LETTER FROM THE TRENCHES.
Written Just Before the Battle of Langemarck and Ypres.
Mr. C. W. Hewitt has kindly given us for publication a letter he has just received from Private T. BARRELL, who is with the 4th Company, Second Battalion, 1st Brigade, Infantry, 1st Canadian Expeditionary Force. This letter is dated A pril14th and is post marked Field Post Office, A pril17th, and is significant in having been endorsed by Major Bolster upon that date. Mr. Barrell says:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt:
Just a few lines in answer to your very welcome letter. I saw Walter (Walter Brown, who went from here with the 40th is referred to) the day after I received your letter, and he says he will write you shortly. He wishes to be remembered to you. We have been resting for about three weeks but are going again into the trenches again shortly and we are told that we are going to a very dangerous position. We usually start off about 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon so as to get to the trenches under cover of darkness. There are about 6 or 8 men in each - and in the daytime there are look-outs posted so that they can see if the enemy is approaching at all. At night time there are men sent out from the trenches in front about **** yards **** men together for **** hours at a time. They have to lie down and keep their eyes in front all the time. They are called listening posts and if they see or hear the enemy coming they give the alarm to the men in the trenches. They come in as soon as it begins to get light and then we all have to stand to half an hour, all ready for any attack. After that we have breakfast, but there are always some on guard.
After breakfast, we clean up the trenches and clean out our rifles for inspection. We have dinner about twelve and after that we rest them that are not on guard. At night time we go out in front to repair barbed wire entanglements and to make the front of our trenches safe. We have dug-outs in the trenches which hold five or six men. When we are off we go in them to rest. Of course when their artillery is firing, or their machine guns working, we all have to keep down as low as ever we can, as we never know where their shells are going to fall. One time when we were in the reserve trenches a shell burst about fifteen yards in front of the trench I was in. I was having my dinner and the dirt' flew back all over my head and down my neck. I have saved a piece of the shell. You can hear the bullets from the machine guns falling all round us and on top of our dug-outs, but we get used to it. You would be surprised how a fellow gets used to having bullets coming all around him. We have had great praise from our General for the way we have performed our duties. Up to now the most dangerous part of it is going in and out of the trenches as the Germans can turn their machine guns on us and mow us down if we are not very careful. You would be surprised to see the churches and houses all blown to pieces, with furniture and things left, just all over the place. Cows are left dead in the fields. I think this is all now; I will write again.
Yours sincerely, T. BARRELL.
The asterisk (***) in the above show that the censor's pencil has been at work.