Somewhere in Flanders,
Mrs. J. Drader
As Eugene suggested that I send a letter with his am going to try and send you a few lines. We have been under fire now for some days and are going up to take over the front line trenches tonight. This is likely to be the worst place yet in every way, although it may not be. It all depends on circumstances and on what Fritz does. Have made my military will in case I should snuff out and ask you to keep it. It is your name I have as next of kin and therefore you would be the first to be advised of anything happening to me. Also I have stated in my book that the will is sent to you. Of course I do not look forward to getting too many “sausages” or “whiz bangs” or anything like that, but think I am ready if it is to come.
There are more rats in this dive than you could shake a stick at and big ones, too—in fact they are old lunkers. I was on guard last night and saw lots of them as they are chiefly nocturnal in their habits. I tried to bayonet one but they are too wise. One of our section said this morning that he saw a big rat plodding along with a chunk of a biscuit it had got in the German lines and he took it away from it and made his breakfast on it therefore we should not try to kill them. It is a caution the way the song birds stick around this place and sing when you can hardly hear yourself think for cannon part of the time—“zip”—there comes some more of Fritz’ “wireless” messengers, right in our corner. You can hear the shells coming for several seconds before they strike or explode. The ones he is sending now are the kind that explode on impact but only about half of those are exploding.
None of the 49th have been hurt since we joined them unless it was some bombers last night, and I have not heard of any of the artillery getting hurt, though Fritz throws hundreds of shells over here every day & night.
We had a little rain about noon today but the sun is very bright this morning too and the aircraft were very busy in consequence. I saw one brought down in the air battle this morning about 7 o’clock but do not know whether it was ours or not.
The Y.M.C.A. is doing great work here. It has a booth right up here in the front in a “dug out” where the boys can buy cakes & fruit etc. but nothing to drink.
Well, I guess I shall write a few lines to Nora and then have this ready to send & hope it gets through all right & finds everyone well as we are here.
Your Loving Son,
Pte. 101749, Drader, C.W.A.
c/o Army P.O.