(Beneath date, a pencil notation by William Hills, Paul’s father: “This letter arrived the morning of Nov. 11, 1918, the day peace was announced. W.H.” )
Dear Mother -:
I am still on the front but with the new work I told you about it is not particularly unpleasant especially considering all that is going on. The Dutch are certainly beaten or at least beginning to be and the results are wonderful. Everyone is willing to and wants to give everything he has in him to keep it up and as you can imagine the work as in all advances is not easy. The weather has been vile and the roads and country a perfect sea of mud but somehow the thing is being managed tho the poor horses are suffering terribly.
I spend about six hours a day at a desk and about six more chasing around the country locating the ammunition that I have directed from my desk. However things are beginning to become a little more easy for me now and someday perhaps I will able to sleep 24 hours a day and know that everything is working OK as it should.
The promotions that were sent in at the same time that mine was are just beginning to materialize so perhaps it will not be a too long time before I begin to amount to something in the way of rank.
You wanted me to write you a letter describing just what I looked like. I don’t really believe that I can, especially considering the fact that I don’t believe that you ever saw anything that looks at all the way I do especially after a day’s or night’s work. About all there is to it is a trench coat with boots sticking out underneath, a gas mask on its chest and topped off by a tin hat covering one eye and half the face of what always has been underneath. Splash the whole variously with different colored mud and you have it or at least all that can be seen of it under ordinary circumstances.
Since I began to write this the long expected promotion did arrive and I am now a full blown 1st lieutenant with the assurance of the commanding officer that at the first possible opportunity I will go up for captain. It is really quite something for you to be proud of that, while others were getting theirs training or at home, etc., P. Hills nailed his on the front. I just happened to be figuring it out the other day that since there have been any American troops in France, there hasn’t been one single fight of any size that there have been any American troops in that I haven’t managed to be in on too.
(As to the foregoing paragraph, it was an abiding source of both pride and frustration to Paul Hills not only then but in future years that, while contemporaries in military service in World War I achieved higher rank in non-combat duty, his promotions and assignments were in the course of extended battlefront duty.)
In some ways, that is from the point of view of leaves, etc., it has been a decided disadvantage, but the experience has been worth anything even tho a little concentrated, and I doubt if anyone has had more advantages, if they may be called such, of seeing real downright war from the best side, which is none too pleasant, to the worst, which is that in all respects and any way you look at it.
This is all now so good bye