The following letter was received by Mr. Douglas McIntosh from his brother, Norman, who is in the trenches and who was among the first to go there from Canada:
Belgium, June 25th, 1916
Just a few lines to let you know I am well and hope you and all the Cobourg boys are the same. The weather here is and has been bad - wet and cold like November weather in dear old Canada.
I received your last letters and papers about a month ago. Our mail has been stopped for a while, but for what reason I cannot say. I am now up with our guns now in a Battery. I certainly saw a great sight the other day. A number of English and German aeroplanes hovered over us, at least 3,000 to 4,000 feet in the air - and they were more than going to each other. They were fighting with machine guns, which they have attached to the back of them. One of ours was chasing a German one when all of a sudden it took a quick turn and started to tumble down. Well, at that height it was grand but terrible to see. The plane flopped over and over just like a dead bird. We could see it all the time from our guns, as it was just a short distance away and fell behind a lot of ruined buildings.
Our gun position is right besides a once prosperous town, but now you can't pick out a house or factory that has not been either partly or completely shelled to pieces. And still the Germans keep shelling it just the same. Of course our guns are hidden all along through the ruins in cellars and in high banks and fields. There is an old canal right beside us and you just ought to see the foam and water fly when they land a big shell in it - but we don't seem to mind it unless they get uncomfortably close.
I am sending a moleskin purse as a little souvenir - like I sent home before with a couple of Belgian pennies in it.
This is Sunday afternoon - 2:30 p.m. Some of the boys are writing and some lying down having a little snooze. We catch all the sleep we can in the daytime for our work is mostly at night. Oh! But she's a great life! We have had with us a young lad (only 17 years old) since last night. He was going to the trenches with the 13th Battalion last night, and he opened our gun pit door and asked for a drink of water. He was just able to stumble in and I thought he was going to faint - he looked so white and sick. We asked him if he was a wounded and he said, 'No, just all in.' He comes from Hespler, Ontario. He is going to try to find his company to-night. We gave him his meals. He just looks like a little school boy - so young looking. We all felt sorry for him.
I am sending you a copy of a note our Colonel (Currie) sent here to be read to all the Canadian Division after the last Battle of Ypres. (Thacker, formerly from Kingston, is in charge of this particular Battalion and hence the letter is addressed to him):
June 13th, 1916.
My Dear Thacker:
Will you please accept for yourself and staff and convey to all ranks at your command my heartfelt congratulations on the grand work done by the GUNNERS of this Division during the operation which culminated in this morning's successful attack. We have leaned heavily on you many times in the past and to-day our confidence is greater than ever.
Ever yours faithfully,
(signed) A. W. CURRIE (Colonel)
Our artillery did well all right.
I could send you all some souvenirs, but they won't allow us to send anything from Belgium or France. But if I go on pass I will try to get some over. The only trouble when we save up souvenirs, someone else 'pinches' them on us so you see it is pretty hard to get them over.
Well, Doug. I think I have said and told you all can for this time. Give my best regards to all and answer soon.