Well, we finally got to France. After that god-awful trip in that rust bucket of a ship, I had trouble walkin' for a week. I got some leave in some port town (I never really did get the name) where we got put off, so I decided to do a little bit of explorin' myself. You see, the French towns sure ain't nothin' like those back home. They got these little cafes all over the place where you can get a snack or a drink or somethin' and just sit around in the sun as long as you like. I had thrown up pretty much everythin' comin' over, so I had myself quite an appetite. I was able to get by on the couple French phrases some older guys taught me. Best of all, they really like Americans. You see, they've been getting' their tails kicked by the Hun and things ain't been lookin' real good. There's even rumors of a mutiny in the French army. But everyone says that the Americans are gonna turn this war around, so needless to say, we're pretty popular over here.
I don't know if I've talked about this yet, but they gave us these weird-lookin' masks before we left home. Now the Hun has these new gas shells that blow up and blow this poison gas everywhere and it makes people really sick. They made us try them on and go into a trench full of the gas so we could see what it felt like. Let me just say that I hope the Hun never decides to point that poison gas in our direction, 'cause that's not somethin' I want to try again!
Well we ain't got much time. Word is we're movin' to the front any day now. If the whole country is like this, then this war can't be so bad, I reckon.
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from Diary of a Soldier