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Date: July 6th 1917
Read by:

RH Thomson

Reader Statement
Reader Statement
I think its important that the thousands from WWI be remembered as men and women rather than as numbers and facts. Having their letters brings their humanity closer but lifting their words from their letters with our voices is perhaps the best way we can hear them and appreciate who they really were. The Canadian Letters and Images Project is such a bold and necessary idea.
Reader Bio
Robert Holmes Thomson is a Canadian television, film, and stage actor, as well as a writer and a director. He is a member of the Order of Canada and in May 2015 Thomson received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.
Letter

July 6th

 

My Dear Betty:

 

I received you letter No 5 last eve in which you tell of Smalley’s invitation – I guess I have already answered it, after reading your letter Pryor & I went for a ramble over another part of the battlefield, & we saw still more awfull sights than hithertoo – I would not be exaggerating if I said that we saw scores of unburried Germans in battered trenches & arround shell-holes, here & there what had been a French soldier & sometimes we would come across one of our own Canadian boys – when we found any remains that looked like a Canadian, we would bury them as well as we could – for there are all kinds of picks & shovels etc, lying around – I came across one of our boys – decomposed beyond all recognition of [?] but he lay just as he had fallen – the head was missing – but all the accoutriments was buckled on, his rifle & helmet lay close by – I cut the buckle off the belt as a momento, & we burried what remained of him – I tried to find something by which he might be identified but it was impossible – poor boy -  in some far away home in Canada some-one is mourning the loss of husband – son or sweetheart - & the saddest of all is, they will never know how he died – or where he is burried, & even now they may be clinging to the hope, that he is still alive, a prisoner, for he would be listed among the missing.  Talk about the “glory of war” there is no glory, it is hellish  devilish.  We saw places too where the trenches & ground arround was literally bloodsoaked & here & there shell holes with blood & water still standing in them.  I must close this letter now, will write as often as possible.  I have written to Rose & also the Bank about that money.  Love & kisses.

 

Will

 

Betty XXXXXXXX

Shirley XXXXXXX

Billy XXXXXXXX

 

The poppy’s and batchelor’s button are from the battlefield which will be one of the most famous in all British History & upon which, our Canadian boys by their heroic achievements have woven garlands of immortal glory round the name of Canada, bright & imperishable.  The little golden coloured plant grows on walls etc & I plucked it from the broken grey wall of a shell shattered & century old church – you will be reminded again of Tennyson’s – “Flower in the crannied nook”  The red cloth or band is trimming, which I picked last evening from the clothing grey uniform on the decaying  body of a German soldier.

Original Scans

Original Scans