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Date: August 5th 1917
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

5 August, ’17.

Still rain, rain, rain, no change. The trenches and shell holes will now be quite full. Got a paper this A.M., and am not impressed, decidedly not impressed. But we can’t fight the elements too, and as Germany has evidently enlisted the weather man on his side, what can we do? It is beyond words. You can safely arrange your Xmas festivities and leave me out.

It’s noon, and as yet we have no news of our own wee show. I can’t think that we shall stay here much longer. The other battalions in the brigade have done a turn, holding the line till the show opens, and it’s up to us.

Eats are poor, awful poor.

Last night, Fritz came back a bit in this little burg. None came too close to our particular bedroom. At least, we didn’t consider it too close, though I guess if shells burst near enough to your house in Ottawa to throw mud and bricks down your basement steps, you wouldn’t sleep much. It depends on your point of view. Last night was the best night I ever had, with my own pillow and sandbag blanket.

A fellow I know got a nice pocket edition of Service’s Red Cross Rhymes and lent it me. The Stretcher Bearer one, for which I hoped a lot, I thought rather poor. No one seems ever to have told in writing about the Batt’n. S.B. He is the only Stretcher Bearer that doesn’t stretcher bear; but goes in, lives and works with the battalion in the line, and does the first aid over the top or behind, all the time. The next nearest are the Fld. Amb. bearers who bear only, and go after the scrap or strafe, when sent for, to get the wounded out. When not wanted, they are way back in a dugout, the Batt’n S.B. being in the trench or shell hole all the time with the boys. Again, he does not wear a red cross, and, in a counter attack, gets killed along with the rest of the boys, as he is not classed as a non-combatant.

. . . He should write one to a trench cooker, the old bully-beef tin with holes. It’s just a candle, then a bit of sandbag or shirt flap. How many meals I’ve cooked on such a range! By the way, sandbags don’t figure much in the war now — only to carry things in. Heinie uses very few. He prefers concrete, and of course we occupy his old lines. The old days of putting France and Belgium in bags is fini.

Well I guess it is time to go down into the cellar and try to sleep. I pinched a few sandbags today, tied them together, dried them out, and have what I think will make quite a blanket. Am anxiously looking forward to seeing the paper in the morning. No one has a word of news how the big show in the world is going. Doesn’t it seem queer, only a few miles from the battle and you over there have news forty-eight hours in advance. I guess tomorrow will be the last day for us, though there is no change in the weather.

Original Scans

Original Scans