TO GEORGE W. LANE
Washington, December 16, 1918
My dear George,—I have your long letter, telling me of all your sad experiences with red tape and how you have settled down at last to do your bit at home. You have gone through the bitterness that most fellows have experienced in trying to do anything with the Government. I really am very sorry that you had to make such a financial sacrifice and break up your home and then be fooled, but probably it is all for the best. The war is over, the boys are coming home soon and this brings me to the main point.
Ned got home this morning. Nancy, Anne, and I went to Norfolk to meet him. He had no expectation of seeing us there and at eight o’clock on a very rainy foggy morning, we came up along side of his transport and he was taken by surprise. He had a fine lot of boys with him, but since May he had been at the Naval Aviation Headquarters as one of the General Staff.
He had many narrow escapes; had men killed standing beside him, torn to pieces by shrapnel; was knocked over by the concussion of shells; was over the lines in the battle of Chateau-Thierry in an aeroplane, flew across the Austrian-Italian lines and chased the German on his retreat through Belgium.
He seems to be in good health, though rather nervous. He very much admires the men who were his comrades and his superiors, but is glad to be out of it all. I think he would like to get on a big farm. My plan for getting farms for the soldier is making slow progress. I have got to put in all my effort now to get some decisive answer out of Congress—either yes or no. ...
[Ned] has seen France very thoroughly, all the north of Italy from Rome up, England, and Ireland. In the latter spot, he was shot at three times, notwithstanding a general order that no Irishman is allowed to have a gun. He was challenged to a duel by a Frenchman who tried to get away with his seat in a car. He gave the Frenchman a good licking and then discovered that he was liable to court martial, but he got the seat and then told the French lieutenant he would throw him out of the car window if he talked any more about dueling. The following morning he offered the Frenchman a cigarette which was taken, and they shook hands and parted.
He went up in an aeroplane in Italy at one place and had a hunch, he said, that something was wrong with the machine and so he brought it down and landed. Another fellow took it up, an Italian. He got up about one thousand feet in the air and the gas tank exploded. The poor fellow came down burnt to a cinder, all within five minutes. He shot a German from the Belgian trenches and has been recommended four times for promotion, but hasn’t got it yet. With much love to Frances and yourself, I am, affectionately yours,