This letter was written by an officer of the Regiment that took part in the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel on July 1st and was now writing back to his relatives to inform them about what had taken place that day and how he had been injured. Notice how he ends is correspondence by saying that he looked forward to rejoining the Regiment again shortly.
The Great Push
A Newfoundland Officer's Experience
Writing to relatives, an officer of "Ours" who took part in the great drive of July 1st, and is now in hospital, gives information that will be of great interest to our readers, and through the kindness of the recipients we are permitted to publish extracts. He says:-
You will have received my telegram and will also have heard of the terrible causalities the Regiment has suffered the past few days. The much talk of “Big Push” has at last started and we had the honour of being among the first regiments to strike the blow. It has cost a great deal, but our boys have died nobly and covered themselves with glory. I can’t go over the details of the fight, but will try to outline it as far as I can. We were selected to take the third line of enemy trenches, but at the last moment, owing to another Brigade getting wiped out, we were sent over to take the 1st line, which was about 500 yards from our lines. Our fellows were in great form and dashed across the open, but had only reached about half the distance, when a terrible machine gun, shrapnel, high explosive, bomb and trench mortar fire was opened on us, and we were literally mown down all in about four minutes. I can hardly bear to recall the scene just now. How I escaped with only three wounds is really providential. I had gone about 200 yards when the first got me in the right arm; the next one brought up in my right shoulder, and a minute or so later the third one landed in the fleshy part of my thigh. This one keeled me over and I could go no further-------------------- followed close behind me with only three men, all that was left but didn’t get very far, when he went over with a bullet through the small of his back just above the hips. All this happened between 9 and 9:10 a.m. It was a beautiful morning. Where I fell there was a small shell hole in the ground, not quite big enough to hold me, but I squeezed as much of myself as I could, and let my legs stick out. For the next two hours a terrific bombardment raged, and every moment I expected to be blown out of my precious little hole in the ground. At noon there was a slight lull, and I raised myself up to have a look around for -------------------, as up to the present I did not know how he had fared. I spied him about 10 yards in front of me, and yelled out to him to know if he was all right. He acknowledged with a wave of the hand, and then started to crawl towards me. It took him some time as his back was very sore. By 1 o’clock the two of us were huddled up in that shell-hole. He was feeling pretty bad, and looked it, so we both decided that instead of staying out till it was dark, we would stand up, take a chance on it, and walk back to our own lines. So with arms about each other we hobbled back and, wonderful to relate, not a single shot was fired., although in full view of the Huns. Once in the trench--------------, got bandaged up, and was put on a stretcher and taken to a small village two miles behind our line, where there was a dressing station. I came along behind on foot. The medical arrangements in connection with this push are really perfect. It’s the first time I have ever been through them, and I was more than surprised. The way they handled so many wounded men, with such care and quickness and quietness, was wonderful, and the soldiers were all such a patient, cheery lot, not a murmur from any one. I went through five dressing stations before reaching Boulogne ( 10 p.m. July 2nd). At the fourth station, Armentieres, I had to leave my chum, as he was not fit for a rail journey, but was assured that he was quite all right, but that he required rest before going further. From there I came along by hospital train to Boulogne, and spent the night in the 7th Stationary Hospital. At 2 p.m. the next day I was transferred to the hospital ship Jan Breydel and reached Dover at 7 p.m., after a very smooth and comfortable crossing. Up to Boulogne I was a walking case, but my leg stiffened up considerably and from there I came on as a ‘stretcher case’. Another hospital train took us from Dover to Charing Cross, arriving at the latter place at 10 p.m. I was then sent by motor ambulance to my present address. It’s a very nice hospital, and the care and attention one gets is exceptionally good. I can’t give you any news of the Regiment, excepting that the causalities were heavy. …..It won’t be long before I shall be able to run and after a week or so of leave, I will be back again with the Regiment.”
Source: The Daily News, July 21, 1916