In the original book, Danny’s friends Jimmy and Fred were killed in a battle previous to the one that injured Danny. Torn apart by the losses, he wrote these letters to his dead friends’ parents while he huddled in the trenches, waiting for the next fight.
Dear Mr and Mrs Murphy,
I wanted to write you a letter to tell you how sorry I am about Fred. He and Jimmy have always been my best friends, and I guess I’m feeling rather sorry for myself as well right now.
I was with Fred when he died, and I want you to know that he didn’t feel any pain. He was defending the rest of the boys, like he always did, and I’m sure he saved some lives by giving his.
Fred talked about home a lot, talked about your apple pies, Mrs Murphy (which I agree are the best anywhere), and about fishing with his dad and brothers. He even said he missed his three sisters.
He was a sharp shooter, Fred was. He had an eye that could blow a whisker off a kitten, and he could stand up to the worst of the noise. It seemed when he was concentrating on shooting, he didn’t hear a thing. He was lucky that way. He was like a mother duck whenever the new guys arrived, showing them how to take care of themselves. He helped them write home if they didn’t know how. So now I’m writing home for him.
I will stop in and see you when I get home, but the way this war is going, that may not be for a few years. I hope my words help in some small way and that you know I remain
Dear Mr and Mrs Fahie,
I guess by now you will know that Jimmy is no longer with us. I believe he is watching us from someplace where there’s no rain and no guns. I reckon he’s looking out for all us boys left down here.
Jimmy was my best buddy out here, like he was my whole life. He was the fellow I went to if I needed to think of something other than this war, which was most of the time. He and I got to talking about the old days quite a lot. We wished we were back home, pulling in the nets and the traps. Never thought I’d miss the stink of fish so bad.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that Jimmy was everybody’s best friend in the battalion. I figured I was pretty lucky, because I was his as well. He made everyone laugh – he somehow even made the oldest jokes funny, even after we’d heard them twenty times each. You could hear Jimmy bellow or laugh across the trench, and that got him in a spot of trouble or two, since the officers were always trying to keep us quiet.
Jimmy was the bravest man I’ve ever known. When the rest of us couldn’t take another moment of this war, he was there, talking us through. He and Fred were just about done their shift on guard duty when the shell hit. It exploded right between them. I ran out there to him quick as I could, and Jimmy talked to me right up until the moment he died. He made sure I promised to write to you after he was gone.
I miss Jimmy very much. I’m so sorry for you and everyone else who knew and loved Jimmy.
When I’m home again I’ll stop in to see you myself, but that could take a few years. In the meantime, I hope you will remember that I am
Yours sincerely, Danny