#18933 16 Platoon (4 Co.)
2nd Battalion 1st Brigade
1st Can. Div. B.E.F. France
Somewhere in France
August 3, 1915
Dear Sister & Everybody,
Just a few lines to say that I am all right. We have not had any encounters with the Germans lately. It appears that both sides are preparing for a big bust-up in the near future.
We have been in reserve for the last week or so, digging trenches. I would much rather be in the front line all the time because we get a few days rest when we come out of the front line. You work all the time when in reserve and that gets on the nerves. It makes you feel like quitting the job. I suppose we have to do our share of the digging just the same as the other regiments.
We are billeted on the slope of a wooded hill about a mile and a quarter from the firing line. The only thing we have to fear here is the shell fire. It has not come over so far. The country around here is rolling and the slopes are full of trenches. Both the British and the Germans are very well entrenched and there would be a nasty scrap if either side tried to break through. The Germans have tried several ways to break the British lines by foul means. The "Liquid Fire" they used the other day on some of the British troops near Ypres did not have much effect. The surprise would make a man feel as if Hell's lid was off when he saw a sheet of flame coming toward him. It seems as if they forced the liquid out of pipes laid some fifty yards in from their trenches. The flame only goes about fifty yards, so I don't think we need worry about their much talked of invention.
It's harvest time over here now and the people are all busy cutting their grain. Most of the farmers use a scythe but a few are up to date and use the binder. The crops are excellent and the French take great pains looking after them. Harvesting is going on only a mile behind the firing line and they go about their work as if there was no war going on. Perhaps they are just getting used to the war now. All the civilian population, between the ages of thirteen and sixty, have to carry a passport with them. These are renewed every month and yesterday was renewal day. It was a pleasure to see all the old dames and the young demoiselles trotting off to a nearby village to get their passports signed.
I am still with the "Suicide Club," ready to hurl a few bombs at the Huns any time. It's dangerous work but challenging. If a hit is made poor Fritz and a few of his chums take a quick trip to the soldiers' rest - if there is such a place. The majority of us are expert throwers now and we practise every day. It's surprising how far bombs can be thrown. There are two slings that hurl a bomb over two hundred yards. Our rifle grenades average nearly that distance too.
We expect the Second Contingent will be over here some time this month. Some men from the Third Contingent are here now as reinforcements for us. The Second Contingent is coming as a Division, the same as we are.
I have written my limit for now. Give my love to all and don't forget to write often.
Your loving brother