Thursday, Sept 26, 1918
Camp Funston, Kansas
My Own Lucille,
Just received your letter when I came from school. Got off at 11 o'clock this morning, so thought it would be an ideal time to communicate a word or so to my little sweetheart. I will report back to school at 2 p.m.
The bunch are all out on maneuvers. Left at 6 o'clock this morning. So for one time, things are quiet for me to write. They won't be in till some time between supper and midnight, so I may have some rest for once. For a fellow has no time for rest or thought when the gang is all here. The day turned out to be very nice and bright after all, but is rather cool without a sweater, so I am going to wear mine this afternoon. We have been issued our heavy wool underwear, but I have never donned mine yet. Expect I will put them all on when or if we go to Siberia, though. Have never got our wool suits yet. Guess we don't get them till we get to the shipping place.
Well honey, in regards to my gas school, we learn of all the methods of gas warfare and how to guard against any such attack. We learn the gas mask by heart, and how to put it on with the greatest speed to insure safety. Then comes the lesson of giving the alarms to the sleeping men, who are in the range of said gas, so they may be prepared, and the effects of said gas on the body and what chemicals the gasses are composed of. It is a very complicated study and far too deep for me, although I may be able to learn some very valuable facts about it. They give us most of the afternoon to chase around over the hills with our masks on to get us accustomed to them so we can march hard and keep them on. The only trouble I find is that my throat gets very dry, for you breathe through your math at all times.
We got some pretty good lessons this morning of how the gas shells and projectiles look. They fired about a dozen very small projectiles (2 inches in diameter) over us and we had to put on our masks when they exploded. They acted very much the same as the real ones only they are 8 inches in diameter and some 3 feet long and tear large holes in the ground if they happen to explode after landing.
We have to pay very close attention to the atmosphere, also, for the wind and elements of the air have most everything to do with the success of an attack. For example, if the wind is dry and blowing at over 8-10 miles per hour and a gas shell bursts, the gasses are transformed from liquids to gasses quickly and are scattered about in the stout wind to such an extent that they are harmless. The less wind there is and the moister the air is, the better the time for an attack. etc. etc.
Well honey, this stuff can't be of much interest to you I should think, so I will cut it out. I must ring off and start back to school. You see I left off a while ago and went to dinner and didn't register it. So that accounts for my hurry. I have about a mile or so to walk and the main thing is to be there on time. For being late is unbearable in the Army. Lots of love to you.
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1998-2002, Tom Johnston