CLEANING UP A BATTLEFIELD.
In a newsy letter in the Bowmanville Statesman, Major C.H. ANDERSON, formerly of Bowmanville, gives an interesting description of cleaning up a battlefield. Major Anderson says:
This part of France on which I am now working is a very interesting spot. It is the SOMME battlefield. I am in charge of 50 square miles of territory. I have two horses with which to go over the ground, and it takes all my time to keep things humming right. I have close to 3,000 labourers of all kinds - Hindoos, Bormese, Chinese, and British white labor as supervisors. Also a certain amount of skilled labour, such as tunnellers, for taking out dugouts, blacksmiths and carpenters for the workshops, where we make all our own tools, and cars for light railways. We have a company of American Engineers who operate the system of railways on the area. I keep eight trains going all the time, and motor lorries as I can get them, sometimes as many as twenty-three, never less than seven, and some with horse transport.
We clean up the battlefields of everything and leave them ready for cultivation. We send the steel shelters, mining timber, derick boards, barbed wire, ammunition, and other things too numerous to mention, directly to the front to be used again. We send thousands of tons per week, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so you can see what a needful and useful job it is from a financial standpoint only. But when you consider what we save in transport tonnage from England and the time we save, you can understand that it is doubly helpful, economical and useful. The tasks of the workmen is full of incidents and they are in constant danger and have many casualties from the ammunition, as the ground is covered with it, and if they happen to kick a bomb that is hidden in the grass, the chances are their 'number goes up.' Some of them have to work quite close to the front, and Fritz has a nasty habit of calling on them on moonlight nights with his planes. Some had to beat it twice during the other night, once at 2 a.m. and again at 4 a.m. to their bomb-proof dugout in their pajamas and rubber boots, it is very disturbing to the men's needful rest. The next bright moonlight night that you are admiring and praising, just remember that some men who are working for your protection are saying somethings about it not very complimentary in refined society. This once beautiful country is now a howling wilderness - not a house, fence or tree left standing in the whole area. and the whole country just one mass of shell holes, craters and trenches, but thickly dotted all over with little white wooden crosses that mark the resting places of the brave men who have done their bit.
It is very interesting work though. I have been allover the whole Somme battlefield and have seen where every scrap has taken place, and the wonder to me is that we ever drove the Germans back the 20 miles that we did, for every village, every farm, every hill was a strongly fortified position, and the whole country between a mass of tangled barbed wire. All honor to the brave soldier boys who were engaged on the SOMME.