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Date: May 21st 1915
Paul Skidmore

Dear Mother:
Will try to give you a short synopsis of my rather extended travels during the last couple of weeks.

On Thursday, April 22nd, the 1st Battalion was billeted in some huts about a mile from Viamertynghe and about 5 in the afternoon a crowd of refugees were seen passing along a nearby road. A bunch of us went over to see what the trouble was and were told that the French had been forced to give way and were rapidly retiring. With this we were called back to our huts and warned to be ready at a moments notice. However all was quiet until about 1:00 a.m. when we were quietly called and ordered to 'fall in' as soon as possible in full marching order and to have all the ammunition we could carry as well as one day's beef and biscuit ration. All this required about half an hour and we marched off without hardly a word spoken although there were many silent hand clasps. After about an hour's march we halted and while we rested, several French soldiers passed us. They seemed intent on one idea, and that was to put as much space between themselves and the Germans as possible. We were none of us told the 'where and why', but the flashes and roar of artillery 'dead ahead' told us only too plainly our ultimate destination. After resting a short time, we got the order to advance along a road parallel with the railway between Poperighe and Ypres, about 1-1/2 miles out of Ypres we turned to the left and marched along the way for twenty minutes, when we were suddenly given a jolt by several 'high' explosive shells bursting within a few yards of us. However, we continued to advance and shortly came to a pontoon bridge across the Yser Canal, which we crossed. Just here I happened to spy Major Beattie and hailed him. He came over and gave me a hearty handclasp, saying 'Paul, my lad, be a man and put your trust in God as this is serious business.' He told me that the Brig. Major had forbidden him to go any farther. He then bid me good-bye and good luck and remained to cheer the boys as they crossed the narrow bridge. From here we advanced about 300 yards and commenced to dig ourselves in but soon got orders to advance. We had learned by this time that the 4th Battalion was ahead of us. By 5 a.m. the shells and bullet were pretty thick and there were several casualties. We now proceeded - two platoons at a time - in single file under cover of a hedge and a ditch for about 200 yards. Just here the platoons extended to the right and advanced in line of skirmishers to the left front. Here the fireworks started in earnest. The enemy were along the brow of a gentle slope some 1500 yards distant. The position was an excellent one as they had a clear field of fire, and there was no cover for us but a few ditches only a couple of feet deep. Our boys were as steady as rocks and advanced with a regularity and precision that has won our 'Name' surprising everyone, ourselves included. Through some miracle several of us reached a rough trench about a thousand yards up the hill it was useless to advance further as there were so few of us left after the Hell of Fire we had gone through that we could not hope to reach the enemy's lines. By this time it must have been about 10 a.m. We set to work like demons to make our rough shelter as good a protection as possible and by noon had quite a passable trench, in which we kept up a heavy rifle and machine gun fire until 4 in the afternoon. The enemy had kept up a heavy fire all day but now it seemed to redouble in fury and by this time our artillery had come into action and was pounding away at a terrible rate, and the word came along that supports were coming on our right. Looking around we could see line after line advancing across the fields we had traversed in the early morning. Many a man in that trench muttered 'Thank God' and we did our best to cover the advance with our rifle fire. Soon the King's Own Scottish Borderers came into our position in the trenches, and as soon as they had gotten their breath our senior officer, Capt. Parks, yelled at the top of his voice 'Come on First Canucks, lets give them Hell'. We answered to a man and springing over the parapet started to advance. After advancing about 150 yards I felt a sudden shock in my right thigh, for all the world like a blow with a hammer. Then I realized I was done and remembering 'First Aid to the Injured' tied my pull- through tight around the top of my leg and by using the handle of my entrenching tool made a bind of a tourniquet and stopped some of the flow of blood. Would like to tell you how I got back to the dressing station but as I have only a vague idea myself of how it happened will leave that and my trip back across the Channel, up through England, to this grand good hospital for another letter but will say the doctors promise that I can begin to get around again in a couple of weeks. Love to all.