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109125 109125_1

Typed letter signed to his commanding officer during the Great War.

Availability: In stock

Published: A.R.C. Hospital "Somewhere in Milano", 31 July [1918]

Stock Code: 109125

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


Remarkable chatty and amusing letter dating from the period of Hemingway's convalescence from a wound sustained on the Italian front, signed in pencil and with an autograph note in his hand; reprinted in The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: 1907-1922, pp. 122-23. The recipient, Captain James Gamble, was a field inspector with the American Red Cross Rolling Canteen Service (for more information on Gamble see an article by Gary Brenner in The Hemingway Review, Volume 20, Number 1, Autumn 2000, ' "Enough of a Bad Gamble": Correcting the Misinformation on Hemingway's Captain James Gamble').
"Dear Capitano; Salute! On our front there is nothing to report. On our rear however all is healed and the bandages have been removed..."
"The chief of Section Four asked for volunteers to man the chain of canteens the Red Cross was setting up under the command of Captain James Gamble in the Oiave River Valley north of Venice. The canteens would offer coffee, soup, candy and cigarettes to off-duty soldiers and provide them with a place to write letters and listen to phonograph records. Until the canteens were operational, the tenente in charge would be expected to bicycle up to the front twice a day and pass out cigarettes and chocolates to the troops. Ernest immediately volunteered, for he had heard that the fighting along the lower Piave was the most intense since the Italian defeat at Caporetto the previous autumn... Ernest did not appear in the mess hall on the night of July 8. Instead, he rode his bicycle far out along the west bank of the Piave to see what he could do for the morale of the men in a forward listening post. While he was passing out chocolates in a dugout a trench mortar shell exploded a few feet away. Many years later he declared that the passage describing the wounding of Lieutenant Henry in A Farewell to Arms was an accurate account of what had happened to him... Attendants stripped off his trousers and the medical captain commenced dictating to the sergeant-adjutant while he worked. 'Multiple superficial wounds on the left and right thigh and left and right knee and foot. Profound wounds of right knee and foot. Lacerations of the scalp... with possible fracture of the skull. The captain removed as many scaggia from the Tenente's legs as he could under the circumstances, gave him an antitetanus shot and a snort of brandy and bandaged him up. From the dressing station he was transported by ambulance to a field hospital. Here he remained, swathed in bandages, for several days before being sent on a train to a newly established American hospital in Milan for surgical removal of the remaining shell fragments" (Kenneth S. Lynn, Hemingway, 1987, pp.79-80).

Also present is a 2-page letter from the Philadelphia bookseller Charles Sessler offering this letter, with a group of other Hemingway letters, to a Mrs Henry M. Watts, Jr (headed paper, dated 19 July 1966)

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One page octavo, typed on one side only. Housed in a marbled paper flap-case.


Lightly creased where folded. In excellent condition.


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