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Letter from Howard C. Olson, Bird Island Union, 11-28-1918

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Paragraphs taken from letters written Oct. 17 and 26 by Howard C. Olson, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Olson

Somewhere in France, Sat. Oct. 26, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

This is Saturday morning and am not very busy so will drop you a few lines to let you know that Elmer and I are all well and getting along nicely.

Herbert Hagen, a young fellow who lives two or three miles South of Bird Island, was wounded in three places in his body while sleeping in a church near the front. A high explosive shell hit the church early last Sunday morning, wounding him in the left shoulder and body, also killing twelve other fellows and wounding many. He was sent to this hospital for treatment and I stood beside him at the operating table while the pieces of shrapnel were removed. At the present time he is feeling and getting along nicely, at a base hospital some hundred miles back of the lines.

There is one other thing I want to tell you and that is we have the record of all Evacuation Hospitals in France. In twenty-one days we took care of over twenty-six thousand and wounded soldiers.

A couple of nights ago we were bombed close by, killing two Americans, four Frenchmen and twenty-one women. Everybody was out watching the excitement as it does no good to run and hide under some building because those bombs go thru anything on earth.

The British captured Lillie and Ostend the other day and got back some six hundred women and girls who had been prisoners of the Germans for the past four years. They had been tortured something awful.

A week ago today Oct 13th I went up to the front and saw Elmer, somewhere in the Argonne Woods. I left here by ambulance at eight o’clock and arrived in the woods at twelve. He was going out on a detail with thirteen teams so I got there just in time as he was already on his horse. I ran out and shook hands with him and he surely was glad to see me and I surely was glad to see him. I spent Sunday afternoon and all Sunday night with him. We slept in the woods and believe me the boche shells were flying all around us. I thought sure one was coming along and pick me off. Elmer has had several very close calls but has been lucky so far. Outside of all the sufferings and hardships he is going thru, he is feeling fine and still alive.

They are short of food and clothes for the reason it is so hard to get it up to the front lines. There is no city in the world that handles more traffic than the main roads going up to the front. There is one continual stream of wagons, trucks, troops, artillery, ammunition trains and ambulances for twenty-five miles back of “No Man’s Land.”

The wounded men are coming in fast again so I must stop and go to work. Hoping you all spend a Happy Thanksgiving,

I am, your dear son, Howard.

Editor’s Note: We do not have a photograph of Howard C. Olson.