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[written by Alex’s sister Robina Kaine, date unknown]

Capt. Alex. J. Kaine, M.C.

The proceeding is an exact copy of a letter received by Alex after 12 days in France.

The first day in the line the Colonel showed him a portion of the Enemy’s wire entanglement and indicated that he would like it examined. So that night with two others he slipped into No Man’s Land, and when half way across he told the others to stop while he went forward, but to be ready to protect him with rifle fire if anything went wrong.

He got to the wire and after examining the structure of the defence he gave a snip at the wire and immediately a fire ball went up and rifles began to crack. He hugged the ground expecting every minute to receive a bullet but was unscathed. He gave another snip and secured a sample of the wire, and returned safely with his alert companions.

The regiment than went into rest camp for 6 days, and on returning, Lieut. Kaine and Lieut. Phillipps went out six nights in succession, and cut a way through the German wire. On the seventh night the above named party raided the Germans destroyed the German listening-post, three machine guns emplacements and four Trench Mortars.

Captain Kaine recruited the First Contingent from Ft. Frances and took it to Valcartier, where they joined the 8th Battalion of Winnipeg. He was with them in England until March 1915, when he was transferred to the 2nd Sherwood Forresters (Notts and Derby).

He fought with this regiment on every foot of the Front from Belgium to Verdun --- the Battle of Givinchy, Cambrai, Bloody Quadrilateral, Ypres and others. He was wounded by a gunshot in the side in 1916 and after three months was back in the line. In 1917 he was carried off the field with a broken pelvis.

He was decorated at Buckingham Palace with the Military Cross by King George.

Until 1916 he was fortunate in not receiving injuries of importance although he had many narrow escapes. He had the strap of his wrist watch shot through, his coat ripped by a bullet between the shoulder blades, and the seat of his pants torn off by a whizz-bang, and the fleshy part of the back of his neck nicked by a snipers bullet.

One day the Colonel asked him to try to hold the line with only half his men as the artillery were going to try shelling a German working party with sixty pound shells with short fuses, and he felt sure that if the experiment was successful that the Germans would reply by shelling that part of the trenches.

Two ends of the line were deep trenches but the centre was a shallow trench. He placed his men in the end trenches and patrolled the centre himself accompanied by a runner (a fat man with prominent eyes) When shells were heard coming both would fall on all fours in the trench. The runner when on all fours looked like a bull frog and afforded Alex great amusement. Watching the runner he was once slow in prostrating himself and a shell passed and took off the whole seat of his pants.

Between Norval and Ginely the Higher Command determined to attack. Capt. Kaine was sent out into no man’s land to look for land mines and other traps They were out thirty-six hours.

On returning eager for something to eat he was informed that he was slated to lead A Company in the attack, and that the attack would be at six o’clock. He had no time for supper. He had barely got his Company in position when it was time to attack.

Over they went and advanced on the run prostrating themselves whenever a German battery flashed till the shells passed over. They obtained their objective with the loss if only seventeen men.

Just as they had prepared the captured German trench for defence Capt. Kaine was called back to Regimental Headquarters. On the way back he found Capt. McGribben lying with his knee caps shot off. He made his report and then took stretcher bearers to bring in Capt. McGribben. Then on returning to the front the Germans counter attacked and put down a barrage. He was caught in this a whiz-bang tearing open his side. He managed to get to the trenches where the soldiers plugged the wound with parts of his tunic, and was then carried off by the Irish Guards.

The Doctor said that if he had had any food in his lower bowels they would have been torn out, as it was they were scratched.

One morning the regiment was about to attack but the Colonel was suspicious and sent Capt. Kaine out to scout. Having on his raincoat it was hard to distinguish him from a German at a distance. He crawled forward nearly to the right of the enemy when he noticed some of the Germans watching. He waved his arm to them and pointed to the British lines. Then he passed along to the left and found a battery of field guns concealed behind a clump of trees. These would have mowed down the British if they had attacked. Returning the German fire was directed on him and he received a slight wound on the back of his neck.

At one point in the line the German trench mortars were very annoying. Alex was asked to take eight men, and silence them if possible. They crawled quickly across no man’s land and silenced the observer on the listening post. A German patrol passing near them noticed one of the British men and aimed at him but he was shot by Alex. The Germans then retreated and a vicious fire was opened up on no man’s land from rifles, bombs, machine guns, etc. Instead of trying to get back to the British lines he led his men to the listening post and remained there till the fire slackened, then he led his men four hundred yards to the right close to the German wire. Again the German fire started and soon the British artillery were replying. Finding a deep crump hole, they got into it and remained there for five hours, while sitting in there Alex noticed the flashes of the trench mortars and marked it on the map. Next day the map was sent to the artillery who dropped shells accurately on them and silenced them. They got quite an ovation when they got back to their own lines as all were thought to have been killed.

Another time he was sent out at night with Lieut. Phillipps to inspect the German wire where it looked as if it would be easy to cut through. On reaching the spot they found it so easy to cut through that they feared a trap. Alex crawled through to investigate looking over the German parapet he saw a machine gun and twelve men. He slipped back and was just going to return when he heard footsteps. He threw himself behind a bale of German wire, hoping the men would pass without seeing him. Instead of passing they stopped at the wire and resting their guns on it started sniping at the British line. There was no chance to get away, even if he got rid of the snipers the twelve men with the machine gun would get him. So he lay there waiting for something to happen. Just as the grey dawn appeared the German bugles sounded for the patrols to come in. The snipers walked away then Alex started to crawl back, but they heard him. At the same time a German patrol was coming in and were fired upon by their own men. In the confusion Alex was able to return to the spot where faithful Phillipps was still waiting for him.

One night later he crawled through the wires right up to the German trench. He lay there till the reliefs came at twelve o’clock. The relieved men got out of the trench and Alex slipped across and followed. His rain coat was partial disguise. Some of the Germans shouted to him to hurry up but he just followed till he got past their last line. Then he kept on for about four miles to a small hill where he hid himself till morning. Then with his glasses he found he was near the Hindenburg line.

He drew the line on his map and estimated the amount of concrete facings, etc. Next night he went back and crossed the last trench in daylight. He was right up near it when the German patrols met, spoke, then turned and walked in opposite directions.

This was his chance and he crawled on his stomach on a plank placed for rolling wire bundles across. In no man’s land he found cover, and soon reached his own line. Later when the Hindenburg line was taken he had the satisfaction of knowing that his drawing of the line was accurate.

On a route March to Norvelle the boys were getting very tired, so calling his Company Sergeant Major Alex gave him $15.00 and told him to hurry ahead and buy all the eggs he could at the next village. On arriving at the village the company found the Sergeant Major waiting with three eggs for each man and four for each sergeant, these they cooked and ate while resting.

The Colonel passing along saw the shells lying around? ”How did you fellows capture all the eggs?” We could get none for the Officers Mess.” The soldiers told him. At the next regimental mess the Colonel told the officers he wished all the captains would look after his men as Capt. Kaine was. Then he told the circumstances of the eggs. He also remarked that the other day he saw Capt. Kaine carrying three rifles in order to rest three of his weary boys.

The following are extracts from letters concerning Capt. Alex J. Kaine M.C.;

“He lives in no man’s land and if placed in the German 3rd line would come back with information required and bring all his men with him”. Brigadier General Edwards, 71st Infantry Bdg.

“Your work has been perfectly satisfactory. I can see no way in which you can improve it. You have done more than we thought possible”. Lt. Col. Hobbs D.S.O. 2nd Sherwood Forresters

“He is great and can find cover anywhere even behind a blade of grass”. Major Street D.S.O. 2nd Sherwood Forresters

“He is the bravest soldier I ever saw. If told to go out alone and take the German trench would not hesitate but go out and I really believe do it too” Captain Jones, Adjutant.

“He is the bravest of the brave” Lieut. Taylor

“You have Capt. Kaine with you. I was not in his company but all the Brigade knew him well as the Snake because everytime we were in the line. He was crawling through those of the Germans and getting them all the time.” Corporal Love.


Mar. 3rd

copy of Alex’s last letter to me -

I am going to write giving my address and I want you to pass it around as I have not the chance of writing to all. I reported for here and on the road to the Batt. had to take to the ditch on account of schrapnell. We waited there untill the Bosch got tired then walked t to the dugouts about 9 pm.

The next day I was given No 3 platoon A co. and at 6pm moved out towards the firing line (our co. being in reserve) there we dug trenches and returned to dugouts about midnight. I tell you it was a grand sight schrapnel and shells bursting and flares going up in all directions in fact better than any fireworks I had ever seen. no one hurt. Next day I was detailed for laying cable in the open starting off at 4 pm but about 1 the CO. took me up to the front fire trench and showed me the German line 140 yards away and asked me to examine the wire for kind of an opening. I started at 29 min to 7 PM and crawled over. Just as I was cutting part of the wire they put up a light which fell 10 yds from me. I thought they had seen me but flattened out and waited and when the light went out got a piece of wire for a sample and returned. They sniped hard as I think they suspected someone but failed to locate. I was two hours out and the CO thanked me for the attempt. All were surprised at his sending for me 2nd day but I think it has given me a good standing with both officers and men.

Pass this or give the news around.

My address is
            AJ Kaine Lieut.
            2nd Sherwood Forresters

Tell Eva if she could bake me another cake I could eat it.

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