Letter from Capt. Robinson
Extracts from letter dated Belgium April 20th.
I am very well, as usual. I was very sorry indeed to hear of the death of Mr. McCosh. By a General order all cameras were turned in but a more recent order allows commanding officers to carry one. I am so glad as I intend to get some very interesting pictures.
We have moved billets twice in the last four days. At present we are at a very important part of the line and the towns about here are shelled constantly. If I thought it would not cause you worry, I might describe some incidents of very unusual interest, that I have witnessed, but fearing that they would exaggerate your idea of my personal danger I have decided to leave them untold for the present. Yesterday I was in a certain town that has suffered most severely from the enemies artillery fire. I could not have imagined that anything, even an earthquake could cause such devastation. Notwithstanding, a number of the business places are carrying on as usual, and a big trade is done with the soldiers billeted in the town. Some other officers and myself were having luncheon in a café when the Germans commenced shelling. The cook disappeared suddenly and the waiter told us to please get out as soon as possible as they wished to close up and go down cellar. We did so and a high explosive struck a building about 60 yards away, a piece of shell striking my cycle. After watching the effects of the shells we left the town to return to our billets.
Extracts from letter dated Belgium April 29th.
I have had no mail for a few days. This big battle has delayed it. Long before this reaches you the particulars of the fight will have been published, giving our casualties. The Canadian Division has borne the brunt of the first onslaught in a very admirable manner and all loyal Canadians may rest assured, that the men of this Division will prove worthy representatives of our fair Dominion whenever the occasion arises for them to deliver the goods.
Our Division has been relieved from the first line by fresh troops and is resting. Reinforcements from our base in England are arriving and the Division will be at full strength again in a day or two. The Cyclist Company is still pounding away, on patrols, carrying dispatches from the different Brigade Head Quarters, posted at bridges, etc. The work is very exposed and I fear our casualties will be higher than any other arm of the Division before the end of the war. In my position as O.C. I am not as exposed as the men, so you must not worry, but try to attain the prevailing spirit of the wives of the English officers, who do not show any cheerlessness and are almost gay. In this fight I have had two killed and fourteen wounded, nearly all from shrapnel and high explosives. The wounded are taken immediately to a Field Hospital. The Field Ambulances are doing grand work and deserve the highest praise. In this department the French service compares poorly with ours. All roads, and especially at Cross roads, are shelled, almost continuously, and the Red Cross people come in for their share, particularly in the advanced areas of the fighting which centers around towns and villages, right up to which the Red Cross vehicles come for the wounded. They lose heavily, though the shells causing the damage are intended by the enemy to cut up troops advancing on the roadways. The Gunners never, or rarely ever, see the object fired at, but the range is shown on their maps very accurately and a shrapnel nicely times, covers about on an average of 100 yards.
As yet I have no news of Capts. McKessock and Daniels. Capt. Glover was killed. I was so surprised to see Mr. Morgan who came up in the reinforcements. He went to report to Head Quarters and I expect he was sent on to the 10th Battalion. He looked well and in good spirits.
I carry only a Colt pistol on my Sam Brown, a pair of binoculars, and a map case. We have discarded our swords, although I wore mine for some time after being in action but have now left it with a French family for safe keeping as I wish to keep it as a souvenir. The French officers all carry their swords.