France, Aug 25, 1917

My dearest Emma;-

I hope you have not been worrying any about me when you read about the heavy fighting in which the Canadian troops have been engaged. I have now 3 of your unanswered letters on hand, the latest dated Aug 19. This reached me to day at noon. Please do not adopt a policy of reprisals and quit writing because of my repeated failures to write. When I wrote you last I warned you that you might not hear from me for some days for I knew that we were going into a heavy action and as it turned out there was very scanty opportunity for writing while the show was on. I am always so pleased to hear from you and fear that you may not write because of my shortcomings in that respect.

We are now out of the line and just settling down into our billets. It is a most welcome change to be away for a time from the never ending roar of artillery. During the period of one month from July 22 to Aug. 22 I slept out of my clothes only five times. We are being favoured with the most delightful brand of weather. I think I told you that we captured the weather expert of one of the German divisions on Aug 15. He must have had control of conditions for the weather has been splendid since we got hold of him.

I have not yet changed over to the field ambulance but shall probably do so before the battalion goes into action again. On the other hand if I wait until Sept 18 I shall have completed 2 full years service with the battalion in the war zone. The reason I have not made the change before this is that the A.D.M S. did not wish me to leave the battalion until this late show was over. I shall let you know just as soon as the transfer is made.

Now what of our future? I confess the more I consider the matter the more puzzled I become. Leave from the front is such an uncertain thing and when we do get it often have only a few hours notice. Then if I do get leave at a certain date how can we be sure that you can get away on short notice? If we could be sure of dates we could go ahead and make all arrangements without much danger of a hitch; I mean without danger of our plans breaking down. Where shall we be married? The choice of time, place & padre must of course be yours. Then there is the question of announcements for to send to our friends, etc. It would seem that there are almost as many things to be considered as there were when the attack on Hill 70 was worked out. One thing I have made up my mind to though is that my objective must be reached soon no matter what the difficulties in the way.

With best of love I am

Yours always

Harold W McGill

Published in: on December 18, 2006 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  

France, Aug 19, 1917

Dear Love;-

I have your two letters of Aug 10 & 12 respectively. Please forgive me writing to you on military stationary but all the note paper I brought in with me has been used up although I have lots more back at the horse lines. I also owe you another apology for failing to thank you for the magazines you sent. They were very much enjoyed by myself and also the other Bn Hq officers. The dugout we had for Hq. mess was so small that we had to take our table out and heave it up over the side of trench when we wanted to get a sleep. We had the pioneers make the table for the purpose. I shall not forget to thank you for the lovely box of dainties which arrived last night although I did not see it until this morning. The bovril and chocolate are most useful in the trenches and the almonds are a real treat. Please do not bother to send sugar though for we get more than we can use in our rations. The army rations are the best now that they have ever been.

I had a good sleep last night. Went to bed about 1 A.M. and slept until 8 except for one interruption when I got up to see a wounded man. Only one other wounded came in and his wound was so slight that the orderly looked after him. The night before was a very poor one for sleep for Fritz was counter attacking our front and our artillery was making the earth shake. You will see by the papers that Fritz had no success with his counter attacks and there will be a lot more widows in Germany as the result. There have been a good few German prisoners taken here and nearly all of them are hungry. They will pick pieces of bread and biscuits off of the ground and eat it up in a ravenous manner. They say they have had no potatoes for some time. I saw one chap being brought in yesterday with a piece of bread one of our boys had given him still tightly clutched in his hand. He was making sure of having his rations with him no matter what happened. Our boys are splendid. Before they go “Over the wall” they all swear by all that’s high & holy that they will kill every sausage eater they come across. Yet a few hours afterwards you may see them handing out their rations and cigarettes to the prisoners.

On the average we are now getting much better weather than we did a couple of weeks ago. We had a very heavy rain storm last night but it cleared up beautifully afterwards. In the evening the air was clearer I think than I ever saw before in this country. The conditions were those of high visibility as the artillery men say. Did you see in the news that we had captured the weather expert of one of the German divisions? Our improved weather may be due to this.

Have seen your friend several times lately but can hardly say I really know him yet. He seems a very nice chap and his company commander Capt. Tucker of Calgary has a high opinion of his ability as a soldier.

Please do not be anxious if you do not hear from me for a few days. I shall be thinking of you be sure of that even if I do not get a chance to write.

Your lover

Harold W McGill