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

Full text of "France & Flanders : four years experience told in poem & story"







X 



\iXX^t 







Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2007 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/franceflandersfoOObrinuoft 



^ 



F 



RANGE and FLANDERS 

Four War Years 

in 

Poem and Story 



OKIOV.AJ KUAW 10 »DHlH*f hhT H.fl.H 
MO ,.S M ,y.HO}, .T?. .TViioT K'a'iaH ta 
.61^J ,31 TO'jpuA HO owmaoM anx 
MWOHf! ax BHiHavioyaa lo hji'jG aHT 
SBT xaaflu ,oT uhawaoi onmata 
HOI TOO"? ?rraa aH aA aotreiV oayoH 

..II(>B yiAKTAMA'D MO aUlT TSfln SET 




H. R. H. The Prince of Wales landing 
AT Reed's Point, St. John, N. B., on 
the morning op august 15, 1919. 
The Duke of Devonshire is shown 
stepping forward to greet the 
Royal Visitor as he sets foot for 

THE first time ON CANADIAN SOIL. 



FRANCE & FLANDERS 



Four Years Experience 
Told in Poem 6f Story 
By Sapper W. Brindle 




With Souvenir Photographs of 

the Visit of H. R. H. The Prince of Wales 

to St. John, New Brunswick 

August 15, 1919 



□ 



Pub(Mh«d by S. K. SMITH. St. John. N. B.. Canada 
J. Is! A McMillan 

PaiNTIRS 



Copyrifht 1919 

♦ 

Eotervd according to the 

Act ol Parliament under the Department 

ol Agriculturt. November 1, 1919 







.ap«7?^/kJf^T. .awiwi^.iiaTJAW FTWAg 



'"^^iii 




AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

SINCE reaching home it has been the oft expressed 
wish of my many friends that I would put into book 
form the varied experiences through which I have 
passed since my departure from the home city and 
during my stay in the land of War and Desolation. 

As I sit in my study thinking the matter over, what 
a task it does seem to be sure, for one utterly unaccus- 
tomed to literary work, to attempt to place upon a few 
leaves of a book, the happenings of three and a half 
years spent on the greatest battlefield of the ages. 

If the opinions of those who have from time to time 
read my letters is worth anything, I have the ability 
to tell a story in an interesting fashion, and as I have a 
story to tell, which I fully believe will repay the reader 
for the time he spends over it, I have decided to make 
the attempt, and if the result does not as a literary 
eflFort meet the expectations of the reader, I trust it will 
at least have served to pass pleasantly an otherwise idle 
moment, as the writing of these incidents and verses 
helped to make the time pass more pleasantly for me 
midst the mud and slush of Flanders and FVance. 

W. B. 



PUBLISHER'S PREFACE 



IT having been my privilege to edit and place before the 
public during the time of his service overseas, absorb- 
ing letters written by Sapper W. Brindle containing 
proof in themselves that the writer possessed no little 
literary ability, together with a wonderful gift of descrip- 
tion, I suggested to him on his return that these letters 
should be collected and published in book form. In the 
manuscript he submitted to me, however, he offered 
jnaterial for a much more pretentious volume than a 
mere reprint of letters already published in the daily 
press. By reference to his diary and by effort of memory 
he has compiled a running account of experiences in 
France and Flanders covering nearly four years, and has 
touched the high lights of the Canadian campaign. 

His verse may not always follow the rule of metre, but 
requires no apologist. The war, it has been said, failed 
signally to produce any great j^ poems, with one or two 
striking exceptions, and these which follow in the pages 
of this book, many of them written on the battlefield 
within range of the enemy's guns, have at least the virtue 
of being an attempt at portrayal of actual war scenes as 
witnessed by a grizzled veteran doing his duty from day 
to day, rather than mere poetic flights of fancy. We 
leave them to the reader's kind consideration. As for the 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

prose, it deals with the accomplishments of the Canadian 
Overseas Railway Construction Corps and the writer has 
performed a valuable service in thus putting on record the 
achievements of a unit which trained in St. John and 
which took such an important part in the winning of the 
war from the broad standpoint of the Allied cause. 

S. K. S. 



INDEX 

□ 

Chapter Page 

1. Fighting Myself 1 

2. Training and Work in England 3 

3. Our Corps 7 

4. Off to France U 

5. Meeting Old Friends 15 

6. What Happened in Bergues 22 

7. On the Move 27 

8. Huns Driven Back 3] 

9. lifeless Destruction 39 

10. Peace and Plenty 43 

11. A Stirring Sight and After 48 

12. Sammy Puts One Over '. 52 

13. The Push 59 

14. The Huns' Worst 67 

15. Marking Time 73 

16. Canadian?* at Play and Work 75 




FIGHTING MYSELF 

WHEN war was declared in August, 1914, I was 
just as enthusiastic as anyone could be, but I 
persuaded myself that I was too old at the age 
of 45 to think of enlisting for a struggle which I felt 
sure would not by any means take on the feature of a 
triumphant procession to Berlin. 

Later on, when things began to assume a more serious 
aspect for us than we anticipated, I could still console 
myself with the thought that there were many young 
fellows to go before my turn came, and so I contri- 
buted as I was able, towards the comfort of those who 
had gone. 

There came a time, however, a little later, when I could 
no longer satisfy myself that I had done all that was re- 
quired of me, though I had given of my means, and as- 
sisted in the recruiting campaign. When Turkey and 
Bulgaria went against us, and decided to throw in their 
lot with Germany, I felt the time had come when every 
able bodied man would be called upon to do his bit, and 
so though I had added another year to my age in the 
meantime, I faced the doctor and feverishly awaited his 
verdict. 

My wish was to go with the infantry in order to be near 
my three boys who had already joined the 64th and 115th, 
but I could not meet the eye test, and so was disappointed 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

in that. I offered myself for any other branch of the 
service where I could fit in, and in less than a month from 
that date, I was notified by telegram to present myself 
at Montreal in three days time, to be fitted out for 
overseas. 

I had three weeks hard training there, and left for 
England on the 20th of November, 1915, and landed at 
Pljmdouth after an uneventful voyage, on the 20th. The 
first man to grip my hand as I went down the gang way 
was Capt., now Major Ronald McAvity who was trans- 
portation officer at that port at the time. 



TRAINING AND WORK IN 
ENGLAND 

WE pulled into Plymouth late at night, and had 
breakfast at five o'clock next morning, and 
leaving the boat at eight o'clock, we took the 
train for Longmoor Camp in Hampshire, which camp is 
situated in the heart of the New Forest where Robin 
Hood and his merry men were wont to hang out, and 
live on the best of the King's fat deer. We reached this 
place a little after twelve o'clock the same night, and 
as no supper had been provided for us, and we had par- 
taken of nothing on the way but a sandwich handed to 
us when we left the boat, and a bun and a cup of coffee 
kindly served out to us at the station by the good ladies 
of Exeter, you may be sure we did full justice to our 
breakfast next morning. 

The camp where we were to make our home for the 
next month belonged to the Royal Engineers, the Corps 
that gave us the late Lord Kitchener and many another 
famous general. 

There was a military railway in the camp, run by the 
soldiers, and on the long stretches of level ground where 
the stately pines had been felled to make clearings for 
parade grounds, rifle ranges, etc., we along with thousands 
of others had our final training. Bramshot, Liphook, 
Liss, Borden, Aldershot, Witley, and many villages for 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

a distance of twenty miles around, were filled with soldiers, 
cavalry, infantry and artillery — whilst Famham was the 
training centre for airmen, and many a youngster who 
first handled the joy sticks here, became a veritable 
terror to the Huns later on. 

When we had been in England three weeks, my name 
appeared on a draft of twenty-five men to proceed to 
France on Christmas Day, and in consequence, I was 
given five days' leave, to visit the members of my family 
in the north, so had a trip of some 250 miles diagonally 
across country, and on return to camp was disappointed 
to find the draft had been cancelled indefinitely. 

The last day of December, 1915, found us on our way 
to Newcastle-on-Tyne, the largest city in the north of 
England, where there is much shipbuilding and large 
iron industries are carried on. Our work here was to 
connect up the ammunition factories with the main lines 
of railway, put in sidings and yards for the quicker 
handling of the war stores turned out from this very 
busy centre. 

Newcastle gave us a great reception, when we reached 
there, and most of our men were quickly adopted by 
some family for the week ends. The newspapers printed 
articles about the Canadian railway builders who had 
come amongst them for a little while, and when we got 
to work on our first job, many were the comments on the 
way we did our work, and the speed with which the work 
grew in the hands of our efficient officers and our thor- 
oughly competent rank and file. The work done at 
Blaydon, Birtley and other places around will long be 
remembered, and is spoken of as examples of what can 
be done by the hardy Canadian railway man. The old 
commandment "Six days shalt thou labour" was duly 
carried out by us, and we were surely tired as each 
Saturday came. 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

It was not all work, however; we had our evenings 
and week ends, when we were invited to homes, churches, 
entertainments and concerts, and some of our men 
found their way to some of the beauty spots of nature, 
which are very plentiful around here, with members of 
the fair sex, and there told them the story that never 
grows old, and some of these soldiers now that the war 
is over, are showing the same ladies the beauties of our 
fair Canada. There were many things here to remind 
us of the grim business which brought us so far from 
home and kindred, the uniformed men on the streets, 
who were here in training, and others who had already 
been maimed in the first bitter onslaught of the great 
struggle. Then there were the shaded lights in the 
stores and on the street, and the air raid warning which 
several times sounded out while we were there, and 
on three occasions we heard the engines of the Zeppelins 
as they sailed over head in the dark. No bombs were 
dropped here, however, but other places on the coast 
were not so fortunate as the following lines will show: 

The Air Raid 

In a quiet little street. 

In a quiet little town, 

In a quiet English seaside place. 

Played a happy band of children, 

In a quiet little game. 

And peace was on each happy little face. 

Said a quiet little girl. 

In a quiet little way. 

To her quiet little chum by her side, 

"I hear a strange noise way up in the sky," 

And the children ceased their play 



F R A N 'C E AND FLANDERS 

To follow where she pointed, 

With a quiet little finger on high. 

Then a quiet little bomb 

From a quiet aeroplane, 

Fell down in a quiet little way, 

And death came with it. 

And it fell rushing down. 

And landed with a crash, 

On that quiet little town. 

Where those quiet little girls were at play. 

As each fond little mother 

Rushed out to the door, 

She gazed on destruction dire, 

For she saw each little daughter 

Lying quiet on the ground. 

Some were dead, others maimed. 

Some on fire. 

And the fathers coming home. 

In the quiet peaceful eve. 

On that very quiet summer's day. 

Heard the quiet sound of weeping 

And the murmur of the dying. 

From those quiet little forms 

As they lay. 

And this is Hunnish Kulture 
And these scenes are oft repeated. 
In these quiet little seaside towns. 
Along the northern English coast. 
Along the peaceful downs. 

We stayed in Newcastle till the end of February and 
then were drafted to France to join our Corps which had 
been there since September. 



OUR CORPS 

IN the early stages of the war, it was found that the 
Belgian, French and English troops were sadly handi- 
capped by the lack of railway facilities, as the exist- 
ing lines were scarcely sufficient to meet the needs of 
industry in peace times, and when troops and supplies 
had to be rushed into position, the railway system then 
in existence proved utterly inadequate to meet the 
demands made upon it, one factor which hastened the 
retreat from Mons. Canada hastily put into the field 
her first contingent of infantry, and so quickly was the 
work done, that the attention of the British government 
was arrested by it, and those in authority came to the 
conclusion that the Dominion which had so readily 
responded to the Empire's need for fighting men, could 
be depended upon to raise in a similar way a corps of ex- 
perienced railway men, who could give as good an account 
of themselves on the fields of France and Flanders. 

A request for such a corps was cabled to Ottawa, 
made known to the C P R., and a warrant for the forma- 
tion of the corps was granted in February, 1915, the 
unit being known as the Canadian Railway Construction 
Corps, under command of Lieut.-Col. C. W. P. Ramsay. 
The corps began to organize in March at St. John, and 
the body of 500 men sailed for overseas on June 15, 1915, 
two days after the 26th Battalion, and consisted of the 



FRANCE AND F L A N D E R S 

very best and most skillful men the Canadian railway 
sjrstem had to give. The foregoing statement is vouched 
for by the fact that 170 commissions were given to its 
members in the field, in addition to promotions to those 
who already held commissioned rank. 

Lt.-Col. Ramsay became Brig.-General, Major Reid 
Lt.-Col., and 0. C. of the corps; Major Hervey became 
0. C. of the 4th C. R. T. ; Capt, Grant second in command 
of the 5th C. R. T., whilst many of the N. C. O.'s rose even 
to such heights as colonels of Canadian and Imperial 
troops. 

It was to just such a corps as this that I was drafted 
in November, 1915, and with which I served until the 
armistice was signed, leaving then for home on the 22nd 
of December, 1918, and reaching home on the 24th of 
February, 1919. 



The Bugles of Empire 

The Bugles of Empire had sounded 
The call had been given to advance, 

And many brave men who responded. 
Lay dead now in Flanders and France. 

That brave little army of Britons 
Hurled back by the merciless Hun, 

Now lay in a fresh line of trenches, 
Awaiting the help that should come. 

A cry went out from the homeland 
That surged like a wave to the shores 

Of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, 
Where men delved for rich, shining ores. 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

And down went the pick and the shovel, 

Down went the rake and the hoe, 
And big men who toiled on the farm lands 

Got ready to answer, and go. 

And many a man on his section, 

And many a brave engineer, 
As they laid track or drove the steel monster, 

Oftimes felt their brave hearts filled with cheer. 

For letters received from their mates there, 
Way out in that war stricken land 

Had told how, that shoulder to shoulder 
Like heroes, their comrades now stand. 

Some news just received a few days since, 
Told how nobly the Canucks had stood 

Till the last round of shot had been fired. 
Then for Empire, gave life, limb and blood. 

Reports also said how much different 
The sad story might have been told. 

Had there been just a few miles of railway 
Over which shells and guns could be rolled. 

In the roundhouse a keen driver waited 
For the time to take over his train. 

Said he, while the talk round him abated, 
"Boys, this must never happen again." 

"A big railway corps has been started. 

Men from England, Scotland and Wales, 
We'll drive the trains to the trenches. 
Our trackmen shall lay down the rails." 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

A cheer shook the roof of the roundhouse. 
The cheer wafted out o'er the track, 

And down went the spike, maul and peevie, 
As cheer after cheer answered back. 

The corps was enrolled very quickly. 
From B. C. to Newfoundland they came, 

Handsome lads, brave and gayest of any, 
To keep up the Empire's fame. 

And they laid down the lines to the trenches, 
From Dunkerque to old Kemmel hill, 

By Poperinghe, Ypres, and Rhenninghelse 
And many a car did they fill. 

Big guns were sent up and erected. 
And shells by the train load galore. 

Trench mortars, and small ammunition. 
The Canadians went forward once more. 

They sprang in the breach at Givenchy, 

They dashed to attack St. Eloi. 
While the men who had given them the railway 

Lay back, the great sight to enjoy. 

The war is now ended, all over, 
And the Boche if he wants it again. 

Now knows he must take into reckoning, 
The brave lads from over the main. 



10 



OFF TO FRANCE 

THE last week in February, 1916, saw us all excited 
getting ready to leave the city of Newcastle, for 
the goal of every soldier's hopes — the blood-red 
fields of France. 

A draft of fifty men of which I was one left the first 
week in March to join the corps which had been out 
there for some three months. 

We had a great send-off from the people of New- 
castle, which place we left at 5.30 in the afternoon by 
train, arriving at Folkestone next morning. About four 
o'clock in the afternoon, we crossed the channel on one 
of the many boats that were constantly rushing troops 
across to the theatre of war. 

We made Boulogne about 6.30, and were put into 
barracks for the night. In the morning after breakfast 
we were marched about three miles up a big hill to 
get our goat skin coats and gas-masks, or P. H. helmets, 
as they were called at that time. Boulogne is a very 
pretty place, possessing quite a harbor, and doing a 
good business in the fishing industry. 

Away to the left of the station, some two miles along, 
is a fine promenade and if you are fortunate enough to 
be there on a Sunday afternoon, you will see just what the 
PYench ladies can do in the way of dress, for that is 
certainly "some" parade. Some two miles farther still, 

11 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

is the sweetest little bathing place, Wimereaux by name. 
It was one huge hospital during the war. 

We left this place about noon on our way to the 
front, and brought up late at night in the famous horse 
shoe salient near Ypres. We found our corps, the 
C. O. R. C. C. (Canadian Overseas Railway Construction 
Corps), at work on a new line running right around the 
whole salient from Abeele to Kemmel Hill. Our camp 
was at Whippenhook, just outside Poperinghe, and the 
line ran through this place by way of Dickebusch, La 
Clyte and Rhenninghelse. This was a very unhealthy 
spot in early 1916, as there was constant shelling of our 
positions, and frequent use was made of cloud gas when 
ever the wind was favorable. Our draft was portioned 
off into the various companies, and it fell to my lot to 
remain with headquarters, being allotted to the quarter- 
master's department. Much of our work was done at 
night with shaded lights, as we were past the daylight 
limit with the line at this time. We had an armored 
engine for taking up the train of cars with supplies, 
and I would often go up with the night crew on 
their runs. 

One night riding along in the cab with the driver, he 
showed me a spot, between Dickebusch and La Clyte 
where the previous night, he had picked up a number 
of wounded men who were making their way to the 
dressing station. The Huns had been makirfg an at- 
tack, and had been repulsed again as they often were 
in that salient, by the stubborn resistance of our sturdy 
Canadian boys who seemed to fear neither shells nor 
gas, but I will tell you the story as it was told to me by 
the driver. 



12 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

The Engineer's Story 

'Twas in the horse shoe salient, 

Which, as everybody knows, 
Wasn't famous as a health resort, 

By reason of our foes. 

For death lurked round old Poperinghe, 
And gas belched forth from Ypres (heaps). 

And shells shrieked over Rhenninghelse 
That gave us all the creeps. 

It grew to be my duty, 

As each night came along. 
To climb into the engine cab 

And listen to their song. 

My run was out of Whippenhook, 

Around to Kemmel Hill, 
Through Dickebusch, and by La Clyte, 

With rock to make a fill. 

One night while running of the train, 

I saw along the track 
A little chap all bleeding, torn. 

Creep out from the attack. 

His left hand gone above the wrist. 

His right foot blown away. 
And tied up in a sand bag. 

The bleeding stopped with clay. 

I pulled back the old engine, 

And jumped down in a trice, 
I thought to take him into camp. 

But judqe of my surprise, 

13 



FRANCE AND FLANDER S 

When with a smile he feebly said, 

Don't waste your time on me, 
Just run a mile along the track, 

And many worse you'll see. 

"If you've a fag, just light it, please. 

And pass it on to me. 
And I'll go on, and so must you, 

The day is breaking, see!" 

I parted with the little chap. 

And found as he had said, 
A bunch of fellows down the line. 

With wounds in limb and head. 

I brought them in to our first aid. 

And found my little chap, 
With foot and wrist, all neatly bound, 

And ready for a nap. 

Thus have the boys, with splendid grit 

Shown of the stuff they're made. 
Their fame now fills the whole wide world. 

May their memory never fade. 

Many sights such as these were seen round this 
salient, day after day, as our own forces and those of the 
enemy struggled for the mastery. 



14 



MEETING OLD FRIENDS 

1 HEARD one day that the 26th were out resting 
about five kilometers away, so walked out to see 
them, and found them at Locre near Kemmel Hill, 
and renewed acquaintances with many of the officers 
and men. 

Their Fathers' Sons 

I stood in the streets of old St. John, 

On the shore of Fundy's bay, 
And saw a crowd of soldiers 

Like happy boys at play. 
They had heard the call of the Empire, 

And put the khaki on, 
Had done their bit of training, 

And were eager to be gone. 
They marched along with a swinging pace. 

And laughed and sang with glee, 
As they trooped aboard the transport. 

To sail across the sea. 

I saw them again on England's shores. 

Mid the din of war's alarms, 
They were much smarter now at forming a squad. 

Into fours, about turn, sloping arms. 

15 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

They had done well at shooting, 

Could throw well the bomb 
As if a baseball it had been, 

And didn't they shout when the general said, "Bojrs 
You are fit for the front now, I ween." 

Then they laughed and they joked 
As they marched back to camp, 

A smarter bunch never was seen. 

It was many months after, 

I saw them in France, 
With their brothers of Britain and Gaul, 

They had come out of action. 
Where bullet and shell, like snowfiakes, 

In winter did fall. 
They were now just a handful. 

For many poor lads who went with them. 
Had failed to come back. 

Yet they laughed and they sang 
As they had done before they went out. 

To that awful attack. 

I asked me this question 

Of my chum by my side. 
For I had donned khaki ere this, 

"How is it the boys can joke, laugh, and sing 
As if there was nothing amiss." 

Said he: "My dear comrade, there's one reason why, 
The boys are light hearted and gay 

They are sons of their fathers, 
And all the world knows 

'Twas ever their fathers' way to laugh and to joke. 
When troubles loom large. 

As the boys are still doing today." 

16 



Tagji i ) n 



l/t HT 'o 



.TJ? 



)o nolio^KianJ sri} aniwc' 

9-5 nil*? idT . I .?! ' 
bet** ~ 



nl 

.a 

7 lo 



For ,; 



'S^ 





m- 



John's Youth and 
THE Prince. 

Immediately following the inspection of 
the guard of honor commanded by Capt. 
R. A. Major, M.C., H. R. H. The Prince 
of Wales on the occasion of his visit to 
St. John, August 15, 1919, was greeted 
by hundreds of singing school children 
massed on a specially constructed grand- 
stand, as seen in the picture opposite, with 
D. Arnold Fox as director. While the last 
song was being sung a group of young ladies, 
dressed in white, with wreaths of maple 
leaves around their foreheads and carrying 
shields bearing the arms of the various 
provinces, appeared through an opening in 
the stand and advanced and made a curtesy 
to the Prince. As each young lady reached 
the edge of the platform and bowed, the 
Prince saluted. Those taking part in the 
tableau and their representations were 
as follows: St. John City, Miss Rhona 
Lloyd; New Brunswick, Miss Elizabeth 
Foster; Nova Scotia, Miss Alice Hayes; 
Prince Edward Island, Miss Ollie Golding; 
Quebec, Miss Inez Ready; Ontario, Miss 
Ethel Powell; Manitoba, Miss Phyllis 
Kenney; Saskatchewan, Miss Catherine 
McAvity; Alberta, Miss Jean Anderson; 
British Columbia, Miss Grace Kuhring; 
Northwest Territories, Miss Kathleen Stur- 
dee, and the Yukon, Miss Dorothy Blizzard. 
The tableau was arranged under the direc- 
tion of Miss Grace Kuhring. 

The photographer has caught St. John, 
represented by Miss Lloyd, in the act of 
beckoning the provinces of Canada forward 
to meet the Prince. Standing behind the 
young ladies are the school principals, of 
whom R. R. Cormier and W. L. McDiarmid 
can be recognized in the picture, while 
George E. Day, member of the School 
Board having charge of the children's 
celebration, is seen standing between the 
young ladies representing Alberta and 
Quebec 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

On my way back to camp again, I met a friend from the 
city who went over with the first contingent, and he told 
me many stories of the hardships the first crowd had to 
endure. I have tried to reproduce something of what 
he told me in the following: 

The Soldier's Story 

Was I out to the war, Why sure, sir, 
For who could stay back there at home, 

When the country one loves is in danger. 
And the Hun threatens Empire and home. 

I went out with the very first crowd, sir, 
That sailed from fair Canada's shore. 

And we had but few weeks to get ready. 
The motherland needed us sore. 

For the Hun had swept out across Belgium, 
And over fair France like a blight. 

Sweeping everything living before them. 
Bright day soon became darkest night. 

For oh, sir, the changes they wrought there, 
Where all had been peace and content, 

'Twas hard to believe less you'd seen it. 
And yet it was clearly intent. 

For churches and homes ground to powder, 
Really couldn't have happened by chance, 

Slain children, old men, outraged women. 
Marked the road of that awful advance. 

We first meet the monsters at "Plug Street," 
And oh, what a time we had there, 

For whilst they had guns in abundance, 
Our own we soon found were too rare. 

17 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

And yet, sir, we held them quite firmly, 
Nor could they break through our thin line, 

And oh, weren't we proud when Sir Douglas, 
Said, "Boys, you Canadians are fine." 

But oh, sir, 'twas hard in the trenches. 
With the mud from your feet to your waist, 

In those days no dry, cosy dugouts, 
Our trenches were dug in great haste. 

And yet, sir, most of us lived through it, 

Though many will never return, 
As you see, sir, I left my best leg there. 

To do without it, I'll soon learn. 

I know that I played a man's part there, 
For two years, a month and a day. 

While many who might have been with us. 
Cheered war films each night at the play. 

Well, it's far easier cheering than fighting. 

But if a hard job must be done, 
I'd much "rather play the part of a man 

Than act like a coward and run. 

That's the kind of stuff of which the boys of the first 
contingent were made, and the boys who held on to that 
same Ypres salient in spite of cloud-gas and liquid flame 
projectors. 

Whilst in this salient, I was privileged to see many 
thrilling air fights, and too often our fellows had to fight 
against too great odds, for the German air force certainly 
held the supremacy in point of numbers and in better 
machines in those early days. In spite of this fact, 
however, our boys often came off victorious against 
tremendous odds. 

18 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

It was just here on Easter Tuesday, 1916, that I 
had my first experience of an air raid and if I said I 
enjoyed myself I am afraid it would not be as near the 
truth as I like to get. Our corps had moved away to a 
new job some few days before, and a sergeant and I were 
left behind in charge of the store cars. At that time we 
were living on the rail, in the box cars that contained 
our various stores and material, but the rest of the corps 
occupied two huge huts in a field some two hundred 
yards up the road. 

We had six big cars, and when the crowd moved 
away, it was found impossible to get an engine to take 
us along until eight days later. At 3.30 o'clock in the 
morning, three planes came over, and circling around 
the cars dropped some fifteen bombs around, but not one 
found its mark; one fell in the grounds of a hospital about 
a mile away, and started in a blaze. I ran over to see 
if the hospital was hit, but found the fire to be in a heap 
of rubbish in the grounds. When I got back to my car 
there was an exploded bomb just in front of the door. 
I certainly blessed the fellow who left the defective fuse 
in that bomb. 

About 7.30 that same morning one of our own planes 
was seen painfully making its way back to its hangar. 
The following story told by the observer will explain 
the reason of his disabled condition. 



Wings R. F. C. 

He was just a mere kid, not yet reached his twenty. 
But brave as they're making them now. 

He already had many brave deeds to his credit, 
But this is the best one, I vow. 

19 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

He went up that morning just as it broke daylight, 

To spy out the lay of the land, 
Where the Hun had his trenches, his guns and munitions^ 

Such was his flight captain's command. 

Did he think of the danger, why no, 'twere unlike him. 

To take these things into account, 
He had his chief's orders, so nothing more worried, 

Straight upward he quickly did mount. 

He climbed in a spiral, till height he had plenty. 
Then struck o'er the trenches like bird on the wing, 

Till twelve thousand feet o'er the lines of the Boches, 
He swooped to three hundred, a venturesome thing. 

He rose like a swallow, then dipped out of gunshot. 
The observer snapshotted the whole of the trench, 

His film had found out the machine guns laid ready, 
A few miles of land with our boys' blood to drench. 

His job neatly done, he turned his nose homeward. 
With joy in his heart, and peace in his soul. 

But 'twas too soon to whistle, for scarce had he started. 
When seven Hun battle planes 'neath him did roll. 

Was he scared? not a bit, for instead of retreating. 
He drew their attention by opening a drum. 

And sweeping right over the whole of the seven. 
He let go his Lewis; things started to hum. 

It was not very long till two out of action, 
Dropped down through the air, and lit with a crash. 

He turned for a nose dive, then quickly recovered. 
And of the whole seven he made quite a hash. 

20 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

The observer noticed the head of Wings falHng, 
And asked in alarm, "Are you hurt, old chap?" 

He feebly replied, "Oh, hang it, it's nothing, 
I'll steer the ship home, then I don't care a rap." 

And surely enough he just managed to do it. 

And landed us safely without a mishap, 
But when you remember his right arm was shattered, 

'Tie clear that our Wings is a brave little chap. 

We left Belgium that same day and crossed the border 
into France. The Canadian cyclists had taken over the 
camp vacated by our boys, and the German planes 
coming over in the afternoon dropped several bombs, 
one of which fell on the camp and inflicted a number of 
casualties. 



21 



AT the close of a beautiful spring day, we found 
ourselves outside the gates of the quaintest, 
most old - fashioned town I have ever seen 
before or since. The little town of Bergues, with its 
five thousand population, dates back to the seventh 
century, and still maintains many of its old traditions. 
The old moat still surrounds its high, straight walls, the 
gateways, drawbridges and portcullis are still in use. 
The drawbridge is pulled in at 8.00 p.m. in winter and 
9.00 P.M. in summer, when those outside must stay out 
till morning, and all inside must remain in. 

We were the only British troops in the vicinity, and 
when the inhabitants learned we were Canadians nothing 
.was too good for us. It was quite an agreeable change 
to get away from the mud and desolation of Belgium, 
and spend a time in a place untouched by the war; here 
was no destroyed village or town, no desolation. The 
country around was really fine, and as the spring emerged 
into glorious summer it became a perfect treat to wander 
through the leafy lanes, the fields of waving com, and 
rich pasture land, to explore its ancient chateau and 
old villages, and hear some old grandfather tell of the 
bygone time, when the king held court in the neighbor- 
hood, or visited some of the great folks with his gaily 
dressed retinue. 

Our work here consisted in putting in a length of 
line connecting two main lines and with the object of 

22 



FRANCE .'f N D FLANDERS 

shortening the time in bringing up supplies by about 
twenty-four hours, quite a consideration at this time. 
Whilst here our company No. 2 put several bridges 
across the Yser, and did some smart work in other ways, 
for which they were highly complimented. They were 
located for a time at a place we called International 
Comer, and it was "some" hot spot. The cars were just 
outside a wood in which a battery of our heavies were 
concealed, and what with the barking of the guns when 
in action and the bursting of enemy shells trying to 
silence our guns, it was no place for a tired man to 
sleep. I spent one or two nights here, but got no sleep. 
We lost quite a few men who were laboring for us here, 
English labor battalions, but were fortunate in losing 
none of our own men. 

We should have spent a most happy time here had 
it not been for the frequency of the air raids, of which we 
had a superabundance. Often and often we have had 
them three and four times in one night, and night after 
night for weeks on end. 

We had many close calls with our trains here, as we 
were all living in cars now, and as we had a long string 
of about forty of these cars, they were quite easily found 
by the photographic planes. They could also be readily 
located at night, as we were using sand ballast on our 
work, and under a bright moon the track lay like a 
broad yellow ribbon. To make matters worse we had 
not a thing with which to defend ourselves, no anti air- 
craft or machine gun. 

On a beautiful night in June three raiders came over, 
and the sentry on the church tower in the town had 
either gone to sleep or was not sufficiently attentive, but 
he failed to ring the bell in alarm, and we only became 
conscious of the presence of the enemy by the crashing 
of the first bomb just outside the town, and a number of 

23 



FRANCE AND F L A N D E R S 

French soldiers making a dash from their billet into a 
cellar were caught in the doorway by the second bomb, 
and nine were killed. They were buried next day in 
a straight row, side by side, in the pretty little cemet«y 
inside the town gate. The sentry was court-martialed 
and paid the penalty for his carelessness. Two nights 
later in another raid, when five machines came over 
three times in one night, one bomb got three cars of 
our train, but luckily one was the second munitions stores, 
the other the cooking car, and the third in which men 
were sleeping was the least damaged, three men being 
badly injured. 

Bergues was only nine kilometers or five and one-half 
miles from Dunkerque, a fair sized seaport which was 
one of our submarine bases, and a port into which much 
cross channel shipping came. I often walked along 
the canal bank on a Sunday morning when off duty, 
got dinner in the city, and walked out another two 
miles to a quiet little bathing and summer resort, Malo, 
from the beach of which place we could see the white 
cliflfs of Dover on a clear day. 

It was an everyday sight here to see the French and 
British seaplanes rising from the water on their practise 
stunts, and landing again when coming in. I went 
one day, and saw three FYench planes flying around and 
doing a multitude of stunts in the air, such as circling 
round the tower of the church, looping the loop and fly- 
ing wrong side up. After a spell over the town, the three 
struck out over the harbor, and coming back some ten 
minutes later, I found they had been joined by a fourth. 

They flew around in company twice or three times, 
and passing out to sea again one of them swooped down 
low over the harbor, and released three bombs in quick 
succession, aimed evidently at the submarines and gun- 
boats resting there. None of them were damaged, 

24 



F R /f N C E /f N n FLANDERS 

however, but one bomb landed on the wharf and killed 
nine people and wounded fourteen. The admiral's 
chauffeur was sitting in the automobile waiting for the 
admiral to come on shore, and one piece went clean 
through the door, and passing along both his legs took 
them off as if with a knife. I went over to the hospital 
to help with the dressing of the wounded. 

The plane which dropped the bombs "beat it" out to 
sea, followed by the other three, where he was brought 
down and both pilot and observer lost their lives. It 
appears it was a French plane that had fallen into the 
hands of the Germans, and the daring aviator had con- 
ceived the idea of slipping in unnoticed and working 
havoc with the shipping in the harbor. 

On another occasion I was in Dunkerque on business 
for the corps and an air raid took place which had rather 
serious results for the town, as stores and houses were 
destroyed. 

One bomb fell right in front of a big department store 
similar to M. R. A.'s of this city and the explosion made 
a hole some fifteen feet deep, cutting through the water 
and gas main both, and it was a curious sight to see a 
jet of water and one of fire rising many feet in the air side 
by side. The store, of course, was completely wrecked. 

The middle of August found us bidding good-bye to 
the hospitable people of Bergues, and on the move to 
the little town of Bray Dunnes on the Belgian coast 
border. We had used thousands of carloads of sand for 
ballast on the work we had been doing so far, and our 
steam shovel had made great inroads into the sand 
dunes of this coast, and still more rails were required to 
run the shovel closer to its work, and to allow more cars 
being used to send the sand along. 

We stayed here some three weeks, and much enjoyed 
ourselves. It had been part of my duty all this time to 

25 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

go with the Q.M.S. each morning to draw the daily 
rations for our crowd, taking a three-ton motor lorry 
for the purpose, and every third morning taking an 
extra lorry for hay and oats and petrol. We had about 
fifty head of horse of the C.A.S.C. attached to us at 
this time. We drew our rations from the little station 
yard at Castre, sometimes from the train, and some- 
times the articles were dumped in piles on the ground, 
when the lifting of bales of hay, sacks of oats and cases 
of petrol became hard work for a man of small stature. 

One rainy day I slipped on the wet yard with a heavy 
case on my shoulder, and in seeking to regain my equili- 
brium I displaced some internal organs which caused me 
intense pain. I fainted twice after getting back to 
camp, and late at night collapsed completely. Our own 
doctor gave me two injections of morphine and took me 
away to hospital in his own automobile to Malo, some 
five miles away, where I was examined and strapped up 
like an Egyptian mummy, and when I regained con- 
sciousness in the morning I found myself in the most 
pleasant surroundings imaginable. The hospital was 
run by the Friends Ambulance Unit, men and women of 
the Quaker persuasion who could not serve in the ranks 
as soldiers, and thus cause suffering and death, but who 
were willing to do what they could to save life and 
alleviate suffering. One of the orderlies in my ward 
was a son of the Rowntree cocoa firm. 

Whilst there I saw much suffering caused by painful 
wounds received in action on both land and sea, many 
patients being brought in from our gunboat, torpedo 
and other craft making Dunkerque their base. 



26 



ON THE MOVE 



WHEN I rejoined my corps a month later, I found 
them moved to a place on the French canal 
system named St. Pierrebrook. By this time 
the cry for more shells had reached England with such 
persistence as to cause Lloyd George, now the British 
premier, to come out from the realm of politics and enter 
the business arena, and reorganize the whole munition 
machinery then existing, so as to increase production, 
to convert already existing machinery that was turning 
out peace time merchandise into shell making plants. 
At the same time. Sir Eric Geddes under the premier's 
direction, was organizing a much quicker method of 
getting the shells up to the front line. It was for this 
purpose that we were sent to the latter place to 
construct a large wharf on the canal, and a large 
material yard a mile away in which was used fifty 
miles of steel. 

When our work was completed it was possible to tow 
the deep-sea barges direct from the English rivers to the 
French canal, without the delay of loading and unloading 
to and from train and boat in England and to and from 
barge at the French port of landing, thus saving two and 
often three days in transit. Two months here saw the 
job well and faithfully done, and we had the congratula- 
tions of those in authority. 

27 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

While this work had been carried out with half our 
men and headquarters, and the help of a battalion of 
labor troops given to us for the purpose (the 12th Royal 
West Surrey's)-, our No. 2 company was engaged in a very 
important piece of work, the construction of another large 
material yard at Audreiuq in which was used many miles 
of steel. 

With increased railway facilities it was found that 
the rolling stock in the hands of the French and Belgians 
was not sufficient for the needs of this time, so our men 
were set the task of building one thousand steel railway 
cars to be used in transporting munitions from the canal 
wharf already spoken of, to the various parts of the Brit- 
ish line, and so well and quickly was the work done that 
the building of another five hundred was decided upon. 

I have seen many of these cars since, riddled like 
pepper casters with enemy shot and shell and flying 
splinters as they carried along food for the guns with 
which to blast their way through the Somme defences 
and the supposedly impregnable Hindenburg line. Whilst 
working on this job, our fellows had a rather unpleasant 
experience which happened as follows: 

There had been stacked in the yard huge piles of shells 
of different sizes, to the amount of some 20,000 tons, 
and one night a solitary German plane returning from an 
attack on Dunkerque with a couple of bombs to spare, 
dropped them on the yard, and one of them fell on a 
stack of big shells and started them going, and the whole 
yard went up in explosion after explosion, that tore off 
the roofs of the houses in town, broke all the windows, 
and shattered many walls. Fortunately unlike Halifax 
there were few deaths, but quite a few suffered wounds. 

The incident furnished a lesson for those in authority, 
as no more shells were stacked in such big piles, or so 
close together again. 

28 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

It was now the end of October, and preparation was 
steadily going on for the spring offensive which began 
again on the Somme in 1917, and we were warned to be 
in readiness to move at any time. About the middle 
of November we began to pack up our machinery and 
materials, and the first week in December we got our 
orders to move on to Pushvillers near Candus, where 
we put in a week or two on maintenance, and then began 
the line which took us over the Somme. There was 
much heavy fighting going on at this time, and ground 
was gained more by the yard than the mile. Our heavies 
were pounding at the reinforced concrete defences around 
Mailley Maillet, Serre and Pusieux, the woods of that sec- 
tion, Saare wood, Trones wood, Delville wood, and others 
were being searched with great diligence by our artillery 
in positions around Souastre, Courcelles, Collin Camps, etc. 

Christmas, 1916, came around and having heard where 
the second division was, I asked for a two-day pass and 
started out to find my boys; one had been drafted from the 
115th to the 24th, and the other from the 140th to the 25th. 

The first part of my journey was by train to Bethune, 
but the train pulled up at a small station three miles outside 
the town, and the PYench authorities refused to let the train 
proceed , as the Germans were shelling Bethune. They gave 
us the option of walking to our destination, or returning by 
the same train. I had started out to see the boys and de- 
cided to go on. Arriving in the town, I found the enemy was 
searching the town with one gun at three-minute intervals. 

Passing along one of the streets, I heard a most 
unearthly shriek overhead, and the next moment a 
terrible explosion followed, and the front of a three-story 
house went sailing into the air carrying part of the furni- 
ture with it. All the afternoon high explosive shells con- 
tinued to fall in the town. Much damage was done and 
there was some loss of life. Bethune was a pretty place 

29 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 



of about 60,000 inhabitants and was later on in the war 
set on fire and pretty well burned up. 

I continued my journey through New-le-Mines Hirsin 
and on to Bully Grenay. Passing through real war land, 
from Hirsin onward, the roads were packed with every con- 
ceivable kind of transport, all going into or out of the line. 

At this time of the year mud and slush were every- 
where. No snow had yet fallen, but considerable rain 
had descended, and the ditches were well filled and in 
many places overflowing the roads, many of which had 
been constructed as emergency roads, and had no solid 
bottom. These were very soon veritable quagmires and 
made walking very unpleasant, and it was no uncommon 
sight to see motor lorries, automobiles, etc., which having 
ventured too near the edge of the road had slithered into 
the ditch. Along such roads as this I made my way for 
fifteen kilometers, and it was pitch dark when I reached 
the village of Fossend, where I found the eldest boy and 
passed the night in his billet. After night fell, it became 
difficult to get along, the traffic going every way filled 
the roads, and the guns on both sides continually firing 
shells overhead. The very lights and French rockets 
that were being sent up all along the line contributed 
to make one of the most hideous evenings I have ever 
experienced, and when I reached my destination at 9.30, 
after walking from two o'clock I assure you I felt good 
and tired, and lost no time in getting to sleep on the bare 
floor of an empty bedroom, that is empty of all furni- 
ture. There were already fourteen sleeping there and I 
made the fifteenth, but I have slept in worse places since. 

Next day being Christmas Day, I saw the R. S. M. 
early, and secured the boy's release for the day, and we 
went in search of the younger boy, and found him in a 
little town some three miles away. He, too, was granted 
a day's leave, and together we had a real good time. 

30 



HUNS DRIVEN BACK 

JANUARY and February, 1917, were marked by much 
heavy fighting with but little gain, but one Sunday 
morning in March after three days' heavy bombard- 
ment of the enemy position by our artillery, we had 
orders to stand to, as our forward positions had lost 
touch with the enemy. 

During the Saturday night there had been a very 
heavy fog, and the enemy had taken advantage of it to 
effect their retreat from a position that had become too 
hot for them to hold. Our cavalry was sent out to 
establish touch with him, and found he had retreated to 
a depth of ten miles on a twenty-mile front, and on the 
Monday morning we had orders to bring on the line as 
quickly as possible, so that supplies might be brought 
up with all possible speed. 

Our corps had already carried the new line from 
Puschvillers through Raineheval, Bertrancourt and Belle 
Eglise to Acheux, where there was a large aerodrome, 
and we became quite well acquainted with some of the 
boys who were there. One in particular was a smart 
little chap, and the following will give you one of his days: 

A Picnic in France 

You may talk about your picnics, 
And your days down by the sea, 
Of your shies at old Aunt Sally 
And your marlocks with the girls; 

31 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Of your funny Punch and Judy, 

And your crafty fortune teller, 

Of your sport upon the skating rink. 

And the ballroom's giddy whirls. 

But now I want to tell you 

Of a real prime piece of fun 

A chap may have while 

Serving at the front. 

Just join the Royal Flying Corps, 

They'll quickly teach you how 

To do a real comic little stunt. 

A pilot of the R. F. C. 

Went on his daily round. 

He had on board a bunch of little bombs, 

He dropped them on a battery 

Belonging to the Huns, 

Then struck for home. 

In fear of getting glommed. 

With this he wasn't satisfied. 

So started out again. 

This time he met a squad of German planes. 

He got well up above them. 

Then he opened up his gun. 

And got three from the squadron 

For his pains. 

The other two he shattered. 

And as he felt quite fresh. 

He looked around 

In search of further spoil. 

He spied a group of Fritzies 

Amassing in the rear, 

At sight of which his blood began to boil, 

He fixed into his Lewis, 

Another little drum. 

And dropping from his dizzy height above 

32 



bi. 



laoAiaiiiOaHT 
• fi aie V 

I'll Oil} 8«W 

..Am 

jdJ id 

^ fToifjlI 



w 

iH 



..a 
■a 
>o 
a 

I 

■of 

\o 

T. .Q .1 ..I ba£ .l-fi^.'iom 

'■ ' .^iiO nriot 




The Official Dinner at the Union Club. 

"I am a Canadian in mind and spirit" 
was the ringing message of H. R. H. the 
Prince of Wales in making his first dinner 
address on his recent tour of Canada, given 
by the Province of New Brunswick at the 
Union Club, St. John, N. B. A flashlight 
photograph taken by G. D, Davidson, 
shows the distinguished guests at the head 
of the table on this memorable occasion. 
On the Prince's right are in order: Hon. 
W. E. Foster, Premier of New Brunswick; 
His Excellency The Duke of Devonshire, 
Governor-General of Canada; Hon. Wm. 
Pugs ley, Lieutenant-Governor of New 
Brunswick; Sir Lionel Halsey, Chief-of- 
Staff to His Royal Highness; Sir Douglas 
Hazen, Chief Justice of New Brunswick. 

On the Prince's left are Sir Robert L. 
Borden, Premier of Canada; His Lordship 
Bishop Richardson; Hon. Carl Milliken, 
Governor of Maine, and Hon. H. A. Mc- 
Keown, Chief Justice King's Bench Divi- 
sion, New Brunswick Supreme Court. 

In the foreground on the inner side of the 
long tables are C. B. Lockhart, Collector 
of Customs; A. B. Copp, M.P. for West- 
morland, and L. P. D. Tilley, M.P.P., St. 
John City. 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

He raked the gathering masses. 

With the bullets that were in it, 

Then sailed away as gentle as a dove. 

Thus sailing low behind the lines 

He spied a motor car, 

And saw the ensign of the German staff. 

He turned his gun upon it, 

As he flew lower still 

And on that car he put up quite a strafe. 

He must now be getting homeward, 

The light began to fade. 

But still he had another drum in stock. 

He spied just in the distance 

A mass of gathering men, 

And hailed them with a joyous German "hoch." 

They gladly hailed him back again. 

But soon they wished they hadn't. 

When he opened up his gun 

They had a shock. 

Now that's the kind of picnic, 

You get in Northern France, 

More funny, too, than fooling with the girls, 

Or sweating on the skating rink. 

Or shying for cigars, 

Or turning in the dance's giddy whirl. 

From Acheux on to Collin Camps our line had ex- 
tended, and we had reached the neighborhood of Euston 
Dump, which many of the returned boys will remember 
we occupied when the retreat of the spring of 1917 took 
place. We had now to continue the line over the Serre 
ridge, and along the valley on the other side. 

Two days after the retreat I went over the whole 
devastated area that had been evacuated, and it became 
a wonder to me, a wonder that has by no means lessened 

33 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

with the lapse of time, how any of the men lived through 
or endured that awful bombardment. For a matter of 
seven or eight miles as far as eye could see, not a thing 
remained standing above the ground. Perhaps the 
following lines will best describe the change that the 
bombardment had brought about: 



Two Pictures 

A lovely stretch of country. 

In the region of the Somme, 
Made as nice a piece of scenery, 

As ever you looked upon. 

The beautiful green of the grasses. 

The deeper green of the trees. 
The sweet white cots of the peasants, 

Where they hoped to spend years of ease. 

The cows grazing out in the clover. 
The corn waving gold in the field. 

The sun shining golden upon it. 
To bring forth a rich golden yield. 

The blossoms so sweet in the orchard, 
The apple, the cherry, the pear. 

Seemed as fair as Eden to look upon. 
No sign of destruction was there. 

A dear little church where the peasants. 
Went each Sabbath to worship and pray, 

A cross with a Christ stretched upon it. 
From the church, stood just o'er the way. 

34 



F R /I N C E AND FLANDERS 

The war cloud loomed on the horizon, 

No larger than any man's hand, 
Then broke with a crash as of thunder, 

Hun war lust enveloped the land. 

And gone was that sweet stretch of country, 

Tramped were the grasses so green, 
Slain were the trees tall and stately, 

The orchards no more there were seen. 

Gone the sweet homes of the peasants. 

Gone were the peasants as well, 
And what seemed a piece out of heaven, 

Was now like a comer of hell. 

The church where the people had worshipped, 

So quickly was razed to the ground, 
And the fields where the com had been waving, 

With corpses were strewn all around. 

The cross and the Christ had gone down with the rest, 

As shot and shell flew o'er the ground, 
But the broken Christ still raised one hand in protest, 

'Gainst the horrors that lay all around. 

That was surely the strangest thing I have ever seen, 
the broken figure of the Christ just as a shell had broken 
it from the cmcifix, the legs broken off at the knees, and 
one arm gone at the shoulder, the figure left standing in 
the soft ground just as it fell, and the one hand as if 
upraised in protest against all the horrors of the situation, 
and horrors there certainly were! Thousands of shell- 
holes were there so close together that they interlaced, 
and it was difficult to find a footing on the edge to keep 
from falling in. Littered all around were the severed 
limbs of the combatants, heads, arms, legs and headless 

35 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

trunks were to be seen among the equipment and accoutre- 
ments of war, dead horses with cruel rents in their flanks 
and breasts, legs and heads gone, and broken limbers and 
guns, machine guns and rifles were strewed everywhere. 

The rain had fallen two nights previously, and then 
a severe frost had followed, and the rain in the shell holes 
and craters had frozen over, and formed a glass-like surface 
which could be seen through very distinctly. In one of 
them was an English lad lying on his back dead, with his 
face just under the ice, and grasped in his hand was the 
Mills bomb he had been in the act of throwing when the 
concussion from some big shell that had burst near had 
killed him. 

In another one farther on was a boy sitting quite 
erect evidently killed by the same means; he had been 
having a snack to eat, as there was a piece of biscuit on 
his lap and an open tin of bully also. 

Farther along still, in a crater, where there had either 
been heavy fighting, or a shell had taken heavy toll of 
some platoon, the water was thickly tinged with blood, 
and like the rest of the holes thinly frozen over, and several 
bodies lying there. Over this ground then we had to 
take the line with the utmost dispatch, and so quickly 
was this done with the labor troops allotted to us, that 
inside of three weeks the first ration train pulled into 
Achiet-le-grand, followed by a trainload of ammunition. 

The destruction we saw as we passed from village and 
town to village again is perhaps best described in the 
following lines: 

Scenes from the Somme 

I tramped across the battlefield, 

Of the Ancre and the Somme 
And sad were the sights of carnage and blood. 

My weary eyes gazed upon. 

36 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Our trenches all battered and broken, 

By the shells from the enemy's guns, 
Where our boys had sat tight through the winter, 

Till the spring let them loose on the Huns. 

When the order went round to get ready 

For the advance which the Generals had planned, 

A more eager bunch of young fellows. 
You couldn't have found in the land. 

For they knew that the guns so long waited, 

Had reached them from over the main. 
Well manned and munitioned to help them, 

The lost land of France to regain. 

So they leapt o'er the trench tops like heroes. 

Nor halted when comrades did fall, 
Till they swept back the Huns from their trenches and guns, 

Then fog hid the land like a pall. 

To say that the Huns were delighted, 

Is but to state mildly the case, 
For they couldn't stand up, though supported by Krupp, 

They retreated all over the place. 

And here is the mind of the Hun seen. 

For as he went back on his tracks. 
He blew up the houses and fouled all the wells, 

And felled all the trees with the axe. 

And many a once happy village, 

A smouldering ruin now lies, 
And many a family seek their lost home. 

With the tears streaming out of their eyes. 

37 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

But that's not the worst by a long shot, 

For many a man seeks his babe, 
And the wife that he kissed when he left her, 

To find them both claimed by the grave. 

A shell from the guns of the Germans, 

Struck the house which they once called their home, 
And the saving of years and the comfort once theirs 

In a moment was shattered and gone. 

Ah, well, there's a time comes for reckoning. 
And when the long looked for day comes, 

*Twill be better by far for Gomorrah and Sodom, 
Than it will for the land of the Huns. 



38 



USELESS DESTRUCTION 

BAPAUME had literally been blown to pieces, and 
Albert had suffered badly at the hands of the 
destroyers; fine engineering works had all their 
machinery deliberately smashed, the fine Basilica with 
its huge monument of the Virgin and Child over the 
front of the sacred edifice, had been rendered absolutely 
ruinous, and the holy figure now leaned over the sidewalk 
at an alarming angle, and was the source of much interest 
to all troops passing through that place. 

All the parts of the British front over which I have 
travelled, from Nieuport on the coast down to Peronne, 
the churches have been the first to suffer. Only one 
building in Bapaume was left practically undamaged; 
this was the Town Hall, and here the people gathered, to 
celebrate the fact that the town had been recovered from 
the hands of the enemy. The townspeople returning 
from the distant towns and villages to which they had 
fled, led by the mayor, held a meeting in the hall, and 
just as the people had left the building a delayed action 
mine went up, and many were injured by the falling 
debris. This was three weeks after the Huns had left, 
and the mine had been cunningly laid in anticipation of 
some such gathering, or in hope of getting soldiers who 
might have used the place as a billet. As we came to 
rest in Achiet-le-grand, I could not prevent my mind from 

39 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

turning back to the awful sights I had seen in the last 
few weeks, and I sat down and wrote the following lines^ 

War 

Oh, God of Heaven, how strange it seems, 

To see the sun's bright morning rays. 
To hear the birds on joyful wing. 

Uplift to Thee their songs of praise, 
And yet above and all around. 

Is heard the sound of deadly gun. 
And far and wide the battle ground. 

Is strewn with dead, Ally and Hun. 
Despite two thousand years of truth. 

Which first streamed forth from Galilee, 
That men to men o'er all the earth. 

Should to each other brothers be 
And one their elder brother. He 

Should lead them up to God. 
Oh, can it be that truth has failed. 

Or we poor mortals did not heed. 
But each for our own vantage strived. 

Thus giving chance to lust and greed. 
And other sins of devils sown. 

To spring as tares among the wheat. 
And now to fullest harvest grown 

The reaper grim with eager feet. 
To gather both the wheat and tares, 

Doth stalk throughout a war swept land. 
Oh, God, they fall, we see them lie. 

Strewn out upon the battle plain. 
Their severed limbs and gaping wounds. 

Now cry to us for help in vain. 
To Thee we leave the broken clay 

Which to its mother dust must turn, 

40 



AM 




«bl9i'^ '8i9bn*n 



The military cemetery at Aubigny, 
France, as described by Sapper 
Brindle in this particular chapter. 
Grave of Gunner Frank H. Ledford, 
St. John, N. B., in the foreground. 



1^ 



In Flanders' Fields 

In Flanders' Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row 
That marked our place; and in the sky 
The larks still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead; short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved and now we lie 
In Flanders' fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe; 
To you from falling hands we throw 
The torch, be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders' fields. 

— McCrab. 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Their souls we know with Thee remain, 

And while our hearts with anguish yearn, 
For one last word with those we love 

For one last grip of friendly hand. 
We know that safe with Thee above 

In that fair, glorious, heavenly land. 
The saint, the sinner purified, 

By blood of Thine from side to hand. 
Once more shall stand before Thy throne, 

And things we failed to understand, 
Shall then to each be clearly shown. 

During this time our No. 2 company had been building 
a line which proved of much value to us as a corps, and to 
many others as will be seen later on. 

The line was known as the Authey valley line, and ran 
from Doullens right through the valley by way of Fresch- 
villers, Authieurl, Orville, Sarton, Coyneux and on to 
Collin Camps, where a branch was also taken to 
Hebuteme, when the powers that be decided not to 
continue it any farther. Collins Camps itself was on the 
line from Candus, and this line as before stated we con- 
tinued along by Serre, Pusieux and to Achiet-le-grand. 

Having by our advance, referred to in the foregoing 
pages, caused the enemy to straighten out the big dent 
that he had made previously in our line, there now 
existed a most dangerous dent in his own line. The 
ground, if marked out on the map, would have something 
of an egg shaped formation, the narrower end had been 
in our line; the wider end was now in his line, where he 
now rested on the Arras, Croisselles, Bertincourt, Peronne 
St. Quentin line, the object in holding up here evidently 
being to give him a chance to get as much of his equip- 
ment and stores as it was possible safely harbored behind 
his Hindenburg line. 

41 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

This ground had been made famous by the Battle 
of Marlincourt, which is now the graveyard of the 
9th Durhams; Courcellette, where the Canadian Scottish, 
our own 26th, the 25th and the 22nd Battahon left so 
many dead; in the attack on the Regina trench; Le 
Transloy, Le Sars, Ligny Thilloy, Le Beurs, Murval, 
Ginchy, Combles and other places including such towns 
and villages as Neuville, Vitasse, St. Ledger and Ecoust, 
Bullecourt, and Queant north of Bapaume. In line with 
Bapaume and to the south Hermes, Bertincourt, Ruyal- 
court, Ytres, Bus and Fins were being held stubbornly 
by the enemy. New troops were being tried out at 
these points. 

The Canadians were now withdrawn from the Somme 
and were holding the line north of Arras. Around 
Ytres and Bus the Lancashire Brigade was being tested 
in a very warm comer; they had been brought over from 
Egypt and were now introduced to a different type of 
warfare. 

On one occasion they were treated to a particularly 
heavy dose of gas sent over by shells which made no 
explosion, but just corroded very quickly and released 
the poisonous gas. They were joking about the number 
of "dud" shells the enemy were sending over, when 
after an hour or so the men began to drop in scores and 
many of them died. At the same time, August 17, the 
Australians were having their own time at Bullecourt 
which was in No Man's land, and so heavy had been the 
slaughter that for three whole weeks neither side could 
go near the place. When the enemy finally withdrew, 
our sanitary section went in and cleaned up. 



42 



PEACE AND PLENTY 

I had received a letter from Charles Ledford, the secre- 
tary of Marlborough Lodge Sons of England, telling me that 
his son, Frank, had died of wounds, and also where he was 
buried, with a request that I would try and see his grave. 
Having a Sunday to spare I took my bicycle and rode 
out to Aubigny some thirty miles distant from our camp. 

Leaving the war zone behind I came to what might 
be called the fringe of the war, for here was left behind 
the destruction and desolation and ravages of war, and 
I came upon a line of green verdure clad hills and vales, 
where the flowers were blooming in garden and hedgerow, 
where the com was waving in the field, and the happy 
voices of the children rang over the meadows; such a 
contrast to what I had seen in the last two years. I 
found the cemetery at Aubigny in a fine location, and 
beautifully kept by two soldier comrades who were unfit 
for service up the line. 

More than two thousand crosses were standing in 
straight rows line after line, like men on parade; beneath 
them lay the men who had given all they had to give in 
freedom's cause. 

Canada in Flanders 

In a quiet graveyard sleeping, 

Lie the men from old St. John, 
With many a comrade near them, 

From far Saskatchewan. 

43 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

There are men from Manitoba, 

And men from far B. C. 
Alberta's sons, who manned the guns. 

That nations might be free. 

There are men from all around Quebec, 

And from Ontario, 
Who when the call of Empire came, 

Neglected not to go. 

There were men from Nova Scotia, 

And rugged Newfoundland, 
Who stemmed the tide of German pride. 

Nor yielded their demand. 

Men of the line, and men of the guns. 
Men from the office and farmers' sons. 

Men from the woods who delivered the goods, 
For which the call was made. 

Men who came early, 

Men who came late. 
There they lie in quiet state, 

At peace in the rural shade. 

There's Canada of the Northland, 

There's Canada's sunny plains, 
And Canada now in Flanders, 

So long as earth remains. 

There let them lie, under old Mount St. Eloi around 
which so many of them fell, with Vimy Ridge standing 
grim sentinel in the near distance. 

August and September were very hot months this 
year, and the boys marching to and from the line suffered 

44 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

greatly in consequence. I remember seeing the 4th 
Gloucesters march out from the left of Bullecourt, and 
as they passed us they were dropping on the road like 
sheep. I worked over one young lad for nearly an hour 
before I got him straightened out; he was cramped in 
every muscle. 

In the last week of August I again got a two-day pass 
and went to find my eldest boy, somewhere north of 
Arras, and on my way I had rather an exciting time. 

The enemy was singing his morning hymn of hate 
accompanied by a bombardment of the town, and just 
as I entered the outskirts a shell fell inside a house that 
had been partly damaged by a previous shell. There 
was one wall left standing and the explosion blew down 
the remaining wall just as I passed on my bicycle. For- 
tunately none of the flying bricks struck me. As I rode 
up the approach to the bridge near the station, another 
shell cut through both sides of the iron bridge, and on 
passing over it on the other side, a third high explosive 
brought down a three-story house right across the road, 
and I had to go down the next street. Once through 
the town everything was fairly quiet. 

I located the 2nd Division camped under Mount St. 
Eloi, and soon found the 24th and learned from the boys 
the story of Vimy and the part played by the Canadians 
in that famous event, particularly the glorious record of 
the 22nd, 24th, 25th and 26th battalions, the latter 
from New Brunswick. 

Vimy 

The word ran along the trenches, 

It's over the top, boys, tonight. 
We were not very far from Arras, 

To mention the place isn't right. 

45 



FRANCE AND FLA N D E R S 

Our gunners for days played the dickens, 

With the trenches of Heine and Fritz, 
Where rows upon rows of new wire, 

Were very soon broken to bits. 

The night was quite dark, but the morning 

Gave promise of breaking up fine. 
And just as my watch showed the time, 3.15, 

We started for Fritz's front line. 

The shells of the Boches burst full in our face. 

Our guns roared out way behind, 
From the planes overhead came the crashing of bombs, 

We blew up the places we'd mined. 

In that great pandemonium we crossed no man's land, 

Led on by our own barrage fire, 
Till in front of the trench we were ordered to take, 

We were caught on the enemy's wire. 

It seems that a stretch some 500 yards long. 

And nearly one hundred yards deep, 
Had been missed by our guns 'ere we started to charge, 

'Twas enough to make any man weep. 

All the same we had to get through it, 
For our chums on the left and the right. 

Went on with a bound, never halting. 
And got all the Germans in sight. 

We hacked and we cut at the wire, 
Till at length we found a way through, 

Then after our chums in a hurry, 
Till we reached the Boche's line too. 

46 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

But, oh, we paid dear for the hold up, 

For half our battalion was gone. 
But we finished the job that they gave us, 

And the ridge of old Vimy was won. 

Our own railway line was now through Velu having 
come by way of Bapaume and Tregnicourt wood, the 
object being to get as far as possible in view of an event 
to transpire later. 



47 



A STIRRING SIGHT AND 
AFTER 

STANDING on the bridge above Achiet-le-Grand 
station, a bridge by the way that we had built, I 
saw one of the finest sights a man can witness, 
— two battalions of Scotch Highlanders marching up 
the line after a three weeks' rest. The steady march of 
the men, the swing of the kilt, and the skirl of the pipes 
certainly quickened the flow of blood in a man's veins. 

Two thousand and fifty of Britain's best men marched 
by that day, in all the glory of their young manhood. 
Three days later fifteen men got off the train at the same 
station, and next day seven men and three pipers came 
along, all that was left of the gallant two thousand and 
fifty that swung by three days before on their way to 
Passchendaele. 

Passchendaele 

They tell of Balaclava, 
And the charge our heroes made 

Upon the deadly Russian guns. 
Our gallant light brigade. 

We're told of how Lord Cardigan, 

Went forth, last of his race. 
And bravely led his gallant men, 

Those murderous guns to face. 

48 



;oLiATTA.a 



doidw aoilaiJr -o \o noil 

.Moioa lo .loiJatxiOiJiq eriJ aaiwollol 
ffjiw .not2£ooo aifit to \iM','\ iofir> -^HT 

.a .'T . 9dj 

■ • • ■ ^dT 

aoqu 

111 .11 .I- .mm i.>ii< J81fl 

.i-\lfi mddJ a99w:led bnr. looae 

Iijn^T a/^1 ^i» .in<t^9T ,1., ... ........JA .3 

a.0.1 .i9Jqaj1^ biabnaJ8 

.BIOIOO Srfi 

:.al iHT 
'.(gnu i^Aio 
■xj 6fiJ 9raao narfT 
nr Yisv saw Hoirfw 



• niij ni ( 1 bail 



-.1' 



-tA ioanatbsiJ oi loloa UJndmijr^ 







Thb Prince Presenting Colors to 26th 
Battauon. 

One of the historic ceremonies performed 
by H. R. H, The Prince of Wales when in 
St. John, August 15, 1919, was the presenta- 
tion of colors to the 26th Battalion which 
appeared on Barrack Square under the 
command of Lieut.-Col. W. R. Brown, 
D.S.O. with bar. The photograph opposite 
•was taken as the Prince was speaking of 
the gallant record of the 26th. immediately 
following the presentation of colors. 

The color party on this occasion, with 
Sergt. S. C. Wright, as pivotman, was under 
the command of Major P. D. McAvity 
with Lieutenants L. McC. Ritchie and 
E. C. Armstrong as subalterns. 

The colors were brought forward and laid 
upon the drum pile by Mrs. J. Pope Barnes, 
first vice-regent, and Mrs. J. H. Frink, 
second vice-regent, and between them Mrs. 
E. Atherton Smith, regent of the Royal 
Standard Chapter, I.O.D.E., which provided 
the colors. 

The ladies placed the colors acroas each 
other unsheathed with the King's on top. 
Then came the ceremony of consecration 
which was very impressive, the dedication 
being pronounced by Rev. Capt. Kuhring. 
At the finish of the ceremony Major Mc- 
Avity lifted the colors from the drum pile 
and handed them to the Prince, who in turn 
presented them to the subalterns of the 
color party, kneeling upon their right knee, 
the King's color to Lieutenant Ritchie, the 
regimentol color to Lieutenant Armstrong. 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

We read six hundred of them went, 

Two hundred just, came back, 
And horse and rider perished both, 

In that terrible attack. 

The last great war has furnished us, 

With other deeds that tell. 
How thousands others bravely charged, 

And nobly fighting fell. 

The Highlanders of Scotland, 

Charged up old Passchendaele, 
But few there were who e're returned. 

To tell that awful tale. 

I saw them march a thousand strong. 

To storm that frowning height. 
Just two days later they returned. 

With fifteen men in sight. 

Just fifteen tattered, wounded men, 

Around their wounded chief. 
Their daring, as I heard it told. 

Was almost past belief. 

They rested only long enough. 

To fill their ranks once more. 
Then up those heights they stormed again. 

Like Highland men of yore. 

As the darkness of approaching winter nights now 
closed in, strange things were going on around us, of 
which we did not know the portent. Divisions were 
being brought out of the line, and others were taking their 
places; night after night through the gathering darkness 

49 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

men in thousands marched quietly up through Bapaume. 
We noticed several strange things here, — that more 
divisions went in than came out, that there was plenty 
of transport and very little artillery, and later I saw a 
great number of tanks being loaded at a small wayside 
station, and then mysterious orders were issued, which 
made it a crime to speak or ask questions of any columns 
passing along the road. 

We had some sort of vague idea that an attack on 
Cambrai was preparing, and expected to hear the artillery 
preparation start up any time. You may judge of our 
surprise then when we had the news over the wire one 
morning from our advance position that the tanks had 
led a charge against the enemy and he had broken before 
us, and our cavalry was riding for Cambrai. This was 
great news, for it meant that the great Hindenburg line, 
in which the Germans placed such faith, had been badly 
bent, if not broken. 

This news cabled to England set the joybells ringing 
in London and made glad hearts all the world over. 
Our joy was turned to sorrow two days later, for the 
enemy had still enough reserves to turn the tables on us, 
and recover almost all they had lost, not quite however, 
and they had to pay dearly for what they got back. 

There was an awful state of affairs around Havrin- 
court wood, where there was an advance dressing station. 
The 0. C. in charge was wondering whatever to do 
with about two hundred stretcher cases lying out in the 
open, and the shells falling around, when some of our 
fellows came on the scene. He asked if there were no 
means of getting the men away, as the ambulance cars 
could not get up. 

A telephone message reached headquarters from the 
sergeant in charge of our party, and a string of box cars 
was sent up from Bapaume, and every case was brought 

50 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

down, not as easy as it sounds however, as one shell 
shattered the end car, and another fell on the track ahead 
of the engine, which plunged into the hole, and it took 
over two hours to get the line clear again. 

We maintained two trains a day until the situation 
was cleared up. Our corps was warmly congratulated 
for the part we played, and the Colonel was given the 
D.S.O., whilst several other decorations were handed 
out to the boys who took part. There was a detachment 
of the 14th American Engineers working in this section 
at the time, and they showed great gallantry by rushing 
into the breach with pick and shovel and such arms as 
they found Ijring around, and certainly helped much 
to save the situation. 



51 



SAMMY PUTS ONE OVER 



IN line with the concluding words of the preceding 
chapter I want to relate a rather amusing incident to 
show the resourcefulness of the American soldier. 

Coming along the Bapaume road late one night in 
Christmas week, I was accosted in the darkness by five 
men, one in the uniform of an officer of the American 
forces, which party turned out to be from another detach- 
ment of the 14th A.E.F. The officer asked me if I could 
direct him to a canteen. I told him it would be very 
difficult to find one open at that hour of the night. They 
informed me that the O.C. of the detachment was away 
on leave, and he being in charge was anxious to give the 
boys a good time, so wanted to get a few things to help 
along. 

I told him if he would come back to camp with me 
I would do what I could to get our canteen man to open 
up for him, so the whole party came along and bought 
up quite a supply, including two bottles of whiskey and 
one of wine. 

When leaving our place, the young lieutenant very 
kindly invited myself, our R.S.M. and the Q.M.S to 
go over and dine with them on the Sunday. We ac- 
cepted the invitation and needless to say showed up at 
the appointed time, as some slight reference had been 
made to turkey. Before we went in to dinner one of the 

52 



F R .i N C E /I N D FLANDERS 

party said he had an apology to make to us before tak- 
ing us in, as they had "taken us in" once already. After 
the explanation, we went in to dinner and were introduced 
to the young lieutenant, but shorn of all the glory sur- 
rounding a couple of stars and lo, he stood revealed as 
the detachment's cook. 

The officers' uniform had been surreptitiously bor- 
rowed from the doctor's quarters. The boys seemed 
afraid that we would resent the way they had put one 
over on us, but we showed them that Canadians can be 
good sports, and so joined heartily in the laugh against 
ourselves. After that incident there were frequent visits 
exchanged between their camp and ours, and we found 
them a fine bunch of boys. During the bright nights 
around Christmas time we were having a hard time with 
the aeroplanes and this continued through January and 
February, 1918. The following lines describe a scene 
that was all too common just then: 

The End of A Perfect Day 

The sun went down in a sea of blood. 

On a beautiful day in May, 
The moon shone out with her beams so bright 

On the soldiers as they lay. 

The bees had worked through the live long day, 
And robbed the flowers of their best. 

The com that had waved in a golden sheen, 
Was now in the moonbeams dressed. 

The birds of the day had sung their songs. 

The linnet, the lark and the thrush. 
The nightingale now took up the strain, 

In the silent midnight hush. 

53 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

A sound is heard in the distant sky, 

Like the drone of a single bee, 
The soldiers raise their drowsy heads, 

But nothing do they see. 

And back to sleep they sink again. 

But nearer draws the sound. 
The planes are coming, listen, boys, 

The sentry's word goes round. 

We scurry away as fast as we can, 

To our shelters 'neath the trees. 
But quick as we are, they are quicker still, 

Their cargo to release. 

The bombs drop down with a shriek and a roar, 
As they tear up the old camp ground, 

And the sun looks out on a field of blood, 
When he starts his morning round. 

An incident occurred during one of these air raids 
which gave me a new light on the Chinese. I had always 
looked upon the Oriental as being an individual void of 
humor, but I had to revise my opinion. One night, very 
cold it was, too, the enemy's raiders came over and used 
the small bombs which we call grass cutters, on account 
of the way they explode, making the shrapnel spread 
very low and being used more particularly where troops 
are encamped. 

Two of these had been dropped on the camp of a 
bunch of Chinese who were attached to us for labor, and 
had wounded quite a few of them. Those who were 
uninjured went to an infantry camp in the next field and 
begged a supply of Mills bombs, with which they visited 
a prisoner's cage, and slowly taking the pins from the 

54 



FRAN C E AND FLANDERS 

bombs, fired them in among the prisoners, and with 
them fired the following question: 

"You like um, plomb? Eh, you like um plomb?" and 
with this exclamation fired another bomb. 

It seemed very comical at the time, but I grant you it 
was much more amusing to us who looked on than to the 
prisoners,many of whom had to be hurried away to hospital. 

About the end of February I got my Christmas parcel, 
and I wish some of you could have seen some of the 
parcels when they reached us. Perhaps the following 
lines will give the reader some idea of the way the care 
and forethought of the senders was counter-balanced 
by the handling the parcels got en route. 

Our Parcel 

There was me and the tailor, Bill Langton, and Jones, - 
We all bunked together, somewhere on the Somme, 

We took equal shares of all that came to us. 
And never disputed, and never looked glum. 

Whatever the cook felt like handing out to us, 
From bully beef, biscuits to porridge and jam, 

We all shared alike, and then on each pay-night. 
We went to the tuck shop our stomachs to cram. 

Our parcels from home were always divided, 
With absolute fairness, so no one could kick, 

But one day a parcel was brought to our dugout. 
Which, when it was opened, just turned us all sick. 

There was chocolate and matches, a clear breach of rule 
there, 

Tobacco and cigarettes and cake, sure enough, 
But we couldn't separate any one of the contents. 

They were so stuck together, now, wasn't that tough? 

55 



FRANCE A N D FLANDERS 

Of course there's no doubt that in making a journey, 
From Canada to France things do get knocked about, 

But one thing you find in a true British soldier, 
However hard hit he ne'er makes a shout. 

We were surely disappointed, that goes without saying, 
And couldn't think what in the world we could do. 

Till Jones made a kind of inspired suggestion. 
That he give it to the cook to make into a stew. 

The cookie was in when I went over with it, 
He was in a bad temper, so spoke rather rash, 

Said he, "There's no cook in the whole British army, 
Can beat the post office at making a hash." 

Dming all this time we had not been long enough in 
one place to be able to construct a dugout for ourselves 
till just now, and we certainly felt all the more secure 
from the raider for its possession, but it gave rise to many 
funny remarks at the expense of the boys. 

One night the enemy came over and we made a bee 
line for the friendly shades of the dugout, but just as 
the last man was descending the steps a bomb fell only 
a few yards away, and losing his hold of the sides the 
man rolled down the steps and landed all in a heap in 
the midst of his chums. During the lull between this 
and their next visit to us an hour later, I was able to 
write the following lines: 

Our Dugout 

The moon hath raised her light on high, 
And many stars are in the sky. 
The German planes are drawing nigh, 
Our dugout. 

56 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

The first alarm has just been heard, 
And every man from bed has stirred, 
We do see life, upon my word, 
In a dugout. 

My chums and I have been down here. 
It seems to me for nigh a year. 
And now the bombs are falling near, 
Our dugout. 

The first big bomb has just dropped down, 
And spread destruction all around. 
We're twenty feet below the ground. 
In a dugout. 

It's freezing keen as mustard here. 
There isn't much to raise a cheer. 
But we'll live through it, never fear. 
In our dugout. 

You folks at home are snug in bed, 
The fellows here are seeing red, 
And heaping wrath on Fritz's head, 
FYom our dugout. 

Of course the lads are not to blame, 
It really does seem quite a shame; 
Why are we here in heaven's name, 
In a dugout? 

This can't go on for very long. 
One day will come the victor's song, 
And then we'll gladly say "so long." 
Unto our dugout. 

57 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Each succeeding day now became one of intense 
excitement, as the reports brought in daily by our air 
scouts and photographers showed us that division after 
division was being rushed over from the Russian front, to 
be hurled against us in some attack that was being 
planned. 

In spite of this knowledge, however, as the days of 
February merged into March and no attack was made 
upon us, we began to think that perhaps the attack after 
all would come from our side. 



ss 



THE PUSH 

ON the morning of March 21st, 1918, such a bom- 
bardment broke upon us as I have never heard. 
As early as 5.30 in the morning the shells were 
falling in the camp, and they continued all day, through 
the night and into the next day, when we heard from our 
advanced parties around Velu that our infantry line had 
been broken through. 

Our colonel received the following order from G.H.Q.: 
"Keep the line open, save the big guns, and all men and 
material possible, then blow up the track, bridges and 
roads in the face of the enemy." 

Our colonel who had jurisdiction over the whole rail- 
way system from Arras to Peronne, now formed the corps 
into a demolition corps, instead of railway construction, 
and in the next few weeks we handled enough Aminol, 
gun cotton, and other explosives, to have blown the whole 
of France skyward. Every track was mined here and 
there, at short distances, as were the bridges and roads, 
and as the enemy continued his advance, our despatch 
riders were kept busy, rushing orders to one part or 
another, for the destruction of a section of the track or 
some bridge. 

We got down all the big guns, that is the guns firing 
from the railway and requiring a locomotive to move 
them, without mishap; one of these, however, had a 

59 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

narrow escape from falling into enemy hands. Owing to 
shell fire, the lines had spread in one place, and the gun 
trolley threatened to leave the track. With the aid of 
planking the gun and its tender were got over the difficult 
place, and rolled away to safety, but only as the enemy 
was within revolver shot. 

On the third day of the battle, one of our corporals 
came in on the rail motor in an extreme state of ex- 
haustion. One of our lieutenants, himself and a bunch 
of men had been with one of the guns, and had just 
succeeded in snatching it from the clutches of the enemy. 
He brought in the intelligence that the last bridge beyond 
Bapaume had been blown up. 

Headquarters camp was now too hot to hold us, and 
we were instructed to pack up at once; this was not so 
easily done as said, as we had a vast quantity of railway 
tools and stores, contained in two bow huts, but with 
the shells coming in every minute, we started to pack 
our stores and equipment into six cars, three box cars, 
and three open trucks. Our three lorries were also loaded 
with camp equipment, such as we could save, and at 
11 30 on the morning of the third day of the push, we 
pulled out of our siding into Achiet-le-Grand yard. 

This yard was at the time receiving the close atten- 
tion of the enemy, as it was the junction for Arras, 
Bapaume, and Albert. 

We had only to smash up that point, and the whole 
system was out of commission. Fortunately the three 
hospitals had been evacuated the previous day; the shells 
fell thick and fast around there. As our cars stood in 
the siding I saw a fifteen-inch shell go right through the 
church army hut, and another into the ration yard. 
After awhile we got away on our first stage of the retire- 
ment, our destination being Beauzart. We had to 
double back from Achiet-le-Grand to Miramont or 

60 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Irles junction, and here we came in the range of 
fire again. 

The explosive shells were bursting quite near the 
track, throwing the mud and stones against the sides 
and over the tops of the cars. Reaching Beauzart about 
six o'clock at night, we had to run the gauntlet of a couple 
of German planes, which gave us very unnecessary atten- 
tion from our point of view; we drew into a cutting just 
outside the town, and an hour later we heard the crashing 
of bombs falling into the town, and much damage was done. 

Our intention had been to stop here, but as the enemy 
advance had not been held up, we went on to Acheux, 
and there we held up for a day and a night, when we had 
orders to retire still farther, as the advance still con- 
tinued. Passing through Collin Camps we continued along 
the line we had built until we reached the Authie valley 
line, down which we passed to the little town of Authie, 
where we pitched camp. It was very sad work, I assure 
you, going over that line again and in the wrong direc- 
tion, to say nothing of the hardship of packing and un- 
packing our heavy cumbersome material; it was very 
saddening to feel that we were being driven nearer and 
nearer the coast, and that the Huns were drawing all 
the time nearer to Amiens — the key to Paris. 

While headquarters were thus retiring step by step, 
the days were going very hard. With the boys of the 
line the fifth army under Cough had failed to stand, 
and the third and fourth armies had to retire, and also 
open out to keep the Huns from widening the breach 
by their method of infiltration, that is finding a place 
in the line weakly held and sending large bodies of men 
against it, using fresh troops who dash through the breach, 
and establish a bulge in the line. 

Our various sections were out all along the line; 
from Arras to a point opposite Peronne, they had retired 

61 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

with the artillery, and had blown up the line at Velu, 
Bapaume, and Albert yards, and station and the bridge 
at Albert. A despatch rider was now sent out with orders 
to destroy the yard and station at Achiet-le-Grand. This 
was done, and the water towers we had erected were 
sent flying in the air, and our men called in. We had 
now a long train of some sixty cars including living 
cars, as our companies had now joined headquarters. 

Our No. 2 company had a hard time getting in, their 
cars being riddled like pepper castors by shrapnel. We 
had our camp all fixed at Authie, our cars on the line, and 
the large dining marquee and the cook houses just across 
the river, and we felt we should be able to rest here. 
About eight o'clock at night, however, we had orders 
to move out again, and we had only forty minutes given 
us to pack. As the engine came along to hitch on to us 
the shrapnel was breaking over the hills. 

This time we pulled up at Authieul some hours later, 
absolutely played out, for we had now been setting up 
and pulling down again for five successive days. I 
confess to a feeling of deep dejection as we came to rest 
at the foot of the beautiful valley, and I wondered for 
a while if after all the sacrifice we were not going to lose 
out in the great struggle. 

I had noticed on my way down that the river banks 
were strewn with primroses, daffodils, and cowslips, and 
somehow the promise of spring in a land of devastation 
and war had its effect upon my saddened spirit, and I 
began to look at the situation with a more optimistic eye. 
I called to mind the concrete defences we had broken 
down in 1917, just a year before. 

I reminded myself of the sixty-foot dugouts in which 
the enemy had sheltered from our bombardments, and 
remembered that we had systematically destroyed these 
as we went along. I also called to mind that most of 

62 



F R y1 N C E AND FLANDERS 

the trenches had been filled in, and the enemy whom we 
had driven out of all his defenses, would now have to 
hold as best he could a tract of ground which contained 
no defense at all, and surely if we could drive him out a 
year ago with all the advantages on his side, I felt sure 
if we could only bring him up, we should have no diffi- 
culty in driving him out, when we could take up the 
advance again. I felt sure, somehow, he would not 
be able to drive us beyond the Serre ridge, and in this 
my surmise proved to be correct. 

It will be remembered by those who read my letters 
which were published on March 28, 1918, that I advised 
the people of St. John not to be too much downcast by 
the bad news they were receiving at that time, as things 
were not so bad as they looked. Later events proved 
that the enemy's greatest success had been his biggest 
failure. When he started that offensive he had eighty- 
four divisions in our sector, and some twenty-four others 
in reserve. When the push ended, his reserves had melted 
away, and his fighting divisions were badly used up also. 
It would be idle to deny that we lost heavily ourselves, 
and it is of no use to go into the question of why the 
Fifth army failed to hold. Some have said that there 
were too many untried troops in that army, but it only 
needs to be pointed out that the Fifth army was re- 
placed by a part of the 300,000 boys who were sent out 
to replace those who had been killed and captured, and 
that in the subsequent advance made, these very boys 
gloriously emulated their elders, in pushing back the 
Huns through to Mons. Particularly is this true of the 
19th British division and the Welsh Brigade. 

We had two awful nights at Authieul for the raiders 
were over all the time, their object being to get the 
junction and yard at Doullens which was heavily con- 
gested with traffic. Doullens is a junction of the lines 

63 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

to Arras, through Gombrometz and Beaumetz, on the 
left to Achiet-le-Grand and Bapaume in the centre, and 
to Candus and Albert on the right. 

The 26th of March was a lovely day and we had 
cheering news that the push was slowing up, but we 
had not yet succeeded in checking them altogether. 
This night they came over on a raid, and did much damage 
with the bombs, but we had the satisfaction of bringing 
down two of their planes. 



Silent Night, Peaceful Night 

The witching hour of midnight finds the camp in peaceful 
sleep. 

The stars are shining brightly in the sky. 
The knights of modem culture are out upon the prowl, 

I hear the planes just now a-drawing nigh. 

We scatter to our shelter, for bravery doesn't count. 
When things like bombs are falling all around, 

It's not a pleasant sight to see when Fritz has gone from 
here. 
The human litter strewn all o'er the ground. 

Some weeks ago he came along, and when he went back 
home. 
He left men minus feet and hands and some will ne'er 
see home. 
We gathered up some ten or so all blown to little bits, 
Now can you wonder if at times we kind of hate old 
Fritz. 



64 



-ntW-asiH*! .eaiJjA eiH gvta J.ria mhoI 
.fAd- ,Yol 'aaaiajt .w 

' . . 'A 

[a 

lb 

lO 

f-.j; --' 

•,' '0 

.3' — -^ 

t^ T H 

■x'. . - .^ .„ • ■>-■••»*: 

>'';?' ', " .TlVK )i> 

I .fitjrncJ 

-J 

I . :';m 




John Bull and His Allies, Prize- Win- 
ning Float, Soldiers' Joy Day, 
August 14, 1919. 

John Bull and our Allies was the name 
given to the float of the Sons of England 
lodges which took part in the soldiers' joy 
day parade August 14, 1919, and which 
was awarded the first prize as the most 
original float. Preceding the float as it 
appeared on the march were five mounted 
men uniformed as lancers and representing 
Great Britain, Belgium, France, United 
States and Japan. This party was led by 
Lieutenant Logan, also mounted, and was 
composed of the following returned men: 
S. M. Raynor, Corporal Chapman, Pte. 
H. T. Sibley, Pte. F. T. Wood. The float 
carried a party as follows: Edward Harding, 
"John Bull"; J. W. Cook, "Canada"; 
George Leaver, "Australia"; J. Mills, 
"India"; S. M. Tremaine, "South Africa"; 
Little Misses Willa Carloss and Bernice 
Smith, "Red Cross Nurses"; Master Arthur 
S. Lewis, "Sailor Boy," and H, Smith and 
C. H. Nixon, "Man-o'-War's Men." C. 
Ledford had "The British Bull-dog" safely 
on leash. The turnout was in charge of 
Chairman S. E. Logan and Bro. Ricketts as 
marshal. W. Brindle, author of this book, 
is seen in the picture opposite, standing 
at the rear in uniform with hands crossed. 



h R /{ N C E AND FLANDERS 

It isn't nice to see a plane come hurtling to the ground, 
Or see the German pilot bum while you stand helpless 
round, 
But I'm sure you cannot blame us, if when these things 
occur, 
We're kind o' glad there's one more plane whose wheels 
have ceased to whir. 

Those whirring wheels, oh, how they get upon our nerves 
these days 
How easily could we dispense with their engaging ways. 
If only they'd commercialise this wonderful invention. 
We'd welcome then much more than now their very 
kind attention. 

Perhaps when war lust leaves the earth, and men once 
more are brothers. 
We shall not fear the German bombs which murder 
babes and mothers. 
The peace which has been promised long, will sure by 
then have started. 
And nations war will learn no more, so let's not get 
downhearted. 

This glorious peace is sure to come, 'tis by the prophets 
stated, 
That spears to pruning hooks must turn, the swords 
with ploughshares mated. 
The lion with the lamb shall lie, the wolf with kid shall 
tether, 
A little child shall lead them and all live in peace 
together. 

It was thought to be safer to send all our big tools 
and equipment such as steam shovels and pile drivers to 

65 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

the base, and so with the stores cars, headquarters and 
company office cars, and living cars, we started in two log 
strings for Doullens and through to the coast, bringing 
up on the 29th of March at Dans Carmmiers, near 
Etaples. I was sent down in charge of the H.Q. cars, and 
when we reached our destination we found several othw 
engineer units, both Canadians and British, had sought 
shelter in the same place. 

We lay in this yard for eight days, and were then 
recalled to Freshvillers two miles beyond Doullens. 



66 



TH E HUNS' WO RST 

DANS Carmmiers, by the way, is a yard which was 
put in by our No. 2 company and is twelve tracks 
wide. The week after we left, what I consider the 
most dastardly act of the war was perpetrated just a few 
miles down the line at Etaples. I refer to the bombing 
of the hospitals the second week in April, 1918. 

Just a few days previous, I was through the Canadian 
and American hospitals, and one or two of the British 
looking for friends from all three countries whom I knew 
were in the trouble zone at the time of the push. 

I was struck with wonder at the marvellous way 
these hospitals had been fitted, everything as clean as 
could possibly be made, and the appliances for the 
wounded were amazing. Here was a case of an abdominal 
wound, with the bed raised at the foot so the head of 
the patient would be downward. Over other beds were 
ropes and pulleys suspended from the ceiling, for the 
support of bad leg wounds, and after the experiences of 
the last two weeks it will be readily understood that 
every hospital tent and hut was full, every bed occupied. 

It was over such a scene as this that the German 
bombers hovered on that awful night and dropped their 
murderous missiles, and not satisfied with that, when all 
the bombs were used, these inhuman creatures came low 
and used their machine guns on the struggling mass of 
dead and wounded men and nurses. 

67 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

The next morning revealed an awful sight, doctors, 
nurses and patients in an indescribable mass of ruined 
tents, huts and hospital equipment, with more than 
seven hundred casualties. The excuse given for this 
dastardly deed was that they were after the railway 
line, and if we were foolish enough to place our hospitals 
so near the railway, the fault was ours. Now let me say 
how futile was this excuse, for between the nearest set 
of rails and the nearest hut was at least three hundred 
yards, and again if it was necessary to break the line, 
would it not have been just as easy a mile to the right 
or left of the hospital, which was plainly marked in the 
usual way, by a big red cross upon a white ground. 

On the 6th of April, 1918, we rejoined our corps with 
the stores and equipment at Freshvillers, just beyond 
Doullens in the Authey valley, and from here began the 
preparation of the work, which took us for the second 
time over the Somme and Ancre, but this time the 
road led. through Cambrai and on to Mons. 

We had four rather quiet, but very anxious, months 
here, with the exception of numerous visits from the air 
raiders, and occasional shelling by a long range gun. 
It must not be gathered from this that we were kept 
idle, not by any means. King George, Clemenceau, 
Haig, Foch and many other important personages had 
attended a council at Doullens to discuss the seriousness 
of the situation, and the result was the adoption of a 
plan which brought success to the Allied arms. 

A line of precaution was now adopted which would 
have been much more valuable had it been taken sooner. 
When the enemy started his push in March, we had not 
a second line on which our infantry could retire, as the 
trenches of 1917 had been so filled in by the action of the 
weather and the passing over them of men and material, 
as to be unfit for further use. We now began feverishly 

68 



F R .1 N C E AND FLANDERS 

to dig a fresh line of trenches, in fear of a further attempt 
by the enemy when he had sufficiently rested his forces. 
Every available battalion was set digging. I have seen 
such troops as the Guard Division digging away at a 
trench system which stretched from Arras to below 
Aveluy wood. 

Our special duty was to take charge of enormous 
stocks of explosives and to mine roads, bridges and 
tracks in all the Somme area, which was now open to us 
in readiness for any advance which the enemy might 
determine to make. The long railway trestle bridge at 
Doullens over which trains from the base to Arras, 
Bapaume, and Albert, had perforce to travel, had some- 
thing over 120 charges put in place for an immediate 
explosion should the enemy suddenly appear. 

All the motor and troop roads leading to the same 
sections of the front were mined, and obstructions of 
various kinds placed on the roadside, ready to be drawn 
across the road in case of need, whilst machine guns 
were placed at frequent intervals, to mow down any 
armoured motor cars which might appear as an advance 
force. 

May was a moonlight month and we rarely got a 
night's sleep, for as sure as nine o'clock came around 
the distant drone of the Gnome engine could be heard, 
to be followed very soon after, by the crashing of the 
first bomb, and from that time on, to three or four o'clock 
in the morning, they would all the time be going and 
coming. I shall never forget the first week in May, 
1918, the night of the 6th I think it was, when the planes 
came over a little earlier that night and for nearly an 
hour cruised around without dropping anything. I felt 
sure they were trying to locate some particular object, 
and so it proved, for presently an arc light was dropped 
from the foremost plane, and it lit up the whole valley, 

69 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

and in the clear light one plane dropped a bomb in the 
field next the Canadian hospital, and the next one dropped 
right through the roof, and crashing through to the base- 
ment which was the operating theatre, set fire to the 
ether stored there, and in a few minutes the whole place 
was in a blaze. A second bomb also went through the 
building and two others fell, one on each side. 

At the moment when the first bomb fell there w«-e 
sleeping on the top floor eight sergeants who had been 
on duty all day; on the middle floor were some wounded 
men in their cots, while on the bottom floor in the operat- 
ing theatre were the operating crew, consisting of two 
doctors, four nurses and some few orderlies, and two 
cases were on the table. The whole outfit were killed 
outright and burned up in the debris, and there was an 
awful sight next morning when thirty-two charred bodies 
were taken out and buried next day in the little cemet^y 
just outside the town. 

The building was in the shape of a letter L, one long 
side and one shorter side. The bombs fell through the 
shorter side, and tore it away from the joining of the 
long end, leaving a gaping hole in the end of each floor 
where the sides had joined. The hospital was quite 
full at the time, and though the nurses knew that their 
companions in the other wards had been killed, to their 
everlasting honor be it said, not one of these Canadian 
girls left her post. 



Heroes and Heroines 

Another day has reached its close. 
The sun in the west sinks down. 

The day nurse drinks her cup of tea, 
E're she makes her closing round. 

70 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

How are you, No. 1? asks she, 

As she gave a cheery smile. 
To the Tommy whose leg was plaster cast. 

As she stood by his cot a while. 

And No. 2, what's wrong with you? 

Not comfortable quite? 
She deftly shook his pillows up, 

And, smiling, said good night. 

And one by one the twenty cots, 

Of twenty wounded men, 
A visit had from Sister Grace, 

She said good night again. 

Then Sister May took up the task. 

Which Sister Grace laid down, 
And made the round of twenty cots. 

Before the night closed round. 

Now No. 9 a fracture had, 

And No. 10 a splintered break. 
And No. 12 a piece of shell 

Left poison in its wake. 

And No. 4 an eye had lost, 

And No. 3 a piece of shrap. 
Took off his leg above the laiee, 

He couldn't get a nap. 

The shades of night now closed around, 

Those twenty wounded men. 
And many more in other wards, 

Were wrestling with their pain. 

71 



FRANCE AND F L A N D E R S 

The silent hour of midnight came, 

And found them most asleep, 
The watchful sisters, round the ward, 

Like timid mice did creep. 

They felt secure, beneath the cross, 

So plainly printed on 
The roof of every single hut. 

In red, white ground upon. 

A sound was heard which chilled the blood 

Of every person there. 
The sound was made by falling bombs, 

A-crashing through the air. 

"Keep quiet, boys," the nurses said, 

"And don't excited get. 
We'll have you in the dugout, 

They won't be here just yet." 

Alas! a bomb crashed through the roof. 

Those timid sisters then. 
Stood by the sick, and fully proved, 

God gave them hearts of men. 

And morning light an awful sight 

Reveals to mortal eye. 
The nurses, doctors, patients all. 

In blazing ruin lie. 

What awful reckoning must be faced, 

Now this great war is won, 
By men who do such deeds as these, 

Oh, cruel kultured Hun! 



72 



MARKING TIME 

THE week after the dastardly affair mentioned in 
the last chapter for which no excuse of any kind 
could be offered ( as the hospital was as far 
removed from the railway as is Fort Howe from the 
Union Depot), we had three battalions of the U. S. 
infantry march into DouUens, and they brought into the 
war an entirely new spirit, which was very helpful to 
our tired and weary troops, after the experiences which 
they had just passed. 

The 101st, 2nd and 3rd were followed a few weeks 
later by the 105th, 6th and 7th, and they did some of 
the craziest things imaginable. Fancy a staid and 
stately British military band and in war time, marching 
through the streets of any city with blacked faces and 
dressed like a bunch of silly kids on Hallo'een night, yet 
these American bands went through this performance 
night after night, and finished up on the square with a 
minstrel concert to the immense amusement of the in- 
habitants, who if they could not understand the words 
spoken or sung, could appreciate the comic attitudes 
struck by the players. 

We saw two complete divisions of British infantry 
march out of here to the help of the Italians, as they 
struggled to drive the enemy back across the Piave, and 
we greatly wondered if we could possibly spare them, 
but we had later to see still another division go to the 

73 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

help of the French in the Champagne, where the enemy 
was making another drive which proved as barren of 
results as did their drives against us and the Italians. 

Through the months of June and July the three lines 
running from Doullens to Arras, Bapaume and Albert 
were kept in perfect repair, though several times broken 
by enemy shells, and material for the proposed advance 
was gathered together ready for the time when it should 
be needed 

In the meantime the first of July found the Canadians 
just as ready to celebrate as if there had been no war on 
at all. 



74 



CANADIANS AT PLAY 
AND WORK 

IT had been planned to hold big sports on Dominion 
Day, 1918, and for this purpose a big piece of ground 
had been selected, covering several acres situated be- 
tween St. Pol and Arras, at a place named Tinques, called 
Tanks by our boys, as being near enough anyway. 

On the morning of the First, every road certainly 
led to "Tanks." The 1st, 3rd and 4th divisions were 
out of the line preparing for something I shall speak of 
later on. The 2nd division came out that very morning, 
and for hours before the appointed time for the beginning 
of events, motor lorries, box cars, horse rigs, motor bikes 
and push bikes filled the roads approaching the ground, 
which had been splendidly fitted up for the occasion. 

Two massive Canadian arches stood, one at each 
entrance, tremendous grandstands were dotted here 
and there around the big course where events took place, 
to accommodate thousands. Big marquees were every- 
where for the sale of drinks, candies and food, while 
the Y. M. C. A. had a big tent where free drinks were 
supplied right through the day. 

Bandstands were also erected at several points, and 
music was seldom missing as band after band took up 
or changed positions throughout the day. 

A sight to be long remembered was that of the march 
past of the massed band of pipers, the skirl of the pipes, 

75 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

the multi-colored tartan, the lilt of the sporan and the 
swing of the kilt, and the row upon row of splendid man- 
hood made as inspiring a picture as one could wish to see. 

Base ball and foot ball games, with running and 
jumping, boxing, etc., made up a fine day's entertainment 
for the more than 20,000 Canadians who gathered there, 
under the very guns of the enemy, and in a spot where 
two or three bombing planes could have done awful 
destruction. 

Nothing so untoward, however, happened to mar the 
day's sport, and many of the boys who excelled on that 
field won greater glory on another field some few weeks 
later. 

The first weeks of August found much movement of 
troops in the region of the Somme. The Canadians 
were brought down from around Arras, and placed on 
the Amiens front, the 51st Scottish division was brought 
into the line farther to the right and the 37th with some 
Americans filled in the line between, with the Welsh 
Brigade and the Guards division. 

On the 8th of August the long looked for day arrived 
and just as I felt sure it would be, the Huns could not 
stand before our attack. The Canadians broke the 
German line at Amiens, thus beginning the movement 
which rolled them up like a scroll. 

We had some of the crack British cavalry billeted 
in the same village where we were, and on my talk- 
ing with a few men of the Scotch Greys, 17th Lancers, 
and Household cavalry, they spoke in glowing terms 
of the way the Canadians stormed the line at Amiens; 
they said they never saw anything to equal it by any 
infantry they had ever seen. 

It was a case of hammer and tongs with our corps 
now, the infantry moved along so quickly we had all our 
work cut out to keep pace with them. On the 15th of 

76 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

August our headquarters moved up to Biefvillers, a 
point beyond where we were in March when we were 
pushed back. In less than two weeks we were at Havrin- 
court, our heavies being in the wood. I shall for a long 
time remember how our cars rocked like a ship at sea, 
with the firing of the guns in the bombardment before 
our boys took Cambrai. 

Three days after Cambrai was taken we moved up 
to Marcoing, and a few days later through Bourlon to 
Marquion. From the last named place we went to 
Sauchy Cauchy, and the same week moved up to Aniche. 
September found us in Somain, where we remained for 
three weeks. In their retirement the Huns as usual had 
done all the mischief possible. Cambrai was the first 
big town we struck on the new advance which I had not 
previously seen, several smaller places we passed were 
badly destroyed. One piece of work we did at the Nord 
Canal just outside Havrincourt should be mentioned. 
The canal had been drained around here by the Germans, 
revealing a well-laid brick bottom and sides. The road 
above this, going around by the slag heap, was in sight 
of the enemy, so we cut a road into the canal at a certain 
point and ran along the canal bottom with motor and 
horse transport, etc., and came out again on a ramp 
about a mile further along. 

The railway had been badly broken up by the re- 
treating enemy, and there were several bridges to be 
replaced. The Canadian cavalry operating with the 
cavalry brigade, got into a tight comer on the outskirts 
of Rumilly, and we saw several horses and raiders in 
the canal as we went by. 

Cambrai was badly smashed in places, but by far the 
greater destruction was to furniture, houseful after house- 
ful of beautiful and most exquisitively carved furniture 
was mutilated in every conceivable way. 

77 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Many pianos of great value were destroyed, and some 
few had been left intact, with small bombs or other ex- 
plosives attached to lid or key, and those foolish enough 
to raise the lid or strike the keys paid the penalty in 
missing hands, or disfigured faces. Sauchy Cauchy was in 
an awful condition; houses and furniture in indescribable 
heaps, but the thing that struck me most was the task 
our boys must have had to take it. The town stood on a 
high eminence, and it was surrounded on three sides with 
the greatest depth of barbed wire I have ever seen. 
At the foot of the hill, a mile and a half from the town, 
ran the canal about two hundred yards across, and its 
bank held by numerous machine guns. The bridges were 
all blown and several attempts were made by our boys 
before they got across, but courage and patience suc- 
ceeded, and at last the other bank was won, and our 
splendid fellows found their way through the wire and 
gained the town, but not before the despoilers had 
wrecked everything. 

I went into one big chateau, and the beautiful up- 
holstered furniture was smashed and cut, the splendid 
concert grand piano had the front knocked in and over- 
turned, and the bathroom tap had been turned on, and 
flooded the splendid apartments. Ecourt St. Quentin 
on the other side of the canal was in the same condition, 
as also was Paluel, a little farther on. Anisch, our next 
stop, was the first place we struck where the inhabitants 
had been allowed to remain behind. 

We were only here a few days, and when we reached 
Somain, our next stop, the people all turned out to meet 
us, and made us right welcome. We found the children 
very shy of us at fiist, but we were not surprised when 
we were informed that the Germans had told them that 
we were a race of savages who would eat them up. They 
soon found out the difference, however, for as our boys 

78 



F R yf N C E AND FLANDERS 

were billeted in the homes, there were lots of pennies 
and candies for the children. 

Beauvrages, near Valenciennes, was our next stop, 
and here again we were received with open arms. There 
was a Welsh lady here, who had married a French pro- 
fessor of languages in England. She had been visiting 
her husband's parents when the war broke out, and she had 
been compelled to stay there all the time of the occupation. 

This lady told us how the Huns had swaggered into 
their houses, and ordered them to give up their beds 
and rooms, and sleep anywhere they could, while the 
soldiers occupied the sleeping accommodations, and that 
they had been compelled to wait on them hand and foot. 
We were also told how the Huns seized all the best food, 
while the German substitutes were handed out to the 
people. I was shown a photo of the lady as she was 
before the war, and her condition when we saw her bore 
eloquent testimony to the way she must have suffered. 

I spoke on several occasions with the grandson of 
the mayor, a boy eleven years old, and he told me how 
he had been made to work in the field from early mom 
until late at night, with very little food, and his appear- 
ance certainly bore out his story. During the three weeks 
we were there, we certainly saw that he lacked for nothing. 

It was my duty to go into Valenciennes every morning 
for rations, and Anzin through which we passed was 
badly broken up, the bridges over the Nord canal were 
all blown, as was the large railway station just on the 
opposite bank. 

Our boys had had a time getting across the canal 
here, as they had been held up by machine guns. Some 
of them had evidently tried to swim across and been shot in 
the water. We took out five poor fellows and buried them. 

It was now November, and our boys were pushing 
ahead for Mons. There was talk of an armistice being 

79 



FRANCE AND FLANDER S 

signed; but meanwhile the Canadians pressed on. Shall 
I ever forget the 12th of November, 1918. I guess not, 
for the armistice was signed on the previous day, and 
at ten o'clock hostilities ceased. Mons was given up, and 
refugees and our prisoners as well as the French were 
liberated and began the march toward our armies and 
Valenciennes. On the early morning of the 12th there 
entered the latter place thousands of weary, emaciated, 
footsore soldiers and civilians, who had tramped all 
through the night, and the previous day, and a truly 
pitiable plight some of them were in. 

For the next three weeks the sad procession con- 
tinued, aged people, young mothers with their babies; 
here a mother with a baby in her arms and a couple of 
little tots dragging at her skirts, all her worldly posses- 
sions done up in a large sized handkerchief. 

The square of Valenciennes for weeks was piled up 
with the luggage of the refugees. The weather in Novem- 
ber was bitter cold, and heavy frosts at night made it 
doubly hard for all on the road. The women and children 
had been stripped of every woolen garment in their 
possession before they left the hands of their captors. 
The soldier prisoners, both French and British, were 
dressed any old way, a German cap, British jacket and 
French pants with two boots made up a full suit. It 
mattered not if the boots were pairs or not; quite often 
I have seen men with a German long boot on one foot, 
and a British ankle boot on the other. We of the trans- 
port had orders to give every possible assistance to the 
refugees on the roads, and we needed no reminder of 
that order, for times out of number we had the old lorry 
packed as tight as she would hold. 

On the last stretch of the road, we had seven bridges 
to build or repair, and these were completed and the 
line open to Mons in three weeks' time, and as a reward 

80 






to 



.9bBrn kii"ijini.t.,jiq lie lUi// •ilit.-iufios 



John's chief "Civic Center" deco- 
rated TO GREET THE PRINCE. 

The Imperial Theatre, shown in the 
picture opposite, was the rallying poiiit of 
many patriotic demonstrations during the 
war. This theatre was used largely for 
recruiting meetings and in the interest of 
many causes. Through the courtesy and 
kindness of Mr. Walter H. Golding, manager 
of the theatre, this building was always 
available for such gatherings and it was 
most fitting that His Royal Highness 
should pause in front of the Imperial 
Theatre to receive the greeting of the 
orphan children stationed at this point. 
Mr. Golding was also personally responsible 
for much of the success of the dual celebra- 
tion in St. John in August, 1919, having 
charge of the publicity and assisting 
generally with all preparations made. 



FRANCE .1 N D FLANDERS 

we were given two days' leave in Brussels, and it is cer- 
tainly "some" city. Mons was a very busy place, and 
seemed to be the centre for shopping purposes of a vast 
number of smaller places. I expected Mons to show some 
of the signs of war which so plainly marked the hundreds 
of other places I had seen, but from appearances, there 
might not have been a war within a thousand miles of 
the town. 

Brussels was the city par excellence, however. We 
got there two days after King Albert and Queen Elizabeth 
had ridden in at the head of their troops. The whole 
city was one mass of floral arches, and flower decked 
statues and monuments, but the one which easily took 
precedence was the noble monument the Belgian people 
have raised to that truly noble woman, Nurse Cavell. 
There it stood in the Grand Plaza on the spot where she 
was foully murdered. 

December was now upon us, and I was eagerly looking 
for my annual pass, which was due the first week in 
January, and I was figuring on a visit to Paris, but I 
received a" cable from home which put this out of my 
mind entirely. The cable briefly stated that my eldest 
girl, aged twenty-three, and my second boy, aged twenty- 
five, who had been discharged from the army unfit for 
foreign service, had died within a day of each other of 
influenza, and a letter following stated that the three 
remaining girls and mother were also held in the grip 
of this dreadful disease. 

I had but one thought now, to get back home with 
all speed, and as I had been away from home three years 
and a half and was over age, I felt quite justified in 
asking for leave to Canada in place of my usual pass 
to England, so I put in an application which was granted. 
My two boys were in England expecting to be sent home, 
the youngest one had been there since his wound at 

81 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

Vimy in April, 1917. The older one was recovering from 
his second wound received in the push of August. 

I left my unit on December 22, and reached England 
after a very weary journey of five days, on the night of 
Christmas. We landed at Southampton, and proceeded 
to Witley, just seven miles from the Longmoor camp 
where we did our training in England. 

There were thousands of Canadians here all on the 
way home, and eagerly expecting removal to Rhyl, the 
last calling place before the boat at Liverpool. I was 
held there a month and it surely was the longest month 
of them all. However the move came at last and after 
a long train journey Rhyl was reached, but here were 
thousands of others waiting transportation, some whose 
sailing had been several times cancelled. I was kept 
waiting here for three weeks and eventually sailed for 
home on February 14, 1919, and landed at Halifax on 
the 24th. 

It was surely good to be home again after such an 
absence, and very pleasant to find I had not been for- 
gotten by my many friends in St. .Fohn during my absence, 
as was evidenced by the many telephone calls all through 
the day following my arrival. 

Well, Dear Readers, I have had a great experience 
and I have the satisfaction of knowing that as far as it 
was in me, I did my bit for the dear old Empire in the 
hour of her need. 

I, along with all who went overseas too, am now home 
again. Let us not forget that we fought, bled, and 
suffered for a land that was worthy of it all, let us not 
forget to be worthy of the land we call home, our dear 
Dominion; let us strive now we are here, to fight as hard 
for our civil, provincial, and national honor, as we did 
for our national safety. We have beaten to her knees 
the enemy who sought to subjugate us to her rule but 

82 



FRANCE AND FLANDERS 

failed. There are other enemies still for us to face, the 
enemies within our Dominion, the paid agitator who would 
seek to disrupt the Empire, and upset all recognized 
authority. Of him beware, he may come in the guise 
of a friend, but he is an enemy all the same. With our 
thoughts fixed on the comrades, who having made the 
supreme sacrifice, now sleep behind on Flanders fields, 
let us set our faces steadfastly toward the goal of a sober, 
clean and pure life, as we did set our faces toward Vimy, 
Passchendaele and Cambrai, determined to win out in 
the higher struggle as we did in the more material one. 

Well, peace is now signed, the war is over, let us pray 
that no such thing will e'er darken the pages of history 
again. Indeed it would seem almost impossible that 
this could ever be, seeing that the whole civilized world 
has been concerned in it, and surely those who were found 
on the right side shall have their reward. 



Their Reward is Sure 

Oh, broken Belgium, bleeding, torn, 

Oh, France, well nigh bled white, 
Oh, Britain, who has lost her sons. 

And still maintains the fight. 
Oh, Serbia slain, yet raised again 

Your armies fighting stand, 
Roumania, your task is hard 

With foes on every hand. 
And Italy, brave Italy, 

Though almost tricked to shame, 
Thou'rt standing still and still shall stand, 

Defending freedom's name. 
And Greece, who once was known to fame. 

For all the world to see, 

83 



FRANCE AND FLANDER S 

Still lends her influence and help 

For those who would be free. 
While Russia who in ancient days, 

Stood out above the rest 
Lies scattered like a flock of sheep, 

Of shepherd dispossessed. 
America whose hearts were clean, 

From any lust of war, 
Now feels compelled to send her sons. 

To fight in lands afar. 
The little men from far Japan, 

And men from China, too. 
And many independent states. 

Are pledged to see it through. 
Oh, what shall be your prize reward, 

When all the fighting's done. 
The thought that on the battlefields. 

Where this great war was won, 
Lies the resting place of all your sons. 

Their dust together mingling. 
Shall knit the nations into one, 

And one great purpose kindling. 
The east and west in common cause, 

Shall face the task together. 
And drive all war lords from their midst. 

Then peace shall reign forever. 
This your reward to live in those, 

Whom you may leave behind, 
Bequeathing to posterity 

One aim, one heart, one mind. 
Thus gathered from the ends of earth. 

Where they long years have wandered. 
The sons of men shall home return, 

And never more be squandered. 

84 

THE END 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



D Brindle, Sapper W 

6/fO France & Flanders 

B73