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Date: May 29th 1916

Ypre May 29, 1916.

Dear Brother,

Received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear so much news, especially from your Better Half. I see marriage life increased your rate of correspondence already.

I am taking a little more liberty in this letter as a friend of mine is going out tonight and leaving in the morning for his seven day leave - pretty tough luck, eh? He will post this in London so will not be censored.

So you will know where we are now - we came here to Ypre on the 24th of March and we are here for three months from that date. We relieved Imperial troops here then, we are in the extreme left of the Canadian Line. The famous guards regiments touches our left.

I am writing in this at the present time in the front line trench sixty yards from the Huns whose artillery is very active on our supports this afternoon. We are here for eight days and have got five of them in, and very fortunate for far slight casualties. We then move back to brigade reserves and do working parties at nights from there for eight days which makes sixteen days steady.

This is supposed to be our last trip in here, it is rumored we go to St. Omar for a month to recuperate, and then take over some line of trench there. We sure will be glad to get out of this hole. If there is such a thing as hell on earth this is it. They call the Ypre salient and the above is a rough sketch of how we are surrounded. The Canadians made this salient last summer in their advance and the trench fell back and it has been like it ever since. It has cost thousands of lives to hold it but Kitchener said it cost too many men for to fall back and make it straight now. You can understand how their artillery can ply of on from three sides at the same time, and they sure made use of it. The troop that we relieved would now know this part of the line now, there has been such improvement made on condition of the trenches. You know the Canadians are noted for keeping the trenches in good condition, also for the safety of the troops.

You have seen Santuary Wood mentioned in paper I suppose, we were in there as supports on our arrival here and they sure named it right. It used to be a heavy wood in peace time, but now the trees are stripped of their limbs and cut off by shells. When these large shells strike a tree its shrapenel and the explosion will chew it right off. The Huns don't spare shells to clean a round out from hiding batteries.

Ypre is the city I was aiming at in letters. When we are out in working parties we had to go through the city or what is left of it. There is a lot of transport traffic through it at night and Fritz certainly shells the roads to catch them, a transport job - is not quite so bomb proof up here. Our dug outs in the reserves were only half a mile from town so three of us got a permit one afternoon to go over and have a look around. We climbed all around the ruins of the Cathedral and the Cloth Hall. We were souvenir hunting but could not get any thing small enough. It has been ramsacked to often before us. There was certainly some great work in it. The walls are three foot thick. These Belgiums are very religious people and are great on images. I have got some post cards of the place and will send you some. There is a moat around the city also a very high wall and gates the same as used to be in England. There are troops billeted in the town now, they live in the cellars of the buildings knocked down now then when the cards were printed.

We were in Poperinghe on day for a bath and change of underwear. There are regular hot baths for the troops run by the Military Authority. We w went into a store to buy some tuck and while in there, a German aeroplane came over the town and dropped three bombs in the square. Well to our surprise in two minutes we owned the store. The occupants just dashed for the street and that was the last time we seen of them, they stop for nothing when any thing like that happens.

Last fall or when we came out here up to the time we came here we were holding the line at Kemmel Hill which you will see marked on your map. Well I guess this is all I can think of that is any importance to you. If I was talking to you I might be able to tell you a lot more, as kind of a side issue.

I received Ethol's wedding cake and Mother's pair of socks which I am very thankful for. I am beginning to imagine that I am getting old in hearing of so many of my old chums doubling up. I don't suppose it is compulsory in Canada yet.

Your Mrs. has got you beat already for local news and let it continue. When we go back to the country for a rest I expect my number will be due in that time. I think I will take my pass out for Ireland and have a look at old Dublin after the uprising.

I forgot to mention that one of our communication trenches runs parallel with the Ypre Canal. That St. Eloi's crap did not extend quite to us that night but were standing too, all the time it was going on expecting to be digging at any moment.

I suppose you are all settled down for a quite peaceful life now. I wouldn't care if I could say the same. But so far I am feeling good after my slight illness and feel lucky.

You can send this letter to Jim and it will save writing the same thing over again. I don't get an opportunity like this often.

Hoping you are all well and enjoying yourself.

Love to All,