CHARLEY BYWELL TELLS OF ATROCITIES
Private Charles Bywell, formerly a well known and popular member of the Civil Aid Force of Nanaimo, writes from the trenches in France to Mr. Alexander Shaw, of Pine St., as follows. The letter is dated May 7th.
Dear Mr. Shaw,- Just a few lines to let you know I have survived the recent heavy fighting in which we took a great part. Our battalion lost quite a lot of officers and men but we are again up to full strength, having received a new draft of B.C. men of the 30th Battalion, including several Nanaimo boys. We have had a tough time of it, being over 15 days in the trenches under constant heavy shell fire. It was finally getting on the boys' nerves and they were beginning to get grumpy. We lost quite a few men by it too, and lost of them got buried in their dugouts. Four of the boys were blown to pieces by a Jack Johnson and I helped to bury them late at night. It is a terrible war, and yet on the outskirts everything looks so peaceful. The damage in Belgium is terrible to behold. That is where we were but are back again in France again resting for a few days. I was in Ypres throughout the bombardment and once got buried in a house that was hit by a shell. I was none the worse for it, and only laughed, just the same I cleared out as it was too hot to be healthy. I have seen a Jack Johnson hole fully fifty feet across the top and nearly 25 feet deep. It was enormous and just happened before I came along. The gases the Germans are using are horrible stuff and also very effective. It effects both eyes and lungs and is absolute torture to whoever gets it. It is impossible for men to face it as it simply makes them unconscious and useless. I wish we started some thing in the same line and give them a taste of the same medicine. The devils crucified one of the 14th battalion with bayonets to a barn door. They also played the white flag trick on the 7th Battalion and the 48th Highlanders. The 7th got it hot for taking notice of it while the 48th just shot them down. The beggars always cry mercy when caught, but believe me it isn't always coming to them.
Well I must close now as I've work to do yet. Please accept my kind regards for yourself and Mrs. Shaw, and may this war soon end so that we may meet again. But not before the Germans are properly beaten.
I remain sincerely yours,