Right after Easter Sunday, 1917.
My darling Lal: —
I was in the big scrap, right from the beginning.
Am writing this in an underground cave. I have no paper or anything. This should be the greatest letter I ever wrote you. . . .
I never got a scratch, though you can bet I had some near shaves. Holy Gee! and my first experience under shell fire, too! I was plumb scared to death. I’ve got to admit it; but I think only I knew it. Long before you get this, of course you will hear the story of our advance. I told you it was coming quick; didn’t I?
Up to tonight, our division has two thousand prisoners, and they are still coming in. We have no news; we only know what is happening in our brigade.
The shelling is — well — I dunno’ — there isn’t a word. . . .
I was ahead of the tanks.
They were no use — too slow.
The arrangements went off without a hitch; the barrage was exact and splendid. I never saw one Fritz plane all day.
I saw more of the battle than any other Canadian. I was detailed to carry films and plates for the moving picture man!
I volunteered for it — grabbed it awful quick, when I heard of it. I was ahead of the 29th, and we took a film of ’em, going in.
Remember, every Canadian and English picture you see of the battle, your Hub passed the plate, and stood there.
There’s a lot of ’em, so look out. Try to see the Canadian Records pictures.
I am awful well — but worn out.
Our casualties have been light. The artillery did the trick. Every object was taken at the exact second as arranged — wonderful!
The Germans were a very fine lot indeed, clean and smart-looking; they were absolutely out-classed.
The photograph chap, a Captain, is absolutely fearless, and stood on “the top” to take pictures. I didn’t let him beat me; I went where he went — but I dunno’ how I got away with it.
Some of the pictures are to appear in the Daily Mirror.
I have lost all my kit — my razor — everything. Send me an Ever-ready Safety, please.
If only I could have got away with the souvenirs, I’m sure I’d be a rich man. The only thing I grabbed was a Fritz water bottle, as I was thirsty.
I had lunch in his third line trench on him: sour brown bread, two kinds of sausage — awful stuff! Cheese, two bottles of wine, and all kinds of cigars and cigarettes.
Our guns have advanced up in the open now.
I saw the cavalry go in.
You forget all about the machine guns and rifles; it’s the shells. The noise is so great you don’t hear Fritz’s till it’s on you. If you flop in time, you’re alright; but the air is full of flying metal all the time.
We captured a big general.
One battalion captured a field hospital complete.
It was the biggest day of my life. I can’t quite understand how it’s possible to live through a day like that; but the casualties were really very light indeed. I am, for tonight, in a big underground cave with passages hundreds of yards long. I haven’t shaved or washed for four days now. You are so doped with weariness and excitement that you don’t worry about such discomforts. I have no idea what I am going to do, even tomorrow.
I don’t know if the Canadians are going to be relieved, or not; or how far the advance has gone, or anything. You see, each brigade went over the top of the other; we hear the Imperials may go over the top of us.
Fritz still shells us all day. One dropped within thirty feet of me this afternoon, and I hadn’t time to drop; but was never touched.
I think of you all the time, dearie, all the time.
I am as cheerful as I can be, and hoping for the best.
Don’t worry, dear — please.
I am to be stretcher bearer with “B” Company of my battalion.
I met one of my pals being carried out by two Heinies — a lovely Blighty he had, through the flesh of the thigh. Lucky devil!
All the Fritz prisoners are nothing but stretcher bearers.
I can only wonder what Canada is thinking; but surely she is proud. It is a wonderful day. Easter Monday — everybody so smiling and happy. Our battalion repelled a counter attack, and ripped ’em up.
I was right amongst a bunch of tanks, when Fritz got a range on ’em and fairly surrounded ’em with big shells. Gee! I was glad to beat it.
It’s very cold and snowy — confound it. Au 'voir, dear.
God bless you.