B W Robertson – Sep. 18, 1917

This is a letter written to his brother Ted at which time the 58th Howitzer Battery was positioned near Carency, just southwest Lens.  The 58th was one of four batteries from the 14th Brigade, C.F.A. to move into their new position on September 6th (and four members of the 58th suffered gun shot wounds on that day).  On October 13th the 58th moved to new positions near Sains-eh-Gohelle just west of Lens (the date this letter was postmarked).


“France Sept 18, 1917

Dear Ted

I feel pretty mean for not writing to you more often. I have a good chance tonight so am going to clean up a bit of unanswered letters. I am writing in a pretty safe spot – one of Fritzies dugouts.  Not as uncomfortable as it sounds. There is a nice little open fire going – a stove that we salvaged from one of the many ruined French houses – a chair to sit on and a table. I just put on some water and intend to have ‘cafe au lait’ when it boils. Got a franc packet of biscuits so am jake for a midnight meal. It is just 10:30 now.

The concussion from an 18 pounder just above and behind us keeps knocking the cement (baked mud) off the chimney into my water.

Above ground you can’t hear yourself speak hardly few the buggers popping off. I wish you and Ru were here.

I have seen a bunch of the old battalion since coming up. They all have had a hot time of it. I went over the other day to see the grave of my old corporal, in the M.G. Section. He was killed at Vimy Ridge.

You asked my advice about joining. I don’t know just what to say. I know how you feel about it. Putting myself in your place and having had a little experience this is the way I look at it.  If Uncle Sam does not want or need you, why worry. Believe me, Ted, there is not a hell of a lot of glory in this war. The U.S. Army has got to learn an awful lot before they fully realize there is a war on. There will be blunders at first – costly blunders. There will be new camps and they are ? jake. Honest if I were you and were determined to join I would do it in the Canadian Army – if you were sure of getting over here. It mean three years in the ? and the war will not last that long. Last but not least there is a commission.  Look at that cousin of ours. Lordy! Lordy! If he can pull down what he did, what could you do. You know how bright he was. That is my advice.

The artillery or air-craft is the best part of the service.

I have not much else to say except that I am well (and hope to stay so) and contented.

Tell Beah I got the candy and cakes. I wrote to Mother yesterday. Give her and Pa my love. I will try and write again this week.

Love to all,


View his original letters and family tree info on Flickr

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