No.3 Co P.P.C.L.I. B.E.7.
Aug. 5, 1915
I have not written since Sunday and this is Thursday. Monday night we left the bivouacking camp and came here to the trenches. There has been little firing the last two days. There is very little rifle firing during the day, what firing there is, is ordinary field artillery. This part of the line is very quiet and the old fellows call these cushy trenches, (cushy means comfortable & protected I suppose). At night those on sentry fire an occasional shot, machine guns open up once in a while and some explosives go over. There is considerably more firing at night than in the day. Just now some of the german explosives are bursting 3 or 400 yds behind us. Only one or two explosive have burst near our line of trenches. The germans don't want to advance nor do we just yet. If one artillery fires at the trenches than the other returns the fire. The german trenches are between 3 & 400 yds from ours. This is further than the average distance between them and it would be very difficult and dangerous to charge over such a long stretch. During the day time the sentry keeps his head below the parapet.
Friday Aug. 6
It is now 4p.m. we are going out of trenches to-night at midnight and will be in billets for 4 or 5 days. These billets are a couple of miles behind the line.
Last night we were standing- to most of the time. When we get the order to "stand-to" everyone must be out of the dug-outs with his ammunition equipment on. A sharp look-out has to be kept over the parapet- We hardly ever see a german. Once I a while we see dirt thrown out behind their lines. Three or four of our fellows have had narrow escapes, one had a bullet thro his hat another was stunned by a bullet very close to him.
We cook our food in mess tins. The fires are lit just behind. We have to scout around for wood. This morning after a few minutes search I found quite a large piece of board. We get the water from a pump 300 yds behind in the ruins of an old house. I was one of a digging part in front of the trench from 9.30 to 11.30.
There are quite a few flares sent up by both sides at night. They are to expose parties working on the wire entanglements or snipers. The trenches are much different from what I expected. There is a board walk placed behind and you can go along it to any part of the line in safety.
I think I mentioned that Buzz Hamilton was in hospital with a sore thumb. He came here last night and his thumb is much better. He says he had a nice rest in the field Hospital for 2 days. There were several rumours around this morning. One was we may go to the Dardanelles, another our division may be back in England in a month or so. The P. Pats are not in the Canadian Division but are part of a British division. I suppose you know that.
I was just called away on a little fatigue, carrying poles from the dumping ground (where supplies are unloaded) up to our right. There are numerous trenches running behind us, including the support trenches. The main communication runs back about 5 or 600 yds.
We'll go out to-night and I hope we have time to do a little sleeping. We don't sleep at night here only what we can get during the day.
Saturday aug. 7.
We came back to billets last night. They are in private houses in a small french town. There don't seem to be many people around. Bob Turriff, Art Parlett, Ceril Harrington, Don Graham, Buzz Lewis & myself are in the same house. When arrived there about midnight, It is about 3 miles from the trenches. We sat down in the kitchen and had some bread & jam and tea. This morning an old lady was down and gave us some good coffee. when we want to sleep these days all we have to do is put down our oil-sheet, lay on it and cover ourselves with great coat. Last night we took off boots & putties the first time for 5 days.
At 8 a.m. after a dandy sleep, Bob, Kisby (Sask.U.) Lewis & myself were warned for guard. So now we are a mile from the billets guarding the entrance to the town. The orders are - (1) to allow no N.C.O. or men of our division to enter the town without a pass. (2) If men say they are on duty to question them & assure yourself that they are. It is a 24 hr. shift and we'll be on till to-morrow morning at 9. The guard room is facing the street in an empty house. I'm sitting in the corner on my sheet while Bob & Kisby are sleeping. Lewis is on guard a few yds. Away.
I don't go on guard only see that it is changed regularly etc. My mind hasn't been occupied with very much else than thinking of you al at home. Shells often burst in the town and you hear them nearly all day. The poor mothers and children gather in the street when they begin falling very close. How glad I am you are far away from such terrors. Quite a number of the buildings have been struck with shells, many are vacated and boarded up.
We go back to the trenches about wedensday I guess. Our part of the line is quite, only a little firing.
I'm looking for a letter when I go back to billets in the morning. Your last letter dated July 9 I received last Monday. You are sending $5. I left 4£ with Lieut. Sparling at Shorncliffe and have 15 Franks ($3) on me, so I'll have plenty of money when your $5 comes. I'm almost certain I have received all your letters. Did you get the cablegram I sent from Shorncliffe on July 16, the day we left England?
In my last letter I told you how good everything was in the box. Tell Arthur I'm still chewing the gum. I've a piece in my mouth now and there is a package left. Thank Mrs. Secord for the chocolate. I don't know what makes you think I'm not getting your mail. I mentioned in a letter from Shorncliffe to send the mail to general P.O. London because we expected to leave at any time and I thought that would be the best place. They forward all mail from Shorncliffe or London. I don't think many letters go astray. I have all yours anyway I'm pretty sure. If sending socks, which I'll need pretty soon, send them to the address on the first page or if you like to Mrs. Reid. I'll write her and give my address we were no-4 co. at Shorncliffe now we are no. 3. But that doesn't make any difference about mail, we get the letters O.K. I see McQuarrie quite often.
I must close and have a sleep. Will write soon. Tell Mary I'm very proud of her in Exams. Love to all
Your loving son