Flanders 6th March 1916
Dear Ma and Tax:
By the time you read this the Battle of Verdun will be finished but the enclosed cutting from an English paper might be of interest to you as extraordinarily true to detail etc. We hear today that they are sending British troops there and it may be so but the French seem to be able to handle the situation. If the Germans lose this battle the war will be over by next fall.
Lately we have had a lot of cold and snowy weather but it can't last much longer and as I write the warm sun is on way back and the snow is going fast. It is hell in the trenches for the men but the officers are able to make themselves more comfortable. We don't get anything from stores that the men don't get in fact not so much but we buy a lot of stuff. The men are hardened now and it is wonderful the way they stay cheerful under these conditions.
The machine guns are a little more interesting than ordinary infantry work and not so much drudgery to it. Its considered much safer too.
I have a friend in a howitzer battery near here and was over there yesterday. I fired the guns and also went up to the observation point to watch the effect on the German lines through my glasses. The guns were fired from behind hills and they fire by the map without seeing the target. (We do the same with machine guns sometimes.) We fired at any old thing we liked for a while. Our target was 3 miles away but the guns never missed a shot. Then we had tea down at the Battery Mess and after tea the chaplain came in and held a service. It was a funny church service. Almost every "amen" was followed by a cracking salvo from the guns which were only a few yards away. They were engaged with a German battery 5 miles away. Our billet is surrounded by batteries and they are banging away all day and night. We never notice them anymore.
I suppose you want to know how I felt the first time under fire. Well I'll tell you what every man will if he speaks the
truth. I was frightened. Everyone is frightened under shell fire but the thing is not to show it. If an officer ducks and runs for cover he may as well quit because he's through so far as his men are concerned. They always look to their officer and if they trust him he can ask them to do anything and they'll do it.
It doesn't take long to show up a quitter out here. There aren't many though. I've got to go up and take a trench building party now so must quit and put on the high boots. Had a little sciatica and chilbalins that's all so far.
P.S. Yours of the l4th Feb. came today thanks.
3rd Brigade M. G. Coy, 1st Canadian Division France
c/o Army P. O. London