Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day.

Some quotes from my grandfather's letters home. He joined the Canadian Epeditionary Forces 70th Battalion in 1915 and wrote home as often as he could. He went from the tiny village of Highgate Ontario to London Ontario where he enlisted and began training.

from England, summer 1916. "I have the best score of the Brigade 4 batts (target shooting) have got my chance to go to France and you can bet I'm going to take it. Will be home for Xmas and expect to have a good dinner."

Somewhere in France July 1916 "I read your letters by candle light. We work at night. It wouldn't be good for a persons health to do it in the daylight. It's great sport digging in the dark. You would think there was a thunderstorm all day.It don't bother us here though it's all going overhead."" 58th Batt

Somewhere in France 1916 "We are going back into the trenches tonight ... it's a job to write a letter with nothing to write about. You write often as you have news and I have none that I dare write."

Somewhere in France Aug 1916 "I was in a bombing post quite a ways in front of our front-line trench. Our Colonel has been granted the D.S.O. for work the Batt did on the 13th of June. Joe W. came out suffering shell shock his nerves are all gone so Watkins and I are alone now."

Somewhere in Belgium Aug 1916 "We have turned our Ross rifles in (the Ross rifle was badly made to put it politely) and been given Lee Enfields"

Somewhere in Belgium Aug 1916 ".. excuse this dirty paper .. everything is muddy and dirty. I was was just looking at my rifle. It's so muddy that the only way you could tell it is a rifle is by the shape of the chunk of dirt. One of my chums was killed last night .. a rifle grenade burst almost beside him and he was killed instantly. The place where we were working was a little hill and has caused some of the hardest fighting near here. "

Somewhere in France Sept 1916 "Say, if you have a few bugs or lice of any kind around, I wish you would send me some to fight with what we've got.

Liechester Engand 1916 "I came from the trenches on the 20th Sept with a bullet hole in the first finger of my left hand. It smashed the bone into pieces. We were on the Somme front then. .. We had left all our equipment behind us as we were making a charge near the village of Courcellete (near Porriers) Before that we had been in the Ypres salient. Joe W was killed on hill 60. The more a person sees of war the less he wants to. It's all right to fill up histories but this is not war its just murder. "

Rockhampton England 1916 "Well, Mother it's just six months almost to the hour since I got on the train in London Ontario to come to England.... I am a lot wiser than I was the night I came away with the 70th batt that will never see Canada again. I don't believe there were many who failed to do their duty when they were put to the test."

Somewhere in France Feb 1917 "I haven't had any pay for almost a month now and our rations aren't overly large. I am pretty near froze out so I will ring off for this time."

Somewhere in France Mar 1917 "I have been into the supports and living within easy shelling range for quite a while. Will likely be back to the real business in about 15 days. (After I get home) I won't be as particular what I eat ... after a person gets good and tired and soaking wet besides being awful hungry, almost anything tastes good."

Somewhere in France April 10 1917 "The last three or four days I have been going nearly night and day. ... We are taking bombs and ammunition up the line and at night we take up rations."

Several postcards from the front marked - I am well.

London Dec 1917 "We had just moved out of the line at Ypres where we made old Fritz more back quite a piece."

London Dec 1917, just before he was sent back to France "It seems awful to have to go back again but a person might just as well be over there as here."

France Feb 1918 "I have been back (in France) almost two months. I am still with the mule train but ... I have been off duty for the last two days. .. a little piece of shrapnel in my back."

Postcards from the front.

France July 1918 "There is more work here but not nearly so many trips up the line. There are always two men with every transport driver. If anything happens to the driver the other man has to take his place."

France Aug. 1918 "For the last two weeks I've been driving a team of mules that haul a machine gun. .. I haven't much news that I can tell out. You will know almost as much of what is going on as we do."

France Oct 1918 "I am alive and well and got through another big do safe."

France Oct 1918 "She's a great old war, but I wish she would soon quit."

November 21 1918 "Just a little letter to let you know I have outlived the war and am wishing I was back home ... it will be quite a while yet before that."

He finally arrived back in Canada in the spring of 1919.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Very touching, Diane. My thanks to your grandfather and all the men who served with him.