14 January 1944

Got your Sunday-written letter today. Appreciated the account of the baby's activeness very much. She's some kid. Don't worry about my feet. They're all right now. After about a day they were as good as ever. My leg is feeling good now too. In fact we've been doing some strenuous physical exercising the past few days - running, calisthenics, rough-house games, etc. So don't send ointment; I don't need it. Also I have plenty of rags, socks, + handkerchiefs now. Got your 2 packages. Thanks a lot. We've been learning about the 60mm mortar (trench mortar) this past week. Cross of Lorraine Movie Poster Haven't actually fired it yet, but there's a lot to learn in the way of setting it up, sighting it on the target (usually the target can't be seen + its location is transmitted back to the gun crew in terms of deflection (mils) right or left of the aiming bar + estimated distance to be translated into degrees of elevation of the mortar tube), levelling the weapon longitudinally + crosswise, etc. It fires a high explosive shell for a distance of 100 to 1985 yards. The shell has a bursting radius of 15 yards but is dangerous much farther than that. It is the infantryman's artillery. They've been pouring on the physical training the past few days. Yesterday footraces of 300 yards. I'm one of the fastest men in the company. Won the first race by about a margin of 50 yards or so. However, I had to run again right away before I got my wind + strength back; so didn't do so well in the final run-off. Today we had jiu-jitsu and competitive calistenics. I'm the only person I know of in the company except one or two of Cross of Lorraine Movie Poster the non-coms, who could do a push-up from the ground with arms extended straight out in front as far as possible + using fingers only. The boys generally thought it couldn't be done. Then again I made 38 push-ups of the ordinary kind (best in the platoon; there were only 2 or 3 who could make 30). I'm bragging perhaps but it's been quite some time that I've got any recognition for anything in this army. I feel I've gained a little respect from the men here of late. Also was "on the ball" some days ago during a class period having to do with the machine-gun and the setting up of a platoon defensive position. As a means of diversion the 2nd platoon (mine) + the 1st were matched against each other in a kind of question-answer baseball game. A question missed you were out; a question answered one base up to a possible home run for 4 questions answered correctly in succession. Each side made the questions for the other + of course made them as tough as possible. Well, the score was 4 to 0 - favor of the other side + I was up + the period was nearly over. I got 4 questions right, + they were "catchy" ones + on the technical side definitely. "The audience gasped." Excuse these self-plaudits. Saw an amazing show the other night-"The Cross of Lorraine". I won't recommend that you see it though for it's bloody + cruel. About French war prisoners + a revolt of peasants in a small French village. The theme was the "Fighting French" of De Gaulle. The show was very realistic + exciting. I know your job becomes tedious. They ask too d____ much of rural teachers. Don't be afraid to take short-cuts. I don't want your health to be impaired by over-work + worry. Oh, yes - yesterday we ran the assault course again. That's where you run like hell, crawl through barbed-wire, bayonet dummies that come across your path (many of them movable by ropes + pulleys operated from someone hidden in a bush), dive into shell-holes, jump down into trenches with the bayonet aiming at a dummy below, using butt strokes against certain types of targets, etc. It's a hot little time for a few minutes. Does this stuff about Army routine get tiresome to read. If it does tell me. Though I don't have much else to write about. Oh, - why couldn't you leave the baby with a reliable, responsible person if you want to see a certain show? Be d_____ sure though that it is someone that can be trusted with her. I expect I'll want to make a lot of love to her when I come home soon. And - can you by any chance get off a few days, maybe a week, when I come home? We can have one good time maybe if you can get away from it at all for those few days. I expect it'll be the 1st part of March. This week will end the 12th week of the 17. 3 of the boys just came in about 1/3 drunk. One of them used to be a auctioneer, another a farmer - and they're having a helluva time auctioneering off everything from a 900 lb heifer to black-eyed peas. It's past 10 o'clock + I'm in the latrine (lights are out in the barracks proper). The sergeant just came into to calm the uproar down. Everybody's still happy though. Well, I could write more. Once I get a good start - I can go on + on - but I haven't even shaved yet + there's a 5-mile speed hike tomorrow. Now the sergeant is making one of the 3 drinkers take the dog out he brought in with him.
Love, Mel