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Date: November 1st 1917
From
Bill
Letter

France
Nov.1st,1917

Dear Folks:

Well I'm back with the B'n again and feeling fit as usual so I'll try & give you an account, as far as I can, of our last two weeks work which have certainly been the most eventful in my fighting career.

To begin with I'll tell you what the general topography of the ground is like. Its simply miles and miles of shell holes - all filled with water and the whole ground so water-logged that you go down over your knees every step and you have to keep moving or I guess you would go out of sight. To say its muddy is putting it mild by a long ways. Besides that it rains practically every day & every hour. You get wet and stay wet all the time your in the forward area. Well we came into this front about a fortnight ago and ever since the B'n has been "up the line" - not in the front line all the time you know but in supports & Reserve but one is just the same as the other, as far as mud & rain & shells etc go. Of course the main item of the whole programme is our going over the top but we also had several little perliminaries that I won't forget to tell you when I get back. Enough for now that I've gone thr' things that in civilian life I'd have got Bronchitis & rhumatics and everything on the medical menu but being in the army I didn't even catch a cold. It seems funny that a whole Bn of men can go into a trench and stand for two days & two nights up to their knees in water & no cover and it raining all the time and not a single man report sick. Its cold too these days I shivered for a week steady with two sweaters on - just about got a sweat up doing it too. The "Grand Final" was our trip over the top. I felt great that morning and when the barrage opened -- I've told you about a barrage haven't I - everybody was on their toes. Everything went well - we got our objective - took a bunch of prisoners - got all the souveniers worth carrying out & consolidated our position. But all the time it was raining & cold & I was about all in. One of our platoon got a leg broke so Chief & I & a couple of other fellows started to carry him out but Fritz was sniping & got the other two fellows right thru' the head so Chief & I had to sneak back and leave poor Woods there. The Padre came along tho' with a red cross flag & a bunch of stretcher bearers & took him out just before dark. Chief & I & a stretcher bearer were standing behind a "pill-box" - you've heard of them - when a big heavy of Fritz's lit right in front of us. It simply lifted me up & sat me down again about ten feet away and absolutely plastered me with mud. I got a few scratches on my face but nothing worth bothering about but felt pretty well shook up. Chief got the same thing I did & the S.B. got a piece of shell in his back so the three of us went out to the dressing station for there, Chief & I were sent to a rest camp for a few days and Chief is still there but will probably be back in a day or so. I got fed up with the place - its Imperial you know & they won't let you do a thing without getting a signed letter of permission so I asked to be sent back on light duty. I'm back of the line now and almost enjoying life.

The hardest luck of the whole thing is that Tom Riley got killed. He was the best kind of pal -- the kind of fellow you get to like better every day. His people live in Calgary. I think his dad is an alderman or some civic officail.

Now about the mail. By going to hospital I missed two parcels & by all accounts they were too good to miss. You see they sent the parcels up to the fellows and all the casuality parcels were given to somebody else. Well I wasn't a casuality but I wasn't there so my too parcels went to the rest of the fellows. Still is anybody every did deserve a couple of good parcels it was those fellows & from what I've heard they appreciated them. Besides I got two when I got back here and also the sox & cigarettes. I'll enclose the two cards. The other cards for the other boxes I'll send next letter as one of the fellows has them with him up the line. The grape nuts are sure great - Ed Lesard a kid from W'p'g & I are in the same dug out & we are planning on a feast tonight for supper.

I guess this is enough for now. I'll write again soon as I think we'll have more chance to do writing in a few days.

I guess you will be worrying a little these days but it can't be helped. I've got thru' OK and we aught to have it pretty easy now for awhile. Fred's B'n got cut up quite a bit but I haven't had a chance to find out about him yet.

Give my best to everybody. I owe Rose a letter. Will you thank her for writing & tell her I hope to get a letter off to her soon.

As ever Bill

Nov. 5/ didn't get this mailed as we have been moving. I'm enclosing the other cards I got from Woodie. Many thanks & best regards from the fellows who got in on the parcels.

Yours

Bill