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Duff & Morrison Collection

"I will never forget being carried for 200 yards along the firing line with shells bursting all around, rifle and machine gun fire, all of which seemed to burst my head open..." Louis Duff, Hospital in England 11 Feb. 1916


Duchess of Connaught Can. Red Cross Hosp.
Taplow, Bucks, England
11 Feb 1916

Dear Aunt Lily,

You may have seen my name in the casualty lists in the papers and you may not, however that does not alter the fact that I am one and an now in the above Hosp. and doing pretty well. I was very lucky to get away with my life. On the afternoon of Jan. 17th we were heavily shelled by the enemies artillery, the portion of trench I was holding with my platoon was too close to their own trenches to drop any heavy shells into (between 35 and 40 yards apart) and one of their field batteries opened on us. One of their fourteen or eighteen pound high explosive shells struck the top of the trench not more than four feet from my head. One piece made a nice little gash on top of my head, another caught me over and back of my right ear. A third piece smashed my pipe which I was smoking at the time, cutting it off leaving an inch of the stem in my mouth. Pretty close, eh! I didn't lose consciousness which was miraculous when you consider that my skull was fractured. My healthy constitution probably saved me. I will never forget being carried for 200 yards along the firing line with shells bursting all around, rifle and machine gun fire, all of which seemed to burst my head open. When we reached the communicating trench, I was put on a stretcher and hurried out to Kemmel (Belgium) a small town a mile in the rear of our trenches and four miles south of Ypres. The little town is in absolute ruins from the enemies heavy shell fire and totally deserted except for military head quarters and Medical Dressing Station. Here I was put into a motor ambulance and hurried to Westoutre, an hour later I was again moved to Bailleul across the border in France. Next morning I was operated on and two days later put on a Hosp. train for Boulogne, a French sea port. Six days later I found myself on board the Hosp. Ship St. Denis in which we crossed the channel to Southampton. And here I am in this hosp. which is on the W. Astor estate, twenty six miles from London. It was originally the home of the Duke of Westminster and is certainly most beautiful, situated on the Thames River.

The wound on top of my head has closed up and is in a healthy condition, but the other over and back of the ear where it is fractured, is badly infected and is going to take some time. The drum of the ear has been completely smashed from concussion and naturally is stone deaf, and I am sorry to say the Doc. has little hopes for my recovering the hearing. If so I will be unfit for the firing line which will no doubt cause rejoicing at home. However, I hope to regain a little hearing, and if so will be back with my battalion in a couple of months.

I received your parcels with enclosures from the family and Lena and want to thank you all very much. It arrived a couple of days ago being returned from the front. Also your letter and John's enclosing money order which I hope to make good use of when I get out.

My head is starting to go round so must close. Hoping this finds you all well as I hope to be soon. With love to the family and Lena.

Your nephew,
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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