This is a letter george gave me at Le Havre. I had forgotten it so you must excuse me not sending it before. George was not wounded very much just a slight wound on the head & shoulder. Yours Truly Pte. A Birch.
I am sending this over to England with a wounded fellow, and I suppose it will be quite a time before you get it. Did you understand from my letter that I was at the Somme, I think it is too bad that the English papers hardly mention the Canadians there when they made such a fuss about the Australians. It was Canadians that took Courcelette. The 29th helped, but that was just before I got there. However, on the 26th our battn had to take some German trenches. A. Co which I am in, had a trench to take by themselves. I was in the second wave and had to carry a shovel, five bombs, five sandbags, some trench flares, 250 rounds of ammunition besides rifle equipment etc.
We had a fierce place to go, and out of the camp any of about 90 or 100 I think about 20 or 25 got over we got the trench alright bit it certainly was a hell we went through. Our artillery is terrible but Fritz put over an awful Barrage which one had to go through. I hadn't gone 50 yards when a machine gun bullet went through my helmet and grazed my head, and also pieces of my helmet or bullet hit me in the shoulder. I laid in a shell hole for about ten seconds and decided to go on, when I saw I wasn't badly hurt. As it turned out I did the best thing I could have done as Fritz shelled us fierce and the wounded out behind us got hit very bad. Tom Newell got hit slightly and came out with me to be dressed that evening. As far as I know only three of my platoon got over and I was hit. We didn't have to do any bayonet work as Fritz beat it. Though I was in the second wave I got over about 9th or 10th man. I had several shots at the Germans as they were running and know for a fact that I got two of them anyway. J Thomson and Cole from Port Alberni were both killed I believe though I can't be quite certain. It certainly is hell, but I think Fritz gets it far worse than we do. We had two or three prisoners (wounded) come out with us. You should have seen them duck when one of their shells came over when we were coming out. The shell fire and machine gun fire we had to go through is impossible to describe. The whole country around there is simply blasted to pieces. I believe our division is through with the Somme now and we are going to a much quieter place I can't be quite certain though but they won't be there but a very short time more anyway. I suppose I shouldn't tell you this but I know it will go no further than you know in safe, and I wanted you to know where I had been in case anything should chance to happen in the future which God being willing I don't think will.
[end of letter missing]