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Date: May 14th 1917

May 14,1917

Dear Folks:

Well here we are again. We're back in billets after two weeks up the line, and maybe this isn't a seventh paradise. For instance just now -- Monday P.M. -- Peener & I are loafing on the grass under a bunch of big apple trees. Its a real hot summer day with just enough breeze to make it comfortable. There is a Y.M.C.A. recreation tent near with a gramaphone playing a bunch of American rags. A pipe band is going crazy over on the square and about a dozen biplanes and triplanes are playing tag up above. Taking it all around this is pretty hard to beat for a rest camp and we have visions of a weeks real holiday. Our initiation trip up the line couldn't have been better I wrote you once when we were in supports but I'll go over it again in case I've missed some of it. I'd like to tell you all the details but I'll have to let them wait for it wouldn't do to tell everything.

We left here on Monday A.M. about 6 o'clock and marched up to within range of the line where we stayed until Saturday night. We lived in a tunnel that was absolutely shell proof but not altogether a la McDonald. We were well fed tho' and only worked five hours out of twenty-four. Saturday night we moved up to the reserve where we stayed in dugouts till Tuesday. We didn't do much work and what little we did do took place at night. We were pretty badly shelled here at times but had no casualities. Here's where I had my first taste of gas too. One night Fritz sent over gas shells for about twelve hours and spoiled out nights sleep. It was a mixture of tear & poison gas -- a new stuff they're using perhaps you've heard of it. It has various flavours from pinapple to rum. Of course we all used out respirators so it didn't do any harm except make it unpleasant. Tuesday night we went up to the supports and were there till Thursday night when we went into the front line for forty-eight hours. This was the safest part of the trip. We layed low during the day and had a chance to exercise a little at night. This consists of carrying parties -- rations, water etc -- and patrols or scouting. Its lots of fun to get on a patrol and sneak out across no-man's land. We never had a chance to mix it with Fritz but there's always a certain amount of excitement anyway even if there isn't a Hun within four hundred yards.

We got a big bunch of Canadian mail exactly 2 AM the last day we were in the front line. The corp brought it around and as we were standing - to we couldn't read it. Then when we did get a chance - Fritz sent over some tear gas & we had to don the respirators for awhile. But we got a chance later on. I only got one letter from home and that was the paper you sent about Bert Armstrong's letter. I expect some more today. Peener got a letter from Jay so I knew you were O.K.

We were relieved Saturday night about midnight and then we started in to walk home. We had quite a load to carry and then hadn't even had out boots off for two weeks and had only had from 1/2 hour to two hours sleep out of every twenty four so weren't in very good shape. Well we walked until after daylight before we stopped & I was willing to stop then believe me. We had breakfast & layed around until 2 PM and then came the rest of the way here. It was about 90 in the shade and hardly a breeze so maybe we didn't sweat. We got here about 6 and I don't think I could have gone a mile more. At least thats what I was thinking when we got near billets but just as we were coming in somebody yelled "Hello Bill" and old Burnie and Ted Taylor came beefing up. I forgot all about being all in then. The whole crowd from the old "C" Coy are in billets here to. You see they aren't in out B'n. The whole crowd came up & had a laugh at out expense. You see Peener & I hadn't shaved for two weeks so you can imagine the rest. We spent the evening swapping lies. It done me good to see Rus Burnett again. He's one of the finest fellows I know. You'll know him sometime. Our of "C" Coy is pretty badly shot up but we have put up th4e goods. Stan Hurlburt is in Blighty with a hand off and has been recommended for the D.C.M. Sid Wood is also back there and has got the M.C. Art Elliott left Bramshot with us -- three weeks ago & is back in Blighty now. He got his the first time over the top. There are dozens more but you won't know them. Of my old section at Camp Hughes Tiny Linton is wounded, Ikey Irwin is wounded and recommended for the M.M. Ken Kentner is OK, Burnie is O.K. and the rest are with me here.

We got our parcels last night. I got one from home -- care enclosed -- and one from Dot. You can bet a box of eats looks like a months leave over here. You see we can't buy anything except canned good and don't get any trimmings dished out so we had almost forgotten what fruit cake meant.; If I get about a dozen letters from home now I'll be happy.

I got a good letter from Marg that morning in the line & a card from Mac. I sure enjoyed Marg's letter.

Well this is pretty good length so I'll call a halt. I'll write again in a few days and tell you anything I've forgotten now.

Love to everybody


Address - #911280 C.M.R.'s Canadians France