Sunday, October 27, 2013

9 June 1916 Flanders

Dear Folks,
Have handed the hospital over to 4th Ambulance and are now in a camp behind our old one. We were intended to go up to the Advanced work (our section) but as two of our Dr’s were posted to other units, it left our section short of officers and so we had to stay behind. We have since got some more and will be able to go up when our turn comes around in a few days.
Well since I wrote last there have been some pretty exciting times. On Sunday night we sent 100 stretcher-bearers up to help clear the wounded from the copse. Half of them came back the next day and the rest stayed for two days longer. They were “C” section as they had been there before and were a little bit acquainted with the country. They report having a very exciting time and I only wish I could have been there.There was only one casualty. He was wounded in the leg and arm and will likely get a permanent blighty. The patient on his squad was killed and one of the boys had his arm around the patient when he was hit. Pretty narrow escape eh? We all wear the new steel helmet now when we go up there. It certainly saves scores of lives. One of our boys got a big dent in his, as big as a fist. Certainly saved his life.
The boys got great praise from the authorities. They had been carrying wounded out of the front line which is only 25 – 30 yards from Fritz’s front line and in full view of him. Their flares were falling right around them and they were forced to go overland not having any communication trenches. Some of the poor fellows had been lying there for as long as five days and were in very bad shape. Gangrene had set in in a lot of cases and all were in bad condition from lack of food and medical attention.
The bombardment was exceptionally heavy and the enemy evidently thought that they would have a complete walkover but they soon found out that those who were alive were very much alive, and the number of Germans left on the field testified to that. We had one German in the hospital here. He was a young looking chap about 25 – 26 and a very good looking chap. He certainly didn’t look starved and was in good condition. He only stayed with us a short time and we didn’t get much of a chance to quiz him.
I was very much disappointed that I could not get up but I’ll try and get up next time. We were lucky to get off with only one casualty.
I am quartered in a hut here and I got to work yesterday and made a bed. It is a dandy affair and is just like a spring mattress. There are 6 of us in this hut together, a double bed in two corners and a single in the other two. We made a table and bench as well so we are pretty comfy. We will only be here for a few days though, but we are enjoying ourselves while we are here. The roof is thatched with straw and is quite waterproof.
It is too bad about Al Ryan but I guess he was pretty sick though. I was glad to know you got rid of Mrs. Orr. She should have more decency than to impose herself on people like that way.
I hope Orville doesn’t have any more trouble with that fellow. It has caused him enough worry now. I don’t see how they can hold him libel for the costs.
I got Mae’s letter and also the parcel from Rose. I was glad Mae succeeded in getting her choir into Massy Hall. But I guess she …. and she will be very glad when the strain is over. Is she taking a playground for the summer?
Well I must ring off and get to bed. Hope everyone is well.
Yours lovingly,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

9 May 1916 Flanders

Dear Mother, Father and the Rest:

Your letters of Apr. 8 and 16 came ok. The one I had not rec’d last week was sent to the 5th Engineers by mistake and came a day or so after I had written.

I was glad to learn that Orville had won his case alright. If he had lost it would have meant a lot to him. It will relieve his mind of a lot of worry now. I guess he will need all his time to get and look after help for it will likely be more scarce than ever this summer. The problem of getting the crops harvested in the west this summer is going to be pretty serious.

Have been working nights in the hospital for a week now, but it is not very hard and as things have been rather quiet we have not had much work to do. Our section is taking over the hospital tomorrow and I go on the Surgery. Have most of the dressing to do etc. We were to have taken over on Sunday but we all got innoculated and have been under the weather ever since. This dose was a very heavy one and we are excused duty for at least 24 hours. Temperatures go up and it gives us a bad headache and also a mighty sore chest (that is where they inject the serum). It is a good deal better than running the risk of contracting typhoid. It is surprising the small number of typhoid cases out here and also all the other diseases. We have to deal mostly with cases of influenza, trench fever, minor injuries such as sprained ankles etc. Occasionally we get a few cases of measles, mumps and once in a while a case of meningitis. These are rare however.

Had a letter from Bill the other day. He has been transferred to Shorncliffe Camp and will be going through the same tactics as I went over last summer. Just as he was going up to his first exam he was quarantined on a/cc of one fellow in his hut catching the measles. They are certainly strict about any of those contagious diseases and any suspects are isolated immediately.

The weather over here has been great up until yesterday when (it) turned cold and today it has been raining all day. Everyone in the tent has been in bed all day for on a wet day with no where to go, and when there are 10 men in a tent, the only way to get any peace or comfort, is for everyone to crawl into his blankets. We all felt good and ready to do that today for the innoculation made us all pretty miserable.

This is Wed. and I am writing this in the surgery and must get it finished now.

Word came in this morning that Jack Lumsden, a Vic boy and friend of Bill’s, had been killed last night. His body was brought in shortly after and is going to be buried tonight. A shell struck the YMCA he was running and he had a fragment strike him on the forehead. He must have been killed instantly. He was still on our strength although attached to the YMCA and he was one of the most popular boys in the unit.

Have had a very busy day in surgery. Been on the dead jump since 7 o’clock this morning and it is nearly supper time now. There are two of us on the job and we try and let each other go for an afternoon or part of it every other day.

Saw Billy Redburn the other day, he was down here with a convoy and came over to our camp to see me for a few minutes. They have moved down here since though and no doubt I will be able to see him often. Stanley Johnston of Gorrie looked me up the other day too. He had been next camp to ours, up where we were before we moved and I didn’t know he was there. Both boys are looking well.

Have only a short time to write and must not let this letter go any longer. So will make “a noise like a door and close”.

Love to all,