November 26, 1916
Sunday afternoon and I want to write home today for several reasons; first, I think it is almost a week since I have written; second, I am off duty and have nothing to do; third, because this is Sunday afternoon and, although Sunday is almost the same as every other day out here yet, whether on duty or not, it always brings back memories and I know on Sunday your thoughts and prayers are with me even more than on week days, and, last but not least, on this day, a year ago, I saw you all for the last time, for this is the anniversary of the day we said good bye to the shores of dear old P.E.I. and left for overseas. Well do I remember that eventful morning. I remember the sharp clear notes of the Reveille, breaking in the still morning air. Then the bustle of preparation, the last overhauling of kit, and the issuing of our final orders. Then the quarter call sounded and those of us who had been out at the door, saying good bye to any friends we might spy in the crowd which was hanging around, beat it for our kits. Once more the bugle was heard and this time five minute call,. and we shouldered our kits and got out onto the parade ground. Then the fall in roll call, the inspection to see that we had left nothing behind and the command "Quick March" and we were off - along Fitzroy to Prince, down Prince to the music of the band, and right on board the boat.
And then I saw you all for a few moments, just long enough for a few precious words, and - we were gone. For a few moments we could recognize faces; then all was lost in the crowd. Soon we were well out of the harbour and then the trouble began. Most of us had eaten a good deal of sweet stuff the night before, and that morning it was pretty rough, and one by one the fellows began to get seasick. I with a few others stayed up in the bow where I got the cool sea breeze in my face and did not mind the trip at all.Well, we got to Pictou at last and took a train to Halifax where we arrived just in time for supper.
During the evening, from 6 to 10, we were allowed up town, but in four hours in a strange town after dark one can not see a great deal. At 10 we got back to our train where we slept for the night.
The next forenoon we boarded the boat that was to bring us across and on the following morning, Sunday, Nov. 28 at 7 a.m., we pulled out of Halifax Harbour and said good bye to the shores of good old Canada. For seven days we sailed eastward, sleeping the last night on the upper deck with our life belts on, and on Sunday morning. at 7 a.m.,with flags flying and bands playing, we pulled into Plymouth Harbour. From Plymouth we went to Horsham by rail, arriving at our camp there the same night at about 10 p.m.. Here we were to camp for the greater part of the time we were in England and here we were to
get a large portion of our training. We worked hard but had a good deal of time to ourselves, and some of us made friends in the town. I told you of the family with which we were acquainted, the Debneys, and of the many enjoyable Sunday evenings spent there.
Well the months passed quickly and pleasantly, and at last we left Horsham and went to Lydd. There we received the finishing touches of our course and got our real test of efficiency in our firing practice, and believe me, we measured up to that test, too. Our work at Lydd completed, we went to Stockcross Camp for a couple of weeks before going across. Here I think was one of the most beautiful sections of country I have ever seen, certainly the most beautiful I have seen in England, although not nearly so nice as some parts of Scotland which we saw. While in Lydd we had our four days overseas leave and now we were already for France and on the last day of May we left Stockcross and about 7 p.m. the same evening we started on our trip across the channel, docking in France. at 1 a.m. June 1st. On June 7th we got to our position in the firing line and started digging in. On the 16th we fired our first shots and on July first we had our first big
bombardment on Gommecourt. Then on July 4th we left Sailley-au-Bois arriving at Fricourt on the 6th. Since then we have moved ahead three times and for each move the enemy have had to be driven back first and in this driving back process we have had a good share.
It has been a wonderful year for us, a year or great memories and the thrilling adventures,- a year of hard work yet filled with enjoyment, a year in which we have seen something of the world and of life, and a year about half of which we have spent in the thick of the greatest battle of the greatest war the world has ever seen. And what will the next year bring forth? That is a hard question to answer, but I hope by Nov. 26, 1917, we may have a permanent and honorable peace and be back again in the dear old homes to celebrate the day. That will be a happy day indeed when the War is over and we all get back to little P.E.I. again.
Well Mother, I don't think there is any news. I will write again into or three days. All well
Bushels of love to all from your loving son, Harold