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Soldier Writes Home From France published in the Sacred Heart Journal August 10, 1918

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Burt Nordstrom Gives Vivid Pictures of Soldier Life in Trenches

                        Somewhere in France July 1

Dear Mabel:

            Your letter received yesterday with a bunch of other mail the first I have had for five weeks. Glad to hear you are all well. One week ago we spent our first 24 hours in the third line trenches which is quite a ways from the front but close enough to be dangerous – see all the sights and hear all the noise, which is great, especially at night when most fighting seem to be done. We see aerial fights every day and night. The Germans were after the French air domes the other night and destroyed 3 machines, but at that the Allies have got much the best of the Germans in the air.

            Yesterday we walked 6 miles to wash our clothes in a creek and saw a Boche Plane drop a bomb on an English observation balloon and blow her up about 1 mile from where we were. Every night the Boche comes around and drops shrapnel bomb about the towns nearby and tries to hit our camp in the woods but so far has failed to hit us. We sure duck when we hear him coming as it doesn’t pay to stick your head to observe things as shrapnel flies 100 yards around in small pieces and that is sure some terrible weapon. Went out this morning and picked some pieces of a bomb that exploded 1 block from us last night. It is not an uncommon sight to see 100 planes over us at one time and the big guns are shooting so rapidly that it sounded like a steady drum beat.

            Plans are being made for a drive again I hear and hope it will be the last one tho’ we would like to get to the front line before we are thru but from all reports from French and English soldiers and German prisoners it looks as tho’ it will be over before a great while.

            Have not seen Paris yet but hope to. We are located in a British sector but would like to move down to the American Sector so we could enjoy the Y.M.C.A. and see some more of the Minn. boys. I am the only one from Renville Co. in this Regt. But there are no. of Minn. and Ia. boys. I bunk with a fellow from Iowa and is quite a pal. Name – Hubert Carney. He says his sister teaches in the Council Bluffs High School so probably you know her.

            Have seen little of France on foot mostly, and the only grand thing I have seen so far are the Churches and Cathedrals, which sure are wonderful-all stone and marble with wonderful paintings and Statuary inside. Can’t say I fancy these old countries very much only as historie spots and ancient places with scenery. Perhaps it would be different in peace time.

            There is no one to be seen around here but old men and women and young kids as all men from 16 to 50 are at the front and all girls from 16 to 35 or so are drafted into ammunition factories and work in cities, so have not seen a fair French maid since I got here.

            In the country the houses and barns sometimes hen houses and pig pens are all built in one so you can imagine what a smell there would be around the house but this seems to be a custom of the old countries. The people don’t look as clean as in the Stats but in the larger cities I guess things are different. Would like to see some of the cities on the continent and also in England before we get home.

            I s’pose the folks feel a little worried about me but tell them not to worry as I am not in the thick of it and will not be for some tme. As the English say, “No man dies before his time”, and I feel that my time won’t be in this war. None of the boys worry very much about that but are all in good health and fine spirits. The English sure threat us fine. Always treat us to bread, jam and tea, which we appreciate.

            Would enjoy some sweets as they are very scarce here but we have to go thru so much red tape to get a permit to have it sent that I will go without. Understand that no packages can be sent to soldiers. They would not be able to handle the mail if they received parcels. We have not been paid for two months and do not know what they are doing about allotment as we have not been paid yet. We don’t need much money here as there is not much to buy. I think I am the only one in the camp that has any money left, so am lucky, I have about 35 francs which is about $7.

            Be sure to write often as letters are most welcome here. This is Sunday and want to write about 5 more letters so will close this with best wishes.

                        Bro. Bert Private – Co. I-132 Infantry American E. F. via N. Y.

Editor’s Note: We do not have a photograph of Burt Arthur Nordstrom