Friday, July 1, 2016

18 June 1916 Flanders

Dear folks,

This is Sunday morning just before dinner and I must try to get this started at least  for we never know what time we can call our own and when a letter is started is seems easier to go back to it.

I am up the pike now at the Advanced D. S. and it is fairly quiet just now but there is plenty of work reinforcing our dugouts with sandbags and covering them up with green sods to make them inconspicuous. Then at night there is guards to do, a 3-hour stretch every other night and we take a day each in the cook house. There are 3 stations to run: the A.D.S. and two regimental aid posts. Most of the work is done at night as we are almost under the nose of Fritz observation balloons and anything that escapes him is pretty well concealed. They turn the artillery on pretty well everything that looks suspicious and no battery dare fire when an enemy balloon is up especially is the day is anyway bright. Of course, our balloons show the same little courtesies to Fritz. As a result of this strict observation, there is comparatively little to do in the daytime and as there is very little night these days everything is crammed into the few hours of darkness.

We have the new daylight saving time in force over here now and so save another hour of daylight. It came into force about a week ago.

I suppose the papers over there are all crammed full of the accounts of the latest fighting around Ypres. it was about the worst that the Canadians have been through and the casualties were very high with a larger percentage than usual killed. I was on guard night before last and saw one of the fiercest bombardments that has taken place for a few days. It only lasted for about an hour before dawn. I was on the 1 to 4 am shift and it started at 2:03 and lasted to about 3. it was on a front of about 1/2 a mile  and the sky was lit up continuously with great livid flashes. The roar of the high exploding shells bursting is enough to strike terror into the most iron-nerved man that ever lived. The cases of shell shock are becoming more frequent and the bombardments are becoming more severe.

There were some German prisoners through town the other day and they say that we don't know what a bombardment is. The place to see the effects of a severe shelling is to get on their side of the line. They were taken prisoner in the midst of heavy bombardment and that is how they know what shellfire is on our side of the line.

The prisoners were all taken and given a shower bath in the divisional bath house and got a clean change of clothes.

Well, there is a fatigue being called to fill sand bags and I'll have to ring off and post this on the ration waggon.

I was glad of Mae's success in Massey Hall. I got the papers from Rose but the one of May 24th with the account of the competition was missing. All the other days were there. Hope Norma succeeds in her exams. Tell her to write & tell me all about them etc.



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