Letter from Capt. Morgan
April 24, 1915
An eventful day. At day break when the train stopped we heard firing. At the next station we heard that the Canadians had been heavily engaged. While at the next station a long train filled with French wounded came in. They were mostly Zouaves (colored.) We were then put off the train and started to march. All along the way we met refugees; mostly old women and children - a boy with a dog, then a boy between the shafts of a waggon, with a dog pulling underneath, an old woman of about 80 on the waggon, and two nuns behind. Then we came into a good-sized town which was shelled last night, or this a.m. Little damage was done, and when we marched in they were filling in a hole in the road. After we got this side of the town we met ambulance after ambulance with wounded. Then an open ambulance with two wounded Canadians in it. Then we saw numbers of motor cars full of ammunition, and waggons being filled. Here I saw Fisher, of Cobalt, who came from Cobalt with us. The air was seething with excitement. The French Zouaves gave way night before last, and the Canadians charged and prevented the Germans getting through, and pushed the Germans back. Then a sergeant found a house with 200 Germans in it who wanted to surrender. The French went to take them prisoners, when a German fired on them but they were all captured, then with their blood up they started for the German line and the Canadians went with them and chased the Germans back for over a mile and established a new line with the French on their flank. Yesterday afternoon, the French gave away again and the Germans got in behind the Canadians, and our men had to cut their way out. We are in a billet (house) where we have been well looked after by some Canadian Army Service Corps officers. We started again at 6 in the morning to find our battalion. The Huns have been firing on a French battery a quarter of a mile from us, but have now stopped.
I rather think our division will be taken off the firing line to reorganize. We hear to-night that the British this afternoon pushed the Germans back to their original position, but for the last two days they thought the Germans were coming right through.
In a field in Belgium,
Saturday, April 24.
Late last night a couple of hundred Turcos (native of Algiers) were billeted in the stables at the farm where we were. Early this a.m. we heard the guns roaring and after asking the Turco officers to breakfast with us we took the road at 6.30. All along soldiers looked at our badges, and then scanned us keenly. The Canadian Division has gained undying honor. We first met a long string of transport waggons of infantry coming in, then limping and wounded Canadians. I caught sight of Smith, whose mother, Mrs. Gains, used to keep a restaurant in New Liskeard, who came with the 97th from Porcupine. He waved me a welcome with a smile from ear to ear. He was leading an ammunition mule, Then Green, of Dane, another 97th man, driving a 48th Highlander transport waggon. On every side, gallopers, mounted policemen, artillery tumbrels, transport waggons, motor ambulances, and ammunition mules were clattering through the town. We were looking for the Division Headquarters. After coming through the town we came up a wide avenue with trees on each side, and getting nearer the fighting, about a mile along this we met a tall unshaven soldier of the 10th Battalion who told us that all that was left of our Battalion (10th) was over here in a couple of farms, about 100 men. However, Snelgrove and I pushed on for Div. Headquarters, meeting a stray man of the 10th coming from the firing line as we went. Then we met one of the chief officers of the Canadian Division and reported to him and he told me to come back and bring up what was left of the 10th and the 30 reinforcements for the 4th we had brought with us from Havre. I then came to the camp and found the quarter-master who said it was a physical impossibility for the men to go back. We were never friends before, but he almost fell on my neck and wept, when he saw me. The men also were very glad to see me.
We then went back to div. Head-quarters and were told to rest the men until to-night. I there met Capt. R. Robinson who was looking very fit. We came back to camp and had a roll call. Of 850 men who went into action only 106 answered their names, and only one officer - our old Paymaster who volunteered to go into the trenches.
We are to go into the trenches to-night but believe that the enemy has been well-beaten, and we are told that he has been driven back a mile.
The casualties on the part of the Canadians are said to be about 7,000, being more than any division has suffered since the war began. Glover, the keen young Adjutant of the 97th, who was Adjutant of the 4th, was killed. Every man of the fourth we met mourned his loss. It was his ambition to be a keen officer and he seems to have succeeded. His brother, a sergeant in the 10th was also killed. We believe that there are some of the 10th officers who are unscathed and have refused to come out of the trenches, but most of the fellows we knew so well have passed beyond.