This is German paper, envelope and ink, but I hope that you will not, mind. As near as I can figure out this is Sunday. Anyway we had a church parade and a rifle inspection. Lately we have had no chance to write as our pack has been kept for us. We have been doing some travelling with only our small haversacks, and they are only big enough to carry iron rations, an extra pair of socks, and a rubber sheet, as the law requires.
This letter is mainly to let you know that I have been over the top in a fairly big scrap and came out O.K. I do not know how much I will be able to tell, so if a lot is cut out, you will know why. There may be some things in the papers about what the Canadians did and how they did it.
We are billeted in an orchard beside a little town which was, four days ago, six kilometers behind the German line. At present, it is a long route march to the front line and it is getting longer every day. Our Battalion had the honor of being one of the first to go over and break the news to Fritz. It started just before dawn with a shrapnel barrage. In a few minutes the air was full of smoke so that one could not see six feet ahead. Fritz made a feeble attempt to make things miserable by throwing over a few shells and springing a few machine gun bullets around. The whole thing gave one the impression that a chunk of hell had broken loose. Our objective was a wood, three kilometers behind the line which we had to reach and clear out. This we did in a given time, and also got six or eight four inch Howitzers with piles and piles of ammunition. The guns were promptly turned around and Krupp shells were used to napoo Germans.
There was a steady stream of prisoners going back, in one and two dozen lots, and even larger numbers. There were a large number of souvenirs collected such as field glasses, revolvers, iron crosses, lapels, money, etc.
In the neighbouring town is a large chateau and cathedral. These are the two main attractions of the place. They have been used as hospitals and beside each are huge red crosses on white background, made of broken red brick and broken chalk. This was for the benefit of the enemy airmen. The church was left in fairly good shape, hardly any of the coloured windows are broken, and most of the Statues are still all right. The pipe organ could still make music and Stone and I climbed to the top of the tower and started the clock going, which ran for exactly twenty-seven minutes. One of the dials was half gone owing to the fact that a shell exploded across the street. Three large bells of three tones formed the chimes, which were also in good shape. We did not experiment on these for fear someone might raise serious objections. In a small building joining the church were several great bales of Red Cross supplies.
We also ran across a German Q.M. store, in which were all kinds of clothing, ammunition, rifles, boots, etc. In another place was a large surplus of respirators.
In the old Chateau we found all kinds of beds, bedding, tables, chairs, etc., many of which are being utilized at present by our troops, Mail going out now. Letter of July 10th just received.
A.E. SMITH, Pte. Smith was later wounded, receiving gun shot wounds in the arm as noted in The World last week.