59907. Lt Corp. Stares
6th Can. Reserve Batt. (D. Coy)
July 8th 1917
Dear Mr. Irwin
So pleased to received your letter to day of May 20th. It had no less than 7 different post stamps, having gone to France and then reforwarded from different Hospitals until reaching me at Seaford. I only came here yesterday and have many pleasant surprises in the way of seeing old faces.
Serg. Kettridge and Lt Corp Pond, being amongst them,- I was GASSED on May 8th – and have been in Hospital and Convelesent Camps ever since. The doctors has marked me fit for Active Service although I do not feel that way myself.- My Lungs and Heart not in very good shape. This will mean France again for me. Looking down the List Norwood Methodist Church has done fine in the way sending Boys to the Front and many more will be raked in by Conscription. Sorry to hear of the death of the J. Rothwell a fine soldier, and well liked, in the Company. As I have been away from the Batt over 2 month I cannot give any news of the other Norwood Boys – 10 days Sick furlough was granted and I spent most of the time at Home at Portsmouth. Father and Mother are well, Sorry that the censor had been busy with my last letters, but they are very strict just now and I wonder it got through at all. Well England looks fine to me, especially the country, the green fields, the country lanes, so different to the barren fields of France the shell holes, and the ruins. Shall be on the look out for Karl – maybe I shall have the pleasure of shaking him by the hand.- The Canadians are making a name for themselves just now but at a price-
The Boys have a joke on me, I was Gass N.C.O for the Battalion, putting them through their Respirator drill, and the effect of Gass, and I was the first man to go under, One Boy said I was artfull I knew just how much to take to get to Blighty. Maybe a few notes on the effects of Gass will be interesting in finishing up. The Gasses us are Chlorine & Phosgene Chlorine. A very deadly poison, breathed for 3 minutes will cause death, works on the Lungs. The Lungs then produce a Serum to mend the damage done and this Serum really causes death, the lungs begin to fill, breathing becomes harder, and the patient slowly suffocates, drowned within himself. A horrible death. The lungs burst, and the patient turns Black.
Phosgene, a scented smelling poison, Has a delayed action, works on the Blood & Heart, turns the Blood to water, brings on exhaustion, patient finally collapse.
A patient may be Gassed and not know it at the time, and the next day fall down suddenly dead, on collapse in a heap. For this gass the only remedy is Rest, no exertion whatever, as this helps the complaint
Both are stretcher cases. Means of sending Gass by cloud or Shell, the shell catches you unawares, (same as it did me) they sound like Duds, just enough explosive to burst the shell, the liquid is throw around and before you know- you get a few mouthfulls.
Please remember me to all.