Sergeant Kenneth Haig, who went to the front with B. C. Horse, has written uninteresting letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. D.S. Haig, Front Road East. He says:
At last we are in a place where there is no danger and expect to be here for a while getting our ranks filled up again and a rest. Had tried to keep a diary but could not concentrate my mind on anything. Knew on the 29th when I got a chance that you would be anxious, so I cabled.
I got about twenty letters last night and reached a quiet place, and they were fine.
It was a terrible battle, no doubt. I am trying my best to forget about it all but it is impossible. I wish I could tell you all but it would take too long to write. It may be that before many months I can tell it all face to face. For four days we were in a hell on earth when things were at their worst. Our Battalion was in the front line when it started but our company was the reserve and we were subject to some awful shell fire all the time. When the battle started just about 6 p.m. such a cannonade and smoke. We were sent soon to help out the Highland Brigade. It was a wild fight. German heavy shells were bursting all over and their fiendish gas polluting the air. Will just try and explain a few things and let it go at that. The worst of all was when our platoon, headed by our Major charged across the hill to help the Eighth Battalion. We were in a single line and had about 600 yards to go before we could get over. Poor Jim Lawrence got it right in the heart, just right beside me. He and I had been chums for some time. Everyone who survived through that will always shudder when he thinks of us. Those wounded in the escapade all got back, I understand. The same day about fourteen of us were sent out to watch about five hundred yards of open space between two positions. We crawled out and got in the desired position. My knees were skinned. In fact we had to keep right on the ground like snails, crawling, for had they seen us, a few shells would have told the tale. We had a field of mustard to go through, which was the only thing that made our advance possible at all. We at last got in a place where we could see everything going on and stayed until dark, unseen and every one of us safe. The Germans certainly did not know how things were or they would have come ahead at that place and outflanked the 8th. Of course we could have delayed them a little, but am afraid if they had come it would have gone hard with our little gang.
We saw the Germans come up in bunches but every time they were repulsed. It was no fun keeping from shooting at them either. I cannot forget one sight I saw as we were going down a road. Four of us made a stretcher out of blankets and boards and were taking a poor Scottie down badly cut up. Poor chaps were lying all over the road where they had fallen in all shapes. At a corner was a shrine and in it I saw the most touching scene I ever saw. One poor chap, wounded, had crawled in and at the foot of the crucifix had died. It touched me right in the heart. No one could imagine a picture more fitting for the words, 'Simply to the cross I cling.'
Well, I do not think I will write any further of these things but think the Canadian Division did their duty and showed they were of good stuff. But the cost was great. Poor Cal Day and Doxsee were both killed. Felt sorry for Day's parents. He was the only son and they just doted on him, and he was supposed to be one of the cleverest who ever went to Queen's.
Another thing that strikes me is what a man can stand when forced to, but it cannot go on always and a chap's nerves are bound to get shaken. The British papers give the Canadians great praise. They may deserve it, but there are a big bunch of British Regiments who do not seem to be mentioned in any part of the papers except the casualties. Let them have it as well is my opinion. Guess this letter is a big jumble, but it has got me how to do any better in this case. But must close now. My thoughts are with you all, all the time. Will write as often as I can. Love to all.