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Date: May 19th 1917
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

19 May, ’17.

This little bit of blossom was growing in a destroyed orchard, the only apple tree I saw alive in the village of Vimy. All the trees — those alive — are green now, but there are not many flowers. I saw a lilac bush one day. Such sights give you quite a shock amongst all the wreckage. By the way I forgot — I haven’t heard yet if Heinie claims he has retired from here “according to plan”; but if he says so, why did he — considering the shortage of grain in Germany and for obvious other reasons — why did he sow a lot of fields, even up to and on the Ridge, with grain? It’s just coming up nicely between the shell holes.

We have moved to a different line of trenches, much better ones this time, where you can light a fire and walk around. . . .

The weather has changed for the worse — not very cold, but raining and cloudy all the time. Your comfort seems to depend absolutely on the weather. Only very few of the boys pack an overcoat, and of course no blanket or anything. The other night, we were on a wiring party, laying barbed wire out in front. It rained all the time; in an hour the water was through every one’s clothes. It would be alright, of course, if you had a place to sleep dry afterwards, but you haven’t; you just dry out as you can. When we quit before dawn, we came into our funk holes and just lay as we were. How you do it, I dunno’, — but you do and somehow no one ever seems to even get a cold, but it’s not pleasant. In the sunshine, everything is lovely.

... It is an effort to write and it should be a pleasure. One thing, the interest, as a spectacle, very soon goes out of the thing. From a looker-on — a man on the staff — a newspaper correspondent's view, it’s all different of course. We who live it and cannot get away from it, see it with different eyes. Once I was wildly interested in villages and woods and positions; but I find all that leaving me. A trench position has an interest only in so far as whether it is usually quiet or otherwise. As we hardly ever see a paper, we know little as to the progress of the war, so we never discuss it. Of course, the everyday events of the life abound with incidents of interest, many dramatic and humorous; but when you come to want to write of them, a sort of lassitude comes over you and, fight against it as you will, it’s no use.

When you get orders for so many days in the lines, you don’t go all keen and excited, you know, as if you were going to a party; though I’ll admit once I used to feel keen, keen to see it. Not now, though.

Tonight we go in for six days — I mean we go to new positions for six days; we’ve never been “out” yet; it seems a long time. But I hope by then anyway we’ll have the rest we’ve looked forward to so long. . . .

Kiss little Bill for me — tell her that Dad looks forward to the good times to come. Only last night I was planning a swell funk hole we’ll make in the woods, one summer; and have a real camp out.

Original Scans

Original Scans