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Duff & Morrison Collection

"You may judge for yourself how I am feeling..." Rosa Duff, Toronto Nov.1, 1915


211 Fern Ave,
Toronto
Nov.1, 1915

Dear Lily,

Just a line to say am enclosing Lou's last letter (or a copy of it). You may judge for yourself how I am feeling.

Am quite busy today making my Xmas cake and some grape jelly. Will make my pudding tomorrow, so I will be able to send some on to Lou in time for Xmas. God has been good to him, he has had some narrow escapes. I pray God he may be spared through this awful war.

Lovingly,
Rosa



(enclosure)

Somewhere in France,
Oct. 11, 1915

Dear Rosamond,

Received your letter of Sept. 20th and mother's of the 23 and 27th. We are getting along pretty well and myself and men have been lucky.

The day before yesterday we were having our dinner, and some dinner it was, a steak and onions, fried potatoes, and bread, butter, jam and coffee. This last trip into the trench, Fred Rowlandson, Oldershaw and myself bought a few extras, such as canned coffee, cocoa, butter, etc. to help out. At present I am in a position with my platoon with orders to hold at all costs.

We are away from the Battalion entirely. I have so may men on guard and the rest of us are busy night and day strengthening our position. Well to get on with the dinner, we were just about half way through when a high explosive shell drops about 30 yds. to the rear of us making our dug outs tremble. A few minutes late a second one lights not more than ten years to the north of us and a third one somewhere in the rear but does not explode. We tried to trace this one later on to determine the angle from which it came, also get the range, but did not succeed on account of so much tall grass and scrub. Needless to say our dinner was spoiled. Our dug outs got a severe shaking and the mud flew in all directions. The tops of our dug outs and the parapet were damaged slightly but I soon got a working party going after dark to make repairs.

After things had quieted down a little, Fred and I scouted around to examine the holes make, also dig up some pieces of shell. We got all kinds from an inch long to ten inches long, the holes were easily six feet deep with a diameter of about fifteen feet. I kept a couple pieces of the one which lit so close to us, they are two small pieces of the steel casing and a piece of the copper band off the end of the shell. About 3:20 in the afternoon the German artillery opened up again but their shells fell short of us and at least six out of about 15 did not go off and are still buried in the ground.

About 3:40 I was sitting down writing my diary when a shell burst in front of us and I had the pleasant sensation of a piece of the shell a couple of inches long whiz toward me and bury itself in the dirt two inches from my elbow. Needless to say I dug it up. It was so hot I could not hold it for some time, however I have it now. The shells can be heard approaching at least six or seven seconds before they explode and you would laugh to see us clearing into the trenches. Yesterday I had eight of my men filling sand bags under cover of a hedge when the Germans open up again. I could hear the shells screaming towards us and would call out "Here she comes boys, jump into the trench" which they would do with little hesitation.

A couple of days ago our artillery opened up on the German trenches in front of us, also on the batteries, they had the range to an inch. Fred and I were out in front of our barbed wire entanglement with a pair of strong field glasses and saw some awful destruction done. The Germans replied with a few which fell some distance in front of us. We heard another approaching and stood up until it got too uncomfortably close and then flopped on the ground expecting it to burst on top of us. It would be impossible to describe our feelings when we found out it had passed over and beyond us exploding about 40 yards in our rear.

While I am writing, two of our air machines have passed over our heads, the first was fired on by an anti air craft gun which we can hear being fired quite easily. The second is being fired on at the present minute. Neither one was or is hit.

We are well supplied with vegetables. We are close to the vegetable garden of some poor farmer who may be dead along with the rest of his family or a refugee. The house is just about 30 yds. away and a mass of ruins, the only evidence of habitation lately is a sewing machine all twisted up and a pair of woman's shoes and youngster's shoes. However, his vegetable garden is in good shape yet and we have all kinds of potatoes and turnips. Our Company Quarter Master Segt. stopped with us last night after bringing our rations up from the rear with a fatigue party. On the way he foraged some corn so we are having a treat today. We have a cook who looks after our meals while in the trenches for the 3 of us Sergeants.

Just called to dinner by the cook. Wouldn't you like to come and sit down with us? You can't imagine how we enjoy our meals with the everlasting shriek of shells sliding over your head from our own batteries. Some of them are pretty close to us too and besides you can't tell when you are going to have a piece of one of their Jack Johnsons, Coal Boxes, or Whiz-Bangs, mixed up in mulligan or tea. Dinner is getting cold so must beat it.

3 p.m. Just finished a plan of our little home for the Battalion headquarters showing improvements we have made. The flying machines I mentioned before dinner both came back this afternoon under fire all the time. One of them who was getting it pretty hot started to plane down as though he or his machine had been injured, he was still over or back of the German lines. He got out of range of the anti air craft guns and came into range of the first line trenches. He gradually drew over our lines and started to go up again. You should have heard the cheers from our trenches. He had us guessing for a while and sure fooled the Germans.

I had a bath this a.m. in a Jack Johnson hole filled with water which I thoroughly enjoyed. No rain for a week. Am feeling fine and hope you all are.

With love to all,
your bro.
Louis

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These letters were genereously submitted by Lilian Ione Heselton and they are copyright to Lil. They may not be used without written permission of the submitter.

These letters span the years 1914 to 1918, and were written to Lily (Richey) and John Morrison at Yellow Grass, Sask., and their little 4 - 8 year old daughter, Jean (in later years called by Reché). Their hired girl was Lena.

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Duff & Morrison Collection

Intro | 30 Dec. 1914 | 9 Jan 1915 | 26 Feb 1915 | 18 Apr. 1915 | 29 June 1915 | 21 Aug. 1915 | 24 Oct. 1915 | 14 Oct 1915 | 1 Nov. 1915 | 19 Nov. 1915 | 6 Dec. 1915 | 7 Jan. 1916 | 7 Feb. 1916 | 10 Feb. 1916 | 11 Feb 1916 | 18 Feb. 1916 | 3 Mar. 1916 | 8 Mar. 1916 |

   

 

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