A Letter Home from Vimy Ridge

Dear Mother, It’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to sit down and write you a letter. I miss you and father a lot. I am overjoyed to be writing this letter to you. The mood here is one of jubilation. Our assault on Vimy Ridge began at 5:30 am on Easter Monday, eight days ago. We lost a lot of good boys but I am so very pleased to inform you that the Canucks got the job done! What the French couldn’t do for two years and the Brits too we, Byng’s Boys did in three days.

I was assigned to the front line in the trenches as part of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade attached to the 4th Canadian Division. This is actually the first time all four divisions got to work together as a unified Canadian Corps. They practiced us to death. The Captain kept going over and over and over every detail of our attack. It got to a point that we could have attacked those Germans in our sleep and you know how much I love my sleep Mother. The morning arrived. The weather was vile. A sleet storm fell on the plains of Douai making the already treacherous ground a quagmire of mud and puddles.

Then we unleashed heaven’s fury on the Germans. I cannot describe adequately the sound of the artillery barrage we put upon the Huns. I can only compare it to what an ant might experience sitting on the muzzle end of a machine gun. The unbearable thunder of the shells and the rattle of the machine guns made it unable to hear my own thoughts let alone the chap next to me in the trench. If you looked up Mother, the sky was a carpet of red hot metal. Consistent firing of bullets and shells created an area above the ground where nothing could survive.

As a matter of fact I believe I heard that four of our own airplanes were shot down because they flew too low into the onslaught. The conditions are horrendous. I am in a hole no more than 4 to 6 feet wide. There are sand bags layered like a fence all around me with barbed wire on the lip of the sand bags. I am no more than 20 feet away from my enemy. There has been a continuous down pour of rain for the last four days. My trench is full of muddy and putrid water all the way to my knees. The skins on my toes are turning black.

The doctor says if I stay in this trench for more than 2 days I will have to cut off my feet. It scares me that I might have to have my feet amputated but I will stay strong, as I am proud to be serving my country. The other day my best friend Johnny was sleeping in the dug out while the enemy was firing and a missile hit right behind us. The dug out collapsed and Johnny was stuck in the pile of mud. We spent 30 minutes digging him out and we were able to pull him out just before it was too late. Being in these trenches are not only dark, wet and smelly, but there are rats everywhere.

These rats are not normal size they are the size of cats. They feed off of the dead bodies in the trenches. One of my fellow cabin mates is in charge of killing the rats. Yesterday I witnessed a rat eating his way through a human body while that person was still alive. These rats are causing as much stress as the Germans. Rats are not the only pests in the trenches. Another pest is lice. I cannot stop itching my head and body. The lice have affected everyone. I hope this letter finds you well. Please pray for me. Your son Lynnwood