3C/1 Trench Mortar Battery.
3rd Infantry Brigade.
1st Canadian Division.
I have just come out of the trenches for a few days rest, I sent you a P.C. from there just to let you know that I was all right, I did not have a chance to write a letter, there was no time, so I am taking this, the earliest opportunity, to let you know what I have been doing, I suppose by this time you will have heard about the frightful time that the Canadians have had, I was all through it, Thank God I am alive to day to tell the tale, my heart is very heavy, I have lost a host of good friends & comrades, some gone for ever, some wounded & some maimed for life, such is war, they say here that the artillery fire of the enemy was the heaviest that was ever perpetrated on any part of the British line & I can well believe it, it was the worst I ever experienced, it was continuous & was centered on a very small area of trenches, at the present time the ground is so covered with shell holes that there is not room to walk between, it is just like a huge honeycomb, Poor old Sergt Kempston was killed, he was a Revelstoke man & a great friend of mine, no doubt you will have all the Vernon boys names by this time who were wounded or killed, Young Howden, who gave you his violen to take home for him was wounded, also young Bailey who took the childrens photos when we were living opposite Magees, & Bob Hannah from the Stone Yard, there are lots of others, but you will have all their names by this time, as to the actual fighting, there is very little that I can tell you, I am sure the papers will give a fuller account of it than I can, for I was only concerned in a very small portion of it, but believe me that portion was hot, I dont know whether it will be any consolation to the people at home or not, but I know for a fact that the enemies losses were far greater than ours, it just seemed to me like the waves of the sea, you would see one wave coming, & then it was gone & another wave coming up & in a breath that was gone too & so on as it seemed to me ad-infinitum, as to the sights that were seen, the less said the better, for no human being could transfer to paper the awful horrors of that time, I know it is not in my power to express myself in an adequate manner. As for narrow escapes, every man up there thought every moment would be his last, not one of us expected to come out of it alive, one minute you would be talking to a man or giving an order & before there was time to turn around, he was gone. Oh, it was a bitter time, all the furies of Hell seemed to have been let loose with their most diabolical tortures to act both on the minds & the bodies of the men – there was no escape from it, it had to be faced, & I can assure you that the Canadians faced it nobly, not a man flinched, they faced it grimly & with the determination not to be beaten, I am proud to belong to the Canadian Army, they have proved themselves to be men. What will all those slackers at home have to say about this, I wonder what their feelings will be, the dirty cowards ought to be forced out here & put in the front line & kept there to take some of the punishment that their nobler brothers have had to go through, if I had my way I would put them up there without any means of defending themselves & let them take their medicine.
This is now the 15th & I started in to write to you on the 9th, I am writing this in hospital, I am not wounded but I am suffering from shell shock, I am doing all right only I have had a nasty shake up; I had a sudden call on the 9th & had to go up to the trenches again to take part in an attack, we took back all the trenches that the enemy had taken away from us & a bit more, it was a rotten time, the rain came down in torrents & everything was muddy & slippy & it was hard work, I got buried twice & blown up once, but got out of it all right with just the shock & a slight scratch on my left hip, so you may guess I was very lucky, one place that I was buried in had four others in it, three of them were killed & the other was wounded, I got out of that by myself, but the next time I got buried I had to be dug out, my narrowest escape was when a shell burst right beside me & the concussion threw me about ten feet into a shell hole full of water, I was not hurt, only slightly dazed, this is a nice quite place I am in now, I am very comfortable & the nursing sisters are very good to me, my back & my right leg bother me a bit, but I expect to be all right in a few days, when I suppose I will be sent back again. I think this is all I have to tell you just now about the fighting, but I guess you know more about it by this time than I do myself. Well, dear heart, I got your letter all right telling me about getting the children fixed up & then about them taking the measles, the last letter was about George being a bit better & Eileen was just sickening, poor dear, you must have had an awful time with them all by yourself, I dont know how you were able to manage, I am sure I hope that they are all right again & able to be around, I am glad you got them baptised, dear, it was a very good thing to do, & I am also glad that you got Dr Morris to fix them up, before they took the measles, I hope to get a letter from you soon telling me that everything is all right again at home, now dear, I hope you will forgive me for not writing any more just now, as I dont feel too grand, but I will write you a good long letter in a few days when I am feeling stronger, dont be uneasy about me as I am getting on fine, at present I am confined to bed but I will be up in a day or two. Kiss my little darlings for me, dear, & tell them how sorry Daddy is that they are so poorly, & that he hopes they will soon be all right again, & tell them that Daddy loves them both very very much & sends them lots of kisses. Keep up your heart, dear sweetheart mine, I have a feeling that everything is coming all right for you & me yet so dont worry, but believe that you old hubby is still on top & is loving you more & more every day, & you will always have the love of your own true husband Jack