[Published in the newspaper The Ladysmith Chronicle, May 13, 1916.]
LETTER FROM THE TRENCHES
Mr. M. Matheson received the following interesting letter from Private John Grant who left here with the 1st Pioneers. Mr. Grant, it will be remembered, lived for some time with Rev. Father Macdonell, and on many occasions amused Ladysmith audiences with selections on the bagpipes.
Somewhere in Belgium
April 14th, 1916.
DEAR MR. MATHESON: – I received your letter some time ago, also your parcel, for which accept my best thanks. It was very good of you to remember me like that, and I can tell you the sox will come in good and handy. Well, we came across here about six weeks ago, and I have seen a few interesting sights since then. We were shipped right into the trenches the first go off and naturally we all felt a trifle nervous going in for the first time. But the nervousness gradually works off, and you take it as a matter of routine. Still you have a certain amount of respect for old Fritz, for if he is not shelling you he is either sniping or letting loose his machine gun on you. But he gets more back now than he gives, although some of the boys were telling me he used to put over 10 shells to our one. But these days are over, and we are fighting on an equal if not superior advantage all round. This is a very fine country, mostly farming, and every available inch is taken up. There is not much bush here, very different from British Columbia. Not far from where we are stationed at present, there once stood a beautiful city, but now it is simply a mass of broken bricks and debris. There is not one single house that is intact. They tell me that the population of it before the war was 100,000, so you can have a little idea of the devastation and havoc done. But unless you actually saw it you cannot begin to picture whayt it is like. It is much the same along the whole front line. We have been well treated with the weather since we came across. For the first month it was nice and hot but this last few days it has been wet, and the mud around here is like what they say of the ivy leaf, “I cling to thee.” It must have been terrible for the boys that were out here for the last two winters, wading knee deep in the water. In fact they say now what part of Belgium isn’t in sandbags is under water. A very good description, I think myself. I could tell you a whole lot more, but the censor is very strict, so perhaps I had better quit until some future occasion.
All the Ladysmith boys are quite well, the Barclays, Hector McLennan and Jack Bradford, and Andy Campbell from Extension. I met Gregson and Davidson from the Diamond, but did not see Simpson yet although some of the boys met him.
Remember me to all the boys in the shop. Trusting this may find Mrs. Matheson and yourself in the best of health, and thanking you again for your appreciable parcel
154,184 JOHN GRANT (S.B.).
1st Canadian Pioneers, C.E.F.,
Army Post Office, London, Eng.