NANAIMOITE VIVIDLY DESCRIBES MINING AT THE FRONT
Private James Carson, of Nanaimo, now on active service in France with the Mining Company, 6th Infantry Brigade, C.E.F., writes the following graphic letter dated Oct. 29, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Carson, Victoria road. In another letter he mentions his company is billeted in a little town about 9 miles from the firing line, going into the trenches every third morning, doing two days in out of six, and six hours on and six hours off while in the trenches. The letter follows:
Just a few lines to let you know that I am well, hoping this will find you all in the best of health. Well I have just got through having a big dinner, the best I've had since I left home. We had roast beef and potatoes, fresh corn on the cob, turnips, cake, biscuits, tea, coffee and cocoa. There were about ten of us and believe me we certainly enjoyed it, because we don't know when we shall have another one. Well there is not much doing around this part of the line, where we are stationed.
I see by the papers that the big move has commenced, I only hope it is true, so that it shall soon come our turn for some excitement. I am back to my old job again. I didn't think that I would be mining again for a while when I joined the army, but it is not coal mining here, it is clay mining, a little softer than coal. When you are working you have got to be like a mouse, there is no talking above your breath. The clay is all taken out in sand bags. It is a rather slow process, but it is the only way that you can work without making a noise.
This is certainly some kind of warfare all right. It is nothing only manslaughter from start to finish. Of course the Germans started it and we are just trying to give them some of their own back. We have not lost many men in our battalion so far, but the other battalions have lost quite a few (that is in our brigade).
Well the first experience of the war we had was the night the Germans blew the mine up on us. They managed to get about sixty men between killed and wounded. When the explosion came I sure thought my last day had come too. I was sitting in my dugout having a nice peaceful smoke after supper, when all of a sudden I felt the ground rise and everything seemed to go about six feet in the air, and then it commenced to go back again, then the clay, sandbags and stumps of trees started to rain down. I got huddled up in the corner of the dugout and was expecting to be buried alive at any moment, but luck just happened to be my way, so I am here still. I was only about fifteen yards away from where the main part of the mine went up. The Huns were not satisfied with the mine going up but they opened fire on us with rifles, machine guns, bombs, artillery aeroplanes dropping bombs. Believe me it certainly was a living hell for a time, but after the debris had stopped coming down from the mine I grabbed my rifle and bayonet and ammunition and beat it through a small communication trench to the main firing trench on the left of where the explosion occurred, and there we lined the trench. There was nothing only the miners in that part of the trench for about seventy-five yards all the others were looking for a safe place. They thought the world had come to an end, I guess. While we were standing waiting there for orders one fellow shouted, "They're coming, boys." Every man had his rifle up over the parapet in a second, and we opened fire on them. I guess they must have thought an arsenal had broken loose on them. At any rate they didn't come very far believe me. They would certainly have got a fine reception had they kept coming, but they must have thought better of it and retired to their kennel like a lot of whipped dogs.
I guess they have found out that the Canadians are not to be monkeyed with. They shouted across to another regiment the other day. I suppose they must have thought there were English soldiers and asked who were on their left (that was us) and they told them we were Canadians, and the Germans shouted back that they were dirty pigs. I guess they don't like them since the mix-up at Ypres, with the First Contingent.
We are all eagerly waiting for the word to come along when we shall get over the parapet to get a crack at the Germans and get some of our own back. If you could only see the destruction that they have done in this country, towns and villages, all shelled to pieces. It fairly makes one's blood boil with the thoughts of it.
I have just read a piece out of a paper that the Germans neither fear God nor the devil. The only thing they fear is the Canadians because they have no mercy on them.