Letter from G.H. Grahame
March 14, 1915
Have just had a glorious wash and shave and having had a good night's rest I am sitting down in the straw of our billet ready for the pleasurable task of answering your much appreciated letter which arrived last night. I have been very fortunate in the number of letters received, in fact, hardly a day passes that I don't get a letter from some one at the Grove. They come to the trenches at rations time every night.
We came out last night a very exciting four days full of [crossed out] We feel like regular old veterans now and I think are as steady as any troops on the long battle line. Our artillery is wonderful and they silence the Germans every time. They shell us or send trench mortar bombs over. Lordy, how I hate those blessed trench mortars, though they are not as dangerous as shrapnel they make five times the noise. If one of those things were to burst in the middle of the football field it would shatter every window in the school. Sometimes one can see them coming thru the air and then one does his best to crawl into the breech of his rifle or to hide under a sandbag. But more often than not they explode before their presence is known and then all you can do is to pick yourself out of the mud and look pleased. As to our losses, I can't say anything about them but if you follow the papers you will find out how we have suffered.
It is too bad that measles had to break out again. Hockey term does seem to be full of those little jokes. Your description of the drive to Warsaw with the team brought back memories of other happy visits that I have made there. I dreamed last night that I was back home again and woke to the banging of the artillery this morning. I saw all the boys again and among them was little Sidney Craven. I walked out toward the Point with the boys and Barney was with me and then - I woke up.
I was very disappointed at finding myself back in France again but today is such a perfect Spring day that life is worth living anywhere under such a nice warm sun as in shining now.
I see by the papers that the 2nd Contingent is having all sorts of good times. It appears to me that they hare having a glorified picnic. All the same I am glad I belong to the 1st Contingent although we have not been picnic-ing.
Many happy returns of the day. I spent your birthday in the trenches and we had quite a lively time that day.
I don't see why you should feel flattered because I included you in that message. There are many things I should like to say in my letters to you but although thousands of miles away, I 'dassent.
We have had new soft hats since landing in France. Somewhat the shape of the old ones but with an ear flap and chin strap which folds over the top.
[sketch of hat]
And with our fur coats on you would not recognize the lot who left Canada last September (It seems years ago).
Did I tell you that I saw Seton Broughall in Salisbury? He came down to see his brother just before we crossed to France.
I have had a number of narrow escapes as everybody has in the trenches. One bullet passed between my chin and arm as I was firing number one gun during an attack and another passed thru the space my head had just been occupying a second or so before. But those are only two out of many.
We have had a lot of cold weather but not much snow for some time. The warm weather appears to have set in and the trenches are getting dry. Keep your eye on the papers from now on.
Some of the boys in the gun section have very good voices and often we sing the old songs. Across the barbed wire one can hear the Germans singing their home songs and in our trenches 'Old Black Joe', 'I'm on my way to Mandalay' and other songs are being sung, punctuated by the crack of snipers rifles and the rumble of the artillery which is never silent. We have great fireworks displays at night - star shells that light up the whole country and which prove a blessing and a nuisance both in one when a fellow is out after rations or water. A blessing because they show up the barbed wire and trenches that otherwise might prove obstacles and a nuisance because they show one up to the Germans unless one is quick enough to fall or dodge behind a tree stump.
The artillery has been giving the fellows infront of us Merry Hail Columbia - ripping their trenches to pieces and scattering dead, grey clad bodies over the parapets.
We had a horrible casualty two nights ago - I went to the other end of the trench (45,698,314 miles away) for our issue of rum and when I got back with it someone upset it all over the ground.
I don't know what we should do without our rum. I am not a drinker but I do like my little toddy of grog every morning and night.
Well Win. I hope I have put nothing in here that can be censored. Please write again and tell Ken, that I will try and get letters to them before I again go into trenches.
8444 P.V. G.H. Grahame,
1st Canadian Division,
British Expeditionary Force,
1st Infantry Brigade,
Machine Gun Section.