France, April 2, 1918

Dearest Emma;-

Your two letters of March 26 & 27 respectively came to hand last evening. I was just sitting down to answer them when the mail came in and brought yours of March 28. You certainly keep up a fine record as a letter writer and every line is much appreciated.

I very much enjoyed reading the letter from Mrs. Dean. The Deans were very good friends of mind in bygone days. Mr. Dean is a chemical engineer. When I was in Exshaw I met some very nice people among the technical and engineering experts who had charge of the building and equipping of the works and with some of them I have maintained a more or less desultory correspondence ever since. Prof. Christie of whom you have heard me speak was another friend I met there for the first time. He had charge of the installation of the turbine engines in the power house of the plant. He has written several books on technical matters connected with steam engineering. In Exshaw we were a small clique of professional men among a big crowd of labourers and naturally we were thrown much together; thus the conditions leading to the forming of close friendships or otherwise were present. This afternoon I wrote to another old Exshaw friend, a French electrical engineer named Louis de Gilleul. Louis can curse the Germans in five different languages.

The situation militaire is somewhat less exciting just at present but the condition is most likely no more than a lull in the storm.

We are still in our good quarters but a move on an hour’s notice would not surprise us. We marched 26 miles one night. It was not pleasant to hear the people in the villages through which we passed cursing the English. When they heard we were Canadians however our “apology” was accepted. During the past week I have seen the terror of inhabitants of an invaded country upon the approach of the enemy. It’s a frightful thing to watch, poor old women loading the few poor belongings they can carry in a wheelbarrow and fleeing away from the sounds of the guns. Shall write again soon.

Your devoted husband

Harold W. McGill

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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)