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Alma Russell Letters

Letters of British Columbia men on active service with Canadian and British Expeditionary Forces, 1914-1918. Learn more.

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BC Archives MS-1901

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Next morning two men appeared over the hill, a hundred yards in front, and seemed very much surprised to see us. It was too dark to see what they were, but we yelled to them to come in, but they started to edge away, so we plugged them. Soon after a bunch in Algerian uniforms came up on our right, and we dared not fire, and they killed a couple of us suddenly, and beat it. Some even wore British uniforms, and we did not even know if we were in the front line or not. Then of course the shells, machine guns, and rifles started again, and we cuddled up in our puddles. Our Artillery put a few into us, just to add to the festivities, and got three or four. That night was the limit, you would see a Sentry suddenly fall forward sound asleep. I simply could not keep awake. About dawn we were told to go back, and lucky for us it was misty. I will never forget that march, mangled men, horses, and waggons all along. We saw a bunch of cigarettes and tobacco by the road, and nearly had a riot over them. The remnants were assembled quite a way back, and some one found a Restaurant partly looted, and we finished it. Soon we mowed forward again, and dug ourselves in as usual. Lord they did shoot us up that day. Over three hundred shells in about two hundred yards, and not a stretcher bearer left. The next day was a repetition, with less shells, and that night we moved back, through the outskirts of Ypres, which is a horrible sight, and came here. This is supposed to be a rest camp, and has huts. But along came the shells, and we moved out, and dug ourselves in. Soon afterwards two of the huts were smashed in, along with some Territorials. Today has been quiet, but the country near us is full of French Artillery, and when they start, the Germans

BC Archives, MS-1901 Box 1 File 10 / RUSSELL, Alma M., 1873-1964. Victoria; librarian. / Selected letters from Sergeant John Raymond McIllree, 1915.

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