(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "With the first Canadian contingent"

■I'i C? i . , . . 1 








PUBUSHFJD FOKTHE' 

mSD COWORTS COMIM 



CM 

+- 

2) 
W 



CORNELL 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 




GIFT OF 

Ed Richardson 
Philatelic 
Library 



CORNELL UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this bool< is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924062948165 




TT'^^^oSiSizi^'ircSS^^^^-'^- 



^WITH THE FIRST 

CAN A D I ATSf 
CONTINGENT 



• ■• 



PUBLISHED ON BEHALF or THE • • 
CANADLVN FIELD COMFORTS COMMTSSION 




TORONTO 



HODDER & STOUGHTON 
LIMITED 



THE MUSSON BOOK 
COMPANY LIMITED 



LONDON : HODDER & STOUGHTON 



Printed in Great Britain by Baeell, Watson & Ftn«y, Ld,, 
hQr\dQn and Aylesbury. 



INTRODUCTION 

This book is intended as a slight record of the 1st Canadian Contingent, 
who endured the hard winter at Salisbury with such courage, cheer- 
fulness and patience, and who fought so gallantly and determinedly 
at Ypres. 

It is also a means of adding to the funds of the Canadian Field Com- 
forts Commission, for the purchase for the Canadian Division at the 
Front of many extra comforts, which are welcomed by the officers and 
much appreciated by the men. | 

My thanks are due to Mrs. G. W. MacKeen for the descriptions of 
the two camps; to Miss Arnoldi for her impression of Salisbury Plain 
as we saw it — we think there should be a special clasp for Salisbury 
Plain ; to Miss Jessie Pope for " The Lads of the Maple Leaf " ; to Canon 
Scott for two poems, " On the Rue du Bois " and " Requiescant " ; to 
Captain Ambrose for " Mud " ; to an M.O. for " The Men of God," and 
to many correspondents from the Front. I wish also to thank all those 
who have allowed me to use their photographs. 

In Valcartier, at Amesbury, and now from Shorncliffe, Miss Arnoldi 
and I have had the privilege of working for our men. We have 
known and admired and loved them, and they have brought to all 
Canadians great honour together with much sorrow. This book of 
pictures is dedicated to the 1st Canadian Contingent. 

Mary Plummer, Lieut., 
Canadian Field Comforts Commissioner. 
Moore Barracks, 
Shorncliffe. 
September, 1915 



CONTENTS 



FAOB 



Valcartier 17 

Salisbury Plain ......... 33 

Mud ........... 41 

Salisbury Plain ......... 43 

The King's " Godspeed " 49 

The Lads of the Maple Leaf 50 

Letters from the Front: 

Through a Storm in a Cattle Boat . . . .51 

Something Quite New ....... 52 

Standing-to in the Trenches 53 

The Luxury of a Hot Bath 54 

An Amusing Day ........ 55 

Everything is Quiet ....... 56 

On the Rue du Bois ........ 61 

Letters from the Front — Continued : 

Three Days of Our Work 62 

Complimentary to our Bunch 65 

7 



PAGII 



8 CONTENTS 

Letters from the Front — Contimied : 

A Ticklish Job 66 

" We no Shoot, You No Shoot " 67 

Back to Civilisation ....... 69 

Billeted Over an Estaminet 70 

Angels very Thoroughly Disguised . . . .71 

A Quaint Old Town on the Border . . . .72 

Amidst the Turmoil ....... 74 

German Trenches^ on Three Sides. . . . .75 

My First Aeroplane Battle . . . . . .76 

A Spider's Web ........ 78 

A Tremendous Battle . 79 

Desperate Fighting . . . . . . .79 

CoMMUNiQuiE Issued by the War Office . . , .85 

Canadian Division . 85 

Letters from the Front — ConUnmd: 

In with the Pats ........ 86 

A Strenuous Time ........ 86 

Our Battlefield 87 

A Novel Breakfast . 89 

German Rations and Trophies 90 



CONTENTS 
Letters from the Front — Contimied: 

How WE Spend the Day 

The Spirit of Cheerfulness. 

An Argument with the Dog 

On the Move .... 

Sharing Good and III . 

Out of a Peck of Trouble . 

A New-comer in the War Zone . 

Beautiful June Days . 

A Warm Time .... 

One of the Most Wonderful Things 
Serting Beside Heroes 

Something Doing .... 

Interesting Work. 

Friends and Visitors . 

" A Poisoner in Germany " . 

Heads Down and Spirits Up 

The Occasional Gun 
Three Men of God .... 
Requiescant 



. 91 
93 
94 
94 
95 
95 
96 
102 
103 

104 
105 
106 
107 
107 
114 
114 
115 
116 
119 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAoa 
Field-Marshal H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, K.G., Govebnor-Genebal 

OF Canada . . .2 

Majob-Genebal the Hon. Sib Sam Hughes, K.C.B., Minister of Miutia 

AND Defence ... . . ... . . .15 

View of Camp — Valcabtiee . . . . . . . . . .16 

Pontoon Bbidge — Valcabtieb . . . . . . . . .16 

At Sea — ^The Dance ........... 21 

A Welcome from the Tbaining Ship — Plymouth 21 

At Sea — A New Sisteb .......... 21 

At Sea — The Line Astebn .......... 22 

At Sea — Gaspe Basin 22 

Royal Canadian Dbagoons Lines — Valcartiee ...... 23 

On the Ranges, 90th Rifles (8th Battalion) — Valcabtieb . . .23 

Kitchens, 90th Rifles (8th Battalion) — ^Valcabtieb 23 

Lobd Stbathcona Hobse Lines — Valcabtieb ...... 24 

Field Comfobts Tent — Valcabtieb ........ 24 

CoBOURG Men, 2nd Battalion — Valcabtier 24 

Kit Inspection, 11th Battalion — Valcabtieb 25 

48th Highlanders (15th Battalion)— Valcartieb 25 

Review, September 20th, 1914 — ^Valcabtieb 26 

Colonel Victob Williams, Camp Commandant — Valcabtieb . . . .26 
Going to the Review — Valcabtieb •••..... 26 

Pipes Out fob Practice — Valcabtieb 26 

Disembarkation — Plymouth 27 

10 



ILLUSTRATIONS 11 

Lying Alongside — Plymouth 27 

At Sea— The Bows 27 

At Sea — Recreation Hour 28 

At Sea — Boxing Match .28 

At Sea — Church Parade 28 

At Sea— a Fine Day 29 

At Sea — The Start 29 

Lieutenant-General E. a. H. Alderson, C.B., Commanding 1st Canadian 

Division 30 

By the Roadside — Salisbury Plain 31 

Artillery at Review — Salisbury Plain 31 

Church Parade — Salisbury Plain 81 

Kit Inspection, 48th Highlanders (15th Battauon) — Salisbury Plain . 82 
Huts at Larkhill, Canadian Scottish (16th Battalion) — Salisbury Plain . 32 

One of the Remounts — Salisbury Plain 32 

Salisbury Plain .36 

Digging Trenches — Salisbury Plain 37 

Stonehenge — Salisbury Plain .37 

Canadian Engineers building Stables at Larkhill — Salisbury Plain . 87 

West Down South Camp — Salisbury Plain 88 

Churchyard at Netheravon — Salisbury Plain 38 

Huts at Larkhill — Salisbury Plain 38 

Review by H.M. the King — Salisbury Plain 39 

Surgeon-General G. Carleton Jones, D.M.S., Canadians . . . .40 
King Edward Horse, Royal Canadian Dragoons, and Lord Strathcona 

Horse — Maresfield, Sussex 45 

Canadian Cavalry Brigade Sports — Maresfield, Sussex . . . .45 

The Floods at Shrewton — Salisbury Plain ...... 46 

-Transports passing through Amesbury — Salisbury Plain . . . .46 

Ward in Bulford Manor — Salisbury Plain 47 

Field Comforts Depot, the Vicarage, Amesbury — Salisbury Plain . . 47 
No. 1 General Hospital (Cavalry School, Netheravon) — Salisbury Plain . 47 



12 ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAQE 



Out for a Stsoll — Sausbuey Plain *8 

The Floods at Bulfobd Manor — Salisbury Plain 48 

Are We Downhearted ? — Salisbury Plain ....... 48 

Fort Garry Horse — Canterbury 57 

Branding Horse with R.C.H.A. — Maresfield, Sussex . . . .67 

A Gun in Action — Maresfield, Sussex 57 

Royal Canadian Dragoon Horses — Maresfield, Sussex . . . .57 

Highlanders Entraining — At the Front ....... 58 

A Consultation — ^At the Front ......... 58 

In Winter Kit — At the Front ......... 58 

St. Patrick's Day — At the Front ... ..... 59 

In the Trenches — At the Front ........ 59 

The Sniper — At the Front ......... 60 

Watching for Them — At the Front ........ 60 

Dinner — ^At the Front .......... 81 

Filling Sandbags — ^At the Front ........ 81 

Lovely Warm Fur Coats — At the Front ....... 81 

In a Dugout — At the Front ......... 81 

A Quiet Read — At the Front 82 

News from Home — At the Front ........ 82 

After a Jack Johnson — ^At the Front 82 

In Billets — At the Front 83 

Quarters in France — ^At the Front ........ 83 

" Some " Sandbags — ^At the Front ........ 88 

Stables — At the Front .......... 83 

A Disused Trench — At the Front ........ 84 

A Home from Home — At the Front ........ 84 

The Morning Shave — At the Front ........ 84 

A Trench Toilet — At the Front ........ 84 

Canadian Artillery — At the Front ........ 97 

An Observation Station of the Canadian Artillery. . . . .97 

Canadian Artillery — At the Front ........ 97 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



13 



MOB 

Bbig.-General J. C. Macdouoall, Commanding Canadians — Shoencliffe . 98 
Ward in No. 2 Stationary Hospital — Somewhere in France . . .99 
View of No. 2 Stationary Hospital — Somewhere in France , . .99 

No. 1 Stationary Hospital — Somewhere in France 99 

Loading Supplies — Ashford ......... 100 

Canadian Field Comforts Commission — A Truckload of Comforts . . 100 
Canadian Field Comforts Commission — Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe . 100 
Canadian Field Comforts Commission — Packing-room .... 109 

Canadian Field Comforts Commission — Bales for the Front . . . 109 
DiBGATE Camp — Shorncliffe ......... 109 

At the Convalescent Camp — Monk's Horton . . . . . .110 

Evening Meal — ^Dibgate . . , . . . . . . .110 

Band of 11th Battalion at Moore Barracks Hospital . . . .110 

A Street Corner — Folkestone . . . . . . . . .111 

Tents at Dibgate ........... Ill 

St. Martin's Church — ^Shorncliffe . .112 

St. Martin's Plain — Shorncliffe ........ 112 



GENERAL SIR SAM HUGHES 

-^' In Fafewell Address to the First Contiitgent 

" What reck you whether your resting-places be decked with the golden 
lilies of Prance* or b,e apiidst the vine-clad hills of tfie Rhine ; the prin- 
ciples for which you fought are eternal." 




Photo Elliott & Fry. 



MAJOR-GENERAL THE HON. SIR SAM HUGHES, K.C.B., 
MINISTER OF MIWTIA AND DEFENCE 



hi 




VIEW OF CAMP— VALCARTIER. 




PONTOON BRIDGE— VALCARTIER. 



M 



VALCARTIER 

By Elisabeth Flagler MacKeen 

Where a little river winds over a sandy, slightly hilly plain, dotted 
with woods and lonely farms, among lovely Laurentian Mountains, 
grew Valcartier Camp. 

Electrically lighted, with purified water and baths for every unit, 
with broad roads and board walks, with post-office and hospitals, 
a network of telephones, a bank and Y.M.C.A. tent, with canteens for 
soft drinks, goodies and smokes : in two short weeks it was ready for 
use. 

Then came our lads — 

" from Montreal, 

From Quebec and Saguenay, 
From Ungava, Labrador, 
All the lands about the Bay, ' 
Which old Hudson quested for." 

Eager and earnest they were. Many had given up valuable 
positions, others with only their strong bodies and loyal hearts to 
give ; they came from every walk and grade in life — ^trappers, ranchers, 
old soldiers, deep-sea fishermen, commercial travellers, lawyers, 
clerks, Indians, Jews, Americans, many English, and above all the 
Canadians born — but only the fittest, the Dominion's finest and best. 
Ten miles round was the big camp, and to reach it one boarded 
a train at Quebec and rode for an hour or so, through a smiling land, 
to Valcartier Station. On the way was felt the change from normal 
life : the many officers and soldiers, the hospital car attached to the 
train, and at every bridge a little tent for the soldiers who guarded 
its safety. 

A mile from Valcartier were seen the rifle-butts — the most exten- 
sive in the world ; next came the station and the crush : crowds of 
geople, ambulances, army transport waggons, cabs, motors, orderlies 
olding riding horses ; and a distracted provost guard trying to 
preserve order. 

17 



18 VALC ARTIER 

Down the sandy road to the near-by camp one passed seventeen 
miles of switch tracks, crowded with cars of the Army Service Corps. 
Driving by the main guard, next was reached the office, where passes 
for entrance within the lines had to be obtained. Then down a long 
street, past headquarters — to the left a hill, and after that straight 
away on the right for three miles, through battalions of infantry and 
brigades of artillery and cavalry. 

The camp was scrupulously clean; metal incinerators, like burning- 
ghats, lined the streets ; left-over food was hourly consumed, while, 
nightly, carts removed all refuse. On either side the main roads, 
ditches four feet deep, crossed by many little bridges and filled with 
branches of spruce and fir, carried away the dirty water. 

The carefully guarded pumping station was by the river. Beyond 
it floated the pontoon bridge leading to the big compound across the 
river, where thousands of horses were kept. One night they broke 
loose and made things lively. Three times the general alarm was 
sounded as the frightened creatures tore madly through and around 
the tents in their wild stampede. For the men perhaps it was good 
practice — a foretaste of night attacks. 

Driving down the lines, one was struck by the "camaraderie" 
of the men, and enjoyed the little touches of daily life — such as two 
tall Highlanders scrubbing away with serious faces, washing their 
clothes in the waist-high troughs provided therefor, and gaily 
waving a pair of socks in greeting to the visitor. Perhaps near by a 
chap shaved himself before a small glass held by a friend, while across 
the street, in a slab chair, a barber was haircutting a cavalry-man, and 
another, standing by waiting his turn, gave sage advice. Farther on, 
a Habitant bade farewell to his black-eyed wife and child, exclaiming, 
"Brace ton pdre, petite ! " as he kissed them both. Next there was a 
great merriment over an unfortunate who had slipped into the deep 
ditch and was extracted muddied to the neck. Farther up the street 
a kicking horse held up a whole battery of field artillery, returning 
from the ranges in the hills to the north. Only the deep disapproval 
of the other horses at last induced him to cease his antics. 

The camp had plenty of mascots : a cinnamon bear from the 
West, a cross little black one from New Brunswick, a calf kidnapped 
near Winnipeg when a troop train stopped for water, a (powder ?) 
monkey for the artillery, and dogs beyond mentioning. Strangest 
of all, however, were two doves of the Royal Canadian Engineers; 
bill by nose with the horses, they used to eat their oats. Poor little 
emblems of vanished Peace, when will you come to your own again I 

By noon always rose everywhere a blue wood smoke, and a 
savoury odour permeated the camp. Under their open sheds cooks 



VALCARTIER 19 

bustled about, cramming fuel into the little sheet-iron stoves, boiling 
water, frying potatoes, roasting meat. 

Every man's daily ration, beside salt and pepper, was 1 oz. tea ; 
^ oz. coffee ; 1 oz. cheese ; 2 oz. each of jam, beans, butter and sugar ; 
6 oz. fresh vegetables ; 1 J lbs. bread ; 1 lb. fresh meat ; 1 lb. pota- 
toes. Other allowances included 1 pint of oil and 1 cubic foot of 
wood. Each horse had 15 lbs. of hay and two of straw. Much fruit 
was also sent to the camp — notably from Ontario. 

There was no loafing at Valcartier ; it seethed and hummed like 
a hive. But in spite of the constant drilling, riding, marching and 
practising with rifles and artillery, the men were still keen for foot- 
ball and baseball ; while on Sundays and rainy days^ a sound of hymns 
and songs rose from the dripping tents. 

And always and ever, never-ceasing, all-pervading, was the 
silvery sound of bugles. Buglers practising their calls, and bugles 
blowing for rising, for sleeping, for eating, for marching and hourly 
duties ; always that music rang in one's ears, till the thought of 
Valcartier and it are as one. 

So came at last the day when our first Contingent, perfectly 
equipped and, as an Army, absolutely self-contained ; sailed away in 
thirty-one great grey transports guarded by seven cruisers, down the 
big river so many would never see again. 

"Au revoir, God be with you, brave sons of the Empu-e, 
Afar o'er the ocean, 'tis yours there to find 
The reward that is due to the soldier heroic : 
The prize-gift to Duty, by Courage assigned. 
Stalwart to stalwart, goodbye one and all — 
Our own giving heed to the Motherland's call. 
Our own steeled to face whate'er may befall 1 " 



Watch an ye will and pray, no prayer forgetting. 
For the brave hearts on yon dim waters rocked ; 

But fear not for the end of that sun-setting. 
The fire that bums on: faith wins-^God is not mocked." 

R. E. Vernede. 





AT SEA— THE DANCE. 



A WELCOME FROM THE 
TRAINING SHIP— PLYMOUTH. 




AT SEA— A Ni;W SISTER. 



21] 




AT SEA— THE LINE ASTERN. 





— — - A, 



Z1 



AT SEA— GASPE BASIN. 



2 2j 



ROYAL CANADIAN DRAGOONS 
LINES— VAI.CAUTIRR. 







N THE RANGES, OOTII RIFLES (STH 
RATTALION)— VALCAI^TIER. 



KITCHENS, 90TII RIFLES (8TII 
BATTALION)— VALCARTIER. 








LOniJ SIHATHCONA HORSE LINES-^ 
VALCARTIER. 




f* 



r 







FIELD COMFORTS TENT- 
VALCARTIER. 




COBOURG MEN, 2ND BATTALION— 
VALCAirilER. 



KIT INSPECTION, IITII ISATTALION- 
VALC.MITIEU. 




4STH HIGHLANDERS(15TH BATTALION) 
— VALCARTIER. 











f i^i<u 



REVIEW, SEPTEIIBER 20TH, 1914- 
VALCARTIER. 




[=5 




COLONEL VICTOR WILLIAMS, ADJL TANT-GENEUAL 
COMMANDANT— VALCARTIER. 



GOING TO THE REVIEW— VALCARTIER. 




PIPES OUT FOR PRACTICE— VALCARTIER. 



261 



DISEMBARKATION— PLYMOUTH. 





LYING AL(_lNr.SIDI';— PLY.MOirj'H. 



AT SEA— THE BOWS. 




[-7 




AT SEA— RECREATION HOUR. 



AT SEA— BOXING MATCH. 



AT SEA— CHURCH PARADE. 




AT SEA— A FINE i)AY. 




AT SEA— THE START. 



!«<j 




I'tiaU) EllwU * l-ry. 



LT.-GENERAL E. A. H, ALDERSON, C.B., COMMANDING 
iST CANADIAN DIVISION. 



jo] 



BY THE, ROADSIDE— SALISBURY 
PLAIN. 



ARTILLERY AT REVIEW— SALISBURY 
PLAIN. 




Pholo bij A. I\ Muriill. Shrcwlnn- 




r^iw*-' 



CHURCH PARADE— SALISBURY' 
PLAIN. 




Photo bii L T. Fuller, Amcsbnru. 



[31: 



KIT INSPECTION, 48TH HIGHLANDERS 
(15TH BATTALION)— SALISBURY 



PLAIN. 





HUTS AT LVRKHILL, CANADIAN 
SCOTTISH (ir.TH BATTALION)— SALIS- 
BURY PLAIN. 



< 




ONE OF THE REMOUNTS— SALISBURY 
PLAIN. 



Photo by T. L. Fuller, Anic^hunj. 



32] 



SALISBURY PLAIN 
By Elisabeth Flagler MacKeen 

" From the Islands and the Highlands, 
From the outposts of the earth. 

On a hundred ships we hasten 
To your side to prove our worth. 

For, wherever peril calls abroad 
For loyal hearts and guns. 

We'll show the foe, that weal or woe. 
We're Mother Britain's sons." 

Last winter in Canada there were probably over 50,000 people to 
whom " Salisbury Plain " meant only the place where dwelt " our 
Johnnie," or " my poor Sandy," or " Cher Pierre," When they 
opened their papers of a morning, briskly they turned to news headed 
" Bustard Camp," or " Larkhill," or " Sling Plantation " ; perhaps 
wondering that it contained no mention of the dear one. But whole 
units — ^let alone one man — ^were swallowed up on that huge plain, as 
many who tried to find a friend, or even a regiment, sadly dis- 
covered. Valcartier was puzzling enough in such a hunt, but 
simplicity compared to those two hundred square miles of rolling downs, 
of woods and rushing streams, of sheep-grazing fields and ribbony roads, 
crossing and intersecting, and often congested with caravans of motor- 
lorries or groaning traction engines. 

Here and there were not only the many camps, but picturesque 
typical English farms and villages, and stately old mansions amidst 
their lovely parks, while from many a hilltop appeared the spire of 
Salisbury's beautiful cathedral, pointing fairy-like, in the misty distance. 

Though many little birds had the poor taste to winter here, though 
bushes, vines and grass stayed green, and even in January ploughs 
furrowed the fields, yet to the heart-sickening, apparently never- 
ending fall of rain, how preferable would have been ground-hardening 
frost and good deep snow, to keep out the cold ! 

Of course the dominating interest of the Plain is Stonehenge — ^that 
relic of prehistoric days, and deeds as dark as are the Germans'. 
Our men were never tired of examining the ruins or speculating over 

33 



84 SALISBURY PLAIN 

the barrows and " rings " and traces of earthworks left by ancient 
Britons and Romans. Some antiquarian among them started a theory, 
which obtained popular credence, that the object of Stonehenge s 
lofty pillars and cross slabs was to provide a place where the Uruid 
priests might sit during services and keep their feet out of the mud. 
Be that as it may, a significant sight last winter was the Church parade 
of Earth's latest khaki-covered soldiers held by Canon Scott, amid 
those ponderous ruins, where in bygone ages other religions once 
held sway and other warriors worshipped. And ^vhat more significant 
sound than the gushing song of the ever-present little larks mingling 
with the drone of an aeroplane from the military flying school at 
Netheravon ! 

Significant, too, of the difference 'twixt Old- World ways and New 
was an amusing incident which occurred to a Montreal regiment the 
morning of their arrival. To men, many of whom had roamed 
trackless forests and been as free as the wild creatures therein, the 
sacredness of an English tree was news. Therefore great was the 
horror and indignation of the owner when a number of chaps, equipped 
with axes, saUied joyously forth to a near-by grove and proceeded to 
chop down firewood, as had always been their custom in first making 
camp. Right there and then they learned the force of the proverb 
about other men and other customs. 

There were 50,000 men on the Plain, for a part of " Kitchener's 
Army " trained there too. The Canadians were some under canvas 
and some in huts. Bulford, Larkhill, Sling Plantation and Tidworth, 
are big camps of permanent buildings ; there were others of tents like 
Bustard, West Down South, West Down North, and Pond Farm. 
In addition, our men were billeted at Shrewton, Tilshead, Devizes, 
Edington, Potterne, Upavon, Netheravon, Pewsey, Winterbournestoke, 
Figheldean, and Woodford. At Bulford Manor, Netheravon and Lavington 
were large hospitals, besides those purely regimental, and the Field 
Ambulances ; Headquarters and General Alderson were at Bustard in 
an old inn. But the Plain swallowed up all, and one could speed along 
for^iles in motors or on the light railway from the city of Salisbury 
to Bulford and see never a sign of a camp and hardly a soldier, save at 
the stations. Like Valcartier's, they were always lively and crowded 
with boxes and bales, vehicles, munitions and men. 

Marching from Portsmouth or landed from trains, at this and 
that station, at all hours of the day and night ; to these huts in the 
making, and canvas cities that were to be, blithely came our lads. 
And there they stayed for weary months of the rainiest, most flooded 
winter, England has known in years. With roads oft-times impassable 
from mud and water, with sickness bred of exposure and damp, with 



SALISBURY PLAIN 85 

their home mails going astray, often overcrowded in huts or tents, yet 
they never lost their cheerfulness and courage. They made the most of 
what fun was to be had ; what work they could do they did ; their 
only deep complaint was that they were not at the great, fierce work 
which they came for. 

Twice the King reviewed them : soon after their arrival and again 
early in February, shortly before they left for the front. That time 
the word went forth — ^the Canadians had done well : they were ready 
for the fiery trial, and on the 6th began the move to France by way 
of Bristol and St. l^azaire. 

But not all shall fight the good fight. Under pathetic little mounds 
by the grey old churches of Netheravon and Bulford lie some of our 
heroes. Theirs not to give their lives on the field of glory 'midst bursting 
shell and whistling bullet, like many a brave friend and comrade. But 
though dying through accident or disease, yet nevertheless it was for 
their country and in the path of duty. For not only those who achieve 
honour and distinction, who have " gone West " or suffered the 
martyrdom of wounds, have made the " Great Sacrifice " ; but all who 
give themselves to fight and to strive, that Liberty and Empire be 
preserved and Canada remain inviolate. 

" Living and dead, thefr brave hands garland thes 
With love and honour, an unfading crown, 
A goodly heirloom to be handed down 
To children's children that are yet to be." 



DIGGING TRENCHES— SALISBURY 
PLAIN. 




~"r«»i^^ 



STONEHENGE— SALISBURY PLAIN. 




CANADIAN ENGINEERS BUILDING 

STABLES AT LARKHILL— SALISBURY 

PLAIN. 




Plwlo bij A. F. IMarett, Shrcwton. 
[37 



WEST DOWN SOUTH CAMP- 
SALISBURY PLAIN. 




#:rr:4:^^4:-^ 



i 



hi' 





CHURCHYARD AT NETHERAVON- 
SALISBUllY PLAIN. 




HUTS AT L.\RKHILL— SALISBURY 
PLAIN. 



3»J 




REVIEW BY^H.M. THE KING-SALISBURY~PLAIN. 



l39 



SURGEON-GENEKAL G. CARLE-|().N ..ONES D ^^^^ 
4B] , CANADIANS. ' ^•^^■^- 



MUD 

On this thick and chalky loam, 
Where'er the eye may roam, 
The brutal truth comes home — 
Of the mud. 

It is said the great god Buddh 
Is " an idol made of mud " ; 
You coiild make a million gods 
Of what once was grassy sods — 
But is mud. 

The ancient homes of Britons were of mud. 
And one need not of reflection chew the cud 
To quickly understand 
They took what was next to hand 
As they dotted all the land 
With homes of mud. 

In the morn when we arise 
There are but the rainy skies — 

And the mud 
Nine inches deep it lies, 
We are mud up to our eyes, 
In our cakes and in our pies 

There is mud. 

Our soldiers like to stroll 

In the mud, 
And the horses love to roll 

In the mud; 
Our good Canadian shoe 
It goes quickly through and through. 
Peels the sole and melts the glue — 

In the mud. 

41 



42 MUD 



This ditty I have written 

In the mud, 
For wherever I've been sittin' 

There is mud : 
It has covered every spot, 
On my hands there's quite a lot. 
When I'm dead, oh, plant me not 

In the mud ! 

G. M. A. 



SALISBURY PLAIN 

To tell of Salisbury Plain and our boys camped thereon, is to tell a 
tale of hardship and discomfort not only bravely but cheerily borne ; 
of men who came full of keen courage and anxiety to learn all they 
could of soldiering before facing their well-trained foe, and who, despite 
weather and many other hindrances, must have fully learned their 
lesson, as shown by their magnificent behaviour at the second battle 
of Ypres. 

Salisbury Plain is a vast sea of land — miles in extent. The camps 
were widely separated; Pond Farm, the outermost of the first lot of 
camps, being eight miles from Bustard, where General Alderson 
had his headquarters, and where the First Brigade were encamped. 
This Brigade stayed under canvas until they moved to France; but 
in January the 2nd and 3rd Brigades moved from their tents in the 
awful mudhole called West Down South to the huts at Lark Hill. 
Here the mud was, if anything, worse. In the meantime the Artillery, 
who had had a very bad time at West Down North, moved into billets 
at various small towns surrounding Devizes, and the Cavalry were 
billeted at Winterbournestoke and Pewsey. 

The Field Comforts Depot was established at Amesbury, which is 
on the way from most of the camps to Salisbury. Of course England 
has never known such a winter as the past one. One could count 
the simny days on one's two hands. We knew the camps very well, 
as many a day was spent by one or other of us on a transport, dashing 
along the awful roads through the mud and rain to deliver much- wanted 
socks or boxes, or parcels sent from home. We can never say enough 
for the kindness and courtesy we received always and everywhere 
from all ranks, and their warm appreciation of our efforts on their 
behalf was most encouraging. 

During the floods in January the roads were almost impassable, 
and I must in this connection tell you of our wonderftil nurses. Every 
one knows of our sadly-full hospital at Bulford, overflowing into many 
tents. Here these devoted sisters were to be seen, skirts tucked up, 
wading round in mud and water to the top of — and sometimes over — 
their rubber boots, always with a bright smile and a kind word for their 

43 



44 SALISBURY PLAIN 

patients. To hear the men who have been in hospital speak of " our 
Sisters " with such unbounded admiration and respect is delightful. 

This is no military description of the camp, but just a few items 
of the woman side of life there. Dviring January a London friend, 
who is untiring in her work for the Empire's soldiers, wrote asking the 
Commission if a concert party to give four concerts would be appreciated 
by the Canadians if she should send them. Her kind offer was, of 
course, jumped at; and never, I think, have performers had more en- 
thusiastic or appreciative audiences. Four ladies came down, and 
we can only hope their reception repaid them for their kindness. Two 
concerts were held at Netheravon Hospital in the afternoon and two 
at Lark Hill camp in the evening. Those big huts, packed with a 
thousand men, were a wonderful sight. We were sorry there were 
only two evening concerts, so only two units benefited. One, a Western 
regiment, deserves a special word for their wonderful staging and 
lighting arrangements, not to mention their decorations. At the last 
moment the violinist's music-stand was missing, and in literally five 
minutes the neatest and most practical stand had been made by the 
regimental carpenter. 

The poor horses were the worst sufferers, as they for the most part 
had no shelter from the awftil weather imtil the end of January, and 
many a man was found actually crying over his poor gee. 

The Y.M.C.A. work for the men cannot be praised too highly. 
What the camps would have done without their efforts to help and 
amuse the men during their free hours, I do not know. 

On February 6th the Division began its move to France. Of 
course it rained all those days — or rather nights, for they moved at 
night — ^but nothing could dampen the spirits of the men. As they 
passed the Vicarage (our Depot), marching through Amesbury to the 
station, they sang and cheered, and always came the cry : 

" Axe we downhearted ? — No. Are we wet ? — Yes." And in those 
few words are epitomised the main points of the winter's history. 

J. L. A. 




KING EDWARD HORSE, ROYAL CANADIAN DRAGOONS 
AND LORD STRATHCONA HORSE— MARESFIELD, SUSSEX. 





MiMB 




CANADIAN CAVALRY BRIGADE SPORTS— 
MARESFIELD, SUSSEX. 



Ui 




Photo by A. F. Mareit, Shrewton. 



THE FLOODS AT SHREWTON— SALISBURY PLAIN. 




♦ 6) 



TRANSPORTS PASSING - THROUGH AMESBURY- 
SALISBURY PLAIN. 



WARD IN DULFORD MANOR- 
SALISUURY PLAIN. 




FIELD COMFORTS DEPOT, THE 

VICARAGE, AMESBURY — SALISBURY 

PLAIN. 




NO. 1 GENERAL HOSPITAL, 

CAV.\.LRY SCHOOL, NETHERAVON— 

SALISBURY PLAIN. 




[47 





OUT FOR A STROLL— SALISBURY 
PLAIN. 




THE FLOODS AT BULFORD 
MANOR— SALISBURY PLAIN. 



ARE WE DOWNHEARTED 7- 
SALISBURY PLAIN. 



,,81 



THE KING'S "GODSPEED" 

TEXT OF HIS majesty's MESSAGE TO THE CANADIANS 

Following an inspection of the Canadian First Contingent on Febru- 
ary 4th, on Salisbury Plain, His Majesty the King wrote a gracious 
message to the troops, to be read to all units on board ship after their 
embarkation for France. It is as follows : 

" Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Men : 

" At the beginning of November I had the pleasure of welcoming 
to the Mother Country this fine contingent from the Dominion of 
Canada, and now, after three months' training, I bid you Godspeed 
on your way to assist my Army in the field. 

" I am well aware of the discomforts that you have experienced 
from the inclement weather and abnormal rain, and I admire the 
cheerful spirit displayed by all ranks in facing and overcoming all 
difficulties. 

" From all I have heard, and from what I have been able to see 
at to-day's inspection and march-past, I am satisfied that you have 
made good use of the time spent on Salisbury Plain. 

" By your willing and prompt rally to our common flag, you have 
already earned the gratitude of the Motherland. 

" By your deeds and achievements on the field of battle I am 
confident that you wiU emulate the example of your fellow-countrymen 
in the South African War, and thus help to secure the triumph of our 
arms. 

"*I shall follow with pride and interest all your movements. I pray 
that God may bless you and watch over you." 



49 



THE LADS OF THE MAPLE LEAF 

By Jessie Pope 

Ripe for any adventure, sturdy, loyal, and game. 

Quick to the call of the Mother, the young Canadians came. 

Eager to show their mettle, ready to shed their blood. 

They bowed their neck to the collar and trained in Wiltshire mud. 

Shipped, in the fullness of time, across to the other shore, 
Heard a deep hum in the distance, the basso prqfundo of war ; 
Fretted to get to the business, chafed for the firing line. 
Forward — with throbbing pulses, like pilgrims who near their shrine. 

Spoiled for a fight, and got it — ^lurid, merciless, red — 
Trifled with death in the trenches, braved and battled and bled. 
Then, at a given order, gathered together and backed — 
Not because they were bending, but to keep the line intact. 

Four of their guns defenceless — ^left in the enemy's hand ! 
That was a bitter buffet, more than the lads could stand. 
Back charged the Men of the Maple, routed the jubilant Huns, 
Captured a pack of Germans and saved their beloved guns. 

Ripe for any adventure, sturdy, loyal, and game. 
Quick to the call of the Mother, the keen Canadians came. 
Hurrah for the young Dominion ! Cheer them with heart and voice. 
The Maple shall never wither ! Bravo — Canada boys ! 



Printed b; kind permliBlou ol tb« Fubliiben, OBAlil Riobards. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 
' THROUGH A STORM IN A CATTLE BOAT 

February lith, 1915. 

Just a few lines to let you know that I am quite all right and feeling 
just as fit as ever. We are billeted " somewhere in France," I can't 
tell you where we are, where we have been, or where we are going, 
as we have had strict instructions not to do so, and if I did the names 
would only be obliterated by the Censor. We had an awfully rough 
passage by sea. You can imagine what it was like, with the boat 
traveUing very light, practically nothing in the hold, and practically 
three-quarters of the men ill. 

Those who were left had to look after the horses, as they were 
very frightened. We were in a cattle boat, with no bunks and no 
room for such a crowd on deck, so all the fellows gathered in the hold, 
where they slept and stayed. The first night four of us slept on deck, 
and it was all right. The next night we found a place in an extra hold. 
That was the night that the storm came up, and we were sleeping 
right under the hatch. The water came through like a deluge, and 
" drowned " us. We moved our bed three times that night before we 
could find anywhere dry. In the morning I got up, and I have never 
seen or realised such a sea in all my life. It just tossed the boat about 
like a bottle ; but we got through all right. Ours was the only boat out 
of our Brigade to get through the storm — all the others ran with the 
gale, and got in after us, although they started some time before. We 
got off and entrained in the evening. Our platoon travelled apart 
from the Battalion, as we were escort to a battery of Artillery. We had 
four box cars, exactly like covered goods trucks, only very much larger, 
and there were twenty to twenty-five in each. We all enjoyed the 
railway journey, as we were treated well all the way through. We 
lived ever since we left England on bully beef, biscuits, bread, jam, and 
cheese — all right for land but no good for sea. We had a great time 
getting off at the stations and singing to the crowds which gathered 
at every place all the way through. They couldn't understand what 

61 



52 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

we were singing about, but they clapped just the same, and gave us 
apples, pears, onions, cider, wine, and all sorts of things. Wine is very 
cheap here, and you can get a quart bottle for a franc — viz., a shilling. 
The weather coming through was fine, and we travelled very slowly. 
When we landed we were served out with lovely warm fur coats, 
and they are quite 'a boon to us, and will be yet. We slept very warm 
in the train. We passed through lots of the big French towns, which 
I can't mention, and yesterday we arrived at where we detrained, and 
walked about two or three miles to where we are billeted now, in the 
bottom floor of a flour mill. 

We don't know when we are going in the trenches, but have seen 
lots of fellows who have just come out, and it is very quiet there now. 
The place we are in now the Germans were in at one time, but were 
cleared out. We are quite all right here, and our men are the best 
every time, as the paper says. 

All the way along the French people were asking for " the souvenir, 
souvenir," so we gave them any old buttons we had. I managed to 
make them understand by the little French I remembered and learnt 
up in the book you sent, and got along all right in that respect ; but up 
here they speak Flemish, so we are " done in." 

Kindest regards to all the people. 



SOMETHING QUITE NEW 

Monday, March 1st. 
This is something quite new, writing a letter in the trenches. We 
paraded at 5 p.m., marched to the edge of the town, where we waited 
till 6.15, when it was getting dark, and guides met us and brought us up 
to the trenches. As I said this afternoon, these are de luoce ; the officers 
we are with had me in to dinner with them. We had bully beef and 
potatoes, welsh rabbit, cake, jam, bread, butter, whisky, and coffee, 
with cherry brandy and cigarettes to follow. Then we went round the 
sentries to see all was well, and now I am in my own bedroom. It is 
a dug-out on a side trench, about six feet square and about four feet high. 
Opposite the door is the bed — canvas on a frame two feet from the 
ground, with straw pillow ; beside it a box for a table, with a magazine 
and weekly paper, with a candle burning ; and beside the door a fireplace 
made of a biscuit tin and burning charcoal. Over it are two pictures 
from an illustrated paper. The carpet is empty sand-bags, the sides 
are boards with mud outside them, roof corrugated iron with earth on 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 53 

top. They dig a space out, put in the wooden props and sides, put 
corrugated iron on top and fill in the top, etc., with earth, hang a bit of 
canvas or rubber sheeting on top ; and who could be happier ? 

There was some excitement this morning when two German Taubes 
flew over the edge of the town and our guns started to shell them. 
They were a long way up, but you could plainly see the shells bursting, 
and some of them seemed to be pretty close. 

Then this afternoon the Germans started shelling the town near 
our billets ; several shells fell near the Company School. Also some fell 
on the stable right next to where my horse is, smashed the roof, and 
broke all the windows ; but it is really surprising that with it all so very 
little damage is done. 

From Officer of 15th Battalion. 



STANDING-TO IN THE TRENCHES 

Monday, March 8th. 

We paraded at 5.30 at ova billets, and had a long trying march in 
pitch black with very bad roads. In some places the water was three 
inches deep across the road, and we had to pass motor transports, etc. 
It rained nearly all day, but cleared up by night, but was still very dark 
and cloudy. When we arrived near the firing line we picked up more stuff, 
as everyone had to carry 24 hours' grub, coke, kindling, etc. The 
men were terribly ladened down, but were splendid. We met our 
guides, and marched down a road and across a ploughed field — you can 
imagine its state after the rain ; had to cross two plank bridges, step 
over a wire, and at fast stumbled into our trench. On getting in every 
man " stands-to," that is, stands up at the parapet at the place he will 
fire from, and peers out into the dark where one knows the German lines 
are. The other company then fell out, our chaps take off their packs, 
etc., sentries are posted, the men heat some tea in a brazier and try 
to snuggle into a tiny dug-out. I report to the outgoing CO., sign for 
shovels, etc., he is leaving, find out what has been happening, and all 
the news, and then start my rounds. As we have some detached posts, 
this means floundering around in the dark in thick mud, speaking to 
each sentry and seeing that all is well. We had some supper first, then 
I made my rounds, which took till nearly three o'clock, then turned 
in for a couple of hours, and then we stood-to till it was light enough to 
see all was clear. This brings it to Sunday morning, which was another 
wet, cheerless day. 



54 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

After breakfast everyone started in to dean the trenches, pump 
out water, which in some places was quite deep, and generally settle 
down. Then we started in to fix up our dug-outs by enlargmg them, 
putting better roofs over them ; and we built three new ones. All this 
time I have to send in written reports on different things at all sorts 
of different hours, ranging from 3 a.m. Our rations are all carried up 
by hand from some distance back, and had to be distributed in the 
dark and sent off to the different places. Then I went round agam. 
The mud behind our right is awful— it is a ploughed field. The old line 
trench is behind and is chuck-full of water, so that if one does not stick 
to the line one gets damp. It "is now tea-time, and there are five of us 
waiting for it, so you can imagine the size of the dug-out — it is a regidar 
palace. 

From Officee of 15th Battalion. 



THE LUXURY OF A HOT BATH 

Mca-ch 12th. 

We got into our billets about 1.30 p.m. yesterday. We had a 
cup of tea and went off in lots to have a bath. The men's place is 
just an old factory with about fifty large tubs. They have ample 
hot water, and every man gets in and has a thorough wash. The tubs 
are about the size of a washtub, and there is hardly room to get all 
parts of one's anatomy in at the same time, so as a result every one 
was trying all sorts of antics to get in, hanging their feet out and screwing 
round. Then there was a small room for officers. Our tub was a 
little larger, and oh, the luxury^ of a very hot bath. I had not had 
my clothes off for five days, and just wallowed in it. Next there was 
a huge vat of luke-warm water into which one had to jump from the 
top, and it was just up to one's neck, and thirdly a vat of cold water 
the same size. The men all got a clean pair of socks from Queen 
Mary and the women of the Empire. Another funny thing was a 
cart some of the men made to take rations, etc., up to the front. They 
found some old wheels that looked like a perambulator, put a box 
on top of it, and all sorts of things inside, including two small puppies, 
pots, pans, and grub, with a French flag on the back. It upset three 
times, much to the disgust of the puppies, but they only broke one 
egg, and said it was much easier than carrying everything on their 
backs. Do you remember the kitten some of the men found at Val- 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 55 

cartier ? It has travelled everywhere with us ; one man qarries it 
on top of his pack ; it goes into the trenches with him, and seems to 
enjoy itself and be quite happy. 

We did not know what mud was on Salisbury Plain : this is a 
very flat part of the country, and the water seems to just lie on the 
roads and fields and never sinks in, also it is very misty to-day, and 
one can only see about 100 yards, which is hard on both the artillery 
and the aeroplanes. It is wonderful to see the artillery firing at a 
flying machine. You see the car sailing along, hear the explosion, 
and then a puff of black smoke away up in the air. It must be pretty 
ticklish work. You can follow the course by the shells bursting, and 
sometimes they bring him down. 

From Officer of 15th Battalion. 



AN AMUSING DAY 

March nth, 1915. 

We have just had rather an amusing day. As you know, we are 
rather an Irish regiment, and as we have an Irishman in command, the 
men were convinced that we should make an attack diuring the day. 
This did not come off, but the men had to celebrate St. Patrick's Day 
somehow. They started off by sticking the Irish flag, the Union Jack, 
and the tricolour on the parapet. Where they conjured them from 
the Lord only knows ! They then sang the National Anthem, the 
Marseillaise, the Maple Leaf, and Wearing o' the Green. The Germans 
riddled the tricolour with bullets, but left the other two alone. Our 
men have fotmd a sure way of annoying the Germans. They shout 
across to them, and the following remarks are sure to draw a reply 
in the form of some perfectly ineffective rifle fire. " Hi, Fritz, bring 
the menu ! " or " Herr Lieutenant, why don't you pay your washing 
bill ? " The latter is in some subtle way a particular insult. 

From Officer of 90th Winnipeg Rifles. 



56 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 



EVERYTHING IS QUIET 

March 2Ut. 

Everything is quiet, though we can hear the Germans pounding 
away at stakes, probably on new wire entanglements. They send up 
occasional flares, which make everything very bright while they are 
up, and there is more or less firing on and off all the time. Going 
down the trench at night rather rfeminds me of a Pullman sleeping- 
car. There are lights inside the dug-outs which shine out of canvas 
curtains, and there is a narrow passage down the middle. There 
goes a machine gun popping away ; they are making more noise than 
usual. 

The farmers all seem to have their fields in pretty good shape right 
up close to the firing-line, but, of course, in some places the houses 
are in ruins ; wood all taken for firewood, and even the bricks taken 
to put down on the floors of the trenches or to improve a bit of road. 
The other day when we were going to bathe we saw a brush cleaner 
going along the road, trying to get the mud off, just as one might see 
at home. 

Fkom Officer of 15th Battalion. 



<kJ 







Phofn bij Fisk-Moore, Cantrrbnrti. 



FORT GARRY HORSE— CANTERRURY. 





BRANDING HORSE WITH R.C.H.A. 
— MARESFIELD, SUSSEX. 



A GUN IN' ACTIOM— MARESFIELD, 
SUSSEX. 




ROYAL CANADIAN DRAGOON HORSES— MARESFIELD, SUSSEX. 



[57 




HIGHLANDERS ENTRAINING — AT 
THE FRONT 




A CONSULTATION— AT THE FRONT. 




IN WINTER KIT— AT THE FRONT. 




ST. PATRICK'S DA%-AT THE FRONT. 




IN THE TRENCHES— AT THE FRONT. 



159 





THE SNIPER— AT THE FRONT. 



WATCHING FOR THEM— AT THE 
FRONT. 



<«] 



ON THE RUE DU BOIS 

By Frederick George Scott 

O PALLID Christ within this broken shrine. 

Not those torn Hands and not that Heart of Thine 

Have given the nations blood to drink like wine. 

Through weary years and 'neath the changing skies, 
Men turned their back on those appealing Eyes 
And scorned as vain Thine awful Sacrifice. 

Kings with their armies, children in their play 

Have passed unheeding down this shell-ploughed way. 

The great world knew not where its true strength lay. 

In pomp and luxury, in lust of gold. 
In selfish ease, in pleasures manifold, 
" Evil is good, good evil," we were told. 

Yet here, where nightly the great flare-lights gleam, 
And murder stalks triumphant in their beam. 
The world has wakened from its empty dream. 

At last, O Christ, in this strange, darkened land, 
Where ruined homes lie round on every hand. 
Life's deeper truths men come to understand. 

For lonely graves along the country-side, 

Where sleep those brave hearts who for others died. 

Tell of life's union with the Crucified. 

And new light kindles in the mourner's eyes. 
Like day-dawn breaking through the rifted skies. 
For Life is born of life's self-sacrifice. 



Holy Week, 1915. 

Northern France. 



61 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT— Confwuea 



THREE DAYS OF OUR WORK 

In a Canadian War Hospital, 

France, 
March, 1915. 

It may be of interest to you if I try, however inadequately, to describe 
three days of our recent work here as the best means of conveying a 
picture of the conditions to your minds. 

This is by no means " the front," and compared to many other 
sisters, our experiences have been tame, but nevertheless last week 
echoes of the fierce fighting round La Bass^e and the dearly bought 
success of Neuve Chapelle have connected us very quickly with the 
battle-line, and human wreckage has been cast up to our doors almost 
on the next tide. 

I am on night duty at present, and on the evening of March 11th a 
message from Boulogne informed us that a train load of about 250 was 
being sent on, of which number 84 were bad stretcher cases. The 
night sisters hurry from room to room of the hotel (which has been 
converted into a very convenient hospital), making themselves acquainted 
with patients admitted since morning, doing necessary dressings, and 
carrying out whatever orders can be done ahead, so that they will 
be free later. The day staff don rubber aprons and remain on duty 
to assist in receiving the patients, getting ambulance beds prepared, 
shirts hung on radiators, and emergency dressings ready. Activity 
also reigns in the big central kitchen, where gallons of cocoa simmer 
on the range. All the day orderlies are caUed up to assist in undressing 
and bathing patients, while the other men of the Unit assemble at 
the entrance to carry up stretchers or give a " boch " to others who 
walk with difficulty. Each story of the building contains about 100 
beds in charge of one nurse and three orderlies at night, about ten 
nurses and six orderlies by day. It is close upon midnight when the 
ambulances make their first journey from the station, and the unloading 

62 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 68 

and passing before the Admitting Officer begins. It is a ghastly 
enough procession, to which we have become accustomed, but the 
men of the Canadian Corps have won a good name for the speed and 
care with which they handle the wounded, though each stretcher 
has to be carried up three stories, and you will remember there are 
eighty-four helpless cases. 

Quietly and silently they file along the corridors, these broken 
men from the trenches, whose accumulated miseries even we cannot 
realise. Khaki caked with clay, ragged, dirty, and worn out, they 
stagger into the warmth and light of the wards; and in the patient 
droop of the body, the dull retrospective eye, and restrained speech 
one catches a glimpse of the weeks of horror that followed Mons, the 
countless nights of slow agony in the vigil underground, and the sudden 
parting of comrade from comrade in a delirium of noise and blood 
only a few hours ago. A long line of stretchers fills the hall-ways next, 
and even here it is the exception to hear a groan or complaint. Bodies 
are literally shattered, and the journey must have been a terrible one, 
even in the wonderfully fitted hospital train. At each station we were 
told some dead had been removed, and cases of gas-gangrene have 
already developed, and in thirty-six hours are very far advanced. 

" How many hours before you were picked up ? " asks a sister of 
one. " Twenty-six, sister, but I dug my head into a refuge, and was 
only hit once again, thank God." 

" How were you wounded ? " another is questioned. " It was at 
the last of their trenches that a big Prussian got me, but it was his 
last shot," and he shows a helmet with a bayonet thrust cleaving it, 
which he has treasured all the way from the field. Some of the patients 
fall instantly into a deep sleep, or rouse themselves only to murmur 
" This must be heaven ! " Another apologises : "I can't sleep, a 
bed is sort of queer ; haven't been near one for eight months ; but 
it is good to have a hot bath and clean clothes, mine haven't been off 
for a month." 

All important dressings are cut down and replaced, and those suffer- 
ing greatly made as comfortable as circumstances permit before the 
day staff are dismissed. A sergeant makes complete rounds, checking 
money and valuables, and a detail collects from each ward the muddy 
and blood-stained clothing to go to the steriliser. 

About 3 a.m. one has time to walk from bed to bed and inspect 
the new patients. 

Here is a child of seventeen moaning softly with shattered arm; 
there lies an old soldier, cigarette alight, declaring cheerily, " It's a 
bit sore, but it will be all right soon, sure." In one cot there is a lad 
picked up on the field without a coat, identification disk is absent, no 



64 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

name or number can be found about him, and a brain injury makes 
it a question whether he will ever be included in any list but "missing." 
Over in the corner is a quiet form, for whom a letter home and a 
summons to the chaplain are the only services we can render. 

As a rule these sufferers are silent, but here and there writhing 
forms and smothered groans tell of agony drugs cannot relieve. Some 
have limbs reduced to pulp, others have lost an eye, while a few un- 
conscious cases claim close attention. Lifting a sheet perhaps one 
discovers a haemorrhage, or reveals a gaping cavity where shrapnel 
has torn away a joint. A German prisoner looks up from his cot, and 
receives inquiries with a blank stare, though in an unguarded moment 
he shows he has learned the language during his sojourn in England 
as a waiter or otherwise. 

An electric light flashed on will make half a dozen patients look 
up hastily for a flare or the bursting of a shell. And, as one passes 
along, a voice says : " It's awful quiet here, sister, but I seem to hear 
the guns yet. There were 500 of ours speaking at once yesterday 
morning, and it was hell ! " 

Now and then a sudden cry and convulsive awakening indicates 
the exhausted nerves of a dreamer. He thought he was stmnbling 
through the mud and thorn bushes — a " Charge," the papers call it — 
warily, with quick-beating heart, towards the enemy's trench; the 
alarm is raised, a hail of lead bursts around, the cheer he tries to raise 
chokes him, in the gloom he is wrestling with the man who may kill 
him, he feels his bayonet free, he is falling himself into an abyss full 
of unspeakable horrors, he awakens pantijog and perspiring, and sitting 
up staring in front of him, sees agaix^TO^ dim light of dawn the wet 
brown field, the colonel's body, bBphum's upturned face, the con- 
torted forms thick around him of h^ regiment, and beyond the hard- 
won ditches the grey heaps of the German slain. . . . 

Just when the new arrivals are finally settled, a list of names is 
sent up to the wards of those to be transferred to another hospital farther 
south, owing to the pohcy of constant evacuation in order to keep 
vacant beds nearest the front. Many of those to go have been in only 
a few days, and will be stretcher cases again. This necesq'" " 
dressing all wounds, perhaps twenty-five in an hour, and 
putting each article of clothing on the helpless patients. The'b 

waken those known as Class C, " walking cases," and take t 

the pack stores to draw their clothing, while the bed-patients have 
theirs carried up to them. 

Breakfasts also have^o be served, and the convalescents assist 
with these. Somehow we " muddle through," and at 8 a.m., when 
the day staff arrives, the patients are starting off; and though the 




LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 65 

entire ward looks like a Belgian town after a bombardment, the essen- 
tials are more or less done. 

For brevity I must omit the day duties, but you can supply the 
details of business entailed by the admission of 250 surgical cases in 
a night. The nursing-sisters do nearly all the dressings, and many 
minor operations are done in the wards. The next night another 
convoy comes in filling the beds vacated in the morning, and the same 
routine is enacted each time. We are rushed like this for several 
days after a big engagement, but there are periods in between when 
the wards are almost empty. We sometimes pass thousands through 
in three days with just sufficient time for a bath, dressing of wounds, 
a couple of meals, and a few hours' sleep in a clean bed. Gratitude 
for trifling attention is unbounded, and we have all learned anew to 
appreciate the wonderful qualities of these very gallant gentlemen in 
the ranks. The fields of Crecy and Agincourt lie close at hand, Waterloo 
will be re-won, and the famous regiments now fighting over the same 
ground where they gained their battle honours in past centuries have 
proved that the spirit of the British Army survives from age to age. 



COMPLIMENTARY TO OUR BUNCH 

March 23rd, 1915. 

I have to thank you very THi^h for the lavish amount of " good 
cheer " that greeted us all when^^ came out last night, from a five- 
day tour in the trenches. Quant^ was not the only thing, quality 
was a good second. Between this, that, and " t'other " from personal 
friends, we are faring very well, so far as the necessities of life go. I 
rather imagine.it is rather useless my giving you a detail of our experience 
since landing, as no doubt you will have had it already from so many 
correspondents. I may say that the daily mail hour is one that is 
looked forward to with unmitigated pleasure. Of course you know 
tha^we were inspected by General French shortly after we arrived, and 
mflfnie was more than complimentary to our bunch, and harked back 
to when he inspected these fellows in Sewell Camp, five years ago. 
Then we took the trenches with the regulars for a week, were detailed 
back to our billets, but at a moment's notice we marched " here " and our 

Canadian Division relieved the " " Division, regulars, and we took 

on our own line. Our particular line is 1,100 yards long — pretty 
long. If you look in the Illustrated London News of February 20th, 



66 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

pages 236 and 250, you will see four photos of our particular lines— they 
look beautifully clean in a photo ! The Headquarters is in a " dug- 
out " just in rear of this wall. We have all had more or less varied 
experiences with rifle and shell fire. They always give us some atten- 
tion daily with shell (H.E.) or shrapnel. We have only had twenty-one 
casualties in my lot since we landed, which is about the average run per 
battalion. We were in the recent heavy fighting, but our chance did 
not mature, and we never left the trenches, but all the same did what 
was required. I hear marvellous tales of Lark Hill, and also the 
superiority of the 2nd Contingent. Are they really true ? One never 
sees any one to talk to here. I wonder what it would feel like to be 
turned loose in the " Old Town " to-night. I don't think I should 
know how to " carry on." We are all in Al spirits and the men very 

keen. 

From Ofticek of 5th Battalion. 



A TICKLISH JOB 

" In the Dug-Out." At the Front, 
March 23rd, 1915. 

Many thanks for your letter of 14th inst. and for the parcel. 

We have been enjoying the many good things in the latter very much, 
and the men passed you a hearty vot^of thanks. I don't know whether 
I told you that the company officer^all stay with the companies both 
in the trenches and in billets, and have their own messes. The Q.M., 
Transport O.C., Paymaster, and Padre stay at what we call the heavy 
base about two miles in rear, rations being brought up at night and 
within about 800 yards from where everything is carried into the 
trenches. We came back in last night after having been out for five 
days. This came about by reason of ovir changing from a three to a 
four days' relief and the other battalions had to stay on another day, so 
that we would not be relieving on the same night as the third brigade, 
as we both use some of the same roads and in the dark a good deal of 
confusion ensued. Now we have orders to pull out altogether. One 
of the divisions which was in the Neuve Chapelle show is coming up to 
take over. We don't know definitely where we are going, but I have 
no doubt we are to be used in the next attack wherever that may be. 
I don't quite know if I am sorry to leave here or not. We have done so 
much work on these trenches and improved them to such an extent that 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 67 

some of the men naturally feel they would like to get the benefit of their 
work. As there is a bit of a moon, it was quite decent going round the 
trenches last night during tour of inspection. When we were here 
before it was so pitch dark that it was not at all pleasant. First of all 
there is a large field to cross, and as there are any amount of J. J. holes 
it was a ticklish job. These holes are full of water and while baths are 
at a premium while we are in the trenches, one does not want to fall 
headlong into a J. J. hole. In the trenches themselves one has to look 
out, as there is lots of water under the narrow planks which have now 
been put down, and a false step means you go over the top of your gum 
boots in water which does not smell exactly like eau-de-cologne. The 
company officers have pretty comfortable dug-outs in the trenches, 
and always seem to have plenty to eat and drink. It does not sound 
very exciting, does it ? The main feature, I think, is the weirdness at 
night. Every one is on the go. Working parties out in front fixing the 
wire, others inside working at the parapet, and so forth. Fatigue 
parties bringing in rations and fuel, and listening posts and patrols 
coming in reporting if there is any movement in the enemy's trenches. 
We come back from the right along a road running parallel to the 
trench, and only a short distance behind it, consequently the bullets 
come cracking over, but it is not " aimed " fire, and as all the fatigue 
parties for the right section go along it, and no one has been hit, we 
regard it as pretty safe. 

Fkom Officer of 1st B.C.'s (7th Battalion). 



"WE NO SHOOT, YOU NO SHOOT" 

Mca-ch 2ith, 1915. 

I was glad to get the news about the battalions in England. We 
have heard all sorts of rumours here — how 4,000 of them had been 
diverted and were on their way to Egypt ; how they were simply rein- 
forcements for this Division here, and sundry other destinations for 
them. I am glad to know they are such a fine lot of men ; the Army 
here needs them, for it is not the Army it was last August. You will 
be glad to know that every day the officers of the Army are referring 
to the Canadians in kinder words, and our reception here has always 
been of the happiest kind. You will remember — for who could ever 
forget ? — what they used to say about us in England, about our discipline, 



68 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

our this and our that, until one wondered if we had any friends in the 
country. That reputation preceded us here, I know, but m less than 
a week all was changed, and on more than one occasion I have heard 
Staff Officers say, " I wish to God we had a few more like the Cana- 
dians." We were on arrival put in the trenches with British troops. 
That was to go on for a week and then we were to be taken back to 
some place for further training, but before the week was out that pro- 
gramme was changed, and we immediately took over a section of the 
line all by ourselves. At the end of this week we will have five weeks of 
trenches and we are turning over to another Division (one which has 
been here from the beginning almost) and going for a few days' rest. 
The Brigadier of that Division told us to-day, after he had been through 
our trenches, that they were by far the best trenches he had seen over 
here. That will give you some idea of how hard these boys have worked 
and with what success. I know you won't think this bragging, and I 
am only telling it because I know how keenly interested you are. Things 
with us have been very, very quiet this last week. We thought at one 
time it might be just the reverse. Our friends opposite are almost 
rude — ^they cut us dead ; ignore us. We try to get a rise out of them, 
but no, they won't answer. When we first came their snipers were 
very active, but whether it is because they don't want to shoot or 
because we give them six shots for every one they fire us, things are 
different now. They have a sense of humour, though ; one day they 
stuck up on the parapet a wooden horse such as a child might play 
with. Our chaps shot it down ; they put it up again with a bandage 
round its neck, and one round a hind leg. They call out at times such 
things as, " We no shoot, you no shoot." " We are Saxons and you 
are Anglo-Saxons." " If you come half-way we'U give you cigarettes." 
" Hello, B. C, how would you like to be walking down Hastings Street ? " 
They seemed to know and apparently did know exactly when we took 
over. Their system of espionage is perfect. Of course when we came 
we took up very actively the detection of spies. For a time every one was 
suspicious, and reports were constantly coming in of lights that looked 
like signalling. We ran a great many of these reports to earth, and 
many amusing explanatioiis of these lights was the result. In one 
instance one of our officers went out by himself one evening to watch : 
soon he espied a suspicious light — signalling was surely going on. He 
stalked it, fell over fences, ditches, into "J. J." holes, until he was a 
pretty sight, wringing wet and covered with mud. His enthusiasm was 
in no way dampened, and get to that light or die was his determination. 
Visions of catching the traitor in the very act, alone and unaided, crossed 
his mind. He looked again ; the signalling surely going on. At last 
he got to the house, crawled in a window, stealthily climbed the creaking 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 69 

stair, drew his trusty gun, burst in the room from which came the light. 
What met his disappointed eye was one of his own men sewing a much- 
needed patch on the seat of his trousers, the passing of his hand and 
arm before the light, as he laboriously stitched, making intermittent 
flashes of light mistaken for signalling. Another light run to earth dis- 
closed four medicos having a quiet game of draw. Then we had all 
sorts of tales of sniping behind the lines — ^that is, some contended that 
German spies were behind our lines and were shooting at our men going 
up and down at night. Of course we investigated this as best we could, 
and the more we investigated the more stories were told of men being 
sniped at. I never believed the yarns, as I had been up and down many 
nights and no suspicious shots ever came over. Still, many believed 
the stories and every one was on the qui vive. 

Well, one night we sent a test measure to the artillery. One battery 
in our area let drive each gun immediately after the other just like 
rapid fire. On the road within 100 yards of this battery was coming 
along a gallant machine gun officer and his section. They did not know 
the artillery were about to fire — ^time was about 10 p.m. when snipers 
were most busy — so when the battery let loose this detachment was 
very much startled. The officer drew his revolver and stepped back on 
the top of the sergeant, who had thrown himself flat on the road, tripped 
over the body, and rolled head over heels into a well-filled ditch. The 
men are so light-hearted and cheerful — ^full of life and ginger. Some- 
body is going to be badly hurt when these boys are let loose. 



BACK TO CIVILISATION 

Mca-ch 26th, 1915. 

Thanks for papers which I received this morning, including 
Despatch with account of Neuve Chapelle. I must read that by and 
by ; we get very little news over here unless we happen to get hold of 
a paper now and again. The day that scrap was on our fellows were 
holding their line, and we were standing to with equipment on all day. 
We didn't have a lot to do, as the advance didn't reach as far as us, 
but our artillery were in it. We came out of the trenches last night 
after three days in. We are back for a longer rest this time, as the 
Regulars have relieved us at our old place in the trenches. We had 
about six or seven miles to walk to this town, where we are billeted now 
— quite a nice place and about the biggest town we have stopped at on 



70 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

this side. The place lies just behind that place where the battle took 
place a week or so back.. We didn't have a very exciting time on this 
occasion, and, therefore, there is very little to tell you. The night we 
went in it simply poured with rain all the way, and we got in practic- 
ally wet through. About half-way up we got to that stage when we 
didn't care what happened. We were guarding some forts just behind 
the firing line, so there was very little to do. It rained on and off pretty 
well all the time we were in, so we didn't get a chance to dry our clothes 
until the last day, but I haven't made my cold any worse. The billets 
we left were shelled the day after we had gone to the trenches ; this is 
the first time that has happened. There were a couple of fellows hit, 
I believe. We shall have a chance of fattening ourselves up now we 
are back to civilisation, and we have started well to-day with three 
boiled eggs apiece this morning and steak and eggs for supper to-night. 
It has been snowing to-day, and very cold. I was hoping that the cold 
had cleared away, and it was fine and warm yesterday. 



BILLETED OVER AN ESTAMINET 

March 31st, 1915. 
Just a few lines to let you know that I am still fit and all that. We 
are still "resting." They work us a good deal harder when we're 
" resting " than they do when we are working, as the Irishman would 
say. We have about the same routine each day — ^physical drill, skir- 
mishing, trench-digging, etc., for three hours in the morning, and route 
marching in the afternoon. We walked a good twelve miles this after- 
noon, and I feel pretty tired. We had a good bath on Monday— the 
first real hot bath for about two months, and we didn't half enjoy it. 
The biggest trouble was to get us out. We are billeted over an Esta- 
minet— that's a kind of coffee-house— and the old lady treats us all and 
looks after us like her own boys ; she gives us coffee before breakfast, 
and soup at noon, and cooks any stuff we want cooked. I like the 
people around here much better than the Flemish people we have met 
nearer the firing line. The band played the " Retreat " to-night— the 
first time I've heard it since we left the Plain. We had a little " sing- 
song " down below to-night— lots of the Regulars and some of our boys. 
There were four artillerymen who have been over here seven months, 
and to-night was the first time they have been in a decent-sized town'. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 71 

and then they came in without permission, so they'll be in for it when 
they get back. We have just finished the cake to-night, but the mus- 
catels and almonds, sweets, etc., are still going strong. We can't have 
a feed outside because we're all " broke," and don't know when we 
shall be paid again ; in a day or so, I guess. The weather is still fine 
over here, cold, but dry lately. 



ANGELS VERY THOROUGHLY DISGUISED 

April ith, 1915. 

It is a long way now to Amesbury and your big sitting-room, and I 
have often wondered where you are. Since coming across we are living 
in Company messes. I am of course in the Headquarters Mess, and so 
do not see so much of our officers as we used to at Lark Hill. We have 
been billeted most of the time in farm-houses, and the regiment is 
scattered over a mile or two in each place. We are quite comfortable 
as a rule, and do not lack for much, though, of course, the feminine 
element which makes life possible is rather lacking. The French of 
this part are mostly mixed with Flemish and do not possess to a notice- 
able degree the airs and graces which we usually associate with this 
land. However, they are kind, hospitable, and forbearing to a degree, 
when one considers that for months they have entertained angels very 
thoroughly disguised. They are frugal and sell us eggs, milk, and 
bread at more than Front prices, but it is better for the men to spend 
their francs that way than in beershops. In the largest towns one 
finds real croissons and gateaux that remind one of Paris, but most 
of the shops are closed, and black is the prevailing colour of Easter 
millinery. 

Our regiment has, thanks to the Bon Dieu, been very fortunate, 
only two men killed and a dozen or so wounded, so my work has not 
been heavy. They did their work in the trenches like veterans, and 
owe to their steadiness under fire the small losses they have sustained. 
We have not yet been in an attack, when we do the tale will be longer. 

The weather here is warm now, and spring has come ; the men are 
discarding their woollen scarves and belts, and I do not think that they 
will need so much knitting again. They are well supplied with most 
things, and we owe to your kind thoughts a supply of fine cigarettes. 

There is one thing which I believe would be most acceptable and 
would not be expensive, and that is a supply of reading material in the 



72 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

form of old magazines or cheap, paper-covered books of all kinds. The 
men in these regiments are in many cases accustomed to reading, and 
in billets in the long evenings coming, and in the trenches, they have a 
great deal of spare time, and I know welcome a book on the rare 
occasions when it can be got. They are passed around till they are 
worn out. Some packets of cheap playing cards would be welcomed 
too. The cheaper the books, etc., are, the better, for we move often, 
and such things cannot be added to the already too heavy packs. I 
know how anxious you both are to find out what is most needed. 

From an M. O. 



A QUAINT OLD TOWN ON THE BORDER 

Headquarters — Infantry Brigade, 
1st Canadian Division, 
British Expeditionary Force. 

April 8th, 1915. 

Our office is in a fine large house where we occupy by far the finest 
rooms we have ever had. We have our mess in the same building, but 
only the Brigadier and the Brigade Major have rooms there, the rest 
of us are billeted about the village. 

I have a room all to myself, and everything is very clean and com- 
fortable. All the natives here speak French only, of course, and their 
idea of furnishing a room is to get as many chairs into it as possible. 
My room, though small, possesses no less than nine. I have also a 
bed with lace curtains, a washstand with toilet set, a chest of drawers 
apparently filled with female attire, a mirror, and numerous religious 
images under glass covers. My windows have lace curtains and good 
blinds, and my floor has a strip of matting and two of carpet. 

This is a rather quaint old town just on the border of Belgium. 
Some of our battalions are billeted in Belgium and only one, the 5th, in 
the town. As I censor my own letters, I might of covirse tell you the 
name of the town ; but that would not be playing the game. I under- 
stand we are to move into Belgium in a few days, and take up another 
line of our own ; the other brigades going into the trenches, and we 
going in reserve. 

When I arrived here the Brigadier was surprised to see me, for 
he had no idea a staff officer was being sent. Perhaps I shall soon 
be sent back to the Depot ; but I hope to see some of the fighting first 
anyway. As it is I have nothing to do whatever ; but, of course, I 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 73 

shall keep myself busy studying the general situation, and helping out 
as much as I can. 

The weather is fine and warm here. It rained hard all last night, 
but is fine to-day except for a shower this afternoon. Farming is going 
on here just as usual. We are about fifteen miles from the fighting 
and I haven't heard a gun yet. Everything is done in a most leisurely 
fashion, and everybody seems as comfortable as you can imagine. 

This morning General Alderson inspected each battalion of this 
brigade in its billeting area. I was told off to accompany him, and 
rode a borrowed horse. Our billets extend along a main paved highway 
for about three or four miles, and the men are certainly far more 
comfortable than they have ever been since we went to Valcartier. 
Every one seems highly contented, and the brigade looks to be in good 
shape. 

I got back here at 2.30 p.m., and had lunch, and then went out to 
see the Grenadiers practising throwing hand grenades. I have just 
returned from there. These grenades can be thrown into a trench very 
accurately up to thirty or forty yards, and make a tremendous explosion 
when they hit. Some of them are exploded by fuses and some by per- 
cussion. They are principally used to throw at an advancing enemy 
and also to clear a trench, when you have taken part of it, by throwing 
grenades from traverse to traverse. They are so powerful that a few 
of them thrown into a trench pretty well demolish it. 

Mind you, I have just learned that this is the town where the original 
Valenciennes lace is made, and the curtains in my room would be worth 
hundreds of dollars in England or Canada. It can be bought quite 
cheaply here, I believe. The old women make it all by hand. They use 
about fifty bobbins at one time, and the way they shoot them back and 
forth is simply miraculous. 

We get up here about 7 o'clock and breakfast at 8. This morning 
for breakfast we had porridge, ham and eggs, bread and jam, toast 
and tea, served on a snowy cloth in perfectly clean dishes. Our cook 
is a wonder, he makes everything so good. Of course, I was very 
late for lunch ; but he dished me up a nice plate of soup, some cold 
ham with potatoes and baked beans, and a bottle of light wine ; after 
which he brought on some most delicious pastry, fruit fritters, fruit cake, 
cheese and tea, so I really managed, by eating a good deal of bread and 
butter, to make a fairly good meal. 

From a high hill a few miles from here, they say almost all the 
fighting line can be seen. I must go up to-morrow and have a look. 

Now I must stop and get washed up for dinner. We dine — ^real 
dinner, mark you — at 7 o'clock jmd get to bed early, as there is nothing 
to do in the evenings. 



74 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 



AMIDST THE TURMOIL 

Headquarters, 
— Canadian Infantry Brigade. 
April 15th, 1915. 

We are in the midst of an artillery battle just now, and I ,am at 
Brigade Report Centre with several French batteries in action in my 
immediate vicinity, so you need not be surprised if my letter is some- 
what disconnected. However, our Report Centre is not being shelled 
this afternoon, so I am quite safe amidst the turmoil. The 7th Brigade, 
though, is being severely handled, and have had nine casualties so far 
to-day, nearly all from shrapnel. 

We left our billets yesterday at 10 a.m. to come here, and got the 
battalions into the trenches at 12.30 at night, having only -one man 
killed and three wounded in the process. We came in 'buses about 
nine miles, and marched another seven miles to our position. The last 
three miles had to be made during total darkness, while the enemy 
searched for us with shrapnel, so at times it looked as though some one 
might get hurt, but we got on all right. 

Our Brigade Headquarters is about three and a half miles from the 
firing line, and so is almost quite safe ; it is located in a house on the 
outskirts of a small village. I rode back there to sleep last night, and 
had a room and bed all to myself, and so was quite comfortable. From 
my windows I could see shell bursting about in the darkness, while the 
firing line was made most conspicuous by the flares continually sent up 
by the enemy and the search-lights constantly looking for air-craft. 
Rifle fire was continuous all night, but no bullets came our way. 

To-day I came down to the Brigade Report Centre and shall remain 
here instead of at Brigade Headquarters. 

The Report Centre is really the most interesting place to be. Here 
we handle only the details of the fighting, while administrative arrange- 
ments are all made at Brigade Headquarters. I am about a mile from 
the trenches here, and so within easy range of the enemy's guns, but 
we don't allow people to wander about our house, and so the Germans 
don't know where we are. The Report Centre is in the remains of a farm- 
house. There are two mattresses in it, and it is fairly comfortable. 
The signalling section is here, and we have a cook and a cow. Our grub 
has to be brought to us at night, so as not to give us away to the enemy. 
All communication with the outside world is by telephone, with which 
we are well provided. 

This is the nearest to war conditions I have got yet, but still I am 
really very comfortable. I had to go without supper last night and 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 75 

breakfast this morning, but I had a good lunch of beef steak and pota- 
toes and baked beans to-day. Yesterday at noon I was halted in a 
little Belgian town. I bought a goodly pork chop and carried it to a 
" Werberg," where I had it cooked with French fried potatoes. I made 
an excellent meal of it, which lasted me until noon to-day. I managed 
the transport and supply of the move yesterday, and, though I suc- 
ceeded in getting ammunition, blankets, and supplies to the troops in 
the trenches, I clean forgot to keep even a sandwich for myself. I 
shan't make that mistake again. 

Word has just come in that we are to expect an attack to-night, so 
I must see about getting bombs, ammunition, and supplies into the 
trenches. It is now 6 p.m., but we can't approach the trenches until 
dark. The guns are still at it. The house next to this was nearly hit 
by a high-explosive shell just now. 



GERMAN TRENCHES ON THREE SIDES 

Headquarters, 
— Canadian Infantry Brigade, 

April 16th, 1915. 

We are on a long salient here, near the apex, with German trenches 
on three sides of us ; so we have a pretty jolly time both day and night. 
Last night we got it fairly hot, being subjected to pretty heavy shell 
fire all afternoon and all night. Reports of casualties are not complete 
yet, but so far as I can find out by telephoning the trenches, we have 
lost about six killed and nineteen wounded here so far. Last night we 
got ready to receive a German attack. Divisional Headquarters noti- 
fied us that the Germans intended to attack with tubes of poisonous gas ; 
but it didn't materialise, at any rate not in our sector, though there 
were considerable rapid fire and lots of flares along the line held by the 
British troops on our right. Diu-ing the evening the Germans bqgan 
bombarding our trenches with heavy trench mortars at close range — 
from one hundred to two hundred yards — and caused us a lot of annoy- 
ance, but didn't do a great deal of damage. They kept it up all night. 

To-day is quite normal. The air is quite smoky and not good for 
artillery observation. Of course, they are blazing away a good deal, 
but no shell are coming near front centre. We are supported here by 



76 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

French artillery altogether so far. Our own 18-prs. and howitzers will 
be along next week. 

I had a fairly good sleep last night, actually undressed and went 
regularly to bed before 1 o'clock. I had to wake up frequently to 
telephone ; but got a good rest just the same. Last night we had a 
good beef and kidney stew for supper, and this morning porridge, bacon 
and eggs, toast and marmalade, and tea. We got a good stock of water 
and rations in last night, and a few bottles of wine, so we are all right. 

I wish I could send you some souvenirs, but it is not allowed. I 
could easily send you a houseful of bayonets, shells, rifles, etc., etc. A 
gunner of the R.F.A. is buried just outside our door here. His grave 
is surrounded by a little fence made of empty 18-pr. cartridge cases with 
75 mm. at the corners, and bits of shrapnel in designs on the mound. 

We met with a heavy loss this morning. Our cow escaped during 
the night, ^and has not yet been recovered. Last night, when some 
of our ammunition mules loaded with bombs and hand grenades were 
close up to the trenches, a shell exploded near them, and they stam- 
peded over the country. We thought for a while we had lost them ; but 
some of the men succeeded in rounding them up without the loss of a 
single bomb. 



MY FIRST AEROPLANE BATTLE 

Eighth Battalion (Winnipeg Little Black Devils), 

Somewhere in Belgium, 

April 18th, 1915. 

I received your letter of April 13th last night. I started in to 
answer it, but I went into the town to get a few things, and am returning 
this morning. 

We are in billets now after having come out of the trenches for a 
little rest ; we go in again to-morrow night. 

Our present billet is a Belgian Chateau situated on a famous Canal. 
It has glorious grounds and a beautiful view. The town which we are 
near has been bashed about very much, and it is a very terrible-looking 
thing to see houses, public buildings, and churches all a mass of ruins. 
This has been the centre of a bit of fighting, and to a certain extent 
still keeps up its reputation. You can appreciate Will Irwin's story 
of the famous battle when you go over the country in which it took 
place. 

Yesterday I witnessed my first aeroplane battle. All I can say is 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 77 

that after seeing it I am very sorry that I have not sufficient command 
of the English language to write a good description of it. It was actu- 
ally the most thrilling event I have ever seen. Time, 5.30 a.m. Bright 
spring morning, hardly a breath of air. 

1st round. — ^Two aeroplanes appear — first German, in all probability 
on a bomb-dropping expedition. The British 'plane beats it over to 
chase him. 

2nd round. — Aeroplanes at a good height circling around each 
■)ther, each trying to get above the other, and firing at each other. The 
manoeuvring of the machines at this point is simply marvellous, almost 
beyond description. 

8rd round. — The German has apparently had enough and starts 
to beat for home. Our machine is after him, they are going at a great 
dip, our machine is gaining and veering off to the left and above him, 
machines about 100 yards apart. He opens fire again, the German is 
hit and drops about 100 feet ; he regains control. But his engine is 
not working. From here on this German is giving the finest exhibition 
of volplaning I have ever seen. He has taken several straight drops, 
but always somehow or other manages to right himself. At last he has 
gotten pretty close to the ground, when he turns over : exit one Gerboy, 
one Taube. One man badly wounded. These Germans certainly 
deserved a better fate, but the beggars have not done any acts to deserve 
any sympathy. In the meantime the British 'plane continued on with 
its job of observing as if nothing had happened. Last night the worst 
artillery fire I have ever yet heard. It started at 7 p.m. and finished 
this morning about 7 a.m. I suppose there was an average of fifty 
shots a minute during that time. Believe me I don't want to be a 
German under those circumstances. This morning at 5.30 the Gerboys 
dropped a bomb in our garden — it woke me up. But as I had had only 
about six hours in three days it did not take me long to go back to sleep 
again. I do a little grenade throwing in my spare time, and I have 
charge of the Battalion Grenadiers besides my platoon. As far as 
danger is concerned this is more or less of a graft, as there are fewer 
casualties among the Grenadiers than in the companies. 

Well, I must close now — ^remember I have been here two months 
and have seen a little excitement, and so far it's the Sport of Kings. 
To look out the window and see the chaps peacefully fishing you would 
think the war was a hundred miles away. 



78 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

A SPIDER'S WEB 

April IQth, 1915. 

Your letter of the 15th came yesterday afternoon, I hope naine 
get to you regularly, I have a good deal of time to spare here, and so 
can write every day, though I can only send my letters back by night, 
on account of the gun fire which never stops day or night, but is natur- 
ally less accurate at night. By day the German batteries shell wherever 
they see any one moving, but of course by night they can only shell our 
gun emplacements and positions. This afternoon they a,re amusing 
themselves by dropping high-explosive shells on a little village about 
half a mile from my house, to my great glee ; for though we have 
about five hundred men in the village, they take to their dug-outs when 
the sheUing is on. There has been rather more gun fire all round the 
clock to-day than usual ; but no shells have come near here. Of course 
we have good dug-outs to run into if they should open up on us. In 
the last twenty-four hours we have had only one man killed and five 
shghtly wounded in the whole brigade. You see we are improving 
our trenches and breastworks every day, and are gradually cutting down 
the casualties. The defences were very poor when we took them over 
from the French. 

. The British to the south of us made another successful attack last 
night. It was a repetition of the previous one, 

I live in great luxury here. Undress every night and sleep in my 
pyjamas. Have my hot bath and shave in the mornings. Get up 
about 7.30 and breakfast at 8.30. Have lunch about 1.30 and dinner 
about 7.30. Generally get to bed about 11 or 12. I have only had 
the one trip to the trenches, but expect to make another trip soon. 
This is a great life, though a Report Centre is very much like a spider's 
web on account of the vast number of telephone and telegraph wires 
connecting it with all the units in its area. There have to be separate 
wires to each unit, because they are frequently cut by shell fire, and 
they sometimes have to all be in operation at once. Our signalling staff 
here and at the 'phones of our various units runs to about fifty officers 
and men, not including messengers. 

We are to relieve the battalions in the trenches by putting in the 
reserve battalions. This means a lot of work, so I shall have to close 
now. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 79 

A TREMENDOUS BATTLE 

April 23rd, 1915. 

We are in the midst of a tremendous battle. All night long the 
Canadians have been having a rather bad time, but this morning we 
got some reinforcements, and are getting on all right now. We have 
lost a lot of men, but none of the staff of our brigade have been hit. 
We have had to stay in our dug-outs nearly all the time, though, and 
the din of the bursting shells and the batteries has been ^^ simply in- 
describable." 

About an hour ago I saw a German sniper crawling along some 
scrub, so I took two men and went after him. But he got away in the 
scrub. However, we picked up three of our wounded and brought 
them in. 

Last night I had to ride with despatches a good deal, as the shell 
fire cut most of our telephone wires. It was rather interesting, I can 
tell you, with the air actually filled with bursting shrapnel and high- 
explosive shell. At one place I rode into a party of Germans who had 
got in behind our line. They opened rifle fire, but both I and my 
orderly got away without a scratch. 

We are holding our line strong now, and think we may not have 
much more trouble. It is rather quieter now, though shells are biirsting 
every few seconds around this house. 

The Germans certainly dusted our jackets well this time, and at 
times it was actually uncomfortable, but the fact that we managed 
to hold the salient against a force greatly superior both in numbers and 
position is certainly to our credit. 

Must stop now. We shall probably have a lot of work to-day. 
It is now 6.30 a.m., and the cook is preparing a good breakfast as usual. 



DESPERATE FIGHTING 

April 23rd, 1915. 

The sun has risen on many a dead Canadian this morning. You 
can say that it is very unlikely that braver troops can be found than 
the Canadians ; they have behaved splendidly. Canada can expect 
a startler re the casualties, but she can be sure she has good fighting 
material. I have been up all night, and feel very tired. We were 
shelled out of our last billet and had a narrow escape. I am sitting in 
the same place, and the same noise is going on and shells are whistling 
past and shaking the house as usual. A bomb from an aeroplane has 



8 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

just burst by the house, a man wounded and a horse killed, and as I 
stood at the door to give an order, one of these steel arrows dropped at 
my feet. This is the fifth day of the battle, almost without interrup- 
tion. I still have my clothes* on, but have been able to get a shave and 
two feet washes. I breakfasted on hard tack and jam, with a mixture 
of nim, water, and tea that I had in my water bottle to wash it down. 
Yesterday I had tea and a box of sardines. The medical people jare 
splendid, and work hard and lose many. It is a strange sight to seethe 
Belgian peasant women and children fleeing, some too old to walk far, 
the poor souls ! You see an old woman with a few household goods and 
a few children in a two-wheeled cart, and with a boy and girl in the 
shafts and perhaps three dogs harnessed under it pulling, while larger 
children push behind. We brought down an aeroplane this morning. 
They shelled a town in our rear last evening, and drove the hospital ^^f^^^i 
people out of some house, so that two hundred or so wounded had to be 
taken out and laid in a field. When I went up to ... I rode through 
quite a few batteries all going full blast. There were English, Cana- 
dians, Algerians, French, Senegalese, Arabs, Belgian, and Indian troops 
around. I have had no sleep or clothes off for some days and nights, 
and the fighting is desperate. My hair is cropped close — ^yes, I am a 
beauty — I have no use for brush or comb. 

Fbom Officer of Divisional Train. 



-■/i*..;- >M 





DINNER— AT THE FRONT. 



FILLING SANDBAGS— AT THE FRONT. 




■Nfc. j l^l^iEfe..*^ , -S ! 1*-' 





LOVELY WARM FUR COATS 
—AT THE FRONT. 



IN A DUGOUT— AT THE FRONT. 



[8 1 




A QUIET READ— AT THE FRONT. 



NEWS FROM HOME— AT THE FRONT.I 





AFTER A JACK JOHNSON— AT THEF 
FRONT. 










9 


fl 


^^L^ 






*r 


•n 




^^HHHH 


fejl 


^^^^^^ 


"> :, 

"3' 




■w ^ jStl^^^^^^^^^^^^H 


i 


^f -4 




.^ 


l^"! • 


s-HH^V ^^H^V* ^^^^^H 


h^mm 


Ma^^ii^'. 


I . 


A« 


rXv\ » 




m i 


I'rM'. 


M 




^ 




m.-: 


Kz* 


#31 


-jtMHtii 




I^^w^w'fil 


;i*^ % 


jI^^I^^^^ 



IN BILLETS— AT THE FRONT. 



gUAUTERS IN FRANCE— AT THE FRONT. 




' SOME " SANDBAGS— AT THE FRONT. 




STABLES— AT THE FRONT. 



[83 



*"■ 


r 








■F 






THE MORNING SHAVE- 
AT THE FRONT. 



A DISUSED TRENCH— AT THE FRONT. 





A HOME FROM HOME— AT THE FRONT. 



A TRENCH TOILET— AT THE FRONT. 



84J 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 85 



THE FOLLOWING COMMUNIQUE WAS ISSUED 
BY THE WAR OFFICE 

April 24//I. 

The fight for the ground into which the Germans penetrated between 
Steenstraate and Langemarck still continues. The loss of this part 
of the line laid bare the left of the Canadian Division, which was forced 
to fall back in order to keep in touch with the right of the neighbouring 
troops. 

In the rear of the latter had been four Canadian 4*7 guns, which 
thus passed into the hands of the enemy. But some hours later the 
Canadians made a most brilliant and successful advance, recapturing 
these guns and taking a considerable number of German prisoners, in- 
cluding a Colonel. 

The Canadians had many casualties, but their gallantry and deter- 
mination undoubtedly saved the situation. Their conduct has been 
magnificent throughout. 



CANADIAN DIVISION 

April 2Uh. 

Following received from Commander-in-Chief begins Please for- 
ward following to General Alderson begins I wish to express to you 
and Canadian troops my admiration of the gallant stand and fight they 
hq.ve made A.A.A. They have performed a most brilliant and valuable 
service A.A.A. Last night and again this morning I reported their 
splendid behaviour to the Secretary-of-State for War and I have a 
reply from him saying how highly their gallantry and determination in 
a difficxilt position are appreciated in England ends. 

From 2nd Army. 

Time, 2.05 p.m. 



86 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

IN WITH THE PATS 

The Ditch, 
East of Ypres. 

April 3Qth, 1915, 

Your more than welcome letter was brought up by the ration party, 
and I enjoyed reading it by the JBrst streaks of daylight this morning. 

Owing to the reserve troops being taken to support the action a 
couple of miles to our left, we have been left in the trench for ten days 
now with no word of a relief. This action has cut our division up, as 
you know, but it is all in a day's work. They have made a great name 
for themselves. 

I am with the P.P.C.L.I., and like them all very much. 

You will remember that our battalion was left behind, so I was 
fortunate in getting in with the Pats. 

Thank you very much for holding on to my kit bag. Would you 
mind sending it. 

P.S. — (May 6th). We are out, but having it hot at present. We 
were very badly shelled day before yesterday, losing over 150 men and 
three officers. We go in for forty-eight hours to-night. 



A STRENUOUS TIME 

May 4th. 

We have been having a pretty strenuous time of late, and as I have 
not had my clothes off for a fortnight I rather look forward to a change. 
We had an awful hammering from the 22nd to the 25th, and any one 
who said that the Germans were short of ammunition before that time 
made a great mistake. They literally plastered the place with big shells, 
and then what was much worse and a low-down trick, they turned 
poisonous gas over the trenches. Most extraordinary stuff, a sort of 
bluish-green mist, was blown over the trenches ; it felt cold to breathe, 
and immediately one felt it in one's lungs and began to cough and gasp 
for breath. It knocked the men out like nine-pins and several have 
died of it. All the same the regiment hung on to their trenches, and 
really did wonders. It was an anxious time. However, outside their 
machine guns, artillery, and poisonous gas, the Germans are not really 
a very dangerous lot. 

We are going back to billets now to refit, with a very much reduced 
battalion. Our casualties were heavy, but we hope to see most of them 
back again soon, as many were only slight wounds and the effects of the 
gas. Nothing could have been finer than the way the battalion behaved. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 87 

I expeet you will see some of the wounded at home and hear all 
about the engagement. I am afraid it has been a very costly battle. 
The 24th was our hard day. Since the 25th what remains of the regi- 
ment has been in reserve, standing to, but as they appear to have 
collected lots of troops now and the German attacks seem to have 
slackened, we expect to go back to billets in a day or so to refit. Poor 
M. was hit in chest, D. in leg, E. escaped ; he did very well. All the 
regiments have lost heavily. I was lucky myself, and was not touched 
and feel in first-rate condition, but I won't be sorry to get a week or so 
in billets. 

We have not had any mail for some time, as I suppose they are 
accumulating it for us when we get back ; then I hope to have news. 

Well, I must turn in to sleep. 



OUR BATTLEFIELD 



In a Dug-out. 

Mag 5th, 1915. 



.... What a life ! what an escape ! Really I ought to be a stiff — 
way out there on our battlefield — because I said my prayers and pre- 
pared for the inevitable bullet to do its worst, but nothing came except 
one clean through my hat. I saw stars with a jerk, thought I was -hit, 
but nothing doing, and this day I am situated in a dug-out on the banks 
of the Yser Canal at 6.30 a.m., just having dined. You can imagine 
our charge. We were in three lines, B and C Companies in the first 
line, A and D in the second line, and two companies of the 16th Bat- 
talion Scots in rear. We had to retake a wood the French had lost. 

We were called out from Ypres about 5 o'clock, as people were 
streaming over the hills, and the sky was a hell of bursting shrapnel, 
and we took up our trenches about 6.30 on the Thursday night. We 
lay in reserve until about 11.30, 1 believe, and then they told us we were 
to take the wood at the point of the bayonet. Shortly after we 
charged across 500 yards open country, and by a series of rushes 
got to the trench — during that charge we lost many men out of our 
battalion. I saw poor C. go down and stopped to help him, but he 
urged us on. Then A. fell — ^poor old chap — aright through the head. 
Wben we got to the skirt of the wood we found a trench, just dug by 
the Germans, which we did not know was there. This is where hell 
began. They had two machine guns moimted, and the fire was awful — 
like hailstones on a zinc roof; but somehow a few of us were missed, while 
other fellows were cut in half by the stream of lead. At this point 
poor P. fell, right in front of his men — his revolver empty, and only a 



88 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

cane for defence — ^right through the wood, jabbing here, stabbing there. 
I remember I laughed, but it was nervous tension, and they do 
wriggle so too ! N. had a fence with one 6' 6" Prussian, and to clear 
he parried, lunged, and then lunged again quickly — ^the latter took 
just all of the lower part of the Prussian's face away. We tried to 
stick the part on to the whole next day, but the 6' 6" was dead. We 
held the trench that night, and as I got sent down with three prisoners 
I missed the rest that day, but that night got in again on rations. We 
repulsed two attacks that night, and next morn when sun was well up 
we were ordered to file out of our dearly won trench, and to take cover 
in a cabbage field behind. In order to get there we had to cross 35 
yards open — braked by m.g. fire and rifles from a German trench 150 yards 
away. The two in front of me, F. and H., went away. F. dropped 
with one amidships and H. got one right in the neck, so it came my 
turn. I crawled, and then suddenly an idea came as it does to most 
when in great danger. I lay and lit my pipe, and suddenly got up and 
ran as hard as I could. Bullets whizzed and I dropped — a pitiful 
object, and slowly raised on my side and dropped again, slowly spread 
out my right arm and then lay still — ^imitation, but really to get my 
pipe I'd dropped and to crawl to cover. I got to the cabbages safe and 
sound — sharp left wheel — sharp right wheel, and then on hands and 
knees for about 100 yards, when I came to a shell hole into which I 
crawled. Here I nearly got it. Whilst looking up a bullet came so 
close as to scratch the lobe of my right ear, and just bm-nt the skin, 
but it made my head sing for a day and a half. Out of the cabbages, 
down a slight slope put one on dead ground (safety). Two others and 
I crawled to some dug-outs to get our wind and pluck back. That 
cabbage field must be full of dead men. I took shelter behind one for a 
space — ^then back again to headquarters for a space until we reinforced 
the 8th Battalion. The rest was plain saihng as compared with the 
other, except we had poisoned fumes to deal with. 

We had two days off, and now have been in reserve trenches for six 
days, and look like being here another six. I have often wanted to see 
a fight, and now I have done so I don't want any more. I think of all 
awful sights it was the field the next morning prior to vacating the 
trench — of all the dead and dying lying all about in contorted shapes. 
One poor chap lay with his chin in his hands — eyes wide open — all 
equipped where he had dropped for cover when the flares went up, but 
a little blue hole in his forehead. That sight, combined with the cries of 
the wounded during the night, I shall never forget. We had the charge 
and bore the brunt of it all. I don't know what the 16th lost. Lots 
of our poor chaps were wounded in the trench, and had to be left behind 
in the retreat. We know what they got. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 89 

We are going back to the base to be reorganised, and it's then I 
shall try to transfer, as most of my nerve has gone, what with the terrible 
sights to one unused to it, and the loss of one's friends — it's hell. Never 
you mind — we made an undying name in history, and it was the " now 
famous 10th " that actually did it. We had twenty-six officers before 
and two after, so you can see it was pretty bad. Poor M. — an awfully 
nice chap — was wounded, and whilst being taken to the hospital his 
ambulance was hit by a Jack Johnson, and all inside as well as car 
blown to smithereens. To give you an idea of a J. J., the Empire 
Hotel at Y. in the market square was hit by one. The whole hotel 
was blown across the market, and blew to bits seven civilians 200 yards 
away. The hotel was about as big as Southampton Hotel at Surbiton. 
That's no fib at all. You see the shell weighs 2,000 lb. of high 
explosive, and when it bursts it goes like thunder followed by a crash 
and clouds of red smoke. Here's another J. J. — hit a large elm tree 
to which was tied a horse. After the explosion and dust had cleared 
there was a hole in the ground 30 ft. across, 16 to 20 ft. deep — no sign 
of the tree or the horse except a few bespattered splinters. To see is to 
believe. ... It was so bad that when we filed out of the wood — about 
twenty-five of us — a wounded German officer, poor chap, raised himself 
up to a sitting position and saluted us, saying : " Brave men, brave 
men," and then he fell back dead. We would have saved him if we 
could because he was a sportsman. You must remember that they 
have to fight. 



A NOVEL BREAKFAST 



Back in Billets, 

May 1th, 1915. 



Gee ! but I had a novel breakfast the other day. We-Teturned to 
town in ones and twos, and as young G. and I came into Ypres a jolly 
artilleryman came forward and said : " You boys 10th ? " " Sure ! " 
" Well, come in here and have some supper." We went in, and what do 
you think — ^roast chicken, lobster salad, jellies, and champagne — ^the 
latter galore. You can imagine what a feed after six days' fighting on 
dry biscuits and water. The first pint made a man of me, the third a 
fool, but it helped us to forget the horrors we had seen, and left. The 
next morning brekker was cold chick-egg omelette, which I learned 
to make out here under the direction of a little French girl. I lost that 
Thermos — ^they put a bullet clean through bottle and all. We lost all 
our kit — everything. 

I received last night parcel containing two shirts, two vests, three 



90 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

hankies, and this pad, for which I am truly thankful. I had a top-hole 
bath in a ditch this morning, and with a complete change of under- 
wear I changed from a pack-mule to a human being. By the way, that 
clean shirt is the envy of the platoon. 

The country is great here — green fields, cowslips, buttercups and 
daisies, birds' nests. I am going birds'-nesting on Sunday — nothing 
like having a real holiday when the chance comes along. 



GERMAN RATIONS AND TROPHIES 

The Canadian Scottish 
(16th Battn. C.E.F.), 
France. 
May nth, 1915. 

I have had very little chance to write letters, or I should have 
written you long ago. Just now we are having a rest amid some beauti- 
ful green fields where the coxmtry has not been disturbed by the devasta- 
tion of war. We still have the guns going and we are liable at any 
moment to be ordered to the front line ; but it is a delightful change 
after the strenuous time we have been through. No doubt you have 
seen something about it in the papers. The Canadian Scottish with 
the 10th Battalion had to make a change the night the French lines 
broke. It was just to make a slam at the Germans to check them on 
their onward rush. The French had cleared out from in front of them 
and we were back in Ypres in reserve. The rest of the Canadians were 
holding their part of the line. We marched out several miles at night, 
formed up and charged the forward German positions. We bayoneted 
them out of the trenches they were digging for the night, and chased 
them out of a large wood for a thousand yards through their lines. We 
then settled down in their trench before daylight arrived and held it 
for a couple of days, until we were relieved by another regiment. We 
jolted them so severely and gave them such a scare that they did not 
come on any farther, although they must have outnumbered us tre- 
mendously. Our men fed on German rations for the next day, which 
were found in the trench, and all of us got trophies in the shape of 
German helmets, bayonets, mess tins, etc. Our losses were severe, and 
some of my best friends are gone, but seldom is a success attained in 
war without anguish for some one. The men are good stuff. They 
fought splendidly and never wavered for a moment. We took quite 
a few prisoners, but the Germans must have lost heavily in killed and 
wounded. I saw lots of them. 

When are you coming over to see the Canadian troops ? 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 91 

HOW WE SPEND THE DAY 

Offizier-Gefangenenlager. 

May 18th, 1915. 

I am still in the best of health, and on the whole having rather a good 
time. I am sure that by now you ought to have received some of my 
letters and postcards. It takes about three weeks for a letter to go 
from here to England, and of course it is censored before leaving and 
on arrival. This is a fine healthy spot, and the sea breezes are glorious. 
We have very comfortable quarters, and the longest way around the 
island is a mile and a half, which gives us a good walk ; also we have 
plenty of room for games and exercise. 

We have a nice lagoon where one can fish, and as soon as the weather 
gets a little warmer we will be able to bathe. 

You would like to know how we spend the day. We have to get 
up by 8 a.m. ; coffee generally comes up about 8.30. Then we exercise 
or read until 1 p.m., when we have dinner. After dinner we enjoy our- 
selves until about 6.30 or so, when we go in and have tea or supper. 
Dinner is supplied, and we buy whatever we want for tea or supper. 
From 8.80 to 9 p.m. Roll-caU in your rooms. 10 p.m. lights out ; there- 
fore, you see, your chief occupation is to put in time and try and keep 
from getting too fat. I would like to know how many of our chaps got 
put out of action in the engagement in which we were captured, and 
also how many of the officers are still left. 

We do not get any English or American papers, and news is very 
scarce. I was very sorry to hear the Lusitania had gone down. I 
hope there were no home people on board. You can expect a letter 
or a postcard from me every Monday or seven days, which is four post- 
cards and two letters per month. These letters and postcards I will 
send to you, therefore you can look forward to the arrival as per sche- 
dule. I want you to try and find out about our pay, because we have to 
pay for breakfast and supper, and it costs about 8 marks a day to live 
for food alone ; also I have borrowed some money from some of the 
chaps here, and want to pay it back. If you could arrange to have 
about £5 sent out every month, it would be far the best. Has my 
sleeping-bag been sent home yet ? Most of my kit is in it. I under- 
stand from most of the English officers that their pay is going on as 
usual. Keep all the papers which have anything of interest about the 
Canadians. They will be jolly interesting after the war is over, par- 
ticularly home papers. We ought to very soon start to receive our 
parcels. I am anxiously waiting for both the clothes and food, and 

f)articularly the white bread. Brown being our ration, one is apt to get 
ittle tired of it. Also anything you see in the eatable line that you 



92 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

think would be acceptable, send it along. Cocoa or chocolate will 
also be very welcome. 

Now, you must write to me every few days and give me all the 
news of home. We are not allowed to receive any war news or any- 
thing which is in any way against the German Empire. Are you still 
at Folkestone ? If so, how long do you intend to stay ? What sort of 
weather have you been having ? The weather here is jolly fine, but a 

little colder than . It is a much nicer place and we are all very 

pleased over the change. 

If you can get me some books and magazines they will help to pass 
the time — cheap bindings for the books, because it would be a waste of 
money to have good bindings. 

How are auntie and uncle getting along, not to mention P. and I. ? 
You might write to them for me and tell them why I cannot write, but 
that letters from them will be very welcome. You can also tell them 
what they can put in their letters. We have a chap here, H., whose 
mother is in England. He is from home. You might drop her a 
line or get in touch with her if possible. He was captured the next day 
to us and we have been together ever since. Needless to say he is a jolly 
good fellow. 

I hope that you are all well. I will feel very much relieved when I 
hear from you. You might send me a Prayer Book and a Bible. Both 
of these I lost. 

I must hiu-ry up and finish, as they are waiting for the letter. If 
you can get a copy of the American motor paper I would like to have 
one. Well, good-bye, and don't forget that I am waiting for the money, 
about £10 to start with and £5 a month. Of course I realise this will 
be impossible unless the pay continues. 

This life is just like living in an English public school. We have 
nineteen in our room, and they are a very cheery lot. You never have 

much of an opportunity to get dumpy. One chap at had seventeen 

wounds, including a shot through the jaws. Outside of being slightly 
disfigured he was quite all right and very bright. Another chap here 
was in a trench which was blown up, and he was buried for three hours ; 
finally dug out by the Germans, when they were digging a new trench. 
He was pretty nearly dead, but has apparently not suffered very much 
and he is fit as rain now. When I finally get home I will be able to tell 
you of the experiences of some of these chaps, which read like a story 
book. 

B., who was killed with us, was buried, and his grave marked. 
His people might like to know that he was properly buried. 

After the war we will get a motor-car, and I will drive you 
around Belgium and France, just to show you the different battle- 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 93 

fields and trenches, because I am sure it will be very interesting to 
you. 

I might say that I am now very well aware of the value of money ; 
after being practically penniless for a month, with a prospect of perhaps 
another before it can possibly arrive from home, sort of teaches you 
economy in the true meaning of the word. 

Have there been many promotions ,or any recommendations in the 
regiment ? 

Remember me to all my friends, and if you see any chaps from the 
regiment, tell them to drop me a line. 

P.S. — I have grown a moustache. This is just to warn you, so that 
you will not be too severely shocked when you see me after the war. 

You might also send me out a soft service cap. This I have is too 
small. 



THE SPIRIT OF CHEERFULNESS 

May 19th, 1915. 
On the Monday after the fateful 22nd I was taken with numerous 
others from the base to reinforce the battalion. And here was an 
ordeal. You were afraid almost to ask who had been spared. Never 
shall I forget the look on the faces of the men who in providence came 
out unscathed. It was a look of distress mingled with pride — distress 
for their fallen comrades, pride when they remembered what they had 
accomplished. After the charge I spent five days and five nights in the 
support trenches, and there you have ample opportunity of seeing what 
manner of men make up the Canadian Scottish. You would naturally 
think that, after what they endured, nothing could save them from 
nervous collapse. Nothing of the kind. Over all is the spirit of cheer- 
fulness and pluck which never deserts them. As one fellow said to me : 
" This is no time for the pulling of long faces." The loss of their com- 
rades and the endurance and memory of that never-to-be-forgotten night 
only stimulates for further effort. The tales of heroism I have listened 
to would fill a column — ^the wounded helping the wounded and dying ; 
officers mortally wounded buoying up the men to victory. To our 
Colonel and the gallant officers under his command great tribute is due. 
When the time comes when deeds are recorded, their courage and 
bravery will be read with glowing satisfaction. The fact that eighteen 
officers were either killed or wounded out of one battalion will bring 
home the magnitude of the struggle. But it was victory, and although 
we mourn for those who have fallen on sleep, we do not mourn as those 




94 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

who have no hope. The Dominion who sent them will send others like 
unto them. It was just our gift to the Empire. 



AN ARGUMENT WITH THE DOG 

May 20th, 1915. 

Well, we are somewhere in the mud about four iniles from the 
firing line, whichj from present signs, we should reach this week. They 
have battered us over quite a section of country during the past two 
weeks, and some of our abodes have been anything but desirable. 
Barns are the prime favourites, and occasionally one of us has an argu- 
ment with the dog as to who will occupy his house ; needless to say 
the poor dog generally loses. They hold us down so fine as to what 
we may write, that it is rather difficult to work in any stuff that would 
be of interest to you, and even at that you will no doubt have difficulty 
in deciphering this drivel of mine, which is being scribbled on my knee 
whilst sitting by the roadside. Here comes a bunch of German prisoners, 
so please excuse me while I look them over. Well, they have passed, 
and save from their yellow faces (caused no doubt by the lyddite) they 
don't look too badly at all. Some are pretty husky-looking chaps. 
'Twas ever thus — we have to fall in for something or other, so I must 
ring off for this time. A. sends his love to the Comforts, as do I also. 

From Officer of R.C.D. 



ON THE MOVE 

May 20th, 1915. 

Since leaving England we have been constantly on the move. In 
fact we have moved about more than any other Division out here. 

At Ypres the whole division was splendid, the Infantry, Artillery, 
Medical, Supplies, all did their work equally well, and with the same 
indomitable courage. 

We were pulled out of action badly shattered, but still with a sting, 
on May 3rd, and after resting for a few days to refit and reorganise we 
are at it again. Our 2nd and 3rd Brigades attack to-night. 

Everybody too busy to get into trouble or to write long letters. 
If there is anything that can be done to help you in your good work, 
it shall be done cheerfully. 

From Officer at Divisional Headquarters. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 95 

SHARING GOOD AND ILL 

France. 
May 27th, 1915. 

How glad I am to hear about you again and your good work. I 
can hardly say how proud I am of our lads. At the same time 
the loss of so many of them has been a great and trying sorrow. 
You cannot for months on end share the good and ill with these lads 
and not grieve. A finer bunch of fellows it has never been my lot to 
meet, and I have made friendships time will never efface. We are 
passing through evil days, but it may be that after tribulation we 
may inherit the Kingdom. 



OUT OF A PECK OF TROUBLE 

May 28lh. 

Now, just to give you an idea of the time we spent during the three 
weeks we were in the trenches. For the first two days we were in the 
front line it was Al, but after that fireworks started. It was on a 
Thursday morning that we got our first real taste of modern warfare 
in the shape of an extra heavy artillery bombardment. From then 
until Sunday night this was kept up untU nearly every one of us " had 
the rats." 

Immediately on our left the Germans tried their gas plant, and 
a very funny thing it looked like to see the heavy banks of yellow-green 
clouds roU down on the trenches. We took it for sulphur fumes, but 
this was only for a few minutes, as the taU-end of the cloud caught 
some of our battalion. The Germans, besides using this gas, were also 
using gas shells, the smoke from which got in your eyes and nearly 
blinded you. I can assure you we got our fair share of these stinkpots, 
as they sent them over at the rate of eight an hour for fully twelve hours. 
Up to this time our casualties had been very few, but when we got the 
order on Sunday night to retire this was reversed. 

We had to cross an open field which the Germans had covered with 
machine guns. A person has not the least idea of the havoc these 
guns work until he has been through the mill. We got out of this peck 
of trouble all right, but we got stuck into another the next day, as we 
were sent up as reserves. 

It was here I saw the prettiest piece of manoeuvring it has been my 

luck to witness. The were being sent up as reinforcements to the 

firing line, and as the shells were falling all around like hailstones it 
was really pretty to see the men run forward a few yards and then drop 
down flat, and so on. This was carried on for at least a mile on either 



96 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

side of where we were lying. An ammunition column, with six horses 
to each wagon, also went tearing across the open fields, with shells 
bursting all around. You would have thought it was only a regular field 
day instead of a red-letter day in Britain's history. 

We were at last relieved as every one thought for a holiday, but it 
turned out to be a false alarm, as we were only marched back about 
six miles. We stopped the night there, but, thanks to an aeroplane, 
we were shelled out in the morning. We moved back for about a mile, 
where we stopped for about thirty-six hours. Then about eight o'clock 
in the evening came the order to pack up ready to move off, and for 
almost a week we did guard duty. 

We were at last relieved, and on the march to our billets we covered 
about twenty-two miles. Of those who started on that march only 
about a score landed, the rest having dropped out on account of fatigue. 
But little wonder, for from the time we went into the trenches until we 
reached our billets — a period of twenty-four days — ^not one of us had 
had what could be called a regular sleep, as we were all on the jump 
in case of an attack. 



A NEW-COMER IN THE WAR ZONE 

Pretty neab the Front. 

June 1915. 

Well, here I am, actually only a day away from England and all you 
dear people, but much farther in spirit. I have seen many little things 
on my way through of interest to a new-comer to the " war zone " and 
I must write to you before the impression fades. 

To begin with, the crossing was calm and uneventful. There was 
a proud moment at Boulogne when I passed the lined-up civilian pas- 
sengers, waiting patiently with passports in hand, and stepped off the 
boat with the magic formula " Militaire." A megaphone inquired up- 
roariously, " Is Nursing Sister aboard ? " and I was covered 

with cpnfusion as I modestly replied from the gangway. 

By good luck, a Red Cross car was coming straight out here that 
evening, for reasons of State, so I was spared all tiresome delay in 
Boulogne. Perhaps it wouldn't have been tiresome. I caught a 
glimpse of quite a gay little party in the hotel lounge, and some of our 
sisters, not known to me, looked happy and busy on a shopping excur- 
sion. I love our uniforms. 

We left at 8. It was an event to pass the first guard and show 
our papers. Every now and then we were stopped by another of these 
determined httle Frenchmen. One very nearly shot our chauffeur, who 




CANADIAN ARTILLERY— AT THE 
FRONT. 




AN OBSERVATION STATION OF THE 
CANADIAN ARTILLERY. 




CANADIAN ARTILLERY— AT THE 
FRONT. 



[67 




Photo Lambert Weston,' Ltd. 



BRIG.-GENERAL J. C. MACDOUGALt, COMMANDING 
CANADIANS— SHORNCLIFFE. 



99] 



WARD IN NO. 2 STATIONARY HOSPITAL 
—SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE. 




VIEW OF NO. 2 STATIONARY HOSPITAL 
— SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE. 




NO. 1 STATIONARY HOSPITAL- 
SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE. 



■^ 




[99 





CANADIAN FIELD COMFORTS COMMI! 
SION— MOORE BARRACKS, 
SHORNCLIFFE. 



loo] 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 101 

was bit hesitative about slowing down, and I thought all was over with 
him. Certainly I never felt a car decide to stop in quite such a hurry. 
I am quite satisfied that there is very little chance for any one foolish 
enough not to give instant obedience to their " Halte ! " 

At first it was all quiet country and funny little French villages, 
then we came to the billeting areas — cheerful British tones everywhere, 
clusters of soldiers at each turn of the road, glimpses of lighted barns 
with long tables full of them, a khaki-coloured bit of France. No one 
knew very much about our road, which pleased me immensely, as I 
ked to hear the various discussions, crisp officer directions, eager and 
" lling explanations from the Tommies, and friendly but quite unreliable 
Volubility from the natives. They all peered cm-iously at me, as it is 
very rarely that women travel these roads. The Matron tells me, in 
awful warning, that even experienced and valued sisters, who have 
had to take leave (it is a long strain since the war began) find it difficult 
to get back to this advanced post. One strange thing was to see the long 
lines of motor 'buses extending along the road-side, sometimes ten, 
one after the other, sometimes more than a hundred. I do not see 
how there are any left in London. They are all painted the same dark 
grey, and are used to bring the men from their billets to the trenches 
or else to take the happy ones back to the paradise called leave. 

In the shadow of a stone waU at a turn of the road we came suddenly 
upon the tall, motionless figure of an Indian, one of the Bengal Lancers, 
keeping silent watch over their camp. He looked very impressive in 
the darkness. 

We were delayed somewhat by banks of low-lying mist, which 
made one sniff curiously, and which even made one's eyes sting. Of 
course I decided that this was caused by the remains of the gas blowing 
from the Front (not so many miles away), but am told that it was 
simply the gunpowder smell which hangs in the air anywhere near the 
firing line. 

Later we came to support trenches and wire entanglements, or 
rather to the name of them, as I could see very little by then. We 
passed two or three strings of ammunition wagons, returning empty 
from the trenches and making very little noise about it. The flare of 
the German " star shells " showed up very distinctly from time to 
time. Ours are less brilliant. We stopped the car when the first 
sound of the guns reached us, stopped and listened to their dull, remorse- 
less, deadly sound. What a dreadful concrete fact war is to us now. 
At first it was only an idea, appalling and terrible, but far off ; now it 
presses so on us, it is in all our lives. War seems pretty grim and hard- 
working close at hand, and this is not the most light-hearted place in 
the world. 



102 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

It is a queer, big, rambling place of courts and narrow stairs and 
low, dark rooms. The street was sadly easy to find by reason of the 
long string of ambulances making their careful way. My dear, do you 
know it just goes on all the time ! Always the constant stream of 
ambulances and the huddled figures inside with their poor pathetic 
feet sticking out. They lift them out carefully, in the dark, and last 
night some had to stay on the floor for hours. The surgeons work turn 
about, all day and all night. It is an overworked, overcrowded hospital 
with no time for fads or frills, but with wonderful people working here 
and wonderful results. The sisters simply adore the Tommies, they 
are so good and endure anything cheerfully, and there are two boy 
officers being very brave men and a grey-haired subaltern who is dying 
absolutely ungrudgingly for his country. Their courage himibles one. 

I may never have time to write you a scrawl like this again ; besides, 
one can scribble about outside impressions, but not of the real things 
inside these walls. It is a hard life and sad, and I don't count one 
bit, but I am proud and glad to be here to do something for our men, our 
dear men. 

P.S. — I forgot to say we might really be shelled some night ! 



BEAUTIFUL JUNE DAYS 

— Field Ambulance, 

First Contingent, 
Canadian Expeditionary Force, 
France. 
June 6th, 1915. 

I was delighted to receive your note ; it brought back some pleasant 
memories of afternoon teas and " The George " which stood out like 
oases in the desert mud of Sling Plantation. 

It seems like a thousand years since we left England. The past is 
a haze, the future unknown ; one lives only in the present, glad to be well 
and alive in these beautiful June days. The longer you live here the 
more you believe in predestination ; why a shell should burst in an open 
field over there, or burrow a hole in the ground a few feet away from 
you without bursting, or blow the top of the place next door off, is a 
mystery, and always will be a mystery. We lived a thousand lives at 
Ypres ; we treated in our ambulance alone some 5,200 cases in six days, 
at times under heavy shell fire, carried hundreds by hand, out of danger, 
into fields and never lost a patient. A good many of our own boys were 
wounded ; I had the luck to get hit with a piece of shrapnel, but it hit 
the bone in the front of the leg, and did not amount to anything, did 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 108 

not even have to quit work. We have been hard at it again down here. 
There will be many a sad heart in Canada, and many, many more before 
the end ; it is only the beginning now. If you could only supply 
thousands of guns and millions of high-explosive shells, the war would 
soon end, for a British or Canadian soldier is equal to two Germans minus 
high explosive. There is no shortage on their side. 
Hope you are not tired. My best wishes and_many thanks. 



A WARM TIME 

June 1th, 1915. 

We have had rather a warm time since we came out, in two senses 
of the word, as the weather has been absolutely superb, barring one or 
two bad thunder showers. 

I had rather a humorous and at the same time hair-raising exploit 
this afternoon. We came out of the trenches on Friday evening, and 
came along eventually to this village, through which was a dandy 
canal, broad, clean, and deep ; and as the day was awfully hot, we had a 
bathing parade this afternoon. WTiile we were swimming around enjoy- 
ing ourselves the Germans started chucking shells across ; one fell in a 
field about 100 yards away, which only made the fellows look, as they 
have got so callous ; but about half a minute later one fell on the 
bank and wounded five, and three more fell near us in the water in quick 
succession. Well ! you should have seen the scatter ! I broke all 
records for the fifty yards' dash to the bank, picked up my clothes, and 
streaked naked over a hedge, railway, and about three fields before I 
stopped and looked round ; all I could see was naked bodies darting in 
all directions ; I simply had to laugh. Well, they dropped another 
half-dozen shells and then stopped ; that is only an afternoon's pastime 
for the Germans. 

]But I have a nastier one than that to tell you. On the way from 
the trenches on Friday we stopped in a village about two miles back 
from the line ; mind, this was fully inhabited, that's where I think the 
authorities make a big mistake. Anyway, we stayed until Saturday 
night, then a spy either gave the news away or an aeroplane saw us, and 
the shelling started ; they fell all. round us. I was standing talking to 
my best chum, a fellow from the wilds of Canada, in the street, and a 
shell fell just beside us. He pitched forward into my arms and gasped : 
" Good-bye, I'm done ! " I laid him on his back, and did all I could 
for him ; but he died with his jugular vein severed and a gaping wound 
through his lungs. While I knelt over him, another burst near, and I 
ran across, as there had been some women near ; when the dust had 



104 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

cleared I found two women, a girl about sixteen, and a little baby 
about nine months, all mangled, lying dead. We carried them into a 
house and covered them with sheets and placed my chum beside them. 
Another shell wounded badly five of our fellows, then we were ordered 
to pull out, which we did, and came on here ; but no jjlace within ten 
miles is safe. I made a cross, put all particvilars on it, and made a 
wreath of beautiful flowers, which I got in the garden of a house ruined 
by shell ; then, yesterday, Sunday, a party of a dozen of us went back 
and buried him under a beautiful pear tree in a quiet place, and as we 
turned away I don't think I ever saw a more beautiful picture than 
that quiet grave. 

From N.C.O. or Royal Canadian Dragoons. 



ONE OF THE MOST WONDERFUL THINGS 

No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital. 
June 10th, 1915. 

As you know, with the advent of the First Contingent in answer 
to the Mother Country's call. No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital 
enjoyed the distinction of being the first unit of that Colonial Division 
to receive orders to proceed across the channel in discharge of duties 
upon active service. 

We established ourselves in what is known, during peace time, as 
a hotel. Here, since the month of November, we have unceasingly 
assumed our share of the burden of caring for the sick and wounded 
Canadian and British Tommy alike. 

We had at the beginning initial accommodation of 300 beds, but 
since then, across the road, on the golf course, we have established a tent 
hospital and now have a total of 560 beds. During the memorable 
stand of our Canadian boys, April 22nd, and following days, this hospital 
was filled to overflowing, and I can assure you no effort was spared by 
officers, nursing sisters, orderlies in every ward to alleviate the suffering 
of each and every one. In the short period of seven days' time about 
2,000 patients were cared for. 

One of the most wonderful thing§ in the present war is the magnifi- 
cent hospital arrangements which have been made by the British War 
Office all over Northern France. All the large hotel buildings in all 
the coasts cities are now fitted up as hospitals, and fitted up in such a 
way that you would hardly know that they had not been built for the 
purpose. There is practically nothing in the way of equipment, re- 
modelling buildings to make them suitable, hospital supplies of every 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 105 

kind, good food, and hospital comforts that the War Office have not 
generously given us to help us with our work. 

We find that in our tent hospital our patients are hiappy and con- 
tented, and make equally as good, if not more rapid, recovery than in 
the hospital buildings. We have treated during the past six weeks 
many patients suffering from the notorious gas used by the Germans, 
and in the treatment of these cases the outdoor life in our tents gives 
wonderful results. At present we have the smallest number of patients 
in our hospital that we have had for many months. 



SERVING BESIDE HEROES 

June 13th, 1915. 
What a satisfaction it is, and honour, to serve beside such heroes. 
A wounded London officer told one of ours in Boulogne Hospital that he 
never saw anything like the Canadian stretcher-bearers. His men 
tried to hold back our fellows from going out to the wounded one day, 
thinking it nothing short of suicide. But nothing would stop them. It 
was their job and they were going to do it, no matter what the shelling 
was. The morning the 5th made their charge. on the fortified German 
post (May 24th) when their losses were so heavy; they charged right 
over the parapet where the Londoners were. The latter cheered them 
to the echo and some jumped over and joined in too. This post, I may 
tell you, had previously resisted attacks from the regulars and us three 
times. The 5th were bound to get it, if it took the last man, and they 
did. We were anxiously waiting for the news. When the time arrived 
at which the attack was to be made, one grew very anxious. Soon 
I heard the most murderous machine-gun fire, and I could not help 
thinking that once more the attack had failed. Then I heard the hard 
" tat-tat-tat " of the Colt, and knew we had not stopped. By and by we 
saw the three blue lights go up and knew we had once more won. The 
taking of it was not the worst, though ; it was the awful pounding we 
had to endure the next day to hold it. The same thing happened to the 
10th two days before. They took 450 yards of German trench, but 
suffered frightfully holding it, as the Germans seemed to turn all the 
guns in creation on them. But once you get these things you must 
hold them, or what's the good of spending valuable lives getting them, 
and the 2nd Brigade has never given up a thing yet that could be held. 
Twice in that week we had the message, " Well done. Second Brigade ! " 
but gratifying as such messages are, they do not console us for the loss 
of not only brave men, but of dear friends as well, for I think of all 
friendships those cemented on the field of battle are strongest. 



106 LETTERS FROM THE FRONf 

I suppose when they take the Division out, ajjl they^inust soof, 
some may have a chance to get away. We need meiftadly|ind ajjg top 
10,000 are on their way from Canada now. I hope ifa^tn^^t we 
must have time to break them into our way of doing, thi«! a^^^tting 
acquainted with them. The last time in the trei^^#we -^ only 
1,600 rifles in the Brigade. I am sorry I must stop, asjjie o^ply has 
warned me the mail is closing. I have so much to tell'you, l^rc^t must 
wait until I see you. 



SOMETHING DOING 

Somewhere in France, 
June Uth, 1915. 

Swing your kilt, keep your eyes on the papers, there's going to be 
" something doing " soon, and we arching to be in i*. Don't kmow 
what part of the line we will be, Ijjif have been given to understand it 
will be where we will have some fun — " let-'em-all-come." 

The firing line is great fun, I don't think. Spent last Wednesday 
on Piccadilly, Regent Street, Leicester Lounge, and other interesting 
streets in the firing line. It's all so wonderful, you can't realise you're 
fighting, but you bet your life we are. Our C.O. is a splendid chap ; 
he talks to you all the time — at least it seems like that, and all the time 
they are orders ; it is such a welcome change, I can assure y<5u. 

Quite a lot of rain lately, but to-day the sun is out, and we are enjoy- 
ing it very much. Last night there was quite a warm time " up front " ; 
we could see the flares and the J.J.'s and C.B.'s were very noisy, and 
the blooming things don't care where they drop, but sure our poor old 
dug-out would last about as long as a snowb^l in N.C. if one should 
strike it. 

Waiting for lunch now. You ought to see our " chateau de luxe," 
it's " some joint." One thing in its favour is lots of air. 

How are the Comforts ? Have yoa been doing as much manual 
labour as when we saw you last, and your very competent staff of 
assistants ? Nearly all our old men are here, and best of all, I have my 
old servant back. You can't imagine how glad I was to see them again. 

Have had your respirator with me constantly ; they are new out 
here, and think will be O.K. 

Went past Col. L.'s dug-out, but did not call : we were in a 
" hurry." 

Have been spending most of our time watching aeroplane duels and 
shells dropping on right flank ; football on our front, and mosquitoes 
everywhere. 



iETTERS FROM THE FRONT 107 

This is ^t^ti3p"|i letter, but there is absolutely nothing we can say, 
amd hav^t(Mcen^» our own letters. 

D<ptioJ^p^ou%ill answer this before the war is over. 

INTERESTING WORK 

No. 2 Canadian General Hospital, 

British Expeditionary Force. 
June 16th, 1915. 

About three weeks ago I received orders to join No. 2 General 
Hospital — Canadian — and a man was sent to relieve me. I don't 
know whether the change is permanent, all the M.O.'s who were through 
the terrible time in May were relieved for a while and sent back, but it 
is the policy to send senior officers to the hospitals where presumably 
their special qualifications will be of Qiore avail, and so I may be kept 
here. * ' 

We are in a beautiful spot, the ishospital has 1,100 beds and is in 
tents. We have tennis, golf, and Ithe country around is beautiful; 
there are many delightful walks and villages. The work is very interest- 
ing, and there is plenty of congenial company, so I am enjoying life. 
This is quite a gay resort in ordinary times, but of course will be quieter 
this year. 

Of course, one misses the excitement and constant change of life at 
the front, but the everlasting crash of shells and the feeling of un- 
certainty and danger gets on one's nerves, and then the terrible losses 
we sustained ; the wiping out of so many of one's intimate friends and 
the complete disorganisation of our splendid regiment was awfully 
disheartening. Life was very blue after Langemarck, and the interest 
seemed to have gone completely out of it, so I was glad to have a change, 
just as I will be glad to get back among those who are left and take a 
share in their trials, for life becomes little else there — the officers feel 
that it is only a question of time till something happens. 

The books and magazines were distributed in the regiment, and I 
can assure you are very much appreciated. Thanks for all yovir kindness 
— ^it is so much appreciated. 



FRIENDS AND VISITORS 

London, 
June 20//1, 1915. 

The following somewhat rambling remarks fell from the lips of a 
private in the P.P.C.L.I. or the P.P.'s, as they are usually called with 
the Army at the front, where every regiment has a nickname and time 



y 



108 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

is sometimes everything. Troops passing at night will ask : " Who 
are you ? " " K.S.L.I., M.G.S.," which is King's Shropshire Light Infantry, 
Machine Gun Section ; or " 3 K.R.R., S.B.," being the King's Royal 
Rifles, 3rd Battalion Stretcher-bearers. 

This good fellow, whom it was my privilege to visit, when in Canada 
is a prosperous land-owner and ranchman in Alberta, and was badly 
wounded on May 8th in what Sir John French now calls the Second 
Battle of Ypres. The raiment joined the Expeditionary Force early 
in December, and has done much since to sustain the name and honour 
of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. 

" Sit down," says my host, " and don't let us make a noise, _ as 
that poor chap in the next bed got it in so many places ; it is taking 
the hard-working doctors and cheerful nurses all their time to keep 
what there is of him together. Everybody is very kind to us, and all 
sorts of people just blow in here, and we talk to each other as if we were 
old friends, and after the war is over we will all tmderstand each other 
better, and realise something about the brotherhood of man, if we don't 
all start trying to make money too fast, and put false values on it. 
I have never been so happy as during the last few months in France, 
realising that the only value one had was as an individual fighting 
unit, and we have all tried to become millionaires, but without and 
unlike the financial bother, it need not be at the expense of the other 
fellow. 

" A few days ago an officer in uniform sat beside my bed, and 
asked me all sorts of questions about Canada and France. He said 
he was not a Canadian, but he tried to be a good subject of the Empire. 
' I wish I were a younger man,' he said, ' and not so full of engagements 
in London, as I really have a lot to do. Two of my boys are at the 
front, one in the Army, the other in the Navy ; they are both youngsters, 
but I am told they are trying to do their bit. They keep me posted in 
the news, and I often think a week in the trenches and a few hard night 
fatigues would do me more good than my morning ride in the Park at 
half -past seven.' A few minutes afterwards a lady chatted to me 
about my wound, and was very interested in m^ X-ray photograph ; 
if the nurse had not been firm, I think she would have examined 
my wounds. Imagine my surprise when the sister told me after- 
wards it was the King and Queen. I remember in Flanders the Prince 
of Wales walked into our billet in a pretty dirty farm barn ; the barn- 
yard was in an awful state ; and talked to us about the quickest way 
to drain it. None of us were keen on a drainage fatigue, as you seldom 
occupy the same billets twice ; we all thought he was one of our new 
subalterns, full of zeal. 

" The poor old regiment (we are not one year old yet) has gone 



CANADIAN FIELD COMFORTS COM- 
MISSION—PACKING-ROOM. 



CANADIAN FIELD COMFORTS COJI- 
MISSION— BALES FOR THE FRONT. 




DIBGATE CAMP— SHORNCLIFFE. 



J 




[109 




AT THE CONVALESCENT CAMP, MONK'S HORTON. 



EVENING MEAL— DIBGATE CAMP. 













BAND OF IITH BATTALION AT MOORE BARRACKS HOSPITAL. 



no] 




A STREET CORNER— FOLKESTONE. 




TENTS AT DIBGATE. 



l"i 




ST. MARTIN'S CHURCH— SHORNCLIFFE 




ST. MARTIN'S PLAIN- 
SHORNCLIFFE. 



ml 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 113 

through a lot since we left Ottawa last August. ' Our great loss was 
Colonel Farquhar ; I think we all felt he was our personal friend. He 
was very strict on parade, and if you were up before him in Orderly 
Room he looked right through you, and you knew there was no good 
trying to work off the best-thought-out fairy tale, so we just took our 
medicine. He used to dole out punishments with a smUe, and often 
reminded us that if the medicine did not effect a cure he would have to 
change the treatment, and most of us were cured first time. After a 
man had done his punishment, he never held it against him for promo- 
tion. He used to come down to the trenches at night and discuss with 
us how the ditches they called trenches could be improved, and he 
always liked us to suggest schemes. I think if we had met the Germans 
the night he was killed we would have left our mark, and the same 
spirit is still with the regiment. I remember on the night of May 7th 
an officer saying to his company, when he lined them up to occupy a 
new trench : ' You may expect a bad day to-morrow ; if you get your 
chance, don't forget the men over there killed our Colonel.' 

" The regiment left Ottawa, in August, 1,130 strong, and 34 officers ; 
we have had drafts amounting to 612 and 28 fresh officers. On the 
6th we had 140 casualties in the same trenches, but we held our ground. 
Sir John French had sent the Division word the day before, that at all 
cost the ground must be held. His report to us afterwards is worth 
reading, and to those who have lost relations it should be a consolation, 
as no praise could be stronger, and British generals are pretty stolid 
fellows, I hear, and not given to saying things they don't mean unless 
it is bad language, and they must often have an excuse. 

" I think we will all be better men for our experience. We are a 
cheery lot, often a rowdy lot and you might think devil-me-care and 
hard sort of fellows, but I think the real secret is that each of us always 
wants to buck the other chap up, and I know every one of- us is con- 
stantly mindful of the comrades who have taken their long leave. When 
my Company Sergeant-Ma j or Dames was instantly killed by a high 
explosive, I heard a lieutenant — ^badly wounded by the same shell — 
say : ' I would willingly have taken his share.' This officer has since 
died of wounds. Such experiences as these must make men of the 
worst of us, and the word Man has taken on a different meaning, and is 
not the man as I used to know him ; often liked him, was generally 
indifferent to him, frequently disliked him, reasonably hated him, and 
generally turned out to be a fool if I trusted him. In this war I have 
come to know a new man, to admire him, follow him, and always trust 
him ; perhaps he does not know himself, and wonders, and I wonder, 
if this can be man as we thought we understood him a year ago. I only 
hope that nothing will ever happen to change him back to what we 



114 LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 

thought he was, and theiew of us who are left to go back to Canada will 
be the better for it— but what a price we will have paid to find each 
other out ! " 

"A POISONER IN GERMANY" 

Flanders. 

July 1st, 1915. 

Some of the sayings of the men are very funny. One man writing 
to his wife said : " You will be glad to learn that our son is not dead, 
but is a poisoner in Germany 1 " Another tells of the Germans shooting 
from the ends of our trenches and says : "I think they call this in- 
validing fire," — ^not far wrong either, is he ? 

During a long, weary march, one man was running to catch up, 
having dropped out to fix his puttee ; immediately a voice told him to 
" stop that galloping on the hard road," this having been a stringent 
rule when we had our horses. 

HEAD DOWN AND SPIRITS UP 

Belgium. 
Julu lUh, 1915. 

Thank you so much for the mouth organs, they were simply great. 

The day they arrived we were leaving for the firing line, and had 
music all the way. They were divided among the platoons, so each had 
its own band. In the trenches it is a case of keeping your head down 
and your spirits up. Needless to say, the mouth organs you sent were 
almost entirely responsible for our splendid spirits during our stay in 
the front line, and sure it would have made you very happy to know 
you are partly responsible for the cheerfiolness of our boys. Thank you 
for them and for myself very, very much. 

Heard a pretty good thing the other day. One of our men was 
writing home, and he started like this : " I am alive, and so is my shirt." 
I am sorry to' say that means me, but they help to pass away the time. 
" It's an ill wind," etc., etc. Am writing this in my dug-out, a very 
comfortable one, only you have always to be ducking your head. Have 
had quite a lively time for the last week, but thankfiil to say our com- 
pany came out without a casualty. Am sorry to have to teU you C. 
and F. have both gone to hospital, so our original family is dwindling 
gradually. 

We are holding the line where one of the largest battles was fought ; 
sorry I can't tell you where it is, but perhaps you can guess. 

Saw Major H. the other day, he seems quite fit. Lots of rumours 
about our going back to England to reorganise, but am afraid they are 
not true. 



LETTERS FROM THE FRONT 115 

THE OCCASIONAL GUN 

— Field Ambulance, 

July 15th, 1915. 

So far at least we have had only three or four days that were really 
hot, usually it is cool, especially in the evenings. 

The firing line has been for the past couple of weeks the quietest 
since we came to France. Only occasionally one hears the hoarse 
cough of a gun, instead of the constant-roar to which we have been more 
or less accustomed. Expect that both forces are storing up aU the 
ammunition possible for a big flare-up, but when or where no one knows, 
but expect that the Canadian Division as usual will be somewhere near 
the centre of the disturbance. It is marvellous the difference between 
safety and danger, how little it is at times. 

At present our work consists in running a large Convalescent Hospital 
for the Division, in a quaint old French village. We have about two 
hundred in-patients, and besides a large outdoor clinic, so that we are 
kept quite busy. We keep all patients who will probably be better in 
a week or ten days. It keeps us going to properly equip and look after 
them, as of course we are not equipped for such work ; however, they all 
seem to be quite happy, and that is the main thing. 

Best wishes for the continued success of your work. 



\ 



THREE MEN OF GOD 

There are three of these who from time to time hover around my 
various Regimental Dressing Stations. 

I imagine the powers that be give them a roving commission, as it 
must be difficult to frame orders for the clearance of souls. Our wounded 
all go down towards the base, so all our thoughts are turned in one 
direction. Not so the Padre's, as long as there is a biblical or ecclesiasti- 
cal doubt cast on the ultimate destination of the departed, he has to make 
his arrangements for either direction. Generally I expect it follows the 
line of least resistance. The result is the golden opportunity of un- 
certainty. 

There are, I say, three. Faith, Hope, and Charity. 

Faith is calm and steadfast. His soul is yoimg, although his hair 
is grey. He is pedantic to the last. I am, mark you, a Presbyterian — 
in his dispensation of the word — but his ministrations to the wounded 
are as unmixed balm in Gilead. 

Faith is quite unconvinced by shell fire, and when the high explo- 
sive commences to drop around the dressing station he strolls forth to 
enjoy it as a maid going forth to bathe her face in the dew of a May-day 
morning. Parenthetically I may say that at these moments the 
medical officer is usually to be found in the cellar. 

On the night at Gevenchy, when we brought in the dead, yes, and 
the wounded too, who had been lying out in No Man's Land for three 
sun-dried, waterless days. Faith was there. Faith was everywhere, and 
they say he was almost up to the German wire in his endeavour to get 
a really good burial party. Fifty-two he buried at one time. Did 

ever Padr6 have a more fulsome opportunity ? Poor was shot 

beside him as he concluded, yet Faith never turned a hair. 

" In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." That 
is Faith's motto. I gave him it, it seemed so appropriate. Being a 
Padr^, he doesn't damn when things go wrong, yet there is at times a 
light in his eye by which I recognise that he also is human. 

Hope is a Scotsman, or at least ought to be, but I never asked him 
if he preferred George Wishart to Cardinal Beaton. When he retires 

116 



THREE MEN OF GOD 117 

from the Church he will make a most excellent policeman. The drivers 
of the field ambulance know him as a director of traffic. 

I met him early one morning stalking through the grey dawn of 

village. He was finding out where a certain regimental aid post 

was. I asked him why he bothered. He answered, " Sapienta potenta 
est." Later in the day, he guided an ambulance convoy to the same 
place through a hail of shrapnel. 

Hope has a hip pocket ; that is where I come in, as a horse after sugar. 
He is also a poet, yet the poetry that he writes is a faint reflection of the 
music in his soul. He dreams and versifies, yet we who know the true 
depth of those silent waters see that the verses, though marketable, 
are mere froth to be blown away to disclose the submerged glories of the 
soul beneath. 

Hope refuses to retire. Rallied a company whose officers had all 
perforce entered the casualty lists, and led them up the hill again. 

At Ypres some one suggested to Hope that he should retire; he 
answered, " I thought they were just straightening the line ; if it's a 
retreat, I must return to the firing line." 

" Charity suflereth long, and is kind, 
Charity envieth not, 
Charity vaunteth not Itself." 

Where all are so kind, so willing, so gentle, it were invidious to say 
" the greatest of these is Charity." 

Charity arrives at the dressing station armed with hot-water bottles, 
malted milk, Oxo, sleeping-socks, and Bibles. 

Charity makes you feel better just from speaking to you for two 
minutes ; and being Charity, is the most generous thing on earth. 

Charity has been bombed out of our dressing-station into another, 
he has had his boots filled with shrapnel, and his trousers with high 
explosive. 

His many escapes are probably due to the fact that he wears the 
devil in his cap and the Cross on his breast, and so is protected on either 
hand. 

He neither smokes nor drinks, yet being a Christian has been known 
also to dispense many comforts to the wounded. 

He scents a wounded man from afar, and is out to meet him while 
the medical officer is still rubbing his eyes and demanding how any one 
dare get wounded so early in the morning. 

Charity can carry a stretcher, and has done so many a time and oft. 
He knows most of his boys by name, and every casualty is a wound to 
himself. 



118 THREE MEN OF GOD 

' These are just three. The three I have happened to meet, the three 
I delight to see in the dressing-station; the men with the roving' com- 
missions, who come to you in the energy of their calling and leave you 
the better for their visit. 

We in the Canadian Division are well served by our men of God. 
What we would do without them I do not know. They figure in the 
casualty lists ; do they figure enough in the honours list ? Perchance their 
reward is in heaven ; at least we will hope so. 



REQUIESCANT 

By Frederick George Scott 

In lonely watches night by night 
Great visions burst upon my sight, 
For down the stretches of the sky 
The hosts of dead go marching by. 

Strange ghostly banners o'er them float. 
Strange bugles sound an awful note. 
And all their faces and their eyes 
Are lit with starlit from the slues. 

The anguish and the pain have passed 
And peace hath come to them at last, 
But inv the stern looks linger still 
The iron purpose and the will. 

Dear Christ, who reign'st above the flood 
Of human tears and human blood, 
A weary road these men have trod. 
Oh, house them in the home of God. 



Near Ypres. 
May 1915. 



110 



PRINTISD IK BREAI BBTTAIN 
BT BAZELL, WilSOH tSD yViST, W., 
tONDON AHD ATLBSBORT.