Lieut,-Col. W.M. Ponton, K.C., has received from his son, Lieut. Richard D. Ponton, a letter written on the memorable 21st day of February, a short while after the baptism of fire which the Canadian troops underwent. The Ontario having made special request of the recipient is privileged to make this communication public. It is as follows:
Sunday, 21st February, 1915
Well, we have our baptism of fire and have just returned to billets for a few hours of rest. We were up in the first line trenches, some of which are only 100 yards from the Germans. It was great. After the first half hour was over, it becomes something indescribable. A great intense zest arises and one immediately begins to call all his thinking powers together in order to outshoot and outpost the enemy. We went into the trenches at 3.00 a.m. on Friday amidst bursting shells and machine gun fusillades in addition to search lights and huge star shells. Such a sight and sound it was wonderful! By the time dawn came we had settled down to our work and overcome any little nervousness men naturally have when marching in, and in front appeared the trenches of the Germans. Shells started at dawn again but our artillery was quite equal to the occasion. On Friday night we were right out in front fixing the entanglements. The Germans have no more chance of getting through our lines here and our steel than I have of going to India. Well, we were tired enough this morning at 4 a.m. to be relieved for a little rest and to pull ourselves together. We go back again to-night had very slight casualties. Sniping has the greatest effect. The country around here is in an awful state bearing tragic witness to the great struggle that has lasted for weeks. Of course we notice these things more now than we will later on, but everything is laid waste. On Thursday evening our mail came. Letters from you and mother and Anna and Bill Shorey. You can never imagine such rejoicing at getting them and just before going into action for the first time. The men behaved splendidly and their work was highly complimented by British officers who have been here for weeks. All the Belleville XV boys and the 49th boys are fine and untouched so far. My platoon did splendid work at checking, sniping and entanglements. Have met some of the very finest officers of the Royal Fusiliers, Royal Engineers, The Buffs, North Staffordshire; etc. with whom we are fighting side by side. Now dad, I am off to bed in a very comfortable billet, and from the way I feel, I will sleep every minute for the few hours I have.
Good-bye and dear love to you all.
DICK - Belleville Ontario.