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Title: Into the Jaws of Death
Author: O'Brien, Jack
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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With Illustrations

New York
Dodd, Mead and Company
Copyright, 1919, by
Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc.






Chapter I

Chapter II

"My comrades, and what became of them, as told to me in letters, by my
old chum Bob Goddard."

The Red, Red Road to Hooge

"The Iron Sixth"


28th Battalion leaving Winnipeg on the 27th of May, 1915

General Ketchen

As I looked when I left Germany; As I looked before I saw Germany


Having been asked by the Author of this Book, No. 73,194 Private Jack
O'Brien of the 28th Northwest Battalion, to write a few words as an
introduction to the story which he is placing before the public, it
gives me much pleasure to do so.

The 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade raised and organized from the four
western provinces of Canada has done its share and at the time of
writing it is still doing its share in the field against the common
enemy.  The 28th Northwest Battalion, originally under the Command of
Lieut.-Col. J. F. L. Embury, C.M.G., has taken its share in all the
engagements in which the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade took part,
including St. Éloi, Hooge, three engagements on the Somme, 15th
September, 26th September, and 1st October, 1916, as well as the
general engagements of Vimy Ridge, Fresnoy, Lens on the 21st August,
1917, and Passchendaele, and in each of these engagements, alongside
the remaining Battalions of the Brigade--namely, the 27th City of
Winnipeg Battalion, 29th Vancouver Battalion, and the 31st Alberta
Battalion--never failed in gaining all of the objectives which had been
set for the Brigade to carry.  Whenever any special raids to obtain
information and identifications were called for, the 28th Northwest
Battalion invariably volunteered for such duty, and their efforts were
always crowned with success.  In fact the record of the Brigade
throughout the campaign has been an outstanding one, and the various
matters which Private Jack O'Brien refers to in his book will be of the
greatest interest to all members of the Brigade, past and present, as
well as to the general public in Western Canada.

The feat accomplished by this young soldier in escaping from the
Germans, whilst held as a prisoner of war, is in itself worthy of
special notice and he was only successful in his third attempt.  His
conduct and record in the field is one to be proud of, and I have no
hesitation in introducing him to the readers of his most interesting
book.  As a soldier he has done his duty and is deserving of every
support in the circulation of his war story.


_Brig.-Gen. comm'd'g 6th Can. Inf. Brig._

10th April, 1918



"Well, boy, how did you do it?"  "What are the prison camps like?"
"Are the Germans as cruel as they are painted?"  These are the
questions that I have been asked thousands of times since coming home.
I have answered them from scores of platforms, for all kinds of Red
Cross organizations; and now I have been persuaded to try and put my
answer on paper--and if when I have finished, there are a few points
cleared up that you have been wondering, and perhaps worrying about, I
shall feel repaid for the writing.  They say that "the pen is mightier
than the sword," but my experiences of the last ten years have given me
much more practice with the latter than with the former.  I shall not
attempt a flowery story, nor exaggerate anything to make it sound big,
but I shall, as they say in the Court, tell "the truth, and nothing but
the truth."

My story begins when this war broke out in August, 1914.  I was working
with a survey party at the time not far from Fernie, British.
Columbia.  I remember the day that I made up my mind to enlist.  I had
just decided the question when along came my chum Stevens, and I said,
"Well, I'm jumping the job this morning, Steve."  He said, "Why?  What
the devil is eating you now?  Don't you know when you are well off?"  I
said, "Yes, Steve, I do; but it is like this--ever since you and I went
to town the other day I have been thinking this thing over."  "Thinking
what?"  "Why, about the war, of course--I can't get it out of my head.
There is going to be the devil of a scrap over there--and say, boy!
I've got to get into it!  When I hear of what Germany is doing to poor
little Belgium it makes my blood boil--I have worked with the Germans,
and I have a little idea of what it would mean to turn the world over
to them--so I'm off to draw my time."  Well, when I came back from the
boss's cabin, I found Steve packing up, and I said, "Why, what's the
matter, Steve?"  He said, "Oh hell! if you're going, I'm going too;" so
we started off together.

We had a twelve-mile hike to the nearest town, and that night we took
the train for Winnipeg.  We stayed off in Moose Jaw to see some boys
that we knew, and of course we told them that we were on our way to
enlist.  To our surprise we found that they were planning to join a
company that was being recruited in Moose Jaw, and they urged us to
sign up with them.  We thought it would be nice to be with some one we
knew, so one morning we lined up with three or four hundred others to
be examined for the Army.  They had room for only two hundred and fifty
men, and as we stood in line we looked around to size up the bunch and
see what our chances were for getting in.  They were a husky-looking
lot, and all were eager to go.  I remember one big fellow near the end
of the line offered me five dollars for my place.  I said, "Go to hell
with your five dollars."  Afterwards in the trenches, when we were
knee-deep in mud and the big shells were bursting around us, he could
have had my place and welcome.  Well, we were all taken on, and we got
our first taste of drilling and marching.  For about a week we were
marched around the streets of Moose Jaw--flags were flying--bands
playing--and we were the centre of interest.  The last night we were
there, the city tendered us a banquet and an old South African veteran
gave us a farewell speech.  Among other things, he said, "Well, boys,
you belong to the Army now [they didn't let us forget it very long].
The first thing you must learn is discipline," and he gave us a long
speech on that.  Then he went on: "The next thing is cleanliness.  I
suppose you have been taught as I was that 'cleanliness is next to
godliness'; but in the Army you will find that it works pretty much the
other way--godliness is next to cleanliness."  This is all I remember
of the old soldier's speech, and afterwards, believe me, I found that
he was right; in the trenches cleanliness is quite as difficult as

Well, early next morning we took the train for Winnipeg, and there was
a big crowd to see us off, for most of the boys who had joined up had
their homes in Moose Jaw.  I didn't know any one, and I was not paying
much attention to the crowd when a funny thing happened.  I was feeling
a bit lonely seeing all the other boys being made a fuss over, when
suddenly a nice-looking young girl loomed up in front of me, and a
joyful voice said, "Why, Harry, here you are; I have been looking all
over for you."  Now, my name was not Harry, but when she lifted her
face to be kissed, why I tried to do as the real Harry would have done.
Perhaps I did not succeed, for somehow she realized her mistake and she
did not seem half as well pleased over it as I was.  Finally the train
pulled out amid the cheers of the crowd, and the boys who were leaving
home and friends looked just a wee bit quiet and sad, but soon they
recovered their spirits, and we had a jolly time playing cards and
getting acquainted.  They were all strangers to me, and we were
destined to go through experiences that drew us closer together than
brothers, but I didn't know it then, so I sat there and tried to
imagine what they were like, and the opinions I formed were far from
right in the light of events that followed.  I have learned now how
foolish it is to judge a man by his appearance.  It was only a
twelve-hour trip to Winnipeg, and when we got there we found a band to
meet us.  We were marched through the streets, and though we stuck out
our chests and tried to remember all that had been told us about
marching, I fear we made a poor impression.  We still wore our ordinary
clothes and only the badges on our arms marked us as would-be soldiers.

After about an hour's march we were taken to a large frame barrack
known as the Horse Show Building.  This place had been built for a
skating rink and was never intended as a dwelling-place for men.  In
the winter the water poured from the frost-lined roof, and for a long
time we had no floor.  We slept on ticks filled with straw, and these
were soaked every day--we were almost drowned out.  There was an old
piano in the building, and every morning we were awakened by a wag in
the crowd playing "Pull for the shore, sailor."  The boys would all
take it up, and in a few minutes every one would be singing at the top
of their voices.  This put us in good humour for the day.

We were not the only ones in the building; other companies had come in
from the West, and when our numbers had reached the 1,100 mark we were
formed into what was known as the 28th Northwest Battalion.

Now, it is not my intention to give a detailed account of our training.
We were like every other new battalion, perfectly green in the art of
soldiering, awkward in the use of our hands and feet, but strong in our
determination to make good as a battalion.  Especially were we anxious
to please our commanding officer.  Just to give you an idea of how
green I was, let me tell you of my first meeting with our O. C.,
Colonel Embury.  I was lounging around the guardroom one day when the
Sergeant asked me to take some papers to the Orderly Sergeant upstairs.
Now, my tunic was unfastened, my belt loose, and my cap on the back of
my head, but it never occurred to me to fix myself before going up.  I
took the papers and went up three steps at a time.  When I reached the
orderly-room I walked in, and said, "Who is the Orderly Sergeant here?"
A voice from the corner of the room said, "Here, lad," and I started in
his direction when another voice spoke up and said, "Look here,
sonny--"  I turned around and found myself looking into the genial
fatherly face of Colonel Embury.  I was too much surprised and dismayed
to even attempt a salute, and the Colonel, instead of calling me down,
just smiled and said: "Young man, supposing you go out into the hall,
fasten up your tunic, tighten your belt, and put your cap on properly;
then come to the door and knock.  When you get an answer, walk in and
salute, and see how much smarter and better it will look."  You bet I
felt cheap, and almost any sized hole would have been large enough for
me just then.  But I went out and did as I was told, and when I came
back he answered my salute and smilingly said, "Now, that is fine," and
went on with his work.  What wouldn't a boy do for an officer who used
him like that?

It was hard for us boys who had been on our own hook for several years
to get used to the discipline of the Army.  We were used to doing
exactly as we liked, and the unquestioning obedience demanded did not
come easy.  Gee, but it used to hurt to take a "call-down" from a petty
officer without having a chance to reply or even to show what we felt
in our faces, and when he had said everything he could think of we had
to touch our cap and say "Yes, Sir!"  I assure you, very often we felt
like saying something entirely different.

Training in the open with the thermometer ranging anywhere between 25
and 40 below zero is no fun.  We were taught to shoot, march, skirmish
and drill, and we also learned the art of "old soldiering," which means
the art of being able to dodge anything in the shape of work.  By the
way, they have a fancy name for work in the Army--they call it
"Fatigue," but when you come to do it it's just the same as the common
variety spelled with four letters.  We did not get meals at barracks,
but took them in a restaurant downtown--and rising at 6 A.M. on a
bitterly cold winter's morning and having to walk a mile to breakfast
was not always pleasant.  Sometimes we would break away and take a
streetcar, till an order was issued forbidding our doing it.  However,
one very cold morning following a heavy fall of snow we plodded our way
downtown; our new uniforms with their unlined greatcoats (minus the
cozy fur collars such as civilians wore) did not keep out more than a
quarter of the cold, the rest went through us.  Our caps were
wedge-shaped affairs of imitation black fur, and on mild days we felt
very smart in them, but when it was forty below and Jack Frost was on a
still hunt for every exposed portion of our body, a cap that would not
be coaxed down to meet our collars was a fit object for our worst

Well, on this particular morning every one got half frozen going down,
and after breakfast no one felt like walking home.  About half of the
boys "fell out" and took the street-car.  I got on a car that was
pretty well filled with our lads, and we were having a jolly time when
the car stopped and in walked our O. C.  Several of the boys jumped up
to offer their seat, but the Colonel smiled and said, "Never mind,
boys," and continued to stand at the back of the car.  We were pretty
quiet, for we hated to be caught disobeying orders, and especially did
we hate being found out by our O. C.  Well, he got off the car before
we did, and we did not see him again till the next parade.  Then when
we were lined up Colonel Embury read out the rule forbidding us to
break ranks--we were wondering how many days C. B. we would get--when
the O. C. looked around with a smile and said, "Well, boys, I'll let
you off this time, I didn't feel much like walking myself."  One of the
boys dug me in the ribs and whispered, "Some scout, eh?"  It was little
things like this that won the hearts of "his boys," as he always called
us, and so far from spoiling discipline it made us put up with any
discomforts for the sake of pleasing him.

But before going any farther I wish to explain what C. B. means.  It is
the favourite mode of punishment in the Army and is served out for
almost all offences or "crimes," as they are called--the only variation
being in the length of time given.  "C. B." is "confined to barracks"
and having to answer a bugle call every half-hour, after the battalion
is dismissed.  The object of answering this bugle call is to let the
powers that be know that you are still there.  In the Army it is known
as "Defaulters," but we named it the "Angel Call."  There was usually
one or more of our little circle answering it, and the favourite crimes
were smoking on parade, staying out without a pass, coming home
"oiled," and staying in bed after reveille in the morning; the
last-named was a favourite one of mine, and I escaped punishment for
quite a while, but the old saying "The pitcher that goes oft to the
well is sure to get broken at last" was true in my case.  I had formed
the habit of lying in bed and reading the paper for about half an hour
after reveille, and it always made the Sergeant mad.  However, so far
he had not reported me; but this morning, after about twenty-five
minutes of stolen comfort, the Sergeant said, "Now, look here, O'Brien,
if you are not out of bed in three minutes I'll have you up before the
Major."  I looked, listened, and pulling out my watch continued
reading.  Exactly on the three minutes I jumped out, but the boys were
all laughing and the Sergeant got mad and had me "pinched"; so at 9
a.m. I was brought up on the "carpet" before the Major.  I was looking
the picture of innocence, and I had a chum outside to prove that I was
out of bed three minutes after the Sergeant's warning.  Well, the
Sergeant didn't press the charge very much, and the Major asked me how
long it was after reveille when I got up.  I said it was five minutes
anyway, and I had them arguing whether it was five or ten minutes (it
was really half an hour), when the officer said, "O'Brien, have you any
witnesses?"  I said, "Yes, Sir, Private Gammon."  Officer: "Private
Gammon, step forward.  How long after reveille did O'Brien lie in bed?"
"Fifteen minutes, Sir," said Gammon, and looked at me as though he were
doing me a great favour.  "Five days C. B.," said the Major; "right
about turn, dismiss."  Now, believe me, what I said to that boy
wouldn't look well in print.  No more "witnesses" for me--like the
darky who was brought up before the judge for stealing chickens.  He
protested his innocence, and the judge said, "Pete, have you any
witnesses?"  The old man answered, "No, Sir, I never steals chickens
'fore witnesses."  In the future I would follow my old schoolmaster's
advice; he said, "My boy, never tell a lie; but if you do happen to
tell one, make it a good one and stick to it."  I haven't always been
able to live up to the first part, but when I fell down on that the
latter half came in handy.  This was my first crime, but it wasn't by
any means my last.  I remember one day in the early spring the
battalion was out doing some skirmishing, and somehow three of us got
separated from the others.  In looking for our company we came across
an inviting-looking spot, and we sat down to have a rest.  Smoking and
telling stories made the time pass quickly, and when we came to look
for the battalion it had gone home.  We hiked for home as fast as our
legs could carry us and got in about an hour late.  Next morning we
were paraded before the Major, and he listened to our story but
evidently didn't sympathize with our love for nature and gave us seven
days C. B.  I thought the punishment rather stiff, but the old Major
had it in for me.  A few days before, when we were on parade, the old
Major kept our platoon drilling after the others had gone in, and all
the boys were sore.  He gave us an order, and one of the boys near me
said in a loud undertone, "Go to hell, you spindle-legged old crow."
The Major heard it; he turned quickly and looked in our direction and
caught me laughing, so he felt pretty sure that it was I who had made
the remark; so when he got a chance to get even, he soaked it to me.

However, two can play at that game, and my chance came a few nights
later; I was on sentry duty and the old Major was acting as orderly
officer.  He was always spying on us boys, and about 2 A.M. on the
coldest nights he would make the round of the guards to be sure that we
were all at our posts.  This was not done by the other officers, and
naturally we resented it, so when the boy on the next beat gave me the
tip that the old boy was coming I stood in close to the wall and
waited--as he turned the corner, stealing along like a cat, I sprang
out with my bayonet at his chest, and in a voice loud enough to be
heard ten blocks away shouted "Halt!"  Old "Spindle-legs" threw up his
hands, gasped like a fish, and it seemed half a minute before he
whispered "Orderly officer."  Of course I lowered my rifle with a fine
show of respect, but he didn't lose any time asking what my orders were
for the night; he beat it for the orderly-room as fast as his trembling
legs could carry him.  He took it for granted that we were _very much_
on guard.  The other guard and I almost had a fit laughing, and it was
as much as we could do to face him next day.

Little things like this relieved the monotony of the days that
otherwise were very much alike.  We were drilled into shape and finally
we came to take pleasure in doing things in the sharp brisk manner they
required and in making as good a showing as possible--everything was
for the honour of the battalion, and woe betide any one who was
slovenly in his dress or who bungled his marching.

But we would have had a pretty lonely winter if it had not been for the
great kindness shown us by some of the Winnipeg churches and also by
individual ladies.  Chief among these, I would like to take the liberty
of mentioning Lady Nanton; she was the guardian angel of the 28th; the
billiard room of her beautiful home was thrown open for our use every
night in the week and a lunch was served to as many boys as cared to
go.  It was through the efforts of Lady Nanton that a smoking-room was
erected for our benefit, for we were not allowed to smoke in barracks.
I received parcels from her when I was a prisoner of war in Germany,
and I leave you to imagine how much they were appreciated then; and now
that the 28th boys are coming back wounded and broken in health it is
Lady Nanton that still acts as guardian angel and gets everything
possible for them.

But to go back to my story.  We had been in training for about six
months and the Army life had done a great deal for us.  The city was
full of soldiers; new battalions were being formed all the time, and we
felt quite like old veterans.  We were "fed up" with marching around
the city on parade, and we longed to get into the real fighting.  For
my part, I was heartily sick of the whole thing, and all that made it
bearable was the close friendship I had formed with some of the boys in
my platoon; about a dozen of them were my close friends.  I shall name
a few of these, so that you may recognize them when they appear farther
on in my story; there were "Bink," Steve, Mac, Bob, Tom, Jack, Scottie,
and also our "dear old Chappie"; the last-named was one of those
quiet-going Englishmen who always mean what they say and who invariably
addressed every one as "my deah chappie," but he was a good old scout
and everybody liked him.  Our Sergeant, known among the boys as "Yap,"
is another interesting character; his heart was the biggest thing about
him and his voice came next.  If he wanted you to do anything he spoke
loud enough to be heard a mile away; if you didn't do as he ordered,
you could never bring in the excuse of not having heard.  Then there
was our Corporal, who got the name of "Barbed-wire Pete," so called
because when the order came to grow moustaches his attempt looked like
a barbed-wire entanglement.  Now for our Lance Corporal, who when he
got to France was known as "Flare-pistol Bill."  He early developed a
mania for shooting up flares in the front-line trench at night.  We had
two Yankees in our bunch--"Uncle Sam," who was the oldest man in the
platoon, and "Baldy," who only wore a fringe of hair.  One day in the
trenches one of the boys noticed Baldy scratching his head on a spot
where there was still a little hair, and he said, "Hey, Baldy, chase
him out into the open; you'll have a better chance to catch him there."
Now, I realize that this bunch of boys may sound very commonplace to
the average reader, but we went through more than one hell together and
I found them white clear through, and heroes every one of them.  They
included farmers, firemen, business men, university men, hoboes, and
socialists.  Some mixture!--but it was out of this kind of stuff that
our Canadian Army was made, and I am not ashamed of their record.


Now that I have introduced you to some of my friends, I will go back to
the time when we left Winnipeg.  After many false rumours, at last the
day came when we were to start.  On the 26th of May, 1915, the order
came out that we were to entrain the following morning--we were all
confined to barracks and every one was crazy with joy--we hurried
through our packing, then we sat around all night, singing, telling
yarns, and trying to put in the time till morning.  Early next day we
were marched to the station, and though for obvious reasons our going
had not been advertised, hundreds of friends were there to see us off.
They loaded us with candy, fruit, smokes, and magazines, and I don't
think a happier bunch ever left Winnipeg.  The train trip was very
uneventful.  We ate and played cards most of the day.  This was varied
by an occasional route march around some town on the way.  When we
reached Montreal we were reviewed by the Duke of Connaught, and as soon
as this was over they marched us down to our boat.  After locating our
berths we thought we had nothing to do but go out and do the city.  My
chum and I made our way down to the gangway and there found our way
barred by a sentry who said, "Nobody allowed off the ship."  We were
terribly disappointed, but we had learned not "to reason why" in the
Army, so we went to the other end of the ship.  Here we found another
boat drawn up alongside, and as there was no one in sight we boarded
her.  From here we had no trouble getting ashore, and away we went
uptown--"stolen pleasure is the sweetest kind"--and we had no end of a
time for a few hours.  We hiked back and got to the ship just in time
to turn in with the other boys; no one had missed us for a wonder, and
everything was all right.  Next morning we awoke to find ourselves
slipping down the broad St. Lawrence.  Our voyage lasted ten days, and
it sure was "some" trip.  The weather was perfect and we had all kinds
of sport, wrestling, boxing, and everything that could be done in a
limited space.  The regimental band of the 28th was something that we
were justly proud of, and they supplied the music for our concerts and
dances--yes, we did have dances, even though there were no ladies
present--half of the fellows tied handkerchiefs on their sleeves and
took the ladies' part; their attempts at being ladylike and acting coy
were very laughable.  The only thing that really marred our pleasure
was the lifeboat drill; any hour of the day or night when the signal
was given, no matter what we were doing, we must grab our life-belt and
make all possible speed to our place at the lifeboats.  At first it was
great fun, but soon we grew to hate it, and we almost wished the ship
would be torpedoed just to make a change.  The last three days of our
trip we were in the "Danger Zone," and at night all lights were put out
and as many men as possible slept on deck; machine guns were posted and
men on duty at them all the time.  The sentries had orders to shoot any
one that showed a light.  We were obliged to wear our life-belts night
and day, and if I looked as funny to the others as they did to me, I
don't see how they ever got their faces straight.  Most of our waking
hours were spent in looking for "subs," and every one that saw a bottle
or stock on the water was sure he had sighted a periscope.  One night
as I was sleeping on deck I was awakened by having a great light
flashed in my face--I jumped up in a hurry and to my amazement I found
two great searchlights sweeping our ship from stern to stern--and
immediately, out of the darkness, two destroyers, slim and grey, came
racing up, one on either side of us.  They gave us our first glimpse of
Britain's sea power, and we felt a wonderful sense of security.  In the
morning we had a good look at the destroyers, for they were quite close
and they kept just abreast of us--every now and then they would put on
speed and rush ahead leaving us as if we were standing still--then they
would turn almost in their own length and come rushing back, sometimes
circling the ship two or three times.  They reminded me of a couple of
puppies gambolling and trying to coax the old dog into the game.

We proceeded this way till we hit the Channel, and soon we caught our
first glimpse of the shores of England (or "Blighty," as the soldiers
call it).  The green hills sure did look good to us after gazing at
water for ten days.  We also passed a big wooden ship built in the time
of Nelson that is being used as a training-ship for cadets--as we
steamed slowly by, hundreds of the cadets were clustered on the masts
and rigging, and they gave us a great burst of cheers.  It was our
first welcome to the old land.  That night we slipped slowly into port,
and again we caught a glimpse of Britain at war; big searchlights
glaring out to sea, crossing and recrossing, searching--searching all
the time.  Big ships were going to and fro with coloured lights to show
their identity.  We stayed on the ship all night, but most of us were
too excited to get any sleep.  Next morning we were taken off and put
aboard a dinky little train.  The locomotives and coaches looked so
small in comparison with the big American trans-continental trains that
the Englishmen in our outfit came in for lots of chaff.  "Baldy," the
American, would say to Bob Goddard, "Do you call this miniature thing a
railroad?  Why, at home we have trains as big as this running up and
down the floors of our restaurants carrying flapjacks."  Of course
every one roared at this, and Bob said, "Never mind, you can laugh now,
but wait till we start and see the speed we have."  They argued on this
for a while, and then Bob said, "Why, the locomotives over here pick up
water on the fly."  "Aw, that's nothing," said Baldy; "they pick up
hoboes on the fly in the States."  Bob had nothing to say to this, and
conversation lagged for a while.  Some time later Bob called our
attention to the really lovely scenery we were passing through.  Said
he, "Look at those lovely old trees with the creepers on them; where in
the States would you find anything to compare with them?"  But Baldy
was ready, "Aw, I can see you were never in a lumber camp."  "What
difference does that make?" says Bob.  "All the difference in the
world," answered Baldy; "if you were ever in a lumber camp, you'd know
without my telling you that we have men there with creepers on them."
This was too much for Bob, and he quit;--we played cards the rest of
the way to London, but when we reached it we became interested again in
the outside world.  London was a place we had all heard of, but few of
us had seen.  Bob was nearly crazy, for we passed in sight of his home.
Of course he had been away for several years, but his people still
lived there; it sure was hard for him to be so near and not be able to
stop and see them.  He showed us all the points of interest that were
in sight; but our first impression of London was rather disappointing,
for we were either going through suburbs or smoky tunnels.  We went
through some crowded districts, and the people all ran out and cheered
us as we passed.  England was going wild over Canadians then, for it
was just after the Second Battle of Ypres, where our boys had made such
a name for themselves.  On one street there were about five hundred
kids, and Baldy remarked, "No race suicide here."

Pretty soon we left London and we all went back into the train.  There
was great speculation as to what camp we were bound for, but no one
knew, and when at last the train came to a halt we were glad to get off
and stretch our legs,--we stretched them a whole lot more than we
intended before the night was out,--for we had to hike about four miles
with full pack and then climb a long steep hill.  We had nothing to eat
all day and we were just like ravening wolves, but after we reached
camp we had to wait for the cooks to prepare some "mulligan" (stewed
beef) and tea; then we were lined up and bundled into our tents, about
ten men in each.  Next morning some of us were sent down to unload the
transport and the rest were put to work setting things to rights at the
camp.  I was with those that went down to the depot, and here the
battalion suffered its first casualty--the pet of the whole regiment
was lying dead in the box-car--and though to an outsider he was only a
bulldog, to us he was our beloved "Sandy," the mascot of our battalion.
He had shared all our route marches, no matter what the weather, and as
I saw him lying there I thought of the fun we used to have with him.
Scores of times I have seen him, when the bugle sounded for us to fall
in, go and take his little blanket from the low nail where it always
hung, and beg one of the boys to put it on for him.  He would wag
himself almost to pieces trying to attract attention, and of course the
boy wouldn't let on to notice him; so he would go from one to the
other, till at last some one's good nature overcame the desire for
further sport, and his blanket was fastened on.  Then, with a glad
bark, he would dash out and take his place at the head of the
battalion.  He knew the other bugle calls too, and the call to mess was
answered by mad jumping and much showing of teeth.  He responded with
the officers to the Colonel's Parade, and as the officers formed a
circle round Colonel Embury to receive their orders for the day, it was
funny to see old Sandy right in the centre gazing up into the Colonel's
face.  Our O. C. loved him and always gave him his share of attention
after the officers were dismissed--it was our Colonel who insisted on
Sandy having his own bunk and blankets just like any of the men--so,
after being such a pet, you can imagine how we felt when we saw him
lying there dead, and we realized that we were to blame for his death.
All dogs entering England have to spend several weeks in quarantine,
and to save him from this some of the boys had boxed him up and placed
him in the baggage car, but whoever had done the job was not careful to
place him right side up, and when we opened the box poor old Sandy was
lying on his back dead.  The whole battalion mourned his loss, and our
Colonel most of all.  Well, after we got everything loaded up, we went
back to camp, and there we found the boys as busy as bees--we were
telling them about Sandy when suddenly we heard a humming sound--every
one gazed skyward, and across the camp flew one of the British
dirigibles.  What a sight it was to us!  The big cigar-shaped,
silver-coloured airship dipped and climbed, and finally came down so
low that we could plainly see the men in it.  You should have heard the
cheer we gave them.  We watched it till it disappeared out across the
sea.  After awhile we got used to seeing airships of all kinds and we
took no notice of them, but at first they were very interesting.

Another thing that happened on our first day in camp (by the way, we
were quartered in Shorncliffe, right on the seacoast)--a few of us were
standing looking across the Channel to France, and wondering what was
happening there, when _boom-boom-boom_! we heard the guns in Belgium.
We could hardly believe our ears.  I don't know about the other
fellows, but it sent a queer feeling through me to know that only fifty
or sixty miles away our boys were fighting and dying.  Before this the
war had seemed very unreal, but the sound of the guns made me realize
that it was a grim reality, and I wondered how I would face it when the
time came.

Well, the next few days saw us settled in camp and then our training
commenced in real earnest.  We thought the six months' training in
Canada had made us hard, but what we went through for the next two
months made us like nails.  We had shooting, skirmishing, night
marches, trench-digging, besides all the special courses.  Three other
battalions were in the same camp--the 27th from Winnipeg, 31st from
Calgary, and the 29th from Vancouver--and the four of us were formed
into what was called the "Sixth Brigade"; after the Battle of St. Éloi
they were known as the "Iron Sixth."  The only thing we objected to in
the training was the length of time it took.  It seemed as hard to get
to France as it had been to get to England.  We didn't eat from tables
as we had in Canada, but each of us was provided with exactly the same
equipment as they have in France,--namely, a mess tin.  When the meal
was called we would all line up, and meat and potatoes and everything
would be dished into our can; then we would hike off to our tents and
eat it sitting on the ground.  Each day an orderly officer went the
rounds to ask if there were any complaints, the usual procedure being
to stick his head in the tent flap and say, "Any complaints, boys?" and
walk on without waiting for an answer.  One day he came to our tent and
standing in the tent door asked the usual question.  One of the boys
was a college-bred Englishman, and he spoke up and said, "Oh, I say,
old chap, there's no complaint, but, deah boy, I wish you would take
your foot out of my mess tin--you are spoiling all my dinnah."  The
officer and the boys just roared.  I suppose most of us compared it
with the picturesque language we would have made use of.

Bob went home on leave about this time, and while in London he ran
across an old schoolmate of his who was also home on leave.  The lad's
name was Harold Rust.  He had spent several years in Canada, but
happened to be in England when the war broke out and he had joined up
with a London regiment.  He had been one of Kitchener's "Contemptible
Little Army" and had seen considerable service in France--he had been
wounded and at the time Bob met him was home on sick leave--but he had
been in America too long to enjoy the discipline of the British Army,
and as he said himself he was "fed up" with it.  So he asked Bob if
there was any chance of getting into our brigade.  He had tried several
times to get a transfer into the Canadians, but each time he was turned
down, so he said if Bob could get him in he would desert his own
regiment and so save all the trouble of a transfer.  Bob told him to
send in an application to our Colonel, and shortly after Bob returned
Colonel Embury sent for him.  He said: "Goddard, I have here a letter
from a man in London; he says he is a Canadian, and as all his chums
are here, he wants to join the 28th.  Do you know him?"  "Yes, Sir, I
knew him in Winnipeg," says Master Bob.  "Well," said the Colonel, "we
are one or two under strength, so I'll see what I can do."  Bob came
back tickled to death and told Tommy, Bink, and me all about it.  If he
got in we saw where we would have no end of fun having a fellow with us
who had seen service in France and no one knowing it but ourselves.
Well, a few nights later we were sitting in our tent foot-sore and
dog-tired after an all-day route march when in walks Rust.  Bob jumped
up and made the introduction; he had been sent for to come down and
take his medical examination.  We wondered how he would ever get
through without the Doctor seeing his wounds, but when he came up for
his examination he got through by keeping his hand over the old scar.
Next day he was attested, put into uniform, and then he was given leave
to go home and fix up his business affairs.  This is what he did--he
changed on the train from khaki into civies, went home, put on his
Imperial uniform, and went up to draw his regimental pay.  He drew all
that was coming to him, and tried to get an advance but failed.  Then
he went home, changed into his Canadian uniform, and leaving his other
in a bundle, he came away without even letting his father know where he
was going.  He came down to Shorncliffe and we got him into our platoon
and into our tent, and then the fun started.  The boys thought him a
greenhorn, and they were all showing him how to do things.  He would
let them help to put his puttees on, show him the hundred and one
things that a soldier needs to know; we would almost burst trying to
keep from laughing.  When we were out drilling, he was just as clumsy
as though he had never held a rifle--after him meeting the Germans in
the open and firing till his rifle jammed.  The Sergeant would take him
out and give him private lessons, showing him how to slope arms and
present arms, and all the time Rust was looking innocent and acting as
awkward as the greenest of the green.  Those of us who knew nearly
killed ourselves laughing.  Then they gave him another leave, and we
didn't see any more of him till we were ready to leave for France.

Leave to London was very hard to get, and of course we were all crazy
to go there; but we were all allowed late leave on Sundays, and of
course we always had our Saturday afternoons, so if we could dodge the
military police we took the train at noon on Saturday and spent Sunday
in London.  There was an early morning train which got us in before
reveille on Monday.  We worked this successfully several times, but one
Sunday almost our whole platoon was in London, and as luck would have
it we all missed the early tram.  When our platoon lined up there were
only ten present, and of course this gave the whole thing away.  We
arrived on the noon train and we sure did get a calling down--of course
we were forbidden to do it again.  However, before going to France each
of us had a week in London, and that wonderful old city was surely an
eye-opener to us Western boys.  In fact, England itself is like a big
garden; and so beautiful that it's little wonder that its people would
fight to the last man to save it.  We had only been in England a short
time when they started giving instruction in special courses, such as
bombing, signalling, and machine gun work.  Any one who took one of
these courses was exempt from all fatigue duty, and they did not report
so early in the morning.  Steve and I joined the bombers, known in
France as the "Suicide Club," and Bob, with two or three others, took
up the machine gun work.  I found the bomb throwing very interesting,
and in our six weeks' course we learned to handle the "Mills" bomb,
"hair-brush," and the "jam tin."  There was just enough danger in it to
make it exciting and there was some sport as well.  For instance, the
"jam tin" bomb is a real jam tin packed with explosive, and we had to
make as well as throw them, and for practice we were allowed to bomb
the trenches dug by our battalion.  They would spend two or three weeks
digging and fixing up a nice trench and then along would come the
bombers and blow it all to smithereens--no wonder the boys were sore at
us; but then, they were getting practice, and we were only doing what
"Fritzie" would do for them later on.  Steve and I stuck with the
bombers, but one morning as I watched our battalion line up I was
surprised to see Bob and his pals in the ranks.  When we met that night
I asked him why he had given up the machine gun work, and I sure did
laugh at what he told me.  He said: "Aw, I liked the work well enough,
and it was fun to see how mad our Sergeant got when he came after us
for picket or guard duties; we thought we had a snap sitting down
listening to the machine gun officer's lectures, but what do you think
he told us yesterday?  Why, that in the event of a retirement machine
guns were left behind to cover the retreat, and were sacrificed to save
the main body of the Army!  Now, wouldn't that be a devil of a fix to
be in?  No sacrifice stuff for mine--I don't mind taking my chance with
the other boys, but I won't stay out there alone."  Poor old Bob, we
all roasted him about it, but he never went back.  Shortly before
leaving England almost the entire 10th platoon got leave, and we all
went up to London, and I assure you the time we had wasn't slow.  Bob
and a few of the others whose homes were in London spent part of the
time there, but we had a whole week and we spent the last few days
together.  Among other places of interest, we visited Madame Tussaud's
Waxworks, and it was here that Scottie slipped one over Bink.  We were
all standing at the entrance and Scottie said, "Bink, go and ask the
attendant for a program."  Bink walked up to the lady at the table, and
in his most polite tone said, "Can you let me have a program?"
Evidently the attendant didn't hear, for there was no answer, so Bink
said in a louder tone, "Say, look here, I want a program"; still there
was no response and Bink was beginning to look sore when Scottie yells
out, "Come away from there, you darn fool; are you going to talk to
that wax figure all day?"  Scottie would have "cashed in" right there
if Bink could have caught him.

The same day we had a good joke on Steve--he had heard that Leicester
Lounge was a favourite meeting-place for Canadians, and he decided to
go there and see if he could find any of the boys, so he hailed a taxi
and gave the man orders to drive him to Leicester Lounge.  The driver
took him round a couple of blocks and then said, "Here's the place,
Sir."  Steve paid him and then looked around to find himself in the
very spot he started from--he had been standing in front of Leicester
Lounge when he took the taxi, and it is just as well that he does not
know what that driver thought of him--however, he was sport enough to
tell the joke on himself.  Well, the week slipped by and we took a
couple of extra days on our own account--of course we expected to pay
up for it, but we thought it was worth it.  Our next leave would be
from France, and anything might happen before then.  Well, we got back,
and to our joy, we found that the Orderly Sergeant had got "soused" and
forgot to mark us absent, so maybe we were not glad that we had those
two extra days--the only crimes you are sorry for in the Army are the
ones that are found out.  Several times after this we took "French
leave" and went up to London, and then we had our work cut out dodging
the military police.  Sometimes we were caught and then we had to pass
a day or two in "Clink"--or, in other words, guard-room.  We had
bathing parade once or twice a week, and we would all go down and have
a swim in the sea.  Oh, it was great sport, and we were surprised to
find it so easy to swim in the salt water.  The country around our camp
was very hilly and most of our route marches were made with full kit,
so a long route march was anything but fun.  Our two Americans took a
delight in guying Bob about his love for scenery--poor old Bob would be
sweating along under his heavy pack and one of the boys would call out,
"Well, Bob, how do you like your scenery now?"  Bob was silent, perhaps
because he needed all his breath for walking, like the small steamboat
that put on such a big whistle that it hadn't power enough to navigate
and blow its whistle at the same time.  But we did enjoy being sent on
ahead as scouts to find out the lay of the country.  We would travel
till we came across some out-of-the-way "pub" or village inn, and there
we would stay till it was time to go back to camp; then we would rejoin
the battalion and give a lot of information that we had made up between


There was one big event that we will remember for the rest of our
lives, and that was our review by the King and Lord Kitchener.  We were
reviewed on Sir John Moore's Plain, and the entire Second Division of
Infantry as well as the Artillery was out that day; all the roads
leading to the Plain were packed with troops, and as we all marched
down and lined up in review order, it was the biggest bunch of soldiers
I have ever seen together.  There were somewhere between fifteen and
sixteen thousand men, and when they were marching with fixed bayonets
it looked like a sea of steel.

After lining up we had a long wait, and all at once a thunderstorm came
up.  The rain came down in pailfuls, and soon all the boys were singing
"Throw out the life line, some one is sinking today."  One of the boys
near me said, "I don't see why the devil no one has ever thought of
putting a roof over this blamed island."  Well, just when we were in
the middle of our song and the whole fifteen thousand men were roaring
it out at the top of their voices, the King's automobile went by.  We
were soon put into marching order and the march past the King and Lord
Kitchener commenced.  When we got the order "Eyes right!" we looked at
them both--the King was a smaller man than we expected to see, and
Kitchener looked older than we thought he would be.  But oh, what eyes
Kitchener had! they seemed to be looking every man straight in the
face--the boys all noticed the same thing, and spoke of it afterwards.
After the march past the officers were called up and congratulated on
the showing the men had made, and they passed it on to us.  Well, away
we went back to camp, wet and tired, but delighted over the events of
the day and we all felt proud of being "Britishers."  When we got back
to camp and were talking things over, we all agreed that our inspection
was a sign of an early departure for France, and from that on the place
buzzed with rumours of when we were to start.  It does not take much to
start a rumour going in the Army--for instance, the Colonel buys a
light shirt, and his batman tells somebody that he thinks we are going
to a warm climate, as the Colonel is buying light clothes.  The person
he told it to passes it on this way--"Oh yes, the Colonel's servant
says we are going to India," and No. 3 announces "I have it from some
one high up that we are being sent to India instead of to France, the
Colonel is laying in a supply of light clothes; and in the
Quartermaster's store they have gotten in a supply of sun helmets"--and
so it goes, increasing in size like the report of a German victory in
their newspapers.  But we soon saw that our stay was going to be short,
for presently our new equipment was issued to us.  This consisted of
two khaki shirts, two heavy suits of underwear, two heavy army
blankets, rifle and ammunition, hat covers, several pairs of socks, a
lot of small things, and last but not least, two pairs of boots.
Besides this, we had our haversack containing emergency rations: tea,
sugar, army biscuits, and bully-beef.  I put my pack on the scales when
I got it all together, and it weighed just one hundred pounds.

Our new issue of boots came in for more attention than anything else.
I must tell you about them; they were destined to cause us no end of
misery in the near future.  Such boots!  "Gravel crushers," we called
them.  Big heavy marching boots, armour-plated on the sole and so large
that they looked and felt like barges.  In my childhood days I never
could understand how the "Old Lady lived in a shoe," but when I saw
these boots the mystery was solved; though, mind you, they were just
the thing for France; and after they got broken in, we couldn't have
had anything better.  But after our light-weight boot manufactured out
of paper by some of our patriotic(?) Canadian firms, it took some time
to get our feet used to the heavier weight.

Just before we were ready to leave for France we were treated to an
air-raid.  Some Zeppelins came over and dropped bombs not far from our
camp.  Of course the warning was sounded, all lights put out, and we
sat there as still as mice, wondering what was going to happen next.  I
fancy we felt something as a rabbit does when there is a keen-eyed hawk
soaring overhead.  However, the danger passed and there was no harm
done, but they were evidently looking for our camp, for two days after
we left it, it was properly bombed.

Well, after we got our equipment, we were kept busy for a couple of
days signing sheets and undergoing kit inspection, but finally
everything was attended to and we were ready to start.  It was a hot
day when we "fell in" for our eight-mile hike to ----, and when I had
all my kit in place, I think I must have looked like a snail who
carries his house packed on his back.  Well, the farther we went the
heavier our load became.  Our feet were tortured by the new stiff
boots; some of the boys took theirs off and walked in their socks, but
these had their feet cut and bruised by the stones which plentifully
bestrewed our way.  Oh, how we cursed our officers for making us wear
our new boots for the first time on such a hike.  We should have had
them long enough ahead to get them broken in.  Well, some of the boys
fell out, but the rest of us struggled on, and at last, just at dark,
we reached the pier.  We were dripping with perspiration, and we had
eaten nothing except our army ration.  Well, we sat around till we all
got cold; and then, to our utter amazement and disgust, the order came,
not to embark, but to "right-about-turn"; and with much swearing and
grousing, we commenced what was afterwards known among the 6th Brigade
as "The Retreat from Folkestone."  Of course the officers weren't to
blame--some mines had broken loose in the Channel, and until they were
looked after by the mine sweepers it wasn't safe to cross.  Oh, that
march! no one who went through it will ever forget what we went
through.  In all my experience in France, I never carried such a pack.
And after going a short distance on the return trip, the boys, like
sinking ships, began to get rid of their cargo--for miles that road was
strewn with boots, shirts, sweaters, cap covers, all kinds of
articles--then the boys themselves began to fall out, and the dog-tired
men rolled themselves in their blankets and lay down in their tracks.
By the way, we were not going back to Folkestone, but were bound for a
place known as "Sir John Moore's Plain"; but nobody knew how far it
was, nor the quickest way to get there; some went one way and some
another.  Our battalion kept on going with frequent rests; we were
dripping with sweat, and when the men sat down to rest they were too
tired and disgusted to even swear.  Finally our officers turned to us
and said, "Only another mile, boys," and our hopes revived a little;
but meeting a civilian, I asked him how far it was to Moore's Plain,
and he said, "Oh, it's about four miles."  Our officer overheard and
said "Come on, boys, let's make camp here," and No. 10 platoon quit
right there.  We were going through a little village at the time, and
we piled up on the lawns, rolled out our blankets and went to sleep.
Next morning the lady of the house who owned the lawn found us there;
she took pity on us, and calling us in gave us our breakfast.  Later,
we were sitting on the lawn when our Colonel drove up in his
automobile.  He called, "Come on, boys, hurry up and get up to the
camp."  He told us how to go and then went on to round up the rest--so
we drifted on towards the camp and finally reached it, and all that day
the boys came straggling in, some of them still carrying their boots.
Well, that night we had to pack up and march down again, but this time
it wasn't so hot, and all our spare equipment went by transport.  We
reached the port about dusk and we were soon loaded up; as soon as we
got on board, life-belts had to be put on, and the boat started
immediately.  We watched the lights of "Old Blighty" flicker and fade
away; and every now and then we caught glimpses of destroyers as they
went by and disappeared into the darkness.  Finally the last lighthouse
was passed--no more lights were to be seen, and I turned and looked
towards France, wondering what was in store for me there.  Little did I
think that I would spend a year in Germany before I would see the
English shores again.

It wasn't long before the lights of France came in sight.  We watched
them get clearer and clearer, and soon the command came to put our
packs on.  We were all ready to march by the time the boat was docked,
and off we went.  We were on the soil of France, and we all looked
around curiously.  The first thing I noticed was a French soldier on
guard, and I saw that he presented arms in a different way to what we
were used to, and also that his bayonet was about twice as long as
ours.  We soon passed him, and I don't remember much about the march
that followed.  We were dead-tired, and after travelling for what
seemed hours over cobblestones we came to a steep hill--the boys
commenced to swear, but we stuck to it for a while.  Finally I gave up
and lay down beside the road; by this time a lot of the boys had
dropped out.  After resting a while I started on again, and found Bink
and Bob unrolling their blankets--I wanted them to come with me, but a
sleep looked good to them.  Tommy, Steve, and Baldy were doing the same
thing, but instead of following suit I struggled on; at the top of the
hill I found a bunch of tents, but that was all--the visions I had of a
hot meal faded away, there was no grub in sight--I rolled into one of
the tents, spread out my blankets, and had just closed my eyes, when a
voice said, "O'Brien, you are on fatigue."  I started to kick, but it
was no use, so I followed the Sergeant out to where he had a bunch
lined up; we were ordered to go down to the commissary tent about five
hundred yards distant and draw rations.  Well, away we went, and we
spent the rest of the night carrying up boxes of jam, butter,
bully-beef, and sardines.  When I was carrying up the last two boxes,
just at daylight, along came the other boys; they thought it was a
great joke for them to be comfortably sleeping while I worked getting
up grub for them to eat.  I couldn't see the fun in it just then, and I
told them so, but they only laughed the more.  Well, I curled up in my
blankets, and it seemed that I had just got to sleep when Tommy wakened
me; breakfast was being served, and he had drawn mine.  After my bacon
and tea and a good wash I felt better.

While we were at breakfast a lot of little French kids crowded around,
and we were all amused at the little beggars.  Their speech, half
French and half English, was very funny.  But say, you should have seen
them smoke!  Little kids hardly able to walk were smoking just like old
men.  They seemed very hungry, and we gave them lots of our food until
we found they were putting it into a sack to carry away.

Well, we stayed in camp till noon, and just after dinner we were told
to get ready to move off.  Soon we were marching down to take the
train, and if the French people who watched us so curiously had seen us
go up the night before they would not have recognized us as the same
bunch.  The French gave us a great reception; the girls brought us
fruit, candy, and smokes, and our journey to the station was quite a
triumphal procession.  One of the girls came running up and gave me a
couple of bottles--Rust was beside me and had been through it all
before, so he whispered, "Put them in your pack; it is red wine."  I
guess I was a little slow in getting them out of sight, for our officer
saw them and he said, "Don't touch that, it may be poisoned."  Of
course we had to be careful of spies, but I stuck the bottles in my
pack when the officer wasn't looking.  Well, we marched to the depot
and were soon packed into the small uncomfortable coaches.  We started
to kick and grumble, but Rust said: "You are lucky to have coaches at
all.  Last time I went up I rode in a cattle-car," and he pointed out a
lot of cars on which was painted "Capacity, so many horses, so many
men."  After that we hadn't anything more to say.

After much talking and jabbering by the French interpreters we finally
got started, and we soon left L----h far behind.  I got out my poisoned
(?) wine, and not wanting to take any risks myself I politely let Baldy
have the first drink.  I waited a few minutes and he still looked well,
so we finished it up.  This put us in good spirits for the trip and
every one was gay; no one would ever have imagined that we were on our
way to the trenches.  We were very much interested in the country we
were passing through, but what struck us most forcibly was the number
of soldiers we saw.  Everywhere we looked there were crowds of them; we
thought there were a lot in Blighty, but there seemed to be nothing
else here.  We passed big railway guns, and once a big Red Cross train
glided slowly by--this made us think a bit--but we tried not to look
into the future, for we realized that the horrible side of the war
would come to us soon enough.  Every time the train stopped the French
kids would crowd around the coaches crying "Bully-beef, biscuits,
cigarettes for my papa, prisoner in Germany."  It was all new to us,
and we gave them all we could spare.  Later on we got wise to the kids,
and we found that if we were soft-hearted or soft-headed, they would
say the whole family were prisoners.  One thing that surprised and
shocked us was to hear the little kids swearing; they would use the
most frightful oaths, and the funny part of it was that they gave them
the pure cockney twang; I suppose they had heard and were imitating the
Imperial troops.  Well, after travelling all day we finally arrived in
C---- and we were marched off to our first billets.  I belonged to "C"
Company and we were quartered in a barn connected with a farmhouse.  It
was late when we arrived, and after we had supper we lay down in the
straw and soon were all asleep; but it wasn't long before we became
uneasy, and soon we were awakened by the feeling that some one or
something was trying to bore holes in us.  We twisted and turned, but
the first ones to waken, tried to keep quiet, and it was not till every
one was on the move that we realized that we had made our first
acquaintance with the worst pest in the Army--body lice, or "cooties"
as they call them--the straw on which we were lying was fairly alive
with the little beasts.  We thought it strange then, but nearly every
billet where there is straw is the same; "soldiers come and soldiers
go, but the same straw goes on forever."  The next day we were busy
boiling our shirts, but if we had only known we might have saved
ourselves the trouble, for we were never free from the pests after
that.  All the belts and powders people send out only seem to fatten
them--by the way, gas doesn't kill them either; I think they must have
gas helmets.  The day was spent in inspection, and the paymaster came
and gave us our first pay in France, fifty francs; that night we were
allowed downtown, and we made our first acquaintance with the French
estaminets or wine-shops; they are only allowed to sell light wines,
red and white, to the troops, and French beer.  Well, one might just as
well drink water.  Rust had been through the mill before and could
speak French pretty well, and was soon jabbering to the old
Frenchwoman, whose face became all smiles when she found he had been
wounded at Ypres; her husband had also been wounded there.  We wandered
in and out every place in the village till it was time to go back to
billets.  The next day we had to smarten up and get ready for the
Brigadier-General, who was going to inspect us.  Brigadier-General
Ketchen was his name, and instead of a formal inspection he rode up,
dismounted, came into the orchard where we were all lined up and said,
"Dismiss the men, Major."  The Major did so and the Brigadier then
spoke to us: "Gather round, boys, I want to have a little talk with
you.  You've been under my command about nine months now, and I've
always been proud of you, and now you are going up the line, and I want
to say this to you: Don't go up with any idea that you are going to be
killed--we want you all to take care of yourselves and not expose
yourselves recklessly--never mind if Bill bets Harry that he can stick
his head over without being hit, for if he loses he can't pay.  And
remember a dead man is no use to us, we want you alive, and when we
want you to put your heads up, we'll tell you!  And I've no doubt that
you will only be too eager.  Now, your Colonel and myself have been in
the trenches, where you are going, and you are relieving a regiment
that has a name second to none out here; and I want you to have the
same kind of a name.  The food is fine--in fact, we were surprised to
see so much and of such good quality in the front line.  Above all, I
want you to trust your officers as I trust them, and I'm sure they
trust you.  If at any time you think you are suffering any injustice,
don't talk and grumble amongst yourselves, but let's hear about it, and
if we can remedy it that's what we want to do.  Now, I suppose this
will be the last chance I have of talking to you before you go in the
trenches, and I don't think there is much more to say.  We have a long
hike ahead of us tomorrow, and you will march through a town where
corps headquarters are, and thousands of soldiers will be there, and I
want you to show, by your marching and march discipline, that as
soldiers and fighting men Canadians are second to none.  That's all,
boys!"  We thought quite a lot of his speech and the simple way in
which it was delivered, and we got to discussing things and sharpening
our bayonets and doing a lot more fool things.  The place where we were
had been occupied by Germans early in the war, a Uhlan patrol having
stayed there, and the Frenchman showed a Uhlan lance and scars on the
doors and sides of the barn where fragments of shell had struck when
they had been chased out.  The next day we formed up bright and early,
and away we marched.  We had not gone far when every neck was craned
up, watching some little black and white dots in the sky.  I asked Rust
what it was.  "Oh, anti-aircraft guns shooting at an aeroplane," said
he.  We strained our eyes, but it was a long way off and high up, and
we couldn't see the aeroplane.  Later on we saw what looked like big
sausages up in the sky.  They were the big observation balloons, and so
we kept on, something new and interesting all the time.  We passed lots
of troops out in their rest billets; muddy and dirty some of them
looked; they watched us in amused contempt as we swung proudly by, as
much as to say, "Wait till you've been through what we have, you won't
look so smart."  We soon came to B----, and with the regimental band at
our head playing, "Pack all your troubles in your old kit-bag" we
marched through in great shape.  At sundown we reached camp, tired, all
in, but still interested.  We were quartered in huts close to an old
ruined town, and we were within shell fire.  Directly we had supper we
were outside watching the shells burst about a mile away; I don't think
we ever thought of Fritz shelling us.  Aeroplanes were flying overhead
and our guns were keeping up an incessant roar, but it seemed more on
our right; afterwards we knew that it was the big bombardment before
the Battle of Loos.  We all slept well that night and were up early the
next morning.  We lounged around all day, and a party of officers and
N.C.O.'s went to look over the trenches we were going in.  Just at
nightfall it started to rain, a cold wet drizzling rain, and when we
fell in, it looked as if we were in for a wetting, and we were.  We
were carrying our packs, and as we started off we were all feeling
fine, and if it hadn't been for the rain we wouldn't have minded.  I
often laugh when I think of that march; we were miles away from any
Germans when we started, yet we spoke in whispers,--of course we didn't
know any better then,--and whenever a flare went up we stopped, then
went on again.  We could see where the trenches were as flares were
continually going up, lighting up things for a while and then dying
out.  At last we met some men from the battalion that we were going to
relieve, and they acted as guides; past tumble-down houses, along roads
full of holes, in and out of mudholes.  We were very careful at first,
but we might just as well have walked through the lot, for we were all
mud to our knees when we got in.  We at last entered the communicating
trenches and we followed each other, cracking a joke now and again to
keep our spirits up; every little while whiz! would go a bullet
overhead and we ducked our nuts--we were perfectly safe if we had only
known.  We passed some Highlanders (Canadians); I suppose they must
have been amused at us, as we were all eager to know where the Germans
were--I think we had an idea that we were going into a bayonet charge
every morning before breakfast.  Soon we came to a place where the
trench jogged in and out, and in every jog were men standing up and
looking across into the blackness; we were in the front line.  After
much confusion we at last relieved the others.  Listening-posts had to
be placed and machine guns manned and lots of other things done.  We
soon found out that one could look over at night and be comparatively
safe; there was always a certain amount of rifle fire, but one can't
aim at night and the bullets mostly go high.  At last day dawned, and
we were quite surprised to find that nothing had happened; Scottie and
I had our breakfast,--the cook cooked it, and it was distributed in the
trench,--then we were put on sentry to watch through the periscope,
while the rest had a sleep.  We were sitting there talking things over
when we heard a roaring noise overhead, and a bing-bang! in the town
which lay behind our trenches.  We thought it was aeroplanes dropping
bombs, and Scottie and I looked for them but we couldn't see anything.
At last an officer came along and we asked him.  "Oh yes," said he,
"those are German shells."  Well, after a few days in the trenches we
went back to a place called L---- for a rest, or rather we were in
reserve.  We were now in what was known as the Kemmel Shelters; here we
turned night into day--we slept or did nothing in the daytime, but at
night we worked like bees--we were busy on fatigue parties carrying up
ammunition and provisions to the front lines.  Now, don't run off with
the idea that this is a bomb-proof job; Fritzie knows all about the
supplies that must be brought up, and you can bet your sweet life that
he takes a delight in picking off rationing parties, and such-like.
Every night our supports were heavily shelled; every road leading to
the lines had a battery trained on it and every little while it was
swept by shrapnel.  We gradually got used to the danger, and if they
started to shell the road we were on we would flop into a ditch or
shell hole till the storm had passed.  Speaking of this reminds me of
something that happened in that first week.  A party of us were
carrying coke to the front line, and we had two sacks each; I had mine
tied together and hung around my neck (the way I wore my red mittens
when I was a youngster).  We walked single file, and the boy ahead
called back, "Shell hole, keep to the right," but it was too late for
me, one foot had gone in and the weight of the coke made me lose my
balance, so in I plunged head first; there was four feet of water in
that hole, to say nothing of the soft juicy mud at the bottom, and I
gurgled and gasped and was almost drowned before I could free myself
from the coke.  Finally I struggled out, and without waiting to recover
my cargo I made a bee-line for my billet--the boys were fairly killing
themselves laughing, and I don't blame them _now_, for I must have been
a pretty-looking bird; I was plastered from head to foot with mud, and
dirty water streamed over my beautiful features.  Well, after a week of
this night duty we were sent eight miles back to "Rest Billets"--here
we got a bath--which I assure you was very welcome--also some clean
clothes, but we didn't succeed in shaking our friends the
"cooties";--like the poor, they were always with us.  While on rest we
were quartered in some frame huts, and these extended for a quarter of
a mile on either side of the road.  Between the huts and the road there
was an immense ditch, and this usually contained a couple of feet of
muddy water; the boys had planks leading from their huts to the road.
One night one of the boys came home loaded and he attempted to cross
one of these planks--in the darkness he missed his footing and _flop_!
he went into the water; he found himself sitting in about two feet of
slushy mud and he put down his hands to push himself up, but the mud
was sticky and he only succeeded in going in deeper.  We heard him
calling for help, and when we got to him only his head and toes were
above water; the air around looked very blue, but I don't believe the
Recording Angel put down everything he said.  He looked so funny we
could hardly help him for laughing.

Well, our week's rest was over all too soon for us, and we were sent
back to the front lines.  This was the routine that we followed that
winter; one week in the trenches, one at the supports, and one on rest.
We had been up to the trenches three times before we had our first
brush with Fritzie; the Battle of Loos was being fought to the
southward, but things had been comparatively quiet with us.  However,
one evening when we were "standing to," just at sunset, suddenly the
ground that we were standing on began to rock--we pitched too and fro
like drunken men--and farther down the trench the earth opened and a
flame of fire shot up into the air.  It looked more like a volcano in
eruption than anything else, and we couldn't imagine what was
happening.  Someone yelled, "The Germans are coming!"; but our officer
said, "Don't be frightened, boys; a mine has been exploded."  The
German artillery then opened up a terrific bombardment, and they were
answered by our guns, and for about an hour it certainly seemed as if
hell had been let loose.  We were afraid to take shelter in our
dugouts, for we thought that Fritzie might come over any moment, and
sure enough, as soon as their gun fire slackened, we saw them coming.
It was an exciting moment when we got our first sight of them, and I
know I trembled from head to foot; but we opened fire on them and as
soon as I began shooting, all fear left me--they never got farther than
their own wire entanglements--the rapid fire from our rifles and the
support of our guns was too much for them.  No doubt they expected to
find us all dead after the explosion and the shelling they had given
us, but we showed them that we were still very much alive.  We "stood
to" all that night, but nothing further happened.  Just at dawn I
peeped over the parapet, and it looked as though some one had been
hanging out a wash; their wire entanglements were full of German
uniforms.  Of course we were not allowed to leave our post during the
night in case of another attack, but when morning came we looked around
to see what damage the mine had done; we found that about fifty of our
brave boys were either killed or wounded--this was the first break in
our ranks, and it made us feel very sore--you could put a good-sized
house in the crater made by the explosion, and it was to occupy this
that the Germans had come over.  The crater was immediately organized
as a listening-post and ever afterwards it was known as the "Glory
Hole."  It was always the hottest part of our trench, and many a night
I spent in it.  The German trench was only thirty yards away, and they
could lob bombs in on top of us.  To improve matters, old "Glory"
always contained at least two feet of water, and on a cold rainy night
it was "some job" standing at listening-post, two hours at a stretch,
up to the knees in water.  When relieved, you had four hours off, and
you would huddle up on the firing-step with your feet still in the
water, and either smoke or try to get a little sleep.  But, often it
rained, snowed, and froze all in the same night, and I have had my
clothes frozen so stiff that in the morning I could scarcely move.

But, to come back to our story.  Next morning the killed and wounded
were taken back of the lines, and things went on as before, only now we
did not feel nearly so comfortable, knowing that at any moment the
earth might open and up we would go.  We were in the trenches one day
when _shuz-z-z-shiz-bang_! the dirt flew, not far from us, but we
couldn't see what had done it.  Later we heard the same noise, and
coming tumbling through the air was something that looked like a big
black sausage; the moment it struck the ground it exploded with an
awful concussion, and dirt and sandbags flew.  It was a big trench
mortar, and we soon found that if you saw it in time you could dodge
it.  Fritzie had a special spite at the "Glory Hole," and every little
while he would strafe it.  About this time we received our first supply
of trench mortars, and I assure you we enjoyed using them.  They were
big round balls weighing about sixty pounds, and they looked something
like the English plum pudding.  We called them "Plum Puddin's."  I
don't know what Fritzie called them, but he got them whether he called
them or not.  They had long steel handles and were easily thrown; no
doubt the Germans were just as busy dodging ours as we were getting out
of the way of theirs.

For the next couple of months nothing of any importance happened, and
all we seemed to do was fill sandbags with mud, dig new trenches, clean
out old ones, and wade through mud; and such mud! so many men wading
through it worked it up and made it like glue--in some places it was up
to the waist and many a man got stuck and had to wait till some one
came along and pulled him out--through it all our little bunch stuck
together and had lots of fun laughing at each other's misfortunes.  We
were usually on the same working parties and listening-posts; working
on the latter gave us eyes like cats, though I can tell you that it is
no fun staring out into "No Man's Land" (the space between the German
lines and ours) for hours at a time, not daring to move or speak.  We
had a wire with us connected with the trench, for a listening-post is
always an advanced position, and we used a code of signals.  One pull
meant "Send up a flare, we want to have a good look around," two pulls
"All's well," three "Hostile patrol is out in No Man's Land," and if we
threw the bomb that we always carried it meant that the Germans were
coming and it gave a general alarm.  We had only had the one brush with
Fritzie, and the discomforts of the trenches began to get on our
nerves; we would much rather have been mixed up in the real fighting.
Of course when we were off on rest we had clean clothes, better grub,
and our letters and parcels from home; coming up to Christmas the
latter became more numerous, and we usually found a bunch waiting for
us.  We were just like one big family, and the boys who got parcels
shared up with those who hadn't any; Bob would pick up Tommy's parcel,
look at the name, and say, "_We've_ got a parcel."

Then came our first Christmas in the trenches, or rather in France.  We
were out at the support billets on Christmas Day, and after working all
night we were much disgusted when our Sergeant came in where we were
sleeping and told us we had to go up to the lines with some supplies.
However, they gave us an issue of rum, and we started out.  We had made
our trip and were on the road back when a sniper caught sight of us.
There was water in the communication trench, and my chum and I got out
and walked on top; pretty soon a bullet passed between us but we did
not pay any attention, we thought it must be an accident, but a few
seconds later, another hit just ahead of us and we realized that we
were the "centre of attraction," so we made a bound for the trench;
just as we lit, another bullet struck just behind us, so we came pretty
near getting a Christmas box from Fritz.  We found that we had to take
over the trenches that night, so there was not much fuss made over our
Christmas dinner, but we had a little extra spread.

However, when New Year's came we were at rest billet, and our beloved
Colonel had planned a big dinner for us.  It was served in an old
schoolhouse and we had roast turkey, plum pudding, and almost
everything you could mention, and the Colonel himself came in and
carved the turkey for us.  All that week on rest we had a glorious
time, our parcels had arrived from home and every one was feeling happy.

Nothing of any importance happened in the next few weeks, things were
pretty quiet on the line; of course it was raining most of the time and
we were up to our knees in mud and water.  We were four months without
seeing the sun, and we were beginning to think that Fritzie had gotten
his range and blown him out.  Then too we were crawling with vermin,
and even when we got a clean outfit of clothes in a few hours they
would be just as bad as ever.  Being wet all the time, and having to
put up with the discomfort of vermin and rats, were harder on us than
the dangers of actual fighting.  The part of the line where we were had
superior artillery positions and observation posts, and any time
Fritzie opened up, our artillery soon silenced him.  It used to be a
case of "You let me alone, and I'll let you alone."  The trenches were
in awful shape in spite of the continuous working parties, each rain
made them a little worse.  We used to get our rum every morning, and I
want to say a word to those at home who say it should be stopped.  I
would like to make them lie out in a wet mudhole all night, come in
blue and cold and hardly able to stand, not knowing whether they had
feet or lumps of ice attached to their legs, and see whether or not
they would want something to warm them up--I think we would all have
been dead if it hadn't been for the rum that winter.  You see, you are
"all in" after a night in the open, and all you want to do is to sleep,
so you crawl into the nearest dugout and lie down; now, the rum just
keeps the blood circulating and the body warm while you are sleeping,
so that when you waken you have not caught the chill that otherwise yon
would have done, for those dugouts of ours were anything but cozy and
comfortable.  They were really only little huts in the trench, each one
large enough for two or three men.  They were built up with sandbags
and had a piece of corrugated iron over the top; for the floor there
was usually two or three inches of wet mud.  I assure you it was cold
comfort, and we were not allowed to lie in peace even here--a rat would
run over your face, or crawl over your body to see if there was
anything eatable in your pockets.  Every bit of eats about us had to be
securely fastened up in our mess tins to save it from these pests.  I
remember one morning I came in from sentry duty, and after having
breakfast I lay down in a dugout; we were given enough bread ration in
the morning to last us all day, and what was over from my breakfast I
put in my mess tin, but I had lost the cover of my tin, so I hung it up
thinking it would be safe from the rats.  Uncle Sam was sleeping when I
came in, and I lay down beside him.  I was enjoying a cigarette when
all at once I saw a rat heading for my tin; I didn't want to get up to
chase him away, so I reached over and brought up my rifle--there was
scarcely room to use it in the dugout, but just as the rat reached my
tin I fired.  Uncle Sam leaped to his feet, scared half out of his
wits; he was sure that a shell had struck our dugout.  When he saw what
I had done, he said, "Why in hell don't you take the brutes out when
you want to shoot them, and not be making a mess here?"  There was only
about twelve inches of slush in the dugout at the time.  But our
favourite method of killing this loathsome animal was to fix our
bayonet and, sticking a bit of meat on the end of it, put our rifle
over the parapet; then when Mr. Rat came along and nibbled at the meat,
we would pull the trigger and the rat would make a hurried exit out of
this world--of course we could only do this at night.

During the day our favourite pastime was getting up hot lunches and
serving afternoon tea, and most of the soldiers became expert at this.
Our cookstove consisted of an old bully-beef can with holes punched in
it.  In the bottom of this can we placed several small pieces of gunny
sack, and on top of this we put several pieces of trench candles.  When
the candle melted and ran down over the sacking it produced a good
steady blaze and it gave out considerable heat--best of all, it didn't
make any smoke, for of course smoke in the front line would be apt to
draw shell fire.  Over our fire we could boil the full of our mess tin
of water and make our tea--also, we could warm up our rations in this
way, and meat and vegetables tasted a lot better when they were hot.
We also carried Oxo cubes and prepared coffee so we could have a
nourishing drink at any time.

Some time on in February preparations were made for a raid on the
German trenches.  Officers and men consulted together, and the men in
charge were busy drawing up plans and perfecting arrangements; we were
very much excited over it, and every one hoped that they would be among
the fortunate ones chosen to take part in the scrap.  The 29th
Battalion was holding the line on our right, and they were coming in
with us on this.  Finally the plans were given out; the raid was to
cover about fifteen hundred yards of the enemy trench and the battalion
scouts and bombers were the ones chosen to go over.  The same number of
men went from the 29th, and the trench mortars of each battalion
protected the flanks of the attacking party and prevented the Germans
in the other parts of the trench coming to the assistance of those
attacked.  Also, a party of bombers were stationed in the "Glory Hole"
ready to act as reinforcements if they were needed--I was one of the
latter bunch, and oh how I longed for the signal that would give me a
chance to share in the fun!

The attack was planned for 3 A.M.  At the sound of a whistle they were
to go over the top, enter the enemy trenches, do all the harm they
could, and when they heard the second whistle come back, bringing as
many prisoners as they possibly could.  But before they went out, two
men, Conlin and another chap, stole quietly out and cut the enemy's
wire entanglements--they lay there for hours right under the noses of
the Germans cutting a gap for our boys to go through--I assure you it
was ticklish work; the success of the whole enterprise depended on
their skilful, silent work.  The slightest noise, cough, or sneeze,
would mean their own death and the failure of our plans, but nothing
happened and they had everything ready at the appointed time.

The boys who were going over had prepared for it as they would for a
vaudeville; they all had their faces blackened so they could know one
another in the dark, and they were all allowed to arm themselves in any
way they wished.  Some carried revolvers, others the handles of our
entrenching tools (these had small iron cog wheels at one end and they
made an excellent shillalah), a few had bombs, and one of the boys,
Macpherson was his name, armed himself with the cook's meat axe.

Finally the long looked for moment arrived--the whistle blew and over
they went--Lieutenant MacIntyre was in charge of the 28th boys.  The
wire cutters were the closest and they reached the trenches first--poor
Conlin was shot as soon as he showed himself on the edge of the
parapet, but MacIntyre got the man who shot him and they fell together.
A little farther along the trench Macpherson was lying on the edge of
the parapet just ready to jump in when a German came running along the
trench shouting "Alarm!  Alarm!"  Mac leaned over, grabbed him by the
shoulder, and said, "Here, sonny, that's a hell of a noise you are
making," and with that he brought his meat ax down on his head.  The
boys were all in now, clearing up the Huns in great shape, and when the
whistle sounded the few that were alive were brought back as prisoners.

While this was going on in the German trenches there was great
excitement in our own.  Our trench mortar was being worked
energetically to keep back any German reinforcements.  Lieutenant
"Spud" Murphy was in charge of this, and his antics kept us all in
roars of laughter--he jumped around and "rooted" for those bombs as
though they were his favourite players in the National League.  When
one went over, he would, like the rest of us, jump up on the
firing-step to see it light.  When it lit fairly in the German trench
he would dance around the gunner shouting, "That's a good one!"
"That's the way to put them over!"  "Now for another beauty! give them

Well, our raid was a great success, and it was the biggest thing of the
kind that had been attempted up to that time.  We had a few casualties;
Conlin was a great pal of mine, and I missed him the most.  Some of our
boys were decorated; Conlin, our dead hero, won the D. C. M., and the
medal was sent to his people.  Lieutenant MacIntyre was awarded the D.
S. O., and "Darky" Andrews, who had taken a leading part, also received
the D. C. M.

One of the prisoners captured was an under officer, and as he was
wounded he was taken to the nearest dressing-station; while his wound
was being looked after, an interpreter was talking to him, and the
German said triumphantly, "Well, you have brought me here, but you
cannot send me over to England."  "Oh, indeed!--and why not?" asked the
interpreter.  "Because Germany controls the water," said our prisoner
proudly.  "No troops can be brought from England now."  "Is that so?"
said our interpreter.  "Well, sonny, you will find yourself in England
by this time tomorrow, however you get there," and he did.

Shortly after this we had several casualties in Platoon 10--two or
three were killed, and several wounded and got their "Blighty."  Dyer
was caught by a sniper, and Tucker was hit in the leg by a machine gun
bullet.  Quite a few had been wounded in the company and one or two
killed, but No. 10 was lucky--we got some reinforcements and to No. 10
came McMurchie, "Fat," and McKone.  McMurchie was a little Irishman
about five feet tall with a great taste for rum and he didn't know what
fear meant.  He had a twin brother in another company and they were
just like two peas in a pod; only his brother was quiet.  Mac would go
and line up in his brother's company when rum was being issued and draw
his brother's issue, then come back to "C" company and get his own
ration, and then line up again and tell the Sergeant-Major that he had
given his issue to his brother.  He was a proper little devil.  One day
we were out on rest and Mac had been away all the day before, and this
day we were wondering where he had gone, when, lo and behold, into the
line of huts marched McMurchie leading a rooster with a piece of string
around its neck--he had swiped it off some Frenchwoman--whether he ever
took it back I don't know, perhaps the cooks could tell--Mac was pretty
friendly with the cooks.  He was always getting into trouble when out
of the line, but when in the trenches he was worth a dozen men, not to
work, but his disregard for all danger made one's hair stand on end.
He would do everything one was supposed not to do.  He would shave in
the front line when Fritz was shelling the trench and everybody else
was under cover.  He had a big rifle; I don't know where he got it, but
it was bigger in the butt than most, and the bore was all worn out; it
had been fired so much that when he used to fire it the report was
deafening; he used to call it "Big Lizzie."  When he was shaving and a
shell came close and threw dirt all over him, he would say, "All right,
Fritz, wait till I get through, I'll get Big Lizzie after you," and
he'd stand up and fire five rounds rapid over at Fritz in broad
daylight.  Why he didn't get killed was a marvel--when shrapnel was
bursting (shrapnel shells are full of lead pellets and when they burst
they scatter forward about a hundred yards) he would look at them
straight in the face and remark, "That's right, Fritz, lengthen them
out a bit."  He was out on a working party one day behind the trench,
filling sandbags, and there were one or two reinforcements with him,
when Fritz started slinging some "Whiz-bangs" over (these are small
shells about fifteen pounds full of shrapnel, but they come with an
awful speed, that's why they call them "Whiz-bangs," you hear the whiz
just about the same time that you hear the bang); well, Fritz was
sending quite a few over; I guess he had spotted the party and the new
men were kind of nervous.  "Aw," says Mac, as he kept on working,
"don't bother about those things, there's nothing to 'em but wind and
noise--Ow!" and he jumped about a foot as a piece of shrapnel took him
in the leg.  Mac was absent for awhile down at the Casualty Clearing
Station and had his leg fixed up; it wasn't bad.  After he had been
there awhile the Sergeant asked him to wash the floor; Mac refused, "Do
you think I came out here to scrub floors?" says he; "I'm a fighting
man."  The Sergeant was going to have him pinched, but while he was
away Mac sneaked out and came back to the battalion, absolutely
refusing to go back, and Colonel Embury, our Colonel, who was a good
sport, smoothed matters over and Mac stayed with the boys, and soon was
as "right as rain"--he was too tough to hurt.  I will leave him for
awhile--it would take a book to describe all his tricks--and we will go
on to "Fat," who came about the same time.  Fat was a big fat
good-natured kid, and he and Bink got quite chummy; they were both
farmers before the war.  Fat had a great dislike for machine gun
fire--most of us had too, but Fat was the worst; he also had a comical
little laugh--"Tee hee, tee hee" he would go.  We used to go out at
night stringing wire in "No Man's Land"; every now and again Fritz
would sweep the wire with machine gun fire, and directly he started
sweeping we would be down like a flash, and wait till Fritz quit.  Fat
would be in a shell hole almost as soon as the first shot was fired,
and would laugh at Bink looking for a hole to hide in.  Bink would get
sore; all you could hear was the rat-tat-tat of the machine gun and in
between "Tee hee, tee hee" from Fat as he lay and watched Bink crawling
around looking for a hole.  Some of the boys would lie in the hole and
wave their legs in the air hoping to get a bullet through them so that
they could get back to "Blighty," but they were never lucky enough.  We
would always lose one or two men on these wiring parties, but we had
very few killed and No. 10's luck still held good.  By the way perhaps
you would like to know why we call England "Blighty"--it seems that it
comes from two Hindoo words meaning "My home," and as there were a lot
of Indian soldiers out in France at the beginning of the war and they
were with the regular English troops, I suppose it was passed along
that way--to get a "Blighty" means to get a wound that takes you to
"Blighty."  To say that a man has got a "Belgique" means that he is
dead.  The boys have different sayings for everything, and they sound
funny unless you know what they mean.  "Buckshee" the English troops
call anything that you might have to spare, such as "Have you a
buckshee razor?" meaning "Have you a spare razor?"  The word "buckshee"
comes from the Hindoo word "Backsheesh."  Well, to continue, the other
boy to come to No. 10 was a freak; how the devil he ever got in the
Army beats me.  He was deaf, and when you spoke to him you had to
holler; also, he had a cleft palate so you could hardly understand him
when he spoke, but he was a good man in the line and when he was on
sentry, he was up on the fire-step looking over all the time; only at
night of course.  He used to pack along a box of ammunition every night
and do his best to fire the lot before morning.  When the scouts were
out as they used to be every night, patrolling "No Man's Land," the
word was passed along in the trench and we would either stop firing or
fire high; desultory fire was always kept up all night.  Well, we could
never make McKone understand that the scouts were out; and he would
keep on blazing away--at last the scouts made a kick and we stopped him
firing when they were out--but he was awfully sore.  "What am I here
for?--I'm not a dummy," said he.  One night he had been blazing away
and had made Fritz sore, and Fritz had turned about three machine guns
on the spot where Mac was.  The bullets were coming around him like
bees around a hive, but he couldn't hear them.  At last he heard
something; Corporal Banks was coming along the trench at the time, and
Mac stopped him.  "Say, Corporal, there's an aeroplane up there
somewhere," and he gazed up into the sky.  "Come down, you fool, that's
machine gun fire," says Banks.  We used to have lots of fun "chipping"
him, but all he'd reply was "Aw, you go to h----."  One night Bink and
Bob were out on "a covering" party--their job was to take their rifle
and bomb and lie out in front of our men as they were putting out wire
in "No Man's Land,"--the idea is to prevent the party from being
surprised by the Germans.  It was a wet cold night, and so the officer
gave them a drink of rum before they went; in fact, they asked him for
it.  Well, they crawled out and lay down, and I guess the rum gave them
some "Dutch" courage, for after the boys had finished their wiring and
gone back to the trench, Bink and Bob thought it would be a good scheme
to crawl to the German lines and throw their bombs in.  So forward they
crawled through his wire till they got up close and heard the Fritzies
jabbering; the rum had about worked off by this time, and instead of
throwing their bombs, they got cold feet and crawled silently back to
our lines--I guess it's as well they did, or I wouldn't have their
story to tell--they often laughed about it afterwards.

Shortly after this we moved off that front and we took over some
trenches from the Imperial troops in the Ypres salient.  It was just
about the time that the Imperial troops took back the "International"
trench to the right of the "Bluff," and it was a much hotter place than
the one we were in before; we had to be right on the alert all the
time.  We were in there a short time and back we went to M---- for a
rest, and in the meantime the Battle of St. Éloi commenced--it started
with the Northumberland Fusiliers ("Fighting Fifth," as they were
called) blowing up some mines under the enemy lines and occupying the
craters and a trench--they were then relieved by the "Sixth Brigade,
Canadians."  It was all quiet for awhile and then the storm broke; all
the German artillery for miles was concentrated on this front of about
a thousand yards, and the men were literally blown out of their
positions.  It poured rain and our aeroplanes were unable to take
observations, with the result that, where at first our artillery was
firing too far, when they shortened up, they shelled our own men.  The
Germans also concentrated heavy trench mortars on the craters, and
after blowing the men to pieces all day, they attacked at night.  What
men were left died where they stood.  All the bottoms of the craters
were just a pool of thin mud, and when our boys were wounded they just
slid down the sides of the craters and perished in the pool of mud at
the bottom.  Some of the craters were lost, and our relieving parties,
going in at night to relieve, what they thought were our men, found the
Germans in possession and bomb-fights ensued.  In the meantime the
enemy artillery had a barrage across behind the craters making it
almost impossible for men to get through alive.  The 28th were hurried
up and after spending a night in "Dickebush" we were taken up to
"Scottish" Wood in support.  Woodrow, Webster, Corporal Grimsdale, and
all the company bombers were sent out from there, and they held one of
the craters.  After hanging on the lip of the crater all day under a
constant rain of "sausages" (one hundred pounds of high explosives in
each) they tried to dig in and consolidate, but they had lost half
their number, and then the Germans attacked them from all sides.  They
worked their rifles as long as they could, but they were clogged with
mud; and then fought them hand to hand--those that fell never rose
again--slipping down into that horrible mess at the bottom.  Webster
saw Woodrow fall, and he and Grimsdale fought their way out; Grim
happened to find his way to our lines, but Webster got lost and for
twenty-four hours, that night and the next day, he lay out there; in
the daytime he had to lie still and at night he couldn't find which
line was ours; and machine guns were spitting all ways.  At last he
crawled near our trench and heard the boys talking, and he came in; it
was two days after when I saw him--five days before he had been a
happy, daredevil sort of a boy--now he looked like a corpse with living
eyes of coal.  He never got over it, and after the Battle of Hooge was
invalided home, a complete wreck.  While all this was going on, "C"
Company was brought from "Scottish" Wood to the communicating trench,
and where we entered the trench was crowded with men, one bunch trying
to get up, another stream of wounded coming down.  As fast as men tried
to get through the barrage, they were wiped out, and at last the
officers decided to lose no more.  Fritz started to shell the trench we
were in, and a lot of the boys were hit; our officer took us out in the
open, and we lay there while the trench was being shelled--after
staying there twenty-four hours we were relieved--but the struggle for
the craters still went on; sometimes our fellows holding them, and
sometimes Fritz.  At last the weather brightened, allowing us to get
observation, and our artillery was able to work accurately; then the
battle died down, leaving two craters in the Germans' hands, two in
ours, and the rest a sort of "No Man's Land," in which constant
fighting took place for months; sometimes quiet, but flaring up again
whenever either side tried to take and hold the remaining craters.
That was the Battle of St. Éloi as nearly as I can give it.  It was the
first big scrap we took part in, and although it wasn't a victory,
nobody knows, but those who were there, how near we were to disaster,
and only individual pluck kept the Germans back; for after the barrage
went on, Headquarters could not get news of how things were going.
Several officers were sent up, but were either killed or wounded trying
to get through the barrage.  Those who got through stayed to help those
that were there fighting, as it was almost impossible to get back.  It
was there that the Sixth Brigade got the name "The Iron Sixth."  While
the company I was in didn't do anything spectacular, I can tell you it
was all we wanted, lying out there in the mud and wet, expecting any
moment to see the Germans advancing, and all the time shells coming
like hail.  Some of the companies of the 28th lost heavily--I think we
were the luckiest; but when the battalion went back to rest billets a
lot of boys' faces were missing that we had been familiar with for

Now that heavy fighting had commenced we never knew where we would be
for more than a day at a time--we stayed in the lines till there was
someone ready to relieve us, whether it was two days or ten--then we
went direct to rest billets, and we remained there till we were needed
again in the front lines.  The billets were not bomb-proof, by any
means.  They were well within range of the big guns, but after the
heavy shelling and bombing in the front lines they seemed like heaven.
We had been out there two or three days when little Mac came to me and
said, "Say, kid, I'm on the track of a bomb-proof job."  I said, "What
makes you think that?"  "Well," said he, "just as I came down the line
I overheard the old Sergeant telling another guy about it, and if we
can get on, will you come?"  I said, "You mutt, it all depends on what
it is."  "Oh, I thought I told you," says Mac, "they are calling for
men to go to the tunnellers."  "Nothing doing for this child!"  "Now,
look here," says Mac, "you've only got to die once, and you might
better be buried in a sap than be blown to hell by a big shell, there
would be more of you left for your friends, anyway, besides a change is
as good as a rest, and as there seems to be small chance of us getting
any rest, we might just as well keep this chance."  So I said, "All
right, we can try it for a week, and then if we don't like being
buried, we can come back to life; that's more than most people can do";
so away went Mac to tell the Sergeant that we would go.  He said,
"Well, I'm sorry to lose you boys, but I don't blame you for wanting to
get away from what we have been going through lately, and any time you
want to come back to the old boys we will only be too glad to have
you."  He told us to report to a branch of the Royal Engineers known as
the 250th Tunnelling Company.  They were located in the Kemmil dugouts,
so away Mac and I went to old Kemmil, where we had been all the
previous winter.

When we reached the line of dugouts we stuck our head into one and
asked where we would find the officer in charge.  A voice from a far
corner called out, "_Oui_, the bleeder is in the end dugout, old cock!"
We found the officer's dugout without any trouble and reported for
duty.  He told us that we would not be needed till night, and that we
had better go and find a dugout to rest in, so away we went back to the
place where we had inquired for Headquarters.  It was our first brush
up against the English Tommy, and we were anxious to see more of him.
We went into the dugout and found about a dozen men lying around, some
of them rolled in their blankets trying to sleep, and others smoking.
I went over beside the chap who had answered my first question, and
after telling him who I was and what I was there for, he made room for
me and I sat down.  He was a funny-looking little chap about the build
of a wooden toothpick, but he looked as if he was made of steel wire.
We soon struck up a conversation, and his "Cockney" sure did sound
funny to me; he was one of the sappers, and when he found that I had
left the Infantry to join them he was disgusted.  "Well," said he, "you
are a bloomin' ass.  Why, blime me, mite, this here's the worst
bleedin' job in the Army; a man digs till the sweat rolls off, and all
he gets for it is a bleedin' shilling, and he has to give six-pence of
that to the old woman; blime, it doesn't leave ye enough for bacca, and
all the fellas think this is a bomb-proof job--why, blime, you dig and
sweat for days, and Fritz sends along a blinkin' torpedo and fills up
the tunnel, and there's all your hard work gone to 'ell, and you with
it too if you 'appen to be around," and believe me I found out that
most of what he told me was true, and sapping was no bomb-proof job.
Well, we sat around all day enjoying the conversation of our Cockney
friends.  I found that my new friend was nicknamed "Skinny," and during
the next few months he took a great liking to Mac and me, and he stuck
around with us most of the time.

That night at 8 o'clock the Sergeant in charge came around and detailed
eight of us to go up to the sap,--Mac, Skinny, and I were among those
chosen,--so we started off to a place known as "S. P. 13" (Strong Point
No. 13).  Skinny was in the lead, as he had been there before.  We went
through about a mile and a half of communicating trench, and there we
encountered three or four infantrymen bound for the front lines.  The
bullets were whizzing over our heads, and once in a while a shell
dropped near us, but nothing happened till we had to come up out of the
trench and cross an open space.  The infantrymen were in the lead, and
almost as soon as we struck the open one of them "got it" in the head.
Skinny was in front of me, and he stopped so suddenly that I said,
"What's wrong, Skinny?"  He said, "Blime, but he's got it; I wonder how
many blinkin' kids the poor devil's left."  The poor lad was killed
instantly and we picked him up and laid him on one side with his cap
over his face--the stretcher bearers would find him and carry him back
of the lines.  We continued on our way, and Skinny, paying no more
attention to flying bullets than he would to flies, led us to the sap
where we were to begin work.  At the entrance to this particular sap
was an immense shaft leading down 107 feet, and shooting out from this
shaft were two main tunnels--these tunnels were four feet high and
about three in width, and they ran under "No Man's Land" and past the
first line of German trenches, the object being to reach a small wood
and lay a mine under some pill-boxes that were causing us a lot of
trouble.  These pill-boxes were machine gun emplacements made of
concrete, and our heavy shells had no effect on them.  Our only chance
of getting them was to blow them up with a mine.  When I went in, there
was still quite a distance to go, for the wood lay behind the second
line of German trenches.

I was set to work on one of these tunnels, and using pick and shovel
seemed mighty hard at first; what made it harder to stand was the lack
of fresh air--there was no place for the air to get in excepting
through the main shaft, and that was about four hundred yards away.
Then too, we could never rest ourselves by standing upright, and the
constant bending of the back was torture until we got used to it.
However, our shift only lasted for eight hours, and then we went out on
rest for twenty-four hours, and our rest billets were three miles back,
so they were fairly quiet.  Altogether the work was a pleasant change
when our muscles got hardened to it; and there was always something
interesting turning up.  Of course the Germans had their tunnels too,
and they were trying to reach our lines.  Often we could hear each
other working and sometimes one party would send in a torpedo to block
the other's tunnel.  I remember the first one they sent us.  That day I
was working at the bottom of the shaft hitching sandbags to the rope by
which they were pulled to the top.  Skinny was coming down the ladder
in the shaft, and when he was about ten feet from the bottom, the
torpedo was fired.  It just missed our tunnel and the concussion was so
great that it gave us a great shaking up.  Poor Skinny lost his hold on
the ladder and fell into two feet of water.  I was scared stiff, for I
didn't know what had happened, but when I caught sight of Skinny
sitting in the water I just roared.  Skinny sat there with his head
above water making no attempt to move, but when I laughed he looked up
indignantly and said, "Blime, mite, you'd cackle if a fellar broke his
bleedin' neck," and then while I continued laughing he cursed the
Germans with every variety of oath to which he could lay his tongue,
vowing what he was going to do to get even, but all the time sitting
there in the water.  Finally he came to his senses, and jumping up
hurriedly he made a bee-line for the ladder and began to climb.  I
said, "Where the devil are you going to, Skinny?"  He called back: "Do
you think I'm such a bleedin' fool as to stay down here and get buried
alive?  I don't intend to be buried till I'm dead."  He urged me to go
with him, but I figured that the Germans would expect one torpedo to do
the trick and they wouldn't be likely to waste a second one, so instead
of going out I went back along the tunnel to see if any damage had been
done.  I found a little loose earth knocked down--that was all the harm
it did, except to give us a good scare.

Our work went steadily on, and gradually our backs got like iron and we
didn't mind the everlasting bending.  In our twenty-four hours at rest
billets we had lots of fun.  Mac and I were the only Canadians in the
bunch, and 'the' English Tommy used us "white."  About this time there
was great excitement over some German spies that were supposed to be in
our lines, and there was a reward offered of 20 pounds and fourteen
days' leave to any one who would succeed in capturing one of these
spies.  We were all warned to keep a sharp lookout for them, and our
own officers were forbidden to go around through the lines without an
escort.  Several spies were caught masquerading in our uniforms and of
course they were shot; a spy stands very little show of getting off if
once he is caught, and it is a brave man's job in France.  Of course we
have our men behind the German lines, and I don't suppose any one will
ever know all that our secret service has done for us there.

We were all keeping a sharp lookout, and one night one of the boys
caught a German trying to crawl through our front lines, he made him
prisoner, and maybe he wasn't elated over his capture, so he marched
him proudly down through the long line of trench to our Headquarters;
but, on getting there, imagine his surprise when his German prisoner
began to talk and joke with the officers; he was one of our own secret
service men and was just returning from a trip through the German
lines--he thought it was too good a joke to miss, so he let himself be
captured.  I had heard all this, and I made up my mind not to be
fooled, but one night I thought sure I had the real thing.  Mac,
Skinny, and I were coming off shift at 2 A.M., and in the communication
trench we met an officer without an escort.  We saluted as we passed,
and he said, "Good-night, boys."  Mac whispered, "I believe he's a
spy."  Skinny said, "Blime, I believe he is too."  We talked it over
about fifteen minutes and then we decided to follow him, so we gave
chase and caught up with him just outside a line of huts where there
was a sentry posted; when we came up he was talking and laughing with
the sentry, so we stood in the background and listened, and what do you
think--if that guy wasn't the officer in charge of the guard, so our
fourteen days' leave and our 20 pounds was all shot in the head--that
cured my spy catching.

When on rest we were billeted in some of the little villages behind the
lines, and we struck up quite an acquaintance with the French peasants
living there.  "Old Madame" was a particular friend of ours, and we got
to know her best because she made her living by serving lunches to the
soldiers; she had a nickname for each of us, and if any one was missing
she had to hear all about it.  Many a pleasant evening we spent in her
little home.  A bunch of us would go together, and we would take along
our mandolin, banjo, and mouth organ, and have a little concert; Madame
would sit there and smile, not understanding a word we said, but
enjoying seeing us having a good time--another thing, it was always
warm there, and that was something that our billets never were.

But we had a great time trying to get enough French so that we could
ask for what we wanted to eat and many laughable incidents occurred in
our struggles to make Madame understand.  For instance, one night
Skinny wanted eggs, and he tried in every way to make his wants known,
but Madame failed to get his meaning, and finally the boy got
desperate, so jumping up, he started to run around the room cackling
like a hen.  He got the eggs all right, and I think he earned them; but
it was so funny that we nearly rolled off our chairs laughing.

To make things better, a party of twenty-five Canadians came to the
tunnellers and we had some good old times together; but Mac and Skinny
were still my best pals; many's the prank we played together.  One of
our favourite ones was to work the officer in charge for an extra
ration of rum.  The British Tommy was given his ration of rum as soon
as he came up from the sap, but we Canadians had to wait for ours till
we reached our rest billets, and it was served to us there by one of
our own officers.  The only exception made was in favour of those who
had been working in a wet part of the sap; for instance, at the bottom
of the shaft there was often two feet of water, and at various places
along the tunnel where we had struck springs the water almost flooded
us out; it kept two pumps going all the time to make the place dry
enough to work in.  Well, the men on these pumps (two on each) and the
one at the shaft were served out with rubber boots and oilskins, and
these were the only Canadians who received their ration of rum from the
Imperial officer.  Usually one of our trio was chosen to work on either
of these wet jobs, and he would line up for his rum ration--after
getting it, he would hurry out and hand over his oilskins to one of us,
and we would slip them on and take our place in the line--after we had
been served we did the same trick, and usually the three of us
succeeded in getting our extra ration of rum.  Of course the officer
would catch on after awhile and would chase us out, but we worked it on
every new officer.  It wasn't that we cared so much for the rum, but it
was the fun of getting something that we were not supposed to have.  It
was the same with our money ration--we were only allowed fifteen francs
every two weeks while we were in France, and the rest of our pay was
_kept for us_ by the military.  Now, fifteen francs did not begin to
get us what we thought we needed, and many's the scheme we tried to get
at the balance.  Finally we hit on one that worked pretty well.  Mac
made over "so much a month" to the family of one of the English boys in
the 28th, they cashed the cheque and forwarded the money to their boy,
and he handed it over to Mac; we were having a "whale of a time" on his
extra money, and one day we were expecting our remittance from England.
Mac met some battalion boys who told him that Sergeant Banks had the
money for him; little Mac was on a carrying party that night when he
met the boys, and he hurried back to tell me the good news.  I was
working above the shaft, and Mac and I sat in the shelter of an old
wall, and with the bullets buzzing around us we planned how we would
spend that money.  Finally we thought we had lost enough time, so I
went back to work and Mac started down "Suicide Road" for another load
of sandbags and planks for the tunnel.  He had about a mile to go, and
the road he was on got its name from the fierce shelling that Fritzie
gave it every night.  If you have ever been out in a bad hailstorm you
can perhaps form some idea of how thick the bullets are when Fritzie
turns on his guns and sweeps a road.  Well, I had only been working an
hour or so underground when I heard some one at the top of the shaft
calling my name.  I answered and he said, "Come on up, Jack, I want
you."  I hurried up the ladder and found one of the 28th boys waiting
for me.  I said, "Hello! what's the matter, old chap?"  He said, "Jack,
little Mac's got it."  "Little Mac, oh no, not little Mac!" I cried.
"Why, he was here with me only a little while ago."  "Yes, I know," he
said; "he was on his way back with the first load when it got
him--still, he isn't badly hit, and he sure did act funny when he got
it.  This is how it happened: we were walking down the road with our
loads when Mac stopped suddenly and said, 'Boys, I believe I'm hit; I
felt a stinging pain go through my leg.'  He felt around and walked a
few steps, and said, 'No, I guess I'm all right.  But, gee, it was a
close call!'  He hadn't gone far when he felt something trickling down
his leg, and slipping his hand inside his trousers he moved it around
the spot where the pain had been, then he pulled it out and held it up;
it was covered with blood.  As soon as he saw the blood Mac grabbed his
leg and limped like everything.  He dropped his load right there and
made a bee-line for the dressing station.  As he hobbled down the road
he called, 'Good-bye, boys, it's Blighty for mine.'"  Of course I
laughed at what the boy told me of little Mac, but all the time I felt
an ache in my heart, for something told me I would never see my brave
little pal again, and I never did.  He did not get a "Blighty" after
all, but was sent to our base hospital at Le Havre.  When he came back
to the lines I was gone, and he went back to the battalion; he "went
west" from Vimy Ridge, where so many of our brave boys fell.

Well, I hunted up Skinny and told him about Mac, and when the shift was
over and we started off to our rest billets we both felt mighty blue;
if we had known that we were to be separated the very next day we would
have felt still worse.  But that's one thing that's good about the
Army--you never know what's coming, and after it has happened there is
no spare time for regrets.  When I said "Good-bye" to Skinny, he said,
"It's a bleedin' shime that you 'arve to go, mite.  Those bloomin'
'Eadquarter blokes doesn't know what they're doin' 'arf the time.  It's
blinkin' 'ard to lose both you and Mac, but 'up the line with the best
of luck,' old cock."  But I must explain why I had to go.  An order
came asking all Canadians who were working with the Royal Engineers
(which was an Imperial unit) to transfer at once to the Canadian
Engineers at Ypres.  This did not sound very good to us, as the Ypres
salient was known as a pretty hot place.  However, as military rules
say, "Obey first and complain afterwards," there was nothing for us to
do but go.  We were sorry, also, to leave before the completion of our
mine at Kemmil--but we heard afterwards that when it was set off it
turned the wood literally upside down.  When we arrived at Ypres we
found things very different to what they were at Kemmil--instead of
mine laying we were put into a protection sap; this was only twenty
feet down and consisted of a network of tunnels for the protection of
our own lines against the German sappers.  My first duty was on
"listening-post" in one of these tunnels, the hole where I was being
just large enough to lie in, and it seemed almost like being buried
alive.  Here I did not get my twenty-four hours' rest as at Kemmil, but
I worked on a six-hour shift and had only ten hours off; even then we
were not sent back to rest billets, but had to stay in the dugout at
the top of the shaft.  At the end of seven days we were supposed to be
sent back to rest billets, and another shift would take our place.
Fritzie had been unusually quiet since we came, and we began to think
that the stories we heard were greatly exaggerated.

However, on the morning of the seventh day we changed our minds.  We
had gone to work at eight o'clock feeling unusually good--we expected
to be relieved at seven that night, and we had been promised a seven
days' leave to Blighty, so I could hardly wait for the day to pass.
Instead of being put on "listening-post" this morning, the Corporal in
charge took me with him--we went down a long tunnel till we reached the
end, and the Corporal put a listening-tube to his ear; he listened a
few minutes, and then handed it to me and whispered, "Do you hear
anything?"  I said, "Yes, I hear some one shovelling."  He said, "I
heard them yesterday, and I think they are close enough for us to get
now, we will lay a torpedo for them here," so we got to work to dig a
place for our torpedo, and after working for half an hour or so our
candles went out.  Then we noticed that the number of shells falling
above us had greatly increased--we lit our candles again, but it was no
use--there seemed to be a terrific bombardment on and the concussion
was so great that we could not keep our lights going.  Fritzie was
certainly making up for lost time.  The Corporal said, "Well, Jack, we
might just as well go up and see what is doing," so we started back to
the shaft; our candles were out, so we had to grope our way along.  We
had not gone far when we heard some one calling for help.  Following
the sound, we came to a hunch of men belonging to the infantry; they
had come down for protection from the shell fire, and a shell had blown
in the entrance to their tunnel.  Not being used to the network of
tunnels, they were completely lost.  We guided them out to the main
shaft, and it was still intact, so they went up; then the Corporal
said, "I wonder if there are any more back there?"  I said, "I don't
know, but I think we had better have a look," so we went back and after
searching every tunnel and not finding any one, we decided to go out
ourselves, and we started back along the shaft.  We were feeling our
way along with the shells dropping overhead like hail, when all at once
two "Krupps" landed on the tunnel just over my head; there was a
terrific explosion, the props of the tunnel gave way, and in another
instant I found myself choked with dust and half buried under a pile of
dirt.  The Corporal was crawling along three or four yards ahead, and
in the darkness he could not see what had happened.  As soon as I could
get my breath I yelled, "Hey!  Corporal, come back."  He said, "What's
the matter?"  I said, "By golly!  I have half of Belgium on my back."
So he came back and pulled me out,---my back was badly strained, but
otherwise I was none the worse,--but we both realized now that things
up above must be getting pretty serious, and once more we started for
the shaft.  The Corporal was ahead, and he called out, "Say, Jack, we
are in the devil of a fix now!"  I said, "What's up?"  He said, "Those
confounded Boches have blown in the top of our sap-head."  This was a
serious matter, for it meant cutting off our supply of air as well as
our chance for escape--it would be bad enough to be killed in a fair
fight, but we didn't relish being buried alive; however, we would not
give up without a struggle, and we began searching the nearby tunnels
for a shovel.  In the darkness I heard some one moving, and I said,
"Who's there?"  A familiar voice said, "Who in hell do you think it
is?"  I said, "Nobby! is that you?  What the mischief are you doing?"
He said, "I'm looking for what you never can find when you need it, a
d---- shovel."  The lad was one of our tunnellers, and we were glad to
have his company and also his help in the "digging-out" process.  Not
finding a shovel, we commenced work with our hands--after we had been
working for half an hour Nobby grabbed me and whispered, "Do you see
those lights?"--I turned around, and there, about fifty yards away and
coming towards us, were about a dozen lights.  We talked it over with
the Corporal and decided they must be Germans who had broken through
the tunnel, so the Corporal said, "One of you boys stay here and dig;
and the other two will go back and stop them," but we made him stay,
and Nobby and I went to meet the Bodies.  There was a branch tunnel
about thirty yards away, and we hoped to waylay them there; we were
armed with revolvers and their lights made them good targets.  We
reached the branch tunnel just before they did, and we had a lively
little scrap with the first two--the others put out their lights when
they heard the pistol shots--anyway, they were several yards back and
they were in no hurry to get into the fun.  We lay there and waited for
them, and after things had been quiet for a few minutes they lit their
lights and came on--fortunately the tunnel was only wide enough for one
man, but all the same we were looking for a lively time--they were ten
yards away when there came an awful explosion; a shell had burst
directly over their heads.  All I remember was a blinding cloud of dust
and a gust of wind as our tunnel was blown in, and once more I was
buried.  We scrambled out and turned to look for our foes, but they had
received the full force of the blow and were safely buried; so we
thanked our lucky stars and went back to our digging.  When we reached
our Corporal, we found that he had already dug his way out into the
shaft.  We crawled out, and looking up we discovered three more boys at
the top of the shaft--these belonged to the machine gun crew who had
taken up their position there, but a heavy shell had demolished their
gun and buried the men--they were just digging themselves out when we
appeared, and we gave them quite a surprise.  One of them said when he
saw us, "Well, where the devil did you come from?"  I suppose he
thought that because we came from below we must have some connection
with his Satanic Majesty.  Well, we climbed up to where the boys were
and gave them a hand at the digging; finally we made a hole large
enough to let in a little air and then we all lay down and rested.  We
were almost dead for want of air, for we had been buried for four
hours, and we did not know what might await us once we got out.  After
we rested up a little, we finished our digging and crawled out.  We
found ourselves in a large shell hole, the former trench being blown
away.  The ground was being swept by machine guns and heavy shells, and
it was not healthy to rubber around very much.  There was an officer in
charge of the machine gun crew, and finally he found a spot where there
was a slight protection, and he took a look around and this is what he
saw; the line of trenches we had left there in the morning were
entirely blotted, and the ground, as far as he could see, was literally
riddled with shell holes.  Our boys had either been killed, wounded, or
taken prisoners, and our first and second lines were in the hands of
the Germans; however, their advance had been checked, and now, before
going any farther, let me explain that this is known now as the Third
Battle of Ypres, and the history is familiar to all.  It was here that
the 1st Division of Canadians made their heroic stand in 1915, just one
year previous.  But to come back to our present plight.  We were at a
loss to know what to do, for we had no means of knowing how far the
Germans had penetrated our lines; but we knew that if their first wave
of reinforcements ever came up, they would surely get us, so there
seemed to be just one thing to do, and that was to make a dash for our
supports--the Germans who had come over were taking what shelter they
could in the shell holes, but they were lying as low as possible, on
account of the fierceness of our shell fire.  It really seemed as
though every gun we had was trained on that spot, and the fire was
coming from three sides.  One of the 28th boys who was watching the
battle from a neighbouring hill said that more shells fell to the
minute in this battle than in any he had ever seen, and certainly that
is the way it seemed to us; there was just one chance in a thousand of
our getting through, but the idea of staying and giving ourselves up
never entered our heads.

It took quite a bit of courage to make the first dash, but at 2.30 we
started out over the shell-swept ground.  The shell holes were only
from ten to twenty feet apart, but I assure you it seemed quite far
enough.  We made a quick sprint for the first one and landed in on the
backs of three or four Germans; they were lying facing our lines, and
hadn't expected any one from the rear.  We had them finished before
they got over their surprise and none of us were hurt in this scrap--so
we made a bolt for the next hole.  However, we were not so lucky this
time, and before we reached the hole two of our boys went down; we
dared not stop to see how badly they were hurt, but plunged into the
shelter of the hole.  Here we were outnumbered two to one, but our
attack from the rear gave us the advantage; still it came near being my
finish, for my revolver jammed, and a big Boche made a lunge at me with
his bayonet--I dropped my revolver, escaped his bayonet by making a
quick side-step, grabbed his rifle, and hung on for dear life.  We
rocked to and fro, and all at once it occurred to me to use my feet--so
I lifted one foot and let him have it right in the stomach.  He let go
his hold on the rifle and sat down as suddenly as if he was shot, while
I lost my balance and went sprawling in the other direction.  I don't
know which of us would have recovered first, but one of our boys
settled the combat by blowing the big Boche's head off.  Our three lads
had cleared up all the others and we had time to think of our own
condition.  We were a very sorry-looking outfit; we all had wounds and
bruises which we hadn't felt at the time they were received; our tunics
and caps had been left in the sap, and the few clothes we had on were
torn and plastered with mud, our faces were streaked with dirt and
blood, and we were "all in."  I hadn't known any of the boys before
except the Corporal and Nobby, and poor Nobby was the first one shot.
Well, we looked after each other's wounds, and then we rested for
awhile; when our strength came back a little, we started out again.  We
would have stayed longer only we had no idea how far we were from our
lines, and we felt sure that German reinforcements would come up at
dark.  We went out in single file and not too close together, but our
next hole was farther away and just before the first one reached it a
shell burst directly over it; two of the boys were killed and the
Germans in the hole were blown to atoms; the officer and myself were
thrown a little distance and badly stunned, but finally we managed to
reach the hole.  We were the only ones left, and we lay there bruised
and shaken.  We were pretty well discouraged over the loss of our other
brave lads, and it was quite a while before we felt like venturing out
again; the only redeeming feature was the fact that the shell which had
killed our boys had also cleared the hole of whole Germans.  Well, at
last we made another start, and we had almost reached a hole when the
officer, who was behind me, shouted "Look out, lad, there's another
coming!"  We leaped for the hole and landed at the bottom only to find
ourselves covered by a dozen German rifles; I sure thought I had a
through ticket for the next world with no "stop-overs" allowed,
especially when I noticed a big "square-head" in the act of bringing a
"potato-masher" (hand grenade) down on my head.  I dodged him as he
fetched it down, and just then the German officer in charge of the
bunch bawled out some command.  They all lowered their rifles and began
talking in an excited manner, they were evidently trying to decide what
to do with us, and the officer said, "Well, I guess our game is up,
boy."  I said, "I guess it is"; and really I didn't much care if they
finished me right then.  I knew I had made them pay the price
anyway--we were out of ammunition and, besides, we were too much "all
in" to put up any kind of a scrap.

Well, they evidently decided to take us prisoners, for we were
searched, and then two of them were detailed to take us back--the only
reason we were spared was because it is quite a feather in a German's
cap to take a British officer prisoner--they are always rewarded for
it.  Well, they started us out at once over the same road we had come,
and we went from shell hole to shell hole as before, but now that we
were under German escort no one "potted" us, and in spite of the shell
fire we reached what had been "No Man's Land."  As we crossed this I
noticed a funny thing.  A company of German reinforcements were being
brought up, perhaps a hundred in all; the officer in charge was
bareheaded, and he carried a revolver and a stick of some kind.
Instead of leading his men as our officers do, he walked behind and a
little to one side, really on their flank.  They couldn't hear his
commands and he tried to show them where to go by pointing with his
stick, but he kept his revolver levelled on the men all the time.  As I
watched them, a couple of our "Big Lizzie" shells burst right over
them; when the smoke cleared away there wasn't one of the bunch to be
seen.  Well, we crossed "No Man's Land" and came to where the German
trenches had been, but they were as level as our own.  Finally we
struck a communication trench and the going was a little safer.  The
trench was crowded with Germans, and they lined up in either side to
let us pass.  But here I had another narrow escape; the Boche's hatred
of the British is such that they cannot resist giving vent to it when
they have one in their power, and as we passed one big brute made a
lunge at me with his bayonet.  Fortunately, he missed his aim a little
and the bayonet passed through the loose front of my shirt, but I felt
the cold steel on my flesh--the guard said nothing to him.  Another
thing I noticed on my way out was the treatment a wounded German
received from the comrade who was taking him out--the man was wounded
through the head and he was evidently dizzy from pain and weakness, for
he rolled from one side of the trench to the other like a drunken
man--instead of carrying him as our men would do, or, at least, putting
an arm round him to steady his steps, that brute walked behind, and
when the wounded man would stop, wanting to sit down and rest, I saw
the brute take that poor man by the collar, jerk him up, and land him a
couple of kicks.  This of course sent the man running and sprawling
down the trench, and this is the way they made their way out.

[Illustration: General Ketchen]

Well, we went on till we came to a German strong point, and here we
found fifteen of our boys that had been captured earlier in the day;
when we came on the scene they were being photographed by the Germans.
The Germans allow their soldiers to carry cameras and almost every
soldier has one; we had at least a dozen levelled at us that day--they
were evidently taking pictures to send back to Germany--"Prisoners _we_
have captured" would no doubt be the title.

They kept us hanging around here for half an hour, still under our own
shell fire, and then we were marched back about three miles.  Our first
stop was beside an old Belgian church, and here we were taken over by
an escort of Prussian Lancers, and for the first time I realized that I
was really a German prisoner.  We were herded together like a flock of
sheep and driven ahead of our captors; we were made to go ten miles
before they allowed us to stop, but to add variety to our otherwise
tedious march, when our escort wanted a little fun they would put spurs
to their horses and ride pellmell through our little bunch.  It was
great sport to see us dash in all directions tumbling over one another
in our efforts to escape being trodden down by the horses; no wonder
they laughed and shouted in their glee!  And it was on a par with other
things they did on that trip.  We passed through several small Belgian
villages, and when the Belgian women saw us coming, they ran out with
jugs of water, chocolate, and cigarettes, but our escort met them and
refused to allow them to give us anything.  They were very plucky, and
some of them dashed in past the guards, and these inhuman beasts known
as Prussian Guards levelled their lances and made at the girls.
Sometimes they missed; a water jug carried by one of the girls saved
her, but I saw three women run through the body by these devils, and
all because they wished to do an act of kindness to men who were
wounded.  The first thing we do with our prisoners is to feed them and
dress their wounds, but these are the last things a German thinks of
doing.  Well, the same thing happened in all the villages, only we
warned the girls away when we saw how they would be treated.  I also
noticed that the Belgians were not allowed on the sidewalk when a
German was passing; if they did not get off, they were knocked off.

Finally we were halted in one of the villages and herded into a filthy
horse stable.  There were about thirty in the bunch and most of us were
wounded; we had not even had a drink since we were captured, so we were
pretty much "all in."  We slept on the floor of the stable that night,
and next morning some German guards came along and picked us up.  For
breakfast we were thrown four loaves of German bread and a pail of
water was set inside the door.  After breakfast we were lined up on the
street, and a German officer who spoke a little English came along and
asked us questions.  He took our name and number and also the name of
the unit to which we belonged.  He said he was doing this so that he
might report our capture to the military authorities in London, but he
had another reason.  After he got through he chose two from each unit,
lined them up, and marched them off to a large building.  I happened to
be one of the number.  The building where we were taken was occupied by
a German general and his staff.  We were put in a small room and two at
a time marched out for an interview.

The first ones taken belonged to a machine gun crew; they were
conducted into a long room at the far end of which sat the General and
two interpreters.  Along each side of the room was a line of Prussian
Guards.  The officer who had charge of the boys could speak English
fairly well, and instead of taking them to where the General was, he
sat down with them at a small table just inside the door.  He appeared
very friendly, and offered them cigars, cigarettes, and wine.  The boys
were cute enough to know why they were offered wine, and they "declined
with thanks" but they took the smokes.  The officer asked them
questions about Canada and appeared very much interested in our
country, he talked for half an hour and never mentioned war; then he
asked them to go up to where the General was sitting.  On the table in
front of the General was a map of the front line trenches, and through
the interpreter the General proceeded to pump the boys for information.
This is a sample of the questions he asked them:

Interpreter: "Show me, on the map, the position your machine gun was
holding on the Ypres salient."

Boy: "I am sorry, Sir, but I can't read a map."

He asked him several more questions of a similar nature and received
unsatisfactory replies.  Then he said, "Now, give me an idea of how
many guns were holding the Ypres salient."  The lad thought for a
minute and then said, "Sir, as near as I could guess, it was about a
million and a half."  The General let a roar out of him like a mad
lion, and two of the Prussian Guards grabbed the boys and, dragging
them to the end of the room, threw them out of the door and down the
short flight of steps at the entrance.  I saw them pass the door of the
room where I was sitting, and said, "Hully gee! what the Sam Hill are
they doing with those chaps?"  Sandy said, "Evidently they are not
wanted in there."  But the boys didn't seem to be at all displeased
over the treatment they received, for they landed laughing, and as we
went in I heard one say, "We slipped one over them that time, eh?"

A young Scotchman and myself were the next ones called, and we
represented the sappers.  The same officer brought us in and treated us
as he did the first two; we helped ourselves to the cigars and
cigarettes, but did not think it wise to touch the wine (Scotty said
afterwards that it was the only time in his life he ever refused a
drink).  After having a smoke, we were taken up before the General.
Scotty was a comical chap, very ready-witted, and we had arranged that
he should do all the talking.  The first question asked was, "Where was
the sap you were working in?"  Scotty looked up very stupidly, and
said, "I don't understand you, Sir."  The interpreter said, "Where was
the mine you dug underground?"

Scotty: "Oh yes, I did that for a living before I joined the Army."

Interpreter: "Then show me on this map where the sap was."

Scotty: "I don't know of any sap in the front line."

Interpreter: "But you said you belonged to the miners!"

Scotty: "Yes, but I was not working on a mine in the front line."

Interpreter: "Then what were you doing?"

Scotty: "Well, it was like this; I was only in the trenches twice, the
first time our Corporal put me on a fatigue party and I was carrying up
sandbags and rations."

Interpreter: "Is that all you did?"

Scotty: "Yes, Sir."

Interpreter: "Then what were you working at the second time you were in
the lines?--you were surely put in a sap this time."

I could see that both the General and the interpreter were getting
quite peeved, but Scotty answered smilingly: "I will tell you what I
did.  The Sergeant in charge gave me a long stick with a nail in the
end, and I had this stick in one hand and a sandbag in the other, and
my work was to go through the trenches picking up all the paper,
cigarette boxes, and tin cans."  When this speech was interpreted to
the General, the old boy was _wild_.  I think he would gladly have put
an end to us right there, but he only shouted an order to the guards,
and we were hustled to the door and kicked out.  When we picked
ourselves up, we sat down on the steps and had a good laugh.  Evidently
the General was not satisfied with the information he received, for
none of the others were taken in.  We were all taken back to the stable
and left there till the next morning, then we were marched off to the
railway station and loaded on a train for Germany.

We travelled in cattle and box cars, and we did not sit up to see the
sights because all of us were wounded or injured in some way.  My back
was badly strained when I was buried in the sap and I was bruised from
head to foot.  I had had nothing to eat all day excepting the small
piece of black bread given to us in the morning.  It was about 9 P.M.
when we made our first stop in Germany, and this was at a large prison
camp near Dulmen, Westphalia.  Dulmen is a beautiful large city; and
the camp is two miles out.  At first sight a prison camp looks very
much like a chicken ranch; the high wire fences around the whole
enclosure and the little frame huts in the centre all carry out the
idea.  But when you get in, there is a vast difference, the outside
fence is fourteen feet high, and of barb-wire with the barbs poisoned;
three yards in, there is another fence, a low one this time, to prevent
the "chickens" getting under, and this is made of live wire.  In
between these fences there is a line of German guards, each one having
his own beat.  The centre of the camp is divided into small blocks,
each with its fourteen-foot fence of poisoned wire; there are six huts
in each block and about fifty prisoners quartered in each hut.  When I
was there the camp contained about three thousand prisoners--French,
Russian, English, and a few Canadians.  But, to go back to my arrival.
As we were marched into the camp we were a pretty sorry-looking lot.
The old prisoners saw us coming, and rushed back to their huts and
brought us out some food.  The new prisoners were not allowed to mingle
with the old ones until they had been two months in camp--I suppose
this was to prevent any news getting in--so in order to do anything for
us, the old prisoners had to catch us on our way through.  Well, they
brought us, from the contents of their Red Cross parcels, hardtack,
biscuits, bully-beef, and jam, and when we reached our hut we had a
pretty good meal.  The boys had none too much for themselves and it
meant a great deal to give up any of their precious food; but they
knew, from experience, that we were starving, and we thought we were,
for after good army rations, one small slice of black bread does not go
far towards satisfying hunger.  But, after existing on German fare for
two months, we knew what it was to be really hungry; we were more like
famished wolves than human beings.

This is a day's ration, served out to us the first day in camp, and in
the two months I was there it never varied: for breakfast, a small bowl
of coffee made from dried acorns, and served without milk or sugar.  It
was so bitter as to be almost undrinkable, and there was not one morsel
of food given with it.  For dinner we were allowed a bowl of stuff they
called soup.  It was made by boiling cabbage and turnips with a few dog
bones; when I went there first I wouldn't believe the boys when they
told me that our soup was made of dog bones, but one day I met one of
the French prisoners who had been a doctor, and we went for a walk
around the grounds, so I asked him what kind of an animal went into our
soup and he told me it was just ordinary dog.  We argued the question
for several minutes, and I was still unconvinced, so he said, "Go into
the cook house and see for yourself."  I went, and the cook (who was a
French prisoner) very obligingly lifted out some bones with his long
spoon and showed me one of Fido's legs.  That settled the question,
and, naturally, I enjoyed the soup more than ever.  As an extra treat,
to give it a special flavour, sometimes they threw in the bark.  The
boys had taken their own way of finding out what they were eating--they
saved all the bones for several days and then they put them
together--the result was a German Dachshund.  We had nothing but this
soup for dinner, and for supper we were given a bowl of slop which the
boys called "sand-storm," and a three-pound loaf of Deutschland black
bread to be divided among ten of us.  This bread was made from ground
vegetables mixed with rye flour.  If you read Gerard's "Four Years in
Germany" you will see that samples of this food were examined by a
specialist and declared to be almost devoid of food value.  It was
planned to reduce our numbers by a process of slow starvation.

We used to fight over the garbage cans for the peelings of potatoes,
and cabbage, and when the old prisoners, who were getting their Red
Cross boxes, brought us their German issue of soup, it was not safe for
them to come inside our enclosure.  They would place the can inside the
gate and we fought over it like a pack of hungry wolves.  If you think
we are exaggerating, see Gerard's new picture film "My Four Years in
Germany."  It tells better than I can just how bad things were.  Well,
one day when our soup was handed in by the other prisoners a funny
thing happened; we had seen the boys coming and had made a rush to the
huts to get our bowls--a very short fellow reached the soup can first
and before he could get his bowl filled, we had all crowded in on top
of him--poor Shorty had his head and arm in the soup and was almost
drowned before we got him out.  He had soup everywhere except in the
bowl.  Every British prisoner had to put up with this kind of food for
the first two months; after that, the Red Cross parcels would begin to
arrive.  The condition of the Russian prisoners was indeed pitiable.
They received no help from home, and were depending solely on German
food.  A Russian can live on much less than a Britisher, but they
literally starved to death on what the Germans gave them.  They were
made to work, and when they could go no longer and fell down from sheer
weakness the Guard would beat them till they died.  I have seen this
happen again and again, and there was an average of fifteen deaths
every day among the Russians alone.  Our parcels came just in time to
save the strongest of us, but scores of the weaker ones died.  But just
here let me explain the system used by the Red Cross for getting food
to the boys in the prison camps.  As soon as a new prisoner reaches the
camp he is given a card which he fills in and sends to the Red Cross
Headquarters in London.  This card contains his name and number, and
the number of the camp that he is in.  It takes about two months to get
the first parcel through; after that he received six food parcels and
two of tobacco each month, and once in six months they send him a
complete outfit of clothes, from overcoat to boots, also a parcel of
toilet articles, such as toothbrush, shaving outfit, soap, etc.  From
the time these parcels reach the Dutch border, they are handled by a
staff of our own prisoners, so there is no danger of their going
astray.  The Germans examine the parcels before they are given out to
make sure that they do not contain maps or compasses for the prisoners;
that is the only time they handle them.

These parcels mean life and a small degree of comfort to the boys, so
you can imagine how they are looked forward to.  The Red Cross saved my
life and the lives of thousands of our boys; and they deserve honour
and support from every person who calls himself a loyal citizen of any
Allied country.  I shall never forget when my first parcel came; I had
been in camp two months and I had failed eighteen pounds.  One of the
boys came into my hut and told me there were two parcels for me.  I
told him to stop fooling, that his joke was stale.  But he said, "No,
it's straight goods this time, here are the tickets"--so I rushed off
to where the parcel office was and got in line.  Pretty soon my turn
came and I handed in my tickets.  A big German brought out the parcels,
and while he was censoring them I was figuring on what I was going to
have to eat, but imagine my disappointment when he pushed over the
parcels and I found they contained nothing but clothing.  There were
two suits of underwear, two pairs of socks, two shirts and one pair of
blankets, but no food.  My clothing was in rags when I reached Germany,
my tunic and cap were lost in the sap the day I was taken, and I needed
socks and underwear very badly, also boots, so this supply was more
than welcome, but I needed food more than anything else.  I put all the
stuff into the blankets and started back for the hut.  When the boys
saw me coming, they rushed out to meet me, for they were building on a
feed, the same as myself.  The unwritten rule of the prison camp is,
whatever one gets the rest all share it, so they were disappointed too.
However, three days later our food parcels arrived, having been delayed
at the border, and we sure had a big feed.  My first food parcel
contained one tin of Welsh rarebit, one tin of jam, a large package of
biscuits, three bars of chocolate, and two packages of cigarettes.  I
tell you it put new life into us, and we felt like licking all the Huns
in sight.

After our Red Cross parcels came we were able to shave ourselves, and
we had soap to wash with.  When we first came to the camp the Germans
asked if there were any barbers in our bunch.  Now, there wasn't, but
one of the boys, "Slim" Evans, volunteered for the job.  They gave him
an old razor, some soap and a strop, also a small brush, and he was
ready for work.  He had no chair of any kind, so he looked around till
he found a bench in one of the huts; he swiped this and turned it
upside down on his table.  When the boys came for a shave, they climbed
up on the table and sat in the upturned bench, using the leg of the
bench for a head rest.  It sure was some "barber's chair"; I'll bet
there never was another like it.  Well, Slim got lots of customers; the
Germans didn't pay him for his work, but the prisoners tried to.  Some
had nothing at all, but he did their work just the same; others were
working on farms, and for this they were given what was equal to 2d or
4d in English money.  Slim never took anything from those who only
received 2d, but those getting 4d were allowed to pay.  Sometimes they
gave him a box of German cigarettes so strong that if you smoked one on
Monday you could taste it on Saturday.  I remember my first visit to
Slim; I climbed up into the chair and Slim asked me what I was getting;
I said 4d, so he gave the razor an extra rub-up.  Now, I hadn't had a
shave for a month, so I was a pretty hairy-looking customer.  Slim
said, "How long since you've had a wash?"  I said, "This morning, only
I hadn't any soap."  He said, "Never mind, I'll wash you with shaving
soap."  So he went to work, and really I didn't know whether he was
shaving or skinning me.  As a matter of fact he did a little of both,
for he had six patches of skin off when he finished and the only remark
he made was, "This razor is not quite as sharp as I could wish," but he
told me to be sure and come again.

But I have spoken mostly of food, or rather the lack of it.  Now I will
try and give you an idea of how we put in our time.  They didn't work
us very hard in this camp; usually we were only taken out three times a
week.  When they wanted us, German guards would come in, line up about
twenty of us, and take us out to work in the fields.  The first job
they put us at was planting potatoes and we worked faithfully the first
day, but when we came in that night I said to "Snipe," the new pal I
had made, "By golly!  Snipe, I don't like the idea of producing food
for these 'square-heads,' let's see if we can't put one over them."
"All right," said Snipe, "I'm game, but how in hell are you going to do
it?"  I said, "Well, how would this do?  Next time we are sent out,
I'll take the hoe and you the bucket of potatoes; as soon as we get a
little piece away from the guard, I'll keep on making holes, but you
just go through the motions of dropping in potatoes, then when we reach
the centre of the field I'll make an extra large hole and you can dump
in all the potatoes except a few that must be saved for the other end
of the row."  "Gee, that sounds all right," said Snipe; "we'll have a
try at it anyway, and I believe it will work."  The field we had been
working in was a long narrow strip containing about five acres, and
there was an armed guard stationed at each end.  Well, next day we were
called out again and we tried our new plan.  It worked splendidly; the
other boys saw what we were doing and they all did the same, so the
whole field was planted that way, and I wish you could have seen those
potatoes when they came up.

The next thing we were given to do was putting out cabbage plants (of
course they had not yet discovered the trick we had played with the
potatoes).  In planting cabbages the first man was given a small sharp
stick instead of a hoe, and man number two had a box of young plants.
A hole was made, but before the plant was put in the roots were nipped
off.  In three days the cabbages were all wilted or dead and the
Germans could not make out what was wrong, so they sprinkled the ground
with some kind of stuff thinking the damage was caused by worms in the
soil.  But some one happened to pull up a plant, and they realized then
what had been done.  Of course they were very angry, but no one would
tell who did it, and they couldn't very well punish the whole camp.
However, they didn't give us any more farm work to do.

Shortly after this, I was out on a working party with some of the old
prisoners and one of them began telling me about a man who had made an
escape from the camp some months before.  He had gotten as far as the
Holland Border, but was caught there.  The word "escape" thrilled me as
nothing else ever had, and from that time on the idea was never out of
my head.  I questioned the man and got all he knew about the distance
to the border, direction, etc., and I could hardly wait till night to
get telling the other boys about it.  Finally we got back to the
bunkhouse and I told Snipe and two or three other Canadians what I had
heard.  They were just as excited as I was, and we decided that if that
fellow could get out of the camp, why we could too, and we made up our
minds to keep working on it till we did find a way out.

One night when we were discussing the question, Snipe suggested that we
cut a hole through the floor of the hut and tunnel our way out.  We
could make the hole under one of the bunks so it would not be easily
seen by the guards.  The plan seemed good to us and we began
immediately to put it into operation.  Snipe happened to be occupying
one of the lower bunks, so we started there to cut the hole in the
floor--we had only a couple of old jack-knives to work with--but after
we got through the floor, we did the digging with our hands.  While two
of us worked the other lay on the top bunk where we had a small window,
and kept watch.  The floor of the shack in which we lived was two and a
half feet from the ground, so there was plenty of room for the earth
that we took out of the tunnel.  We worked away for eight nights and by
that time we had passed the inner fence, the guard and the electric
wires, so we thought it was safe to come to the surface.  When we got
within a foot of the top we decided it was too late to attempt to get
away that night, so planned to start at 11.30 the following night and
that would give us time to get quite a distance away from the camp
before daylight.  So we went back to our bunks, and all that night we
lay planning and dreaming of what we would do when we got out.

Next morning I was too excited to sleep, so very early I got up and
took a walk around the fence.  When I reached the place I thought our
tunnel should be I took a look in that direction, and to my horror, I
discovered a big hole between the two fences.  I knew in an instant
what had happened: when the Germans were changing guards, their weight
had broken through the tunnel--I smile now as I think of the surprise
it must have given them, but at the time it was a bitter
disappointment.  I hustled back to tell the boys, and Snipe moved into
another bunk so that they couldn't fasten the blame on him.  Of course
we knew that the tunnel would be traced to our hut, and sure enough in
about half an hour a bunch of guards came in, lined us up, and tried to
make us tell what ones had attempted to escape.  We all denied it, so
after making a thorough search of the hut for maps and compasses they
let us go.  Thus ended my first attempt at escape.

Shortly after this the guard came in one morning, lined up about fifty
of us, and said they were taking us away to work on farms.  We were
taken to the railway station, loaded on trains, and taken farther into
Germany.  When the train stopped and we got out, we found that we were
in the centre of a coal mine district.  With their usual regard for the
truth they had taken us to work in the coal mines instead of on farms,
and this mine where we were was well known among the prisoners of war
as the "Black Hole of Germany" and it has maintained its evil
reputation up to the present time.

The other camp we were in was a paradise in comparison with this.
Owing to the fact that the train came up to the mines, there were no
wire fences except just in the centre where the prisoners' huts were
located.  But there seemed to be guards everywhere.  The first thing
that struck us was the dirt of everything, the smoke of the coke ovens
covered the whole place with a layer of soot.

It was five o'clock in the evening when we arrived, and we were this
time turned loose with the other prisoners; there must have been five
hundred at this camp--Russian, French, and English.  We were the first
Canadians to go there.

We found the barracks and every other place in a filthy condition, the
beds were dirty and crawling with the largest fleas I have ever seen;
these fleas are as large as ordinary mosquitos, they breed in the mine
and are carried up on the men's clothes.  Often these pests were so bad
that the men lay out in the yard at night instead of going to
bed--anyway, in the hot weather the stench from the beds is almost

We walked out among the prisoners, and they were glad to get news of
the war and of the outside world.  Among other questions, they asked if
London was still standing.  The Germans had told them it had been
levelled to the ground.  Some of the men had been in the mines for two
years and the stories they told were almost incredible.  The Germans
who guard this camp are always savage and cruel and they are urged on
by the owners and operators of the mine.  We talked with some of the
first British prisoners who arrived there, and this is what they told
us: At first they refused to work, knowing that it was contrary to
international law to force prisoners of war to work in the mines.  For
refusing to work they were given a week of the most brutal abuse and
torture possible.  The weather was bitterly cold and there was a foot
of snow.  These men were stripped of everything but their shirt and
pants and made to stand "at attention" out of doors.  Any man moving
hand or foot was knocked down with the butt of a rifle, and those who
fainted from cold and exhaustion were dragged away and put back in
their places as soon as they became conscious--while those whose
strength enabled them to hold out the longest were stood in front of
the cokery ovens until they were utterly exhausted by the terrific
heat, and had to consent to work.  The first shift that went down into
the mines were driven into the cage with rifle butts and bayonets, and
some of them went down unconscious.  Oh, when this war is over, there
will be a long day of reckoning with the German people.

After listening to such stories as these, and after seeing the poor
wrecked bodies of the prisoners, you can imagine how we felt as we were
marched off to work the next morning.  When we were taken out, we were
given our first suit of prison clothes--this consisted of overalls and
smock and cap.  The overalls had a four-inch stripe of red down each
leg, the jacket had six inches of red down the centre of the back, and
the cap had a wide red band across the top.  After we got into these,
we looked like a bunch of robins.

When we reached the pit-head we found a line of German civilians
waiting to go down into the mines--as we waited for the cages to come
up we overheard some of their conversation--of course we could not
understand it, but one of the old prisoners translated it for me.  The
Germans had noticed that we were new men and they asked the guard what
nationality we were.  The guard told them we were Canadians, but the
civilians said, "Oh nix! the Canadians are 'Swas'"--meaning black.
They argued with the guard for fifteen minutes and then were not
convinced.  Finally the cage came, we were loaded in, and it started
down.  I shall never forget the feeling I had; I thought that we would
never strike bottom.  I asked an old prisoner how deep the mine was,
and he said two thousand feet, and I believed him.

Well, at last the cage reached the bottom and I had my first view of a
coal mine; even to my inexperienced eye things seemed to be in very bad
shape.  Owing to the great demand for coal, they did not take time to
properly timber their mine, and the tunnels were caving in all the
time--I am safe in saying that there was an average of three men killed
there every week.  There was never an inquiry made into these deaths.

Well, they started me to work and my job was to load up cars with the
coal that the civilians hacked out.  These cars held just a ton, and I
had to push the loaded car onto the main tunnel or road; an engine took
it the rest of the way.  This was very heavy work, and often I thought
my back would surely break, and it hurt me to think that the Germans
were getting so much out of me.  However, as the days went on we found
little ways of getting back at them.  For instance, the civilians were
paid according to the number of tons they got out, and each man had
tags with his number on them.  When a car was loaded we were supposed
to put one of these tags on the top, and when it reached the top of the
shaft it was credited to the man whose number was on it.  Well,
sometimes, instead of putting the tag on the top of the load, we put it
inside and piled the coal on it.  At the top of the shaft, when no tag
was found, the car was not credited to any one, and when pay day came
and those old Germans found the paymaster did not give them credit for
all the coal taken out, there surely was some fun; it did our hearts
good to hear the row they made.  Of course we would not have been able
to play any tricks if there had been any guards around, but once we
were down in the mine we were out from under military rule and working
under the mine management, but the latter were just as cruel in their
way as the military; they not only got every ounce of work possible out
of each prisoner, but they inflicted the most terrible punishment for
every slight offence.  A few days after I went there, a splendid young
Canadian boy from Toronto was found dead with the back of his head
smashed in.  He had been on night shift, and he had not been hurt in a
cave-in, for our own boys found him.  We asked for an investigation,
but we were told to go to work and mind our own business; so we
Canadians went on strike.  A German who spoke a little English asked us
what was the matter, and we said we wanted to find out what had killed
our comrade.  He laughed in our faces and said, "You are prisoners, you
must do as you are told."  We told him where he could go, and against
the advice of all the old prisoners refused to go to work, and this was
our punishment; we were stood "at attention" in fifteen-minute periods,
with five minutes "at ease," until ready to go back to work.  This was
indeed torture--the five minutes' rest made it possible to prolong the
agony.  Men faint if made to stand "at attention" for many hours, but
doing it this way we never lost consciousness.  Guards marched up and
down behind us; if we moved hand or foot we were knocked down and
kicked; though they kicked us on the ankles whether we moved or not--my
right ankle was so swollen I was not able to do up my boot for three
weeks.  Well, we stood this without food for two days and nights, and
then we were so exhausted that we had to give in.  The old prisoners
had all been through this kind of thing, that was why they warned us
not to go on strike.  But no matter what the punishment was, we could
not let the murder of one of our number go unnoticed.

Shortly after this we had another lesson of the same kind.  An
Englishman on night shift was found sleeping and the foreman who found
him knocked him down a shaft and killed him.  Another Britisher, who
saw the murder, reported the foreman, and accused him of the murder,
but when the trial came off the Britisher was given six months in
prison for perjury.

But to go back to our work.  We were supposed to be on eight-hour
shifts--only sometimes they would make us do a double shift, or sixteen
hours.  When this was required they gave us an extra bread ration.  The
German in charge of the camp thought himself very smart because he
could speak a few words of English and also write a little; so, instead
of telling us that we were to come to his office for an extra ration of
bread, he wrote the order on a piece of cardboard and hung it in our
barracks.  Seeing him hanging something up we all gathered round, and
this is what we read: "You Englishmen, before going on shift, will draw
your _Breath_ at my office."  Of course we all shouted and laughed at
this; and the officer stood there looking as though he had been kicked
and didn't know who had done it.  He tumbled that there was something
wrong with the notice, but all he said was "You Engländer,
Schweinhunds," and went out.

It was while we were working on one of these long shifts that we
thought of another way of getting even with our slave-drivers, for this
is really what they were.  They worked us to the last ounce of our
strength; the food given us was not sufficient to keep body and soul
together.  We were living on our Red Cross parcels, and we ate none of
the German food except the bread.  It's the only time I ever worked for
nothing and boarded myself.  We were punished for every offence, real
and imaginary, and when a man is driven harder than he can bear, and
refuses to work any more, the methods used to force him to work would
put any slave-driver to shame; and we were ready to do anything to try
and even up the score.  This is one plan that worked well.

There was a great deal of rock among the coal, and we were supposed to
have two cars always on hand, and fill one with rock and the other with
coal; but we thought as nature had mixed them in the mine that they
should go up the same way, so we would half fill a car with stones, and
then cover it over with coal.  When this car reached the top it looked
all right, so it was put into the dumping machine; once there it could
not be stopped, and when those big rocks went rolling down into the
machinery and over the sieves, there was one hell of a smash-up.  Those
old Germans would tear their hair with rage, but of course they
couldn't tell who had done it.  Finally, like everything else that went
wrong, it was blamed on the "Engländers," as we were called, and the
old German who spoke English took the case in hand.  One night, after
coming off shift, he lined us up and said, "I have been notified that
you Englanders are putting stones in between the coal, and if I hear
any more of this you shall be punished _severely_."  Some one started
to laugh and we all took it up, so he stood us "at attention."  No
matter what was done to us we never gave them the satisfaction of
letting them know it hurt.  I have seen our boys die under slow
torture, and always they had that _grin_ on their faces.

This was one thing the Germans never could understand, for, as a
nation, they have no spirit at all; I have seen big men blubber like
children over the slightest hurt.  Working with civilians, we often had
the satisfaction of a scrap.  We dared not touch one of the military,
no matter what they said or did, for it would mean instant death; but
when the civilians were extra-brutal or insulting, as they often were,
we got even if we did not happen to be too greatly out-numbered.  The
smallest Britisher that ever went into the mine could lick the biggest
Hun in a fair fight.  But that was just the trouble--the Germans know
nothing about the first principles of fair play.  At school, instead of
being taught to defend themselves with their fists, they fight with
sticks or anything they can lay their hands on, and once they get their
opponent down, they kick him until he gives in.  So when they ran up
against English-speaking people and there was a scrap in sight, they
were astounded to see the Englander lay down the shovel or whatever he
happened to have in his hands.  They would stand and stare with their
weapon half raised as they saw their opponent laying aside his only
means of defence.  They did not know what to expect, and while they
were in this uncertain condition the Englander got in his first blow.
We became quite notorious for our methods of fighting, and when we
would be put to work with any new men, their first question would be,
"What did you do before joining the Army?" and we always said, "We were
boxers."  They would smile and say, "Ich nix boxer--nice Engländer,
good Engländer"--this amused us immensely and their fear of us made
them use us more decently.

After I had been in the mine about six months, Snipe and I planned out
a scheme by which we hoped to escape doing any work for awhile.  In
going through the mine, we had come across many abandoned tunnels from
which the coal had been taken--in many cases these tunnels were
partially caved in and were considered unsafe, and for this reason they
were avoided by the miners.  The idea came to us this way;--one night
when Snipe and I were coming off work, we passed these tunnels, and I
said to Snipe, "Say, old boy, I'm fed up with this everlasting work for
these brutal Huns; let's think up some scheme for getting out of it for
awhile."  Snipe said, "All right.  But how can we get away from these
blamed 'square-heads'?"  Just then we noticed one of the tunnels, and I
said, "Hully gee!  Snipe, what's the matter with hiding in one of these
tunnels?  No one ever comes here."  "Golly!  I believe it would work,"
says Snipe, pounding me on the back.  We were very much excited, and
when we reached our bunkhouse we told some of the other boys.  They
asked to come in too, so six of us laid our plans.  We went down on
shift as usual and followed the other miners till we came to the tunnel
in which we had planned to hide.  When there was no one looking, we
would dodge in, and when we were missed the miners thought we had gone
to work in another part of the mine; each mine boss thought we were
taken to work for some one else, so no one hunted us up; of course we
were in constant danger of being buried alive, but we gladly took the
risk for the sake of getting a rest.

We would lie round chatting and sleeping all day, and at night, blacken
our faces and join the other miners on their way to the main shaft.  We
worked this game for eight weeks, not always staying in the same hole,
but changing around whenever we saw a likely looking place.  We had a
splendid rest, and it put us in better condition for what was to
follow.  A funny thing happened after this had been going on a few
weeks.  One morning two of our boys, Barney and Raeside, did not come
down in the same cage with us, and as we didn't dare wait, for fear of
being set to work, we were out of sight before they arrived.  So they
hunted up a place for themselves, and the spot they chose was between
the timbers and the roof of the main tunnel.  It was a good place, and
they would never have been discovered if they hadn't gone to sleep and
snored.  But they did, and a fire boss happened to be passing at the
time, so he located their hiding-place.  Of course he couldn't see who
was there, but he tried to poke them out with his stick.  They soon
woke up, but Barney whispered, "To hell with him, Mac, we won't go," so
they lay still.  Finally the fire boss went for help, and as soon as he
left the boys came out.  But they had to come out one at a time.
Barney got down first; and he beat it to locate another hole.  When
Raeside struck the tunnel, he saw a light not far away, and he thought
it must be the returning boss, so off he went in the opposite
direction.  Barney had the light, and was looking for a place large
enough to hold them, when he heard Raeside running.  He at once jumped
to the conclusion that Raeside had spotted a "square-head"--and he
started off to his assistance--Raeside heard some one coming on the
run, and he thought it must be the boss, so he went still faster.  They
chased each other like this for about a mile.  Then Raeside gave out:
and hiding his lamp, he hid in the first hole he came to.  In a moment
along came Barney, puffing and blowing like a whale, and as he passed
Raeside saw who it was.  Then the joke of it struck him, he called
Barney back, and the two of them sat down in the tunnel and laughed
till they were sore.  The boss never found them, and I can imagine how
angry he was when he went back with his reinforcements and found his
prey gone.  That night the boys told us the joke they had played on

But our good time ended abruptly one Saturday when a mine inspector, or
"fire-stager" as he is called, came around on his tour of inspection,
and he found us hiding in a hole about three hundred yards from the
main road.  We put out our pit lamps when we saw him passing, and he
didn't let on having seen us, so we couldn't tell whether he had or
not.  He was too big a coward to tackle us alone, and we knew that if
he had discovered us he would go for help.  We didn't know whether to
run or risk staying where we were, and while we were talking about it,
we heard the tramping of a lot of feet in the tunnel leading to our
hiding-place.  It was too late to go now, we would have to face the
music.  There were six of us, and Snipe suggested that if no more than
ten came we would stand and fight, but if there were more we had best
make a running fight and escape to some other part of the mine.  We
decided to do this, and while we were waiting for them to come in we
filled our pockets with stones.

But the foreman had no intention of bringing his men in--he lined them
up, ten on a side, opposite the hole through which we must come
out--they were armed with sticks, pieces of heavy rubber hose, and
anything they could lay their hands on.  After lining them up he made
them hide their lamps under the jackets so that we wouldn't be able to
see them when we came out.  Then, when he got them fixed to his liking,
he very bravely marched in where we were and said, "Alle Engländer?"
We said, "Yes."  He said, "You Schweinhunds!"  At that one of our boys
jumped and made a pass at him, crying, "You big square-headed German,
I'll knock your head off, I wouldn't take that from your Kaiser Bill."
The German backed up and avoided the blow, saying tauntingly, "Ah, nix,
Engländer."  Then he asked us why we were not working, and we said we
had got tired and were taking a rest.  He said "Komm' mit."  We said,
"Oh no."  When he saw we had no intention of going he began to make
promises.  He said that if we would only go back to work he would not
report us and we would not be punished in any way.

We did not believe him, and we trusted his promises about as long as it
took him to make them; but, as Snipe said, we might as well take a
chance on it, for we had to get out, and there was only one road to go.
Of course he couldn't understand us, but we had picked up enough German
to make out everything he said.  Well, we pretended to believe him and
we started out, walking in couples.  When the first two reached the
main road two lights flashed out, and the clubs commenced to whistle
through the air.  The boys shouted "duck!"--and, believe me, we did.
We started down between those two lines of Germans, and seeing there
were so many we thought it best just to make a run for it.  In going
through, three of our boys got knocked down, and the rest of us got
some bad whacks over the head and back but we kept our feet.  The last
two Germans on the line got scared when they heard us coming and
started to run.  They were on the road just ahead of us, and we made a
dash after them.  They were a considerable distance from the main body
when we overtook them, and I remember one of the boys saying, "We'll
make these square-headed devils pay for what we've received"--and
believe me, we did.  Instead of going home to their supper that night,
I'll bet they went to the doctor.

Well, when this scrap was all over and we got to the top of the shaft,
the mine inspector that had caught us reported us to the military
authorities, and their punishment was five hours "at attention."  When
we had put this in, they allowed us to go to our bunks.  The next day
was Sunday, and we were peacefully sleeping when a big German came in
and called out our numbers.  We asked him what he wanted, and he said
we had to go on the Coke-o-roy.  We certainly knew what this meant.

The coke ovens were attached to the mine, and most of the coal taken
out was made into coke.  Work on the ovens was so hard and so trying on
account of the great heat, that they used this as a punishment for
anything that was done wrong in the mines.  This is what the German who
could speak English told us.  The morning we were put on, he lined us
up and read this to us, "If you Engländers does not do your work right
beneath the mine, we put you on coke ovens, and there, if you shall not
work, you shall die."  We all laughed at this, and he said, "You
England Schweinhunds!" and went away.

But it was sure a punishment.  The regular hours through the week was a
twelve-hour shift, and each man was obliged to shovel thirty-two tons
of coke, wheel it from ten to twenty yards along the platform, and dump
it into railway cars.  On Sunday the shift was twenty-four hours long,
and each one had to handle sixty-four tons of coke.  If you were not
through when your time was up, you must keep at it till you did the
required number of tons and then start back to work again with your

It was on the twenty-four-hour shift that we started our work.  We went
on at 7 A.M. on Sunday, and we worked from that until 7 Monday morning.
Almost as soon as I went on the ovens I met two of my old pals,
Nickelson and Macdonald.  They had been put here for attempting to
escape from the mine, and had been at this job for a week before we
arrived.  We were mighty glad to see each other, for we all belonged to
the same "school."  But a "school" in a German prison camp does not
mean the same as it does in America.  We got the idea from the British
Tommy, only he calls it "mucking it."  It is made up of a bunch of boys
who put all their parcels in together and go fifty-fifty on everything.
Sharing with each other brought us a little closer together than we
otherwise would have been.

Well, these were in our little "school" and had also shared in our
rest-cure up to the time of their attempted escape.  So when they saw
us come on the ovens, they knew exactly what had happened.  As I passed
Nick, he said, "Which would you rather do, Jack, work on the coke oven
or go to church?"  I laughed and said, "Well, I guess, the church has
it this time."  After awhile I happened to be beside Mac, and I said,
"Speaking of baseball, Mac, do they serve afternoon tea here?"  He
said, "Well, they used to, but you know tea has gone up, and as a
substitute they serve out a little hell."  And believe me, I hadn't
been there long before I found that this was literally true.

I was feeling fairly fit after my two months' rest; and this rest was
all that saved my life.  But during that first day I didn't mind the
work so much, I could stand it anyway, but when night came it was awful
beyond description.  The heat of the closed ovens was bad enough, but
at night, when the coke in the ovens was sufficiently baked, they
opened the huge doors and the burning mass was pushed out by machinery.
It came out a solid lump just the shape of the oven, and the heat it
threw off was terrific.  Two or three big "square-heads" stood near
with iron forks fourteen feet long, and with these they prodded the
mass until it broke into pieces.  When it first broke it burst into
flames, but gradually it cooled, and finally they finished it by
turning the water hose on it.  But the Germans who attended to this
looked like skeletons--the gas and heat seemed to have eaten the flesh
from their bones and they seemed scarcely human.  I was working near
and the fumes of gas and the awful heat was almost more than a human
being could stand.  I looked around at the prisoners; and such a
sight--they were toiling like galley slaves, their faces were streaked
with soot and sweat till you couldn't tell whether they were black or
white.  I'll never forget the horror of that first night on the ovens,
I was almost dead long before I had finished shovelling my sixty-four
tons of coke, but the awfulness of the scene was harder to bear than
the pain of my body.  I said to Mac, "What does this remind you of,
Mac?"  He said, "Jack, it's more like hell than anything that was ever
imagined or painted."

We were almost insensible when at last our work was finished; but we
had to keep at it as long as our brains were strong enough to force our
bodies to move.  I saw what the weaker ones got, and that was enough
for me.  Those inhuman devils with their boasted German culture--a
disgrace to everything that God has created--would drag these poor
quivering, fainting creatures, pleading for mercy--right up to those
red-hot ovens, and at the point of a bayonet force them to stand in
that withering heat till they fell unconscious.  Then the guard would
drag them away and make two of the other prisoners carry them back to
the barracks.

What I have described is a sample of what my days and nights were like
on the coke ovens, till I made my final escape two months later.  I
played out several times, and each time I was roasted alive before the
ovens.  Once I backed away to escape the heat, and the guard knocked me
unconscious with his rifle.  The strongest men are being crippled and
broken down in health in this work (of course the weak ones die very
soon), but the treatment accorded our prisoners in other places is not
much better.  A young lad belonging to the Gordon Highlanders told me
that he was wounded when he was taken prisoner, and he lay in the
hospital for three days before they even looked at his leg.  Then, when
he finally got attention, everything was done in the roughest kind of
way, and when the nurse had finished the dressing she _spit in his

Another man who belonged to the Irish Fusiliers told me that when he
was captured they kept him four days in the front lines doing fatigue
duty under our shell fire, and in that time he had scarcely anything to
eat.  On the fourth night he and three other prisoners were quartered
in a small room of a Belgian house, and they were taken down and lined
up against the wall, while the German officers amused themselves by
pelting them with green apples.  One of the prisoners attempted to eat
one of the apples and was beaten almost to death.

What we endured was the special torture that was reserved for Camp K
47; they had different methods at other camps.  I remember an old
prisoner telling me of the torture they had where he was before coming
to the mines.  It was an ammunition factory, and they had taken a bunch
of English prisoners there and tried to make them work.  Now, this is
where our men drew the line, and though they knew it would mean
punishment, and perhaps death, they absolutely refused to go to work.
Of course the German officials were raging, and they resorted to their
special line of torture to compel obedience.  The boys were taken to
where boxes were placed against large trees, they were forced to mount
these and extend their arms full length about their heads.  Then their
wrists were strapped together and fastened to the tree--the box was
kicked away and they hung by their arms often for hours.  Every little
while an officer would go around and ask them if they were ready to go
to work.  On their refusing he would give them a few kicks and pass on.
This was kept up as long as the men could stand the agony, and the
prisoner who told me this showed me the marks on his wrists, and said
he knew at least six of their boys who died as a result of this torture.

The only thing that kept them from killing the prisoners outright was
the fact that all the German prison camps were visited every few weeks
by American Ambassador Gerard or some of his staff.  He passed around
among the boys, asked questions, and received complaints, and it is
undoubtedly true that Ambassador Gerard saved hundreds of lives in the
prison camps.

I had been working on the ovens for something like a month when a fresh
bunch of prisoners were brought up from the mine.  They had followed
our example and were caught taking a rest.  With this group was a young
Canadian called Toby, and he was certainly "some boy."  He was only
eighteen at the time, really just a kid, but he had spirit enough for
two ordinary men.  They put him shovelling coke, and he got along all
right till he finished the dump he was working on.  Then, after the
large chunks were gone, the dust and cleanings should have been put
into wheelbarrows and taken over to a crusher.  Toby had not been told
this, and naturally he loaded it all into the cars.  The boss caught
him at it, and he stormed and shook his ugly fist in Toby's face.  But
Toby had learned to take a good deal, so he paid no attention.  But the
German manager had seen him too, so he came up when the boss had
finished, and of course he could afford to be more insulting than his
inferior.  So after ranting for several minutes and wiggling his finger
under Toby's nose he finished up by giving the lad a couple of brutal
kicks with his iron-shod boots.  This was more than Toby's spirit could
stand, and Toby wheeled around and landed him a blow on the jaw; the
man staggered back, and before he could recover Toby gave him another
that sent him sprawling.  The platform boss saw it all, and drawing his
revolver he threatened to shoot, but Toby defied him and dared him to
go ahead.  The bully was afraid to do it, and he contented himself with
reporting the case to the guard.  Of course the guard came up, and with
a great show of force dragged the youngster to the coke ovens and made
him stand "at attention."  But he hadn't been there long when lunch
time came, and as they dared not leave him alone Toby was marched off
to the platform with the other prisoners.  During lunch he told me
about the scrap he had gotten into, and I warned him to be on his
guard--I knew the kind of brutes he was up against and I felt sure that
they would try to get even if they could get him at a disadvantage.  We
were drinking pop at the time, and I made him hide the empty bottle
under his jacket to use as a weapon in case he was attacked.  Well, we
went on duty again and Toby was put before the ovens to finish his
punishment, but he had only been there a few minutes when the boss came
along with a shovel on his shoulder and made Toby understand that he
was to go to work under the long platform which held the ovens.  So he
marched Toby down the stairs and into the darkness under the platform.
Suddenly Toby felt his arms gripped from behind and strong hands pinned
them to his side, while out of the darkness in front loomed up the
burly figure of the manager.  He carried a short whip and this he
proceeded to lay on to poor Toby, any place at all that he could hit.
The lad wriggled with all his might, and finally succeeded in getting
his arms free; then grabbing the whip in his left hand, he planted the
manager one between the eyes with his right, and down he went.  Then,
quick as a cat, he wheeled on the other German, smashing at him with
his pop bottle.  The man tried to protect his face, but Toby's rage
gave him the strength of madness, and the first blow broke the German's
arm.  Toby followed this up with another, and this time gave him a
beauty just over the eye.  He went down as if he was shot, and Toby
started to walk away.  By this time the manager had come to a little,
and he called on Toby to "Halt!" but Toby paid no attention and the
manager fired two shots after him.  What he had been through possibly
affected his aim; at any rate, he missed and Toby walked quietly back
to his place and began work again.  The Germans were too proud to let
their comrades know how the lad had beaten them up, so they contented
themselves with reporting him privately to the guard and giving him
seven days' close confinement.  Next day, as I passed the prison, I
called and asked him how he was, and he said, "Fine!  I could beat up
half a dozen more 'square-heads' if I had them here; this is better
than working on a coke oven, anyway."  After Toby got out of jail the
boys gave him a great ovation.  They cheered him, carried him round on
their arms, and fed him with everything they could lay their hands on.
Nothing could keep down a boy with a spirit like his, and he made his
escape about two months after I did.  He was to have come with me, but
had a sore foot, so we had to leave him behind.  Poor kid, it's the
only time I ever saw tears in his eyes.

The only redeeming feature of my work on the coke ovens was that I was
out of doors and could get a glimpse of the surrounding country.
Spring had come, and the fine weather made me long for freedom.

Three of us got together one night and figured out a way of escape; one
chap known as Blackie, another called Sammy, and myself.  Now, as I
said before we worked in shifts, one week at night, the next during the
day.  It was during the night shift that we planned to get away; but
there were two things we needed badly--namely, a map and a compass.  We
were talking this thing over one night when Sammy said, "I have a
scheme."  We told him to get it off his chest.  "Well," he said, "I
think I know where I can get a map and a compass; I work with a German
civilian whom I think could be easily bribed."  Blackie said, "What
makes you think so?"  Sammy answered, "I have worked with this fellow
for three nights, and I have been treating him to some of my lunch, and
he seems to be pretty hungry."  Then he said, "We will all save food
from our next parcel issue--chocolate, bully-beef, and biscuits--and I
will take them and see what I can get for them."  We all agreed, but we
hadn't much hope of getting what we wanted.  In two days along came a
parcel issue and we saved out all we could spare and handed it over to
Sammy.  Next day Sammy took it with him, but brought it back when he
came from work.  When I saw him I said, "No luck, Sammy."  He said,
"Sure--come here and I'll tell you all about it."  He said, "I got him
going fine, and he'll bring the map and compass tomorrow."  "Then, why
did you bring back the food?"  "Oh," he said, "I just showed it to him,
and his eyes stuck out a mile," but I said, "No, Fritzie, this is for
you when you bring the map and compass; so I think I have him."  Sure
enough, Sammy went off the next day with his little bag of rations.
About two hours after we got started to work Sammy came along to where
I was working and said, "Jack, I have it."  We wanted to have a look at
it right then, for it seemed too good to be true, but when we were
looking at it we were nearly caught by one of our guards who happened
to be passing.  We curbed our curiosity, and did not bring out our
treasures again until we were safe in our huts.

Every night we pored over our map and laid plans for our escape the
following week when we would be put on night shift; but before the week
was up I was put on a different job.  Instead of shovelling coke I was
set to filling small cars with coal.  This took me away from the boys,
and at first I was very much discouraged.  But the new place where I
worked was a large coal shed and quite dark; right at the back I found
an unused door which was unlocked.  Opening it, I discovered an iron
ladder leading to the ground, and I said to myself, "This is just the
chance we've been looking for."  That night I told the boys of my find,
and they said, "Yes, but how are we going to get there?" for between
this coal house and the platform where the boys worked was a distance
of one hundred yards.  But I told them how I thought it could be
managed, and we made our plans to try it that way.

We planned to make our "getaway" on the Tuesday of the following week,
so we set about collecting provisions for our journey.  All our pals
were willing to contribute, and they gave us bully-beef and biscuits
from their scanty stores.  We could hardly wait for the time set for
our starting, but at last the night came.

Every night at twelve o'clock the guards left their posts and marched
the prisoners back to a hut for lunch.  It was on our way back from
this lunch that we hoped to get away.  The guards always left us at the
foot of the stairs leading up to the coke ovens, and they stayed at the
foot of the ladder until the last prisoner was mounted.  This night we
had made up our minds that we should be the first ones up the ladder,
for time meant everything to us.  A guard was stationed at the foot of
the ladder leading from the coal shed, and we had to make the distance
before he did.  Our path lay past the coke ovens, across a bridge to
the coal house, through it and down the ladder.  We didn't dare run,
for we were surrounded by German civilians, but I assure you the time
we made wasn't slow.

Blackie and Sammy came with me instead of stopping at their ovens, and
we trusted to the friendly darkness to keep them from being detected.
We won our race and reached the bottom of the ladder a full minute
before the guard reached his post; so we were off on the run for a
small wood which was about six hundred yards away.  We reached it in
safety and congratulated each other on our escape.  We stayed there
only long enough to get our wind, then we started off at a good brisk
walk; as far as we knew we had not been missed, for there was no
pursuit.  We walked until 4 A.M. across the country, then we came to a
large wood where we hid for the day.

Next night we started out about 9 P.M., and after a short walk we came
to a large river.  By consulting our map, we found it was the River
Lippe, and we scouted along its banks in search of something to take us
across.  Unfortunately there was no boat in sight, and just when we had
made up our minds to swim it I discovered an old bridge.  It had been
condemned and was no longer in use, but we were only too glad to try
it; crawling carefully across in case there should be a guard at the
other end.  Just as we reached the centre we encountered a barbed wire
entanglement.  This made us feel quite at home, and we fancied we were
back in the trenches.  By the time we got through the wire, our clothes
were in rags, but nothing could dampen our spirits, not even the rain
that was falling, now that we were really getting away.  We reached the
end of the bridge in safety and found that it was not guarded, so we
kept right on.  The first thing we knew we came in sight of a village,
and as it lay right in our way we decided to risk going through it.  It
was 2 A.M., and we marched through the main street of the town and not
even a dog barked.  We continued marching as long as it was dark, and
just at daybreak we were fortunate enough to come to a small forest.
It had been planted, and there were roads on every side; and although
it was only three miles from a large military training camp, we decided
to risk the day there.

We were very tired and two of us slept while the other kept watch.
About 10 A.M. we were awakened by the sound of music, and on
investigation found that a German battalion was coming our way.  My
heart was in my mouth as they came nearer and nearer, and I dreaded
lest they might stop for a rest.  They came within fifty yards of our
hiding-place, and we could hear the officer's commands:
"Right--left--right--left," but to our intense relief they passed us
by.  Just as they passed we heard the order given, "Alle singen," for
the German troops do not sing because they feel like it but because
they are commanded to.  I had found this out from a German civilian who
worked beside me in the mines.

All that day people passed up and down the roads, and we had some
narrow escapes.  One man came swinging along through the bush, and he
passed within ten yards of us.  We thought that day would never end,
and longed for night and the friendly darkness.  It was 10 P.M. before
it was safe for us to leave our cover, but at last we were on the tramp
again.  About 2 A.M. we came in sight of the big prison camp at Dulmen.
It was only about one and a half miles from us, and we could see the
sentries making their rounds on the outskirts.  We had all been there
when we first entered Germany, so it looked quite familiar; but still I
cannot say we had any desire to get back.

Travelling on, we came to a large swamp, and had either to wade through
or go six miles round.  We decided on the former plan, and soon were up
to our waists in water.  It was early in May and the nights were still
very cold, and the water was like ice; but there was nothing to do but
go through, now that we were wet, and as Blackie said, "It was bad luck
to turn back."  For two hours we waded, and at last, chilled to the
bone, we reached the other side.  Here we found ourselves in a farming
district, and we looked eagerly for a safe warm place to hide in for
the day.  A deserted-looking building off by itself caught our eye, and
it proved to be an implement shed with a small quantity of hay in the
loft.  This looked good to us, and taking off our wet clothes we buried
ourselves in the hay.  After a good sleep and our daily ration of one
biscuit and a small piece of bully-beef, we felt better but still very
hungry.  All round us German farmers were working in their fields, but
fortunately none of them came near us, and that day we had a good rest.

Night came on and we started out once more; this was our fourth night.
About midnight we came to a farmhouse, and Blackie asked us how we
would like a chicken.  We said, "It would look good to us," and so we
proceeded to hunt one up.  Leaving Sammy on guard, Blackie and I made a
tour of all the outbuildings, but there was no sign or sound of a
chicken.  We were about to give up when we noticed a small building at
the end of the house.  We went around one side, but failed to find an
entrance; and coming to the end of the building, we turned the corner,
when all at once a terrific howl arose, and our hair stood on end.
Blackie had stepped on a big dog that was chained to the house.  We did
not wait to make the acquaintance of our newly found friend, but threw
ourselves over fences, making the best time possible.  The dog barked
furiously and we ran half a mile before we felt safe to stop and get
our breath.  We kept to the roads for the remainder of the night and
made good time.  We struck some bush coming up to morning, and it
looked so quiet that we decided to lay up there for the day.  Nothing
happened that day, and our greatest trouble was a growing hunger.

Night came, and we were all excited, for this was our fifth night and
we judged that we were close to the Holland border.  As soon as
darkness fell we made our way cautiously out, and after a short walk,
came in sight of a good-sized town.  Our map showed two towns, one on
either side of the border, but as the map was not scaled, we could not
tell which one was on the border.  As near as we could figure, the
German town was a night's travelling from the border, and we decided we
couldn't make the Holland town that night, so we took the first cover
we came to and laid up for the day.  Everything seemed very quiet, and
the only disturbance came from some wild birds on a slough nearby.

We had come to the end of our rations.  The day before we had only one
biscuit among the three of us, and we were in a quandary to know how to
divide it.  It was hardtack and it would neither break nor cut; so
finally we marked it off into thirds with a pencil and each one ate up
to his line.  We had nothing for a morning meal, and as we lay there,
thinking how hungry we were, Blackie surprised us by taking from his
pocket a small tin of cocoa.  He had been keeping it for emergency
rations, and we almost ate him in our joy at seeing anything eatable.
The can was quickly opened, and the three of us proceeded to munch down
dry cocoa.  It stuck in our throats and we looked like greedy chickens
that had taken pieces larger than they could swallow.  We finished our
tin of cocoa and everything seemed so quiet that we thought it might be
safe to get up and try to warm our feet.  So we each chose a large tree
and, keeping behind it, we stamped around in our endeavour to work up a
circulation.  We had only been at this a few minutes, when to our great
astonishment a voice behind us said "Guten Morgen!"  We wheeled around
and found ourselves covered by a double-barrelled shotgun.  It was in
the hands of a military policeman who was guarding the border.  There
was no use resisting, and our feelings are better imagined than
described as we were marched back to the nearest town.  It was two
miles away, and in all that distance he kept us covered every second.
I said to Blackie, "Gee, I wish this son of a gun would take his gun
off us for a minute," and Blackie said, "No chance of his risking that,
but I'm afraid that the crazy nut will pull those triggers, the way he
is trembling," so we had to march along, not knowing what minute we
would be shot in the back.

Reaching the town, which we found to be Stadtlohn, we were handed over
to the military staff, and to our amazement the officer pulled a paper
out of his desk and read out our names: Blacklock, Woods, and O'Brien.
It was evident that word had been sent to the border towns warning them
to be on the lookout for us.  Even after we got into the room that fool
M. P. kept us covered with his gun, and being in the presence of his
superior officer made him more nervous, and his hand shook worse than
ever.  With six other men in the room, he wasn't in much danger of
losing his six hundred marks.  One of the boys said, "Isn't that fool
ever going to put down his gun?" and the officer must have understood
what he meant, for he gave a command in German, and the man not only
put down his weapon, but he took out the shells.  We breathed easier
after that.  The officer in charge asked the policeman where he caught
us, and he answered, "Twenty minutes' walk from the Holland border."
This was the hardest blow of all, for we could have made it easily had
we only known.  Well, they searched us, and yet they failed to find our
map and compass.  These were hidden in a knitted belt made for me by
one of our prisoners.  It contained a secret pocket, the entrance to
which was carefully concealed.  Not finding anything, we were lodged in
the town jail, and there we stayed until the following day.  We were
almost starved, but all we had was a piece of bread and a bowl of soup.

Next morning two guards came to take us back to the mine--we went by
train and arrived about 6 P.M.  Of course they gave us a warm
reception.  As soon as we entered the gates we were met by German
boots--_with feet inside_--and in this way were escorted to our
quarters.  Once there we were made to stand "at attention" for seven
hours, with a guard behind ready with his boot in case you moved.  At 1
A.M. they allowed us to go to our barracks, and we were staggering from
hunger and weakness.  Here a pleasant surprise awaited us.  Our pals
had collected all the food they could find and had put it in our bunks.
I assure you it tasted good.

The next morning we were brought up for trial and closely questioned as
to _why_ we wanted to escape.  Sammy told them we wanted a change, that
was all.  After this we were conducted by two officers and an
interpreter back to our coke ovens, and from there we were taken, one
at a time, to show them where we had gotten through their lines.
Blackie was taken first and he led them down a ladder and past three
sentries.  Sammy and I took them over the same route; and they were
quite convinced that we escaped that way.  That night we laughed when
we saw they had an extra sentry stationed there.  Already we were
planning to make another attempt at getting away, and we hoped to go
the same road.  But instead of night duty we were put on day shift, so
we had to wait another week.  Before the week was out I had a narrow
escape.  The prisoners working in the mines were under the supervision
of the large prison camp at Münster, and once or twice a week they
would send out an officer to look us over and see how we were behaving.
The one chosen to look after our camp was a big burly brute, who showed
his teeth and snarled like a cross dog.  Even the guards were scared to
death of him, and you could see them tremble and shake when he
approached.  No doubt they were afraid that they might lose their job
if he could find any reason for reporting them.  He seemed to hate the
English even more than the other Germans did, and that wasn't
necessary, but his chief aim in life seemed to be to catch an Englisher
disobeying any of the camp rules, and as soon as he came inside our
yard he would always make a bee-line for our hut.  He paid no attention
to the French and Russians.  It was against the rules to smoke in the
bunkhouse and half the time we were not allowed in the yard, so of
course we broke the rule and smoked, only some one always stayed on
guard and gave warning if they saw a "square-head" coming.

Well, this day I was on guard when I saw our friend coming on the run.
I was standing just in the doorway, and I called out "Nix!" and the
boys put their fags out of sight in a hurry.  An instant later the old
jay reached the door, and he stood sniffing like a dog.  It didn't
require any imagination to smell tobacco smoke, for the air was thick
with it, but there wasn't a cigarette or pipe in sight.  The old
"square-head" knew that he was fooled, that some one had given them
warning, and he snarled like a dog.  I was standing beside the door
because we were supposed to freeze whenever or wherever he appeared.
He must have blamed me for warning the boys, for he whipped out his
short sword, and wheeling quickly made a slash at me.  That sword
whizzed through the air like a bullet; and its point went an inch and a
half into the frame of the door.  I had ducked just in time or it would
have been all off with me.  I didn't wait to give him another chance,
but made a bolt out of the door and over to Ruskie's hut.  He went away
raging, for he knew that I had slipped one over him.

While we were waiting two Russians were brought back; they had seen us
go and made their escape the same way.  They had neither map nor
compass, and they were soon caught.  The day they were brought back we
saw them being conducted over to the coal shed; and I said, "I bet
those dubs won't know any better than to show them how they escaped,"
and sure enough that is just what they did, so our chances in that
direction were cut off, the door was securely locked and iron bars put

After we had been at work a little more than a week the Germans decided
we needed further punishment for our attempted escape; so we were
called up and the following sentences read to us by an officer who
spoke a little English:

"You shall be put in a dungeon for ten days."

"You shall not see no daylight."

"You shall not have no blankets."

"You shall not take your coats."

"You shall live on bread and water."

"If you shall try to get away you shall have to die."

We couldn't keep from smiling at his attempt to write commandments.  We
were taken to the little prison that was in the centre of our yard.  It
was a tiny brick building containing only six cells; it had neither
light nor ventilation, and the sanitary conditions were simply awful.
It was worse than the filthiest pigpen you ever saw; and even pigs have
straw to lie on, but we had nothing but the cold wet ground.  The cells
were more like coffins than anything else--they were just six feet by
three and contained no furniture of any kind.  Well, this was where we
were put, and I assure you we didn't enjoy the prospect of spending ten
days there.  We tried to pass the time by calling to each other through
the walls, but even this was forbidden, and our guard would stop it
whenever he happened to overhear us.  Old Blackie was very fond of good
things to eat, and he always had the last of everything in sight; so
Sammy and I amused ourselves by planning menus for him now that we had
nothing but bread and water.  We pretended that we were his servants
and whenever we thought that it was getting near a mealtime we would
read the menu to him.  We suggested everything we had ever seen or
heard of--roast turkey, frogs' legs, oysters, fruit of all kinds, etc.,
etc.  Blackie would criticize our bill of fare, call us down for not
getting something nicer, and usually ended up by ordering something
entirely different.  Often when we were in the midst of this nonsense,
our old jailer would come knocking at our door and order us to stop
talking.  Blackie would say, "Boys, you could keep all your fine
dinners if I could only get at that square-headed son of a gun out
there.  I'd make a meal out of him."

Of course none of the other prisoners were allowed to talk to us; but
sometimes they would bring a book or paper and sit down with their
backs against the prison wall.  As long as the sentry was in sight they
pretended to read, but when he was out of hearing they would tell us
the camp news, and they took a special delight in telling us the good
eats they had gotten in their last parcels.  Of course we hadn't
anything but one piece of black bread and a drink of water once a day,
and we could only keep track of the days by the number of times our
jailer had been in.  Well, one day a chap slipped a knife blade under
my door and I proceeded to make a hole in the wall.  I carefully picked
out the mortar until I had a hole large enough to peek through.  The
first one I made was too high; I didn't want to stand every time I
looked out, so I plugged it up with a piece of my black bread and made
another near the floor.  Here I could lie down and see what was going
on in the yard; and when Blackie had his imaginary breakfast he would
call for the "Continental Times," and I would take the plug out of the
wall and give him the morning news--what shifts were going out, who was
on them, etc.

But we came near losing even this little bit of pleasure, and this is
what happened: Some of the prisoners were planning an escape, and they
dug a hole through the wall of their hut--the bricks were loose, ready
to take out, and on the night they were to go my friend Macdonald, who
was the ringleader, began to carefully remove the bricks--he took out
two, and then it occurred to him that he had better take a peek out,
and make sure that no one was watching, so he did; and there, only a
few feet away, was a sentry, with his rifle pointed at the hole ready
to blow the head off the first man who appeared.  Needless to say, Mac
did not go any farther; he warned the others, and they all crawled back
to their bunks, and went to sleep.  Next morning there was a big row
made, and the guards tried to make the prisoners tell what ones were
planning to escape, but no one squealed; and they were all stood "at
attention" for two hours.  Then a civilian was brought in with a pail
of plaster, and he fixed up the hole that the prisoners had made, and
with two of the officers he made the round of all the huts looking for
more loose bricks.  Finally he came to the prison, and one of the
officers pushed the little stick he carried through the first hole I
had made.  This started them swearing at us, calling us English
Schweinhunds and everything else they could think of.  We lay there
trying to keep from laughing, but at last Blackie exploded; and gee!
they did rave.  Finally they found the second hole, but I held my hand
over it so the stick didn't come through--they could feel something
soft, but had no idea what it was.  Just then the officers were called
away and the old civilian stopped up the top hole and moved on--no
doubt the lower one is there still.

They took us out on Monday morning and we were almost too weak to walk.
The boys had a meal prepared for us, and we rested all that day.  Next
day they put us to work again, but instead of putting us all on the
same shift they separated us.  I was given night duty and the other
boys were on day shift.  I was feeling pretty blue the first day I went
off to work alone, but was surprised and delighted to find an old pal
of mine was on the same shift.  This man was Macdonald, who had already
made three attempts to escape, and when I met him he said, "Well, Jack,
are you ready to try it again?"  I said "Sure," and he said, "Well, I
have everything ready and we will try and get away tonight."  He had a
good map and compass, so I told another prisoner to give mine to Sammie
in case I got away.  We knew the number of sentries and had them all
located except one.  It was very necessary that we should find out
where he was.

Neither Mac nor I were allowed off the platform, so I asked another
prisoner to let his hat blow off and then look round for a guard while
he was down after it.  He did this, but owing to the darkness under the
platform he couldn't see anything, and he was just coming up when the
gleam of a bayonet caught his eye; and here was our missing-link--with
his back up against a pillar at the very spot where we had intended
going over.  That night at lunch hour one of the old prisoners came to
us and told us to be careful, for he had heard two of the sentries
planning to shoot the first one they found trying to escape.  They
figured that if they made an example of one, all the others would be
afraid to make an attempt.  We were not frightened, but they watched
Mac and me so closely that we had no chance to get away.  This was kept
up for five nights, but on the fifth our opportunity came.

But first I must tell you what preparation we made in regard to
clothes.  It would not do for us to get away with only our prison garb,
for it was grey, with wide red stripes down the centre of the coat, on
the trouser legs, and on our caps.  The only other clothes in our
possession were those furnished by the Red Cross; namely, a brown
sweater coat and black trousers.  Now, each night before going to work,
we were lined up and the officers looked us over to make sure no one
had any Red Cross clothing on him.  But this is how we fixed it.  The
black trousers had brown stripes, because the Germans insisted on our
wearing stripes of some sort.  When the Red Cross sent over the first
parcels the Germans cut open the trouser legs and inserted red stripes.
This work was so roughly done that the garments were spoiled, so the
Red Cross put in brown stripes.

Now, in preparing for escape we cut this stripe out and sewed up the
trousers so that they were all black.  Then we cut the sweater coat up
to the size and shape of our prison jacket and sewed it in.  And when
we lined up for examination, instead of throwing open our coats we
thrust our hands in our pockets, and this opened our coats without
turning back the corners.  We had pulled on the prison overalls over
our black trousers, so if we got away all we had to do was wear our
prison jacket inside out, drop our overalls, and we were in civilian
clothes.  Still, each night as we lined up our hearts almost stopped
beating lest they should discover our preparation.  We couldn't lay in
a supply of food, for just at this time there was a movement of troops
at the border and the Germans were not bringing any parcels, so if we
got away we must trust to what we could pick up in the fields.

But now to go back to the fifth night.  As we went to lunch at twelve
o'clock Mac said, "Now, Jack, we must make it tonight, for tomorrow we
go on day shift."  I said, "All right, Mac, I'm game; and we shall try
for it just as soon as we go on duty again."  We had an hour off for
lunch, and as it didn't take long to eat a small piece of bread and sup
a bowl of soup, we usually had a good sleep, but now we were too
excited to either sleep or eat, and sat together and made our plans.

The platform on which we worked was situated in the centre of the
railway yards and was as brightly lighted as the main street of a city.
But this night we noticed two box-cars on a track about two hundred
yards away, and Mac said, "If we can make them, we are safe."  So when
our hour was up and they marched us back, Mac and I were the first two
up the ladder.  We followed about three feet behind the first sentry
until we got halfway down the platform, and while he went dreaming on
his way to the end of the platform we dropped quietly to the ground.
We were running when we struck, and we certainly beat the record in our
two-hundred-yard dash to the box-cars, and from there to a small bush
another two hundred yards away.  Evidently no one noticed us, for there
was not a shot fired.  Once in the cover of the bush we felt safe, and
we congratulated one another on having made at least a successful
start.  We carried our prison overalls with us, as we planned to make
use of them later on.

Of course our first job was to get rid of our prison clothes, and while
we were doing this we heard a great commotion in the camp.  The
prisoners were being lined up and counted, and we knew that we had been
missed.  The German rule was that if any prisoners escaped the officer
in charge of the guard at that time was sent to the front lines, and
this was the most dreaded of all punishments.  This night a big bully
was in charge, and he was hated by all the men.  One of the prisoners
had said early in the night, "Now, Jack, if you intend to get away, for
goodness' sake go while this brute is in charge, for we want to get rid
of him."  We thought of this while we listened to him shouting out his
orders in a voice that could be heard a mile.  We knew the first thing
they would do would be to put the bloodhounds on our track.  They took
them to our bunkhouse and let them get the scent from there.  But we
had a little plan to get rid of them; as soon as we heard them coming
we scattered some pepper on our trail.  We walked all that night, and
although we heard the hounds occasionally we saw nothing of our
pursuers.  Morning found us on the edge of about two acres of scrub.
The bushes were only about five feet high, but they were very thick and
well-leaved, so we decided to lay up there for the day.  Nothing
happened until about four o'clock in the afternoon, when we were
startled by hearing some one coming crashing through the bushes.  We
hugged the ground as closely as we could and hardly breathed, as the
footsteps were coming nearer.  The bushes were so thick that we
couldn't see the person, but it sounded as though he was coming
straight for us.  We determined to sell our liberty dearly in case we
were discovered, but to our intense relief he passed about two yards
from us.  We could see his feet and legs and could easily have reached
out and tripped him.  He was a German patrol, and he was looking for
us.  We watched him after he got past to make sure we wouldn't go the
direction he had taken.  We hadn't anything to eat that day except one
piece of German black bread that each of us saved out of our rations
the day before.

At 10 P.M. we started on the march again, and after about two hours'
walking we came to the River Lippe.  We lost no time looking for a
boat, but made straight for our old bridge.  It was easier getting
through the wire this time, and we had no difficulty in getting across.
Travelling on, we came to the little town of Haltern, but we didn't
dare risk going through this time, in case some one was on the lookout
for us.  So we skirted around the edge, and on the way came across a
few early gardens.  It was early in June and nothing was very far
advanced, but we found some young beets, which we ate, tops and all,
also some seed potatoes.  Of the latter we dug up almost the whole
patch and we filled our pockets and big red handkerchiefs which each of
us carried.  I assure you these raw vegetables tasted as good to us
then as any turkey dinner we would have at home.  After our hasty lunch
we started off across country.  It was much rougher travelling, but we
thought it was safer.  Just at dawn we came to what we thought was a
fair-sized bit of woods, and we decided to spend the day there.  But
when daylight had fully come, we found that our bush was a very small
one and right at its edge was a German farmhouse.  It was too late to
go any farther, so we crawled along looking for a secluded spot in
which to hide.  Pretty soon we came to some low bushes over which a
running vine had spread itself, so we crept in and lay down.  Pretty
soon we heard voices and the barking of a dog, and peeking out we saw
an old farmer ploughing just at the edge of the bush.  He was followed
by two children and a dog, and as these played around we expected every
minute they would land in on top of us.  There was no sleep for us that
day, so we lay there munching our potatoes and waiting for the darkness.

At 10 P.M. we started out, and soon we came in sight of Dulmen Camp.
Once more we skirted around it, keeping as far away as possible.  After
a couple of hours we reached the swamp that came so near to being the
death of us on our former trip.  This time we went around, and though
it took longer it was a vast deal more comfortable.  It was too early
in the night to make use of our old friend, the implement shed, but I
passed it with real regret as I remembered the comfortable rest I had
there.  But we felt we must push on and run the risk of striking
something good later in the night.  We were now in the midst of a good
farming district, and we decided we must lay in our rations for the
following day.  So, the next potato field we came to, we set to work
and dug up about half of it.  Potatoes were very scarce in Germany at
this time.  They were issued out to the farmers by the Government and
could only be used for seed; and it tickled us to think how angry the
old farmer would be when he discovered the damage done to his crop.

It was now getting on towards morning and we were very tired and weak,
so the first bit of woods we came to looked good to us, and we decided
to camp there for the day.  On the way we picked up a tin pail and we
decided to try boiling some potatoes if we got the chance.  Everything
seemed very quiet and it was still too early for any one to be around,
so we gathered some wood and made a fire.  I got some water from a
nearby slough and we soon had the potatoes on; after they had been
boiling for twenty minutes we tried them to see if they were nearly
ready, but they seemed as hard as ever.  So we waited another fifteen
minutes, and still they were not soft.  It was hard work waiting, for
we were almost starved, but we let them boil for an hour, and Mac said
we had better take them up before they got too tough to chew; so we
started at them, but they were almost as tough as leather.  We had
nothing to eat with them but some pepper, and they had nothing to
recommend them except that they were hot.  After breakfast we crawled
under some bushes and tried to sleep, but our nerves were too tightly
strung to give us any rest.

However, we lay there all day, and nothing disturbed us.  Towards
evening a heavy thunderstorm came up, and it rained for two hours.  Of
course we were soaked to the skin, and we didn't look forward with much
pleasure to our night's walk.  Owing to the storm, darkness came on
earlier than usual, so we got started in good time.  We started out
across country, and after travelling for two or three hours we came to
a pasture field.  We saw some cows in the distance, and Mac asked me if
I could milk.  I said, "It is a long time since I tried, but I would
make a good stab at it for the sake of having a drink right now."  Mac
stayed on guard at the fence while I took our potato pail and went over
to make the acquaintance of Bossy.  There were three cows in the bunch,
and choosing the one that looked most friendly I went up and introduced
myself.  I'm not sure she understood all the nice things I said to her,
but her feminine vanity seemed to be pleased with the patting I gave
her.  At last I broached the subject of my visit, and taking "silence
for consent," I took my pail and set to work; but the old lady showed
her disapproval by walking away.  Of course I followed, and once more
resorted to flattery.  When I thought I had her worked up sufficiently,
I tried again for milk, but with the same result.  This was repeated
several times, and at last my patience was exhausted, so I hailed Mac,
and when he came I urged him to continue the petting business while I
tried for milk.  He did this, and it worked splendidly; we got
sufficient milk to give us both a good drink.  It seemed to put new
life into us.  This was our fourth day out, and we were almost
famished.  After we finished our drink we thanked our old cow and
started on the march again.  This seemed to be our lucky night, for
soon we came across a garden, and we laid in another supply of
potatoes.  Continuing on our way, we came to a fine road.  It was
bordered on each side by the most beautiful elm trees, and as it was
leading in the right direction we determined to follow it.  After
walking about a mile we came to a farmhouse and right beside the road
was a milk-stand.  It held three cans of milk, and we couldn't make up
our minds whether the farmer had intended them for the milkman or for
us.  We preferred to think the latter, so we proceeded to help

We sat there and drank milk until we felt that we must look like
"observation balloons."  Then we filled our potato pail and went on.
But we didn't feel much like walking and decided to lay up in the first
likely-looking place that we came to.  The whole country is beautifully
wooded, so it was not long before we came to a nice bluff.  It looked
nice and quiet, and we settled ourselves for the day.  We were very
tired, and we both fell asleep, but I woke with a start, for I heard
something coming through the bush.  I wakened Mac, and we grasped our
heavy walking sticks and lay still.  The sound came nearer and nearer,
and just when our nerves were at breaking point two bright eyes looked
down at us over the edge of the little hollow we were in--it was a
hedgehog.  We couldn't keep from laughing at the scare it had given us.
I wanted to take revenge, but Mac said, "No, let the little devil
alone, it's a sign of good luck."  Nothing else happened that day, and
we chewed away at our raw potatoes and drank milk as we waited for
darkness.  When it came we started out again across country.

About 1 A.M. we came to a railroad track and after looking carefully in
case there should be a sentry on guard, we crossed and came up on a
carefully graded road.  It was difficult travelling this night because,
owing to the clouds, we had to depend entirely on our compass.  We were
not sure how the road ran, so while Mac got out his searchlight and
endeavoured to read the compass I kept watch.  If it was only getting a
drink, one was always on guard.  A moving figure in a field at the edge
of the grade caught my attention, and at first I thought it was an
animal.  So it was, but of the two-legged German variety.  He had seen
our light, and suspecting that we were prisoners he determined to get a
good shot at us.  I suppose he could almost see the four hundred marks
offered by the Government as a reward for a prisoner, dead or alive.
He was coming in a stooping position, and the night was so dark that I
wasn't sure it was a man until he raised his rifle and straightened up.
Then I grabbed my chum and said, "A man, Mac," and we made a bolt for
cover.  The shot rang out, but he did not get us, and before our
pursuer could climb the grade we were safely hidden in the bush.  This
was a warning that we were getting into the "danger-hole" district, for
the man who shot at us was a police patrol.

Let me explain how the Holland border is guarded.  It is well known
that the border between Belgium and Holland is protected by a fence of
_live wires_; but the Holland and German border is looked after by a
wonderful system of patrols.  This patrol system begins on a road two
miles back from the border and running parallel with it.  On this road
there are three different kinds of patrols--men on horseback, on
bicycles, and on foot--and instead of going singly, they were in
parties of from three to ten.  This is typical of the German at war and
at home; he is much too cowardly to attempt anything single-handed.
That's why their officers continue to send them over in massed
formation; though sometimes it almost made our gunners sick the way
they had to mow them down.  Well, as I said, they patrolled their beats
in parties; and this outside beat is well looked after.  Crossing this
first patrol, and leading into the border, there is a road every
half-mile, and of course each road has its own special patrol--also
another patrol has his beat in between these roads; while close to the
border are two more lines of guards: one of these is stationary and the
men are placed two hundred yards apart, and right in front of these
guards, on each quarter-mile beat, walked a man, having two immense
bloodhounds on leash.

Now, all this elaborate guard system was not put there for the sole
purpose of catching a few escaping prisoners.  But at this time the
German soldiers were deserting in such large numbers, and getting over
into Holland, that the Government took this method of stopping them.
Now, this was what Mac and I were up against in attempting to cross the
Holland border, and we realized the difficulties only too well, for Mac
had learned it all by bitter experience.  One stormy night, some weeks
previous, he had crossed the border into Holland, only to lose his way,
and stray back into Germany.  He was captured by the guards and sent
back to the mines.  This was his third attempt as well as mine, and we
knew it would go hard with us if we were caught again.  So, after our
brush with one of these game wardens who also acted as police patrol,
we were doubly careful.  We kept in the shadow of the trees and watched
every step.  When suddenly, right before us, shone out the whiteness of
a graded road and we knew that we were in the line of the outside
patrol.  We crouched in the darkness at the edge of the wood and
listened, but not a sound came to our ears, and in a moment or two Mac
whispered "Now, Jack," and we made a dash across, when to our utter
amazement three figures sprang up right in front of us and we found
ourselves looking into three rifle barrels.  A gruff German voice
called, "Halt!  Who goes there?" and we threw up our hands and grunted
a reply.  Immediately the guns were lowered and the men came toward us,
but instead of finding two helpless prisoners, they were met by good
hard blows delivered in true British fashion.  We had taken them
completely by surprise, and in a few minutes we were able to break
through.  We didn't wait to see what condition they were in, but made
the best time possible to a place of safety.  We heard one of them blow
his whistle, just after we got away, and a couple of shots were fired,
but if reinforcements came we did not see them.  We kept on going until
we thought we were safe from pursuit, and we began looking for a place
in which to lay up for the day.  This was our seventh day without food
excepting raw vegetables, and our strength was almost exhausted.

This encounter with the patrols had used us up pretty badly owing to
our weakened condition, and we knew that the supreme test was still
ahead.  Presently, right in the centre of the bush, we came to a place
where the slough grass was very long and thick, and we decided to risk
spending the day there.  We were now in the centre of the patrol
district, and there was no _safe_ place; but we hoped to be fortunate
enough not to be too close to the beat of the nearest patrol.  We
pulled a quantity of long grass and buried ourselves in it.  Although
very tired, sleep was out of the question, and we lay there planning
how we could get through the last two lines of guards.

About 8 A.M. we were alarmed by the noise of some one crashing through
the bushes, and our hearts beat like hammers as we listened to the
sound growing nearer.  Of course we were sure it was a patrol, and we
began to fear our little game was up.  We lay there scarcely breathing,
and all at once voices reached us, and Mac whispered to me, "Gee! they
must have women in this patrol."  We peered through the grassy cover,
and there, coming straight towards us, were two young German girls.
The wooden shoes they wore accounted for the great racket they made,
but I assure you we felt very much relieved, though our danger was
still very great, for they could give the alarm, and we did not know
who might be near.

A short distance from us they took off their coats, and we saw they had
come to work.  All through this part of the woods were scattered
bundles of small sticks for firewood, and the girls' job was to collect
these and carry them to a road some three hundred yards distant.  The
young ladies kept up a continual chatter, and perhaps it was this that
kept them from discovering our hiding-place, for they came within two
or three yards of us.  At twelve o'clock they started home, and as soon
as they were out of sight we got up and stretched ourselves.  It was so
good to move after lying still for four hours.  However, we didn't dare
stay up very long, and we were "tucked in" once more when the girls got
back.  This time there were three, and they worked away until about
four o'clock.  We had to lie like mice, and we were in constant terror
lest one of us should sneeze or cough.  Just about four we heard one
girl say "Fertig" (or "finished"), and the three went out and sat on
the side of the wood to continue their chat.  We felt very much
relieved and were congratulating ourselves on another escape when we
heard a man's voice, and looking out of our hiding-place we saw an old
man in conversation with the girls.  He had evidently counted the
bundles and was insisting that there were still some left in the bush.
They argued for quite a while, and then to please the old man the girls
came back.  But it was evident they felt sore over having to come, for
instead of searching for wood, they walked right through the bush and
out to the road on the other side.  There they sat down and after
awhile moved on home, or at any rate out of sight.  We were glad to be
able to move again and to be relieved of our uninvited company.  As
soon as we were sure they were not coming back we got up and moved
around to get the ache out of our bones.  We also had some preparations
to make for our final effort that night.  As I mentioned before, we had
carried our prison overalls with us, and now we were to put them to
use.  Our only chance of getting over the border lay in our being able
to move so quietly that the sentry could not hear us.  So we started to
make moccasins out of our discarded overalls.  We had neither scissors,
needles, nor thread, but our experience had taught us that in all
circumstances we must make _what we did have_ serve our purpose.  Our
jackknife cut out our moccasins, and it also made a small stick into an
implement that could punch holes, while some pieces of cord that we
happened to have did fine in place of thread.  It took quite a while to
get our moccasins made, working with poor tools, and they were
fancy-looking articles when we at last had them finished.  The red
trimming was very fetching, but we thought it quite appropriate, for
there is always a lot of _red tape_ necessary in getting out of a
country that is _At War_.  It was almost dark when we had our moccasins
finished, so we put them on and made ready for our start.  Our boots
were securely fastened to our belts, and we took a final look at our
map.  We were almost famished, but two raw potatoes was all that
remained in "the larder."  However, we disposed of these, and just at
11 o'clock we started out.

The direction to the border was straight west, and we figured it must
be a mile and a half to the nearest point.  But we had to keep under
cover as much as possible, so we couldn't tell just when we might be
near it.  We crossed the wood at the side of our bush, and a few
minutes' walk brought us in sight of a small pasture field in which
there were three or four cows.  The sight of these brought to our minds
the dandy drink of milk we had two nights before, and though we took an
awful risk, going out into the open, we thought it worth while.  Once
more Mac stood on guard, and I crawled out to where the cows were
grazing.  I tried them, one after another, but not a drop of milk could
I get.  They had evidently been milked a short time previous.  I made
the trip back in safety, and we started out, not knowing what minute we
might happen on a sentry's beat, which made our going exceedingly slow.

About 12.30 we came to the edge of a swamp, and here and there all
through it we saw dark objects that looked like men.  We lay in the
long grass and watched to see if we could notice any movement.
Sometimes we thought there was, and then again we were sure they were
stationary.  However, we had to pass them, so we crawled carefully
forward, and made our way close to where one of these objects was
standing, and when we thought we were near enough we raised up and took
a look.  It was a stack of peat piled to just about the size of a man.
We had a good laugh, and I assure you we felt very much relieved.  We
made our way safely across the swamp and had just reached the other
side when we heard the hounds.  We listened, and noted that the sound
came from across the swamp, just the direction we had come.  Mac said,
"Jack, they are on our track; we had better put out some pepper;" so we
sprinkled it on our tracks and, crouching as low as possible, moved
along.  The sound was getting nearer, and suddenly, to our right, we
heard a sentry call "Halt!"  But instead of stopping we ran for all we
were able.  We heard the sentry call three times, and then a shot rang
out.  There was no attempt at concealment now, we were running for our
lives, or what was dearer still--our _liberty_.  There was a grove of
trees just ahead, and we knew that we still had a chance if we could
reach that.  One more spurt and we were there, and had thrown ourselves
down with our faces toward the open country we had just left.  We were
pretty well out of breath, but we dared not stay longer than was
necessary to get our wind, so we pushed on, for we were anxious to get
across the border in the darkest part of the night.  We stole along
like ghosts, for we did not know what moment we might run up against
the border guards.  We decided that the shot we had heard on our right
had come from a passing patrol.

We kept on until 4 A.M., and as it was getting a little bit light we
saw in the distance what looked like a small town.  We were much
astonished, because if we read our map aright the only town on our
route should have been passed the night before.  We lay up in a field
and talked it over, but we couldn't locate ourselves.  It wouldn't do
for us to lay up for a day so near a town, so we must either turn back
or hasten on.  At last I said, "Let's flip a coin and see which we will
do--heads, we go on; tails, we turn back."  We did this, and it turned
out "heads," so on we went.  I forgot to say between us and the town
was a canal, and we couldn't find a bridge.  This canal was another
puzzling feature.  Well, we swam it, and came out very wet, cold, and
tired.  We passed within half a mile of the town and finally struck the
main road on the other side.  It was now daylight, and we had to be on
the lookout for people every instant.  Finally we saw a signpost just
ahead, and we thought that would surely solve our problem.  But when we
came to it we found the lettering had become almost obliterated.  One
town that the hand pointed to we figured out as "Neda," but the one we
had just passed could not be made out.  Finally, with Mac's help, I
climbed up to the top of the pole, and from there I made out a few of
the letters.  Comparing these with an address I had found on a piece of
wrapping paper earlier in the morning, I made out the name as
"Haakshergen."  However, our map didn't show either of these towns, so
we were just as much at sea as ever.

Then it occurred to us that the border troops must be stationed in
either one of these towns, and there would surely be some of them
passing on this road; so we determined to hide in the ditch close by
and watch for them.  We came to a place where there were some bushes
growing at the side of the ditch and we hid in these.  Finally we saw
two mounted men coming, but they passed so quickly that we couldn't see
much except that they wore grey uniforms.  We waited a little longer,
and along came two soldiers on foot.  One of these was evidently sick
or wounded, for just as they came opposite us he begged to be allowed
to sit down.  They talked for a minute or two and then moved on, but we
had a good look at them.  They wore exactly the same uniform as the
German excepting that their hats were different.  Instead of a
"pill-box" they had a cap with a square top.  All at once I remembered
having seen some pictures of Holland soldiers in the _Daily Mirror_ (an
English paper), and I said, "By golly, I believe they are Hollanders,"
but Mac said, "No; if they were, they wouldn't be dressed like
Germans."  One thing we decided on, and that was that we must find a
safer place than the one we were in; so when there was no one in sight
we made our way to a nearby wheat field.  We lay there discussing the
situation, and just at 9 o'clock we heard the whistle of a train.  We
could hardly believe our ears, and we crawled to the edge of the field
to see in which direction it was going.  We found it running right into
the town we had passed, and now we were more muddled than ever, for the
German town that we thought was on the border hadn't a railroad nearer
than fifteen kilometers.  We made our way back into the field, took out
our map, and tried to solve the problem.

[Illustration: As I looked before I left Germany; as I looked before I
saw Germany.]

At last we got desperate; we couldn't go on at night unless we found
out where we were, so we thought we would take a chance on going
farther down the road.  We hadn't gone far when we saw a man in the
distance, and we slipped into some bushes until he had passed.  Going
on farther we saw there was a man coming on a bicycle.  We ducked and
hid, and as he got nearer we could see that he had a gun strapped on
his shoulders.  We were afraid he had seen us and we were sure there
would be some fun, but fortunately he too passed.  When everything was
quiet we started out again, and presently we spied an old man working
on the road.  He had only a wheelbarrow and shovel, so we decided to
risk asking him what country we were in.  When we came up we bid him
the time of day, and, in the best German we could muster, asked, "Which
is this, Germany or Holland?"  The old man looked at us, smiled, and
said "_This is Holland_."  It sounded too good to be true, and for an
instant we could only stare at him and each other, then the realization
came that we were _FREE_ and we laughed and hugged one another in our
joy.  The old man watched us with a sympathetic smile, for though he
could not understand all that we were saying he knew that we were
escaped prisoners.  We must have been a rough-looking pair.  We had
travelled a hundred miles at night over all kinds of country, and had
been eight days without any cooked food.  Our faces were covered with
hair, and our clothes were ragged and dirty.  I weighed only 125
pounds, and the long period of anxiety and mental strain, had aged me
at least ten years.  Mac was just as bad, and we must have looked more
like a couple of jail-birds than anything else.

Well, finally we sobered down sufficiently to ask the man how far it
was to the nearest town.  He told us it was about five miles to the
little town of "Neda"; but before we started he asked us if we were
hungry.  We looked at each other and smiled--and the old man
understood--he insisted on our taking all of his lunch, even the bottle
of tea that he carried--and I assure you no food ever tasted better.
We felt like new men after getting something to eat, and we shall not
soon forget the old Hollander's kindness to us.  It was with light
hearts that we finally said "Good-bye" to our new friend and started on
our way to "Neda."

The world looked very different to what it had a few hours before, and
we were so busy talking about our experiences that we scarcely noticed
a man passing by us on a bicycle.  He must have heard a scrap of the
conversation, for he turned and looked, and then jumped off his wheel
and came toward us.  He said, "Are you Englishmen?"  We said, "No, not
exactly; we are Canadians."  "Oh," he said, "Canadians.  I am a
Hollander myself, but I was educated in England; you must be escaped
prisoners."  We replied, "Oh, we are not telling _what_ we are."  He
said, "You needn't be afraid, for my sympathy is all with the Allies."
So we told him everything, and he walked with us until we got almost to
Neda.  Then he mounted his wheel and rode into town, telling every one
in sight that we were coming.  So when we arrived the streets were
lined with people; men, women, and children turned out to welcome us.
They finally conducted us to a store where the proprietor spoke
English.  We sat and chatted for a few minutes, and then his wife came
out with a lunch.  She brought bread and butter, cake and tea, and I
leave you to imagine how good it tasted.

But our friend on the wheel had left us at the store, and had reported
our coming to the police headquarters.  So while we were at our lunch
the chief of police and an attendant arrived and asked us to go with
them.  This didn't look good to us--it seemed too much like what we had
been getting for the past year.  I said, "By golly!!  Mac, I don't like
this."  He said, "Neither do I, but I guess we have to go," so we went
along; but instead of landing in the police station, the chief took us
to his own house.  Here we were made to understand we were _guests_;
and we were given water, soap, clean towels, and fresh shirts to
replace the ones that were torn to pieces.  After we got cleaned up we
felt like new men, and our host took us out where a table was set under
the trees and we had our first properly served meal since leaving
England--a year and nine months.

Of course we were not given a regular dinner--our friends were too wise
for that--heavy food would have killed us.  All we had was bread and
butter, cake, and strawberries with cream; but oh, they were scrummy.
The next thing we needed was sleep, and our host wished to put us to
bed in the house.  But we felt much too dirty to get into his clean
beds, and we made him understand we much preferred going into the
hayloft.  So he brought us some blankets, and we turned in.  We slept
for fourteen hours without waking; that's how badly we needed it.  We
wakened at 2 A.M., and at first we didn't know where we were.  But
after we got our bearings we went to sleep again and didn't wake until
nine in the morning.  Then we got up and had another light meal.  We
lay around and rested all that day, but as their English was as limited
as our Dutch, conversation lagged.  That night we had our first taste
of meat since entering Germany--and maybe we didn't enjoy it!

Early next morning we took the train for Rotterdam, the chief sending
an escort with us.  Once there, we were taken to the British consul,
and after proving our identity we were given clothes, money, and a
passport for England.  It was ten days before we got a boat out of
Rotterdam, and during that time we received nothing but kindness from
the people we met.

Finally we secured passage on a boat, and on the _first day of July_ we
landed in England.



Well, you certainly had a pretty tough time in Germany, and I don't
envy your experience.  And now you want to hear what we did after you
were taken prisoner, and what became of the bunch that you and I knew
so well.  It's not pleasant to recall the things that happened, Jack,
but I'll do my best.  Let me see; the Battle of St. Éloi was the last
scrap you took part in.  Well, after that things cooled down a bit, but
we still took our turn in the trenches on that part of the line.  No.
10 Platoon was still intact.  We missed poor old Woodrow, and his chum
Fred went around looking like a ghost.  The latter had never gotten
over his experience in No Man's Land, his eyes were sunken in his head,
and he was nothing but a wreck.  One night, when we were in reserves in
Dickiebush, a few of us were talking and saying how lucky our little
bunch had been, when at that minute an order came in sending us out on
a working party.  Fritz had gotten busy and blown down a section of our
front lines, and the boys holding this spot had no protection, so we
were being sent up to repair the damage.  I guess Fritz was sore, for
our Stokes light trench mortars and heavies had been pounding the
German trenches all day long.  Well, we were told off in small parties
to carry up sandbags, corrugated iron, picks and shovels, to repair the

Our little bunch consisted of Tommy, Bink, Scottie, Bob Richardson,
Newell, McMurchie, and one or two others whom you do not know.
"Flare-pistol Bill" was in charge, of course; and just our luck, we had
to carry the corrugated iron (and damned awkward stuff it is), it's too
wide to carry through the trenches, so we had to go overland--and I
tell you, the machine gun fire was wicked.  The boys holding the
trenches had a lot of casualties.  Well, we got our loads and started
off in and out of shell holes.  Tommy fell into a hole that was full of
water and got soaked; and Chappie, with his poor eyesight, if he fell
once, he fell at least a dozen times.  We went along cursing our hard
luck, and making the best time we could, for the bullets were flying
mighty thick.  Flares were going up every few minutes, and every time
one went up we would "freeze" till it went out again.  At last we got
quite close to the front line, and when Fritz sent up a flare it would
fall right behind us.  They couldn't help seeing us, for we made a
lovely target with those big slabs of corrugated iron on our heads.
The machine guns just ripped lead at us, and we were hurrying to get to
the trench, when young Blair got it through the thigh.  He started to
yell at the top of his voice; and Scottie, who happened to be next in
line, cussed him roundly for the noise he was making.  We would likely
have been all killed if he hadn't shut up.  Well, they bound him up and
carried him out, and the rest of us went on.

We hadn't gone fifty feet when Scottie went down with a crash, just in
front of me.  I crawled up to him, and he was badly hit--the blood was
pouring from his mouth, and he mumbled "Stretcher bearer."
Flare-pistol Bill went on to the trench to hunt up one, and I crawled
back to see if I could find the one who had come up with us.  Before I
got back with Bob the stretcher bearer from the trench had fixed
Scottie up as well as he could.  Poor Scottie! his jaw was shattered.
Bink insisted on carrying Scottie out on his shoulders, and they
started.  But before going halfway Bink played out, and when
Scottie saw that Bink was all in he got down and walked to the
dressing-station.  Say, that boy was sure game.  By the way, he's in
Blighty now.  Well, the rest of us got through safely, we fixed up our
trench and managed to get back to our supports.  A few nights later we
made another trip to the front lines, and this was disastrous for No.
10.  First of all, Tucker got shot in the face while on a wiring party;
then Jack Branch was on a working party behind the trench when Fritzie
started shelling, and he got a shrapnel bullet through his arm.  We
bound him up, and he was in great pain, but he smiled all the time.  As
he went out, he said, "I'll give your love to all the girls at
Shorncliffe."  I thought, "Well, isn't this a hell of a war, when a man
can be pleased over getting a bloomin' big hole through his arm?"

Later that same night Tommy Gammon was on sentry go, and I was sleeping
in the dugout behind him, when Corporal Banks came in and woke me.  He
said, "Do you want to see Tommy?  He's hit."  Gee, I jumped up in a
hurry and ran down the trench to where Tommy was; but I breathed freely
when I saw that it was only a hole through his arm--I was afraid he had
got it bad.  "How did you get it, Tommy?" I said.  He said, "Oh, you
know the sandbags we rolled out of the way to fire through last
night?--well, I thought some one might be walking past and get a bullet
through his bean, as a fellow had farther down the trench, so I put up
my arm to roll the bag into place, and _bingo_! Fritzie was right on
the job."  I wrote to Tommy's mother that night and told her that I
thought Tommy had a Blighty, and she came all the way out from Canada
to see him.  But he didn't get farther than our base hospital, and he
was back to the trenches again in six months, so his mother did not see
him after all.

Well, after Tommy left us, we were sent back to rest billets, and it
was then that the Battle of Hooge started.  We could bear the guns
roaring and at night the whole sky on our left was lit up.  The roads
were jammed with machine guns, marching troops, cyclists, and
cavalry--while coming from the scene of battle was a constant stream of
ambulances.  Tales of what was going on came leaking through and we
fully expected to be sent up.  But we couldn't move without orders, and
we thought we might just as well enjoy ourselves, so we got up an
open-air concert.  It certainly was a dandy, and we had no end of a
time.  A lot of the old boys took part; and then some one got up and
gave us a parody on "The Sunshine of Your Smile."  It goes like this:

  "Oh, Fritzie that hands those Blighties out so free,
    Just send a nice sweet cushy one to me--
  One that will strike me just below the knee.
    Six months in Blighty--oh, how sweet 'twould be!

  "Send me a shell with pellets nice and round;
    Scatter them, all but one, upon the ground;
  Send me that one, but let it come a mile,
    And I will give you the sunshine of my smile."

This met with great applause, and we sang it till we all learned the
words.  The concert was scarcely over when our officers told us that
word had come for us to be ready to move at a moment's notice.  After
talking to some of our wounded boys that had come back from the
fighting, we began to realize that something very serious was
happening.  They told us that whole battalions of Canadians had been
wiped out by shell fire.  Fritzie had just blown everything to pieces
before he advanced, just the same as he did at St. Éloi.  We realized
that our time on rest was likely to be cut short; so we got busy and
spent all our money--and sure enough, next day the order came for us to
move, and away we went along the road to V---- just behind Ypres.  We
reached there safely and some of our officers and N. C. O.'s went on up
to the lines to see what kind of a place we were going into.  They
found that we would be on the left flank of the attack, and although
the Germans had blown most of the front line to pieces, they had not
attempted to advance here.  That night two companies, A and B, were
sent on ahead of the rest of us, and they went as near the lines as
they could in motor-buses, then they took over what was left of the
front lines, consisting mostly of shell holes.  The rest of us were
marched through Ypres, and we found it a mass of ruins.  It was here
that we saw the affects of war--dirty, horrible, stinking war.
Hundreds of people were buried when Ypres was bombarded, and the stench
of the place was unbearable.  We followed the railroad for a piece and
we passed some shell holes made by the "Fat Berthas" used by the
Germans at the beginning of the war.  You could bury an ordinary-sized
house in any one of these holes.  Dead horses were lying everywhere,
showing that the road we were on had been shelled earlier in the
evening.  We didn't know what minute they would open up again, so we
hurried over every crossroad.  Fritzie had a mania for shelling
crossing roads, and those in the Ypres salient are all named
appropriately.  Here are a few: "Shrapnel Corner," "Hellfire Corner,"
"Hell Blast Corner."  We were marching in single file by this time, and
every man carried a sandbag, bomb, rifle and bayonet, rations and a
bottle of water.  Some load, eh?  Judging from the flares going up all
around us, we seemed to be going into a pocket.  On our right, the
machine guns were going all the time, and they sounded like a thousand
riveting machines, only instead of construction their noise meant
destruction.  Pretty soon we came to a big barrier of sandbags known as
"China Wall," and here dead men were lying everywhere, and we couldn't
help stumbling over them on our way in.  At last we came to the
communicating trench, and just as we reached it Fritzie sent a salvo of
shells across--one or two of the boys caught it--the rest of us kept on
our way.  We followed the trench, scrambling over parts that were blown
in, and stumbling over the dead that were lying everywhere.  Finally we
came to the trench that we were going to take over, and we relieved
what was left of the Royal Canadian Rifles.  They were an awful sight,
dirty and bloodstained--many were shaking as though with a palsy--their
nerves literally torn to pieces by the shell fire.  But they had no
word of complaint.  "All right, boys, it's quiet.  All's over now," was
their greeting, but what they said didn't sound exactly true, for we
had not been in five minutes, when with a roar all of Fritzie's guns
opened up once more.  Bullets swept over us like hail; it was hell let
loose.  The officer in charge was killed almost at once, and Major
Q---- took over the command.  I sat in a bay with Sammy, Emerson, and
Sergeant-Major Banks; the other boys were farther along the trench.  I
had never seen anything like what we were getting; machine guns were
enfilading our trench--just at my feet was an old empty water can, and
the bullets going in sounded as though some one was playing a drum.
They couldn't hit me, because I was behind a traverse, or jog in the
trench.  After a while it quieted down a little, but it didn't entirely
stop, and next morning, just at dawn, it started again, and I hope that
I shall never be called on to go through what I did that day.  But if I
lived to be a hundred I could never forget it.  Our trench was
literally blown to pieces, and we couldn't do a thing but sit there and
curse our gunners for not firing back--no doubt they were doing all
they could, but the terrific noise of bursting shells all around us
drowned the sound of our own artillery, and we fancied that we were not
being supported.  Wounded men were crawling along the trench looking
for a spot that would offer comparative safety, and the rest of us were
sitting in a daze.  I was suffering for a drink, and I had no water.  I
had started to make some tea, but a shell knocked a big chunk of dirt
into the trench and it upset my canteen.  I wouldn't ask any of the
boys for water, for every one needed all they had, and we are supposed
to look after our own.  Finally I got desperate, for the smoke and gas
from the bursting shells parches the throat, and I made a search
through a dead man's pack.  It wasn't pleasant work, but I found a tin
of milk, and it was worth a million dollars to me then.  I had just
gotten my drink, when, all at once, the earth under my feet began to
heave and I was thrown on my face.  I scrambled up again, but the earth
was rocking like a ship at sea.  Finally it stopped, and we looked over
to the front lines which were held by A and B companies, but all we
could see was smoke, black smoke right up to the sky, and then we
realized what had happened.  Our front lines had been blown up with
mines, and now all the artillery that had been playing on our front
lines was lifted on to us, and our hell became worse than ever.  Then
the Germans came and we had our hands full.  A machine gun battery in a
strong point just ahead held out, and a trench mortar on our left
supported us, and our few lads did the rest.  We were using the Ross
rifle, and we fired it till it jammed; then we grabbed some
Lee-Enfields that had been left behind by the E. C. R.'s.  Fritzie
seemed doped, and he came forward carrying full kit and trench mats.
They were evidently surprised to find any one alive, for when we began
to fire they stared around stupidly.  Then our fire caught him, and as
he attempted to get through the gap in our front lines the portion of
line that had not been mined swept him with their machine guns.  All
the time our boys were just being wiped out with shell fire.  Little
Henry Wright was hit in the knee and started to crawl out over the back
of the trench.  I grabbed him and brought him back and stuck him into a
hole out of the way of flying splinters.  "You won't leave me, will
you, if you have to go back?" he cried.  "Not on your life," said I.
"But don't be afraid--Fritzie is not going to chase us out of here."
Just then somebody came along and said that the Germans had broken
through on our right.  I looked at Sammy and said, "This back to back
stuff isn't all it's cracked up to be, is it?"  Sammy grinned and we
went on firing, and an officer that came along told us that the report
we heard was not true--our line still held.

Just then poor old Baldy was blown to pieces by a shell; he had thrown
up his bomb-proof job and had come back to the battalion.  Chappie was
struck by a piece of that same shell, and he got it right through the
lung.  Oh, how he did suffer!  We couldn't take him back to the
dressing-station on account of the terrific shell fire, and he lay in a
sheltered part of the trench slowly bleeding to death.  We took turns
in going to see him.  "Tell my little girl that I died fighting," he
said to Bink.  His chum, Marriot, came rushing along--"Oh, deah boy,
I'm so sorry you are hit--cheer up, old chap."  He, like the rest of
us, didn't know what to say.  But old Chappie didn't "go west" after
all.  He was ill for a long time, but was finally invalided home to

While we were worrying over old Chappie a call came for volunteers to
dig out some men that had been buried.  McLeod and I grabbed shovels,
and away we went in the direction pointed out.  There was smoke
everywhere and shells were continually coming.  We went down the trench
for quite a distance, and, turning a corner, what a sight met our eyes!
There, sitting around on the firing-step of a bay, were nine of our
boys, dead.  The shell must have burst just above them, for they were
full of holes, and their clothes were on fire.  I turned to Mac:
"Nothing for us to do here, old boy," and we started back.  Just then I
stumbled over something, and looking down, I saw that it was a body
almost entirely buried in the dirt and wire netting.  I scraped away
some of the dirt and found that the man still breathed, so I got busy
and tried to get him out.  He was covered with the wire that is used to
keep our trenches from caving in, and it was an awful job getting the
wire and dirt off.  We dug with our shovels, and tore at the wire until
finally we got him extricated.  We couldn't see a wound, but we thought
it might be concussion, but when we lifted him up there was a hole in
his back that I could put my fist in.  Poor fellow, I saw that it was
no use, but I threw some water in his face, and he opened his eyes, and
tried to speak, and then quietly "went west."  I went back to the boys
feeling mighty blue, and their only greeting was, "Where in hell have
you been?  Don't you know your place is here?" but I just cursed back,
and explained.

The Germans had stopped coming over by this time, but they still held
portions of our front line.  Out of the five hundred men who took over
our portion of the front trenches, only one or two came out, and this
is what they told us.  They had been shelled for hours and their
casualties were very heavy, as their only protection was shell holes.
Then Fritzie started to come over, but they gathered in a bunch and
bombed him back, and then the mines went up and that finished them.
When Fritzie came over the few that were left were half buried and
dazed, and had lost their rifles, so they were taken prisoners.

In the second line there were about a hundred of us left.  Spud Murphy,
our officer, fought till his arm was disabled, but we continued to hold
the trench.  Bink and Sammy took a bunch of bombers and went up to the
advance post; and that left our numbers still smaller.  Just then
Sergeant Faulkener came in from the strong point wounded in the
shoulder.  He had tried to keep it a secret, but loss of blood made him
so weak that he had to give up.  I spoke to him, and he said, "Ain't
this hell?  I get hit every little scrap I get into."  He had been
wounded down at Kemmil when Fritzie blew up the trenches there.
"Honest John" we used to call him, and he was a good old scout.

The shell fire was still on just as bad as ever.  Bob Richardson, our
stretcher bearer, was working like a hero, the wounded lying all around
him, and often the poor fellows were hit again before he got through
binding them up.  A boy went past me with a bandage on his head.  I
said, "Hello, Jack, got a Blighty?"  He said, "No, I'm afraid it's not
bad enough for that."  Poor fellow, he was shot through the eyes, and
he didn't know that he would never see again.

That afternoon, in response to an urgent request for help, a company of
men from the 29th came in.  Towards evening the shelling died down a
bit, and the wounded that could walk went out.  Carrying parties
arrived, and took out those who were badly wounded.  Chappie was one of
the first to go.  That night the Sergeant came along and said, "Goddard
and Wilson, go out on listening-post."  We looked at the spot where he
wanted us to go.  Fritzie was landing shells there about one a minute,
and there was absolutely no protection.  I said "Say, Sergeant, that's
suicide!"  "I know," said he, "but I have orders to put a post there."
I said, "All right, but if I get killed I'll come back and haunt you."
Well, over the top we went and we got to the place he had pointed out;
we had barely lain down in a shell hole when _whiz-bang_! a shell
landed just in front of us.  It covered us with dirt, and we had hardly
gotten the dust out of our eyes when _whiz-bang_! another landed just
behind us.  "Now," thinks I, "if one comes between those two, our name
is mud."  It wasn't more than a minute when we heard another coming,
and this one landed in the part of the trench we had just left.
Shrieks and groans went up, and Wilson and I lay there shaking like
leaves.  Just then, the Sergeant came out and told us to go back into
the trench, and you bet we were glad to do it.  We found that the last
shell had killed three and wounded six, and no doubt we would have
gotten one had we stayed.  It's funny how things happen--our
Sergeant-Major was badly wounded, and I helped to carry him to a place
of comparative safety, but the poor fellow died after his wounds were
dressed.  We buried the dead as best we could, and then we hung on for
two days more.  We had no water and scarcely any food, and we suffered
terribly, especially from thirst.  Our ration parties were all killed
trying to get food to us.  Bink and some of the boys on the outpost
were relieved first, and they brought us water.  Poor lads, they had
been sitting on an old culvert with water up to their waists.  The only
sleep we got all this time was during the day when we lay in the mud at
the bottom of the trench.  We were relieved on the third night, and oh,
what joy when the 29th came in and took over the trench!  We were "all
in," and we staggered back to Ypres throwing away everything we carried
except our rifles.  When we got to Ypres, we found that we had to go
back to where we had started from, so we struggled on.  On the way we
met a bunch of Lancashire men.  "What do you belong to?" they asked us
as they passed.  "We are all that is left of a Canadian battalion," we
replied.  "Gorblimey, it's bleedin' orful," said they.  Just as day was
breaking we hit camp.  The Quartermaster gave us a drink of rum, and
the cooks had a feed ready, and we got our blankets and turned in.  We
slept till the afternoon, and then we had to answer a muster call.  Two
hundred and seventy-two was all that was left of what, three days
before, had been a battalion one thousand strong.  Tears rolled down
our old Colonel's face as he looked at us.  "My boys! my boys!" was all
he could say.  We were only out twenty-four hours, and during that time
we read our mail, wrote a few letters, and opened our parcels.  There
were parcels everywhere, many of them belonging to boys who had been
either killed or wounded, and these were distributed among those that
remained.  We were dead-tired and we were hoping for a good long rest,
when in marched a big bunch of reinforcements, and shortly after we
received orders to pack up and be ready to move that night.  It was
raining when we started out, and oh! we did feel rotten to have to go
back to that hell-hole again.  But the new fellows didn't know what it
was like, and we laughed and joked with them.  Bob Tait and I were
carrying No. 10's rations; and we were "connecting file"--that is, we
kept in sight of the platoon behind.  It was raining so hard that we
were soon soaked to the skin, and we were glad when they stopped at
Ypres that night.  Bob and I missed the platoon in front, they went
into some dugout, so we went in with the rear platoon.  We were
billeted in what had been an old wine cellar.  The house which had been
there before the war was blown down, and from the outside it looked
like nothing but a pile of bricks.  Bob and I were in a little place by
ourselves; we knew that it was useless to try and find our own platoon
in the dark.  We had nothing but a stone slab to sleep on, and it
didn't look very inviting to stretch out there in our wet clothes.  I
was just preparing to lie down when Bob said, "Wait a minute, see what
I found," and he held up a bottle of rum.  Gee, I could have kissed
him!--we had a good drink, and maybe we weren't glad that we carried
the rations that night.  We had a fine sleep in spite of the artillery
thundering overhead.  Every now and then a heavy German shell would
land right on top of our sleeping-place, but it couldn't break through.
The concussion would put out the candles, that was all.  That night,
the First Division of Canadians and some British troops made their big
counter-attack; and took back all the ground that the Germans had taken
in the previous nine or ten days.

Bob and I woke up next morning and had our breakfast, and after awhile
we wandered out around town.  Some German prisoners were coming down
the road, and we stopped and spoke to them.  One who could speak a
little English said, "Too much shell."  They were very hungry; one of
them spotted a piece of biscuit beside the road.  He grabbed it up and
ate it like a dog.  All at once we heard a shout, and turning we spied
Bink and Charlie Pound.  When they got up to us they said, "Where the
devil have you fellows been?  We want our rations."  They seemed quite
peeved and they hadn't worried a bit about losing us.  It was not
having their rations that bothered them.

Well, that night we went back to the same trenches that we had left
just three nights before, only this time we marched on the Ypres-Menin
road.  This is the worst road in the salient; the Germans sweep it with
their machine guns every night, and it sure is wicked.  Of course Rust
had been over it months before and knew all about it.  He told us that
the bullets come about a foot from the ground, and if a fellow gets one
in the leg, he will get hit again before he can crawl away.  We were
nicely started down the road when all at once the machine guns started
to crackle.  I took one jump and landed, rifle and all, in a ditch full
of water.  Most of the boys came with me, but I couldn't help laughing
at some of the reinforcements.  They took refuge behind trees, just as
if a little tree would stop a machine gun bullet.  Of course we told
them, but not till one or two of their number got hit did they realize
their danger.  The Germans were shelling the trenches that we were
going into, and now and again they would send over some high-explosive
shells and sweep our road with shrapnel, so we had a few more

Well, at last we reached the trenches, and McMurchie and I stopped to
help a fellow that was hit.  By the time we got in our boys had
relieved the 29th, who had been holding it ever since we left.  Well,
just as Mac and I jumped into the trench, we heard some one say to our
Sergeant, "The officer wants you to send a couple of men for the
bombing-post on the road; the two that were holding it have just been
killed."  Donnslau turned around and spied us making tracks up the
trench.  "Goddard and McMurchie, you will take charge of the
bombing-post at the end of the trench: Sergeant Oldershaw will show you
where it is."  Mac was ticked to death, and I followed him looking as
happy as I could--but, say, I wasn't feeling a bit heroic.  We went on
the post and Fritzie shelled us there for two days, and it sure was a
marvel that we didn't get hit.  I remember, we were lying on the
cobblestones in the middle of the road--the idea being to stop any
Germans that might be sneaking down that way.  Sometimes when things
got too hot the Sergeant would call us into the trench and let us stay
there for awhile.  While in the trench we would go around whistling;
and he was always cooking up tea or something.  We always burned
candles for this, and when our supply ran out he went and borrowed from
the officers.  Nothing seemed to bother him, and he would watch the
shells bursting overhead--big black shrapnel and "woolly bears."  When
the latter burst they make a noise like a ton of bricks being dumped,
and Mac would watch them with a smile--once when we were sitting in the
mud, and I suppose I was looking about as cheerful as a dying duck in a
thunderstorm, Mac remarked, "In spite of orl 'is trials and privations,
the British Tommy remyns as cheerful as ever."  He brought it out just
like a Cockney, and I just had to smile.  Shortly after this along came
"Fat."  He and Bink had been up at the culvert, and they were supposed
to be on their way out, but poor old Fat was so stiff with the cold
that he couldn't walk.  We offered to fetch him a snort of rum, but he
said he wouldn't take it.  I suppose he had promised some darn girl
back home, and he would die rather than break his word.  Well, we gave
him some hot tea, took off his socks and rubbed his feet; and I got him
a pair of my dry socks.  After awhile we coaxed him to eat a little,
and we joked with him, till at last he gave a bit of a smile--and soon
we heard his familiar "Tee he, tee he!"--he had the funniest laugh I
ever heard.  Well, he stayed with us till we were relieved.

A funny thing happened up the trench that same day.  Marriot and some
of the other boys were sitting in one of the bays of the trench cooking
some Maconachie rations, when _bang_! right through the parapet came a
shell.  It went between Marriot and the next chap, and the shock must
have been awful.  Marriot rushed into the next bay, and meeting our
Sergeant he spluttered, "Oh say, old chap, ain't I a lucky devil?  All
those fellows in the next bay are blown to hell, and I escaped."  The
Sergeant rushed around to find the bay empty except for the shell which
hadn't exploded, but was reposing quietly in the bottom of the trench
and Marriot had been too excited to notice.  Maybe he didn't get
chipped about it afterwards.  That night we were relieved by the
Coldstream Guards; and say, Jack, they are soldiers!  They came in like
clockwork, every man knew his place, and exactly where to go.  They
fixed bayonets on entering the trench and there was no confusion.  They
had taken over the trench almost before we knew it.

How glad we were to be relieved no one knows but those who were there.
We were not sorry to see the last of Hooge.  They gave us about a
week's rest and then we went back to our old trenches at ----.  It was
quiet there, and for awhile we had it pretty easy.  Just after taking
over these trenches we were treated to a great sight.  Our aeroplanes
made a general attack all along the British front from the coast to the
Somme, and they burned all the German observation balloons.  We stood
and watched them come down in flames, and it was great.  Mind you it
meant a lot to us; while they were watching us there couldn't be a stir
behind our lines but we would be treated to a salvo of shells.  In
fact, we had orders not to move around in the daytime.  But after the
balloons were gone we could go about with comparative freedom.  Even
one man would attract the attention of these German eyes.  Our old boy,
Charlie Pound, was a runner or dispatch carrier between the front line
and Headquarters, and he often came up to see us when we were in the
line.  One day he said, "There's a fat Fritzie in that balloon that I'd
like to get my hands on; he must have a grudge against me, for he
shells me every time I go down the communication trench."  So Charlie
was tickled to death when that particular balloon was brought down.

Well, Jack, our next trip in was at Hill 60, and it was a warm
spot--not artillery fire this time, but trench mortars.  Every morning
Fritzie would send us "sausages" for breakfast; they came at the rate
of one a minute.  It wasn't that they caused so many casualties, but
they made so much work.  Every day Fritzie would blow up our front line
and we would have to build it up again each night under machine gun
fire.  We took it in turns, half of us would be on working parties and
the other half on outpost duty.  One night several of us were down in a
cutting on a bombing-post.  The cutting had once been the Ypres
Commines railway and it ran across the German lines as well as through
ours.  We had strong posts there to keep the Fritzies back in case they
took a notion to come over.  In the daytime it was exposed to rifle
fire.  We were sitting there this night when our Corporal came running
in and said, "Hurry back to the trench, there's a show going to start."
He had scarcely finished speaking when the trench mortar bombardment
opened up, and we had barely hit the trench when a sausage landed on
the very spot where we had been.  The next few minutes were very
exciting and we were kept busy dodging the sausages.  We could easily
see them coming through the darkness, for the fuse burned and left a
trail of sparks.  One would have thought they were rockets, if he
hadn't seem them before.  Then Fritzie opened up his artillery, and
things got very warm indeed.  We had several casualties, but once more
our little bunch was lucky.  We expected Fritzie would try to come
over, so a bunch of us got out on the parapet and threw bombs and the
others kept up a steady fire with their rifles.  Our trench mortars
were doing great work throwing over six bombs for every one Fritzie
sent, and the Germans evidently thought we were too wide-awake, for
they failed to show up.

Next day I missed fourteen days' leave, and gee! I did feel sore over
it.  I was on sentry duty with Ernie Rowe, and I was just in the act of
changing my boots for a pair of rubber waders when along came an
officer.  I paid no special attention to him, as a sap ran underneath
Hill 60 and there were always engineering officers around.  This chap
stopped and passed a few commonplace remarks about the wetness of the
trench, etc., and then passed on.  I thought no more about it and was
taking my turn at looking through the periscope, when along came
Captain Breedan and a bunch of scouts.  "Did you see an officer go by
here?" was their excited greeting.  I answered, "He went past about
fifteen minutes ago.  What about him?"  "He's a spy, that's all, and if
you had caught him it would have meant fourteen days' leave for you,"
said Captain Breedan.  Just my luck to miss a nice fat chance like
that--the beggar was never caught, he seemed to vanish into thin air.
After he left me the boys kept up the hunt for a long time and then
gave up in disgust.

That day I left the battalion to take a course of instruction in the
Stokes trench mortar.  I always had a fancy for it, as it seemed to
offer a chance at getting back at Fritzie.  This sitting down and
taking everything he had a mind to send over, and giving nothing in
return, was not my idea of fighting.  I hated to leave the boys, but I
was "fed up" and I wanted a change.  Bink took a machine gun course at
the same time and we were at the same school.  When we finished he went
back to the platoon and I went to the Stokes gun.  The first time I
went in with the gun crew, they sent us to the old St. Éloi craters.
There was always lots of trench mortar fighting here, and we had orders
to send over six shells for every one that came across.  They put me on
lookout; that is, to watch for sausages and give the boys who were
working the gun time to get away.  We hadn't been firing more than five
minutes, and the sausages were coming thick and fast, but most of them
were landing about fifty yards away, when all at once something hit me
in the face.  I turned around with my fists clenched, for I thought
that some one had hit me.  One of the boys looked at me sharply and
began getting out his bandage.  He said, "You're hit," then I felt the
blood trickling down my cheek, and after the boys fixed me up as well
as they could I went to the dressing-station.  One of the boys in the
trench had been killed by the shell that I got a piece of; and I was
out at the dressing-station for a day or two, and then had orders to
report to my unit.  On my way back I met Rust and Tommy Gammon, and we
sat and chatted about old times.  "Come with me and join the Stokes
gun," said I; "it's lots better than the infantry."  "Nothing doing,"
said Tommy, "you're a poor advertisement;" and I suppose I did look
funny with a big bandage around my head.  "No, we are not looking for a
quick funeral yet awhile," said Rust.  Well, I left the boys and went
on to my new unit.  Some time in the next day or so Harry Foster got
hit through the shoulder; and he went off looking as pleased as a dog
with two tails.  My, how we envied him as he walked out smoking a
cigarette!  But, poor chap, he died in London, and we never heard what
took him off.

Shortly after this we started off for the Somme, and before we went we
exchanged our Ross rifles for Lee-Enfields.  We had a great time going
down, we rode in cattle cars part of the way and marched the rest.
Most of the roads we passed over were lined with apple trees, and gee!
they did look good.  When we were getting near the lines we met a
division of Australians coming out from the Somme battlefield, and what
sights they were!  They were covered with white chalk and most of them
had their trousers cut off at the knee.  We asked them what it was like
and they said, "Oh, you won't want a rifle, all you need is a shovel to
dig yourself a hole"--cheerful, wasn't it?

Well, we went into reserves and for a couple of days we did nothing but
lounge around.  We took a walk through Albert to see the statue of the
Madonna and the infant Jesus.  It hung right over the road, and it is
marvellous how long it stayed there without being hit.  The French
people used to say that when it fell the war would end, but it has been
down some time and the war is not over yet.  They put us on fatigues
and working parties for a few days and then we were moved up to the
supports.  We were told that we were going over the top early next
morning assisted by tanks.  Now, tanks had not been used up to this
time and they were the surprise of the war.  We hadn't heard one word
about them and we were crazy to know what they were like, so our
officer told us where we would find one, and away we went to see it.
When we got there it was covered with a tarpaulin, but the officer in
charge took the sheet off and let us have a good look: at it--and such
a queer-looking monster as it was!  It looked like a cross between an
elephant (without his baggage) and a mud turtle.  We bombarded the
officer with questions, but he wouldn't answer many of them; only he
said that nothing but a direct hit with a six-inch shell would
penetrate its hide; and it could go through any hole or walk right over
a house.  It was some diabolical device all right, and we went back
chuckling over the surprise that the Germans would get next day.  That
night we went in, marching in single file.  It was pitch-dark and the
Germans were shelling furiously, though before we left all our massed
artillery had carried out what is known as half an hour's
counter-battery work, the idea being to put as many German guns out of
action as possible.  Our gunners had most of the enemy positions
covered, as our aeroplanes had been spotting them.

Well, we went in on the night of the 14th of September, 1916, and as I
had been wounded in the knee the day before I was limping along with
the other boys when, _whiz-bang_! a big shell burst right near us.  It
killed several of the boys that were just ahead.  I hadn't been able to
bend my leg a few minutes before, but believe me, I ducked when I saw
that shell coming and I never thought about my knee.  I was with the
Stokes gun crew and was detailed off as a runner.  This meant that I
had to keep in touch with the various trench mortar crews, and report
how things were going, to Headquarters.  Tommy, Bink, and our other
friends were with the battalion.  Just before daybreak the Sergeant
came around and gave us a snort of rum.  We were lying in the trench
that we had dug that night out in No Man's Land.  It was called a
"jumping off" trench.  In front of us lay the German trench, and we
were supposed to capture it and also a sugar refinery that was located
a little further back.  Altogether our advance was to cover about a
thousand yards.  Just at daybreak our barrage burst on the enemy
trenches, and over we went; we got the front-line trenches without much
opposition, but where the Fritzies did make a stand there was some
dirty work.  We were losing quite a lot of men with artillery fire.
Rust was hit in the back with shrapnel, and as he half turned, a bullet
caught him, smashing his jaw.  Flare-pistol Bill was waving his arm to
direct some of the boys when a bullet caught him in the head.  But we
were too busy to notice by this time, and leaving the wounded to the
care of our stretcher bearers, we pushed on.  We reached the second
German trench and proceeded to lay out the Huns.  Fat was bayoneting
them as fast as he could, and "tee-hee-ing" all the time.  Tommy had a
big Hun in one corner, and with his bayonet under his chin was trying
to make him put his hands up.  At first Fritzie didn't understand, but
when at last it dawned on him his hands went up in a hurry, and he
cried "Kamerad!" in the approved fashion.

By this time all the Germans in sight had either been killed or taken
prisoners, and a whole bunch were being herded back to our lines.  The
German guns were dropping heavies on the ground we had left, and as the
prisoners went back they were caught in their own shell fire and a lot
were killed.

From the start the tanks had been doing great work, walking over
machine guns and killing hundreds with their own machine gun fire.  The
Germans were scared stiff and absolutely demoralized.  One band, with
more courage than the rest, gathered round a tank and tried to bomb it
with hand grenades, but they met with no success, for the bombs either
bounded off or exploded harmlessly against the steel sides.  Finding
their efforts useless they surrendered to the tank crew.  While all
this was going on, I was busy carrying messages between the gun crews
and Headquarters.  I was on the go all day and though the German shell
fire was heavy, my luck was with me, and I didn't get hit once.  Bink
was dispatch runner for his company, and I passed him several times and
he told me about the boys, as he was with them more than I.  The last
time I met him, he said, "Bob, Tommy's killed."  "Tommy!" said I,
almost too stunned to speak.  "Yes," said he, "I was passing along the
trench and had just jumped over a body when I thought the clothes
looked familiar and I turned the body over, and there was poor Tommy;
he had been shot through the chest by a sniper.  I took charge of his
things, and I'll send them to his people when I get out again."  After
Bink left me, I tried to realize that Tommy was gone, but I couldn't
believe that my chum and bedfellow was really dead.  It seemed so hard
when he had only been back from hospital a few days.  Well, I had no
time to sit down and think, things were getting too warm.

At six o'clock that evening General Byng decided to throw in the third
division, who had been held in reserve.  I watched them as they came
over, and it was a great sight.  The 42nd Highlanders were in the lead,
and they came in long lines with their bayonets fixed.  The Germans
spotted them as soon as they came over the ridge and immediately turned
their guns on them, but they came on steadily in spite of their losses,
over the top of us, and into the Hun lines.  They cleaned up what was
left of the Germans and established themselves firmly in Courcelette.
The French Canadians had been holding Courcelette all day, but had lost

Well, that night we went back in reserve; we were all in, and we
staggered along till we got to the brick fields at Albert.  There we
had our bivouacs and we turned in.  Next morning I went over to see
Bink, and we felt pretty blue.  Tommy, Flare-pistol Bill, Barbed-wire
Pete, and Lieutenant Oldershaw were all killed, and half a dozen
others, including Rust, were wounded.  Poor old 10th Platoon, they were
going fast!  Bink, Fat, McMurchie, Erne Rowe and I were the only ones
left of my old pals, and the ones who were gone were the ones I had
chummed with most.  Bink and I had a lot of sad letters to write to the
boys' relatives that day.

Shortly after this we were taken back of the line a few miles and
reorganized, and in a few days we were back in the trenches again.  The
battalion went in at Courcelette a night or two before me, and such a
place it was.  The German artillery had made it a veritable hell-hole.
What was once a pretty town was now a pile of bricks with a sunken road
running through it, and leading down to a cemetery.  When I went in
with a Stokes gun, the 28th held the graveyard; such a time as we had
getting in.  We were shelled all the way, and the nearer we came to
Courcelette the hotter it got.  Finally we reached that sunken road and
it was strewn with dead bodies, our lads and Germans.  We started to
set up our gun in the bank beside the road, and how we did dig.  The
shells were tearing up everything around us, and Tommy Lowe and I dug
like demons.  Our crew had three casualties almost immediately, two
wounded and one killed.  We got our gun set up, but as we were short of
ammunition we had to wait for a counter-attack before we were allowed
to fire.  The 31st made an attack that morning, but got hung up on the
German wire entanglements and lost heavily.  When daylight came things
were still hot.  Sergeant Faulkner, who had just come back, after
recovering from his second wound, for his final one that morning.
"Carry on," he said; "I'm done."  A little bunch of the 28th were
holding the cemetery and expecting a counter-attack any moment.
McMurchie was there in his glory.  "Let the devils come," said he,
"I'll chase them back with me entrinchin' tool handle."  The wounded
were lying around everywhere, and Tommy Lowe, Danny Dugan and I carried
them up that road to the dressing-station.  All forenoon the German
snipers were on our track, and we had to hug the bank all the way up.
The shell fire had died down, though our artillery was still giving the
Germans a heavy shelling.  When Tommy and I got tired we lay down in a
shell hole, but the sun was hot and the odour from the dead bodies was
so awful we had to move on.

That night the shelling was wicked, and we lost heavily.  Our boys came
along with a few prisoners, and as they couldn't get through the shell
fire we allowed them to share our hole.  They went out next morning,
and the Huns wanted to shake hands with us for being so kind to them,
but I gave one the toe of my boot and pointed the way out.  Our
artillery had made things unbearable for the Germans by this time, and
they pulled out, leaving only a few snipers to harass us.  McMurchie
crawled over with a bomb and brought two of the snipers back with him.
It was a funny sight to see them going up the road; those big six
footers walking ahead of little Mac; the latter was barely five feet;
but he marched proudly along, keeping his bayonet mighty close to them.
The same day our cavalry went over, but they ran into a nest of machine
guns and their little bunch was cut to pieces; it was dreadful to see
the poor frightened horses running in all directions.

That night we were relieved and we went to a place called Sauage
Valley.  Here I said "Good-bye" to Bink; he was starting back to
Blighty to get his commission.  I went down the road with him and
watched him till he was out of sight, and then I'm not ashamed to say
that I went off into a shell hole by myself and cried like a kid.  He
was the last one of the old boys that had signed up with me, and now he
was gone.  It's hard enough to lose friends at home, but in the Army a
fellow's pals are all that make life bearable.  I never saw Bink
again--he joined the flying corps and came down in Flanders with five
bullets through his head.  Well, after Binkie went, I didn't care a
hang what happened.  We put in another twenty-four hours in the
trenches and then we started on our long march up north.  We reached
our destination and went into the trenches at S----.  We relieved the
English troops, and were there right up till Christmas.  It was very
quiet except for a few big raids that we pulled off; but the mud was
awful.  We waded through mud and water up past our waists going into
the front lines, and once there we had to keep pumping all the time.
Each day we would have a trench mortar scrap from two o'clock till
five, and we would blow each other's trenches to pieces.  I was in the
trenches on Christmas day and I had two bottles of champagne that we
had managed to smuggle in.  I was in charge of the Stokes gun crew at
that time, and I sent Tommy down to Headquarters for orders.  As he
left I said, "Now, Tommy, if you bring me my leave check, I'll give you
five francs."  After awhile Tommy came back and said, "Bob, hand out
those five francs, here's your leave check."  I threw him the money,
and away I beat it along the trench as fast as my feet could carry me.
It would have taken a "whiz-bang" to catch up to me that day.  It was
Xmas afternoon when I left the trenches, and the next day at 5 o'clock,
still muddy and carrying my pack and rifle, I stumbled off the train at
Victoria Station, and in twenty minutes I was at home, telling my old
dad the tale that I have told you.

Of those ten short wild days in London I won't speak, but it was like
getting to heaven after being in hell.  They slipped by much too
quickly, and then the time came for me to go back.  So one morning I
landed up at Victoria Station and caught what is known as "the train of
tears."  The boys are always very silent going back--there is never any
cheering.  After you have had eighteen months of hell, war is not the
grand romantic thing it seemed at first.  The boys feel as if they were
on their way to a funeral, and the worst of it is, it may be their own.
But once in France, every one seems to brighten up again, and the game
goes on as before.  Memories of home die away, and you become simply an
atom in the big war machine.  It took me some time to get settled down
again, and they kept moving us in and out of the trenches.  It was
terribly wet and cold, and we would sit for days all huddled around our
old charcoal brazier in a dugout forty feet under ground.  Of course a
dugout at this depth was comparatively safe.  Only once did Fritz blow
in the entrance with a trench mortar, and then we had to dig ourselves
out.  After about two weeks longer the whole division went out on rest.
At least, they called it "rest," but our time was kept so filled up
with drilling, inspections, etc., that we got "fed up" and wished we
were back in the lines.  We had about a month of this, and then we went
in and took over our new positions at the Labyrinth to the right of the
Ridge.  The Labyrinth was a perfect maze of trenches, built by the
Germans, and taken from them by the French, at the time of the British
attack at Loos.  The gun crew we relieved was carried out in sandbags,
having been blown to pieces by a premature shell--that is, a shell
exploding in the gun.  This made us pretty nervous, and we didn't fire
any more till all our stock of ammunition had been inspected.  After
our second trip in on this line, we went out and commenced our training
for the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  We were taken back to a piece of country
that was much like the district we would have to fight on.  It was all
blocked off with different-coloured tapes representing towns, trenches,
and various other landmarks, and for two weeks we had to go over this
ground, in the time and manner of a real attack.  I, being a Stokes
gunner, had to go with my gun and crew, and we had four guns behind
each battalion.  Our work was to set up our gun as quickly as possible
and drop bombs on any machine gun that happened to be holding up the
infantry.  The infantry went over in waves--one wave would take a
trench and hold it till the next wave went over their heads, and the
next wave went over them again, and so on.  After a couple of weeks of
this we went into the trenches at the spot from which our advance would
start; this was to make us familiar with the ground.  We spent seven
days here, and during this time our guns were put into position in
pits, in No Man's Land.  These pits were covered with wire netting
woven in and out with grass to hide us from the observation balloons.
Our artillery were keeping up a ceaseless bombardment of the enemy's
lines, destroying and obliterating the German trenches.  At the same
time our long-distance guns were firing night and day on all roads,
towns, and ammunition dumps that lay near the enemy's lines, while our
aeroplanes were over the Germans all the time.  But our aircraft was
having hard luck, for the Huns had just brought out a new lot of planes
and these were lighter and faster than ours.  It was heart-breaking to
see our air men being shot down.  I have seen six or seven of our
planes come down in one day.  Up to this time our planes had reigned
supreme, and the hostile airmen scarcely dared to show themselves; and
even now the Hun's triumph was short-lived.  Our Colonel insisted that
the newest planes be brought over, and when they came we had the
satisfaction of seeing the Huns cleaned up.  Well, after a week in the
trenches we were taken out and given a real rest.  We were allowed to
lie around pretty much all the time, while the boys in the trenches
kept the Germans on the jump.  Every night they would go over and
destroy the enemy's dugouts and bring back a bunch of prisoners; from
these prisoners they got a lot of valuable information.

All this time the roads leading to our lines were packed night and day
with men, transports, guns, ammunition, limbers, and everything that is
needed for a big charge.  Our eighteen-pound guns were in long lines,
wheel to wheel.  Behind them were long lines of heavier guns and back
of these a line of long range naval guns.  These last fired six- and
twelve-inch shells to a distance of fifteen miles at targets given them
by aeroplanes.  The enemy artillery shelled our roads a little, but
whenever they started, our guns would redouble their efforts and the
ground was shaking with their roar day and night.

The evening before the big attack our artillery carried out
counter-battery work, destroying as many as possible of the enemy's
guns.  Just at dusk we fell in line and began our march to the
trenches.  We passed through St. Éloi (not the one in Belgium) and the
French people looked at us pityingly.  They didn't think it possible
for us to capture Vimy Ridge, where the French troops had lost
thousands in a vain attempt the year before.  Our artillery fire had
died down and the night was quiet when we marched into our assembly
trenches at Neuville St. Vaast.  The Stokes gun that I was with and one
other were detailed to go over with the last wave of the 27th
Battalion.  That meant that we would have to go the farthest.
Everything was quiet, and Tommy and I lay down in the trench and
covered ourselves with our water-proof sheets and went to sleep.  We
slept till the officer came along with our rum.  Then we watched the
front line, and our watches; all at once, with a roar, our artillery
burst forth.  It is impossible to describe the sound, the earth shook
with it, and it was like a thousand thunderclaps, continually rolling,
and for miles along the enemy's trenches a sheet of flame was dropping
as our liquid-fire shells fell in a ceaseless rain.  For awhile the
Germans shot their S.O.S. flares, but these soon died down.

The German artillery was slow in retaliation, and before they got
properly started our first brigade had taken the first line of
trenches, and our fifth brigade was over the top of them and pressing
forward.  They followed our barrage as it advanced so many yards at a
time, destroying all opposition.  Soon the 4th and 5th Brigades had
attained their objectives with few casualties and our officer told us
to get ready, so the "Iron Sixth" started to move.  When the first
three battalions had gone, the 27th went over, and we jumped out,
shouldering our guns and advancing in file.  We hadn't gone more than a
couple of hundred yards when gas shells began to come.  On went our
masks, but hardly in time--we got a couple of whiffs.  Two of the boys
had to go back to the dressing-station, but the rest of us had to go
on.  We were feeling mighty sick but when we got to where the air was
clear, we took off our gas helmets and we felt a little better.  We
soon forgot our ills in the excitement of the charge, as we went on
over what had been the German front line, but now was manned by our
men.  The pioneers were already pushing forward a light railway, and
our aeroplanes were fighting overhead.  By the way, the Royal Naval
triplanes had been sent over 'specially for this work, and they did
great execution among the enemy planes.  We pressed on till we caught
up with our barrage.  The German shell fire was very erratic, the guns
seemed to be firing anywhere; on our right and left stretched long
lines of smoke as the British advanced, but our flanks were not coming
up fast enough, and we had to wait; meanwhile our barrage played on a
wide belt of barbed wire that was just in front of us.  Some of our men
got too close to the barrage and were hit by our own shells.

At last the barrage lifted, and the 27th and 28th went through the belt
of wire, cutting with the attachments on their rifles, any strands that
our artillery had failed to sever.  A machine gun commenced firing at
us, so down our crew went into a shell hole and up went our gun and a
few rounds silenced that machine gun; then forward again with the 27th.
We struck a trench and worked our way down, for this was our objective.
On the way we came to a large dugout, and it was full of Germans.  As
soon as we appeared at the entrance they started to holler, and one man
tried to get out the other entrance, so our Sergeant shot him.  We took
the rest of them prisoners (about twenty altogether, officers and men)
and we lined them up and went through their pockets.  We took away
their revolvers, badges, photos, and all sorts of things--in fact, we
stripped them of everything but their lives and a few clothes and sent
them back to our lines.

We set up our gun in the trench and waited for a counter-attack.  While
we were waiting we regaled ourselves on the good things we had found in
the dugout; black bread, bottles of wine, and cigars.  Tommy and I had
to stay out on the gun, and pretty soon the German heavies began to
shell the trench, and we had to dig ourselves in to protect us from the
shrapnel.  To make things more comfortable, it commenced to rain and
all that night it poured.  We were right on the crest of the Ridge and
a number of the boys were hit carrying messages back to Headquarters.
When morning came we found that our position overlooked miles of the
enemy's country.  We could look down on green fields and little
villages, and close to the bottom of the hill lay the railway and the
little town of Tarbus.

The boys had turned the German guns around and were firing at the
retreating Huns.  Some of the guns we had captured were in big concrete
emplacements with six feet of concrete and steel on top of them.  They
were still hot from firing when our boys took them and our crews with
them.  The Germans gave up very easily, and I don't wonder, for our
artillery fire had demoralized them.  One of our men had a German belt,
and on the buckle were the words "Gott mit Uns" or "God with Us," but
they must have a different God from ours if they expect help from Him
after the deeds they have done.

That night, after Tommy and I had taken our turn on the gun, we went
down into the dugout and made some tea.  Tommy lay down on the floor,
but the only space I could find was on a bench beside a dead German;
but I slept just as soundly as I would have in a feather bed.  The next
day about noon our officer came and said, "Well, boys, we've got to go
over again, and a dirty job we are in for too."  Then he told us that
at three o'clock we had to be down and have our guns set to fire on a
tower in Farbus where a number of snipers were located.  We had to go
in advance of our outposts and stay there till our boys were ready to
attack.  About two o'clock we started out--our gun crew and a party
carrying bags of ammunition.  Little Robbie, a boy who had joined up
with me at Moose Jaw, turned to me and said, "Well, Bob, this is where
I get mine, and I hope I'll get it right through the bean--life's no
pleasure to me."  "Aw, cheer up," said I; "you may get a nice Blighty."
"No," said he; "I belong to a bunch that get it good and hard when it
comes at all."  Poor Robbie!--he had lost all of his chums at Hooge,
and he seemed to know that his time had come.  He got separated from us
when we were going down the hill, and he went to one of our other guns.
They told him where we were, and he started to walk across the open and
he got shot right through the head.  Meanwhile we had sneaked forward,
taking advantage of a little flurry of snow, and we got as close to
Farbus as we dared to go.  We set up our guns and at the appointed time
opened fire.  The 27th had started down behind us, but the Germans saw
them and opened up, and they must have had the place packed with
machine guns, for a stream of lead swept over our heads.  The attacking
party were almost wiped out; our officer had crawled up ahead and was
signalling us the range and how many rounds to fire.  Tommy and I were
lying flat and working the gun.  The officer saw that the attack was a
failure, and he came back to us and said, "Well, boys, we got down
here--now the thing is to get back.  We'll take our time and make use
of all the cover we can find."  So, shouldering our gun, away we went,
the officer leading.  We started to climb the Ridge, and we were just
coming through a churchyard when _rat-a-tat-tat_! a machine gun spoke
to us from the town we had left.  The Corporal jumped and fell, and
when we reached him he said, "Boys, I've got it."  We bound him up as
best we could, and Tommy went in search of a stretcher to carry him out
on.  But while he was gone, we tried to get the Corporal to walk a
little way.  He was shot through the groin, and he wouldn't move no
matter how we coaxed.  So the Sergeant and I got rough, and said, "Now,
look here, you've got to walk; if you don't, we will go away and leave
you here to die."  This brought him to his senses, and leaning on our
shoulders he went forward slowly till we found the road, and then the
going was easier up to the top of the Ridge.  When we reached the top
the shelling was awful, so we put the Corporal on a concrete gun pit,
and when Tommy and the stretcher arrived we carried him back to Thelner.

That night we were relieved, and utterly exhausted we stumbled our way
back through the shell fire to Neuville St. Vaast.  Once there, we got
some hot grub from our cooks and a big drink of rum, and we turned into
our dugouts, but now that the strain was over I couldn't sleep and I
shook like a leaf.  Tommy was beside me and he said, "Quit your
shaking, you son of a gun; I do my shaking in the line, but you do
yours after we get out."  Next day we went still farther back and we
were allowed a week's complete rest, and in the meantime our line was
advanced to Arleaux.

When we were returned to the lines we were told that it was over the
top again for us; the Canadians were going to make an attack on
Fresnoy.  The town of Fresnoy was only a short distance from Arleaux,
which we now held, and about one mile from Vimy Ridge.  The ridge it
was on made it important as an observation post, and through the town
ran a line of trenches known as the Oppy switch of the Hindenburg Line.
To the 1st Division was given the task of taking the town, while the
2nd Division attacked the trenches on the left.

We went in during the night when it was fairly quiet, and we took over
the gun positions, from a trench mortar crew.  Just before daybreak our
barrage burst on the enemy and away we went and got in close to their
wire entanglements.  As soon as the barrage lifted, through the wire we
went and into the trench, but instead of a wave of infantry being in
with us they got hung up on the wire and lost heavily; so half a dozen
of our crew were in the trench by ourselves.  The Germans were only too
willing to be made prisoners at first, and threw away their rifles, but
when they saw that no one else was coming they got fresh and started to
bomb us.  Our Corporal was shooting them as fast as he could with his
revolver and we dropped our gun and pelted them with their own bombs.
We managed to chase them back along the trench and the 1st Division
sent us help, so we blocked the trench and held over part of it.  Our
boys on the left had also gotten in and cleared out a section of the
trench, so it was a sandwich with the Germans for our meat.  We were
relieved that night, but only stayed out long enough to get a rest and
some food, and next night we were back again.  The shelling was
dreadful when we were going in and we had to keep on the run all the
way up--and carrying guns, that was no joke.  Every road we crossed had
a heavy barrage put on it and we had a lively time.  We had almost
reached the front lines when one of our officers got hit in the face by
a piece of "whiz-bang."  Well, finally we got in and we spent all the
next day sniping Germans as they tried to run across the open to get to
another trench.  One Hun got lost and walked almost up to our section
of the trench before he found out his mistake; he tried to go back, but
a bullet chipped by him and he came in and gave himself up.  Tommy and
I were on lookout when we were surprised to see a German crawl to the
edge of our trench.  I was just going to fire, when Tommy said, "Wait a
minute," and he danced around and stuck his bayonet up under the
German's nose; up went the hands, and we hauled the wretch in.  He was
wounded in the leg; we gave him a drink though water was very scarce,
we only had one bottle among three; then we gave him a kick and sent
him on his way rejoicing back to his lines.

The third night we were relieved--shelling had been heavy all day and
all the approaches to our lines were blotted out--the barrages had made
them impassable during the day.  I was sent out to act as guide to the
relieving party, and I found them sitting down under a heavy barrage.
They had been shelled all the way from Vimy and were so "all in" that
they didn't care what happened.  After much persuasion I got them to
come along, and finally we reached our line, and we went out leaving
them in possession of the trench.  We were scarcely out of sight when
the Germans counter-attacked, and the crew we had just left were wiped
out.  Three times the German penetrated parts of the line and three
times they were thrown back.  Our casualty list was very heavy.
Fresnoy fell into their hands again in spite of the fierce resistance
our boys put up.

In the meantime we got through the barrage all right, though we lost
some of our men.  A shell dropped just ahead and blew the man in front
of me to pieces; I got his body all over me and I was blood and dirt
from head to foot.  But we kept on going till some one ran out of the
darkness shouting, "You cannot get past the railway, Fritzie has been
throwing over gas shells and the gas is thick in the valley, all our
artillery is gassed."  We put on our masks, but we couldn't see through
them very well and we decided to hang out where we were till morning,
but Fritzie began sending us some high-explosive shrapnel and we
thought we would rather take our chance with the gas, so we stuck our
gas tubes in our mouths, grabbed our noses, and away we went.  The
Germans were flinging heavy shells at our silent artillery, but we got
past all right and we stumbled on till we came to our camp at Neuville
St. Vaast.  One or two had been gassed a little and had to go to a
dressing-station, but the rest of us had a good feed and we went right
to sleep--we sure were "all in."  We only did one more trip into that
part of the line, and then it was very quiet, so to our great joy we
were taken out and given a month's rest.

The next time we went in was at Lens, and here we relieved some British
troops that had been having an awful time.  They were holding a place
on the outskirts of Lens known as Cité Ste. Élisabeth, and they told us
some awful tales of what had been taking place.  The British had
attacked Lens, but after being practically successful the attacking
party were not able to hold what they had gained.  The Germans
surrounded the town, and those that were not killed were taken
prisoner.  Now, Lens was merely a mass of ruined houses, but the Huns
had fortified every house and were firmly intrenched.  The troops we
relieved were holding what had been German territory, and they had made
fortresses out of the houses that were still standing.  They had lost
half their men, and it was marvellous what they had done and the way
they had held out.

The gun position that our two Stokes guns took over was in a big house,
or rather behind it.  The basement of this house was propped up with
mine timbers and steel props; this was to sustain the eight feet of
concrete with reinforced steel that had been laid on the first floor.
It made a wonderful protection for our guns and also for ourselves.
The basement contained box spring-beds and real mirrors, and we felt
that we were very swell indeed.  We kept most of our ammunition in the
house, where it was always dry, and the way we hammered old Fritz
wasn't slow.  We fired from two to three hundred rounds daily and our
carrying parties cussed us for firing so much.  When not on the guns we
spent our time in the basement telling yarns and playing cards.  We had
a dandy officer; he had only just come out, but he was as keen as
mustard.  He insisted on living with us, and when we were firing he was
right on the spot.  Of course with our gun going so much of the time
Fritzie came back with everything he had, but he never could find out
where we really were.  The greatest drawback to our new position was
the lack of water.  Before the Germans retired they had filled all the
wells with barbed wire.  The Germans tried to gas us out, and sometimes
they would pelt us with gas shells; all night long we had to sleep with
our gas masks on.  On the whole, our position here was much better than
what we were used to, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, but after we had
been here for a few days we were taken out on rest and then sent to
another place.

This time we went in at Liever, and our positions here were hellish.  I
don't know how we lived through it; we were there four days, and in
that time our guns were either blown up or buried at least twice a day.
One night Tommy and I were lying in a hole that we had dug right beside
our gun, and without letting us know, our fellows in the trenches sent
over a cloud of gas.  The Germans always bombarded where gas was sent
over, and this was no exception to the rule.  They started at once.
Tommy and I were lying in the most exposed part of the trench and Tommy
was snoring, when with a crash the shells began bursting over us.  I
wakened Tommy, for one gets so that he sleeps through everything, and
we lay there wondering what would happen next.  Suddenly, _bang_! a
shell hit the side of the hole we were in and filled the hole with
smoke and covered us with dirt.  I said, "Come on, Tommy, let's go down
the trench a bit where it isn't so blamed hot."  "Naw," says Tommy,
"it's a long chance on him hitting us again."  The words were hardly
out of his mouth, when crash came another shell and it buried us in
dirt this time.  We were just scrambling out and Tommy was ahead, when
_bang_! another shell landed right in front of us.  Tommy went still
and I grabbed him.  "Tommy, Tommy, have they got you, kid?"  No answer,
and I shook him again; he squirmed and started to swear, and I knew
that he was all right.  We scrambled out and were beating it down the
trench when an officer came out of a dugout and asked us what was the
matter.  We told him and he said, "What size were the shells that came
over?"  "Huh," said Tommy, "they was comin' too damned fast for me to
measure 'em."  The officer grinned, and we went on.  At the end of four
days we were relieved and sent back on rest.

After a few days they sent us back to Lens, and there was something
doing every minute there this time.  Our artillery was steadily
bombarding the enemy's lines, and our boys were putting on raids almost
every night.  When a raid was being made our guns would throw bombs on
either side of the sector attacked to prevent reinforcements coming up
from the sides, then our artillery would put up a barrage behind the
front line to keep back help from the supports, thus hemming them in on
three sides with shell fire while our infantry attacked from the front.
A great many prisoners were taken in this way, but our losses were very
light.  Not long after this, on August the 18th, the 1st Division of
Canadians made their big attack on Hill 70.  At the same time our boys
made an attack on the outskirts of Lens.  The attack was a complete
success, though afterwards the Germans made five successive
counter-attacks and our losses were heavy.  The slaughter in these
counter-attacks was awful.  I was in the reserve trenches at the time
watching the prisoners and the wounded streaming past.  Half of our
Stokes gun battery was in reserve, and the other half in the
firing-line.  About noon the day after the first attack was made, word
came out that one of our crew had caught it and asking for help and
stretchers to carry out the wounded.  So we made our way in through a
perfect inferno and we found the crew--an officer and six men--all
lying wounded in a dugout.  We got busy and carried them out, and poor
beggars, they got some awful bumps as we stumbled along through the
darkness, over dead bodies and through shell holes.  We had just passed
safely through the barrage when gas shells came over and we had to put
masks on the wounded as well as on ourselves.  We got them all to the
dressing-station, but one of the boys died just after we got them in.
Poor Roy Taylor--he was marked for leave the next day.

The following night we went in again with our guns and our boys were
billed for another attack.  The gun I had charge of was supporting the
29th Battalion, while behind us in the trenches lay the 28th.  My
orders were to open fire at the same time that the artillery did, about
4 A.M., and my job was to blow out a blocked trench that led up to the
German lines.  This was to enable our boys to advance without losing
many men.  After doing this I was to keep on firing well in advance of
our troops till I reached the limit of my range, and then go up the
trench and place the gun in a spot that would cover a point from which
a counter-attack might be expected.  These were my orders, and I was
given five men to help manage the gun.  The Stokes gun will fire one
hundred twelve-pound shells in three minutes, if no time is lost with
misfires.  It takes two men to work the gun and one to hand up
ammunition.  I sent three men down the trench to be ready in case of
need and the other two helped me.  Exactly on the dot the artillery and
our gun opened up, and for five minutes there was just the banging and
flashing of explosives all around.  The Germans opened up their
artillery and attacked at the same minute that our boys went over--and
it was a real hell.  Of course I couldn't see what was going on--around
us there was nothing but explosions and smoke.  My three spare men were
hit, but so far we had escaped.  Some Germans were behind us, having
worked their way around from the left, but we didn't know it.  Finally
one of the boys said, "Just five more shells, Bobby," so I said, "All
right, we'll save them, come along, and we'll pick out a new place for
our gun."  So, away we stumbled up the trench, half blinded by smoke
and the concussion of the exploding shells.  As we went on in the
trench leading to the German lines I began to wonder what had
happened--dead Germans were lying in heaps--but we kept on, thinking
that our attacking party were away ahead, when all at once we ran into
a bunch of "square-heads."  They were on the outside of the trench as
well as the inside, and then started the damnedest scrap I was ever in.
Two of the boys were armed with rifle and bayonet, and I had a
revolver.  We shot those Fritzies just as fast as they stood up, and
then they lay down and threw hand grenades at us.  How we killed all
those in the trench I don't know, things are hazy in my mind.  Faces
came and went, and it's like a horrible dream.  The old fellow beside
me gave a yell and dropped, hit in the back by a piece of one of the
exploding grenades.  I was out of ammunition and I flung my revolver at
the nearest Fritzie, and thinks I, "It's all up now, and I don't care a
d---- anyway."  I tried to drag the old man into a dugout and I got him
on the stairs, but he looked so bad that I laid him down and started
cutting away at his tunic to find the wound.  The Germans that were
left started firing bombs at me, but they went over my head and down
the stairs bursting on a pile of wounded below.  All at once, one hit
the roof of the dugout and dropped at my feet.  It exploded and it was
just as if some one had thrown a bucket of boiling water all over my
legs.  I put down my hand and my leg was full of holes and the blood
was literally streaming from it.  The pain was awful and I couldn't
stand up any longer.  I was half fainting, and I dropped into the
dugout on a pile of writhing bodies.  But I still had sense enough to
know that if I stayed there the next bomb that came down those stairs
would land on my back, so I managed to scramble off, and then I crawled
along the dugout floor till I came to a table.  It was black dark and I
had to feel my way along.  I pulled myself up on the table and started
to bind up my leg, when along came one of our crew, Benson; he had
bayoneted the man who was throwing bombs, and had come into the dugout
by the other entrance.  He helped me fix myself up and along came one
of our own stretcher bearers.  We called to him and he told us that the
old 28th had come to our rescue and had chased the Germans out of the
trench.  The stretcher bearer was working like a hero, sorting out the
wounded, binding them up and getting them ready to move.  My old man
had managed to get downstairs and he was calling, "Bobbie, Bobbie, come
and help me."  I told him that I couldn't go, for I was hit myself.
The stretcher bearer lit some candles and we had a look around; one
entrance of the dugout was blocked and the dead were lying everywhere.
Benson did his best to make me comfortable, but the bone was sticking
out through the side of my leg and it was mighty sore.  After awhile an
officer of the 28th came down and said, "Sorry, boys, but we've got to
drop back; the Germans are attacking heavily, and we are not strong
enough to hold them here, we will have to leave you, but if you are
here we will come back for you tomorrow morning."  We groaned.  I tried
my best to get up the stairs, but after two or three attempts I had to
give up.  Benson had to go to help the boys hold the Fritzies in the
next line of trenches.  After awhile along came the Germans--the
stretcher bearer saw them as they passed the entrance.  In the dugout
we all kept as still as we could.  There were thirty of us, all badly
wounded, and caught like rats in a trap.

The Germans did not bother coming down, but they threw bombs in every
time they passed.  These bombs killed a number of the boys and the
smoke and gas almost choked the rest of us.  This continued all day and
all night.  An Irishman with a leg and an arm broken was lying at my
side; and he just lay there grinding his teeth and cursing the Germans.
Just after daybreak we heard a lot of bombs bursting in the trench
above and we wondered what was happening.  Soon we heard a footstep on
the stairs and some one shouted, "Who's down there!" and one of our
sergeants appeared with a bomb in his hand.  "It's us!" we cried, and
perhaps we were not glad to see him!  He said, "All right, boys, we'll
get some stretcher bearers up and have you taken out as soon as
possible."  In about half an hour along came a carrying party; they
took the Irishman up just ahead of me, and I could hear him grinding
his teeth.  Gee! but that fellow had grit.  We had just gone a little
way down the trench when _bing_! one of the stretcher bearers got a
bullet through the top of his tin hat.  It didn't touch, but it came
too close for comfort and they kept pretty low after that.  As they
carried me along some one passed me on the run going out, and I called
"Hello, Benson."  He turned around and, gee! he was glad to see me
alive.  He grabbed one end of the stretcher and insisted on helping to
carry me out, so away we went to the advance dressing-station.  I had
to wait my turn, for there was a long line of wounded.  "Well, Bobbie,
what shall I do?" asked Benson.  "Go back and report to Headquarters,"
I said.  "And, by the way, Benson, what happened to our gun?"  "Oh,"
said he, "a shell landed right on top of it and blew it to
smithereens."  Not long after old Tucker came along and said, "Got a
Blighty, Bob?"  "Yes," says I, "and I'll be lucky if I don't lose my
leg."  By this time my leg was swollen up like a balloon, and I was
afraid of blood poisoning.  When at last my turn came at this
dressing-station they just gave me an injection to prevent poisoning
and sent me on.  After much jolting in a motor ambulance I arrived at a
big clearing-station and had my leg properly dressed.  Then they put me
aboard a Red Cross train, and I was lying there feeling pretty tough
when a sweet voice said, "Would you like a cigarette?"  I opened my
eyes, and there stood a Red Cross nurse.  Say, she looked like an angel
to me.  I guess the other boys felt the same, for their eyes followed
her wherever she went.  Just before daylight we arrived at the little
town of Camiens, and we were tenderly carried off the train and put
into motor ambulances.  The road was very rough, and at every jolt we
would all swear.  Then, to our amazement, a lady's voice said, "I'm
sorry, boys, but the road is rough."  I looked up and there, driving
the ambulance, was a young lady.  Gee! we did feel ashamed.  Finally we
arrived at our destination and were carried into a big base hospital.
It was an American hospital, and it sure seemed like heaven after what
we had been through.  They soon fixed up my leg, and then I had nothing
to do but watch the nurses.  They were the most efficient doctors and
nurses I ever saw; everything in the hospital moved like clockwork.
After a few days they set my leg and put it in splints and then I
waited for my ticket to Blighty; but my troubles were not quite over.
One day the German aeroplanes came over, and next night they came again
and bombed our hospital.  Oh, it was awful--worse than the front lines.
They dropped six bombs, killed a doctor, wounded some nurses, and
killed and wounded many of the boys.  I lay in bed hanging onto the
pillows and listened to the crash of the bombs, and the screams of the
wounded.  I hope I will never hear the like again.  One of the bombs
came through the tent I was in, but didn't explode.  The minute the
Huns were gone the doctors and nurses were around looking after the
boys, soothing those who were shaken and attending the ones who were
injured.  There was no excuse for the bombing of this hospital; it was
plainly marked with the Red Cross, and no one could mistake it for an
ammunition dump.  A few days more, and I was shipped across to dear old
Blighty and three months of heaven.  It was worth all I had gone
through to be treated as we all were over there.  I was in several
hospitals, and it was the same in all--they were just as good to us as
our own people could have been.  The X-ray showed fifty-six pieces of
tin in my leg.  As the doctor remarked, "You are a regular mine, and I
think we will let you take your fifty pieces back to Canada; it would
destroy too many nerves to dig them out, and in time they will work up
to the surface."

So, here I am back in Canada, a civilian with fifty-six pieces of iron
in my leg to remind me that I spent Two Years in Hell.

Your chum,


  You're on parade, go get your spade,
  Fall in, the shovel and pick brigade,
  There's a carry fatigue, for half a league,
  And work to do with the spade.
  Through the dust and ruins of Ypres town
  The seventeen-inch still battering down,
  Spewing death with its fiery breath,
  On the red, red road to Hooge.

  Who is the one whose time has come,
  Who won't return when the work is done,
  Who'll leave his bones on the blood-stained stones
  Of the red, red road to Hooge?
  To the sandbagged trenches and over the top,
  Over the top if a packet you stop
  On the red, red road to Hooge.

  The burst and roar of the hand grenade
  Welcome us to the "death parade,"
  The bit of gloom and valley of doom,
  The crater down at Hooge.
  Full many a soldier from the Rhine
  Must sleep tonight in a bed of lime--
  'Tis a pitiless grave for brave and knave,
  Is the crater down at Hooge.

  Hark to the "stand-to" fusillade,
  Sling your rifles, go get your spade,
  And spade away ere the break of day,
  Or a hole you'll fill at Hooge.
  Call the roll, and another name
  Is sent to swell the roll of fame,
  So we carve a cross to mark a loss,
  Of a chum who fell at Hooge.

  Not a deed for a paper man to write,
  No glorious charge in the dawning light,
  The "Daily Mail" won't tell the tale
  Of the night work out at Hooge.
  But our General knows, and his praise we've won,
  He's pleased with the work the Canadians have done,
  In shot and shell at the mouth of hell,
  On the red, red road to Hooge.


  (6th Brigade, 2nd Canadians, 27th, 28th, 29th, and 31st Battalions)

  Canada's Golden Gateway sent forth her gallant sons,
  Who proudly marched with smile and song to face the German guns;
  Where'er their duty called them 'twas there they won their fame,
  And on the Scroll of Honour is the "TWENTY-SEVENTH'S" name.

  Yet farther west, and still her sons is Canada sending out:
  The "TWENTY-EIGHTH" Battalion fights with never a fear or doubt;
  From the head of Lake Superior and the Province of Golden Wheat
  The boys are marching 'gainst the foe with never falt'ring feet.

  B. C. has sent her quota, and the "TWENTY-NINTH" is there,
  Broad-chested, stalwart manhood, just out to do and dare;
  Vancouver's boys are marching with steady step and true,
  Determined all to play the game and see the whole thing through.

  A breath from Calgary's city, flung where the fight is worst--
  Still more of Canada's manhood is the gallant "THIRTY-FIRST."
  From prairieland and city they answered to the call,
  And bravely shouldered rifle lest their Empire's honour fall.

  From Winnipeg's Golden Gateway to Vancouver's rainy shore,
  Come Canada's sons to keep the flag of Empire to the fore;
  From Kemmil down to Ypres, go when and where you will,
  The "IRON SIXTH" have paid their toll, and are bravely paying still.

  Canada, O Canada! the Pride of all the West,
  We'll fight for thee, we'll die for thee, so that our Homeland be
  The Bounteous land, the glorious land,
  Forever of the free.


  28th (N.W.) Battalion,

  June 12th, 1916.

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