Sunday, February 17, 2013

Letters and Interviews from the Front 2013

Archived Letters from the Front 2013


  1. The Bluebird’s Sacrifice

    Corporal C. Blaze
    Dearest sister,

    I am writing to tell you that I am well. I am also writing to tell you a story of greatness and valor. It is a story you might have heard but just in case I shall tell you from the beginning…
    I was injured in Belgium, and my wound was infected, so I was at a hospital to cure. Many nurses tended me, I remember one in particular. The nurse said her name was Cavell. She was tending my wounds one day, when she said she had a secret. She said she would help me to escape to the Netherlands, where I would be safe. She told me that the route was dangerous and hard. But in the end I made it, with some other men. All of us had met her, The Bluebird from Heaven. Strangely, none of us had thanked her for putting her life in stake for ours. And later on, there were whispers of a woman accused of treason, a woman put to death. That woman was the nurse, the nurse called Cavell. This woman saved me, along with many others. I wanted you to know this in case you were ever scared. Even women like you can be ‘war heroes’. One person can save and change many lives. It could be you one day.
    With great love from your brother,
    Claudius Blaze

  2. April 10, 1917

    Dear Father,

    Its been a while father. The trenches are horrible. They are cold and damp and often are flooded by heavy rain. We spent weeks out here in the trenches. Men are scared for their lives and haven’t washed their clothes, which is allowing disease to spread. Technology has played a big part in the war. Machine guns fire at unprecedented speed, which making rushing into the battlefield suicidal. Airplanes pinpoint the enemy’s location and movements, so that you can make a successful counterattack. Women are playing a big role in helping the wounded. They work in field ambulance units on the battlefield. They tried to help one of my good lads here, but he passed away due to bleeding out. Our role in this war has increased. We have captured strategic position and this is the first time all 4 Canadians divisions are fighting together. There have been many casualties, but I’m all right. Killing the huns is really making me happy. Some men have really lost it, lets hope I’m not one of them.

    Love, Arnold



  3. St Thomas Jan 14/17

    Dear People: -

    Hello, it’s your son Phil, it hasn’t been bad so far in these trenches. Tomorrow though we have to go over. Now that I’m on the front lines I hear artillery more and more. Yesterday it was so bad; one shell even hit inside the trenches and took 3 guys out. After that most of the soldiers moral was really low and some even are going insane. We seem to not even make a dent in the German line. I have seen many groups of men go over the trench and none of them have come back. A few days back I got shot I was sent back the base. The medical personal there were amazing, the nurses were very nice and were very good at there job I was back on the front line within two days, even though that’s the last place I would want be.

    From: Phil Abernaky

    Kyle Green

  4. April 20th, 1916

    Dear Tyrone,

    It’s been a while brother. Good news is I’m still alive. I’ve seen a lot in my time spent during this war. I saw a man take a buck knife to the spleen. I done tied myself my own gosh darn fingers back to my hands. Got blown right off by a damn hand grenade. Of course this pretty young lassie stitched me up good. Her name is Gretchen and I got her pregnant. Tell Ma she’s going to be a grandma. The damn trenches smell like hot cow manure on a sweaty Sunday. I just miss the farm, the animals too. How’s my horse Geronimo doing anyway that 3-legged devil. Must be still hobbling around like an old nun with arthritis. The enemies are tough; tougher than possum meat. I lost my best friend at my camp 3 days ago. He accidently drank contaminated water. He got raging Diarrhea and damn near flooded the trenches it seemed like. We didn’t know what was wrong with him. We don’t know what’s wrong with many of the people. It’s scarier than the old prairie thunder to know how much people have changed because of this battle. We Canadians offer what we can, were small but scrappy. A good combination like mashed potatoes and roast beef. My women Gretchen and I are excited to just get past this war and have our child. I’ll see you soon y’all.

    Love Rufus.

    J. Mior

  5. January 13th 1917 Sergeant Chris Jantz

    Dear Family,

    Trenches suck. They’re cramped, dusty, filthy, and wet. Of course, outside is worse, but I’d rather be at home with you all. I especially miss my dog Lucky. Unfortunately, nothing is lucky about this war. I’m not quite sure what is lower, our morale or our supply of rations. The rallying caused by the victory at Vimy Ridge was only a temporary boost to our spirits. The artillery rattles my senses as much as it rattles the scaffolding of our barracks within the trench. However, I refuse to die, for if we lose the war we lose it all. The medical staff cannot keep up with our injured or our casualties, and I believe I will suffer from shellshock soon. My sanity runs lower than my ammunition, and my machine gun is as rusty as my aim. Family, If I don’t come home, please know that I- [Rest of Page Missing]

  6. Cam R.
    July 6th 1918

    Dear Mother and Father,

    Sorry for the delay since my last letter but I have been having troubles finding a peaceful time to write. Last week I was shot in the left arm and I have been wounded in the hospital since. Since then many soldiers have been killed every day and from what I have been hearing from my bed, it wont end soon. A soldier from Prince George, named Nadroj Singhdeep, who lays in the bed next to me, tells me his stories of fighting in the trenches, and how he is so confident Canada will win this battle. On the first day of battle we lost 43,000 British troops, almost a third of our force. Commander Steve Alan sent out 13 of our divisions to attack and to divide the German line. Commander Steve Alan’s great leadership and cavalry background gave us great confidence going into the attack. However, our artillery failed and we failed to break through the German line. All of there soldiers hid in the trenches until quiet and came back at us with heavy machine guns. That is how I suffered a bullet wound underneath my left shoulder. The nurses have done their rest work to treat my injuries but I will have to rest and have my arm in a cast until bleeding stops and my arm heals. Writing this letter has greatly tired me and I will end it here. I hope I haven’t worried you two too much.
    Love Alan Steve.

  7. Dear Family,

    How is life back home? Over here it is horrible, I have never seen so much blood and dead people. I never expected it to be like this. Our fight to win the war has been difficult and not fair for either side, we have both lost many men. I wish I could go back home, living in the trenches for days and weeks is gruesome. The smell is revolting and you are always wet and muddy. Rats are everywhere. Living in the front lines has made all of us crazy. We are all sitting, waiting for something to happen and when something does we don’t get much sleep. A few friends have developed shell shock… it’s a terrible thing to watch. I’ve seen technology change, guns are getting better, biplanes are fighting in the sky and dropping bombs, And we now have tanks. These tanks are huge machines used to shoot bombs at the Nazis. We are all grateful that the hospitals could help as much as they did, I know it was hard for the men and women having to deal with all the wounded and casualties. In your last letter you said that women got the right to vote? That’s great! I’m glad my mother can vote now. How is your job at the factory? Hope its going well. I hope to see you guys soon, and if I don’t make it home always remember that I love you…..


  8. Dear Friends and Family

    I feel like I have been gone forever, and I miss everyone so much. Living in these trenches are driving us all mad. It is cramped, muddy and wet. We barely have room to move. When it rains, the trenches fill with water and we are forced to stand in big pools. They are infested with rats and we are constantly killing the rodents. Being in the front lines is the worst. Being so close to the falling soldiers on the other side is horrifying. Watching the men fall just feet away from you can change how you see anything in this world. We never leave the trenches. We eat, sleep, and wash in the trenches, which is hard considering we are always up to our knees in mud. We are always being shot at and it seems to never end. So many of us have been killed or badly injured. The hospitals here are doing everything they can to help the wounded, but there is only so much you can do in a small tent. Most tents hold a few hundred beds, but there are so many injuries, these beds fill up quickly. With no running water, medical treatment is very difficult. The woman in the hospitals are doing everything they can to save their soldiers, but the death rate is high. If we didn’t have these woman as nurses, the death rate would be much higher. In the battle of Vimy Ridge I was very badly injured. A bomb went off near my trench, and I was hit with rocks and shrapnel. I nearly lost my arm and I cut up pretty bad. I was treated at a large tent hospital and cleaned up as well as I could be in those conditions. Many of my wounds have become infected, but I am keeping them as clean as possible in these muddy trenches. I know you are proud, yet disappointed of my choices to join the war. But this was right for me. I know I could have become a successful lawyer, and that can still happen. I was trained at Valcartier in Quebec, so I feel my chances of survival are better, and I can come home when this is all over and restart my life. The training there was not the best, but it is something, and I’m glad we got that 4 months of training. I remember being nervous as we left to fight, but I knew my men would have my back, just as I have theirs still. I’ve been writing for a while now, I can hear the men in the back of our hide out, so many of us are suffering from shell shock, and I’m scared I will be next. Seeing all these bodies has taken a lot out of me. I need to go help my buddies calm down. I hope you are all doing well back home and I hope to see you soon. I love and miss you all.

    Love, Marko

    Brittney Neskar

  9. April 10 1917

    Dear Mom and Dad,

    Sorry for taking over 5 moths to write but obviously there has been a few conflicts of interest over here. But all in all France is great, I’m enjoying myself more so here than at home. The weather is great, beautiful scenery and if I get angry here I can just pop off some huns and blow off some steam instead of pounding your guys’ faces in. The food is no match to your beef and broccoli soup, but it does the job just as well, can’t complain about that. I lost that sock u sew me a couple years back but I’m sure someone will find it soon enough. Our Lieutenant Bennett is a nice guy at times, you’ll occasionally find him puffing on that wacky tobacky with some of them older more experienced soldiers, but you learn to put up with it as most of the older guys partake in these activities. The trenches are cleaner than home with less rats and raw sewage laying around than sister Bertha’s room, I’ve been wearing the same underwear for the past 9 months and still haven’t showered since my ninth birthday. Saw my first women in war last Thursday; she was at the medical camp as I was getting ammo for my Ross rifle. She was bandaging up a soldiers face when I decided to stop and ask her how she ended up at the front. He told me to go F myself and get back to the trenches, wasn’t the nicest conversation I’ve had since arriving here but still not the worst. The trenches aren’t the nicest places to stay, rats and disease everywhere. The other men talk about how the Germans have beds and electricity wired in their trenches, including restaurants just a few miles back from the front, most of us are skeptical but it is believed our trenches are harsher for motivation to win. Those mortars are crazy as hell, leaving the ringing sound in your ears and your head shacking. Some men seem to go crazy from all the artillery fire and others don’t seem affected. You catch yourself staring up at the sky looking at the planes embarking in these amazing dogfights with the German. Us Canadians aren’t as well equipped or experienced as our Ross rifles jam up fairly easily. The Germans used some form of toxic gases on those Newfi’s and a few of our men, we ended up having to pass our bladders onto rags and tie them around our mouth’s and noses’. Luckily haven’t seen any of that action yet, will write again soon and hope to get word back quick.

    Your Son

    Tyrone Jamal Marc André Theodore Wes

  10. Ashley Burmaster
    June 2, 1917

    Dear Michelle,

    We have just arrived in our new “home” (as they call it) in Belgium. The battle at Vimy Ridge was gruesome yet victorious. All of the Canadian divisions attacked together and as the battle began I noticed how strong we were all together. I left the battlefield with a wounded shoulder and a crushed foot, but I am feeling much better than usual today and my nurse says I will be ready to fight when the time comes. The doctors seem to be working just as hard as we are.

    Love always,

    June 17, 1917

    My Dearest Michelle,
    Last night I was released from medical treatment. Throughout the war we have noticed that women are becoming more essential to a successful war. They have been mostly working as nurses, operating fishing boats, working on the farm or filling artillery shells. I am spending the rest of my nights in the trenches. They don’t seem quite so bad as they were at first. It’s been raining since this morning and the trenches are especially damp, cold and muddy tonight. The mental exhaustion takes its toll on the soldiers in the most unbearable conditions. We seem to be surrounded by corps and rats more often that not.

    You wouldn’t believe what the battlefield looks like now. Weaponry has developed greatly since the war began. It is suicidal to charge into “No Man’s Land” due to the powerful and deadly explosions and gunfire. Countries are becoming more creative with their plans of attack as the days pass by. Every so often airplanes fly over our heads and the battles in the air are so astonishing that the battle practically comes to a halt while they are happening. If they don’t come to battle we know that they will be back soon more prepared than ever.

    When I come home our country will be amazingly independent. We are growing each day. Lieutenant- General Julian Byng led our attack at Vimy Ridge. I felt very prepared for the battle and went in with confidence. Byng led us to victory and we dominated during the battle.

    The rain is comforting to me. It hasn’t stopped yet and I can feel a battle coming soon. Please tell the family that all is well with me and thank them for the two hundred cigarettes they sent to me. Do not worry them. I will be home soon.

    Love always,

    November 13, 1918

    My Dearest Michelle,

    I very sorry I haven’t written so long. The war is over. It stopped at 11:00 a.m. exactly 2 days ago. I’m sure you have been worried sick. I am coming home soon. Please let the family know that I am okay.

    With best love, yours as ever,

  11. April 17, 1917

    Dear Darla,

    I’ve seen many things in the past month, things I will never forget. The battle of Vimy Ridge has been very hectic for the past three days, the war just ended but it was horrifying. The life in the trenches was dark and scary. We were there for a long time before the war started. It was very crazy. Many men almost went crazy without it. It was a long three days, it was something I didn’t want to live through but I made it, because of you. Life has been so complicated, so scary, and so hard. I’ll never get the sound of the bombs crashing down on the ground out of my head, all the screams, all the shooting. These men are like my family, I love everyone one of them. Seeing them die or get shot, really hurts my heart. Many of the men who haven’t died yet, have what we call shell shock. Shell shock is basically when the men are shaking and can’t stop because of the loud noises and the bombs dropping so close. Many men here have died, I’ve seen the worst of things, I can’t wait till I’m back home with you guys, my warm bed and cuddling with you, and my little baby. I wish you were here working with me, helping all the injured men. The women that are here are working in a tent, they’re working as nurses. I’m trying really hard to come home and see you, I love you and my little girl so much. Always know that you’ll be in my heart forever and I’ll always be in yours. Tell my baby girl I love her and I’ll be home soon.

    Love you forever, James.

  12. Nicole A.
    April 15, 1917

    Dear Mother and Father,

    It has been a few months since I left the town and I have seen things someone should never have to. I have seen people I know and have become good friends with, get hurt and killed all around me. Canadian troops are doing the best they can out here; three days ago we captured Vimy Ridge. It was terrible battle to have to go through, but a very satisfying win. I have never seen these men so happy. I have spent the last few days in the hospital as shrapnel hit me during combat. It’s very painful but I haven’t eaten this much since I’ve been out here, we get to eat four full meals a day, its great. The nurses and doctors treat us very well. There are many things that happened during the battle of Vimy ridge that I would never forget, I will want to but it will be impossible. Often in the middle of the night we would do a lot of your trench raiding, which involved making a lot of small-scale surprise, attacks. Many men were killed during trench raiding. In two large raids, 787 men were killed. Trenches are terrible, they are cold, wet and most of the time filled with the bodies of dead soldiers. Most of the time its people we know. I just want you to know I’m still alive and there’s still hope I’ll be back soon. All I can hope right now is this won’t my last letter to you, as I could go back anytime.

    Love your son, John

  13. November 22, 1917

    To my love:

    Had a day off today. Got a package from the Red Cross. The lovely delivery lady handed me your letter as well, I was so glad to hear that you and the kids are doing well.

    Trench life has been horrible. It rains lots and the wind chills you to the bone. The mud is knee deep, makes it hard to walk. The equipment is loud and heavy to carry. I never get enough sleep due to such things as cold, hunger and fear. Earlier this month I got shot in my arm, the nurses treated me good though. Got me all fixed up to get back out. The one nurse, Camilla, beautiful woman, not as beautiful as you though, shared a great story with me.; her husband, Franklin had been serving right from the start of the war. He survived a shot to the leg and the mustard gas. Brave man he was. He’d always go back to help out his pals, even if his live was in danger. Sometimes I wish I were that heroic. They send us out in waves to attack the enemy, most times I don’t know who we are attacking.

    I am saddened because one of my good war friends, Harry, from Regina, SK, got shot in the front lines. We were told to run out into no-mans-land to attack the enemy, his pants got caught in the barb wire he was stuck. I went back to help him but it was too late, the enemy shot him. He was a good man, only trying to fight for his country. He should be remembered for his greatness.

    Almost out of paper. Give Johnny, Anna and Gail a kiss from me, and tell them I love them. Can’t wait for this war to be finished Mary, I want to come home.

    All my love,

    Kessa W. Block: B

  14. Life of a Front Line Soldier in WWI

    Q: What’s your name and where are you from?
    A: My name is David Cole. I am from Fredericton, New Brunswick.

    Q: Why did you choose to fight with the Canadians?
    A: I feel that I should support Britain in their fight against the Huns

    Q: How was your experience in the trenches
    A: The trenches often collapsed because of the rain and caused “mini mudslides” so we started making them out of sandbags and wood. We had started to bury the dead in the trenches so that they wouldn’t get shot. The smell was awful and brought lice and flies. A lot of my friends had passed just because of the conditions and not even the flying bombs and constant gunfire.

    Q: How was the medical treatment?
    A: It was better than I had expected it to be the doctors and nurses were located at the rear of the fight. We were picked as soon as possible and transported to the tents. The least wounded were picked up first and patched up and thrown back into gunfire and bomb blasts.

    Q: What was the role of women in the army?
    A: Women were nurses and came across the ocean with us. Back in Canada they made bombs and bullets. They took our farm jobs too.

    Q: How did you feel about the leadership on the front lines?
    A: At times I feel like we had strong, well-planned attack coordinated planned by our battalion leaders but at other times I felt as if we were just handed a gun and told to shoot. Our commanding leader was very strict and often shot people when they wouldn’t go over.

    Q: What kept you wanting to keep going through all the war and hardship?
    A: I kept driving because every once in a while they would bring us letters from Canada and just reading the messages from my loved ones made me keep going so I could come home to see their faces again.

    Thanks David Cole for your time and thank you for fighting for our country.

    Sartaj Grewal

  15. The life of soldier

    Q: What is your full name and where you born?

    A: My name is Jackie Ku. I was born in Prince George, British Columbia.

    Q: Why did you join the army?

    A: Because I wanted to fight against those Germans.

    Q: Could you describe the trench warfare?

    A: The trench warfare was gross, there is a lot of dead bodies on the wet muddy field. It smelled like crab.

    Q: What was life like in the front lines?

    A: The short answer is: beyond heaven.

    Q: What was the medical care like in the war?

    A: Medical care was a problem during the war. The antibiotics didn’t even exist yet that time.

    Q: What ere the roles of women in the war?

    A: The women did not fight and only could be either nurses or clerical help. I think there may have been a few female mechanics and cooks as well.

    Q: what was the morale of Canadian soldiers?

    A: While being on the rest time, the units would receive replacement soldiers, and also get their rum rations and better, warm food. Fresh clothing and equipment were also issued, when available.

    Thanks Jackie Ku for the the interview.

    Calvin Ku

  16. The Cole Show (with Keith Aldridge)

    Q: What is your name and where are you from?
    A: My name is Keith Aldridge and I am from Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Q: What made you join the army?
    A: I wanted to fight against the Hans.

    Q: Could you describe the trench warfare?
    A: Well, in the 1st World War we had dugout and trench systems that were protected by barbed wire. To describe the environment, it was a very muddy field and had a lot of dead bodies.

    Q: What was life like in the front lines?
    A: So, basically us men were in the mud that was up to our waist with German snipers firing shots at us. We had to sleep, eat and bath in the trenches.

    Q: What were the roles of technology in the war?
    A: Its funny you ask that because it had this trend towards industrialism and to the technology and welfare itself. It wasn’t until final year of the War when the technology really decided to step up. There were some very effective steps of command and control. We had to adapt to the new technology as well because of the different number of squads, so some of the new technology there were thing like submachine guns and automatic rifles.

    Q: Could you describe how the hospitals and medical treatment were in this time?
    A: It was pretty simple, once your injured there was a hospital to go to and they could give you surgery or tell them you couldn’t make it, it was one way or the other.

    Q: What was the women’s role in the First World War?
    A: Well, women in the world war was necessary for participation because of how many men kept getting killed. They also would work in the hospital and be nurses and they would also knit clothing.

    Q: What was the morale of Canadian Soldiers?
    A: Well for resting we would get time to take a breather and have other soldiers go fight for us while we recover from our injuries. It was somewhat fun when we got to rest because we got to sing with our troop. We sang songs such as, “Bawdy Baraack Room Ballads” and “Granddads Army”.

    I would like to thank you for coming in to talk to me, hope to see you in the future!

    Cole W

  17. June 12 1916

    Dear Steve,

    Sorry for taking so long to respond to your last letter, I’m still alive even though I was attacked in my trench. He cut off my pinky finger and stabbed me in the thigh, thank god I was armed with my revolver at the time, when I was in the hospital a pretty little nurse stitched me up. The trenches smell like rotting bodies and are full of rats. For the past week my battalion and I have been receiving heavy fire from enemy mortar teams. Out team is strong but ill equipped, our riffles jammed constantly and there is a low food supply. Our leaders have poor strategy so we loose more and more troops every day. I miss mom and dad very much, I have heard news about going home through out the camp. I smell bad and so does everyone else here, no one has showered in months. Some of the soldiers are beginning to go crazy at the sound of gun fire while they are sleeping. We are winning the battle, there troops are strong and smart but not as driven like ours. There are plenty of women in the hospital camps attending soldiers., the camps have bad equipment and there are a lot of men. Its weird how women are working in the factory’s back home. I wonder if they are going to be able to work after the war with the men, its going to be strange to be home and get out of this place.

    Sincerely: Allan

  18. The Life of a Soldier in WWI

    Q: What is your name, where are you from, how old are you?
    A: My name Greg Smith, I am from St. Johns, Newfoundland, and I was born on 1880, March 4.

    Q: What made you want to join the war?
    A: I wanted to fight along side with the British.

    Q: Describe the trench warfare that took place.
    A: The trenches were about 1 meter wide and 2 meters tall. They were designed in a zigzag style, to help with explosions and artillery fire. The trenches helped with covering from enemy fire and explosives. We would run over the trenches into a new one, once the enemy would retreat. It was a scary feeling running through no man’s land trying to reach a trench.

    Q: What were the roles that women played in the war?
    A: Women helped contribute to the war by becoming nurses, making ammunition and knitted clothes. Back home they took jobs working in factories and some took over their farms that their husbands left behind.

    Q: How was the leadership in the military like?
    A: Fighting in the trenches, there were only a few English-speaking Commanding officers. The Commanding officers would either tell us to hold our position or run over to the next trench. If we didn’t hop over, he would shoot us with his pistol. There were acts of great leadership from General Byng. Instead of just running into no man’s land, he devised a strategy at Vimy Ridge where we fired bombs for cover fire and ran to the trenches. We had practiced it so our timing was right.

    Q: How were the hospitals and medical treatment like?
    A: Tents were set up at the rear end of the battlefields, picking up the least wounded first. They were then put back into the battle and then the badly wounded would be treated. The tents were packed with wounded while the nurses would have to rush around, attending to everyone’s needs.

    Q: What was the morale for the Canadian soldiers?
    A: We would have soldiers go fight for us and others rest. We were then equipped with warm clothing and hot food. We would get letters from our family once in a while that would help me keep going through the war.

    Q: Thank you for your time Gregg, it was an honor talking to you.
    A: Thank you for having me.

    Manni D

  19. Rachael Roughton. Block B. February 19, 2013.

    April 1917


    I feel these experiences of mine unfit for ears outside of these trenches. However, I yearn to share with those I love. The propaganda home is of a joyous sort, upon arrival we were all proven wrong.

    Many lives we have handed to the Fritz; our poorly trained new recruits have only learned of up and over. They run out of their diseased, crowded and infested trenches from the front line, straight into Fritz gun fire. Any kilometers gained are an achievement to our leaders. Unfortunately, this is not normally achieved. The blood bath of Somme, led by Commander Haig, was another example of the poorly planned tactics. For it seems they have not recognized all the bombings from planes and tanks have us at a great disadvantage. Many of my fellows died from mustard gas thrown at us during our excursion, our own urine was our only protection. We gained but eleven kilometers with Canadian casualties adding over 20,000; they are predicting over a million casualties overall.

    The women here are few and far between, but their bravery is clear. How they stand to nurse the wounded, those with faces and limbs tore clear off, is beyond me. Whereas I fear I would lose my mind in their position. It was a tragic July 1916; why this time a few years ago I was on the farm helping you. The memories and what little humour is left here are what I cherish, for they keep me fighting. Reality seems the worst place to be.

    There are plans of a new battle spreading Father. All four Canadian divisions will fight together, led by General Byng! They say we will have our own maps and days of training to prepare us. We have just begun the extensive tunneling needed for success. Father, despite past lack of strategies- possibly even lack of thought, I have hope. Hope, Father is something most of us haven’t felt since being home. We have learned from past mistakes and we are prepared. We are Canadian Father- Canadians that will unite and conquer. Not just Vimy, but this war.

    My love home,
    Corporal Hudson Brown.

    October 1917


    The war is taking toll, not just on me but everyone in these despicable trenches. I am writing to you with great loathe towards Commander Haig. For, I cannot blame General Currie for Haig’s overwhelming lack of intelligence. Our hopes of defeating the Fritz have been crushed. Passchendaela was a great loss. We may have won, but our casualties are so great Father, I see no victory. To see my own comrades drowned, not only in artillery fire, but mud, is such a tragedy I wish I could forget. 15,000 Canadian lives lost. Haig does not see that tiring our enemies first is not modern thinking; there are new weapons- planes, tanks, U- boats. The Triple Entente needs strategies- not thoughtless actions of which we who fight must suffer the consequences of their stupidity.

    Forgive me Father, for I cannot say this entire war is lead with stupidity. We took Vimy with great success! The maps and extensive training were key in the assault. Our elaborate tunneling was such a sight! To see the disgusting Fritz rushing to surrender was a glorious view. However lots of their men were but of my age Father, showing us pictures of what we think is their family back home.

    I am unsure if I will see home again Father, but I enjoy the few things you are able to send. Such memories of home reassure me of duty here. I will protect my country at all costs and I will make you proud to call me your son.

    My love from hell,
    Corporal Hudson Brown.

  20. Dear Allie,

    War is not what I thought it would be. It’s frightening. The sound of gun shots and bombs is impossible to get out of my head. The only thing that’s keeping me sane are your letters from home. I miss you. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to answer them all, we’re constantly busy out in the front line and when we come in we’re busy cleaning all of our equipment. The trenches are hell.. And the smell is indescribable. It’s a combination of mildew, rotting vegetation, and the stench of bodies decomposing. It follows us everywhere and is a constant reminder of what’s going on around us. Being in the front lines is terrifying. Taking a look outside of your trench could cost you your life. The trenches are filled with thick mud and rats surrounding us. Everyone is cramped. Yesterday my dearest friend died, and burial is impossible. Many of us go down, but no one has the time to stop and help.
    Last week I got shot at. The bullet just brushed my shoulder. I thought I was fine until later that night I removed my clothing to see blood stains everywhere. I was sent to the hospital where I waited hours to be treated. Allie, I can’t even describe to you how many of us are wounded… It’s a gruesome sight. A while later I was treated by a female nurse, her name was Esme. I guess they’ve decided to let women help serve as nurses as well as make meals for us. We need all the help we can get. Hundreds, maybe even thousands die every day.. All of this makes me question what we’re all fighting for anymore.. I mean, is it worth it?
    I am happy to say that we are making progress, though, or so it seems. We are at Vimmy Ridge now. We are gaining more and more ground on the ridge every day. We are working hard on our strategies, and if they pan out this will be our largest victory yet! General Byng is working us day and night to make sure we keep up with our training. I’m getting better and stronger every day, I can feel it.
    How are things at home? I heard about the Halifax explosion and can’t help but wonder if you’re alright. Is it true that the ship was carrying more than 2500 tonnes? I can’t even imagine what kind of explosion that would have made. I sure hope you’re okay. I haven’t heard from you in awhile and it worries me. Please write back soon. I think of you every day, I hope you know that. I can’t wait to come home to you.

    Lots of love, Noah.

    Jennifer S.
    Feb 20/13
    Block B Socials

  21. Vimy Ridge April 8th
    Private 1st class Jack McDonnell
    British Mediterranean expeditionary force
    Royal Newfoundland Regiment
    To: Robert Borden Canadian Prime Minister 24 Sussex drive

    Dear mister Prime Minister:
    I may get into trouble for my criticism, however I feel an unbiased opinion is necessary our rifles, jam constantly whenever they touch water or mud. Food is rare, and when we receive food its poor and often contaminated. We use bayonets that get stuck instead of shovels that serve multiple purposes. Our wartime strategy is awful “ stupidity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results” maybe that will be a famous quote someday. We need planned attacks like blowing up their trenches by digging under them, artillery, air support, tanks, and then sending men over the top. Hopefully this is planned for tomorrow’s big push on the Jerries’ includes some brains over Braun.
    Yours truly, Pvt. 1st class Jack McDonnell

  22. My dearest Clara

    It seems like ages since I have last seen you. Everything seems so dark without you in my life.
    Everything here seems so empty. There is nothing I can do anymore to seem like there is any faith in
    life. It never even seems like there is any sun here anymore. Everyone here has been doing best they
    can to be happy. Where we stay it is cold and stinks like skunk in the summer back in Saskatchewan.
    There is so many bodies everywhere, there is nothing much I can do to make things feel like home
    again. Every once in a while we go through towns helping people as much as we can. Many children are left alone, no one in their life anymore to take care of them. Some of the bright side of things, with the wages I have been getting I can get a pack of smokes and some decent food in me; guess the farm is doing good back home. Always makes me happy to think that is true. Tomorrow we are going to go to the front lines, since so many people have been losing their lives. I have never been so scared in my life. It’s a good thing that everything seems so numb. If you don’t block things out, you slowly go crazy. They have been calling it ‘bomb shock’; I am scared I might be losing myself too lately. Every time someone gets hurt, they come back from that hospital never looking and acting the same as they were before. The only thing that makes me happy, to stay strong; I might get to see you soon. I want you to stay strong also. There is a huge possibility tomorrow I might not be writing again. Half of the soldiers that go out on that field never come back. No one was ready for this. All this training we went through, isn’t worth shit when it comes down to it. So this might be my last letter to you. I just wanted you to know that I love you more than anything in the world. I want you to love again like you love me. I have saved some money up so everyone back home can be good for the winter. Tell mother and the boys that I love them. Never forget that.


    Courtney W

  23. To my love,

    It has been many weeks since I have been able to right to you. I miss you dearly, and every day my heart aches more for you. When I first signed up I was excited for all the things in my horizon. I now realize how stupid I was for being so excited. I wish only that I could go back and tell my self to run, run far away when the time came to leave. As I think back to my time on the battlefield the horrible sights I’ve seen flash before my eyes. I good man I met was blown to nothing more than a cloud of dust right before my eyes. Just days after that a bomb was dropped beside me and I shouldn’t have made it out but I am so thankful that I did. Some days the mud is think and caked so heavily on your body that it could deflect a bullet. It doesn’t seem like real life, and I wish so deeply that I could blink and wake up with you in our home again.

    Until then, yours truly,

  24. Dear Mom and Dad,

    As I arrived here at war I am rudely awaken by terrifying gun shots and the realization of how horrible war is. It is a lot different than I thought it was going to be, worse than I thought. I’m sorry it has taken me awhile to write back home I am going through the drills with the rest of the men. I sit in a mud and water filled trench waiting to be attacked, I haven’t been injured yet thankfully. Over half of the men that go out to no man’s land never return. My partner that sits with me in the trenches has been hurt 3 time’s, the doctors and nurses treat people well here. You are sent back out to fight in a very short time though. Piles of dead bodies covered in mud lay scattered in sight, it’s hard to see everyone being put through this. Many of the men out here have gone crazy. Listening to the loud fires of many guns begin to get to you after awhile. It is horrible out here and hard to handle. Many of the things I have seen will stay in my mind for the rest of my life. I am very proud to be fighting for my country and I am happy to say that we are winning this battle. I will try to write more often. Say a big hello to everyone back home for me. Talk to you soon.

    Love, Your Son.

    Melanie A

  25. Dear mother

    I have been sent to the trenches today, the guys say that you must be very aware. The sun hasn’t shone in three days and all I’ve seen is the rain and the dark. all I can hear is guns and rain, I can no longer hear what people say, everything just goes by in a blur mixed by misery and discomfort. I long for your homemade bread and those wonderful dinners you make. One night I dreamt that I was in the kitchen, you were crying, I tried to reach out and let you know it was ok but my hand passed right through you. It was then that you got up, dressed in all black, and with dad, went to the funeral home. I think it was then that I realized that I was dead and you were going to find out about my very own funeral. I woke then I started to cry. I couldn’t help myself. I kept seeing your tear-ridden face and wondering if I had seen the future. I just want to let you know how much I love you, all of you, and if I die out here I want you to know that I am willing to die to make sure that you are all ok, to make sure that my country and all the loved ones in it are safe and free. With any luck this war will end soon, however even if it does I know the scar it leaves will remain for many generations. I pray that they learn from our mistakes so that no one loses sons, fathers, brothers or friends again. I hope to see you soon.

    Your son,
    Erin Y

  26. My dearest Marie,

    War is nothing like I could have imagined. All the glory and bravery they so greatly promised me has yet to be true. I have not entered my first battle yet, my battalion has been ordered to maintain a trench about several miles away from Paris. The cold, muddy interior is nothing like our home back in Montreal, and with every day that passes I miss it more. The other soldiers like to keep there spirits up by playing cards and telling stories, but these serve as only novelties for nothing can take my mind away from you. Some of the soldiers in my battalion have seen worse battles before my arrival. A few have terrible episodes of uncontrollable fear and panic. I do not know what happens to them when they get that glazed look in their eyes, but I do hope that it does not happen to me. Remember Johnny Stuart from down the road? Our paths have crossed here overseas. Strange isn’t it? Go across the world into hell on earth, to be reunited neighbor. Only he isn’t like before. Johnny lost his right arm in a gruesome battle. I can’t help but feel sorry for him, even though he seems to be coping quite well. It is night here, but no one gets much sleep. Between the impending threat of the Germans, and my heart that aches for Canada, I don’t sleep much. So far my heart is the only thing that aches, for I have not been wounded. I hope by saying that I have not cursed myself, but if I have the hospitals seem to be fixing up the other boys’ alright. They return after only a few weeks, more if it was critical. Many women have come over to work as nurses but I am glad you are home. War is no place for a woman like you. Me however, well I’m going to be your brave soldier. The Canadian troops have already had a great accomplishment in a battle that took place on Vimy Ridge, as I’m sure you already know. I hope the excitement radiates to our town, it could use some uplifting. Since the war started, you can feel the dreariness every where you go. You feel almost guilty walking down the streets, knowing that you are here while they are there. That was one of the reasons I enlisted remember? Please don’t let the dread weary your heart, the war will be over soon. I hope this letter reaches you, I yearn to hear from you. If I could just hear the sound of your voice, it might help me get through this easier. But I keep telling myself that I will return to Canada soon, and I am starting to believe it. Think of me often love, tell my family I miss them. Hope to hear from you soon

    Love always, Jack
    Kristen Y

  27. Dear Elise,

    It’s been six months since I left on the boat to France. I can’t believe we have been together for 4 years next month. I hope this war is over soon. It is muddy, cold and it has been the same since we arrived. Jonny, Calvin, Eric, and Aaron were all killed in battle, but David is still around with only some minor wounds. I’m just fine, other than being exhausted and hungry all the time I barely have a scratch. Breakfast is tea biscuits and a jam that doesn’t taste how it should; but it is food nonetheless.
    When we aren’t fighting we have to do chores around the battlefield. We have to Work detail or fetch communication wire for the telephones. It is very scary when shells go off near your post; your ears ring and it is hard to see for a while. It seems to me that the battle is letting up and hopefully I will be home with you and our daughter soon. I hope she is doing well and giggly as ever. I bet you are just as beautiful as when I left. I love you both so much. Kisses and hugs to the both of you.

    Sincerely with love: Daniel xoxo

    Shanna Walton

  28. My Darling Kristen,

    These past few weeks have been the hardest of my life, not from the war, but being away from you. The trenches are in such terrible condition, filled with water up to my knees, my feet sink right into the mud, the cold nights, getting colder because of the constant rain. My hands are constantly frozen, which makes it more difficult to write to you.
    After being in the front lines for a couple weeks I finally felt the pain of a bullet surging through my right arm. With all the adrenaline going through my body it didn’t hurt as much as I think it should have, but there is no need to worry, as I am safer now than I was up front. My arm should heal up nicely and quite quickly. The nurses here are so kind, and I’m glad such nice women aren’t sent into the trenches, battles, or up to the front lines. The work they do for us soldiers is incredible, and the things they see, they must be mentally wounded.
    Vimy Ridge has been our greatest victory yet, especially for Canada, we really proved ourselves at that battle. It’s disappointing that the way a country must prove its independence is by the slaughter of another country’s man, but nevertheless its happened. We’ve captured more ground, prisoners, and artillery than any previous British offensive, which was really quite exciting for us.
    We’ve been asked for volunteers to become pilots, but there aren’t many willing to do so, as much of the pilots before died before they even got the chance to fly the plane in battle. Training is very difficult to get through, and as planes are still quite new to us there are plenty of mechanical failures. They don’t shoot much, mostly photographing and reporting enemy movements.
    Seeing all the propaganda back home and waiting for the next letter from me must be tough, but I am doing okay over here, and so are our friends from back home, I’ve managed to get into a battalion with Haydn from down the street he’s also been wounded but he’s managed to make it through and have a good recovery, please let his family know. I know the government is pressuring you to buy victory bonds, and save food with all the propaganda, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you, with your magnificent garden you’ve been working on for the past few years, I know you’ll make it through this tough time.
    I send all my love your way, and I’ll see you soon.
    Love Always,

    Anna G

  29. Dear Ma and Pa,

    I just got your letter yesterday, I’m very happy to hear from ya’ll and I hope my sis is doing great. It has been 5 weeks since I have been in the trenches. I just saw my best friend get his arm and foot blown off by a land mind. After the blast I can’t hear very well and I get massive headaches daily. Every morning since I have been in the trenches I have woken up with a nosebleed I get close to 5 hours of sleep each night. When I was first put in the trenches I got a piece of shrapnel lodged in my left knee. I’ve cried myself to sleep every night since. The general has made us wait on the outside at 5:30 every morning waiting for a hun raid but the huns knew we were waiting so they never showed that early. Ma I knew you were very interested in how woman were involved in the war so I talked to some of the veterans at breakfast and they told me that most of them work as nurses for when people get injured or get very sick. I miss you guys a lot and I hope to back in Canada soon.
    Love, your son Fredrick.

  30. Dear father,

    I have placed this letter in the book I sent you, hoping it will make it passed the sensors. I know you and mother must be worried and wondering where I am. I have joined the British army to find Brian. No one has yet found out who I really am, I have used your name to get enrolled. The boys call me Glenn Maverick Heywood. I have been asking around if anyone has seen Brian or if they know where he is. I’m starting to wonder if he is even alive. The last person to see him was a man named John who saw him at the Somme River in France. All the tactics they used were not effective when fighting in trenches. People were not covered and were shot down easily. Many soldiers were wounded or killed; my hope is that Brian is still fighting here under the command of Lieutenant-General Byng. Byng is a great general he carefully plans everything. The men here are very brave. We are covered in mud and sweat. We sleep in trenches and have very little food. These trenches smell of rotten bodies and I have recently taken up smoking tobacco to get rid of the smell. Some men’s feet have turned black and I am worried mine will too. I wonder if it was what Brian thought it would be. I will have to go we are on our way to Vimy Ridge. If Brian returns home before you do, please give him my love.

    Love, your daughter, Bethany

  31. Chance Lewis
    September 10, 1917

    Dear Mother and Father,

    It's been a long few months here, I'm slowly starting to break down, having to see those bodies everyday, knowing that most of them having loving families waiting for them at home just like me, it brings a sickening feeling over me every time I think of it. Especially the fact that it's going to be my fault some family's will be losing there loved ones. I cant take much more of it here, i just want to home with you guys again, I wish i never would have left. One of the guys here that I had been spending most of my time with here, John, had been killed in battle today, I dragged him back to the trenches so he could rest in peace. I couldn't take the image of every time i look out having to see him there, laying motionless in a pit like all the rest, i know were here fighting for our country, but i don't believe anyone deserves to be here, not just on our side, but there side to, we all deserve to just go home and go see our family's, and not have to live everyday through this disgusting bloodshed.

    I worry every night, thinking that i'm not going to ever get to see you guys again, that i'm not going to get to see anyone again. Hearing the bombs going off every night is unsettling, i'm more immune to it then i was when i first got here, but no one just gets used to it. The food isn't plentiful, but it gets us through what we need. People are more worried about the cigarettes then they are food anyways. People are always willing to trade some food for a couple of smokes here.

    I just thought i would write this for you guys to lets you know i'm still doing alright, I love you guys, and hopefully i'll make it home soon, ill send another one in a few weeks to keep you updated. Love you.

    Love, Chance.

  32. Dear Mother,
    The hospitals are always busy, so this is the first time I’ve had a chance to write in a while. We are set up not far from the front lines, and we can hear the war constantly. Artillery fire, bombs and the rat-a-tat-tat of machines guns are just some of the noises that assault us. But what are worse are the moans of the wounded men. Their injuries are like nothing I’ve ever seen. Whole limbs are blown off when a shell lands. And the ones who get back here are the lucky ones. Most are just left in no-mans land, shot down as they charge, sometimes right into the fire of a machine gun. Those things are horrible! What kind of fair chance is there when one man can take down hundreds without ever coming face-to-face? We do all we can here but it is often not enough. And it is not just the enemy that is killing these brave soldiers. Many who come here have feet that are frozen and rotting from being in the trenches, and in these close conditions dysentery takes many. But hope is not lost! Our Canadian soldiers have had several victories, even in the face of poisonous gas. They remain steadfast, and can still joke with me as I tend them. We have yet to have a Canadian commander, but the British treat us nicely. They are grateful, I think, for our help.
    I’ve been meaning to tell you, I saw a plane! It was just passing through, heading to some other battle, but it was a glorious sight to see. It had two wings, right on top of each other, and made a buzz, like and over-sized wasp. I wish you and my brothers could have seen it. How is home? I trust you are not starving yourselves for our sake. If one of the boys is thinking of signing up, please don’t let them. War is not what the posters describe. Men are murdered by the thousand! I don’t want Tommy or Ben to become another shapeless mass on the field, rotting slowly into the ground. Or worse, a cripple in here! Tell them it would be much more useful if they worked in the factories, making much needed supplies, or putting their farming talents to use.
    I’ve been thinking, Mother, when I come home I don’t wasn’t to marry. I like this work, helping people. I feel like I am an important person here, making a difference. When I come home, I want to keep working. I know Father would turn in his grave, but things are changing. Many women that I’ve met are talking of taking up their own lives when they get back. I don’t think I will be a nurse, though. I have seen enough of bloody wounds and scarred flesh. Maybe I could work in a factory. I don’t know how much longer this war will last, but I am going to stay to the end. Our soldiers need me.
    Speaking of which, I must go. Another small skirmish has just ended and I am sorely needed. I miss and love you all. Stay warm and stay safe.
    Love, Mary

    Pippa Roots
    Block C

  33. Dear friends,
    The war is nothing like any of us could have possibly imagined. The air smells of dried blood and rotting corpses. Life in the trenches is unbearable. Sleep comes rarely. The sound of guns blazing never seems to end. Rations are low and all the men are getting wild eyed. Our platoon commander was killed by a gunshot to the chest; he died about two weeks ago. We now have a new commander. He is young and as scared as the rest of us. He has proved to be very unhelpful in battle, and not much of a commander. Six weeks ago I took a shot to the shoulder. The doctor said it barely missed a main artery; I was lucky. The nurse was was kind with a sweet face that reminded me of my Jenny back home. She would talk to me as she cleaned my wound. We discussed her life back home. She had a husband who was a soldier that died just over a year ago. She said though there were very few things about the war that she enjoyed, the fact that she was treated as an equal was a nice change. She said she now had the right to vote, her sisters back home now worked outside of their home, she learned things about the human anatomy as the doctors worked, and she even found the men here appreciated her for her work. I had never even considered any of these things that I took for granted. I wondered how Jenny felt. She seemed to be the only good thing in the hospital. The sight of defaced men, and open flesh was enough to make me lost my breakfast. Doctors rarely washed there hands as they went from patient to patient. Many of the men died from infection. I couldn't seem to think which was worse, the hospital or the trenches. After a week I was back on my feet and we were sent back to the trenches. I made up my mind; the trenches were worse. Yesterday we were gassed and told to put on our masks. One boy, had panicked when the lenses of his were cracked and took off his mask. The poor chap didn't stand a chance. I sit here as the guns blaze above me. I think of home, I think of friends, and I think of Jenny.
    Miss you all
    J.J. Jackson (A. Bowness)


  34. June 4th 1917
    Dear Mom and Dad

    I know you must be very worried about me, thankfully I am all right. The Battle at Vimy Ridge was gruesome but victorious! Though I left the battlefield with a busted up shoulder from a gunshot. So please mind my writing. Looking around at all our troops we are as strong as ever. Despite the living conditions, it’s been raining heavy non-stop switch makes the trenches cold, damp and unbelievably muddy. Looking around there is no green grass or blue sky. I’ve seemed to be surrounded by rat and bodies of fallen soldiers and friends that I have made here.
    Anyways my nurse said I should recover fast and be back in shape in no time. These doctors and nurses seem to be working just as strong and hard as we are. Being in medical treatment my nurse told me that the women are becoming more apart of the war! Of course not on the battlefield, but being nurses and replacing men in banks, offices and at farms, amazing I would think.
    So far I have missed you guys and the rest of the family so terribly much. Not to worry though, I WILL be home soon!

    Love Always,

  35. Dear Mom and Dad,

    I would first like to apologize for taking quite some time to write back to your previous letter, I have been having a hard time finding peace and quiet.
    This war has turned out completely different than what I expected; it is living hell. The trenches are about two feet wide and six feet deep. Over here, when it rains, the bottom of the trenches turn to mud, causing some men’s boots to fall right off their feet. The trenches also offer barely any protection, which causes many fatalities when we try to shoot at others. Loud explosions make it almost impossible go get sleep and just when it gets quiet, a rat will run across your body. When we try to get rid of the rats, they keep coming back!
    Last Friday, I was shot in the left leg and I have been wounded in the hospital since. The hospital I am staying at receives tens of people each day, sometimes hundreds! The hospitals here are not ideal, but they are better than crawling through the mud in the trenches. The nurse who looks after me is very nice; I was actually surprised as to how many women there are here. Women don’t fight in the front lines but they do other things like farming and nursing. The Germans have a gas that is very deadly and kills a lot of soldiers but thanks to the gas masks we received we have a better chance of surviving gas attacks. There are also tanks and planes mounted with guns. Because of all of this technology killing people has become a lot easier. I know that as a kid you said killing people was bad, but now that I’m killing people to stand up for my country, I see it as a good thing. One thing I have noticed is that all the Canadian troops I talk to seem so confident and brave, which is probably a good thing for our troops.
    Seeing all the posters at home and waiting for the next letter from me must be tough, but don’t worry, I am doing fine. Even though I say don’t worry, I know you are still worrying. Nothing gets by me…
    I hope to see you soon and I will write when I get the time.
    Love you.

    Josh Rockwell

  36. Mom, I’m sorry I haven’t been able to send any letters to you lately. We’ve been moving around a lot, and making game plans on how to ambush our enemy. The good news is that I’m still alive, but, I have lost half of my right arm in battle. I have been spending most of my time with the nurses, they’ve been such help to all of us injured soldiers. We we’re attacked at Vimy Ridge this past Sunday. The trenches we hide in are damp, cold, dusty, and usually flooded with water. The time in the war is not what I have planned it would be. It’s awful. Everywhere you look, you see dead bodies surrounding you. Soldiers, the people you have become friends with, die right by your side, and what do we do? We continue on, shooting our guns like the ones we loved have not just died. All you can hear around you is the sound of bullets being shot, boots stomping through the muddy puddles, and bodies hitting the hard ground. There is nothing pleasant about being here, but the thought that we are doing this to fight for our country, and for peace is what keeps me going. I promise mom, I will be home soon. I miss you so much. I will write to you soon, as soon as we get somewhere safe.

    Love John

  37. Dearest Clementine,

    I know it has been months since I last wrote but we have been constantly moving from place to place. I have found a moment to write to you to keep you from worrying. I keep that photograph you gave me on my last day with you in my right breast pocket right above my heart. When I feel like I am about to go crazy I look at the picture and it reminds me of home. I cannot describe the terrible experience that is war. Bodies are scattered everywhere, and it’s too dangerous to collect the bodies and give them proper burials. We thought that losing my mother was devastating, but compared to war, that was tame. When we first arrived all everyone talked about was how he couldn’t wait to join the front lines. After we experienced the horror that was the front lines, we settled down and understood that war wasn’t a game or a vacation. This is real life and it is very dangerous. I long to talk about the experiences I have witnessed but I do not think I will ever be able to fully share what I have been through. However it is nice to have women helping out in this battle. I am very thankful they do not have to go to the front lines, this would be terrible and cruel. They help bandage and calm down the soldiers. Without them a lot of people would have died, so I am grateful for them being here. I cannot wait to sleep in a bed again. The trenches are treacherous. They are deep, dark, cold, and usually filled with water. The constant sounds of gunfire are always above our heads. You never have a minute of peace to think in your head, which is probably a good thing or I might go crazy. My hands are beginning to freeze from writing this letter so I must cut it short. Give my best to your mother.

    Love always,

    Mary Kate Block C

  38. November 30, 1916

    Dear Family,

    I was wounded in the last battle that I took part inn. I sustained a shrapnel wound to my arm, and it had to be amputated. From here in the hospital, I can see just how many people are being injured and killed, as there are always people coming and going from here.

    This war is awful. When I was on the front line, the noise almost never stopped, and when it did, there was an air of unease that washed over us. The rest of the time, it was so noisy. Whether it’s gunfire, artillery bombardment, or the screaming of injured men, it can drive a man insane. I sometimes don’t understand how I managed to stay sane. It was so terribly demoralizing to see a man that you thought was strong break down. So many people are losing faith, believing that this fight is just pointless blood shed.

    Life in the trenches was terrible. It rained quite often, filling the trench with mud and water and they were also infested with rats. Many men suffered from lice infestations. Some men shaved their heads just to be spared from the lice. Our attacks seem to be for nothing, as we will only gain a short distance at a time, losing almost as many as we kill. As we attacked, we’re lucky if we didn’t get hit by artillery fire, or mowed down by machine gunfire. Even when we got to Hun’s line, we still had to fight for our lives. Our commanders seem to think that we are just tools for them to use in this fight and that we are just disposable. The amount of people that have died is just staggering.

    I haven’t been told whether or not I will be allowed to return home yet. I am still weak, but I am recovering. From what I have seen, I believe that this war will continue on for along while to come.

    Love, William

    Erik S.
    Block C

  39. Dear mother:

    War has lasted a lot longer than anyone has anticipated. The days are long and full of nightmares. We spend long hours in deep, cold trenches, that accumulate so much dead rodents and bodys that the stench is so vile. We have nurses and doctors in the backline, but if your taken out in the front line sit could be hours before your saved, luckily I have been blessed to not been hit. Back at the battle of Ypres the Ger,mans plagued us with chlorine gas so luckily i had a rag I could pee on to use as respiration; many of the fellow men on my platoon died form it. Our weapons are constantly mis-firing and the shells always clog up. I try to stay positive and keep motivated but the constant sound of artillery going off and lack of sleep is really bringing me down. Our trenches are very unhygenic and food and water is scarce. Ive been through many battles and seen lots die that im starting to have flash backs every time i hear a bomb or explosion go off. Thanks too the new inventions such as wireless telegraph we stay updated and focused on our main objective. I'm on a strong platoon and our captain is a strong leader. I hope to come home soon and I promise to bring back a German souvenir. Were all anxious to come home and have a feeling the war will be over soon.
    Love your son:
    Private Knudsen

  40. Dear Mother,

    As hard as it is for me to write this, it will be harder to read. John was shot today on his first day in the front lines. He died living his dream, even though his dream took place in a rat filled trench with gun fire all around. There are machine guns constantly firing and grenades being thrown from the front lines. It is a gong show when our rivaly gets in there, with stabbing and punches flying everywhere, many deaths occur. I have been in the hospitol that was set up here where the female nurses run around everywhere helping as many as they can. There are up to 1000 injured men in these huts that we call a hospitol, the nurses are even scared, though they push through and help out a great deal. My wound has healed up enough for me to go back into battle tomorrow, ill be in the trenches for a long time but I am ready to fight for my country. Many men are scared for their lives but after seeing the things I have seen, I have lost emotion and feel fearless. I have seen many men die from disease due to the lack of sanitation and a few go crazy and even commit suicide. The warfare being used is intense. From rifels to poisonous gases to airplanes flying above, it seems to never end. They are all hitting us hard and taking many men. Our lieutenant is a rough man but he is what gives us the courage to go out there every day and fight as hard as we do. There is a great deal of respect that has grown between all the men out here. We work as a team and fight together. It is crazy to think that all the kind, simple women I know from back home are filling our shoes by doing all the mens work. I wonder how things will change when this war is over. I hope all is well back home, I can't wait to see you when this war is over.

    Much Love, your son, Jerry xoxo

  41. Dear Mother and Father,

    I want to inform you that the way things have been going Christmas is not an option for me this year. Sadly it also isn't an option for Ben either, for Ben led one of the waves moving toward the Germans in the Battle of the Somme and did not make it because of the new technologies the Germans have aquired in the form of machine guns. Honestly jealousy crashed over me at the moment. Ben is now onto a better place. Me, I'm still recovering from wounds from this what seemed endless battle. In the trenches it was cold and wet, but the only place to survive. I recieved a bullet wound in the arm close to the end of the battle, the front line is a terrifying place to be. The only reason I do it is in hopes that one day this will al be over and I can come back home to you. Luckily the medical here is quick to respond. I was treated well and fast, the bullet was removed from my arm and disinfected in no time. I hope i can see you soon.

    Sincerely, your son, Jack

    Myles K. Block B

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  43. Dear family,

    I am writing to you from the front lines of Vimy ridge, April 22, 1917. Every day is like surviving in the deepest parts of hell. I have seen the face of death hundreds of times and have overcome it. Conditions of trenches are pore and we have no protection from the rats or from keeping are feet dry, only the dead have the luxury of not worrying or caring about there feet. The commanding officers do not see that they are sending us to are death. Most of them have just as much training as we do but get to choose the fate of are lives. But wen we are tolled to go over we go over we go over praying we can either take over the enemies trench or come back with the rest of the living. I wish that I could be home right now but it seems as if it will be a very long time until then. I just hope that this war will end, and that I will still look as you all remember me.

    Yours dearest,
    Sergeant Robert James Wood
    38th battalion

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  45. Dear Nancy,

    This is hell. I have been cold and tired for days and days. The trenches reek of rotting bodies and I haven’t slept in weeks. I’m usually starving because there is a lot of men and not a lot of food. I have been in pain many times. I want to die, or just come home. The woman here seem sad just like every other man here. All the woman just seen dying men all day and night, they help, as nurses, injured and dying men. I couldn’t imagine doing that everyday. But if were talking about what I could imagine I couldn’t imagine living in these awful trenches watching my mates getting slaughtered everyday. I couldn’t imagine killing men day in and day out. But look where I am and what I’m doing. I do have to admit to you though that the medical treatment here isn’t awful, I mean its not the cleanest environment but its still alright. The nurses here are obviously trying there best to make everyone better and ready to get back on the front lines. I miss you so much and cant wait to be home. I hate it here.

    Yours truly, Craig

    Tanner Stephenson