Letter from Corp. A.E. Duggan
The following extracts are from a letter received by Mr. Sam Hogg, from A.E. Duggan, a former employee at the Wabi Iron Works plant. Several interesting articles appeared in these columns several months ago, dealing with the cavalry branch of the service, and written by Mr. Duggan, who has since answered the call:
I suppose you have all given me up for dead long ago. Well, I may say that I am very much alive indeed, and am quite well. . . . . .I may say, to start with, that the censorship on our letters is most severe, and therefore I cannot give you much news of what is going on around us but will leave you to the tender mercies of the newspapers, and, by the way, I would like you to occasionally send me a Canadian paper after you have finished with it yourself. . .I have not been in the trenches up to the present, but have been under shell fire on several occasions and the experience is far from pleasant. This is mainly an artillery and infantry war and we are not being used much as cavalry, although we have been used on work that is far from being cavalry work. I have applied to be transferred to the mechanical transport where I think my services would be of more value than they are at present. I don't think after this war you will have any occasion to be ashamed of being a Canadian. The Canadians have made a great name for themselves out here. I have not seen any of the New Liskeard boys so far. I have come across a lot from Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Vancouver and also some of the Winnipeg Rifles. Where is Alf. Johnson now? You might give me his address as I would like to drop him a line.
We are training pretty hard every day in case we should be required in the future, but the outlook for cavalry is not very good. There is too much barbed wire and too many trenches. The weather is fine here and the farmers are all hard at work getting in their crops. I may say that the farming here is being done by women and old or unfit men as every man who is of military age and is physically fit, is in the firing line. I am afraid we are in for another winter of it too. I have never seen such well cultivated land as I have seen in France and Belgium, Every inch is cultivated and such crops. Heavier by far than any you have ever seen. The whole country seems like one vast market garden. The implements they use are rather antiquated. I have seen donkeys ploughing. The plough is a wooden frame with a sheet iron covering and a cast iron shoe. The harrows are wood, even the teeth are wood. The threshing machines are mostly driven by horse power. But one thing seems strange. The fields are cultivated almost up to the trenches and people live in farm houses where shells are dropping all around them and in lots of cases knocking holes in the walls of the houses or corners off the gable ends. I have seen farmers quietly plowing whilst shells were dropping too close to be comfortable. It seems that a house has literally to be blown down around the occupants' ears before they will leave unless the authorities force them to do so for military reasons. When you write, which I trust you will do, please address Corpe. A.E. Duggan, C Squadron, 5th Royal Irish Lancers, British Expeditionary Force, France.
And now for yourself. How are all getting on? Remember me to all the boys. I don't know who you have with you now.
Give me all the news when you write. Best wishes to yourself and all the boys from
Your old work mate
Arthur E. Duggan