Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letters from the Front - Apr 2015

Lunch in the trenches at Fort Oglethorpe

You've heard or read some "letters from the front" in class. Now, take about 20-30 minutes to explore the following sites to get a feel for some of the details of the front lines in Europe as experienced by Canadian soldiers, then begin the assignemnt:

Canadian Letters & Images Project

Letters from the front

First World War Project

Calgary Highlanders

Interactive Trench Game

Canada’s War Museum on WWI

Create an interview between a reporter and a soldier or a fictional letter home from a Canadian man on the front lines or woman actively involved at or near the front lines. Assume the person has served at least one of the Battles of Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele, and knows about the other three or maybe other battles that Canada participated in, like the 100 Days Offensive.

Your interview or letter should aim to inform the Canadian public at home about and include details about a minimum of 5 of the following:
  • trench warfare 
  • life in the front lines 
  • the roles of technology in the war 
  • the quality of military leadership 
  • morale of Canadian soldiers 
  • the effectiveness of Canadian troops 
  • the impact of war on civilians and towns 
  • hospitals and medical treatment 
  • the roles of women in the war 
When you've done a good draft (not necessarily your final draft), post your interview or letter here under Comments. This is a detailed account, not just a quick note to tell your folks that "war is hell." Weave in some personal research on Canada & WWI from your classwork, the Canadiana Scrapbooks, and the weblinks above (or other websites). Posting comments can sometimes be tricky (Blogger can drop your comment, or the internet connection could drop), so it is highly advised that you do this on a Word Doc first and then paste it into a comment here.

Be sure to include your name & last initial (e.g. Marcy W) so I can sort out who did what. After that, look through some of your classmates' work and offer at least one comment to a classmate offering constructive feedback. Some letters will be selected for further editing and publication online.

Optional: if you have a relative or person your family knew that served in WWI, you may wish to consider them as a "test subject" for this assignment -- e.g. write the letter from his/her voice or construct an interview with this person. This may require additional research on your part.

I'm really looking forward to the results.


  1. Dear son,
    so here we are on the eve of our Vimy Ridge attack. We plan to take it over tomorrow, with all 4 of our divisions fighting together. If history has a say in any of this, it shouldn’t be easy. I’ll be honest here saying that war isn’t fun. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever participated in. Our death toll keeps on rising. I am unsure how many Huns are left on their side, but I would assume we are winning. I know not everyone here is going to make it through tomorrow, and our bunker is heavy with an ominous feeling. Not a word, we can hardly here ourselves breath. But, we must remain positive. If I never make it home, just take care of the family. Assure them, that everything will be alright in end……

    Steely G

  2. Dear Mom and Dad, I miss you both so much and wish I could be there with you taking care of the kids, but instead I’m stuck out here on the battle fields fighting for not only my own survival but yours. In case you are worried about me I am safe out here with the family that I have here. Everyone is caring and watches out for each other but you can only do so much before it’s too late. I have realized that no one is the “special person” and that were all equally the same and you shouldn’t take life for granted because you never know when it will be taken from you. This almost seems like a horror movie but then I realize I’m in realty and this is real, everything that’s happening is real. It has opened my eyes up so much and I can’t thank you both for the life you have gave me. You raised a wise son who has been taught so well from both you mom and dad.
    Currently I’m stuck in the trenches, every second of the hour my mind is constantly in fear of what could happen next. It’s a flash before your eyes when you hear the bombs go through the air and hit the ground, it shakes us very heavily and you never know what direction its coming from but no matter what you’re always ready for war. When they say you have eyes on the back of your head they aren’t lying, all day everyday you’re constantly looking around to keep you and your crews safe, like I say were a family out here and we watch out for each other. Soon enough I will get sent out onto the battle fields and when that time comes I’m going to be a survivor and do whatever it takes to save my country.
    Days pass by as the sun goes from daylight to night I feel the cold weather appear as I sit in the trench patiently waiting for the first fire arm to go off. It scares me being in here but When the time comes to going out on the battle field I will be mentally and psychally ready but most importantly I will be thinking of you and dad the whole time I’m out there fighting. What’s most important to me knowing you guys are safe as well as the rest of the family. I hope to see you both when the war is done but if I don’t get the chance and my life does get taken from me know that I was fighting for our nation and its will. I love you both so much, and I plan on coming home in a few months to sit down and have a nice dinner with the family I love. Most importantly have this world at peace. If I have the chance again to write I will it is now time for me to load my gun and get back out on the field and fight for is right for this country. I hope to see you all again soon, Farwell my dear family.
    Love your son, Joseph

  3. Dear Mother,

    I miss you Mama. I hope to see your face every day when I wake, and miss your hugs when I lay my head at night. As I lay, I hear the beautiful sound of silence if I be so lucky. Sometimes, I look up and see the shining stars and I know everything will be ok. Because I know that you’re looking at the same ones as I am. It almost feels like I’m not a million miles away.
    It rains a lot where my camp is set. Enough rain to fill the ocean twice. I look forward to those drought days, giving my boots a chance to dry. Speaking of, I thank you Mom for the wool socks I received in my package last week. They keep my feet warm at night, more warm than the rest.
    My arms do get quite sore. Sore from balancing on the mud slides aiming my arm. That’s what I do for most of my days. My General says it’s my best. I try and do my best, in hopes that we will win this war. Then maybe I will see you and brothers for another Christmas. I may be tone deaf for our caroling though, because I have heard the sounds of bullets whiz by my ears for months now. They almost sound like very angry wasps. My tone-less voice will give us another laugh anyways.
    I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed once again. I have a cot here in the trenches. When you toss and turn in the night, the rocks dig into your spine like nails. I don’t sleep much at night. I like to take in the sound of the sounds of silence, despite the snores of sleeping soldiers. Night is the most peaceful time, the time I look forward to most. I am writing this letter to you in the night, Mama. I see other men doing the same. They’re using the tiny beams of moonlight that shine through the cracks in our roof to write their letter to their loved ones too.
    I miss your famous casserole Mama. It is the best. I haven’t had a casserole in a long times, not since I have left home months ago. I wouldn’t want it anyways, since yours is the best. I spend most of my meals with water and bread. General says we need the hydration, and the carbs. It gets pretty bland after a while.
    I know you hate the thought, but I must say it with every letter I write. If I are to ever die in this war, please know I love you dearly, and you are the one I am fighting for. Fighting for your rights, and your freedoms; and most of all, to keep you safe. Please tell father, and brothers I love them too. Give a big hug and smooch to my pal Pete, and tell him that we will play a great game of fetch when I return.
    Love you with all my heart,

  4. Dear Mother,
    I’m gone from home for now over 2 weeks, but it feels like at least 2 years. The artillery fire never stops I barely get any sleep. The trenches are cold and muddy and there are dead Fritz’ in front and in the trench. Yesterday Billy, a friend of mine, I met in England, was shot dead by a German sniper. I held him when he was dying… It was bloody. But I don’t think he paid that price for nothing. I feel like we are fighting for something great, something important… at least I hope so. Tomorrow we will start a big attack on vimy ridge; everyone says it’s going to change the war… I hope so.
    I can’t wait to come home when this terrible war is over and I finally come back home to you and father.

    Love Your Son Lance

  5. My dearest Adeline,
    As I write to you, I sit in the mud ridden trenches praying for the rain to subside. The first few weeks were bearable with few clouds corrupting the airy blue skies but a bone chilling wind kept us in the deepest trenches to stay warm. Although, in a way this made it worse because of our copious amounts of rain the weeks before, we came out sopping wet with hardly any clean clothing. The socks you sent me over Christmas possibly kept me from falling ill among all the other men who did not have such a caring wife back home. When the skies were still blue and the wind subsided for a second we were blessed and relieved when we received a bath at a coal mine. We all felt much better but soon realized the dampness of our hair proceeded to make us even colder. Now we suffer through knee deep mud and water. Darling, I’ve seen horses swallowed by the muck, with no chance of rescue. Men that attempt to tromp through it loose at least a boot or two. Sometimes they even lose their life, becoming stuck and unable to hide from enemy fire. It’s a sight that has been engraved into my mind and shall stay there as long as I live. The sounds of gunfire and bombs exploding are constantly echoing in my mind, even when they are not there. I fear this sound will never go away when I return home. I hear the others speak of it, giving it the name shell shock. The leader of our group has been drunk the last 3 nights. I fear he has lost hope and has felt the need to turn to liquid courage to carry on. I can’t help but think of your warm cornbread and thick pea soup. We are being fed, but very sparingly, as there are many men but limited amounts of food. I have had to walk through abandoned towns filled with homes where families just like ours used to live, scared away by the threat of war. We came across a young boy the other day, shivering in the frigid air with only a blanket around his bare shoulders, his family nowhere to be found. He could not say a word and I presume the thought of losing everything had left a hole in his heart that crippled him emotionless. We proceeded to return him to camp and I plan on visiting him when we are able to return there. I cannot wait until I come home to you and little Sophia. She must be growing like a weed as I was at that age. Please do not let her forget about me in my absence. I wish you were here. I know how you would love to tend to the injured solders and also how well you would be at it. There are many woman working here as nurses, most of which chat among their selves and gossip. This can’t help but remind me of the many hours you would spend with your close friends siting at our dining room table laughing and smiling. How I love that smile.
    Your love, forever and always

  6. Dear loved ones
    May 17, 1917
    Life in the war is not what I was told it was. We are stuck in the trenches getting shot at and being bombed by motors. Yesterday a bomb landed in our trench killing our commander and friend Gram. They don’t lie when they say you need to watch behind you and everywhere. The men and I are always on our toes for raiding partys from the germans. A couple weeks ago we were attacked by some kind of gas. Our platoon was supplied with gas masks when it hit. I went blind for a bit because my lens on my mask was cracked but I lived to fight another day. Today was night hits me and 2 other people are going over to the german trench and capture a german. We pray that they don’t set off a flare and see us. We are all getting sent back to camp if we pull this off for about 2 weeks. All the bad stuff that is happening is all for a good reason. We are doing this for god and country. All the men are also talking about how we are the difference in the war. Thou we don’t have our own commanders we still fight for what believe in. If Germany was to win they will dominate the world. What we know as freedom wont exists anymore. All the men who die will be remembered and all those who live will be celebrated also, but I’m afraid this war will not end for another couple years. If I shall die tonight I hope you guys know my sacrifice will not be in vain.

    Private Dallas Unger

  7. Dear Mom and Dad,
    The weather has been really bad here since I arrived. It has been raining like crazy. The rain makes it so the mud becomes harder and harder to move on with time passing. I have been here for a week but a lot of things happened already. The first day I arrived I was welcomed by the welcoming committee of grenades from the German. They were making it rain non-stop. I felt like my life was in danger from the second I arrived. After about a couple of hours the general grouped a bunch of us together and said that we were going on a trench digging mission. We each grabbed a shovel and dug the trench. After we dug it we jumped in it and started to take some time off and rest. We then saw a flare thrown up in the air. Me and the crew jumped out of our trench and started firing at the enemy. We lost a couple of officers but thanks to our military training and shooting skills we survived the encounter and killed them all. After we got back to our base our group enjoyed some coffee and fruit cake. I normally take the night shifts for looking after our base. Hopefully you don’t miss me too much while I am gone. I miss you all and hope you take care of my dog and brother. Love Cem.

  8. Dear brother,
    I’ve been here for three weeks now and I still have not been able to settle in. The nights are the worst, constant bombing in the front lines and the ever present possibility of being attacked. We are up for 18 hours a day and when we do get time to rest it’s almost impossible to sleep. I have been in the front trenches for two weeks now and I am ready to get out of here, it’s wet, muddy and disgusting. I have made some new friends though. I’ve met people from Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and even British Columbia, on April the ninth we fought with men from all four Canadian divisions at the battle of Vimy Ridge. We beat those huns back and took the ridge, it was the proudest moment of my life. I took souvenirs from the trenches and will bring them back with me on my return. I can feel the war turning, we have been winning more and more battles of late. I would really appreciate it if you sent me some chew and some cookies. I have very few cuts and bruises but I have been lucky as some have not been so lucky. By the time you get this I hope the war is almost over, I do not believe I am the same man as I was before. I have put on a lot of muscle from lifting logs and carrying equipment I also now shave. I hope to be recognized for my efforts when I return home, tell mother and father I love them.

    Much love, your brother

  9. Dear family back home,
    I miss you guys very much I have been here for a long time fighting against the Germans in the trenches. It has been a crazy experience. People are dying and being shot all over the place but you can’t let it effect you. You just have to keep fighting on. I have fought with people from all over Canada we are not getting much sleep or rest and when we do there are rats and other things around. We get terrible food bad water and it rains a lot so the trenches are terrible to be in. How are things back home I hope that all is going well. I fought in the battle of Vimy Ridge with my other Canadian soldiers we won the battle against the Germans with are four divisions it was a big win for Canadians. Things are not all bad here we do what we can to keep entertained but it is very hard with what is going on around you. Overall it is going good and can’t wait to be back home with all of you.

    Jagr Mason

  10. Dear Wife:
    How are you feeling by this time? I am feeling quite a bit better than I have been. I have been lying around the Hospital for a month on account of my bullet wounds, I have got rested up and feel some better and expect to go back to my company in a few days. It is sure an awfully lonesome life for one that is not used to it, but we try and make the best of it. We are all fighting for liberty and liberty we shall have. Germany can't take our country away from us. The Huns are beginning to realize what Canada’s men can do. The soil here is nothing but clay, sand and rocks. It sure is an awful country for rocks, nothing but rocks all over the country. Around camp here there are a number of fences built of rocks. We have been having quite a bit of rain here lately but they say in the fall of the year it does nothing but rain here all the time. We get plenty to eat. We eat with the French, and you can't beat the French cooks, but none the less some American candy would taste great right now. I haven't had any since leaving home and the French have none at present. I must light a new candle soon. We are OK so long as we can get candles. I am glad I brought lots of paper with me. It seems foolish always to be carrying paper around from place to place but it comes in handy down here. As it is getting near supper time I must be going, so goodbye. Tell all the folks hello.
    Your husband,

  11. To my love Nikolas,
    Though I don’t have much time to write, I thought I’d inform you that I’m doing well, and I am safe. It is terrible how many men are being wounded, that I cannot help. My fellow nurses and I are trying our best to save as many of these soldiers as we can. The men are surprised of how strong, emotionally, we women are. I’ve heard from mom that many women back home are getting offered to work in the factories. I’m astonished of how we women are finally getting credit for the things we can do, and that these men who are fighting need.
    You wouldn’t believe some of the terrible injuries that have happened. Some of the wounds are even infected from the gruesome conditions of the trenches. We don’t have much but salt and iodide to clean out these infectious wounds. Though we do have sanitary napkins which are made of cellulose bandage material, which is much more absorbent than the old cloths we used to have. We just received a radiologic car, which has an X-ray in it. This X-ray was originally made by a woman named Marie Curie, and now there are several of ambulances which have necessary gadgets. They enable the nurses and doctors to further see what is wrong inside the wounded soldiers’ body. Five women whom I work with for the front were killed because of the poisonous chlorine gas which the Germans had used plenty of in this Battle, which is being called the Second Battle of Ypres. It’s a terrible weapon, and gives the opposing soldiers/workers the most gruesome death. I see the brownish-yellow clouds which this gas makes, hear the shells which are being shot, and smell the smell of blood, old and new. Although this is a terrible sight to see, I am happy that I am here, and that I can help the men of our country, who are fighting so hard, to stay as healthy as possible.
    Today it was raining heavily and the mud in the trenches were up to the men’s thighs. Although the weather conditions are terrible, the front lines confidence is not. The men who push through these wounds and weather are the strongest men I have seen. You, my love, must be strong. I understand that it must be hard being overseas, as it is hard for me to be here and see these men die. You must stay strong; we need to go home at the end of all of this to see our baby, Claire. I’ve written to mom, and she told me that Claire is being wonderful for her, and that they are safe at home. Our town is said to be depressed, as most of the families have been separated from this war. Mom said that she wanted to stock up on food, especially for our growing baby girl, but that it is now against the law, because they shall not hoard food, in order to feed the soldiers whom need it most.
    I must be going, as we nurses are constantly needed. I miss you terribly, and I cannot wait until the day I can see your handsome face once again. Our family will be reunited, and stronger than ever. Be safe, as I will be too.
    Love your dearest wife,
    Audrey XOXO

    1. Very nicely written, I've learned a lot from reading this letter and wish a good ending for you and your husband! I now know more about the mistreatment of woman and the struggles that they have to go through to grasp their rights. WELL WRITTEN

  12. Dear papa,
    I feel like I am in the hell, a hell full of mug and dead bodies, it have been raining over 3 weeks, we don’t have a dry spot to sleep anymore, the artillery never stops, we can listen bombs exploding every moment, some of the soldiers can’t hold it, they get crazy and some of them run to the enemy lines and get killed. Mostly of my friends who come with me are now dead, the officials don’t know what to do, they don’t have strategy, they just they to us run in the direction of the enemy sub machineguns, and mostly of the soldier just get killed, it is a completely new kind war for everybody, the firs war with sub machineguns, we Canadians soldiers are to unprepared to this war, our rifles stop to work in the mug, and we almost don’t have training, mostly of our soldiers are just teenagers who never hold a gun, the women are lot aloud to fight, mostly of them are nurses, and I don’t see Indians and Asians fighting for us.
    I am missing home father, I am missing all the time me, you, mommy, john and Anton had together, tell to my brothers t they don’t come to the war, war is not like they show to us in the propagandas, war is not cool and fantastic, here is the worse place I have ever been. I hope I will be home soon
    With love Felix

    1. great portrayal of the true terror of trench warfare. Gemma H

  13. Hello Dear Mother,
    I will give you a short detail of my time getting to the front and my life here so far. When got off the boat from England, things were quite disorganized. He could not find our Commanding officer for over two hours; nobody seemed to have any idea as to who was in charge or where we were going. When we finally did find him it’s started to rain, and it hasn’t stopped raining since. We made our way to the front in the back of a large truck. Passing by was the lovely but damp French countryside. Every once in a while we would pass by another vehicle broken down on the road or groups of French or English soldiers working on various projects.
    We were taken to a large camp that we were told was 15 miles away from our lines. In the distance you could hear the load crash of shells striking the ground. On our way to our barracks we passed by a large medical hospital. Outside the doors of it were hundreds of soldiers in a line and nurses were treating some. The more grievously injured were being moved before others and brought in for treatment, while those with simple flesh wounds or small gashes were waiting to be treated. It did not seem like they had enough people to staff the hospital. As we passed by the lineup it only seemed to get bigger and bigger. When we finally got to our barracks they didn’t even have enough blankets for every soldier to use, so some had to share. The night was awfully cold and sound of distant shelling kept me awake the entire night.
    The next day we were told that we would be moving up to the front to relieve a platoon of French troops from a section of trenched. Everyone was quite excited to finally be getting some action. As we marched out to our position everyone was enthusiastic. As we got closer to the trenches the artillery explosions got nearer and nearer. Eventually our commander ordered us to lie down and wait out artillery barrages before moving forward. The pace was very slow. But we did make it eventually. We found when we got there was startling. We were supposed to be relieving a force 50 French soldiers, but when we got there only 15 remained. Overnight fritz had attacked and the platoon had been caught off guard. We spent the rest of our day burying the dead and repairing our section of trenches. So far things aren't really so bad, I’m very happy to be here. Hopefully things stay like this.
    Yours Truly, Sam Dalla Lana

  14. Dear love ones

    I have a little a few days rest so I thought I would write you another letter. Since the last letter I wrote not very much has changed. I’m adjusting to trench life better and better every day. I have since lost track of time since I have been here. Has it been a year a month I don’t know? I hope you write back if you have I never got them.
    I have made a few friends in my group. I have made more friends but most they have been killed. I feel like I have lost more friends than I ever had back at home. The friends I have now I trust with my life. Standing shoulder to shoulder to them you learn to gain trust.
    The trenches are still dirty muddy the smell is so horrible. I am adjusting to it slowly. The food they give us isn’t that bad either. I will say the war bonds and the donations do really help out. Sleep is so tough with the German consistent firing.
    I have been in a few more battles since I last wrote to. We gained some ground but somewhere else we lost even more ground. This feels so pointless. The training never prepared us for what war is really right. It’s completely different. Currie has been my favorite person to work under.
    I’m not sure where I have even fought I just go where they tell me to and fight. When it comes to battles I don’t know I have felt horrible defeat and immeasurable victory.
    Love Mason

  15. Dear brother,
    I have just returned from the battle of Ypres. We had no idea what we were up against. There are a hundred and twenty wounded men from my platoon lying somewhere at the front line. Every yard lays a dead man, we cannot help them. We saw men living with their skulls blown open or soldiers trying to run with their two feet cut off. The weather is rainy and wet most days, so wet that we stumble over slippery lumps of flesh in the mud. My comrade Billy who I was closest with was shot in the gut and bled out. It is with great sorrow that I must write his family as well explaining that no doctor could save him. Just a few weeks ago a bullet got me in the arm but the doctors patched me up and listed me as A1, ready to go back to the front and fight in no time. One cannot explain the conditions of the trenches and the mud. I am lucky enough to not have gotten trench foot with the endless days I have spent in the trenches, filled waist high with mud and debris. The months of training could never prepare us for what is out here. They never taught us how to dodge bullets or take cover, to jump into a shell hole; because they usually don’t get hit twice. Knowing the difference between a slow whiz of a bomb and a sharp pang of a rocket could save your life, as it has saved mine many times. All we are taught is how to use our guns to shoot at the enemy, if they do not explode in our face first. The head lieutenant of the training camp has let the power go to his head and often made us do endless tasks not related to the war at all and torment us. These new machine guns are nothing like I have ever seen before and constantly mow down our troops, we were not prepared. Food is scarce and the bread is filled with sawdust so it can be stretched out to feed more troops. Sometimes we go out and catch wild animals to bring back to our hut at base camp when we are not at the front. They feed us just enough to keep us from starvation. No sane person can handle the death and witness the horrors out here. The cries are never silenced from the younger recruits at night. They are almost no help to us being so emotional. To be at the front and fight the enemy you are forced to shut off all emotions and let your instincts take over, those who can’t usually die or end up giving in to the darkness of insanity. The only comfort one can find is in their fellow comrades. I pray that you do not enlist; nobody should have to endure these horrible conditions. My hopes are that the war will be over soon, and all this bloodshed will be over. Do not give in to the promising images you see on posters or what you hear on the radio; war is no place for a young boy like you. Mother and the rest of our siblings need your help at home. With mother working in the factory you are responsible for keeping the house safe. I hope to be home soon and see you all again, tell the family I love them all.

    Phillip H.

  16. April 10, 1917
    Dear Prospers family,
    Hello mom and dad, it is your son Prosper, I am sending you this letter to tell you that I have moved up to the front recently and that I am doing fine, not great but fine. I miss you all greatly and I hope to see you soon. The front is intense and it is quite terrifying hearing all the bombs and the shooting, the sound of this all the time has gone to make me paranoid, I am fighting in this war for my country and I am fighting for my family and my brothers here family as well.
    The sound of all of these gunshots and bombs is disturbing, as I try and get some rest when I am on my 4 days off, the sounds I here keep me up all night, hearing the whistle in the air then a big boom as the ground shakes. The gun shots repeatedly firing and I hear my partners and my enemies scream at night, I want this war to end, I want to help my brothers who are screaming from the pain of being hit by a bullet but I cannot do it all alone, we are all fighting fiercely and proudly for our country. I have lost many of my friends as they have fought proudly and they have died just as proud. There has been many courageous acts that have happened here and I am glad to be fighting with these men.
    The paranoia of this is the worst, I am constantly checking around my brothers and myself area in case one of the enemies have gotten into our trenches. These trenches here are disgusting, filled with mud, bugs and the blood of our own, there is rats everywhere I look. My feet are covered in mud and I have mud on the inside of my shoes that just will not come out. I had ran out into no mans land which was a very risky thing to do, I did it to rescue my friend who had went over the top and had been shot in the leg, I ran as fast as I could to get to him. We both had made it back, he is being helped by the doctors here. I am still at the front, I am proud that I am fighting for my country but ashamed of all the bad things I had to do. I have not been sent over the top just yet and I am glad that I have not went over yet.
    This letter is just to show you a glimpse of the things I went through, fighting with these men here has been an honor and I will return to you, my family, very soon, if I do not return then I want you to know that I do not want you to mourn over me because I would have died doing something I am proud of, fighting for my families safety and the safety and freedom of my country. I love you all very much and I hope to see you soon.
    Your dearest Prosper.

  17. christine macdonaldApril 15, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    October, 2nd, 1917
    Hello mother, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote and I apologize for that but the battle is not over and I see no end to it either. We've lost a lot of men and yet they continue to send more and more men out and I’m still waiting, anticipating when I will be next. I have lost many friends to this war and will continue to lose them, faster than I can make new ones and it is disturbing. The trenches are horrible, they are cold, wet and filled with nothing but mud when it rains and the smell of rotting bodies is distasteful. I hear bombs going of every second and on an random occasion the bombs and gun fire will stop and I can finally rest but there isn't a second in that time I have to relax that I’m not alert and ready to start fighting again. If I had to say the leadership here was in tip top shape then I’d be lying because it isn't, as I said before they continue sending men over the trenches and into enemy fire without thinking of a plan first, which is upsetting, because we had an excellent plan in Vimy Ridge and we may have lost a lot of men with that plan but not as much as we are losing now. I don’t know what they plan on doing next but I'm hoping that this war ends soon, I miss Canada and I miss being at home.
    I will send another letter soon.
    Christopher R.

  18. Dear Mom and Dad,
    I can’t even begin to explain how much I miss you back home. War is the most brutal, violent experience ever but I hope it will turn out for the better and I assure I will be coming home as soon as I can and I will survive. Life in the trenches is tough, some days it won’t stop raining and I’ve seen some pretty nasty cases of trench foot, it’s hard to concentrate on the enemy being so tired and all spending days down there with not a lot of food to eat from, it’s also really cold and my hands keep going numb and won’t stop shaking, and I am literally sleeping with rats, and the worst part is probably hearing the bombshells blasting the fields at night so loud that you’re lucky to get any sleep. General tells me I can only do my best but it’s difficult when I’m so afraid, that’s right I’m afraid but it doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on you guys and I defiantly won’t let them damn Germans win this war. Although, our success with Vimy Ridge keeps me confident that I can, and will survive and I believe that the other men around me feel the same way. Us Canadians now feel like a country and will keep fighting and working together until we have succeeded. I am yet to have a serious injury but I have had one bullet wound in my left arm but it got patched up real good, we do have very nice nurses and doctors that treat us very well and play a huge role in keeping solders alive. Also it makes me happy to have Canada, a country I have come to love, play a huge role in the war and help win it, especially the win down in Vimy Ridge which had all four divisions of the Canadian Corps for the first time ever in case you didn’t know. I find it kind of funny, but I don’t even know why were even fighting this damn war all I know is that I’m down here fighting for the country I live in and for the people I love. I don’t want any of you to feel bad for me because you know I wanted to do this and that I signed up for it and it may not be as glamorous as the posters may say but at least I’m doing some good for our country. Lots of love for you all and it was good hearing from you and you don’t have to stop sending in packages, it helps every day.
    Love your son
    Ryan MacPhee

  19. Dear Joey,

    I could not believe that I am still alive writing you this letter. In the past few weeks I’ve seen things that I would not wish upon anyone. Don’t come.

    I have not had time to write much, and the bombing over head didn’t help much more. My head is all messed up from the dangers of the war, but at least I’m not this guy beside who’s twitching all over. This war is quite bloody, about half of my division is either dead or wounded. I avoided making connections with anyone as they or I could die the next day, I don’t need any more emotion than I already have as I have plenty to pass around.

    The life in the trenches isn’t what you expect. Mud, water, dead bodies and constant bombing over head is the theme of everyday life. Mud was my greatest enemy in the first few days, but as we got to know each other, we’ve grown closer and closer and now we are on a good term with each other; you know what they say: “if you can’t beat it, be friends with it.” Rain was always there when mud doesn’t have time for me; it kindly blurred my vision, wrecked my gun, and ruined my aim. Rain didn’t think that that was enough, when it came; it came with wind and stabbing my skin with ice needles as I slowly lose feelings in my leg and arm. But you know what they say: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Well, dead bodies and constant bombing has proven that maybe the wind, the water, and the earth is actually our friends. Fire kills, and I’ve seen people who got launched by those shells, quite a spectacular death in my standards.

    The war is absolutely terrible, which is why you should just expect the absolute worst as you might find the war is quite enjoyable if you expect to die in the next minute. But as a human being I am quite adaptable and I found that the best situation is to expect to die, and when you do, you will be rather content with where you are at. However, death isn’t the worst that could happen, as I have seen the wounded and that guy beside me suffering, I believe very strongly that I would rather die than living a broken life.

    For the last month I’ve being involved with the battle of the Somme. For me, this is just another battle, as I have accustomed to death and I am ready to die any moment myself. But for most others, this is called the “blood bath”, a battle that no one want to mention as it brings much painful memories of the death of their comrades. On the other hand, I could care less about how much dead or who dead, I’m just glad that I am still hopping around.

    Lastly, don’t come and visit me; we won’t recognize each other, my world only consists of three types of people now: ally, enemy and the dead. And the only difference between the first two and the last is that one is about to become the other…

    Your friend, Tony


    Dear Joey,
    I can not believe that I am still alive writing you this letter. In the past few weeks I’ve seen things that I would not wish upon anyone. Don’t come.
    I have not had time to write much, and the bombing overhead doesn’t help much. My head is all messed up from the dangers of the war, but at least I’m not this guy beside me who’s twitching all over. This war is quite bloody. About half of my division is either dead or wounded. I avoid making connections with anyone as they or I could die the next day. I don’t need any more emotion than I already have as I have plenty to pass around.
    Life in the trenches isn’t what you expect. Mud, water, dead bodies and constant bombing overhead is the theme of everyday life. Mud was my greatest enemy in the first few days, but as we got to know each other, we’ve grown closer and closer and now we are on good terms with each other; you know what they say: “if you can’t beat it, be friends with it.” Rain is always there when mud doesn’t have time for me; it kindly blurs my vision, wrecks my gun, and ruins my aim.
    My gun, I don’t even want to talk about it. At least it didn’t give out on the first shot like Billy Bob’s gun when it blew his face off. That gun got stuck after my first shot because of some water or something, but the knife attached to the gun is still okay. But that spear isn’t going to reach as far as the enemy’s “spear”.
    Rain doesn’t think this is enough, when it comes to ruining my life; it comes with wind and stabs my skin with ice needles as I slowly lose feelings in my leg and arm. But you know what they say: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Well, dead bodies and constant bombing have proven that maybe the wind, the water, and the earth are actually our friends. Fire kills though, and I’ve seen people who got launched by those shells; quite a spectacular death in my standards.
    This war is absolutely terrible, which is why you should just expect the absolute worst. And you are expected to expect the worst. If these pesky war generals have half the brain of our guest rats here, maybe we wouldn’t have died so much. All they do is send us forward and expect to win. I always stay as far as possible without getting shot by them because you are not following their direction which is to run in and die! Dying isn’t the worst that could happen, as I have seen the wounded and that guy beside me suffering. I believe very strongly that I would rather die than live a broken life.
    For the last month I’ve being involved with the battle of the Somme. For me, this is just another battle, as I have become accustomed to death and I am ready to die any moment myself. But for most others, this is called the “blood bath”, a battle that no one wants to mention as it brings many painful memories of the death of their comrades. On the other hand, I could care less about how many are dead or who’s dead. I’m just glad that I am still hopping around.
    Lastly, don’t come and visit me; we won’t recognize each other, my world only consists of three types of people now: ally, enemy and the dead. And the only difference between the first two and the last is that one is about to become the other…
    Your friend, Tony

  21. Dearest Annie, Gemma H
    Last night I slept as if you were beside me, as if there was no war and I could hold you close again. Even as I lay my head on a swath of hay, I couldn’t keep my eyes from shutting. It had been four days since our last break, and we had been at the front the whole time. So I was extremely thankful to have a rest, and some beer. The farm here serves beer, wine, and hash, and with the money you so graciously sent me I enjoyed some before my slumber. The boys are bathing in the pond out back, I will join them after I finish writing you; I’ve been dying for some clean underwear and a bath. We have three more days rest here, and I plan on bathing six times. I can hear the sounds of chickens and it reminds me of Grace and Marilyn, clucking yesterday’s gossip and this month’s fashion. I do miss them, although I’m sure when I get home I will regret saying that. Keep care of them for me.
    The last four days of my life have been spent on the front. Day and night was a shift between Fritz terrorizing us, and us terrorizing Fritz right back. Not much progress has been made, except for the loss of good men. We spent two hours marching to the lines, only to have left too early and have Fritz open fire on us. We lost five good men and continued marching until we reached the dugouts and relieved the men. That night I slept terribly, it was cold and the lice were keeping me awake. Early the next morning we started shelling again, a few men were hit by our own shells when approaching the enemy territory. I watched Gerald be stabbed with a bayonet, and I returned the favor to the German. That day we gained 10 meters of land, only to lose 5 of it the next day. I’m sorry for telling you this entire darling; I just need to get it out in the open before it eats my brain apart. Apart from not feeling my feet for three days, and thinking I’d lost a finger from the cold, the men seemed to be in decent spirits. All kept in mind that we would have this wonderful break in a matter of days. And here we are, at this farm, drinking beer and resting. But most of us can’t get our minds off of the fact that we have to go back.
    I met a Canadian pilot this morning; he landed in the field beside the farm for some food before leaving again. I felt like a child running toward his plane, full of wonder and amazement. It’s crazy the technology that we’ve been able to create in such a short amount of time, and how devastating it can be. I’ve witnessed the cities that have been wiped out by bombs and I can’t believe that any person would have the morale to kill innocent people like that.
    Annie, I love you with all my heart and I hope you are well. I will return home shortly to you, bearing gifts of course.
    Forever and always,