The rail conversion is going faster than expected due to the lack of NATO airstrikes and good weather. Using the local labor pool either by threat of force or by the lure of food the Germans are eager to get on the Commissars good side. 'Work means life' I think I read somewhere and in September 1946 in occupied Germany this has never been truer.
The few demolitions that did occur are nowhere near the scale of what we encountered in Poland. There the Germans has plenty of time and very often blew up 150% more of the footings than then needed. This caused us to have to fill in an additional destroyed area. The bridges and tracks the NATO forces were able to demolish were nowhere near as hard to repair as we had in Poland and without constant air attacks such as the Germans were able to accomplish.
The widening of the gauge has been accomplished quite easily with the new double screw we are using. We bore holes in the end of the existing ties and on the ends of the meter extensions. The double screws have a nut in the middle and as you tighten the nut it draws together the old tie and the extensions. To get the screws started you simply put the screws in the holes and hit the end of the extension. Then you start tightening the nut. Quite an ingenious invention by someone.
The rails are coming from all other parts of Germany and France as this line take priority over civilian lines. If the rail has been damaged it is cut up and we use any section longer than 2 meters that is undamaged. Vichy France has been spared so once we reach the old boarder we will not have to worry about laying new rail to reach our comrades in the Pyrenees.
Why am I telling you all this my dear Nikolai? Because I hope that someday soon you will be joining me here in France. I have talked to the Commissar and he will see if family members can be allowed to serve together in non-combat functions. I do hope to keep you from harm.