4 May, ’17.
This is being written in a funk hole up near the front line amongst all the villages whose names are now familiar to you, where Fritz seems to be making a stand, and a pretty good one, too. Yesterday afternoon, they called upon us for a party to take water bombs, and machine-gun ammunition up to the Battalion that went over in the morning. Of course, I went too. We hadn’t been long on the way, before we saw evidence of what the morning’s scrap had been like.
They made their objective all right — partly. Bombed their way to it. Even the terrific bombardment hadn’t broken the resistance, which was fierce. I cannot say any more. Looking from the point of view of Empire, advancing against the might of an Empire, the move was successful. To our little unit of an army from Canada — well, we paid the price, I suppose.
Saskatchewan and Alberta did it, and there are three new roads on the maps of France which the kids will learn in their history one day: Alberta Road, Winnipeg Road, Manitoba Road, — and another less important one, Vancouver Road.
Though we made our goal with the stuff without a casualty, I dunno’ how it happened. Damn the newspaper jays who represent us as “cheerful and happy as schoolboys going to a game” and all that slush! We can do the work — will do it — against any odds; but we are not happy or cheerful. We are in deadly earnest. Besides, what kind of a human beast can be happy and gay, when seeing his fellow Canadians being torn to pieces, and wracked with nerves!
We got back again without a casualty — our bunch I mean. Other companies were not so lucky, I believe. On the final bit of open before reaching our trench, K., who was in charge of the party, and myself were bringing up the rear, when a big one burst between us, I was half buried, was sure I’d got it; but neither of us had a scratch. We were greeted on our return with the news I half anticipated. We were to go back at midnight, to reinforce the other Batt’ns., who were going over once more to consolidate. Well, we made it. Only, once again the Sgt. and I got blown flat. He says I’m sure one lucky guy, and I guess I am. May it last! I have a funk hole which I can just squeeze into. This afternoon I enlarged it a little, as two fellows in the next platoon, who were sitting in theirs with their legs stuck out on the trench bottoms, had their four legs taken off above the knee. One man was blown right on top of the parapet. We got ’em out; but I think there is little hope. Fritz is certainly pounding us, and he has the range to a hair.
This is a great war, to read about; but when you hear of these glorious charges, and all the rest of the newspaper gush, remember it sounds alright. It no doubt is alright. We are winning, not a doubt of it; but from the individual point of view gained on the spot, it’s exactly what Sherman said it was. And then some.
It’s about seven now, and we shall go for the rations when it gets dark — (’Tis the Lord knows what difference it makes whether it’s dark or light; Fritz has his ranges all set. It’s pie for him, all on his old ground, and he throws more over at night than he does in the daytime.)
The next letter will be written in happy circumstances — and all will look rosy and happy.
Keep cheery and bright. All is well as can be. Kiss little Bill for me.
Lots of really ones for you, and all my love.