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Date: July 1917

[transcription provided by collection donor]

July 1, 1917
For some time I noticed that the rum in my charge was being used up much more rapidly than I was issuing it. No light was thrown on the matter after questioning my Sgt. Commander and medical orderlies. I trusted these men and felt sure they were telling me the truth.

Nevertheless I decided to sacrifice half a jug of rum in order to catch the toper. On the quiet I doctored up this rum with a drug that is tasteless, odorless & colourless, but which would upset and make anybody taking it very sick, causing nausea, weakness and extensive, intense neuralgic pains. So the trap was set.

For quite a time no more rum disappeared & I thought the culprit must have smelt a rat. Time passed & I had forgotten about the doctored rum.

Now the adjutant’s batman who thinks himself a bit of a doctor was suddenly taken very sick. He treated himself but the next day there was no improvement & I was called upon.

I examined the man from head to foot. He looked so ill & miserable & seemed to be suffering so very much that I was sure he was really dangerously ill. The examination revealed nothing as to the cause of his sickness so I gave him a simple drug & told him to report back later on. After the patient had retired I was telling my Sgt. what a queer case it was when I noticed the rum jar. Happy thought, it hit me like a question mark. I measured out the rum & found three quarters of it was missing. My case was diagnosed as two & two makes four.

I sent for the victim & examined him again telling him his case was so serious that I was afraid he would die & I wanted to make sure what was wrong with him. I took some of his blood & ran through a test. There was no doubt. He denied ever taking a drink & I didn’t mention rum. But the symptoms of the drug I had put in the rum was shouting from his eyes & body. I told him he was dying from alcoholic poisoning which had in some way accumulated in his body & his chance of recovery was very slim. He looked as if he was going to die & I am sure he felt like it too. I told him he had one chance or two in one to recover but it was one in a thousand that he would succeed. He must never take anything by which alcohol could get into his system & to counteract the alcoholic poisoning he had to take fifteen drops of Tincture of Quinine with ten drops of Nux Vom in a glass of water every three hours for three days. This concoction is very, very bitter & the bitter taste remains in the mouth for a long time. It was not necessary to give this but the son of a gun should not tell fibs to his doctor. He does not relish his medicine but takes it & is rapidly getting better. The rum is still handy but I don’t think he will take any more of it. One such experience is enough.

Two tins of sardines, two small packages of crackers, a can opener, two glasses & two bottles of beer gave the paymaster & I a grand feed this afternoon.

Jul 5, 1917
Visited No. 3 Can Field Ambulance at Villiers-au-Bois & here saw Bill Ewing.

Jul 6, 1917
Had a cross-country ride to Villiers-au-Bois, Chateau-de-le-Haie, where I saw Col. Snell, A.D.M.S., then across to Les Ventes & saw George Hall, Capt. Kennedy & Capt. Clarke, 12th Can Field Ambulance. Had tea with them and returned.

Jul 11, 1917
Met Capt. McAlpine & Joe Gallagher. We went over Mt. St. Eloi & visited an Estaminet & talked about what we would have to eat when we got back home.

July 13, 1917
Today I went on a trip with Mr. Craig up over Vimy Ridge to Thelus & Farbus. At the latter place we came upon a large Boche gun that the 7th Can. Battalion captured during the Vimy push. Its implacement was very strong, made of 5 ft walls of reinforced concrete. While here we were under direct observation & were snipped at by Whiz-bangs & to get back we had to go through the remains of woods which made the going very hard. Visited the O.P. on the hill & had a drink. It was very hot. Here I found some Whiz-bang shells & took two of them for souvenirs.

This evening Mr. Hun shelled our camp. It was very unpleasant as I had just got to bed & had to get up again to run to a trench. He was using H.E. & later on he registered on the horse lines killing several horses. Remitted £60 to my account in Bank of Montreal, Victoria BC through Capt. Vickers, paymaster 3rd C.D.A.C.

Jul 17, 1917
We are in tents on an open field & close at hand there are trenches. From my tent I can look up a hill on top of which there are the remains of once a very pleasant & picturesque village: Mt. St. Eloi. Here there are the remains of a very old cathedral, the towers of which are still standing. It’s a landmark of the country for miles around. Fritz still shells it a few times a week.

Mr. Rat. They are as big as half grown puppies & as fat as pigs. They are very sociable paying visits day & night. If you throw a brick or any other thing at them they dodge the missal & then grin around the corner of a can at you. They will hold meetings in your tent at night & settle family quarrels. Often the more daring fellow will climb over your sleeping bed & come up & sniff at your face. When he sniffs at your face his whickers tickle you so much that it disturbs your sleep & you wake up to cuss the cheeky brat. He doesn’t mind & will perhaps chew your boot to show there is no ill feeling.

Why don’t we wage war on them? It’s because they are such good scavengers & in no man’s land there is always plenty of food in various states of decomposition & Mr. Rat, not being too particular, cleans it up for us. No wonder he is so fat, in fact, he is so fat that he can hardly run.

Jul 20, 1917
Capt. Vickers, Mr. Gouchie & I rode from Berthonval Farm to Avesnes-le-Comte. Here we had a good meal & visited an old church erected by the Spaniards. It was a long ride but a good one. All the country was under cultivation & the crops looked very promising. There are no fences & the crops with their various shades of green broken here & there with small clumps of trees made a very pleasant scene. You would meet old men, women & children walking in the fields.

Jul 21, 1917
I found Bill Connolley. He is looking in good health but fed up. I never met a men so fed up & sore on the army as Bill.

Generals Lipsett (?) & Mitchell inspected our camp. The latter man is from Toronto & is the most disliked man in the Canadian army. The former man is from Winnipeg & he is a gentleman.

Jul 23, 1917
Heard that Mr. Goodrum was getting Blighty leave ahead of me. Say, I was mad. Went to Lft. Col. Hurdman & asked for an explanation. I knew he would have an answer but just the same I kicked on general principal. He told me it was Gen. Mitchell’s orders & as Mr. Goodrum is the General’s brother-in-law, what could I do. Later on I went to the A.D.M.S. & got off a grouse. They won’t forget me though I came out second best. Of course, that was preordained, still I let them know what I thought. After I left the A.D.M.S. I felt much better so made a call on the 9th Can. Field Ambulance. Beat Major McKillop at chess, had tea & remained for supper. Watched two boxing matches & rode home escorted by Major McKillop, John Briggs & Capt. Harvey.

Jul 26, 1917
Broke camp at Point “C” & trekked to Noeux-Les-Mines. Enroute I passed through Carency, Ablain-St. Nazaire, Souchez, Aix-Noulette & Pt. Sains. I was under direct observation from Lens part of the way. It was a four hour trek.

We encamped near Fosse 3 on a field surrounded by houses. This ground is very unsanitary in that previously troops had camped here & the ground was polluted. Further, the inhabitants dump garbage of all kinds here & before the war this was a common dumping ground. Also, we are much too congested.

Jul 27, 1917
Met Major Wood, No. 2 Can. Field Ambulance. Also saw Joe Gallagher & Major Russell.

Jul 31, 1917
Went to Barlin & saw Col. Snell, A.D.M.S. Made arrangements with A.D.M.S. to be relieved so that I could go on leave to Blighty. After, went to Fosse 9 & visited No. 1 Can. Field Amb. where I met Dervelin Jones. He seemed to be in the best of health & was expecting to get his majority very soon.