following letter from
Mark C. Dufendach was received by his parents,
Mr. and Mrs. Ed. H. Dufendach, Tuesday of last week:
Killed in action July 18, 1918
Dear Folks: At last I have a chance to write a letter. It has, indeed, been some time since I last wrote, but I couldn’t help that. I hope this finds you all well – as well as I am, in fact, for I am feeling fine — feeling fine after one long year in “Sunny (?)” France.
This is a beautiful day. The sun is quite warm, but there is enough wind blowing to make it pleasant. The sun does manage to shine now and then, and when it does France is truly “Sunny France”.
I am sitting on the fire steeped in a trench up at the front. Everything has been real quiet the last few days and life has been, indeed, worth living. The birds seem to sing here all night long, and sometimes, when everything is all quiet, you would hardly know there is such a thing as a war going on. But, just as you are beginning to enjoy this stillness, a battery breaks loose somewhere and you hear a shell, or shells, traveling through the air with a souvenir for old Fritz. The boche is not very fond of the “souvenirs” the American artillery sends over.
We have been gas-shelled several times, but I have never felt the effects of the deadly stuff. A gas shell, when traveling through the air, has a much different sound from that of an explosive shell. I don’t know how to explain the difference, but if you could hear them you could soon tell it.
It is interesting, sometimes, -- especially at night – to watch and listen to our artillery. First you see the flash of the gun, probably three or four kilometers away; next you hear the report of the gun, followed by the sound of the sell traveling through the air (this sounds a great deal like the wind does in a storm on the “Tank Hill” at home). Before this sound ceases, you can see the case of the shell exploding, followed shortly by the loud noise of the explosion itself – and we hope that the shell has done its work.
Of course, it is not so interesting when Fritz starts sending these capsules at you, for it requires too much ducking, and then, too, he might accidentally, hit you. When you hear a shell coming anywhere near you, you want to collide with the sod at your feet, like you were falling upon a football, only a whole lot quicker (much more is at stake), and hug old Mother Earth as close as you can. It is then you would like to trade places with an ant. Sometimes Fritz gets real mean and sends them over so thick that you just keep lying there until he tires, or changes his range.
I read in a paper where Secretary Baker had a narrow escape when over here. The article stated that a shell exploded fifty yards away. I wonder what kind of an escape he would call it if a shell came along and nearly blew off his helmet?
Our artillery in this division can certainly feed these guns. One of the prisoners taken in the attack on ----(I suppose you read of it) said there were two things he wanted to see. The first was a good meal, and the next was the three-inch machine gun – so fast do our boys shoot.
We were stationed in a town near the front, evacuated by the civilians since the drive started last March. A number of gardens were already made and contained onions, strawberries, currants and gooseberries. You know I have a sort o’ likin’ for these here red gum-drop berries, and so made good use of said garden. A Swede and I made some good preserves from gooseberries and currants and, up-to-date, I am feeling as good as ever.
tickles me to read some
of the letters written in some papers back in the
States. I was reading one in a Minnesota paper from some fellow in one of the camps. He wrote how brave he was going to be when he came over here, but that he was AFRAID the war would be over before he could get to France. Now, this war game is some dangerous pastime, although some have exaggerated it, but I had a heap better time fighting in that sham battle at the Huntingburg fairgrounds on Centennial Day than I do in this one over here!
There isn’t any one that LIKES it, and there’s no use in saying that he does, for Sherman was no liar. But, the satisfaction comes through the fact that we know that we are giving it to the Boche much stronger than he is to us.
You asked me how many times I have been to Paris? Well, I have been there just as many times as you have. I have been just about as close to Paris, France, as I have to Paris, Kentucky. I have not been able to go on leave yet, so I cannot tell you much about France.
I received the Y.P.A. ring and think it very pretty. It fits snuggly on my finger and I am very proud of it. I will write the Alliance when I have time.
I am hungry for the sight of someone from home. Have not seen anyone for some time. Caught a glimpse of George League (killed a few weeks later) about a month ago.
Do you remember the fellow – the Irishman -- I have written about? I wrote of him last time in my letter to Hazel. He was killed about two weeks ago. It is when such close friends as him go that one feels the horrors of war more than any other time. The whole Company feels the loss of this fellow.
Haven’t the Marines and Doughboys been going after the Squareheads up on the Marne, though? I suppose the Kaiser will soon realize that the Americans are not merely game, but food fighters, also.I receive the Independent regularly and sure do devour its contents. The boys enjoy reading the letters in it almost as much as I do.
I certainly enjoyed reading Bert Pickhardt’s letter. What he said of the relation between the boys and their mothers is certainly true. I wrote mother a Mother’s Day letter, and hope she received it o.k.You will soon celebrate your birthdays (July 14). Am sorry I can’t send you some little remembrance, or reminder, but I do send all the best wishes and greetings and love that (text missing).
There are a great many planes flying around. Fritz can not do much in the air, for he is a back number there. So complete is the Allied supremacy in the air that it is very seldom you hear or see a German plane, except after dark. The way you tell whether it is a German or Allied plane is by the sound of the motor. A German plane sounds a great deal like a saw-mill.
Have you received any copies of the Stars and Stripes? I think it is a very interesting paper. Have you read of the soldiers’ pets – the cooties? I have a number of them, and they are a great bother. You just can’t get rid of the blamed things. The straw we use for bedding seems to be filled with ‘em. When we come out of the trenches we have our clothes steamed and then rub gasoline all over us. It is the only way to rid one’s self of these aggravating vermin.Well, I must close as I must sew my pants. If I don’t I will soon be showing more than the law allows.
I hope this finds you all well. Take good care of yourselves. Love to all.