A .DAVIDSON DESCRIBES SCENES AT FRONT
Drummer Arthur Davidson, wounded in action, writes as follows to Ronald Norris, his letter being dated from Arnold Auxiliary Hospital, at Doncaster, England, June 4.
I have just received a letter you sent on the 29th of last month, or rather April. I was having a pretty rough time just about then, and we were in the trenches for fourteen days, but it was nothing compared with the following week. We had a pretty rotten time then and I am glad I'm here. Well I absolutely refuse to talk about war any longer. The place where I am now is a fine house and we have a darned good time. I fact one can hardly realize there is a war in progress and I am sorry to have to leave here. I go on furlough on Monday.
By the way, Ronnie, you can tell all had sundry that it is worth while going out to the front because when one comes back wounded the people of England and even the government, cannot do enough for a person. Then consider, you have a free, specially conducted continental trip (guides supplied by the government) lots of big game shooting, any amount of excitement and adventure, especially adventure, and lots of travelling. Unfortunately the travelling is done at night and you cannot enjoy the scenery, but all that is made up for by the pyrotechnical display, given twice nightly by our friends the enemy on the other side of the ditch.
Then you have the excitement when putting up barbed wire entanglements, or an occasional scrap with the big game, or when the J. Js or "Whistling Rufuses" get too close for comfort. That is the only drawback to the whole arrangement, but I'm sure there are lots of young men in Nanaimo who are yearning to get a dig at the Prussians, and to put matters plainly we could be doing more than we are at present. We are certainly holding our won, and doing our bit, but it takes numbers and their consequent weight to fight against the dirty underhand methods of Prussian militarism. I wonder if you ever realized that the British are up against the toughest problem the have ever been called upon to face, and do you know that they are defending the worst part of the line, namely the road to Calais, which lies through Ypres, and which would enable them to get their big 16 and 17-inch guns to the coast and consequently hurl their 2000-pound projectiles into England? They have had these self-same guns turned on Ypres when our fellows have been billeted there, and I have seen the havoc they create, and mind you, they are no respector of persons. When I came through Ypres after getting m "souvenir" with the rest of the wounded, we saw horses, men, women and children who had been caught by the shell fire of the enemy Even the shells were bursting in every direction and under any other circumstance I should have thought it was a very impressive sight. We had to do gallop through Ypres because of this, and then, think, the town except for ourselves, deserted by human beings. Such is the condition of Belgium, other towns the enemy have occupied are in a similar state, Dechebush, Vermeceele, St.Eloi, Neuve Chapelle, and Poperinghe and Vismertinghe are just beginning to get their share. Can you imagine the feelings of the people were these English towns or for choice our own beautiful towns in the west.
I sincerely hope that such conditions may never prevail in England, but you know what appears to be impossible sometimes happens, and the only prevention of such a catastrophe is the help of every able-bodied man that can be spared. I am not writing with the intention of scaring anybody, or airing my knowledge, but there are certain people who sit in their chairs beside a cozy fire and delude themselves that the Prussians are short of ammunition. I often have wished they were. Ask anyone who has been to the front. I am glad to say they have not the fine men that we have, nor such efficient officers, and if the war had been carried on on the rules laid down by the nations then it would have been all over bar the shouting.
The Canadian Red Cross Society is doing a good work and I am very glad to say, so are the Scouts. Of course I always did say that they were useful to a community, and are fully appreciated in England. They have sent a motor ambulance to the front and their good works are legion. They help the military authorities in many ways and their training makes them useful adjuncts to the different ambulance corps.
The French Boy Scouts were used in exactly the same manner, and there are many of the older fellows serving in the forces, and on headquarter staffs as interpreters.
There are several troops here at Doncaster and I have seen some of their work. The people here are very generous and give us a good time. I have been out boating, joyriding, and out to supper. I have got my photo taken several times, and the people take a great interest in any one from Canada. One dear old lady very kindly asked me if it was true "that our people married a white girl."
Well Ronald I guess I will ring off now as I am getting writer's cramp.