Have not had a word from you for over a month. Do hope the mail will soon get thro'.
April 26, 1917
My Dearest Ones at Home,
I have a little time again this morning and so will write you again. In my last letter I told you about our Easter Monday. You have probably read all about the things that the Canadians did that day, and I feel proud to know that I went through that fight, and very much thankful that I came through without a scratch. From reading the accounts in the paper you will know about where we are in France. I tried to tell in a letter but failed in that. My 'time' will be up next Friday. All it has meant is a few extra fatigues and the missing of a couple of pay days. Most of the day has been spent in the line with the rest of the platoon and it makes no difference there.
You have probably heard about Argyle 'ere this. He and two others were sent out to scout along a railway track about two hundred yards from the adge [sic] of the wood that we held (last four words attempted to be obliterated). Behind the embankment of the (obliterated) a line of German snipers had taken up their position. They let the boys get 3/4 of the way across the open and then opened fire on them. The boys all dropped into a shell hole for cover, but one of them, Sayer, was hit. The [sic] McIntyre got up and made a couple of dashes for the woods and managed to get in without being hit. Argyle stayed for a few minutes with Sayer, and then he too made a couple of runs and got back to the woods although the bullets were whist,ing [sic] all around him. He asked for someone to go out with him to bring Sayer in, who was badly wounded in the arm and leg. A young (what appear to be four words obliterated), St Jacques one of the best men in our platoon said that he would go, and so he and Mac started out. They got out to Sayer all right, despite the continuous rifle fire. Mac was just getting Sayer up on his back when he was struck on the left side of his back, the bullet going out through his shoulder. He got Sayer up however, and carried him alone into the cover of the woods.
Mac was of course all in when he got to cover, but was taken to the dressing station. His wound was not serious - just what the boys called a good 'Blighty', and enough to take him away from this awful country for the duration of the war. I had a letter from him a few days ago, and he says that his happiness is complete. His hospital is in the vicinity of London and I have written to Frank Pecover to look him up. In case you have not his address, I will give to to you
Pte. A. McM.
Norton (City of London) War Hospital
Mac has been recommended by our officer for a decoration either M.M. or D.C.M. Won't his dad be proud.
Ever since the day of the attack we have been on working parties, and have had only a couple of days of rest. The weather still keeps cold, altho' for the past 3 or 4 days it has actually been dry. The air is always cold however, and we have never had a real warm day this spring. Today, although it is not raining there is a raw cold wind blowing which makes it very disagreeable, and makes woolen gloves, balaclava and sweater a necessity. Thanks to my ever increasing supply of big soft home knit socks, I have never known what sore feet are. I carry several pairs with me all the time, and wear two pair which I change every night.
The dug out which we are in today is quite comfortable, altho' there is a little water dripping from the ceiling. It is a German dugout and is in their front line that we drove them from. The Germans certainly built their dugouts for comfort as well as safety. Some of the officers' dugouts are furnished quite elaborately with stoves, furniture, electric lights etc.
At our objective we captured several big guns in cement impacements, [sic] and I was through the dugouts connected with these and got quite a collection of souvenirs - belt, saw-bayonet, rifle, and a German haversack full of odds and ends - leather tobacco pouch, old Dutch pipe, nail brush in leather case, silver plated safety razor, officers' caps and a few other little things. In the afternoon however we were called to make an attack on the snipers along the track where Argyle was hit. I had to leave my souvenirs in the woods as they were too much to carry, and altho' the attack was cancelled at the last moment, I did not have an apportunity [sic] to go and collect my souvenirs as they [sic] place where I had left them was under fire. However I had the razor in my pocket, and after all the best souvenir is a 'whole hide' to go back with. I can hear [?] agreeing with that.
In one dugout, I found a pack with a suit of of beautiful clean underwear, shirts, socks and nice tan boots. It didn't take me long to make an exchange, I can tell you. That clean soft underwear and dry socks and shoes felt pretty good, and the last I saw of the clothes I took off, they were starting to walk across the floor. You know why!
A couple of nights ago when we were behind the lines, I was walking along when I heard some one call out “Hello Markle”. I looked down into a trench that I was crossing, and who should I see but Mr Bartlett. He was wounded last fall and just got back from Blighty a few days ago. He is in the engineers - a private - and being near our camp, had come over to see Argyle and I. He is looking well and says he enjoys the life.
Did I tell you that Charley Manson is taking an officer's course in England? I admire Mr. Bartlett's part more than I do Manson's.
One of the most interesting sights we see over here are the air fights. A few days ago I saw four machines brought down a short distance from where we were - one in falmes. [sic] A good fight in the air is the most thrilling sight imaginable. The aeroplanes are very active now, and we see dozens of them every day.
When I told you not to send any more parcels I thought that I would perhaps be in 'Blighty' after the fight. However I am still plugging along in France, and so will look forward to some more parcels. If you can find some kind of vermin destroyer, I wish you would send it. Some chaps use O'Cedar Oil on their clothes and say that it is very effective. The one thing not to send is Sabadilla Powder. You might try a little bottle of O'C'r Oil. Another thing that you might send in parcels is a small piece of cheap towelling.
I now think that I have told you nearly everything. Am feeling fine and healthy and looking forward to being at home with you all soon. Did I tell you that I got a big tin box full of delicious 'eats' from Eva and Mrs Thorn in Sidney. I was quite surprised but needless to say appreciated it very much.
Do you think that a little roll of home-made bread would come across in a parcel, Mother? And the butter, Mother, tastes oh so good.
The first day that I get home I want you to have beef-steak, creamed potatoes and lemon pie - you know the kind Mother. And for supper, hot tea, biscuits and maple syrup. That will suit me right down to the ground. I'm living now in anticipation and hope it will not be long.
You might send over a magazine once in a while and new snapshots taken around home. I look at those you sent every day and am proud to show 'my sister' to the boys. Im afraid that Dorothy will have all of 10 Platoon out to see her when the 27th gets back.
Did you see poor Jim Currie's name in the casualty list? I felt very badly about Jim, he was such a decent chap, and I knew him so well. He was killed by the explosion of one of his own bombs in his pocket. There is no danger whatever from the bombs if the pin is bent, but Jim had evidently failed to do this. McRae is the only one left now in this batt. from our old No. 7 Platoon. The poor old _th would have a pretty short muster call now I'm afraid. Somerville, I (sic) have not been able to find his battalion being in a different brigade from ours, but I hope he is allright.
Goodnight now, my dear ones.
Your loving boy
Pte W. M. Pecover