Dearest Mother & Dad
It was just ten days ago since I was wounded on the famous Vimy Ridge. So Easter Monday will always be a marked day with me. At this time I was lying in a shell hole waiting for the stretcher bearers to come forward and expecting any moment to have a german shell come in to keep me company. Now I am sitting up in hospital trying to write my first real letter.
The attack was scheduled for 2.30 [?] 4.30 am so we moved up into tents and dugouts on Sunday night and moved out into shallow trench called a jumping off trench about an hour before time was called. It all seemed such an ordinary affair to me that there is not much to tell about it. We could see the 98th Battalion just in front ready to move and our C & D companies just behind us. Dawn was just beginning to break and Fritz was calmly throwing up firy lights and landing a few shells just behind our lines without any apparent idea of what was coming. At 5.30 sharp all the machine guns in creation seemed to open fire from behind (overhead) and we started over. About two minutes later the artillery started and hell was let loose. It was impossible to give an order. I got caught in our own barbed wire and had to pull through somehow and there we were in no mans land and into his front and second lines before we knew it. We were supposed to wait several times for the Barrage to move on but the men would not wait and walked right into it and as usual some shells fell short. About 500 yards out a man 15 yards behind me was killed by one and a piece of casing struck me on the back of my left shoulder. I thought it was broken but wiggled my fingers so decided it was only a chunk of mud. I did not think I was really wounded at the time. I then found I had to move around a crater and believed our objective was just beyond it. About half way down the side another shell burst to my right and a second later I was struck in the thigh. I took one step on it and it crumpled up and down I went into a shell hole. I could see all the others as they went past. Shortly after it started to rain and snow and I got terribly cold & wet and shook like a leaf before I thot of pulling out my rubber sheet & covering myself with it. About two PM I got two men from a nearby crater to carry me to it. My leg felt as if broken & wobbled & knocked against everything. At last I got into a dug out in the bottom of the Crater.
Next Morning April 20/17
Much improved this morning thanks.
I stayed in this dugout until about two am 10th when Capt Bowen of B Co and six men came in . About 3 AM they got me on a stretcher & carried me back across no mans land to the tunnel & the Dressing Station. After having been dropped several times on the way. There I saw Lt. Quinton & Major Simmens and got the first news of the casualties among the officers. [?] killed including Major G.R. Thron, Major C.S. Shipman, Major Hooper, Lt Aitken & Lt Vickers, two missing LT Benson and - one wounded & missing who has since come over to Eng and eight wounded leaving only MJR Lowell of all who went over the top and out of about 17 officers.
I have tried to finish this tale down to date but cannot. I feel quite tired out today though I have been sleeping all morning.
The wound on the shoulder gives me quite a lot of pain & is quite inconvenient because when I lie down it is underneath. It is really three or four wounds. It seems as if a long thin piece of steel has struck me and first time turned over and gouged me two or three times more. When I was lying around I suppose some dirt got in it and now it is [?]ppurating at a great rate so that it has to be dressed three times a day.
My leg was frightfully sore and I could hardly stand the weight of the clothes on it or the slight roll of the canvas in the stretcher when being moved. Anyone touching my foot sent me into hysterics. When I got to Boulogne they tried to get me upstairs for X ray on a wheeled chair but I fainted so they took me up on a stretcher, looked through me by X Ray, chloroformed and cut me open & took out a nasty jagged piece of shrapnel. Then when I got here they xrayed me again & said that a piece of bone had been knocked off the thigh bone but had not quite broken it otherwise. It is doing alright now. Just an occasional grind like rheumatism and very helpless. The nurse has to life it from one side to the other but I can pull it along after me and even slightly bend the knee now. But it is eleven days since I was wounded and that is a long time on ones back.
All my kit was left in France. If they do not hurry it along I shall have to buy a lot more.
Now do write often & tell me all the news. How is Charlie? I do hope that he has recovered. Let me know all about everybody.
Oh say Hon Bob Rogers was here yesterday. I happened to see him first and smiled so he came straight to me. His final remark was to me as he was leaving after seeing all the other Canadians here (3) "Now be sure & come to see me Thornton." you bet I'll go if it means a trip to Wpg when I'm better. What do you all say.