ARTHUR DAVIDSON WRITES FROM TRENCH
Writing from a point in France with the British expeditionary force, Drummer Davidson, of Nanaimo, now serving with the Princess Patricia regiment, sends the following letter which is dated April 12:
Having just returned from the trenches and had a sleep, I am sending you a few lines. As I informed you in my last letter the regiment was sent down for a rest, and we had a nice time, then leaving our billets we marched about 11 kilometres to others nearer the firing line where we stayed two days before going into the trenches. The last named billet was in a town which was absolutely in ruins by the German shell fire and even while we were there several of (not Patricias) men were killed or wounded by shrapnel.
Leaving our billets for the trenches at 6.13 p.m. on the ninth we marched several miles, arriving there at about 12 midnight, when we relieved another battalion of our division. I may mention here that the trenches we last occupied were not to be compared with these we now are occupying. Going on a voyage of discovery the next day, I found we were in a veritable trench town. One could quite easily get lost in them were it not for the fact that the streets are named. Going along I came across Elmwood avenue, High street, Blackfriars street, Bond street, etc. At this point the Germans were within forty yards and we could see them working, at least we could see the sand bags being piled up on their parapets, they were cute enough not to expose themselves. Naturally we did our best to stop them and when one of our fellows fired they signalled back a "miss" with a pole. Then we had some sport. When their snipers fired one of our fellows was watching for the flash through a periscope so that we could locate their loop holes but in a few seconds he had it smashed by a bullet, one of the other chaps immediately signalled back a hit with a spade which was quickly brought down by a bullet which drilled a hole nearly in the centre. Our loop hole had 12 bullets through it in as many minutes and the only safe way to keep a lookout is to pop one's head quickly over the parapet and as the loophole was a veritable death trap we set to work and plugged it up.
Of course it is almost impossible to get any sleep during the 48 hours in the trench, so the time is spent when not on duty go, by bailing water or filling sand bags. When out on the latter job I had the disgusting experience of sticking my shovel into a dead body, but I quickly removed myself to another place when I discovered what it was. There are hundreds of bodies lying around this particular place and it is very difficult to dig trenches without striking one of these gruesome relics. We had only three killed and four wounded on this trip and one fellow who was near me had the top of his head nearly blown off, which must have been done by an explosive bullet, another inhuman method employed by the enemy.
On Sunday afternoon they began to shell us but never got within 20 yards of us, although that was near enough for this child, then at night we began to pour in a heavy rifle fire and with the help of our artillery we got them scared still, and after about ten minutes which was like hell turned loose we quit and they didn't have enough Dutch courage to get up and fire any more, and so we helped our relief to reach us in safety.
At 11 o'clock we left, and walked eight miles to a town two miles past the billets we left when going into the trenches and arrived there, or rather here, where I am writing from early on Monday morning, dog tired; I was so tired coming along that when we rested for a while I immediately fell asleep. Francis, also from Nanaimo, myself and Taffy Harris, a very humorous Welshman, were together, and they are both asleep now on each side of me.
Such is my history up to date, and I hope you are bored before getting through reading it.
NANAIMO BOYS WELL
In another letter Drummer Davidson says:
I have just been in the trenches again and have seen all the Nanaimo boys who went one the first contingent including my brother. I saw Brown and Waddington and that bunch. They were going to the trenches too. This is the first time I have seen them as the Patricas are fighting separate from the rest of the Canadians.