June 16, 1916

Dear Miss Griffis;-

You really owe me one or perhaps two letters but some swell stationary and one or two other very useful articles reached me to day and I must really write at once and thank you. You send me so many parcels that I am always afraid that I shall forget to acknowledge one and incur the risk of being considered an ungrateful beast.

Our battalion has just come out of the trenches after 10 days of furious fighting at the front. The account of the fighting you will have read in the newspapers before this letter reaches you. Our battalion was in the trenches for the last German attack and also for our attack. I had a very busy time of it and passed a large number of wounded through my hands including some German prisoners. I had my aid post in an old mill. The place we were in was well sand bagged and comparatively safe although the Boches broke a large number of shells around it. Our artillery fire before our infantry advance took place was terrible. The Germans were plunking six inch shells around our aid post but although we could feel the building rock and shake with the concussion we could not hear the shells burst on account of the terrific noise kicked up by our own artillery. To do them justice I do not think that the Boches were deliberately trying to hit our aid post or the dressing station of the field ambulance which was just across the road from us. They were searching for batteries in our neighborhood. During the last three days it rained almost constantly and the weather was cold enough for October. The wounded came in soaked to the skin and plastered with mud. In many cases we cut the clothes right off and wrapped the patients in blankets. The field ambulance ran a coffee and lunch stall in a dugout next door and we got hot chocolate for all our wounded which bucked them up wonderfully. Most of the cases were shell wounds and some of them were of terrible severity. We gave the German wounded the same treatment as we did our own men. I have not yet counted up the number of wounded I saw during the time we were in. We started one evening at dusk, worked all that night, all the next day and until 4 o’clock in the morning of the day following, except for an intermission of 3 hours when we had no wounded in.

My cousin who was medical officer with one of the units in the 3rd Division Canadians was killed on June 2 when the Germans opened their first attack on our lines. He was cut off in his aid post and made a fight for it until all his pistol cartridges were fired when the Germans killed him with bombs. The third division had 4 medical officers killed during the first week of fighting.

I am enclosing you a rose which I picked in a garden among the ruins of a famous and historic city.

There is a devilish bombardment going on now towards the front and I hope we are not called up during the night.


Harold W McGill


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