible for us to get through as the roads were almost wiped out from shell fire and then they were jammed with troops and equipment of all kinds, and all trying to go forward. I never saw such a jam in my life-we were hours getting anywhere. Whenever we got stuck when we were moving up, the German prisoners would help us out-many times I have pushed and pulled on a gun or caisson with half a dozen Germans pushing with me. It's great sport. In fact we were on the road all the next night, and all night long we could see the flames and the red glow of the towns and villages that the Huns were burning before retreating. But even so, we pushed them so hard that they did not have time to burn all the towns and we captured all kinds of material, guns, ammunition, equipment, etc., in fact I am writing this in one of
the towns that we managed to capture before they had a chance to destroy anything. They had occupied this town since the beginning of the war and judging from the way they had fixed things up they intended to stay here forever. All the signs are in German and we captured an army warehouse filled with German clothing, etc.
I must tell of a little incident that occurred the first night we were here, it's real funny. We took this town in the afternoon and that night a German captain who had been away somewhere and had not heard of the attack came riding into town. Well, you never saw a more surprised man in your life he simply could not believe it at first, that is not until some doughboy tickled him between the ribs with his bayonet, then he lost no time in surrendering I can assure you!
E. J. CANRIGHT,
149th U.S. Field Artillery, A. E. F., A. P. O. No. 715.
SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE,
MY DEAR FOLKS: We are still chasing the Huns, and as they are going pretty fast, it keeps us going too, so we do not stay very long in any one position. Of course that is kind of hard on us as we never have a chance to clean up or get a comfortable place to sleep in-and it's pretty cold and rainy these days. The first thing we do when we pull into a position is to dig the "trail pits" and "lay the guns." Then each man looks around for a place to dig his "flop" (hole to sleep in). If it is possible we dig our holes in the side of a bank, as you are not quite so apt to be drowned out when it rains, but if there is no bank near enough, we just dig it on the level ground and make the best of it, even if you do get soaked. We have to dig a “flop” because it affords us some protection from shell fragments-you'd look like a sieve by morning you'd be so full of holes if you tried to sleep on top of the ground. We make them of course, just large enough to crawl into and just long enough and wide enough to
lie down in. Each man digs his own and they are dug several feet apart so that if a shell hits a "flop" it will get only one mansee? You would laugh if you could see us when old Fritz begins shelling us. If it is in the day time we will all be standing around "chewing the rag" and smoking, when all of a sudden we will hear the whine of a shell coming and then everyone makes a dive for his hole, for all the world like a bunch of mice running to their holes when a cat's chasing them, and then after the shell bursts, everyone sticks his head out to see where it hits.
However, Fritz has a habit of shelling us just about dusk and keeping it up on and off, all night. It is not the pleasantest thing in the world to lie in your little hole at night, all alone and in the dark and hear the shells whining overhead and bursting all around you-you can feel the earth shake and tremble from the force of the explosion, and then you hear the ugly zip of the shell fragments—you know the sound a drop of water makes when it falls on a red hot stove-well that's the sound a shell fragment makes as it tears through the air-and they travel a long ways, too, and when you hear the whang and thud of the rocks and dirt as they fall all around you, it takes a second or two for all the fragments and rocks and dirt to bury themselves in the earth, but it seems like an eternity because you can't tell whether one is going to hit you or not. Then even before the upheaval of one shell has subsided, another is bursting, and you can hear others coming-getting louder and nearer, until you think it is surely going to light right on top of you and blow you to atoms. And so it goes for hours at a time. Of course, because of my work, I have to be constantly on the alert when we are being shelledready to jump out of my hole and take care of anyone that gets hit. It takes courage if I do say it myself, to jump out of your hole when the shells are bursting all around and when everyone else is hugging the ground down in his "flop," and to dress a man's wounds under those conditions, and in the dark, too. And then you have to see that he is carried back to a safe place and started on his way to the hospital. As I have said before although I'm not afraid to die-I've seen too much of death to fear it-I don't want to die as I feel that I have the best part of my life before me. But that's my work, so I do it, and if I get
"knocked off" why I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I've done my duty, anyways.
I can honestly say that I have had some of the happiest and also some of the bitterest experiences of my life since I have been a soldier. War is a great teacher and I have learned many lessons-some of them hard ones, too. You know I have actually seen what the Huns have done to northern France and Belgium and know what horrors and sufferings the people who lived there have gone through, and when things are going hard and I am tired and discouraged, I like to think that I am here going through all these hardships to do my bit to keep you all from experiencing the same horrors that these unfortunate people have-that if we don't lick the Huns now-and lick them to a standstill they might at some future time try to do the same thing in America. You can laugh at me if you want to, and say I'm foolish, but that thought gives me fresh determination to carry on. There is nothing I would not do to prevent you from going through even a part of what they have had to do.
As we are on territory recently occupied by the Germans, we find "beaucoup" German equipment. Just the other day I found an old German machine gun nest, with a big 1917. model, water cooled, German machine gun, and "beaucoup" boxes of ammunition. So I carried or rather dragged the gun back with me and set it up next to my "flop." The Huns had smashed the automatic feeder on it, and so thought they had put it out of commission, but I fooled them-the only difference it makes is that now, you have to pull the ammunition belt through as it won't feed automatically. I just love to fool with machine guns and I have had lots of fun shooting at Boche air-planes with it, and sometimes I just point her nose up in the air and "let her go," just in hopes of getting a few Germans, as we are within machine gun range of their lines. I have, I hope, put a few of them out of commission. You know how a compressed air hammer sounds-well, that's how a machine gun sounds, and then you can hear the zip, zip of the bullets as they cut through the air. Gee! but it's sport. We are supposed to have the crack division of the German army in front of us-I wish you could see them-they are just