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Date: October 20th 1916
Miss Padgington
George Hatch

Pte. Geo. P. Hatch, who went overseas from Colborne, and who was this week officially reported wounded, sent the following interesting description of the Somme fighting to Miss Padgington of Colborne:

No. 157082
Somewhere in France,
Sept. 20th, 1916.

I came through one of those fierce battles here at ********. Likely you will read about it. We went into the trenches at 12: 30 midnight on the 14th of September to make this big drive. Fritz was shelling us very heavily and we lost a: good many of our company. We suffered like this until 6:12 a.m. morning of the 15th. About an hour after we had entered the trenches I met one of my chums who appeared scared. I asked him what was wrong. He said 'Fritz has come over into our first line and bombed us out.' I reported to the Major who called out our bombers. When he had them together they went and bombed the Germans out and took back our first line. It was full of dead Germans. I don't believe one Fritz who came over got back alive. We had to stay there until daylight. All at once word came to fix bayonets. We all knew what that meant. We were going over the parapet to Fritz's trenches. The word had no sooner been passed than our artillery opened up a terrific fire into Fritz's line. Everything was being blown up sky high. By the time we had reached the German first trench, our artillery was blowing up the second line, and so on, until we had taken them all.

The Germans have some deep dugouts, 22 steps deep. We threw bombs into these until we thought there were no Fritzies left in there alive. Then we would go down. In one we found bottles of mineral water. This we filled our water bottles with, and helped ourselves to biscuits, but their bread is black so nobody cared for it.

While in Canada I was a little shaky when I saw any dead body. Here it is like walking over rye straw. Germans by the thousands lying dead. Every one of us were hunting for souvenirs. Every dugout had two or three live Germans in. We would search them. Nearly everyone had a dirk or a revolver. We made sure to get these. Then we would lead them back until 30 or 40 prisoners, when the Major would pick out three or four men for guards, and have the prisoners sent back somewhere in France. Prisoners seemed to come out of every shell hole around. As soon as they saw us they would throw up their hands and cry 'mercy, comrade; mercy, comrade.' I asked one for a souvenir. He tried to pull a button off his coat, but couldn't, so he unbuttoned his coat and was intending to give me that, but I made signs for him to keep it. Every prisoner seemed tickled to think that he was safe in our hands. After we had taken all the prisoners we had to get to work and dig a trench in order to hold what ground we had taken.

At two o'clock on the morning of September 17th, the Germans made an attack to drive us back. We gave them rapid fire. If they had ever got into our trench with saw bayonets, they might have raised 'cain'. The worst of all was that when they advanced towards us they carried the Red Cross flag, and they coming over with fixed bayonets made it all the worse yet for themselves. At 6 o'clock relief came and we left the trenches for a rest. One trench we had to go along was full of dead Germans. We had to walk over them or get out in the open and get killed ourselves. It pays to keep one's head down in the firing line, believe me.