March 17, 1917
This is St. Patrick's Day, the 17 March, and it is my 20th birthday. I want to write to the old home tonight for I know that now, perhaps more than any other time, your thoughts will be with your soldier boy, - your boy who, in far away France, is trying to do what little he can in the greatest of all great wars, a war which is being waged at tremendous costs in men, money and material; a war in which man gives of his best freely for the attainment of a high and noble purpose. We are not fighting for territory, or wealth or glory. The terms of peace may bring us new colonies, possibly we may become a richer nation after the war and certainly Britain's record will be a glorious one. But even if
these were all attained in the fullest measure possible, if they were our prime objects in entering a struggle, then I think we would have fought in vain for they could not begin to make compensation for the sacrifices which we, as a nation, have been called upon to bear. No, thank God, those are not our objects. We have a stronger, nobler purpose leading us all in through the valley of pain and sorrow, and sacrifice to the fairer and purer heights of the glorious attainment called an honourable and lasting peace, peace in which the autocrat no longer holds sway and which stands for the liberation
of the oppressed the and downtrodden and a peace which shall finally establish, without a doubt, the sacred right of humanity and in which nations shall regard each other as an essential factor of the whole and live together in brotherly love, instead of hatred and suspicion. This is the purpose which, with God's help, we are determined to attain and it would be an eternal disgrace to the Allies' name if they made any peace without attaining it.
It is now about 20 months since we as a battery have been organized and almost eighteen since I donned the khaki and in all those monhths we have spent nine and a half in sunny [?] France, six of them in the greatest battle the world has ever seen, the Battle of the Somme, in which five of our best men paid the supreme sacrifice in answer to the stern voice of the duty; one and a half resting and digging into our new position, and two months down here upon this job. They have been months full of work, excitement, and adventure, months in which every man has been tried in the fire and given a chance to prove his manhood and in which few indeed have been found wanting. And in the
coming summer we have more work ahead of us and no doubt heavy work but it will be an experience which I would not miss for a good deal and we are looking forward to it with hope and confidence, for the future is bright indeed and our spirits high. No doubt some of us will cash in on it, such is a fortune of war, but, no matter what may be, we are content. There is a possibility of a fellow copping it of course but his chances are good and danger seldom enters our thoughts. And even if one does not cash in on it we have no kick coming for who would not be willing to make some sacrifice in such a cause as the one for which we are fighting. We are not fighting for our king and country merely, we are fighting for humanity and God, and death should hold no terror for the man who
does his duty faithfully and well. Naturally it brings a feeling of sadness to one's heart to see one's comrades laying cold in death, victims of the fiendish inventions of a so-called culture and highly developed science which places itself on the footing of a God and leads its deluded followers to crimes unprecedented in history; but there is another and more glorious side too and one sees it in those who have fallen, examples of Him who upon Calvary's tree gave himself to save his friends and just as his death was not in vain so that will be with those who pay the supreme sacrifice out here in their devotion to duty.
A good many people have the idea that once a chap becomes a soldier he loses every spark of good and of manhood that is in him, that he forgets his home, his Christian training and his God and becomes a mere animal, a brute. A worse delusion than this I could not imagine. There are as true soldiers of the King of Kings out here as one could find anywhere, and although rough and ready and perhaps a little uncouth in their manners they are pure gold and would stick to a fellow through thick and thin. One must live the life of a soldier to understand it and when one does get an understanding into the life and the conditions under which he lives one has to take off one's hat on to them.
I was surprised to hear that Clay was preaching. I knew that he had a notion of theology. Was one of the fellows with him when he first started to consider it seriously and found the church. He is a splendid chap and I think he will make good.
Just now one of the boys came in from the battery with your box containing cake, chicken and butter. My sincerest thanks. It was certainly splendid and coming as it did right to the day was doubly welcome.
Well Mother, it is getting late so I must close. I hope by this time next year I shall be back with you all again. In the meantime for I am looking forward to an interesting though busy summer
Love to all from your soldier son, Harold