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It's Begun ...

Monday, September 25

The bombardment of Etobon has begun. Allied artillery have been firing from a distance, but now shells have begun falling in and around the village. Jules Perret anticipates that the village will be drawn into the fighting. He can't anticipate what will happen in three days.

"At two in the morning, American shells, meowing, started in the direction of Belverne.  And the boches cannons barked.  You’d think you were in Verdun in 1916.

"Announcement.  All the men from 18 to 50 years old must go to dig trenches in Belverne in the rain and the cannon fire.  Following the advice of M.P., the guerillas absent themselves.

"So, we’ll be in the middle of the coming battle.  We have to prepare ourselves, too.

"I buried a crock of lard in grandmother’s basement, our money and five jars of roasted meat in ours, and Suzette’s trousseau, put in crates, in grandmother’s storeroom; and here and there a demijohn of schnapps, 50 liters of Tunisian wine, my writings …

"Eleven o’clock.  It’s begun!  One shell above the village, another in it.  Some boches take refuge in our house and ask, very politely, for coffee and a little glass of schnapps.  They want us to “trink” with them.  A big non-com with glasses looked at my picture in uniform that hangs on the wall:  “You, sir, you are also a non-com,” and he asks for an ashtray, “not to make dirty.”  Too polite!

"The shells continue to rain down on the outskirts of the village.  Meanwhile, Mama is salting and cutting the pork, which we’ll put in barrels and bury in the cellar."

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