Scot W.J. Stares. 59907.
21st Canadian Battn. (Sniper)
2nd C.E.F. 4th Brigade
British Expeditionary Force.
Army Post Office
London: Oct 30th
Dear Mr. Irwin.
Your letter to hand yesterday 29th and was very pleased to hear from you. We have been in the trenches now for 7 weeks and we all feel like Veterans at the Game.- better than Deer hunting- I enquired after Leut[?]. Kesliek of the 20th Batt. And I learned that he was left behind at Sandling with the Base. He will now be with the 39th Batt. Our Reserves so I did not have the pleasure to make my acquaintance with him. The weather has been simply awfull and the trenches and myself I fail to find words to express. There is at least 10 in of water in the trenches and I am encased in Mud, but we are Happy and in good Spirits and that’s what counts. Luckily the I.O.D.E. has come to our assistance at a very good time with a parcle of Socks in which we all need – at the present time I am wearing Sand-bags for Socks and Putties, the only pair I possess being satuated. What would I give to be at the Fowl Supper. I would give my socks to get a leg of Chicken after living on Bully Beef & Biscuits it makes my mouth water to think of it. I regret to say that one of our brave Norwood Boys has gone to meet his Maker, and we miss him very much when we get together to chat.
The Fair is over once again, and I have been told that I did not carry away all the Prizes this year – but just wait a while longer – possibly next year I sincerely hope and see I have five collections of Sketches I intend to make use of. The recent German atrocity (The Murder of Miss Cavell) has made the Boys more determined than ever and it will be a sorry day for Fritz when we are let loose to get at them. There will be no holding of us. Brother Charley is progressing favourbly in hospital at Reading, Eng. and just missed the recent advance at Loos. Letters from Home and Friends in Norwood help to keep our Spirits up, and we are never more anxious than to see the Daily Mail Bag come up to the trenches full of good news and Gifts. All the Boys are feeling fit under the adversed conditions including myself. I am writing this in my little Dug-out, bullets and Bombs whistling over the roof – still I feel safe although there is only 50 yds between us. Yesterday we brough down a German Airoplane between the lines, and to prevent it falling into our hands they open fire upon there own man and machine. Still we found out that it was maned with a Machine Gun captured from the 1st Contingent (Can) Maybe in closing it would interest you & the friends what the Scouts pass away there time in.
We are working Night and Day in this busy Intelligent Department. In the Day time we have Snipers at there posts picking off Old Fritz.- men on Observation Posts watching, and making notes of every move- Artillery observers.- counting the shells that comes across – find out the direction if possible. Cababra[?] – and range. When Fritz is busy it takes a lightning calculation on the job.- Sketches of positions and Bearings have to be taken – and all reports sent in we have to find out how true.- hunting up Snipers behind our own lines- Leading the Batt. From place to place finding the best possible routes for safty and other small items too numerous to mention. At nights there is the long silent hours at the Listening Post- Patrols go out into Mans Land between the lines – examining entanglements – find out if possible what Fritz is doing in his own trenches, and this is some job as Fritz are constantly sending up Star shells which makes the land between as bright as day – crawling out there under our own fire as well as the German. In fact we are the Eyes and Ears and I was going to say Brains but I won’t of the Battalion.
Had the honor to represent the Scouts at the recent Review by the King and Sir John French, it was a splendid sight and I was able to see our Great Commander for the first time. Will close for this time. Kind Regards to all the Friends at Norwood – Remember me to Mrs. Irwin and Family.