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Date: May 3rd 1917
Annie Mowat - (mother)
Grant Mowat

May 3, 1917.

Dear Mother,

Well, another busy day is about over and another one just beginning. I mean busy up at the front, – not busy for myself. This morning about 4 o’clock there was a great artillery bombardment, and about 6 o’clock this evening another started and is still in full blast. None of the shells are coming this way however.

To-day has been just like yesterday – nothing to do but eat, play baseball, and wander around. The weather is absolutely perfect – bright, clear and hot.

I said in my letter last night that I’d tell you more of my trip in this letter.

Around Seaford, spring was very slow in coming, so we went to meet it. There it was still chilly and no sign of buds on the trees or new grass. But as we neared Southampton we began to notice that the trees had started to bud. And here in France they are well started and the wheat is three or four inches high. It is almost summer here.

Le Havre is a very pretty city. Quite a large semicircular bay, with high cliffs at the two corners and a beach around the curve. Into the centre of this apparently runs a river, and along this are the docks. The houses and buildings are all of stone and quite high. In the business section the streets are wide and nicely shaded by trees. All the streets are paved – with cobbles, of course. Getting away from the centre of the city you find the predominant note of all French towns – Dirt. Their idea of sewage is elementary. Garbage is thrown into the streets, also all the dirty water. Always you find a stream of dirty ill-smelling water running in the gutters.

Rouen is much the same, though it is larger and busier. The river running through it is one of the busiest scenes imaginable – tugs and barges passing in endless lines. Rouen has several fine churches and a beautiful “Hotel de Ville”. One cathedral has a wonderful spire, tall and slim, and formed of a lattice work of steel.

In the country everything seemed bright clean and prosperous looking, though the houses are always dirty looking and somehow the well-cultivated fields give an idea of having been still better cared for in times of peace. The roads are excellent and beautifully shaded.

Around here the country is flat, dotted with innumerable villages and with the high buildings, high chimneys and mountainous waste piles at the heads of the coal mines. The village we are in has as its centre, and only apparent reason for existence, one of these mines. One sees very few men, but the kids are innumerable and indescribably dirty.

Well, that is almost all for to-night Mother dear. Love to all from,

Your son,
Grant Mowat.

Original Scans

Original Scans