The wind was blowing pretty hard, and as the trees around us were terribly shot up, falling limbs became rather dangerous. Quite a number did fall near us, but none right where we were.
About five o'clock, we packed up and started towards the rear. As we cleared the forest and entered the open country, looking back towards the front we could see seven observation balloons up. They looked much better from the rear, than they would have it they had been facing us. All along the road was evidence of the fierceness of the conflict just past. Two villages were nothing but ruins. Many others had been shelled until the people could not live them anymore as they were.
Just before dark we passed trough a village containing English troops. Here I saw my first Scotch Highlander, with his kilts and bare knees. Quite a lot of ragging and joking took place between them and our fellows.
One "Tommy" sitting beside the road remarked, "Well, we got their bloomin' bloody liver this time." This brought a great laugh from the fellows and more ragging.
Shortly after dark we entered another dense forest, and, about midnight, bivouacked for the remainder of the night. For one I was pretty tired and enjoyed the night's sleep. The spot had been used before by French troops, and they had left some temporary shelters covered over with tar paper.
The next morning, we undertook to clean up some, though water was still scarce, it being difficult to get enough water to drink. A salvaging detail was sent back to the front. I tried to get sent with it, but failed to get to go. When the fellows got back, they said they got into a ravine that was being shelled with high explosives and gas, and thought they were not going to get out alive. The "Y" had some cakes, chewing gum, and chocolates for sale, and by going around several times I got all I wanted. As there was usually a limited supply, it was necessary to limit each one's purchase, otherwise someone would get it all and the rest of us get none.
A large railroad gun came up near us during the night and fired, going back before daylight. When the thing went off, the earth fairly shook and trembled, and doubtless Heinie did too when the shells landed. The big gun mounted on railroad trucks could easily be pulled up during the night, fired, and taken back to the rear before day. In this manner, its position could not be learned by the enemy's observation.
In the forenoon of July 25th, we packed up and took the road. After moderate hiking we reached a small village called Boissy, late in the afternoon of the same day. The country all along the road had been strung with barb wire in anticipation of the German drive, which had now been stopped. There were also camouflaged trenches, freshly dug. We passed an aviation field along the road. The little town of Boissy was just about like all other small towns in France, the houses being practically all alike, a house and barn combined. The old woman where we were going to be billeted raised a protest at our using her house, so we had to find another one, which turned out to be a kind of stable. Using straw, we made pretty comfortable quarters. Capt. Dunbeck, who had been wounded at Belleau Woods, came back here, and took charge of the 43rd Co. I had never seen him before, as he had been wounded before my joining the company.