Somewhere in Western Europe. British Expeditionary Force, 3rd Guards Brigade, Delta Battalion, B Company, F Platoon, N Squad. Letter from Lieutenant Horace S. Browntrout to his wife Effie Browntrout.
March 7th, 1916
I have literally spent the past two years doing one of three things: drilling, attending to my horrific case of trench foot, and teaching Stanley how to play “Go Fish.” Major Ellingson—with nothing to do and angrier by the day at not being thrown into the jaws of battle—has made my education as an up and coming officer something of a personal crusade. He even dreams of starting a “finishing school” for officer candidates after the war is over. He is quite short with Stanley, upbraiding him for incorrect use of his mess kit—though none of the other boys are proper either.
Ellingson’s method of teaching is to attempt to remake me in his own image, down to the finest detail. He performs a bizarre callisthenic routine that involves shouts and kicks at the air that he insists Stanley and I imitate in full view of the other men. If The Colonel (Roosevelt) were here, he’d be proud. It’s just the sort of rot he goes in for. Ellingson shaves his face every morning but for a pencil-thin mustache—he insists Stanley and I do the same. That’s right darling, STANLEY AND I. Have you ever seen a Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Saysquack with his whole face shorn but for his upper lip? Well, try to picture it. We are the laughingstock of F Platoon.
I hear that Branwell is doing fine, though I wish we both would have been assigned to the same outfit. I am so proud of him for completing his officer’s training. Do you think it odd that a father and son should be the same rank?
At any rate, I hope our government hashes it out with the Germans soon. Stanley and I are both eager to get back to Wooly Acres and I would like to consider mounting another research expedition to the Olympic Peninsula. That’s all for now. I hope you are bearing up under the strain of us being gone. Do not worry about us. We are in no danger of any kind. Ta for now.