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Date: January 10th 1916
Mr. Irwin
W.J. Stares

No 59907. Scout W.J. Stares


21st Canadian Battalion


“Sniper Section”


2nd C.E.F. 4th Brigade


British Exped. Force


Army Post Office




Jan 10th 1916


Dear Mr. Irwin


Yours of the 25th Dec. reached me today the 10th and was delighted to hear from you. So glad you wrote before eating your Christmas Dinner as the length of the epistle would have had been cut down some. – and the news would not have had flowed so freely. I know how a person feels after eating the good things.- I will tell you how I spent Christmas in the trenches. Christmas Eve the Huns were very Happy- Shouting over to us and Singing (what it was about I cannot say – possibly their Hymn of Hale in German) it sound very nice – splendid harmony. – one fellow had a very rich Baratone voice. – after a while a Brass Band struck up and gave a few selections – by Wagner – to this we replied by sending a few H.E. (High Explosives) the discord was something terrible – and our turn came to sing.-


Christmas Day I spent in the Reserve trenches. Had a very good time. Gifts being served about[?] – consisting of tobacco, Chocolate, Comforts. Ect[?] – our dinner consisted of Steaks, Tea, and by the way of Desert – Christmas pudding, Oranges & Nuts.- New Years Eve was the same as Christmas Eve – but no Band, on the stroke of 12 the country was up lit with Starlights, the cannons roared, Machine Guns opened up, and 1916 entered with the War going on in earnest. – Experienced my first taste of Gas on Sunday Dec 19th although very slight the effects stayed with me all day, effecting the eyes. The Germans made a Gas attack on the Left of us. It was a great sight to witness at 4AM in the morning – things have been very lively just lately, the opposition being very Hateful – today I witness a Heavy bombardment of the German trenches. Sandbags, Building, and earth flying 100-200 feet in the air. – I have a new position these last few weeks, which keeps me in the Front Line all day.- Kind of an Intelligence Officer. I patroll the front gathering information, observing the enemy’s position, find Snipers, taking a crack at them, then moving along the line before they locate my position. Give advice to our own Snipers- Set the Artillery working if advisable – Studying Maps – and of course Lots of sketching has to be done.


Conditions are far more pleasant now, the weather is fine, just like early Spring, the mud has got in a solid state and Long legged Rubber boots keep the feet dry. The names of the New recruits are familiar to me and I must say will make good soldiers. – there’s plenty of room for them out here. – Sorry to hear of the Carbuncle hoping by this time it will be better. Our Chaplin The Rev. Mr. Kidd we like very well. he do not show up in the firing line very often – only on one occasion – when visiting his brother officers – and I look in back under the cover of darkness to Headquarters. He is very slim built – red complection, sandy hair – and looks as if he is in the last stage of Consumption – as for taking a shot at the Huns I don’t think he is built that way – the service is after the Church of England style.- The rest of the Norwood Boys are well and Happy. Geo Martin I have not seen for some considerable time I paid one visit down in the bowels of the earth and was practically under the German trenches – anyhow when I do see him I shall have some fun with him-


A. Rettridge is making rapid progress being a full Corporal – Pond is still Lance Corporal – Sorry to say C Southgate from Havelock – one of the Norwood contingent was shot through the Lungs – cannot get any new of him – the last I heard was that he was still living – so he may pull through after hanging on so long – There has been some talk of getting leave (10 days) but I do not think anything will come like that. – At least not at present – Brother Charley has completely recovered of his wounds and have joined his Regiment and will soon be on his way out here again –


Will close for this time Wishing you – and the family the Compliments of the Season –


Yours sincerely


W.J. Stares.


P.S. Please excuse pencil written in haste

Original Scans

Original Scans

Stares, William James. Letter January 10th 1916 Stares, William James. Letter January 10th 1916 Stares, William James. Letter January 10th 1916 Stares, William James. Letter January 10th 1916 Stares, William James. Letter January 10th 1916 Stares, William James. Letter January 10th 1916 Stares, William James. Envelope January 10th 1916