LIEUT. A. WILSON IN A HOT FIGHT
He Writes A Most Interesting Letter Of His Experiences In The Fighting Line. Tells How Clyde Machan Was Killed.
Below we give extracts from a letter of Andrew Wilson to his wife which proves to be one of the most interesting letters that has come into our possession from any of Rosetown heroic and loyal sons at the front:--
Somewhere" Nov. 14, 1917
This is Tuesday afternoon, and the first moment I have had to myself for six days. I am glad to say I am alive and feeling physically as fit as ever. We went up into the danger zone on Thursday afternoon last and from 8 p.m. that night, until Monday noon, we were in constant danger. We had to dig ourselves into holes on Thursday night, but fortunately got well dug in before Fritz began shelling us. He piled over some odd thousands of shells that night, and we lost a few men. I had six of my platoon buried, but four of them got out. Then on Friday morning our guns opened, and Fritz came back with the worst artillery duel ever put on this front, so they tell us. We lay flat in our holes, until 9 a.m. when we had to pull out to support the front line, and it was some little hell getting up through a foot of mud and water. I lost two boys going up. We dug in again, in bunches, and I worked like a miner to get lower down. I lost my Major about 10 a.m. and lay in a shell hole with his body for six hours. It rained half the time too, and we had to keep digging to keep warm. That night was miserable. We had to stand in mud and water up to our knees, and I surely thought I would die from exposure, but it is surprising what a person can stand when he has to. That was the longest night I ever put in. Had to stand still in this hole and shiver with cold and wet. Saturday morning Fritz let up a little on shelling, but for 24 hours it was a living hell
. Throughout Saturday it was not so bad, and I moved around a little and got something to eat. We were all too miserable to eat on Friday. On Saturday evening, I had to pull my platoon out to the front line - or rather the new advance line - and hold a post for two hours, until relieved by the incoming Battalion. I only had nine men and I carried the machine gun myself. We were not bothered at all, here, although only about 300 yards from Fritz. I found a Scotch man and a Canadian of another battalion, and brought them with me. Also found a Welsh boy badly wounded and fixed him up the best we could and reported him to the dressing station. I cannot begin to describe the awfulness of war and wouldn't if I could. The most pitiable scenes I noticed were the wounded men, one of my own boys got hit in the leg and he made a fierce "how-do-you-do." I rolled him into a shell hole and told him to lie still until the shelling let up a bit. He got out later. Little Clyde Mach an of Rosetown, was hit in the throat by a chunk of shell, and buried. They dug him out but found him dead. Jim Castle was taken out badly shell shocked, and Silmarie of Herschel was wounded. I think that is all of my old Rosetown Platoon, that was in the show. We were relieved Saturday night, and pulled out. Had to walk six miles in mud and water, and our feet were almost gone. We slept in tents that night, or what remained of it, and were roused up Sunday morning, to move further back. While fussing around a Hun plane came over and dropped a bomb, and wounded four men, and one of my company officers. This made eleven officers wounded and three killed out of 20 who went in, so only six of us came out without a scratch. I felt safe throughout the show. Somehow I felt sure I was coming through it alright, but just the same I believe the earnest prayers of relatives and friends were heard, and answered, and I don't deny I uttered many a humble prayer myself, throughout the long hours. I cannot tell you were we were, but ask Will VanAllen, where he lost his arm. We were in this vicinity, but further advanced probably six miles. This morning the battalion has gone by busses further back. I am orderly officer of the day, and am left to clean up and load baggage. Have one Sgt. and nine men also three prisoners. We may get away today, but it may be tomorrow. Anyway, we are out of danger and comfortable. The men are a cheerful as can be, but only half of them here. The death list is not as heavy as usual, though. The mud was so deep that shells did not have the usual danger zone. I had several shells burst within 20 feet of me and nothing more than mud or tiny bits of steel hit me. My Major was hit by a sniper, and only lived a few minutes. I took his pocket book, revolver, and other valuables and carried them for three days with me. You may remember Pringle, the colonel's chauffeur at N. B. He was killed by a shell. Only a few of the 232nd boys were killed.
I firmly believe that the Almighty will guard me throughout this struggle, and that I am to be spared to return.
This letter was originally published in the Rosetown Eagle on December 13, 1917.