April 28th, 1915.
You will have been anxious, knowing that we have been in the thick of things, especially as by the time this reaches you, the terrible casualties among the infantry will be known. We can only hope and pray that their friends will be cheered and comforted to know that they went to their death as brave men doing their duty and retrieving a situation that was no fault of their own. We in the artillery tried to do our part but in those first two days when the French retreat had thrown things into confusion, the artillery support was not all that it might have been if there had been more notice and our regret for the infantry losses is increased by the feeling that had things been otherwise we might have helped them more.
It is for that reason that I feel they should have the honour which is their due and which is conveyed by messages to all units and ranks in the First Canadian Division in the following words: -
"I have never been so proud of anything in my life as of the words "First Canadian Division" which I wear on my right arm."
(Signed) E.A.H. Alderson, Lieut.-General."
Their conduct has been the best answer to their detractors. I hope the death will fill others with the desire to take their place and keep coming on until the work if finished.
As for the battery we have been very lucky, all of us who are left, having had a great many lucky escapes. Our loss to date are only five killed (all by one shell) and fifteen wounded, none seriously. We have also lost about thirty horses. It is wonderful to see the spirit of the men. Almost without exception they have turned out pure gold, and it is no small compensation for the terrible havoc that one sees to realize how much fortitude and pluck there can be, even among men who at ordinary times are shirkers and liars.
It is a week to-night since this "Show" began and the fire of artillery has scarcely ceased, by night or day. At times the noise is deafening and yesterday when I was up in the trenches (the safest place by the way, I believe) the fusillade on both sides was terrific and yet the number of lives lost through shell fire is infinitesmal compared with the number that are shot. I should think fully 75% hit no one and I doubt if the mortality would be one man to ten shells.
We are living in the open at present as every place is crowded with troops. You see we are in the forward part of a horse-shoe and it takes a lot of men to hold it. However, the health of the men is wonderfully good.